Kitchen Helpers

You can never start too early getting children involved in the kitchen. The holidays bring lots of food and endless opportunities for cooking time. Cooking is an exciting experience for kids to uses their creativity while learning new skills.

First, start by teaching your child the basics and as they progresses allow them to have more kitchen responsibility. Throughout their experience teach them about the time and patience involved in building a recipe. Introduce them to new flavors and textures and let their imagination go wild!

Don’t forget! While your child is becoming a chef master continually educated them on the number of hazards in the kitchen. Teach them about proper hygiene and how to correctly wash their hands.

The Basics (4-7 years old)

Measuring: Using small measuring spoons to measure ingredients into a bowl

Weighing: Spooning ingredients on to kitchen scales

Mixing: Using a whisk, spoon or hands to mix ingredients together

Kneading: Assist in kneading dough

Spreading: Spreading jam or butter on toast or icing a cake

Washing: Rinse fruits and vegetables

Picking: Have them pick fruits and veggies from a garden or at the store

Super Skills (8-11 years old)

Cutting: Begin teaching children knife skills, practice first with a butter knife the proper way to hold and use. Have them slice soft foods like berries, butter and bread until they are they become comfortable.

Measuring: Have them start measuring out larger quantities of ingredients. Practicing their math skills!

Beating: Teach them how to uses an electric mixer to beat eggs and cakes batter

Greasing: Have them uses butter and cooking spray on cooking pans

Cleaning: Help wipe down tables and counters, help rinse spoons and small dishes

The Little Chef (12 and up)

Recipes: Have them follow simple recipes. Let them brainstorm ideas for creative snacks and meals!

Heating: Teach them how to properly use the microwave, watch food on the stove, and place food in the oven.

Equipment: Explain the use of different kitchen equipment and how to safely use

Opening: Show them how to use a can opener and open a variety of containers

Shopping List: Have them look in the fridge and cupboards to help create a grocery list

Peeling: Show them how to uses a potato peeler on different items


Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels

SERVING SIZE is the first place to start when looking at the nutrition label.

All calorie and nutrient information is based on the serving size. Start by looking at the portion of food in one serving. This may be shown in cups, pieces, or package. This is always followed by the weight in grams.

Below the serving size is the amount of serving per container. Keep an eye out; many food items contain several servings.

Paying attention to the serving size is a good tool to avoid over consuming. If you consume two serving of food from the package you must double the calories and nutrients found on the label.


Tip: When comparing two similar products make sure that their serving sizes match. You may think one product contains more fat until you notice it serving size is just larger.

CALORIES are specified below the serving size. The calories listed on the label are based on the calories found in one serving.


General Calories Guide

40 Calories is low

100 Calories is moderate

400 Calories or more is high

Tip: Not all calories are the same. Calories from processed, high fat food should be limited, while calories from fruits and vegetables should not.


% DAILY VALUE is a general guide used to show how much a nutrient is contributing to your daily diet.

As a general rule, if the percentage is high (>20%) it is greatly contributing to the daily value, while if it is low (<5%) it is not contributing much.

NUTRIENTS are listed in grams and milligrams on the nutrition label.

Nutrients to Limit

When reading a nutrient label, keep in mind how much fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol the product contains. Using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans you can make an informed decision if the product is right for you.

  • Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by

replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids

  • Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol
  • Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible
  • Reduce the intake of calories from added sugars

Nutrient to Increase

A product may be a good choice if it is rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium or iron. These are all important nutrient that are lacking in most American’s diets. Use the percent daily value found next to each nutrient to decide if it is a good source.

The higher the percentage the more of the nutrient the product contains- 20% or more being high and 5% or less being low.

Choose foods that are the most nutrient dense. This means you are getting the most nutrients for the amount of calories. Do this by comparing the calories with the percentage of each nutrient.

Tip: If a product is high in calories and low in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and iron it is not a nutrient dense food.

For a more information on food labeling visit the FDA website

Pick the Perfect Produce and Cook Seasonally

Select Seasonal

There are so many benefits to choosing seasonal produce. All through out the year new flavors and colors of fruits and veggies are available. Eating with the seasons gives you and your family the opportunity to eat a rainbow of colors all year round.

The taste of seasonal produce is richer and more flavorful than non-seasonal. Non-seasonal produce is shipped from all around the world. During the transportation produces it often loses it taste and nutritional value.

Along with better flavor, another major benefit is the price! The abundance of crop and local distance allows it to be sold for less.

Winter Produce Guide

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Broccoli: choose broccoli that is deep green, with tightly packed heads. The heads should be firm and bigger than the stem. (See the super food benefits of broccoli here)


Cauliflower: choosing cauliflower is similar to broccoli. You are looking for a tightly packed head that is firm when touched. Unlike broccoli, you want your cauliflower to be pale with no visible dark sports

  • Tip: Cauliflower can spoil easily so keep it wrapped tightly in the fridge crisper drawer

Kale: select thick, crisp leaves- they should be dark green in color with no wilted edges. (See the super food benefits of leafy greens here)

Pomegranate: the heavier the pomegranate, the juicer! Select pomegranates heavy in size and deep in color. The color may vary across the pomegranate with no effect on its flavor

Beets: purchase heavy beets with minimal flaws

Brussels Sprouts: choose vibrant green sprouts that are tightly closed

Mandarins: pick deep orange mandarins that are firm. (See the super food benefits of citrus here)

Mushrooms: choose mushrooms that are not too wet and not too dry- perfectly moist.

Root Vegetables: root veggies should be firm with minimal discolored spots

Sweet Potatoes: choose orange sweet potatoes for a sweeter flavor and golden sweet potatoes for a creamy flavor. (See the super food benefits of sweet potatoes here)

Winter Squash: look for deep colors with no flaws, cracks or spots

Find in season produce at your local famers market! To find a farmers market close to you visit

Incorporate seasonal produce into your meals and snacks! Try a hearty winter recipe

by Eat Good Food.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 1.12.27 PM

Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup

1 large head cauliflower

Olive oil for drizzling

3 medium to large sized peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces

1 sweet onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

7 cups filtered water

First, preheat your oven to 400 °F and cut up your cauliflower into bite sized pieces.

Place cauliflower onto ungreased cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.

Place in oven and let roast until golden brown on the tops and tender, but not mushy, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool while you cook the rest of the soup.

In large stockpot, bring sweet potato, onion, garlic and water to a boil. Salt (abt 3/4 tsp) and stir. Reduce heat and allow to remain at a constant simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.

Add in cooked cauliflower and divide soup into 2 parts.

Let soup cool and then blend one part soup in blend.


Stay Smart During the Holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching. That means family gatherings, fun celebrations, and lots of food! During this time, holiday foods should be enjoyed. There are many easy and stress free ways to keep healthy during this joyful time. With simple changes, you and your family can stay smart about holiday eating.


Start everyday with breakfast

Skipping breakfast will not save room to indulge later! It will actually cause us to make poor food choices. Start each day on a good foot, with a wholesome breakfast. Including fiber, protein, and whole grains. This will give us energy and keep us full longer.

Make breakfast seasonal

  • Pumpkin or gingerbread pancakes
  • Cinnamon oatmeal
  • Eggnog French toast
  • Sweet potatoes and eggs
  • Seasonal fruit parfait (kiwi, pears, pomegranate, tangerines)

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Swap your ingredients

Whether you are hosting a holiday dinner or providing a dish, there are many healthy alternatives that can be incorporated into traditional family recipes.

  • Replace sour cream with Greek yogurt
  • Replace sugar with applesauce
  • Replace white bread and grains for whole wheat
  • Add flavor with spices instead of salt
  • Try spaghetti squash instead of pasta
  • Choose white meat instead of dark
  • Veggies with dip in replacement of chips


Enjoy dessert

It is completely acceptable to enjoy guilt free deserts during the holidays. However, moderation is key! Chose a smaller serving size and bake with superfood ingredients.

  • Add fresh and seasonal fruit to deserts
  • Add flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
  • Lessen the amount of oil and butter and add avocado
  • Add in flax meal, you wont even know it is there!
  • Make deserts with peanut butter, fresh bananas, and nuts

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Family Activities

While the holidays are a time to relax, don’t get too comfortable. The extra time spent with family and friends in the perfect time for family outings.

  • Spend the day at the park
  • Go for a walk after eating
  • Play an active family game. Get everyone involved!

Sneak in Veggies

The wide variety of holiday dishes makes it easy to sneak in veggies. Veggies add favor and health benefits!

  • Incorporate kale or spinach in stuffing
  • Sweet potato or cauliflower mashed potatoes
  • Sautéed veggies as a side dish
  • Add whole corn to cornbread

Building a Healthy Meal for your Child

We all want to make sure our kids are getting healthy, balanced meals. Here are some great tips to help you make their meals more balanced.

blog post_build healthy meals 01  Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients

  • Vitamin A prevents infections
  • Vitamin C heals the body
  • Folate keeps cells healthy
  • Potassium lowers blood pressure
  • Fiber maintains a healthy gut

Encourage your child to fill up on fruit

  • Add fruits to meals like oatmeal and cereal
  • Keep a colorful fruit bowl
  • Pack fruit in their lunches
  • Pre-slice fruit for easy snacks


Add vegetables to your child’s favorite meals

  • Use veggies in soups and stir-fry’s
  • Add greens to a sandwich
  • Order pizza with veggies
  • Include a salad with dinner
  • Serve veggies with dipping sauce

Tips for purchasing fruits and vegetables

  • Rise canned veggies to remove sodium
  • Purchase seasonally
  • Buy a variety of colors
  • Purchase fresh produce weekly

blog post_build healthy meals 03  Protein

When your child falls and scraps their knee. Their bodies use protein in order to repair itself.

Protein rich foods include:

  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Choose the proper protein for your child

  • Choose low fat meat and poultry
  • Alternate protein sources
  • Serve fish 3 times a week

 blog post_build healthy meals 02 Grains

Children receive several essential nutrients from fortified grains.

Add grains to your child’s diet

  • Purchase whole wheat pastas and breads
  • Replace white rice with brown rice
  • Replace recipes with whole wheat flour
  • Buy whole grain cereals

blog post_build healthy meals 04  Dairy

Children build strong bones with the nutrients found in dairy.

Don’t forget your child’s dairy

  • Vitamin D and calcium grow strong bones
  • Vary their choices between cheese, milk and yogurt
  • Select reduced fat, low fat and fat free
  • Purchase pasteurized dairy to ensure its safety

Healthy Fall, Healthy you

blog post_HEALTHY TIPS

Make this Fall your healthiest yet, with a healthy tip for every day of November.

  1. Flu season is here. Remind kids to wash their hands.
  2. Remind kids to slow down and enjoy their food.
  3. BUY most of your food from the produce, dairy and deli section.
  4. Make dinner time, family time.
  5. Shop smart and read the nutrition labels.
  6. 100% fruit juice counts as one serving of fruit.
  7. Go on a family walk.
  8. 10 minutes in the sun a day give adequate Vitamin D.
  9. Apples, oranges, and pears are all in season this month.
  10. Don’t forget to eat breakfast.
  11. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  12. Have fruit with yogurt for dessert.
  13. Moderation is key.
  14. Use vinegar to disinfect surfaces and toys.
  15. Create a physical activity chart.
  16. Take your kids to the library to pick out books.
  17. Check the CUSD Nutrition blog for Thanksgiving Super foods.
  18. Teach your kids the importance of flossing.
  19. Let kids pick their own fruit and vegetable snack after school.
  20. Have a jump rope contest.
  21. Replace the saltshaker with herbs and spices.
  22. Make whole grain pancakes for breakfast.
  23. Add more fruits and vegetables to holiday cooking.
  24. Select cold foods last when shopping.
  25. Play a game of catch.
  26. Educate yourself on how to safely prepare holiday meals.
  27. Be thankful.
  28. Donate canned food to your local food bank.
  29. Have your kids pick their favorite fruits at the grocery store.
  30. End November with an outdoor family activity.

What are your great tips for staying healthy in the Fall/Winter months?

Tips for Picky Eaters

So many parent struggle with picky eaters. It can be stressful having to wonder if your child is getting enough nutrients. With time, children will begin to develop a liking for new foods. Until then, try these tips and tricks!


Pick a food group and let them choose- “carrots or celery”, “strawberries or blueberries”, “chicken or fish”. Kids like making their own decisions rather then being told what to eat. They will get satisfaction and learn how to make healthy choices.

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Let them help wash and clean fruits and veggies, pick their serving and put it on their plate. They will feel pride in their work and want to dig in!

No more Bribes

While bribes may seem like a good idea and will provide short-term benefits, it ultimately attaches negative feeling towards food.

Exposure equals Acceptance

Continue serving new foods, even if you child is rejecting them. While this can be frustrating, research proves kids need to taste a food anywhere between 10 and 15 times before they can develop a liking. Placing a giant plate full of broccoli in font of them is overwhelming. Just let them taste- a couple bites here and there.

Finger foods

Leave the chips and cookies at the store! If kids are opening up the pantry and seeing boxes of cookies they are going to be enticed to eat them. Pre cut fruits and veggies for easy finger food.


A child who is hungry is more likely to eat the options presented to them, even if it’s not their favorite. Don’t try to provide new or nutritious foods if their bellies are full- they will be sure to reject them.

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Get creative

  • Traffic light peppers ~cut red, yellow and green pepper into circles. They make a fresh, crisp snack. Add a side of ranch if needed.
  • Coconut crazy! ~ Add shredded coconut to whole grain waffles or pancakes. The light sweetness will make kids forget they are eating whole-grains.
  • Ice globes ~ place a serving of grapes in the freezer before dinner. When its time for dessert, pull them out. It totally transforms the texture and makes them taste like candy.
  • Baked French Fries- cut russet or sweet potatoes into strips. Bake them in the over to create a healthy version of fries.
  • Zucchini Pizza Boats ~ slice your zucchini in half; add marinara and mozzarella cheese for a healthy pizza crust.