Tag Archives: Healthy Kids

Kids Vertical Garden

Kids can make the best use of their small space organic veggie garden and available light by growing vertically: terracing, trellising, and using hanging planters. Kids can terrace their veggie plants to capture the most sun and grow a bigger harvest by putting the tallest ones in the back and the shorter ones in front. Kids can arrange containers of herbs and veggies on three or four steps so that each plant gets plenty of light.  Kids can design the garden itself at layered heights, using raised beds, planter boxes, and cinderblock boosters, so that plants of the same height will get enough light.

Another vertical garden technique is to use trellises, arbors, and lattices on walls. Many veggies love to climb up a trellis, such as cucumbers, peas, beans, and melons. Kids can grow fruits and berries on arched trellises, which support growth upward, across, and outward, producing more fruit. A sunny wall with a lattice is another way to grow veggies and maximize space. Trellising enables kids to keep their veggie plants clean with good air circulation.

Hanging planters from the eaves, window ledge, railing, gazebo, pergola, and the ceiling of a sunny room is another way to use vertical space. Hanging planters are usually limited in size so kids can choose smaller veggie varieties with a trailing habit. Strawberries, cherry tomatoes, herbs, lettuces, and bush beans grow beautifully over the edges of hanging planters. Kids can grow a vertical organic fruit and veggie garden anywhere and provide fresh organic food for the table right where they live.

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.

Kid Chef Veggie Korma

Korma is a comforting, creamy curry. This ancient vegan, gluten free dish originally comes from India, has traveled around the world, and gained different vegetables and spices in the mix. The healthy secret to preparing yummy korma is the order of the ingredients added into a large stainless steel pot with a lid, which keeps all the vegetable nutrients in the simmer sauce. Sauté ½ cup chopped organic red onion in 2 tbsp coconut oil, add 1 minced organic garlic clove, 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, cook 1 minute. Stir in ¼ tsp organic ground cardamom, ¼ tsp organic dried red pepper chili, ½ tsp curry powder, ¼ tsp turmeric, and sauté 1 minute.  Add ¾ cup water, 1 chopped organic potato, 1 sliced organic carrot, ½ cup chopped organic cauliflower, 1 cup chopped organic eggplant, ½ tsp sea salt, and bring to a simmer and cook 12 minutes. Add ½ cup chopped organic zucchini, 1/3 cup organic peas, and ¾ cup coconut milk and simmer 12 more minutes. The sauce should be thick and creamy and pale yellow. Korma is traditionally served with rice.

Kids Aspirin

In 1899, a new synthetic compound was created and patented from salicylic acid and called Bayer Aspirin. It has survived unchanged into the 21st Century, maintaining enviable sales as a heart medication.  Salicylic acid derived from willow tree bark has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation, with the side effects of nausea, tinnitus, and gastric irritation. With the development of television in the 1950’s, people heard the commercials and started taking Aspirin for every little thing. All Big Pharma companies today have a quest to develop better pain relievers. Most of these pain projects focus on blocking some type of ion channel in neurons involved with the transmission of painful stimuli. Hence the immense commercial successes of opiates, which are both psychologically and physiologically addictive, induce drowsiness and constipation, and can halt breathing, causing death.

Organic compounds produced by plants are extremely complex and difficult to manipulate in a laboratory. Other synthetic compounds were created from salicylic acid to compete with Bayer Aspirin, such as the over the counter analgesics, Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin. Most people consider them totally benign and take them frequently with little awareness of their risks. The main adverse side effects of these so called safe products are gastrointestinal ulceration, kidney damage, and excessive bleeding.

Kids should take these salicylic acid products sparingly, only for real illness, fever, injury, or as prescribed by the doctor. For a headache or minor pains, kids can have a relaxing bath, a cold pack, a cup of chamomile tea, and a nap.

School Garden Volunteers

School gardens are outdoor classrooms where kids can experience the miracle of life and learn history, science, and math with practical applications. Most schools have a patch of dirt that can be set aside for a garden and even a greenhouse. A sunny school wall can be fitted with vertical garden to grow herbs, flowers, and veggies. Gardening gets kids excited to eat organic in season veggies that they have grown and to try new foods, establishing healthy habits for a lifetime. An organic raised bed garden in the school yard becomes a snack bowl, as kids love to snack on berries, veggies, and fruit while they pick them.

A thriving school garden needs a dedicated Garden Caretaker and a staff of loyal volunteers to keep the garden growing.  A majority of the garden chores continue through the summer when schools are closed. Many schools have summer garden parties where kids, teachers, parents, grandparents, and staff gather for a workday of garden chores, food, and fun. Everyone loves having a pizza oven in the garden, where kids can choose their favorite veggie toppings fresh from the garden.

Experienced volunteer gardeners can awaken in kids the joy of growing their own food and can help produce abundant food for school lunches. Kids can hardly wait to eat what they have grown. A Garden Caretaker opens new doors to kids that have been alienated from nature, abused, or bullied, with their knowledge of the interaction of growing things and their consistent presence in the garden.  Studies show that kids who spend time outdoors, playing in nature, and growing an organic veggie garden are healthier and happier. The Garden Caretaker sets up schedules, organizes work parties, shows what to plant where, and keeps the garden flourishing.

When kids learn to grow their own food with experienced gardeners, they develop healthy eating habits, gain confidence and self sufficiency, and learn life skills. School gardens give kids not only food, but exercise, science projects, and a sense of connection to all life.

Kids Wildflower Seed Balls

Kids can grow native wildflowers and help restore a healthy balance to their local ecosystem. Growing organic native wildflowers saves water, feeds and shelters birds and other wildlife, and attracts beneficial insects with their favorite food. Organic milkweed is the only food for the Monarch butterfly which is endangered, like the honey bee, because of the wide use of pesticides, herbicides, and native habitat lost to development. Kids can plant local native plants and wildflowers and create food and shelter for the honey bee, the Monarch butterfly, and other pollinators. When the right native plant is established in the right place, it does not need extra fertilizer or water and produces lovely colorful flowers. Local native plants have evolved with local insects, birds, and animals and have developed symbiotic relationships with each other. Preserving and protecting the local habitat for our pollinators is important as they are responsible for every third bite of food we eat.  Each butterfly species has its favorite wildflowers for its nectar and pollen and as the host plants for its emerging larvae. Kids can visit a local nursery that specializes in native plants to find plants and seeds that have not been treated with chemicals to plant in their backyard. Kids can create wildflower seed balls and distribute them on road mediums, empty patches, and vacant lots to save the bees and butterflies, while beautifying the roadside with lovely flowers. To give the wildflower seeds a good start, kids can mix the organic seeds in a tiny mud ball of rich organic compost and clay and let them dry. Kids can also join City, State, and National Park Rangers in public wildflower planting projects in their town.

Kids Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets have been used by many cultures around the world for generations. Families can take cast iron skillets camping and prepare down home meals in the rough. Griddles, waffle irons, and flat top grills have been made from cast iron for hundreds of years.  Well seasoned cast iron has great nonstick properties and the heavy pan can withstand high heat and improves with age and use. The high heat gives cornbread that crunchy crust. Cast iron skillets can amass more thermal energy per pound, getting hotter and staying hotter longer than other types of pans. The high heat and an unsaturated vegetable oil, like canola, corn, or safflower, cause a chemical reaction that changes the fats molecules to form a polymerized coating that repels water and makes cast iron nonstick. Kids may find in the basement an old rust free cast iron skillet that needs to be seasoned before using again. To season the skillet, wash the pan in hot, sudsy water and dry it thoroughly. Using a thick pot holder, kids can put it on the stovetop over low heat and add a teaspoon of unsaturated vegetable oil. Rub the oil with a paper towel over the entire pan. Take it off the stove and rub the exterior of the pan with the oil. Place the pan in the oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees. Leave the pan in the oven 30 minutes after the temperature reaches 450 degrees; turn off the oven leaving the pan inside the oven until it cools. To get a well seasoned pan, do this process 3 or 4 more times until the skillet is well blackened. Kids need to preheat their cast iron skillet with unsaturated vegetable oil before cooking in it by starting on low heat and gradually increasing the temperature or putting it in the oven as it heats up. After using the cast iron skillet, kids can wash it with dish soap after it has cooled using a stiff vegetable scrub brush, dry it completely, and rub it down with flaxseed oil to prevent rust. Kids can make delicious flatbreads, crepes, pancakes, and crumpets on top of the stove in their cast iron skillet and cornbread, biscuits, scones, and focaccia in the oven to get that terrific crunchy, caramelized crust.