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Picky Eater’s Guide to Thanksgiving

Ahhh, Thanksgiving. For some kids, it’s their favorite meal that comes just once a year! For others, they may dread the sticky mashed potatoes that get plopped on their plate or the smell of Aunt blog-picky-eater-main-landscapeCathy’s green bean casserole. Preparing your picky eater for this time of year might help you avoid the epic battle you fear is coming!

Here are 5 tips to help this time of year be fun and festive, not frustrating and frightful for a picky eater:

  1. Exposure!- Don’t let the Thanksgiving meal be the first time your picky eater sees all the new foods. Thanksgiving foods are not commonly seen throughout the year and can be overwhelming (in an already overwhelming situation!). In the weeks leading up to the big meal, try incorporate one or two Thanksgiving-type foods a week into your family meals or a snack time. Even if they don’t want to eat it, they can touch it, smell it, play with it and talk about it!
  2. Encourage your child to be your sous chef Incorporating your picky eater into cooking and creating the meals gives them a varied sensory experience. Even if it’s a food they’ve never had (or have tried and disliked), they get to see and feel the ingredients, use spoons and mixers to combine it all, and smell the final product, and feel accomplished for helping!
  3. Let your child choose something to make- Allowing your child to choose a menu item guarantees they will have something they like! Macaroni and cheese, or mozzarella stick appetizers, chocolate chip cookies, or homemade rolls may be some favorites.
  4. Bring sauce!- Sauces and dressings can be the key to kids eating new or less-preferred foods. Even if you’re not hosting, bring it with you. If they love barbecue sauce, put a small bowl next to their plate and let them add it to whatever they want!
  5. When in doubt…bring foods they like– If you’re going to someone’s house where you have little to no control as to what is served, you can always bring a few healthy foods you know your child likes. You can re-heat it when the other food is served, and explain to the host that they don’t even eat your cooking (so the host isn’t offended!). Just prepare for all of the kids at the kids table to be jealous!

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Developing Speech and Language AND Cooking a Pumpkin Pie

Developing speech and language AND cooking a pumpkin pie. Can you believe it?  Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Let’s talk for a minute about the staple of any Thanksgiving dessert table…the pumpkin pie. Many of us are looking for the perfect recipe, I know I am constantly searching! Before you jump straight into cooking, consider the following ways you can make this a fun activity that will help support your child’s speech and language needs.

Here is a list of ways you can make cooking a pumpkin pie
into a speech and language activity:

BakingaPie

  • Direction following: Read through the recipe with your child and have him follow directions as you say them out loud. If your child needs extra support draw pictures in the same order that correspond with each step. For example, draw pictures of the ingredients, cooking utensils, etc.
  • Word recall: Read a list of ingredients out loud and have your child repeat a few, or all, items needed. This is a great way for your child to practice their listening and memory skills. If your child is able, you can ask them to recall items from a list a few minutes later or in steps. For example, if you’ve already used the pumpkin ask them if they remember what ingredient was next on their list.
  • Auditory Comprehension: Read the recipe out loud to your child and have them repeat the steps back to you (different from recalling the ingredients). This is great if your child is working on language processing skills. Your child may need to have the information broken down into smaller chunks, and this is okay.
  • Articulation: Find a few words within the recipe that have your child’s target sound or sounds in them. Ask them to use these words often throughout cooking and repeat them whenever they come up. For example, if their target sound is /k/ you can say, “Pumpkin, that has your /k/ sound in it, you try saying it!”
  • Fluency: The texture of pumpkin lends itself to a conversation about smooth versus bumpy. When encouraging your child to use fluent speech, you can ask them to use smooth speech versus bumpy speech with disfluencies.

Remember, cooking with your child should be fun! Pick one or two of the above activities and gently incorporate it into your holiday fun. Don’t stress yourself or your child too much by making cooking into a structured learning task. These are some great ways for you to support your child’s speech and language needs while still enjoying some family fun!

Here is the recipe for a great pumpkin pie:

Ingredients:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator



Thanksgiving Nutrition Crash Course

November is here and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. For most of us, the beginning of the holiday season startsThanksgiving Family Food the decline of our eating habits that continue through December and well into the New Year. This year, let’s start the holiday season off on the right foot with a Thanksgiving that doesn’t go completely overboard.

  • Remember the Healthy Plate Model, even at the Thanksgiving table. The Healthy Plate Model is a simple way to visualize how to put together an ideal meal, even without knowing details about each and every food available.
    • Half of the plate is reserved for fruits and vegetables. On Thanksgiving, this can include sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries and any other traditional dishes where the fruit or vegetable is the main star. Don’t stress too much about what extra calories or fat may have been cooked into the dishes. After all, this is a holiday.
    • The other half of the plate should be divided into two portions. Half of that side is for protein:  turkey!
    • The other half is for whole grains. Here, you may place stuffing, rice or a roll. Hopefully, the cook has selected whole grain options to serve. If not, place mashed potatoes here and choose an additional vegetable for the other side.
  • Portion control is key on Thanksgiving. As a coworker of mine once said, “Thanksgiving is one meal, not one week.” Treat this meal as you would any other. Make one plate and eat until you are nearly full, rather than stuffed sick to your stomach. There will surely be leftovers for the next meal. If you make one plate by following the Healthy Plate Model, you should be in good shape.
  • Don’t pour your calorie intake down the drain, or throat, that is. Liquid calories can pack a really big punch and are often found to be a primary cause of weight gain for both kids and adults. Due to the large quantities of sugar it requires to make a beverage sweet, this usually implies many more calories being consumed. High-calorie sugary drinks are easy to gulp down without realizing how much sugar you are consuming. Be mindful on Thanksgiving of what beverage options there are. Stick with water or tea rather than punch or alcohol.
  • Watch out for the desserts. Desserts have their place and a holiday is one of them. Consider sharing your favorite dessert with someone else and only choose one. If you are really watching your calorie intake, visualize your dessert as taking the place of the “whole grain” section on the Healthy Plate Model. As both desserts and whole grains are actually carbohydrates, following the Healthy Plate Model can save the overall calorie and sugar intake.
  • Take a stroll before and after the big meals. Going for a walk with family can be quite relaxing, peaceful and definitely healthy. When we participate in physical activities such as walking, our cells open up and help eliminate sugar from the blood stream for energy. This puts that meal to good use!

As someone who loves food, I believe it is important to enjoy eating with friends and family on holidays such as Thanksgiving. At the same time, no holiday is fun when we end up becoming sick and physically exhausted from eating too much. Follow my tips and share other tips that you may have in the comments below!

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