Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did You Know ~ Go Whole!

Did you know that at least half the grains your tot consumes should be whole grains? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services toddlers should eat 3oz of grains daily, with at least half of them being whole grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel- the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains provide many important nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium). Particularly the fiber in whole grains brings several health benefits, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. An additional welcome effect of eating whole grains is that it helps your tot poop! Tots need lots of regularly occurring, easy-to-pass poop during potty training. So, there are many important benefits to adding whole grains to your tot’s diet!

Here are some ideas of how to include whole grains in your tot’s diet:
  • 100% whole-wheat bread, bagels, or English muffins. Make sure that the ingredient label states 100% whole wheat (or whole grain). Otherwise, the majority of the bread may be regular wheat flour with only a bit of whole wheat flour mixed in (or molasses added for the brown color). Here's Smiley enjoying his whole-wheat bagel...
  • Oatmeal. Oatmeal is an excellent choice for breakfast. Top it with some berries and milk for a healthy breakfast.
  • Whole grain cereal. Cheerios (Toasted oat cereals) or shredded wheat cereal are good choices. When buying cereal make sure the label says whole grain as the first ingredient listed. Also the cereal should have at least 3 grams of fiber and sugar should not be listed in the first three ingredients.
  • 100% whole wheat crackers. Whole wheat crackers with cheese, peanut butter or another dip make a great snack.
  • Whole wheat or whole corn tortillas. Tortillas filled with veggies, cheese and meat make a very nutritious lunch or dinner that provides all the nutrients your tot needs.
  • Brown rice. Brown rice makes a healthy side dish that can be served with stir-fries, meat, and sauces, or it can be used to stuff bell peppers.
  • Whole grain pasta. Most kids love pasta. If your child is new to whole grain pasta, start by mixing half whole grain, half regular pasta. Once your child is accustomed to the taste, you can slowly sneak out the white pasta. Also, if you serve it with a lot of sauce or as a casserole, your tot may not even notice the difference at all. If your tot is picky and does not like the taste of whole wheat pasta at all, you can try Barilla whole wheat pasta, which is made with 51 percent whole grains and therefore tastes more like regular pasta.
  • Whole wheat pizza dough. Whole wheat pizza dough can now be bought in most grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated or frozen section. If you cannot find it in the store you can easily make your own. Topped with veggies and cheese, this will turn pizza into a healthy dinner option.
  • Whole grain pancakes. You can easily make whole grain pancakes by using whole wheat flour instead of white flour. If your tot is new to whole wheat pancakes, start by using half white and half whole wheat flour until your tot grows accustomed to it.
  • Whole wheat bulgur (cracked wheat). Whole wheat bulgur can be added to vegetable soup, stews, casseroles or stir-fries. You can also create a whole grain pilaf with a mixture of barley, brown rice, broth and spices. For a special touch, you can stir in toasted nuts and/or chopped dried fruit.

If you would like to read more about what the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend for tot’s diets check out their site specifically for preschoolers (ages 2-5).

Please read our Did You Know ~ disclaimer.

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