Doctor Yum’s Holiday Tasting Calendar

The Christmas season is almost upon us! At one of our recent Board of Directors meetings, we were remembering how fun it was to countdown to Christmas with an Advent Calendar. Pull back the little tab each day and there is a tiny chocolate waiting for you. Taylor, one of our Board members got the great idea that we use the same concept to encourage kids to try new foods on the twenty-five days before Christmas. So here it is…”Doctor Yum’s Holiday Tasting Adventure Countdown!” Download our calendar in two separate pages. On the outside cover, use a sharp knife to cut each window along the dotted lines. Tape the front to the back and voila, your very own Christmas calendar. Each day you and your kids can pop open the windows and find out what the food of the day is. Parents, you can peak at the foods ahead of time so you know what is  ahead and plan to have the foods available to try. Each day on our facebook page we will give you tips on how to prepare each food. We are hoping to capture the natural curiosity that kids have. If there are hesitant eaters in your family,no worries! This can be fun for them, too. If your little ones are not ready to try each food by tasting, allow them to help you to prepare the food and build familiarity through other senses (taste, smell, touch, and sound!) We recommend that you download each page in color on white cardstock. Regular paper works too, it’s just more flimsy. If you are in the neighborhood of the...

Birthday Party at the Doctor Yum Project Kitchen!

Over the weekend we hosted our very first birthday party at the Doctor Yum Project kitchen. We could not have found a better group for our first party than the Smith family. Courtney Smith, mother of the birthday girls, attended our very first shopping class over two years ago with her own mother in tow. Courtney has decided that good nutrition is a priority for her family. As a result, both of her preschool-age daughters attended our Preschool Food Adventure Camp earlier this year, learning to prepare and eat healthy food. In addition, Courtney and her husband even attended one of our adult cooking classes centered on preparing meals with curry. So when Courtney asked us if she could have a birthday party for her girls at the Doctor Yum Project kitchen we were thrilled! When our team sat down to plan the Smith Girls’ birthday celebration, we decided it would be a great learning opportunity for all of the guests. We planned three stations where kids would make healthy snacks. During the snack prep, we offered lessons on tasting new foods as seen in our preschool curriculum. The snack making stations included preparing some tasty Pumpkin Energy Bites, a station where kids assembled a locomotive out of fruit including watermelon, and a green smoothie station. A rather unorthodox birthday “cake” was also constructed using fresh watermelon from Ochoa produce at the Spotsylvania Farmer’s Market. We were excited to find that the Smiths had invited not only a few of the girls’ friends, but also some of their extended family including grandparents, uncles, and aunts. A few of the...

Doctor Yum’s Salad Lab

This past week we had a very successful summer cooking camp with kids ages 7-12. Every day featured one or two summer fruits and veggies. One of the highlights was our “Greens Day” when we explored the fun of eating greens. When it comes to eating, kids tend to dislike all things green. On our Greens Day we featured green leafy veggies in two fun ways, inspiring the kids to try and enjoy them. First, we make Kale chips with multiple flavorings such as BBQ, cheesy (made with nutritional yeast), and our new flavored “Kale-itos” (recipe coming soon!). The kids couldn’t get enough of these “chippy,” crispy greens. No matter how many camps I teach, I’m always surprised at how fast the kale chips are devoured! We then stirred up more interest and excitement with our “Salad Lab.” Similar to a science lab, the kids were provided an opportunity to exercise their creative juices by concocting a unique salad dressing, custom made to their own tastes.  First, the magic formula:     We discussed how oil and vinegar separate, but if you add emulsifier and shake, you’ve got dressing! We encouraged kids to try an equal amount of healthy fat and acid and then taste and adjust to their preferences. Kids could use herbs like mint and oregano from our garden to give that special zing to their dressing. We paired kids up, let them plan their own dressing, and then access all the choices to create a unique formula. For the acid we allowed them to try a selection of balsamic vinegars from Fredericksburg’s own downtown shop, Taste Oil Vinegar Spice. They chose from a variety...

Only a Culture of Wellness Can Save Kids from Obesity

  In my new practice, Yum Pediatrics, I am starting to see many children who for years have struggled with their weight. They come to me because their parents think I may have the answer to their struggles. They may have learned that I have a large instructional kitchen in my office and a teaching garden for kids. They may have seen my website about wellness and followed the work of the Doctor Yum Project, where I teach kids to cook local produce. They may think that getting their kids to see me will get them on the right track. It’s true that I have a lot of success when it comes to kids and healthy food. After children attend my classes so many of their parents tell me they start eating differently.  Kids come to my office for their well-child visits, where they are examined in my “carrot room” and leave with a goodie bag full of fruit, inspired to try new healthy food. I’ve helped lots of kids to improve their eating habits and many of them lose weight and feel better. However, the sobering truth is that there is a growing number of children who are addicted to food and that I CANNOT help on my own.  These are kids who have struggled with their weight, try and try to eat better, and fall off the wagon. They worry about food, sneak junk food in their bedrooms, and endure bullying from kids because of their weight (a stress that makes them eat more). I recently saw the movie “Fed Up,” a sobering documentary about how our government has...

Run 4 A Healthy Glow-The Silver Lining

Leading up to Friday’s event people have asked me what “Run 4 Healthy Glow” is all about. “Is it a Doctor Yum Project fundraiser? Is it a contest? What is it really all about?” “Run 4 a Healthy Glow” is our event to promote activity with a family-friendly, community-building event. This family run is a departure from the usual sedentary pizza movie night. It’s a time to be active, to drink in the outdoors, to gather with family and friends and run freely. It’s a time to sip on fruit water and learn about how some other awesome organizations in our community can help families to stay healthy. We also felt it was important to encourage as many families as possible to joint the fun by making the event free. Members of the Doctor Yum Project worked hard to make sure our second annual “Run 4 a Healthy Glow” was better than our surprisingly excellent first year. We planned more glow, more participants, more music, surprise performances and more prizes.  The weather forecast tortured us all week with possible rain, but on the last day the sun came out and the evening forecast looked perfect. At 7:30 pm the crowded poured in with tons of outrageous glowing outfits. The music was pumping and the warm-ups were underway. The night was unfolding perfectly. And the the rain came. “Are you serious?” we all said. Our board members and organizers looked at each other in disbelief. The radar showed clear skies throughout Virginia with a small rain cloud right over Fredericksburg. Unbelievable! But despite the storm, what unfolded was just awesome....

Hot Chocolate Party!

I grew up on Lake Erie, and I have fond memories of playing outside in the snow and coming in for a warm cup of hot chocolate. I always used those hot chocolate mixes in the packets, but looking closely  at labels I have noticed how many undesirable ingredients can be found in store-bought hot chocolate. In the interest of keep things simple and unprocessed we have recently started making hot chocolate with milk, cocoa, maple syrup and vanilla. Easy! This holiday season, why not set up a little “Make-Your-Own Hot Chocolate Bar.” Make a large pot of  this basic hot chocolate recipe and set up all the fixin’s for some hot chocolate variations. Your guests will enjoy putting together some fun new creations. Here are some ideas: Make sure you have some crushed peppermint sticks, crushed gingersnaps, chopped peanut butter cups and cayenne pepper to sprinkle onto of your whipped cream , too! PRETTY and YUMMY!!...

Every Day is Halloween

I have noticed there are some strong, opposing camps when it comes to how parents approach Halloween. There’s the “You’re only a kid once, so let kids eat whatever they want on Halloween” camp. Then there’s the “We should only pass out water and fruit on Halloween” camp. I would say I’m somewhere in the middle. I LOVE Halloween. I also love partaking in a few KitKats, Twix and Butterfingers. It reminds me of being a kid, and the excitement of Halloween night. It was a special time when we got to indulge and break a few rules. But these days it seems that EVERY occasion is marked with a sugary treat- cupcakes for each of 20 classmates’ birthdays a year, many teachers who reward accomplishments with candy, every soccer game celebrated with 500 calories of Gatorade and junk food, every holiday marketed with more candy and artificial food dyes. Not to mention that the amount of sugar our kids ingest on a “regular day” has reached new heights. For instance, a flavored yogurt now has as much sugar as a candy bar, and every processed food we eat has some form of added sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the average American nine year-old ingests 25-30 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Let’s face it, for most kids in America EVERY day is Halloween! It’s no wonder that this summer I did school physicials on MULTIPLE rising kindergartners weighing in at 100 pounds. I’m also seeing MANY more toddlers and preschoolers who need extensive dental work. My appointment slots are filled more and more with managing obesity...

Doctor Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure

We are pleased to announce “Doctor Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure,” an interactive curriculum designed to introduce preschoolers to the joy eating fruits and vegetables! This curriculum was written by Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH, a Virginia pediatrician and founder of the nonprofit “The Doctor Yum Project,”  and Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, a feeding specialist, certified speech language pathologist, and owner of My Munch Bug. We also have a team of contributors in children’s health, education, and public health. Artwork and layouts were designed by Fredericksburg, VA artist Ashleigh Buyers. The curriculum includes 9 lessons which are presented by preschool teachers once a month.  Using two fun characters, Doctor Yum and My Munch Bug, each lesson presents a seasonal fruit or vegetable, explains their nutritional benefits to preschoolers, and guides them through preparation of a simple snack using the featured item. Lessons are designed to tap into preschoolers newly emerging academic and developmental skills, like language, numbers and fine motor skills and apply them to ideas about healthy eating. Teachers are provided materials with helpful tips and ideas on how to engage preschoolers in a healthy diet. There is also very helpful information written by Melanie Potock on overcoming some of the challenges presented by selective eaters, with fun ideas which can be applied to preschoolers of all types. Some of the lessons even tie into a musical track from Melanie Potock’s wonderful CD, “Dancing in the Kitchen.”  Parents are also provided materials like a parent manual with information on how to introduce healthy eating to preschoolers at home.  After every lesson the teacher provides a feedback sheet to parents which explains how their children explored the fruit and vegetable using all of their “senses.” CLICK TO SEE PART...

The Debut of Doctor Yum’s Cooking Club

This week I was pleased to attend the first gathering of “Doctor Yum Cooking Club.” The Lake of the Woods Chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) agreed months ago to pilot our spring debut of “Doctor Yum’s Cooking Club” To back track, I teach a free shopping class to help families to shop for healthy food and feed families better while saving money. Some of the moms that have attended my classed asked if we could put out a cooking assignment with some of my kid-tested recipes that they could cook with their friends on the weekends. They could then use the food they cook to feed their families during the week, and use the experience to expand their cooking experience- all while spending quality time with friends.  We have made this idea come to life-Doctor Yum’s Cooking Club! It’s a chance for friends to get together and learn to cook new healthy, family friendly, kid-tested seasonal recipes on a quarterly basis. I met this MOPS group when they invited me to talk about feeding preschoolers months agao. When they heard about the cooking club we were planning they agreed to be our pilot group for our Spring Cooking Club debut.  Tabitha, one of the members agreed to be the point person and organizer of the cooking day. Our assignment included several entrees, a few snacks and lunch ideas. The women were all responsible for bringing part of the shopping list and they picked 5 recipes to try that day. When I arrived at the kitchen at the church where they cooked it smelled heavenly and sounded much like...

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