Inspired by adorable tomatoes, yesterday’s snowfall, and vegetable-hesitant kids.


Edible Snowman
“Tom” the Edible Snowman


3 Pearl Tomatoes

1 broccoli floret

1 cauliflower floret

1 slice of an orange pepper

3 small pieces of Babybel light cheese



Turn the first tomato upside down to create a steady base. Add the middle “ball” via toothpick, and same with the “head.” Add the broccoli as hair with another toothpick (you can cut them in half if it seems too big) Add the eyes, nose and arms via the same toothpick method. I used a straw to poke out “buttons” from the cheese. These are also placed via toothpick.

Attempt to keep snowman standing up for as long as possible and then eat.

Look out Joost Elffers

Beats a bag of goldfish!

Beats a bag of goldfish!

It never fails in my house, around 8 pm, a 3 year old will be sent in by the troops (a 6 and 10 year old who are buried in Minecraft) to request a “snack.” Every night, I review the various fruits readily available on the kitchen table. For some reason, this is not the “snack” the 3 year old is looking for. He retreats. Then a 6 year old will appear. She requests a “real snack.” I ask what a “real snack” is, since stone fruits and bananas clearly don’t qualify.

Apparently a “real snack” is goldfish crackers. Or donuts. Or ice cream. REALLY? I’m not sure when the line between snacks and treats became blurred, but, there seems to no longer be a distinction.

I won’t get into my theory on how this blurring happened, but, I regard snacks as food items that you eat between meals. They are nourishing and help tide you over until the next meal. Donuts, ice cream and cookies are treats. As in, after you have eaten all of your growing foods for the day and had a good amount of physical activity TREAT yourself to something sweet. Goldfish are another issue altogether (kiddie crack anyone??)

In any event, I decided to try a compromise and go heavy on presentation of a treat, but, mostly nutritious ingredients to make a “parfait” for the Minecraft addicts. The parfaits were a hit, but, you can bet after they were eaten, the 3 year old requested “more cereal.” I guess it’s an improvement over goldfish!

Weeknight Parfait


1 apple pie Lara Bar (on the bottom of the cup like a crust)

1/2 cup of strawberries (cut up)

1/2 cup blueberries

Nonfat vanilla or plain yogurt (~1/2 – 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon Barbaara’s Shredded Spoonfuls (for topping)

Drizzle of Agave


1. Cover the bottom of a cup or bowl with a Lara Bar (cut up or crushed).

2. Spoon a few tablespoons of yogurt on top of the bar.

3. Add strawberries and/or blueberries as the next layer.

4. Spoon a few more tablespoons of yogurt over the fruit

5. Repeat step 3

6. Spoon the rest of the yogurt over the fruit, add crushed cereal and drizzle some agave (optional)

If you’d like more information on snacks vs treats, there is a good post on the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s site worth checking out.

Or at the very least trying to start them off with high blood pressure before they are old enough to go to the prom?

Let me back up, I was at Target recently and was thinking back fondly on eating Chef Boyardee Mini Raviolis as a child. For a moment, I thought, maybe I would let my kids try it to so they could experience this canned goodness I remembered. Nerdy label reader that I am, I did feel it necessary to check out the nutrition first and was kind of horrified at what I saw, hopefully this image is clear:

1 serving has a whopping 900mg sodium!

900 mg of sodium per serving, a whole can is 2 servings. It’s pretty clear that Chef Boyardee’s audience is children, and while there are no RDAs for sodium set at this point for children, there are what’s known as “Adequate Intakes” and “Upper Limits” set for this electrolyte.

Using children ages 4-8 years old as an example, the adequate intake of sodium for this group is 1200 mg/day. The upper limit is 1900 mg/day. If you are wondering what an upper limit is, it’s

The maximum level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects.- NIH

I guess I find it disturbing because if your child ate just one serving, not only is this a huge sodium load for an adult, let alone a child, it’s 3/4 of their daily allowance.

Too much salt can have adverse effects on one’s blood pressure, kidneys and bones. Not to mention, why start our children out with a taste for excessive salt in foods?

My recommendation is to provide whole and fresh foods as often as possible, and read the labels on all processed foods. If your child has 3 meals and 2 snacks daily, each meal should have no more than 250-350 mg/serving. (For the 4-8 year old age group).

For more information check out the Linus Pauling Institute’s site here on Micronutrient Requirements of Children Ages 4 to 13 Years