Tag Archives: good manners

Kids Kindness Diet

In a world of unbridled rage, kids are facing bullying in the playground and in society. Families are searching for a kinder and more sustainable way of being. Organic gardening and cooking from the garden provides the most nutrient rich diet, and both gardening and cooking are stress reducers that bring feelings of accomplishment, responsibility, and happiness.  Pointing kids to the joys of growing their own organic food instills positive eating habits, leadership skills, and better attitudes.   Kindness begins at home by stocking the pantry with organic whole grains, organic dried beans, and organic dried fruits and nuts and removing processed foods.

Everything is connected, and the world reflects the consequences of our choices, including our eating habits. Chemical fertilizers on the food plants are harming the microorganisms in the soil. Every cubic inch of healthy organic soil is a miniature world of beneficial living organisms that feed all living things on our planet. This micro-universe takes the organic material in the soil and turns it into useable food and nutrients for the plant, which grows veggies rich with nutrients for kids. Herbicides are killing medicinal plants and reducing our food diversity. Pesticides are killing the bees and butterflies. There are atrocities that happen to millions of kind and gentle animals worldwide on a daily basis.

Many families today are rebuilding their health with nutritious food that is also good for the planet, by growing organic food right where they live in containers and raised bed gardens. Certain premade foods contain chemicals that cause addictive cravings that are quite similar to the cravings of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Processed foods, refined frozen meals, and fast foods stimulate dopamine, the brain’s pleasure neurotransmitter. One in four Americans eats fast food every day and 20% of American meals are eaten in the car. Much of the world’s economy depends on this addiction. As it causes health issues, the pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry benefit; meanwhile our doctors are attending educational seminars sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies. Some of these prescription drugs are addictive and cause aggressive and irrational behavior. If we eliminated foods that cause health problems, many powerful food corporations, agricultural conglomerates, and drug industries would collapse.

When kids grow an organic veggie garden, they want to eat what they grow. Packaged, processed foods lose their addictive hold after kids taste the fresh bold flavors of just picked organic berries. What food could be faster than picking fruit from the vine? Kids can learn kindness in the garden by caring for their plants, providing food and shelter plants for their garden partners (birds, bees, and butterflies), and harvesting healthy food for their whole family. A 10’ x 20’ plot at the Community Garden can feed a family of four. Cultivate your garden and live in daily expectation of wonder.

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Kids Table Manners

How we experience food in our homes and environment, changes our bodies and our metabolic process. Modern hectic lifestyle has eroded family meal traditions. Recent research shows that the family meal can uplift the mental and physical wellness of parents and kids. Families eat healthier, communicate better, and become closer. Healthy habits for a lifetime can be created for kids while enjoying a nutritious meal with loved ones.  Family mealtime can be made special by including the kids in the family meal planning. Kids can help planning a menu, making a shopping list, and preparing a dish. Depending on their age, they can measure, pour, and stir ingredients for the meal. Kids that grow an organic veggie garden can pick their produce at the height of freshness and add it to the menu. Proud of their offering, they learn to wash their hands, clean the produce, set the table, and keep the kitchen cleaner than when they started.  Parents can discover what is happening in their child’s life at school and play, as kids will want to communicate.  Family mealtime can bring beauty, value, and meaning to everyday life for both parents and kids.

Table manners help create that special environment for parents and kids to show gratitude and respect for the meal.  Kids can swallow their food before talking and use their napkin to wipe sticky hands or to cover their mouth when coughing. Kids can speak kindly at the table: “Please pass the bread,” “I’m sorry for bumping the table,” “Excuse me for spilling,” “Thank you for the mashed potatoes”. When parents set the example of using good manners to enjoy healthy homemade food, kids will too. The wonderful aromas of home cooking and the laughter around the dinner table are the making of happy kids and fond memories.

Kids Mindful Eating

When kids grow their own veggies, they want to eat what they have grown. Even small kids can help tidy the dining area, set the table, or create a centerpiece of flowers, leaves, or fruit from the garden. When kids invest in the growing, planning, and cooking of the meal, they want to enjoy the meal peacefully and eat mindfully, without electronic devises, excited to have their family enjoy what they have done.

However, some kids come to the table complaining about their food. Whatever dish has been prepared, they start crying for something else, throwing the food, and pushing it away. They whine about the meal as they play with the toy car, driving it over the fruit platter on the table. They hit their sibling with the banana. Refusing to eat what was their favorite dish in the past, they scream for their video game until they get a phone, tablet, or computer to continue their play, while some other dish they demanded is being prepared. Some kids will only eat quietly while watching cartoons. Many families with busy schedules eat at separate times and places, while the dining room table remains cluttered with stuff.

Being thankful, polite, and kind at the dinner table is the beginning of Mindful Eating. Kids can begin the meal with a song of gratitude for the abundant harvest. They can thank the many farmers, truckers, food processors, grocers, and their folks who have worked to bring this food to the table. Kids can have a taste test, like the boy in the picture above, to try new foods and compare the salty, sweet, spicy, and sour tastes of foods. Or the taste test can be to guess the ingredients in a dish. Kids can play a game to see how many chews they can have with one bite of food. Twenty-five to thirty chews per bite helps to digest the food and get the most nutrients into their system to build healthy bodies. Kids can find peaceful music to play during a dinner where everyone eats silently. Mindful Eating is kids being peaceful and present in the moment, appreciating every mouthful, especially the delicious organic produce they have helped to grow and prepare.

Holiday Cooking With Kids

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Kids love the kitchen and setting them simple tasks can be a boon to a peaceful holiday celebration. My great grandmother would say, “Busy hands are happy hands”, as she got everyone involved in the preparation for the festivities. As the aromas fill the house, a mood can be set to make cherished holiday memories. Kids will try new foods that they have helped to prepare. Kids can wash the vegetables and gather the bowls, pots, measuring cups, and set the table. Kids enjoy stirring the pot while standing on a step. The older kids can help the younger kids wash their hands and help keep the kitchen clean during the cooking. Holidays are a great time to share food cooked from scratch, prepared in a healthy manner from an organic backyard garden with loved ones. Kids can discover that homemade meals are yummier and fun to make with family. Kids also discover they feel better after eating a healthy feast. The joy kids find sharing in the holiday preparation can bring positive eating habits, laughter, and open communication.

Kids love the Kitchen

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The kitchen is still the heart of the home. Food is central to family activities and entertaining. Today’s homeowners want an open concept house with the kitchen open to the living and dining areas, where kids and parents can communicate across the areas and feel connected. Kids love to sit at the kitchen table with a snack and do their homework. The kitchen is often the place where family memories are created, making cookies with Grandma, pancakes with Dad, holiday dishes with Mom. Kids learn kitchen manners, which are to leave the kitchen cleaner than you found it. Kids can help cook the food, keep the kitchen sanitary, and set the table. Kids can also make it more beautiful by arranging fruit in bowls, veggies in hanging baskets, and herbs in vases. Many refrigerators are decorated with kids’ art work. People stay connected with food in the kitchen at holidays, celebrations, and family meals. Kids feel loved in the kitchen.

Family Mealtime

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Until they left for college, my three sons ate homemade meals with both parents every day at the dining table. Their friends, who were addicted to fast foods, would be amazed that our whole family ate meals together every day, as our modern hectic lifestyle has eroded family meal traditions. Now my sons cook family meals for their kids and for me too. Recent research shows that the family meal can uplift the mental and physical wellness of parents and kids. Families eat healthier, communicate better, and become closer. When parents set the example of enjoying eating healthy food, kids will too. When parents pay attention to family members, instead of watching TV, texting, or talking on the phone, they are more likely to discover what is happening in their child’s life at school, as kids will want to communicate in that safe environment. But unfortunately, in many households today, family meals happen only once or twice a week. Some families have two menus and different times for kids and adults.
The dining table is often the place where the mail is tossed, kids do homework, and assorted items get left. Kids enjoy decorating the table with fruit, nuts, or flowers, and the table gets magically tidied. Kids feel happy and proud to be able to set the table, with cups above the knives to the right of the plate and forks to the left on top of the napkin, especially when their efforts are appreciated or excused if they make a mess and have a do over to get it looking good.
Family mealtime can be made special by including the kids in the family meal planning. Even toddlers enjoy banging pots and pans with a wooden spoon! Kids can help planning a menu and making a shopping list. They learn to wash their hands, clean the produce, and keep the kitchen cleaner than when they started. Kids find that using a salad spinner is fun. Cooking helps kids with their math and reading skills. At the store, they learn what is organic, in season, and grown locally, by reading the food labels. They can read the recipe out loud and gather the ingredients, pots, and utensils needed for the meal. Depending on their age, they can measure, pour, stir, and grate the ingredients. Older kids can chop veggies and use the blender and food processor. They can preheat the oven, set the timer, and stir the pots, keeping pot handles turned inward. They can pick fresh herbs and veggies from the garden or windowsill. Family mealtime brings beauty, value, and meaning to everyday life for both parents and kids. Invite laughter, love, and luck to the table by breathing deep, thinking kind, grateful thoughts, and smelling the aromas of home. How we experience food in our homes and environment, changes our bodies and the metabolic process. This is the moment to create a special environment for ourselves and our loved ones.

Healthy Kid Chef Tea Party

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Preparing for the Tea Party is half the fun for kids! By choosing the tablecloth, glasses and plates, deciding on the just the right outfit, and making out the menu, kids get a good exercise in time management, organization, and planning. How many people, dolls, or Teddy Bears? Is it for Princesses or Super Heroes? Is it with Grandma? Here is a picture of my granddaughter, having a Tea Party with her American Girl doll and me. A hundred and fifty years ago the Tea Party was where you used your best manners in your best clothes. Being polite and treating people with respect is part of being a Healthy Kid Chef.  Many communities today offer a ballroom dance class for ages 10-12, where the boys bring punch and cookies to the girls dressed in nice clothes. It is fun learning manners on the dance floor and at a Healthy Kid Chef Tea Party, my granddaughter loves both.

Fresh organic lemonade or apple juice is a good choice to pour into pretty glassware. Herbal tea and honey comes in many flavors, those with Hibiscus flowers are reddish and look nice in delicate tea cups. Finger sandwiches, fresh cut fruit salad, and fresh baked cookies on matching plates are Tea Party staples for kid chefs.  Kids like organic whole grain oat bread with peanut butter and jelly cut in four diagonals, shredded coconut on strawberry, banana, pineapple salad and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Tea Parties are fun and yummy!