Health & Wellness

Sneaky Veggies: 7 Recipes to Get Kids to Eat Healthy

It can be hard to get your kids to eat vegetables and fruits. If this is true in your family, you are not alone.  Did you know that most children do not get the daily recommended amounts of vegetables and fruits in their diets? As a mother of three, I can honestly say that I can relate to that statement. Two of my children are pretty good about eating vegetables and trying new things, but my youngest, well, that’s a whole other ball game. He won’t eat any vegetables at all!

I’ve always been a little jealous of the moms that say their kids will eat anything. With my youngest, it’s always been a struggle. I used to think I was a bad parent, but I have come to realize that this is more common than I thought, and all kids are just different. It took a long time for me to quit fighting a losing battle, and just accept that all I needed was a new game plan. I told myself, if he won’t eat any vegetables, then you are just going to have to start hiding them.


1. Healthy Fruit or Veggie Muffins

Spiced Carrot Muffins

I was excited and started out with baked goods. My youngest is known around our house as the Muffin Man! If I want him to eat something nutritious, I just toss it in a muffin and he gobbles it up. I started experimenting and made these Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (packed with protein and goodness). These muffins are made with ripe bananas, peanut butter, honey, Greek yogurt, and the combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. These are a great option to pack in school lunches. 


Because my major struggle was vegetables, I started incorporating vegetables into different muffins. I use carrots to make Spiced Carrot Muffins, and zucchini for Zucchini Bread Muffins. My youngest son loved every muffin and had no idea he was eating vegetables. I was so excited to have finally found a way to sneak a little goodness into his diet. 

I  usually spend a day steaming, shredding and pureeing vegetables for cooking and baking. I separate everything into one-cup packets and then store those packets in a large zip-top bag and place it in the freezer. This way I have pureed veggies on hand anytime I want to be sneaky!   


2. Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies


Beans are also a great source of protein and wonderful in baked goods. I use pureed black beans for Black Bean Brownies and pureed white beans to make White Bean Banana Bread. You can also use white bean puree in macaroni and cheese or white bean chocolate chip cookies.
 

3. Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce

Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce


You can also hide all sorts of vegetables in sauces. I came up with this Sneaky Spaghetti Sauce because my son loves spaghetti. This spaghetti sauce has all sorts of different hidden vegetables like tomatoes, onions, zucchini, carrots, celery and peppers. This is where having pureed veggies on hand in the freezer comes in so handy. Another trick is to use your favorite regular spaghetti sauce and just add shredded veggies to meatballs, and use oatmeal in place of bread crumbs.


4. Green Monster Smoothie

Green Monster Smoothie


Sometimes making silly names for foods will get your kids to eat just about anything. This Green Monster Smoothie is very popular in our house. I introduced this smoothie on St. Patrick’s Day several years back, and now it is a family favorite. It’s packed full of spinach, bananas and almond milk. My daughter said it looked just like the green slime from Nickelodeon, but tastes just like a banana smoothie. 

A few other favorite smoothies are Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie, Strawberry Banana Smoothie or a Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie. Pureeing into a smoothie is the perfect way to disguise something. 


5. Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries

Yogurt Covered Blueberries


My kids are better with fruits than vegetables, but they still don’t get their full share. Sure, they love bananas, strawberries and apples, but sometimes getting them to eat other fruits can also be a challenge. I have found that my kids love Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries. You can use plain yogurt with honey or vanilla yogurt; both are wonderful.


6. Fruit & Yogurt Parfait

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Let your kids make their own fruit parfaits using their favorite flavored yogurt, fruit and granola. I have found that when children help with meal and food prep, they are much more likely to try whatever it is they are making. These yummy Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits are a great choice.


7. Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls


Last but not least are these Healthy Peanut Butter Balls. I make these at least once a week to pack in my kids’ lunches. My kids, as well as my husband, love these and have no idea that they are packed full of protein, ground flaxseed and wheat germ. I always smile when my kids come home from school and ask me to pack a few extras, because their friends are asking them to share.     

I have come to realize that some kids just don’t eat a well-balanced diet, and begging and pleading just doesn’t work. I advise giving up the battle and give into being a little sneaky, because sometimes it’s the only way.


Walmart Mom blogger, Tina Butler is the mom behind the blog
Mommy’s Kitchen. Tina loves creating meals that are simple, delicious, and perfect for bringing families together at the table. 

Now until August 4, you can join Walmart's Eat Healthy Together Challenge for a chance to win a $25 Walmart gift card. Learn more: foundation.walmart.com/eathealthytogether


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U.S. Manufacturing

A Simple Sponge, and My Second Chance

I’ll never forget the day in 2003 when everything went red. I was in my 30s, watching television with a friend in my living room when it happened. Three surgeries and several weeks later, I was declared legally blind.

While it happened quickly, it wasn’t completely unexpected. I had been diagnosed with diabetes back in Jamaica and couldn't afford the proper medication, which led to my vision loss. So I found myself trying to navigate life without the benefit of eyesight and, soon, without my husband, who left me. It was just my daughter and me. Years later, I moved to New York City in search of opportunity, but questioned whether I'd made the right decision after going unemployed for more than three years. That changed when I found National Industries for the Blind.

Pauline Doling at Sewing Machine

Statistics show more than 70% of the more than 4 million legally blind adults in the U.S. are not employed. As the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, NIB is working to change those statistics, and my story is one example. Eight years ago, I discovered New York City Industries for the Blind, which later became Alphapointe, one of NIB’s associated nonprofit agencies. I began manufacturing SKILCRAFT® Speedy Scrubber sponges at Alphapointe’s facility in Brooklyn. And I’ve been counting my blessings ever since.

All of a sudden, I had a steady income. I wasn’t wondering how I was going to pay my bills and support my daughter. I take great pride in operating my sewing machine on the manufacturing line because I know the military and government customers who use our product depend on us for quality. In May, we were excited when our sponges began hitting the shelves of select Walmart stores throughout the Northeast as part of the retailer’s commitment to U.S. manufacturing. I’m part of a team with more than 100 employees, each one legally blind, just like me.

Man at Sewing Machine

NIB and Alphapointe believed in me, and that’s the second chance I was looking for. I’m confident again and I have a support system around me. I’ve made friends for a lifetime – friends I go out to dinner with and hang out with on the weekends. I even met the love of my life, Ronnie McNeil, here. We were married earlier this month, which kind of completes my dream come true.

For more than 76 years, NIB has created jobs for people who are blind through the sale of thousands of SKILCRAFT products. The Speedy Scrubber sponges are manufactured by people who are blind working at Alphapointe – one of 95 nonprofit agencies associated with NIB – in its Brooklyn facility. 

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Health & Wellness

Fresh, Fast and Fun: Stay on Track with Produce Hacks

As the freshness of a new year wears away, so can those changes we laid out for our diets. No one wants to eat healthy food if it doesn’t taste good. And sometimes throwing together a salad for tomorrow’s lunch is the last thing we want to do at the end of a long day.

But when we take a look at food trends and what our customers are buying, we see a couple of things that help keep the diet momentum going: easy options that free up time, and, when there’s a few extra minutes to make cooking fun, new ways of giving healthier selections a gourmet touch.

With that in mind, here are some choices that are gaining steam – and you can work them into your routine simply by spending a few extra minutes in the produce section.

Brussels sprouts. Strong in flavor and smell, Brussels sprouts have long been that vegetable many people love to hate. But sales of Brussels sprouts are growing for retailers as customers are drawn to new ways of preparing them. Roasting or grilling and adding a pop of flavor like balsamic vinegar or garlic makes them seem decadent.

RecipeCards_Brussel Sprouts w Yogurt Drizzle
Spaghetti squash or spiral-cut zucchini. Have you ever heard of a zoodle? If you got a spiral slicer as a holiday gift, you’re probably aware that zucchini is becoming increasingly popular as a pasta replacement. Spaghetti squash, too, is a delicious alternative to dishes that call for noodles.

Cauliflower. From pizza crust to a mashed potato stand-in, cauliflower is growing out of its standing as a bland, forgotten salad ingredient. If you’d rather not use it in place of one of these carbs, try cutting a head of it into large slices and grilling it like a steak.

Chopped salad. When you don’t have a huge lettuce leaf to chase around your plate or, later, shove awkwardly in your mouth, a salad becomes much easier to eat. Imagine everything you’d want in a salad, processed in a chopper – that’s a chopped salad. It’s simple to make and store in the fridge, and we’re seeing customers prepare more of them.

RecipeCards_Convenient Chopped Salad

Salad kits and bowls. If you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen the Mason jar salad concept. Here’s how our customers are eating healthier and saving more time: Purchasing single-serve ready-to-eat salad bowls, which include a protein, the dressing and a disposable fork. Also popular are salad kits, which have everything in the bag except a main protein. Just shake into a bowl and you’ve got a fresh side dish for the whole family.

Premium juice. If you don’t have a juicer – or the time to use one – you’ll find prepared juices right next to the produce in select Walmart stores. These aren’t the fruit cocktail variety (mixed juices are available in the dairy department) but instead are very pure, unprocessed and premium in nature.

Kale. This leafy green has been surging in popularity for a few years now, and it’s not going away. A few years ago you’d find just a couple of kale options in our stores; today we offer it in salad blends, plus readymade kale chips, dips and more. It’s a super food that’s also super versatile.

RecipeCards_Crunchy Kale Salad

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Innovation

In the Baby Department, a Mom’s Work is Never Done

Have you ever heard of tooth wipes? If you’ve never brought home a baby, then probably not – unless you’ve shopped for a gift for a first-time mom and noticed such a lesser-known item on her gift registry.

New parents tend to over-prepare because they’re nervous to get everything right. I know this firsthand because two years ago, I had my first son. And I thought I needed every possible item to take care of him – including tooth wipes.

So many of us are familiar with this feeling, and for me, it’s a life experience that translates well to my day job overseeing baby merchandise at Walmart. My team takes care of people in the happiest, but also the most stressful time of their lives. We’re constantly asking ourselves, how can we make that easier? One key – but coincidental – way is that many of the associates on the baby team have intuition from parenting babies and young children themselves.

Diana Marshall with Son

These perspectives have helped us make simple, but important changes to our assortment – like ensuring our customers can find popular brands like Britax and Plum Organics, and launching Urbini exclusively at Walmart. (It also applies to items like tooth wipes. When I needed them two years ago, Walmart didn’t carry them. Now we do, and they are even assembled in the U.S.!) Our parenting experience has also given us ideas to take to our suppliers that address important concerns, like a car seat with technology that alerts you when your child is still in the back seat if the ignition is switched off.

Talking to our customers, we see our personal insights proven right in many different scenarios. First-time moms like me want everything perfect and brand-name, while second-time moms tend to focus on just getting through the day. Second-time moms also concentrate more on functionality, which applies to their shopping experience, too. They’ve reduced the places they shop from a handful to only a couple, meaning convenience is important. That’s one reason we’ve expanded our assortment not just in-store but also online, and we’ve recently updated our baby registry to be easily accessible with the Walmart mobile app. I love now being able to shop for friends using my phone whether I’m in the store or in transit somewhere.

Smart Phone showing Gift and Baby Registry App

Research has shown my team that the needs of moms globally are really the same: They all want the very best for their children. I love that we’re able to provide that not just from business experience, but from personal experience, too. We’re able to learn about products and what works well, and then influence that for other parents. Just a few months ago, I took home all the diapers Walmart carries to try on my son and then gave feedback to our suppliers on quality. It helps to be so close to the category to be able to improve our assortment and customer experience.

It’s an intriguing circle, how many of my team members’ jobs influence our parenting and how being parents influences our jobs. Whether it’s updating our mobile registry, adding distinct items like tooth wipes, or ensuring we carry great private-label options like the Parent’s Choice training pants we just launched in partnership with Dreamworks, we’re working hard to make the hardest job in the world – parenting – a little easier.

You can read more about Walmart’s expanded assortment of baby products and services here.    

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Community

Once Hungry, Lisa’s Family is Now Hungry to Help

I first met Lisa as she walked into the YMCA of Greater Rochester with her youngest child still in a stroller, and her preschooler toddling along. For Lisa, planning three meals for her family every day was something that she could not afford as a single mother of three.

Fresh fruits and vegetables – a staple in a healthy diet for growing kids – were an expensive luxury. Toward the end of every month, she was left worried and afraid that she wouldn’t be able to put any food on the table. 

Unfortunately, Lisa’s story is not unique. In Monroe County, New York, there are over 100,000 people living with food insecurity. In addition, only one in six low-income children nationwide who relied on free and reduced school lunches participated in a summer nutrition program last year, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

Lisa and her girls started coming to the YMCA of Greater Rochester in 2013, where we were able to offer a solution to her family. We provide local children free access to nutritious meals during the day including breakfast, lunch and healthy snacks. For moms like Lisa, it’s a tremendous relief as they no longer have to worry about where their kids’ next meals are coming from.

Lisa with children at Rochester YMCA
Our facility is one of many YMCAs in 2,300 communities nationwide benefitting from a $5.3 million national grant from the Walmart Foundation that enabled the expansion of yearlong food programs. This grant is part of a group of grants made by the Walmart Foundation, totaling $15.5 million, to support free meal and nutrition programs. These grants mean so much to so many families this time of year, as children are out of school and without access to school meals and the daily routines they count on.

Today, things are improving for Lisa and her family. She graduated from college with honors this May and already has a job as a pharmacy tech at a local hospital. She credits our YMCA program with giving her the support and peace of mind that she needed while finishing her degree. Lisa now is also able to give back. Many times, I’ve seen Lisa and her daughters bring clothing to our facility in the hopes that other families will benefit.

Lisa and her girls still come to the YMCA each morning, and I talk to her about her plans for her daughters, who she says will grow up to change the world. I bet that dream will come true.    

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