Friday, July 31, 2009

Keeping Kids Hydrated - Guilt-free!

Last week, I had the 4-Year and 6-Year Well Checks. While completing the lengthy checklists for both kids (which my amazing pediatric practice now lets you download prior to your visit so that you can actually think about your responses), I guiltily checked "yes" when asked whether my child drinks more than 4 ounces of juice per day. In her great blog, "It's Not About Nutrition: The Art and Science of Teaching Kids to Eat Right," Dina Rose, Ph.D., writes that you should "treat juice as a treat, not a staple." She also adds that "regular juice consumption reinforces your child's desire for sweet flavors." She's right, she's right, I know she's right.

So, how did I end up with my guilt-ridden checkmark on the wrong side of the right way to feed my children well? I want to keep my kids hydrated. I know that they should be drinking milk and water. Luckily, we are in good shape when it comes to milk. We recently switched to milk delivered in glass bottles and that has increased my kids' consumption. Also, they like the Organic Milk Boxes in their lunchboxes for school and daycare. Yes, they cost a pretty penny, but they are worth it for 2 reasons: 1) it gets the kids to drink their milk and 2) they do not leak so the lunchboxes don't get all stinky and gross.

With milk consumption in a good place, last summer I focused on increasing the amount of water my son and daughter were drinking. I went to LLBean and bought them cute Sigg aluminum water bottles (one got Happy Planes, the other, Happy Cars) to the tune of $15 a piece. The rule was only water was going in those pricey bottles. No juice, no lemonade. Water. The novelty lasted about a week and then my son lost his during the first week of kindergarten. The only time they want to drink water is when it's Mommy's water. They want a sip out of my icy cold Kleen Kanteen. Or even better, I'm dying of thirst as we check out at Target, decide to splurge for myself on an expensive and non-environmentally friendly bottled water and they, of course, want one too. They will get in the car with their ginormous water bottles, take one sip, and either abandon the rest or spill it.

The kids are willing to drink milk with lunch and dinner, but that leaves breakfast, two snacks and everything in between. And that is how I ended up going over the 4 ounces of juice. My son went to full day kindergarten this past year after drinking 4 ounces of apple juice with breakfast, a 6.75 oz Motts for Tots for morning snack, and a Capri Sun Roarin Waters with his afternoon snack. Hydrated? Yes. Healthy? Not so much.

Check out the NuVal scores for last year's plan:

Breakfast: Motts 100% Apple Juice 10

Morning Snack: Motts for Tots Apple 20

Afternoon Snack: Capri Sun Roarin Water Cherry 10

So, what can I do differently? Grocery stores in my area do not have NuVal scores yet, so I had to research this one, write down some products, shop in a few different stores and conduct home taste tests, but it was worth it. Check it out:

Breakfast: Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D 51

Morning Snack: Minute Maid Kids with Vitamins and Calcium 70

Afternoon Snack: Minute Maid Fruit Falls Water 41

We're still over the 4 ounce juice limit, but at least we've traded up for better NuVal scores. If we can switch one serving of juice to water, I can have guilt-free 5-Year and 7-Year Well Checks. We'll get there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Goldfish vs. Bunnies

This weekend, my friend (a NuVal newbie) and I were discussing my next blog post while we supervised our kids swimming in the pool. It went like this:

Me: I think I'll write about Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. They get a pretty good score, you know. They get a 24.

My Friend: A 24? That's not a good score! That's low!

Me: No, no! A 24 is really good when you're talking about crackers.

Anyway, this exchange reminded me that I need to inform my readers that you can't get 100 in every category. See, here's the deal: many fruits and vegetables score in the 90 - 100 range. Skim milk does too. But you also need to eat protein and grains, etc. And then there are treats. You're not going to find a cookie that scores a 100 (nor would you want to eat one if you did). So, when you're talking about crackers, the scores range from 2 - 87. The median score (half score above it, half score below it) for crackers is a 14.

With all that said, let's get back to Goldfish - a staple in ever toddler's diet. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheddar score a 24. Annie's Cheddar Bunnies get a 6. That is not a typo - that is a 6! Not everything in the organic/healthy section of your grocery store is nutritious.

Now that my kids are getting bigger and they are eating A LOT of crackers with all the swimming they've been doing, I've been tempted to move on to something a little more mature than Goldfish. Like Cheez Its. My kids love Sponge Bob Cheez Its (so much for maturity). They get a 15, slightly better than Original Cheez-Its which get a 13. I could try to get them to eat Keebler Townhouse Bistro Multigrain Crackers. Don't they just sound so up-scale and healthy? They score a 2!

So I guess we'll be eating Goldfish for a while!

Here are some other cracker scores:
Nabisco Triscuit 29
Kashi TLC 7 Grain Crackers 27
Annie's Cheddar Bunnies Whole Wheat 27
Sunshine Reduced Fat Cheez Its 23
Nabisco Wheat Thins 23
Nabisco Cheese Nips Reduced Fat Cheddar 9

You can see more cracker scores at

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Frozen French Fries

At least once a week, I give the kids frozen French fries with dinner. This is my Monday night strategy, when I leave at the witching hour to go teach Pilates and my DH is in charge of overseeing the dinner-eating. I was feeling like I should not let my frozen French fry secret leak out to the Mother of the Year search committee, when lo and behold, I discovered that the fries I was serving actually got a score of 76! That's right, Cascadian Farms French Fries get a 76 out of 100 on the NuVal scale. That's pretty good when you consider that spinach gets a 100.

Here are how some of the other frozen French fries score:

Alexia Organic Yukon Gold Julienne Fries with salt 42

McCains French Fries Smiles 29

Ore-Ida Tater Tots, Seasoned Shredded Potatoes 23

McCain Sweet Potato Crinkle Cut Fries 14

For more frozen potato and onion scores, go to

Welcome to My Blog

Hello and welcome to my Blog! My name is Melissa and I am a working mom of two great kids, a boy and a girl, ages 6 and 4 respectively. Like so many moms out there, my life never seems to stop for a second. Through it all, I try to keep my family healthy and fit. It is not easy. I find myself in the supermarket, looking at all the juice boxes and wondering, "Which is the best one?" Not that I have time to read any labels, because my pre-schooler is pulling on my sleeve, my Blackberry is blinkety-blinking at me, afore-mentioned pre-schooler is begging for SpongeBob Macaroni and Cheese and oh by the way, we have to be at the bus stop to get my son in 20 minutes!

So, full disclosure here - I work for a company called NuVal. It is an amazing new nutritional scoring system that ranks foods from 1-100 based on how nutritious they are. It is very simple - the higher the number the better the nutrition. We're implementing NuVal in grocery stores around the country. NuVal may not be in your area yet, but here on my blog, you can get a sneak peek at some of the scores that are coming out. It will change the way you shop and eat.

If you are dying for more information, there are lots of sample scores at NuVal is currently live in Price Chopper, Hy-Vee, and Meijer stores.