Now that fall is coming, moms are asking me how they can prepare foods and snacks that their children will enjoy, both for lunch boxes and after school snacks. My go-to, not-so-secret ingredient is as close as my pantry. I always turn to honey as a natural ingredient to jazz up typical meals and snacks to make this back-to-school season exciting for the whole family.
With more than 300 different types or varietals of honey in the U.S., honey adds its own unique flavor to your recipes. I love that it's such a versatile ingredient that helps make foods more appetizing. Plus, did you know that once your little one has turned one year of age, they may be able to enjoy honey with the rest of the family! The digestive system of a one year old child is usually considered by pediatricians to be "grown-up" enough to digest honey.
Also, moms are often asking me for ideas and tips to get their toddlers to eat more vegetables. Back-to-school season is the perfect time to shake up your recipe arsenal and experiment with new snacks and meals that the whole family will love. I make a yummy sweet potato and honey puree that is a terrific do-it-yourself (DIY) toddler favorite.
Here's my recipe:
Nurse Barb's Sweet Potato and Honey Puree
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and scrub the outside of sweet potato or yam. Using a fork, pierce the outside of the sweet potato or yam. (This allows steam to vent and prevent little eruptions.) Place on a cookie sheet that's been lined with foil (this makes cleanup so much easier!). Roast for 1 hour or until it's soft.
Allow to cool enough to handle and then scoop out the softened roasted sweet potato from its jacket. Mash up the sweet potato and add 1-2 teaspoons of honey to the mixture.
TIP: Cook extra sweet potatoes so that you can have one drizzled with honey and a pat of butter.
TIP: This will last 3 days in your fridge or 3 months in your freezer. I like to freeze small amounts in freezer safe containers that I can thaw out as needed.
It can also be challenging to provide a variety of flavorful foods that older children will eat, whether it's your little ones that are headed off to pre-school, kindergartners or older kids.
But this is also a time when good nutrition and a variety of foods is critical to help your child have enough energy for school, homework and afterschool activities.
Protein, vegetables and fruit will help them stay alert and focused throughout the school day. A dash of honey added to a snack is a natural way to sweeten foods and increase their palatability for kids. In addition, for those families who need gluten-free choices, honey can help mask some of the bitterness of gluten-free flours.
I know from experience that most kids will eat more vegetables and lean protein if the presentation is more fun. Here's a list of my go–to favorites because they're quick, tasty and my son and his friends love them!
Today's blog post was written by Nurse Barb Dehn, spokesperson for the National Honey Board. Nurse Barb joined Women Physicians in 1991 and is known throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, with regular television appearances as a health expert.