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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Balance!!: When it Comes to Feeding Your Children

As a mother and a teacher,  I have often been disappointed and almost depressed by some of the snacks/lunches parents send to school.  With my own children and my class, I have tried to teach them the difference between a healthy snack (fruits, vegetables, yogurt) and a “treat” (granola bars, cookies, chips).  Healthy snacks we can have every day and more than once a day.  Treats, we only eat sometimes.   During our day at school, the first snack of the day is always either a fruit or a vegetable.
At home, tricks I use to get more fruits and vegetables into my children are: smoothies,  homemade tomato sauce and additions to our ground beef.  Smoothies are pretty obvious.  Mix in a blender some frozen vanilla yogurt and add your child’s favourite fruits.  You can even sneak in some new fruits.  Call it a milkshake if that helps to get your child to drink it.
 Keep the blender out to make the special pasta sauce.  You may use either  diced tomatoes, actual tomatoes or take your favourite pasta sauce.  I have used all of the above and then blended veggies in to it.  I have added everything from carrots, peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and even spinach.  The spinach  turns the sauce a green/brown colour so I always have a can of inexpensive tomato sauce on hand to mix in.  This will get your sauce back to its proper red hue.  Cook on low in a crock pot (lid off) in order to thicken it up a bit.  When making this sauce I have even added vegetables I normally wouldn’t eat on their own.  You can bring up the sweetness by adding more carrots or red peppers.  Use this sauce on spaghetti with meat sauce.  To get even more veggies into your meal, grate carrot and add it to the ground beef after it is cooked.  With the sauce on it your child won’t even know the extra carrots are in there.  I have even used the grated carrots in hamburgers and meatloaf.
By no means am I the healthiest person in the world.  There are always “treats” in our cupboard but I try to balance everything, TV vs. physical activity, healthy food vs. treats.  Nowadays I find there is a real imbalance.  I hope these ideas give you a new way to balance your families healthy eating.  Enjoy, bon app├ętit!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bend the Sapling

Bend The Sapling

This is an Ukrainian folktale that I feel completely explains how to be a GREAT parent:

A farmer and his wife had a son and, since he was their only child, they spoiled and pampered him from the day he was born.  As the saying goes, they warmed him with their breath.  What he wished for, he received, and what he wanted to do, he did.

          As he grew to a young man, the son began to spend more and more time away from home, and not always with people of good repute.  If there was dancing, he was there, and if there was carousing, it could not start without him.

          One evening, he left home and did not return.  The worried mother and father asked everywhere if anyone knew where he was, but nobody knew.  Perhaps he was no longer among the living.  Perhaps he had been killed.

          Many years later, the father and the mother, having suffered poor crops and other disasters, had to sell their last cow.  The father led the cow to market in the morning, sold her in the afternoon, and set out for home in the evening.
          As he walked through the dark forest, the father was suddenly confronted by a man standing in the path.
          “Where are you going this evening?” asked the stranger.
          “I am going home from the market,” answered the farmer.
          “And what did you do at the market today?” asked the stranger.
          “I sold our last cow today,” said the farmer, and instantly realized that he should not have said that.
          “In that case, let me see the money,” said the stranger.
          “It is all the money we have,” cried the poor farmer.  “It was our last cow, and we have nothing else to live on.”
          “No matter,” said the robber. ”I do not have much time, and you may not have long to live either, if you do not do as I say.”
          Crying pitifully, the old man handed over the money.
          “What village are you from?” the robber asked the old man.
          “From Kurhanova,” wept the old man.
          “Kurhanova? And what is your name?”
          When he heard the name, the robber said, “That is my name too.  I am your son.”

          The farmer began to beg his son to come to his senses.  “Please come home with me, son.  You can repent of your ways and yet lead a righteous life.”
          Instead of replying, the son pointed to a large oak tree nearby.  “Bend that oak tree to the ground.  I need something from its top.”
          The father looked at the tree, but did not understand.  “How can I bend such a tree?”
          “If you do not do as I say, you will have more trouble than you already have,” replied the robber.
          The old man stood at the base of the huge tree and pushed on it but, of course, was not able to budge it.
“Here is a smaller tree,” said the son.  “Bend this one to the ground.”
          Again the father pushed, but could not do anything with the tree.

          “Bend this sapling, then,” said the son.
          This the father was able to do easily.
          “This is a lesson for you, father.  You desire to bend me now, when it is too late.  Why did you not teach me properly when I was yet a sapling, when it was still possible to mold me?”
          Again, the father began to beg for the return of his money.  “I am soory, son.  I made a mistake.  I did not know how to raise an only child.  Please return the money.”
          “Today you wish to have a son and your money, but when you let your son wander where he wished as he was growing up, well, there went your money.  And now I must go.  Good health to you, father.”
          So saying, the son turned into the dark forest and was seen no more.
          As for the father, he realized his mistake and, if the earth had opened at that moment, he would have gladly jumped in and disappeared forever.  But the earth did not open, and he had to live with the knowledge of his mistake.

“Bend The Sapling”, was copied from Durak and other Ukrainian folk tales retold in English by Danny Evanishen.