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Posted November 12, 2014

By @Deb_Lowther 

Fall is a great time to explore the fruits and vegetable aisles at the grocery store or farmers market; so many varieties of squashes and colourful root vegetables await discovery.  Not to mention the cooler days mean the perfect opportunity to add Fall veggies to soups, stews, slow cookers and roasting pans. 

Use the bounty of Fall produce to introduce your family to new flavours and teach them the difference between a parsnip and a rutabaga.  You never know, there just might be a new vegetables in there that they like (who knew my 11 year old daughter liked turnip!). If there are no takers for the brussel sprouts not to worry, you can still add some of these great Fall Foods into the dishes the kids already like with these meal ideas.

Squash
So many squashes to choose from: green ones, yellow ones, round ones, long ones and so many different flavours.  Try them all.  Spaghetti squash is scooped out with a fork after it is cooked and creates spaghetti like strands, hence its name.  Butternut and acorn squash are the more traditional orange squash full of beta carotene.
Meals Ideas: Top spaghetti squash with a your favorite spaghetti sauce and you have an alternative to noodle night.  Cook, puree and add squash to soups with roasted garlic or this macaroni and cheese recipe - kids will love it!

Apples
We go apple picking every Fall but this year I did something a little extra.  I purchased 8 different varieties of apples and the whole family did a taste test at the kitchen table of all the apple varieties and guess what? After 9 years of eating Gala apples we all found a new favorite – Honey Crisp!
Meal Ideas: Apples go great with pork in the slow cooker, green apple in your curry and apples and apple sauce are perfect for baking in everything from these Chocolate Zucchini Cookies to this overnight slow cooker oatmeal or use apple chips in these apple cinnamon granola bars.

Sweet Potato
Versatile and healthier than regular white potatoes, especially when eaten with the skin on, make the sweet potato a valuable addition to your weekly vegetable rotation.
Meal Ideas: Boiled, roasted, mashed, baked whole or as fries, the options are almost endless. Peeled, cooked and pureed sweet potato can be added to soups, stews, sauces and adds great colour and flavour to hummus for dipping.

Pomegranate
Such a funky fruit once you peel back the layers and a good source of potassium, fibre and Vitamin C but how do you get at all those seeds? A request to buy a pomegranate from one of the kids, a lesson on how to slice then peel back the skin to form wedges similar to an orange from the internet, and we are now a pomegranate eating family.
Meal Ideas: Pick seeds out of wedges and eat as is or sprinkle on salads, cereal or morning oatmeal for a sweet crunch.

Brussel Sprouts
You either love ‘em or hate ‘em but you can’t deny these mini members of the cabbage family are good for you. 
Meal Ideas: They can be sliced and eaten raw in a salad or steamed whole as a side dish. If you are not a fan, try slow roasting them in the oven with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a new flavour and give them another try.

Turnips
Round, small and purple, the turnip is often confused with the rutabaga (or the rutabaga is confused with a turnip) either way, these winter wonders are harsh tasting to some and yummy to others.  Experiment and if nothing works they are great pureed and slipped into quiche, casseroles and soups.
Meal Ideas: Turnip can be grilled, sautéed, roasted or eaten raw but are commonly boiled in water with a potato to remove any bitter taste then enjoyed mashed on their own or with your favorite spices. Can be mixed with mashed carrots for a colourful Autumn dish.

Parsnips
The sweet partner to the turnip and root vegetable family, parsnips have a nutty flavour, are loaded with folate and fibre and look like over grown white carrots.
Meal Ideas: Wash and peel if skin in thick, then chop and cook in soups and casseroles, roast in oven or cut length wise to make yummy parsnip fries. 

Dates
Dates, or date palms, grow on long strands in palm like trees in hot climates and are harvested in the Fall. This sweet fruit is high in fibre, antioxidants, potassium and iron and is very versatile.
Meal Ideas: Large dates can be stuffed with blue cheese, goat cheese or melon, wrapped in prosciutto  and served as an appetizer, eaten as is for a sweet treat or ground with rolled oats to make these no bake, nut free Chocolate Power Balls that even the kids will love.

Cranberries
Thanksgiving and turkey dinners have made the cranberry a staple fruit in the Fall but their good for you nutritional profile suggests we should be eating these more often.
Meal Ideas: Cranberries add a sweet and slightly tart flavour to any baking and dried cranberries are perfect in these instant oatmeal packs for quick breakfast on the go.

Experiment at with these and more Fall foods at the grocery and get the whole family to try something new. You just might find a new favorite for your warm Autumn meals.

 

Posted November 6, 2014

 By @Deb_Lowther

Feeding kids can be a game of hide and seek or hit and miss. Some foods are an instant hit and easy to get kids to eat while others you have to hide or sneak into a sauce.  Teaching kids young about nutrition won't solve the green vegetable debate with your toddler, but it will help them to grow up understanding the importance of eating a variety of foods and being healthy. 

Teaching kids about nutrition is an important as teaching them to read and write and having them understanding the benefits of eating well early on will encourage a healthy relationship with food.

Start Young
As soon as you start introducing solids, talk to your child during meal times about what food they are eating and why it is good for them. Tell them that carrots are orange and good for their eyes, that avocado is yummy and green, that bananas give them energy and pears have lots of fibre. Show them a fun way to keep track of eating fruits and vegetables by challenging them to eat something from all the colours of a rainbow! 

Explain Why
When they come with you to the grocery store and reach for the Fruity-O’s cereal explain why you prefer the low sugar, whole grain cereal without the artificial food dyes and offer to buy the Fruity-O’s for making necklaces or to glue onto art projects. It’s important to explain why you are not going to buy 'real' fruit squishers and prefer they have a bowl of real strawberries instead. Read labels, introduce them to ingredient lists and show them the unhealthy side to many packaged foods.

Healthy Food First
Set a rule early on that is it always ‘healthy food first.’ Instead of saying "NO dessert if you don’t finish dinner," tell the kids to have a healthy dinner first, then dessert. When you are out, encourage them to fill up on healthy food choices first before hitting the candy machine, dessert table or snack bar. Say yes to requests for treats, but qualify it with the 'healthy first' rule.  It leaves the kids feeling like they are not being denied a treat and parents are still able to enforce the importance of healthy choices.

Teach Food Groups
You don’t have to go into the entire Health Canada food pyramid and serving sizes but a simple fun exercise of cutting out different foods from a grocery store flyer can go a long way to helping kids understand that eating a variety of foods is key.  At meal time discuss what is a protein, a grain, dairy, fruit or vegetable and have the kids determine if ityou are eating a balanced meal.

Make It Taste Good
I have 3 normal kids who hate cooked spinach, think zucchini is gross and have vowed to never eat cauliflower for the rest of their lives. I also have 3 kids that eat zucchini, spinach and cauliflower weekly because I make it taste good. I bake oatmeal zucchini cookies they love, make homemade brownies with 6 cups of spinach and add cauliflower to every soup, scrambled egg and
mashed potato I serve. Every meal has fresh vegetables on the side that they do like – carrots, broccoli, peas, corn, beans – and every healthy homemade snack, casserole or soup has the rest of the vegetables they are not so keen on.

Talk about healthy food and food in general at meal time, at the grocery store and when commercials come on TV. Discuss the benefits of real fruit vs. fruit leathers and drinking milk or water instead of soda. Hand your baby pieces of banana to chew on instead of packaged baby foods and remember, it is never too early to teach your kids about healthy food. 

 

Posted October 14, 2014

By @Deb_Lowther

The temperature drops and so does your families enthusiasm to spend all day outside, but it shouldn't!  Fall and Winter provide some of the best oppotunities for having fun outdoors. Invest in warm boots, all weather pants and a flashy hat and get outside together to enjoy some of these fun family adventures. 

10 Ideas to Take Your Family Outside

Hiking
I guarantee there are hidden gems within a 45 minute drive that are just begging to be explored.  Water falls, tucked away lakes, rolling hills and trails leading through gorgeous forests. Get out there and enjoy.  Google hiking trails around you, check out local ski hills that might be open for Fall rides on the chair lifts, have groomed cross country ski trails or follow that path into the forest near your house just to see where it leads. 

Geocaching
A great outdoor experience for the whole family, Geocaching is catching on! The sport of using GSP co-ordinates from your smart phone to find hidden treasures and log books is happening all over the world and right in your own backyard.  A simple download of the Geocaching app and you only need to hit one button that says “Find Nearby Geocaches” and you are off. It will lead you by compass and distance markers right to the area where you need to start looking in bushes, under logs and hanging from tree branches for the hidden cache. When you find it there will be a log book to sign and maybe a treasure to take, as long as your replace it with a new treasure for someone else.  Check out www.geocaching.com for more information.

Corn Maze
So many local farms are getting in on the Corn Maze craze! Some are elaborate with 20 km of intricate design that families can explore and answer skill testing questions as they go.  Others are easy fun mazes that kids can run in and out of for hours.  Google corn mazes in your area and support local farmers by checking them out.

Bike Path/Toboggan Rides
If the snow hasn't fallen yet, get those bikes and helmets out and strap on the training wheels. Most cities now boast bike paths that are even riding terrain for the newest cyclists in your family. Bike riding on new paths lead to new adventures and if you plan your journey right, you may even end up at an ice cream or hot chocolate shop!  If the p[aths are full of snow grab a long toboggan and pull the kids along. When you tire, as the kids to give you a ride! 

Horseback Riding
If you have older kids, why not look for a local horse stable that offers Trail Rides.  Many have staff on hand that will walk along side riders as young as 3 and have horses that are gentle with beginner riders. Many are also open all winter long regardless of snow.

Archery
How good is your aim? Think outside the fruit farm and look for Conservation areas or Harvest Festivals nearby that offer archery or log cutting. 

Visit a Pioneer Village
Wonder what they do at a Pioneer Village? Go check it out. You might just learn how to make sausages or see demonstrations on candle dipping, historic cooking, apple schnitzing, or grain threshing! Who doesn’t want to learn about apple schnitzing?

Go Fly A Kite
The wind that sets those fall leaves free from the trees is excellent for flying a kite at a nearby park or soccer field. And running with that kite will have the kids flushed and giggling all afternoon.

Leaf Jumping/Snowball Wars
No Family Fun is complete without a giant pile of leaves to jump in and mess up or a good old fashion snow throwing game! Get in on the action. Collect leaves and snow from all the neighbours lawns, shape them into a giant pile and then spend the afternoon rolling around in the leaves or playing in the snow with your kids. I promise they will never forget the fun they had watching you. 

So much fun to be had outdoors, don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and events in your own community.  You may be surprised at how many new Family Traditions you can create outside!