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PortionMate™ Portion Control Tools. See my review here.





How Much Food Do Preschoolers Really Need?

If you're a mom to a toddler or preschooler, you've probably experienced serving a plate of food to your child and getting frustrated that he or she wouldn't eat those last few bites of pasta or peas. "One more bite?" you beg with little success. Maybe the answer is that they just don't need it. My son Jake has finally inched away from his picky eating habits but he still has his moments. I often have to remind myself that his calorie needs are about half what I need, so his plate of food should look much smaller. The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that the average 2 to 5-year-old eat about 1000-1400 calories daily, depending on how active he or she is. That's only about 300-400 calories per meal with one or two small snacks. If you're aiming high and want to get all the important nutrients in, you'll try to include some whole grains, vegetables or fruit, dairy and protein in each meal. So, the portion sizes of each food actually end up being quite small! 

Like many kids, Jake can get overwhelmed by adult sized portions. I've discovered that Bento boxes are a great way to pack a nutritious meal, with the individual compartments encouraging small portions and variety. You can google Bento boxes to find a wide range of sizes and prices. I actually found a decent one for less than $10 at a Borders bookstore, although a drawback was that the compartments were not microwaveable. Most Bento box compartments are microwave-safe. Bento box lunches can be a true art form but for my first try I kept it simple, just trying to make sure there was a nice array of healthful pickings. I included turkey slices on whole wheat bread spread with tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip with cucumbers, garlic and olive oil), carrot and cucumber sticks, and fresh fruit nibbles. Jake loved it at first sight and finished everything. He'd never tasted tzatziki before and even asked for more to dip his carrots into. If you have a young eater in the house, I highly recommend giving these a try! Here are some more helpful links on the subject:

MyPyramid for Preschoolers

10 Tips for Picky Eaters

Lunch in a Box

Kids' Bento Boxes


A Great Giveaway...with Heartfelt Thanks

I'm thrilled to offer FitMamaEats readers a really nice giveaway sponsored by CSN Stores: $80 to spend any way you like at any of their online stores from kitchenware to fitness gear to office supplies to shoes to kid stuff, and a lot more. No strings attached (meaning you don't have to add me to your blogroll or retweet this 10 times Dumb). I could have taken some or all of the money to do a product review but instead wanted to offer this giveaway along with a thank you to anyone who has checked out this blog. There are so many amazing food and nutrition blogs out there as you can see by visiting Foodbuzz and Nutrition Blog Network; the superior quality of many of those blogs is intimidating! In comparison, my blog seems quite forgettable but I stick with it because writing is my saving grace. To know that someone is clicking on this site to read my words is a real gift. So here's my token to you! To enter a random drawing for this $80 online gift certificate to any CSN Store, please click on "Contact Me" with your name and email by September 7. Note that you must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada. I'll contact you if you're the winner. Best of luck!


Getting Tipsy at the Bar

Well, maybe the word is giddy...and I was surrounded by underage customers because it was at a cupcake bar. I'm talking about Treat Cupcake Bar in Needham that opened its doors in July. With pastel circles and stripes highlighting the interior and the front door exhaling sweet baking smells, it's no surprise this place was a huge hit from day one. The founder, David LaLiberte, knew that cupcakes were hot—seems a new cupcakery pops up somewhere every month—but took them a step further. The difference with Treat is the frosting. A customized frosting in which you select up to three toppings that are hand-mixed and then served alongside a plain cupcake. The fun part is deciding whether you want to slather on the whole thing and dig in, or lightly dab frosting on each bite of cake. There are six cake flavors, five frostings, and almost two-dozen treat toppings from which to choose. There are also ready-made flavors like Needham Cream Pie (gold cake with vanilla filling and chocolate frosting) and Peanut Butter Overload (chocolate cake with peanut butter cups, peanut butter frosting, and ganache). With so many possible varieties, everyone in the family gets giddy.  

Gold Cupcake and Vanilla Frosting with Dark Chocolate Chips, Peppermint Patties, and M&Ms

Seems silly to hope, but FitMamaEats wondered if there was anything a little healthier on the menu? The answer is sort of. Treat offers vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options that are made with soy milk, trans-fat-free soft margarine, and an egg replacer consisting of flaxseed and water. The gluten-free cupcakes are made with garbanzo bean flour. These modifications translate to less cholesterol and saturated fat but not necessarily less calories and total fat. Thankfully there's automatic portion control if you can remain content with one cupcake, and you receive much more frosting than you actually need so using less saves calories as well. Head baker and manager, Adie Sprague, reports that they get many requests for lower sugar versions, which she is currently testing in the kitchen using sucralose and agave nectar, but admits the recipe needs perfecting. She also wants to test a lower fat version if she ever gets a break from baking: their daily demand is high with cupcakes selling out almost every day.   

Vegan Chocolate Cupcake with Dairy-Free Frosting

I ordered a customized cupcake with three mix-ins (dark chocolate, M&Ms, and Peppermint Patties). The cake was moist but with a large crumb, almost like that of a muffin. I chose the particular mix-ins because I like them individually as treats; blended together in a sweet heavy frosting is a different story. It was really too much and the mint didn't taste good with the vanilla buttercream. Next time I'll ask Treat for mix-in advice, or else just keep it simple with one add-in. I also sampled a ready-made vegan chocolate version that came with a dallop of dairy-free frosting the size of the cupcake itself. It seemed moister than the customized one and I preferred its less busy flavors. My honest overall opinion is that Treat cupcakes taste pretty good. There are bakeries with lighter yet more flavorful frosting and cake, Babycakes in Quincy for example. But Treat is more than its cupcakes—it's about the atmosphere and unique concept. The hours are great, open every day from 10 am to 9 pm with plenty of onstreet parking. They can also host children's parties where kids participate in both the baking and decorating of their own cupcakes.