06 January 2012

Introducing Kids to TOPLESS Sandwiches II

Smoked-Salmon-Radish-Apple-Sandwich
courtesy:  The Year in Food


I was asked the other day what my favorite blog post has been…and it made me think about revisiting this one. I think I chose this one primarily because I could relate to it as well having grown up on both shores.

The beginning of the year and food are typically for many parents last thing they thing on their mind. The idea of their children eating properly is not as high on the list as making good grades. Instead of taking your child's nutrition for granted and simply try to get away with some easy pre-packaged lunches (yes, i know it saves time), try to make a difference by teaching them self-responsibility by showing them how to prepare their own nutritious lunches. Mind you...the little ones may need your assistance. Yet, this is the best time to teach by example when they are still in grade school. Take it from me...I have attended many an architecture leadership conference and the number one answer to making the public be more aware and understanding of architecture is teach that you have to start with teach the kids first. They will grab it and grow up more enlightened. This same idea goes for nutrition.
 It's a pretty easy decision to make here. Just let your kids glide through school learning poor eating habits that may possibly lead to early adult onset diabetes or let this be your opportunity to share honest education fun time with your kids before they run off to school. I think it's a pretty easy answer. Be a role model by assisting them in making their own healthy lunches. This may turn out to be the 'war of the roses' in your kitchen. But, mind you...both their health and grades will be their best asset to a better future. I am mention this because we all need a reminder about nutrition. Before you begin this new goal of making your own lunches, I want you to understand how the Danes approach lunch for their kids as it may just be the way to get your children to have fun making their own sandwiches and yes, becoming acquainted with the idea of eating 'open face sandwiches' ala TOPLESS bread.

Back when I was attending school in Denmark as a kid I completely took for granted what I was preparing for myself in the morning. I simply did what the adults were doing. I did not realize until we came to the states when I was nine years old that there was a huge difference in how two common ages groups ate.  I don’t believe our mother was careless with our lunches. But, we started eating like little Americans and somehow along the way we started growing not just Nordic tall…but, American wide. We simply started eating double the carbohydrates (two pieces of white processed bread) to our previous single multigrain source of bread. Back in the seventies this is all that was available and it was not until the 'granola generation' brought about a change to the American diet that multi-grain returned to the bread shelf. When these ingredients became more readily available our eating habits changed as well as our girth.  This comparison I hope you will find helpful in managing the food intake of your children whose generation is more prone to being sedentary than previous ones. Thank you…modern technology and the advent of the computer!

In either case, think of this as an intervention of the stealthy kind. You read this...and apply it at home. Heck, even...make your own lunch look healthy and appetizing that they will want to do the same. Though I have no children, think of it as covert parenting skills.
Since kids like interaction, this might just be the way to get your young ones back on track…and perhaps, even yourself.

First, you need to know that this is not just an American phenomenon of how our children have gained a bit around the waist.  Denmark has also had to rethink it’s national nutrition campaign for their little ones. Here is a great little diagram from the Danish website: http://www.2gangeomugen.dk/ (which translates to '2 times a week'). This chart illustrates the five important components of a healthy child's lunch using a child's hand. The Danish phrase Gi' madpakken en hånd literally means "give the lunchbox a hand".
dk flag
TYPICAL HOMEMADE DANISH LUNCH
‘Give your lunch a hand’
untitled 
A Healthy lunch
thumb = VEGETABLES…raw greens, salad or as a topping
index = BREAD…euro pumpernickel or whole grain
middle = MAIN TOPPING…meat, cheese or egg
ring = FISH…at least, once a week.
little = FRUIT…fresh and sweet
[SEE COMPARISION TABLE BELOW]
VS
usa-flag
TYPICAL HOMEMADE AMERICAN LUNCH
‘MyPyramid For Kids’
kidspyramid

orange = GRAINS

[SEE COMPARISION TABLE BELOW]
 
If we look closely at the USDA’s MyPyramid for Children, one can see that the new guidelines are close to the Danish recommended food model for children.
Denmark to USA Food Comparison Table
DK
HAND MODEL
TYPE OF FOOD
USA
PYRAMID MODEL
Recommended
lunch foods
thumb
VEGETABLES
(more colors the better)
greenraw vegetables like carrots, celery, red peppers, salad, grape tomatoes
index
BREAD / GRAINS
(complex carbs)
orange multigrain bread + rolls
full grain pumpernickel, whole grain flat breads + tortillas
middle
TOPPING (protein)
purple lean thin sliced deli meats
legumes, egg salad, hard cheeses (smaller % fat), nuts
ring
FISH/OILS
yellowalbacore tuna packed in olive oil or water (once a week -ok)
Learn how to make healthy fish meatballs.
little
FRUITS
red fresh apple, orange, berries, banana, etc.
-
CONDIMENT
as the bread binder
-
minimal use of butter and mayonnaise made with olive oil (spread thinly on bread)
Thus, finding a healthy compromise for American children to enjoy using the Danish model is an easy goal.

Here are some great links from teamnutrition.usda.gov:
Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
MyPyramid for Kids Worksheet
MY TOPLESS BREAD SUGGESTIONS
angry-birds-sandwiches
Here are some Angry Birds via Babble.com…to make.
There is nothing to be angry about in having fun with your food; especially, when it means teaching your children how  to portion out their food via fun open face sandwich designs. Make this first educational step with showing them healthy sandwich alternatives like making their own healthy version
of ‘topless bread’ sandwiches. 
43868
First, there are a few tips from the Danish model to follow:
Avoid any processed foods, if possible.
Always use multigrain bread made from whole wheat flour or equal.
Teach kids healthy amounts to use for real butter or mayonnaise with olive oil. 
Always use some form of greens on the sandwich
Include some organic fresh fruit or veggies as their treat.
(ex: carrots, cucumber, snap peas, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli florets, grape tomatoes, etc.)
Avoid beverages with high corn syrup/fructose/etc.  Teach kids that natural juices are the best...especially, when combined with homemade soda water!
And use simple sheets of aluminum foil or parchment paper to separate multiple sandwiches, if necessary.


Now, here are a few American examples that can easily be used to find inspiration in being able to adopt the Danish lunch model:
peanut butter banana 
Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter with Bananas and Honey

peanut butter apples
Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter with Sliced Tart Apples and Dried Cranberries

Turkey Salami with Mayo and Crunchy Onions on top (not shown)
Tuna with Grape Tomatoes (not shown)

cucumber cream cheese 
Cucumber with Herbed Cream Cheese

Tomato and Egg (not shown)

egg salad face 
Egg Salad with Shredded Carrots on Top
open_faced_tomato
 Tomato and Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese and Fresh Basic leaves
Low Fat Cheese (try…light havarti) with Sliced Red Bell Pepper (not shown)
ChickenSalad3

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Slivered Almonds  
kids-food-6
butterfly snack bags
(made from a clothespin, silly eyes and pipe cleaners)
click here for more inspiration
kids-food-8
Silly Fruit Labels from Alfamom.com


And don’t forget that the lunch box should reflect it’s contents. So, look for ones that are designed like Japanese bento boxes and have cooler inserts.These will help to pack the food into their own little compartments and allow
for proper food temperature storage.  Now I am sure this is one thing that will make both you
and your child smile.

: )
Make up your own healthy alternative…the possibilities are endless.
Remember kids learn from example.

So, clean out your pantry and fridge of all those premade lunches and join them in making this new healthy and creative way of making their lunches.   All kids want to be cool and have something different that the other kids will envy.  When kids are given a sense of independence and encouragement in creativity…the results can be many for these open face sandwiches. Who knows…perhaps, they may influence their schoolmates in joining this new way of enjoying a healthy American version of their Danish open face sandwich!

green = VEGETABLES
red = FRUITS
yellow = OILS 
blue = MILK
purple = MEAT + BEANS

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