A reminder that every bite counts!

By Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE


What does this mean when feeding kiddos?

“It means that small shifts in our food choices can add up over time” 


Small changes can lead to lasting changes that you and your family can enjoy over a lifetime. Considering that “every bite counts” also suggests that it is never too late to make changes. As a mom who feeds children, I constantly replay a famous quote from a children’s movie when it comes to feeding my family nutritious foods. The quote I replay over and over is, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” So I say that to translate that advice to you, just keep offering or promoting healthy foods to your family over and over. Every time you do, it counts even if it is not eaten. As parents, you are demonstrating what a healthy meal should contain (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy foods, lean meat and healthy fats). The kitchen itself can be considered a learning lab. Each meal is an opening for memory making and life skill learning. Cooking with children provides an even more in depth opportunity for interaction, memory making and yes, even mess making. Once a week or month, block off a bit of time to experience the kitchen learning lab with your children. Many memories are waiting to be made, not to mention the fact that you will be imparting life skills by hosting these kitchen activities. For example, reading recipes can help with reading comprehension, sequencing skills and math. 

What Can Younger Kids Do? 

By the time your child reaches elementary school, he or she probably has the necessary coordination to complete a lot of simple kitchen tasks. Here are some of them:

•    Mashing potatoes or bananas. 

•    Peeling apples (use a safe peeler instead of a knife). 

•    Sifting and stirring ingredients. 

•    Spooning batter into a pan or muffin tin. 

•    Kneading dough. 

•    Rolling cookie dough. 

•    Using cookie cutters. 

•    Spreading on toppings, such as grated cheese. 


For true beginners, a good way to start might be with breakfast. On a morning when no one is in a hurry, make something simple that you know your child likes. Pick a recipe with no more than five ingredients like French toast, pancakes, eggs or muffins.


What Can Older Kids Do?

With all those pancakes and muffins out of the way, your older school-age child is probably ready for a challenge. Let him or her take the lead on choosing and preparing a more involved dish, starting with making the grocery list. Be the assistant in the kitchen when needed and supervise if your child needs a lesson in using any unfamiliar cooking equipment. Closely monitor or take over any work that requires the stove, oven or knives. Of course provide ample praise to the chef when you taste the finished product. Until next time, eat well, live well! ~ Kim


Lime Zucchini Bread 

This is a refreshing version of zucchini bread. If you don’t have a lime you could use a lemon instead. 



1 ¼ Cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

1 Cup sugar

2 Eggs

1/3 Cup reduced fat ricotta cheese or Greek yogurt

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 Teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest of one lime

1½ Cup white whole wheat flour

¾ Teaspoon baking soda

½ Teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 X 5 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix together the zucchini, sugar, egg, ricotta cheese, oil, vanilla extract and lime zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, pour the liquid ingredients into the well and stir to combine (do not over mix). Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan five minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Slice and serve. 


Yield:  12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutrition Breakdown:  Calories 120, Fat 3.5g (0g saturated fat, 1.5g monounsaturated fat), Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 190mg, Carbohydrate 22g, Fiber 1g, Protein 3g

Percent Daily Value: 4% Vitamin C, 4% Iron, 2% Vitamin A, 2% Calcium

Carbohydrate Choices: 1 ½ Carbohydrates

Diabetes Exchange Values: 1 ½ carbohydrates ½ fat


Managing the Mess

Whenever you have kids in the kitchen, you’re inviting some extra mess. Some parents will be comfortable with a little disorder and others will feel their blood pressure rising with each little spill. You’ll take the fun out of it if your child is overly fearful of making a mistake but it’s reasonable to set some ground rules. Let kids know that spills will happen but that it’s not ok to be careless and messy on purpose.

Parents also need to find their own comfort zone with regard to how much experimenting they will allow. Would you let your child veer away from the recipe or take charge of a step that could doom the dish? Strive to make the experience a bit of an adventure but you don’t have to overdo it. You can satisfy your child’s curiosity in simple ways, just by letting your child taste the difference between salt and flour or by comparing the scents of vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.


Use “20-ways to get more fruits and veggies in). 

Yield: 1 ½ cup (serving size: 1 tablespoon).

Nutrition Breakdown: Calories: 140, Fat 2g (0g saturated fat), Cholesterol 30mg, Sodium 350mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 1g, Protein 22g

Percent Daily Value: 6% Vitamin A, 10% Vitamin C, 10% Iron, 6% Calcium

Carbohydrate Choice: 1 Carbohydrate

Diabetes Exchanges: 3 Lean Meats

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/eatingwellwithkim. To search for specific recipes go to www.universityhealth.org/ewwk. You can also watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.

This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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