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Finding Freshness..even in the Freezer

WholeWheat Blueberry pancakesBy Katie Mulligan

Parents frequently have questions about feeding their children; the problem is finding the right answers. Most people you talk to have an opinion – their own or that of their mother, sister, doctor, husband, in-laws – anyone and everyone! If you have nutrition questions about yourself or your child, submit them on the Health Forum at Kidoinfo and I will answer them. Don’t be shy, ask away, because chances are, someone else has your question too.

As winter drags on, it is becoming more and more difficult to find the wonderful bounty of fresh produce associated with warmer months. The cold weather brings thoughts of comfort food — mac and cheese, chicken pot pie, and beef stew — not fresh strawberries and salads of spring greens. If you are like many others, you may be struggling to get in your 5-a-day servings of fresh fruits and veggies. Contrary to popular belief, fruits and vegetables do not need to be fresh to be healthy. Frozen veggies are flash frozen much closer to harvest, which means they have less opportunity to lose valuable nutrients during storage and transport before arriving at your market. Check out the frozen section at your market for a wide array of fruits and veggies. Frozen butternut squash makes a great winter soup or baby puree. Adding frozen peas or green beans to couscous and rice will add greens, fiber, and vitamin C to your dinner. Making a smoothie with frozen berries is an easy way to get kids to drink their fruit. Or try adding frozen blueberries to pancakes (recipe below) or baking strawberry muffins with frozen berries — you’ll be amazed by how fresh they taste.

It is okay to buy canned fruit as long as it is packed in its own juice, not in heavy or even light syrup, which is little more than a sugar solution. The heating process used in canning actually makes the vitamin A in peaches and apricots more bioavailable, which means your system can absorb it more easily. Having trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies? Let them choose which ones to have at dinner and invite them to join in the meal preparation. It’s never too early to teach kids about nutrition and nutritious eating.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
Makes about 10 pancakes

¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 beaten egg
1 cup of milk (+2 tablespoons for thinner batter)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup of frozen wild blueberries

1. Mix dry ingredients together.
2. In a separate bowl beat egg, milk and oil with a fork.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
4. Spoon pancakes onto a hot, greased skillet.
5. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon frozen blueberries onto the top of each uncooked pancake.
6. Flip when bubbles start to form and pop on top of the pancake.
7. Remove from heat when brown on both sides and cooked through.
8. Serve with blueberry sauce and maple syrup.


2 cups of frozen wild blueberries
2 tablespoons of sugar

To make the sauce combine frozen blueberries and sugar in a bowl, stir to blend. Keep at room temperature as you prepare the pancakes.

Katie Mulligan is a registered dietitian specializing in pediatrics. Through her practice, Nurturing Nutrition, Katie provides individualized nutrition counseling to children (ages birth to 18) and their families

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  • Dear Katharine,
    You are right. Congratulations on figuring it out so soon! However, it’s not biological that your kids are less attracted to M&M’s-it’s behavioral. You have successfully taken the romance and mystery away from chocolate and have put it on the same level of desire as apples. Now your children can enjoy chocolate in moderation. Where if their access to chocolate were restricted when they did get the chance they would most likely overeat on the candy.
    Of course, this does not work in every family. The reason being exactly what you wrote >. Parents will try to not say anything, try not to interfere and tell their children that they’ve had enough, but they just cannot do it. It may the their own diet demons they are living with or grew up with – who knows. The point is you have to be very comfortable with your own feelings about food to successfully pull this off in your home.
    However, it would still be wise of you to continue referring to chocolate as a treat and not a snack. Make the chocolate available and unrestricted when it is available, but continue to teach your children about healthy foods. Those that are good for their bodies and will help them grow up to be strong and healthy.

  • My question is this: could it be that children actually crave what they need to thrive? I have been experimenting with not limiting my kids’ access to M&Ms, cocoa with marshmallows, etc. and it seems to be working… sort of. My kids have not suddenly started eating tons of spinach, but they will choose plain milk over chocolate milk, for example and no longer care about M&Ms (after one day of a big bowl where anyone could have them at any time, unlimitedly with no parental commentary.) But back when I was limiting these as a “treat” they always wanted chocolate. Does this make any sense? I am not sure how far to go with this experiment but it seems to have worked in terms of regulating the chocolate items. Any thoughts? Advice?

  • My 12-month old son adores pancakes and pumpkin is a fun and very nutritious option. I add pumpkin puree along with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to the pancake mix and voila! This past weekend I made a new variation by adding a raising/walnut mixture to the recipe. I softened the raisins with hot water and blended them together with walnuts (he’s not allergic) to eliminate any choking hazards. He loved them! He’s little, so I skip the sugary syrup and they make great finger food on their own.