June 2012

Bragging Rights

by Sally on June 27, 2012

There’s a brand new way to brag about our kids: Talk about how much they hate junk food.

It’s not enough that we crow about traveling baseball teams or casually mention the pre-K chess semi-finals. Lately, it seems like a lot of us are quick to recount stories of our children denouncing processed foods.

I’m guilty too. My chest swells with pride when my kids voluntarily employ some bit of nutrition knowledge I’ve tried to impart. And not for nothing, but my son’s contribution to his preschool’s quote wall is “Candy canes are not growing food”.

(See how easy it is to brag about this? I’m doing it right now.)

But this new breed of parental boasting also worries me a bit. For one, why are so many people afraid to admit that their kids might possibly like the taste of junk food? I caught some flak for doing just that in my post “My Kid Likes Junk Food. And That’s Okay”. My point wasn’t that we should load up our kids with chips and soda. Rather, that most kids think cheese puffs and store-bought cookies and root beer taste really good, so it’s important to find a way to deal with it. (In my house, that means occasional junk when we’re out and about–but that doesn’t have to be your strategy.)

If we’re under the impression that our kids will happily reject the sleeve of powdered donuts after t-ball practice or the class party cupcake, is there less incentive to get angry and really change things?

I believe that eating habits are about your environment–that eating less junk is about creating healthier surroundings, not exercising iron-clad willpower. There are plenty of grown-ups who struggle with their weight and eating but are incredibly well-versed on health and nutrition. I just don’t think that two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese because they don’t have enough knowledge or self control.

There are loads of factors contributing to the “obesogenic” environment. But the fact that hyper-tasty, high-calorie food is everywhere is definitely central. It’s hard for kids and adults to be surrounded by junk food (and constant messages from advertisers to eat it) and not fall into unhealthy patterns.

As a dietitian, I teach children about the benefits of a whole foods diet. If they apply it to their lives, I am over the moon. But it’s just not enough.

We have to work to change their environment.  That means removing some of the ubiquitous, hyper-tasty treats after sports games, scout meetings, school clubs, and church so that moderating junk isn’t such a trying task for parents (and kids).

Maybe then, a kid choosing a banana after soccer practice wouldn’t be so unusual after all.

And it certainly wouldn’t be something to brag about.



Ever since my two week No Added Sugar Challenge, I’ve kept added sugars out of my breakfast completely. And I’ve been drinking a lot of Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies

But my obsession has turned to a new morning drink: The Creamy Dreamy Banana Date Shake. It was created by Katie Morford at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, a terrific blog, especially for recipes. I was a little dubious about dates in a shake. But they add a wonderful sweetness (you’ll get teeny-tiny date pieces at the bottom of your shake, which you can eat or not.)

Two quick notes: I used regular dates from Aldi, nothing fancy. And my kids both LOVE this shake. 

Katie was kind enough to let me republish her post and recipe here. Enjoy!

My friend Claire approached me several months ago with a cooking quandary. She’d tried in vain to knock off the delicious shakes she remembered slurping down in college which involved little more than bananas and milk. Her attempts with the blender hadn’t yielded anything satisfactorily lip smacking.

A healthy, creamy banana shake? I was all over it, setting to work as soon as I got home. The trick, I figured out, was freezing the banana first, which gives the shake a frothy, frozen consistency reminiscent of ice cream, all without a drop of cream or sugar. Since then, I’ve downed more banana shakes than I care to count, ultimately including the recipe in the pages of my cookbook. You’ll have to wait for that one.

In the meantime, I’ve continued to tinker with banana shakes, expanding my repertoire most recently to include Medjool dates and walnuts. The dates add natural sweetness and a pleasing texture, and the walnuts lend staying power (not to mention other healthy benefits).

I will tell you that when I handed a glass of this to one of my kids, accompanied by an overly enthusiastic, “it’s a date shake, honey!” the response was far more lukewarm than my frosty drink. I can imagine how such excitement over anything involving nuts and dried fruit might induce suspicion in an eight-year old.

So, for now, Creamy Dreamy Date Shakes have become a household fave for me alone, which is just fine, since I’m so crazy for them I don’t much want to share.

As for the kids, they have been quite content downing these Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Milk Shakes. I use half the amount of chocolate chips called for in the recipe and all-natural, no-sugar added peanut butter. They are shockingly decadent-tasting considering the wholesome ingredients.

Katie Morford

Creamy Dreamy Banana Date Shake
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into a few chunks
  • 2 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 6 walnut halves
  • 4 ice cubes
  1. Pour the milk into the blender followed by the frozen banana, dates, walnuts, and ice.
  2. Run the blender until the mixture is blended and the dates pulverized (some tiny dates pieces may remain).
  3. Serve immediately



3 Days of Giveaways: “Light Bulb Moment” Books

June 12, 2012

I’ve read two books recently that made me want to stand up and yell, “Yes, exactly!” This week, I’m hosting a giveaway for both of them. I’ve had a screwy stomach since childhood. Like so many women, I was eventually given that maddeningly vague, we-can’t-really-figure-it-out diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). So when I started reading IBS: […]

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