Category Archives: food

Summer = farmer’s markets!

 

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We wrote recently about helping kids develop their taste buds: Karen LeBillon’s 2nd book “Getting to Yum: Curing and preventing picky eating”, endorsed by a Harvard Medical School pediatrician, helps with taste training for kids.

The other things that help is to see where food comes from. Showing this to kids directly works amazingly, as UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver demonstrated through his work with schools. Here is a video showing school kids who could not identify a potato from a tomato!

Farmer’s markets can help with that. Summer is a great time to visit one – and here are the listings for VancouverCalgary and Toronto. The best is when your kids can actually speak with the vendors and ask what they are passionate about – markets are full of creative people who are driven by their love of what they do, and it’s so interesting to discover the people behind the produce and the products.

If you can’t make it to a farmer’s market, there are some great online resources on “farm to table” food. Enjoy!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, CEO cofounder myBestHelper

What to EAT & Where to GO to Celebrate the Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year Lunar New Year Horse

Lunar Palaces at LunarFest 2014 – Lunar New Year

For many families, celebrating Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) means delicious food, great festivals and a memorable parade. Want to join in the fun?

Dining Out – Many families will be celebrating together with Dim Sum this weekend. If you’re still new to Dim Sum, here are some helpful Do’s and Dont’s of Dim Sum etiquette.

Dining In – Doing dinner at home? According to Huffington Post, great foods to celebrate the Lunar New Year include tangerines for wealth and luck, whole fish (head and tail intact) to represent a good beginning and end to the new year, pomelo for prosperity & lettuce wraps to bring rising fortune.

Celebrate with Activities and Festivals in and around #Vancouver – Here’s a quick glimpse at what’s going on around the city. All family-friendly!

Saturday Feb 1:

  • Burnaby: Visit the Lougheed Town Centre to watch parades and performances
  • Chinatown: Live performances at International Village Mall
  • Langley: Learn about Chinese Astrology at Willowbrook Shopping Centre
  • Richmond: Chinese New Year Flower and Gift Fair at the Aberdeen Centre. The fair includes dance & music performances
  • Surrey: Celebrations at the Central City Shopping Centre
  • Vancouver: Great stage performances at the Oakridge Centre

Sunday Feb 2: 

  • Burnaby: From 1-3pm only, celebrate at the River District Centre
  • Chinatown: Chinese New Year Parade & Cultural Fair. The parade starts at 11am at the Millenium Gate.
  • Chinatown: Temple Fair at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, including Live Performances, workshops and games. There will also be a Children’s Corner all day long.

Feb 7-9:

  • Can’t make the festivities this weekend? No problem! The Lunar Fest is a weekend-long festival that includes storytelling, workshops and performances.

Looking for something completely different to do this weekend? LEGO Travel Adventure opens this Saturday Feb. 1 at Science World, where you can participate in building the largest LEGO mural in Canada!

No matter how you choose to celebrate the Lunar New Year, I wish you “Gung Hay Fat Choy”!

Stephanie, can’t-wait-to-eat-Dim-Sum-and-watch-the-dance-of-the-dragon, Community Manager at myBestHelper

Of kids and vegetables – #BESTreads

karen le billon

Inspired by  CanadaReads, we are launching our #BESTreads series – yes, parents reading a book a month together to help us navigate the mysterious lands of Parenting. This initiative is fashioned on the “One Book One City” programs popular across North America.

The first book we picked for our first ever #BESTreads is “French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters“. It’s an award winning book by Karen Le Billon, and not only because it has one of the longest titles ever! Now translated into 10 languages, winner multiple awards and on the top 10 of bestseller lists in Canada and abroad, “French Kids Eat Everything and So Can Yours”  has changed many a family’s life for the better.

The book is an entertaining read itself: one follows the peripeties – french for “sequence of events that are worth telling in a story” – of a family exploring eating habits in a different culture and creating a blend that is better than the dominant habits from the original and the new way.

Karen has an engaging style and manages to avoid generalizations about the way the French or Americans or Canadians (or anyone else, for that matter) eat and live – she shows that she really understands that we’re just too diverse and that becoming an advocate of ‘French parenting’ serves no one. Rather, the book shares ideas and observations with the goal of sparking insights and discussion about key issues – like school lunches, snacking, and the role food plays in our families’ lives.

The book is also very practical – there are great recipes, and many simple and effective tips on how to get kids (and families) to enjoy food and meals together. The ten rules are easy to implement, and change for the better both what and how kids eat. In the coming month, we will do a series of mini-reviews of some of the best suggestions from the book and host discussions on the issues Karen Le Billon identifies that are interesting to discuss. As an ultimate treat, at the end of this #BESTreads month, the author herself will join us on a Google Hangout to answer your questions!

Want to be a part of this exciting community venture, meet authors, discover new books? Join us – we welcome all newcomers and experienced parents alike. This is a great opportunity to meet others and gather wisdom and ideas that are vital to survival or fun for when that is called for.

Kidsbooks Vancouver has their annual sale starting tomorrow – go get the book and let’s start the discussion!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MOM MD, CEO myBestHelper, and – my kids do eat everything – so can yours!

I will never NOT ever eat a tomato!

will never eat a tomato

That is just the title of a great book and video by one of my favorite kids authors Lauren Child. And not to worry, we all love tomatoes…

But too many kids nowadays are stuck in an odd relationship with food. And It’s amazing to see how many kids nowadays have no idea where food comes from or how much effort it takes to grow it. Sometimes discovering the story or picking it yourself and eating it fresh makes all the difference.

There are some great online resources on “farm to table food”, but it’s best to show them directly. Fall is a great time to visit a farm for apple or pumpkin picking or to visit a fall farmer’s market – here are the listings for Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

Make your kids speak with the vendors and ask what they are passionate about – markets are full of creative people who are driven by their love of what they do, and it’s so interesting to discover the people behind the produce and the products.

In Vancouver, a #must attend is the annual UBC Apple Fest, complete with the opportunity to taste over 200 varieties of BC grown apples and a kids puppet and activity area – today and tomorrow 11-4pm. A bike valet is available at the entrance and you can make it into a fun outing for the day.

And we have put together a few great recipes of things to cook with apples that kids can do themselves – see our Pinterest collection.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

“How to” series: Great lunch bag ideas for kids

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School lunch menu in France – as described in Karen Le Billon’s book “French kids eat everything, and so can yours”

Back to school can also mean lots of effort for parents, if your kids are not lucky enough to have a cafeteria (and I wish more North American schools dId!). So what do you send along so it’s not returned untouched?

Luckily some great sites offer tried and true ideas about what to do! For example, CBC Books recently interviewed Karen Le Billon, author of “French Kids Eat Everything (And Yours Can Too)” and a Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Winner. Her suggestions were great:

It is probably a good idea to introduce new foods at home first, before serving them to your kids at lunchtime. Fun new foods could include legumes (e.g. chickpeas) and dip; quiche (great eaten cold or hot); soups with interesting flavors (e.g. onion soup). Veggies and dip are also a winner; once you find a dip your children like, you can vary the veggies almost endlessly.” 

I also love the simple-to-implement idea from Kia Robertson who founded “Today I Ate A Rainbow“. We adults all know that eating a variety of colorful fruits and veggies every day is healthy. To simplify the message for kids and make them enjoy it more, tell them they have to eat at least five colors a day – and ask them ” Did you eat a rainbow today?”.

And for those of us who need a little assist – there are sites like Aviva Goldfarb‘s The Six O’Clock Scramble (love all these mom entrepreneurs!). Her well-tested meals take less than 30 min to prepare and get even the pickiest eaters excited. No wonder she has been featured all over America including on Oprah, Today’s show and over 30 national magazines.

There are three things that are key that I like to do with our kid’s lunch boxes (please re-tweet if you agree!):

1. Always respect the nuts-free and other allergies-free lunch requests from schools. Click to tweet. (Note on that: Can you imagine worrying everyday that the tasty treat someone sent with their kid can kill yours?)

2.  NEVER ever hide healthy food inside other food to deceive your kids! Click to tweet. (Note on that: I abhor books like “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals“, sadly a New York Times bestseller, because they set kids up for challenges with healthy foods for life!). 

3. Randomly, add a surprise within the lunch box – either food or send a note of love and fun whenever possible. Click to tweet. A note needs no explanation, but food wise, this is what author Karen Le Billon recommends:

If you have a multi-compartment lunch box, you can designate one of the containers a ‘surprise box’. Your child might have something familiar to eat (ok, bologna), but also something new and interesting. One day, it might be a piece of fresh fruit. Another day, it might be some chickpeas. Or, once in a while, a piece of chocolate! Your child should look forward to opening up the surprise box and ‘taste testing’ whatever they find inside.

And of course, a great lunch box helps seal the deal for the kids while a litter-less lunch does so for the environment. On that topic, have a look at this great blog post from Spud.com and great options available from  RaspberryKids.com.

So – any ideas, practical tips or best practices you can share?

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three, CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper

Picnic foods kids love: 5 ideas for safe and healthy meals outdoors

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With the summer weather, one of the nice things to do is eat outdoors, be it after a hike or on the beach. But what kind of foods can we take along that are:

  1. Easy to transport and will not be bruised, squished or leak,
  2. Tastes good in the heat,
  3. Are not likely to melt or spoil or attract bees,
  4. Is not messy to eat AND
  5. Kids like to eat?

Not to worry – there are at least five answers! Here are the five healthy things we pack when out and about (and if you agree, please tell others by doing a clicktotweet #perfect #picnic #food):

  1. Corn on the cob – prepare night before and chill in fridge – tastes perfect midday! Click to tweet
  2. Peanut/almond butter sandwiches or wraps and carrots. Click to tweet
  3. Cherry tomatoes and slices of cheese. Click to tweet
  4. Scones –  home-made and stuffed with whatever they like. Click to tweet
  5. Grapes and apples – perfect fruit that survives the heat well and is not messy! Click to tweet

Most importantly don’t forget the water – to both drink and wash hands before eating! We often get them to freeze water (don’t fill up the bottle all the way as water expands as it freezes) – so when it melts with the heat, it stays cold enough. Kids love it!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper

Kaleberry Ice Cream

This recipe sounds amazing and is amazing! Try it – warning – you might like it 😉

This is great way to get your kids to eat a dairy free, sugar free ice cream that even has a dark, green leafy vegetable in it – which they can’t see.  Genius, right? Yes, some times parents have to think of clever ways to get these greens into our kids diets.  Well, I can tell you – this one works!  Last night, all 4 kids happily consumed this ice-cream and my greedy guts 6-year old even had seconds!  It take NO time to whizz together.  So, next time your kids ask for ice cream, how about trying this one instead!  Warning:  This does not contain SUGAR!
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Grab yourself these nutritious bits:
1 cup coconut milk; I prefer the brand ‘koko’ – yum.
Pop in 2 bananas in your freezer to make sure they’re nice and frozen before blending.
A super large handful of Kale (or even 2 super large…

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