Kids’ Snacks for 2012

Study findings show that children are starting to adopt unhealthful dietary habits as young as 24 months and by age 3 are already falling short of USDA MyPlate recommendations.

Toddlers are consuming one-third of their daily calories in snacks that consist mostly of cookies, candy, and crackers, and the choices are becoming even less nutritious as they get older.

To help parents provide more nutritious foods, Today’s Dietitian spoke with several dietetics experts who offer myriad creative healthful snacks parents can easily make at home or buy prepackaged to satisfy kids of all ages. Many of the snacks incorporate whole foods and are nutrient dense, convenient, and more importantly, will help children begin 2012 on a much healthier note.

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Consumers Go With the Grain

Claims relating to the benefits of whole grains are now the most sought after health claims on food packages, followed by claims about dietary fiber, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) 2011 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report. Restaurants feature exotic rice, spelt, faro, amaranth, and other lesser known grains in everything from salads and pancakes to pizza crusts, soups, cocktails, and desserts. Most exciting, a 2009 Kellogg’s survey found that more than one-third of adults were eating more whole grains simply because they enjoyed the taste—36% in 2009 vs 13% in 2006.

Supermarket sales of foods and beverages carrying a whole grain claim reached $8.8 billion for the year ended 4/16/11, according to the Nielsen Co. The number of new whole grain products increased nearly twenty-fold between 2000 and 2010; in 2010, 3,272 new products formulated with whole grains were introduced, 9% more than in 2009, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database.General Mills and Post cereal lines now offer only whole grain recipes; Kraft Foods has doubled the whole grain content of its Nabisco crackers, and Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine Spa line remains focused on grains.

Three-quarters (74%) of consumers look for the “100% whole wheat” descriptor at retail. That’s more than the number who seek out “a full serving of vegetables” (56%) or “a full serving of fruit” (54%), notes Technomic Inc.’s 2010 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.

Restaurants are also beginning to feature more exotic rice, ancient grains, and other lesser known grains in everything from salads to cocktails. “Hot” items for 2011 included black/forbidden rice, quinoa, and red rice according to American Culinary Federation Chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association. Ancient grains like lamut, spelt and amaranth as well as flatbreads like naan, pappadum, lavash, pita and tortilla as top the trendy ingredient charts.

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Christmas Tree of Shortbread

Ingredients

Cookies

2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons green tea powder (matcha)

Icing

3 cups icing sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugar until well combined. Sift together flour, salt and green tea powder and stir into butter mixture. Form into 2 balls and chill for 30 minutes. Place dough in between 2 layers of plastic wrap and roll out into a ¼-inch thick rectangle. Using star shaped cutters, cut out cookies and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Chill again for 30 minutes. Repeat with second ball of dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  3. Bake cookies 15 to 20 minutes or until just starting to colour. Cool.
  4. Combine icing sugar, 1/2 cup milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth. If the mixture looks slightly dry, add the remaining milk.

Assembly

Place a spoonful of icing on the centre of each cookie and with a small spatula, or the back of a spoon, spread toward edges. Allow icing to set, about 1 to 2 hours. Stack cookies in the shape of a Christmas tree. Dab a small amount of remaining icing on the centre of each cookie to hold the layers together. Decorate with silver balls.

Serves 12

Source: The Globe and Mail

What’s for Breakfast?

Chinese Breakfast

Menu

  • Amaranth Congee
  • Chinese Potpie (馅饼)