Friday, March 6, 2009

On Birthday Food and Treats

Raising healthy children is a balancing act, in my opinion. It is totally impossible and impractical to "shelter" children from all unhealthy foods. The goal is to train a child's appetites to prefer foods that do the body good. Sooner or later, your child will make his own food choices. While we function in our parental roles, we have a threefold aim:
  • to teach the child enough about nutrition that he knows what is good and why;
  • to create a habits of eating healthily that will govern the child's tastes;
  • and to set apart "treats" as what they are - foods we eat on special occasions and not daily.
In our family, a birthday is a very special occasion. All throughout the day, we hold little celebrations. One special thing our children get to do on their birthdays is select the whole day's menu and their birthday cake. We allow them to choose foods that are not our normal fare, as long as the menu is still balanced. I listed out Rainbow's choices yesterday, and I'd like to make a few comments about them today.

You may have wondered about "Ants on a Log." Simple recipe here: spread natural peanut butter on a celery stick. Dot ants all down the peanut butter. And VOILA, you have "Ants on a Log." Is there a better way to eat celery? (Celery is not a favorite of mine, yet it is frequently in our produce box, so all suggestions will be greatly appreciated!)

For supper, Rainbow chose her favorite: Salmon Broccoli Pasta. This is a simple meal with very few ingredients. And, it takes less than thirty minutes, so it is a winner in my book! If your family wouldn't dream of eating salmon, you can substitute chicken.

Simple steps for this tasty dish:
  1. Cook 1 pound of whole wheat (or rice) pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, saute 6 servings of broccoli in EVOO (that's extra virgin olive oil). Broccoli soaks up the oil pretty quickly, so you will need about four tablespoons.
  3. A few minutes before the broccoli is done, add four minced garlic cloves. Let the garlic cook for a few minutes with the broccoli.
  4. Add 2 cans of boneless, skinless salmon or about 12 ounces of leftover grilled salmon. Wild- caught salmon (and canned salmon) are still on the list of "safe" seafood, which reminds me that I want to write a post about toxin levels in different types of fish.
  5. Toss the broccoli/garlic/salmon with the cooked pasta. Salt to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.
After dinner, Rainbow chose to have a Cinnamon Roll Cake. This is a new one. Up until this birthday, she has creatively imagined a beautifully decorated cake. Is leaving behind frills and playfulness a sign of her increasing maturity? Maybe she just likes cinnamon rolls, right?

This cake is just a variation of my sweet rolls recipe. Instead of the usual rolling and slicing, however, I rolled a five foot long snake and flattened it with a rolling pin.

Rolling up this long strip of dough made one very large cinnamon roll! This is a picture before we added her candles. She loved it! It may not be conventional, but it was exactly what she wanted.

Did you notice the mess on my counter? YIKES! I make messes like that very often. This is only non-toxic cleaning product I have found that works powerfully on a doughy-floury-buttery surface.


Cascia said...

What a great idea! I might have to incorporate healthy eating and nutrition with my daughter's pre-school lessons. I love your salmon broccoli recipe. I might have to try it.

Anonymous said...

We all love a similar dish: smoked salmon pasta. :) Both my kids have asked for that for their birthday meals.

Cinnamon roll "cake" is such a cool idea!

Noel said...

Oh wow, I've never seen a cinnamon roll that big. Looks great :)