Monday, April 25, 2011
Juice. It seems to be the new drink of choice for toddlers. Some where along the way there has been some serious marketing happening to parents, convincing us that this is the healthiest drink to give our little ones. It is marketed as though it is fresh juice, from fresh fruits that will nourish our little ones.
The truth is most juices that are store bought contain higher levels of concentrated sugars and high-fructose corn syrup than that of actual juice from a fruit. These concentrated sugars found in juices will affect blood sugar levels, which will impact energy levels and overall mood. High-fructose corn syrup has been directly linked to increased levels of obesity. Most of these store bought juices are just slightly better than soda. So why play with this? Perhaps it could be the occasional treat instead of a daily beverage.
Soda. I see younger and younger kiddos being offered soda. This is big business in our country and there is a lot of marketing at play attempting to win kiddos loyalty to a certain brand. Soda is even worse than juice. Did you realize in one 20 ounce bottle of soda there is 17 teaspoons of refined white sugar? That is a TON!! Not to mention natural and artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and in some varieties caffeine. They have no hydrating affect on the body and typically end up causing one to crave more food.
My suggestion? Start your kiddos off on water. If they aren't offered other options they won't know any different. If they start off drinking water as little ones it will be come a habit. Some suggestions if your trying to transition them into drinking more water. Drink lots of water yourself....be an example. Kids are so in tune with what we do. If mom and dad are drinking lots of water it might become more appealing. Allow them to pick out a fun, new water bottle, and keep it just for water. Tell them the benefits of drinking water on their little body. My daughter picks up on this stuff quickly and will often repeat it to me when I least expect it.
So now back to juice. While I'm a big advocate of kiddos main drink through out the day to be water, I do have fun making fresh, homemade juices with my girls. My 2 year old loves being able to make her own juice. My role is to wash and prepare the veggies and fruits and then she puts them through the juicer, creating her own freshly made juice. She loves it! This is a great way for her to understand how juice is made and how it tastes without all the added sugar.
Our juice we've been doing lately is carrot, celery, apple. We usually do about 10 carrots and 1 apple, and a few stalks of celery (which actually has quite a bit of water content to it so it does well in juicing). I then dilute it with some water, toss in a couple ice cubes, and it makes enough for my girls and I to each have a small glass. It tastes quite yummy and is a very healthy, delish treat. If you or your kiddos are used to the sugar laden juices it does require a change to the palate. You could always add more fruit to sweeten it up until you slowly get used to the more vegetable juice taste.
Another favorite I like to do is beets, celery, and a couple pieces of whatever fruit I have on hand. Sometimes my girls like the beet juice and sometimes they don't. It's strong for sure. But I love it. You can also throw a stalk or two of kale in but you don't get much juice from it and it gives the juice a funky color, which could turn some kiddos off. Citrus fruits are great but only if your kiddos are used to eating them with no side effects. Neither of my girls do citrus well so we avoid the citrus juices.
I have found that I have a lot of waste (pulp) with my juicer. It's an older juicer and works fine but it just leaves a lot of leftover pulp, which had been part of my struggle with juicing. I hated throwing away all that nutritious goodness. Well I just started making homemade crackers out of it! You have to clean and peel everything really well but then you can use the pulp to make a yummy little homemade cracker. My girls gobble these up. So know I don't feel bad about juicing and I'm excited for all my leftover pulp because I know it is yielding a tasty little snack. More on that recipe later....
For now drink lots of water and if you have access to a juicer experiment with making your family some fresh, nutritionally dense, homemade juice.