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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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A Day Worth Bookmarking for One Elementary Library

As an elementary school librarian, I have the unique opportunity to directly impact 300 students, every week.

So I’ve worked hard to turn my library into much more than a place to simply check out books. It’s a space for hands-on exploration, discovery and – more than anything – fun.

A few weeks ago, that meant getting out tubs of colored pencils, markers and stacks of paper to map the various Native American tribes one grade was learning about. There was even quite a bit of excitement around the thought of creating our own “maker space” – an endless collection of buttons, bags, cans, string, magnets, glue, cardboard and other materials students can build and tinker with. This hands-on space could serve as a vehicle for generating conversations around their ideas.

But, with paper, pencils, staples, books and other core supplies already accounting for so much of our library’s limited budget, money is a significant hurdle. And I’m not alone.

On average, teachers spend $490 of their own money to buy school supplies for their classrooms. So I was in absolute shock when someone from Walmart walked into my library. Walmart tallied votes from parents and students across the nation and – as part of its recent Commander in Teach(ers) program – surprised 20 teachers with gift cards for $490 to help with school supplies.

I felt like I was floating on air as I looked at all of the students. I knew what this gift was going to mean for them. I’ve already used the card to purchase some basic supplies and some new books I knew our students would be excited about. But it also gives me a little more freedom to think outside the box. That maker space idea is a whole lot closer to becoming reality.

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Health & Wellness

Major Benefits: The Surgery That Got Me Back On Track

My name is Rick and I can't sit still. Some say that’s a problem. I actually take great pride in it.

From marathons to triathlons to waking up on a Saturday morning and riding my bike as far as my legs can take me – I’m addicted to fitness. But that almost changed.

I knew something wasn’t quite right when I got out of the water at a triathlon a few years ago. I managed to tough it out that day, but when I rolled out of bed for another race a few weeks later, I was in such excruciating pain that I fell to my hands and knees.

The diagnosis: slipped vertebra. Before long, it was difficult for me to get from my car to the door at work, much less hop on a bike and take on the world like I wanted. I was sidelined with chronic pain and, ultimately, paralysis set in on my right leg and foot.

I’m pretty good about fighting through pain and fatigue, but this was different. This was beyond pain. There was a point where I started to wonder: What if I can’t swim or ride or run again? What if it’s always like this?

That’s when my wife, Becky, and I – high school sweethearts and both Walmart associates for more than a quarter century – looked into the Centers of Excellence benefit in our health plan. Walmart partners with some of the best medical facilities in the country to provide its associates quality health care with little to no out-of-pocket cost for certain heart, spine, joint replacement and transplant surgeries.

We decided to give it a shot, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. The company sent my wife and me to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. From access to the expert staff, to the actual surgical procedure, to the hotel room, food, and mileage up there and back home – everything was 100% covered.

With six screws and two rods in my back, I’m no fan of metal detectors. But this procedure really did give me my life back. The pain in my leg virtually vanished the morning after surgery and, over time, I was back to my usual self, pedaling upwards of 300 miles per week.

My wife and I are back to enjoying long bike rides on the weekends, swimming, running – out there enjoying our lives the only way we know how. And I can do so without the fear of what it will feel like tomorrow when I wake up.

To say I’m forever grateful would be an incredible understatement.

Editor's Note: In 2017, Walmart will double the number of world-class medical facilities available to our associates who have been told they need a spine surgery. Learn more here.

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#FiveThingsFriday: Cleaner Stores, Higher Sales and Purveyor of Fine Mangoes

ICYMI: Cleaner stores and higher sales … it’s definitely no Vudu. However, all of these are in the news this week, along with retail’s most marvelous mangoes, Chef Robert Irvine’s delicious new dishes and a new focus on food safety.

Cleaner. Faster. Friendlier.

I mentioned our training academies a couple of weeks ago, as well as how they were a part of a larger investment in our workforce. A $2.7 billion investment, to be exact. New York Times reporter Neil Irwin mentioned it as well this week in this article about how that investment is starting to show positive returns. The wage aspect of Walmart’s commitment to its associates has gotten a fair amount of conversation, but equally important are the training and education components. If our associates know how to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, they’ll be able to provide the best customer service possible. I hope you’re noticing these changes in your local stores, too!

A New Brand of Celebrity Sidekicks

What do celebrity chef Robert Irvine and your parents have in common? They both want you to eat your veggies, bub! Signature Sidekicks is Irvine’s line of four fresh-cut vegetable dishes that are available exclusively at Walmart. Pop into your store and pick up a bag of Garlic Balsamic Broccoli, Sesame Ginger Stir Fry, Braised Collard Greens, or Provencal Ratatouille. (Speaking of Sidekicks, do you remember the Sidekick, the precursor to today’s smart phones?)

A Step Forward for Food Safety

On Wednesday, we launched the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing. The center is part of a $25 million investment over the next five years for food safety research in China. And that’s not the only news from China: Doug McMillon sat down with Bloomberg News to discuss a range of other things happening.

It’s an Honor Just to be Nominated

But it’s even better when you win 2016 Mango Retailer of the Year! We have so many people to thank: Our associates that put mangoes on our shelves, our customers that keep coming back to buy mangoes, the farmers that grow these delicious fruits … Oh no, they’re playing the “hurry up and finish” music, so go watch this video on how to slice the mango you just bought.

Now Playing on Your TV

Vudu Movies on Us lets you stream thousands of movies and TV shows for free with limited commercials. If you haven’t checked out the lineup, there’s some pretty good stuff: True Grit, School of Rock, Mad Max, and Point Break. Sounds like your weekend plans are set.

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#FiveThingsFriday: Malibu Comes to Arkansas, and a Birth Story Worth Checking Out

ICYMI: Rum, a new baby, a lost locket and pumpkins a-plenty. Oh, and the largest single-day health event in America. It’s an odd list with one thing in common – it’s all news in the world of Walmart this week.

If You Like Pina Coladas…

Arkansas got a bit more tropical this week when Pernod Ricard began bottling Malibu Rum at its plant in Fort Smith. This reshoring effort will bring an additional 6,000 man hours to the plant over the next year, which translates into more hours for existing workers and additional seasonal and full-time employment. An estimated 150,000 cases will be bottled in the plant that also produces Kahlua Liqueur, Seagram's Gin and Smithworks Vodka. Cheers!

Price Check on Bouncing Baby Boy

On Sunday morning, our Payson, Utah, store inadvertently hosted a reenactment of the 2000 film “Where the Heart Is” when customer Cecelia Rivas went into labor when she was checking out. Customers and associates helped Cecelia deliver baby Matias right there at the cash register. Mom and baby are doing well, and the store will be welcoming them back for a proper baby shower soon.

More Wellness for Your Weekend

This Saturday, October 15, every Walmart store in the U.S. will be hosting Walmart Wellness Day, the largest single-day health fair in the country. From noon to 4 p.m., local time, you can get free blood glucose, blood pressure, vision screenings (where available), product samples and information on health insurance options. We’ll have lots of companies in store handing out free samples, from Dannon to Johnson & Johnson. And since no exciting Saturday is complete without a round of shots, we’re also offering low-cost immunizations.

Lost, But Found

Tampa associate Pamela Martini made it a personal mission to reunite a heart-shaped locket she found in her store with its rightful owner. Customers lose lots of items in our stores, but Pamela knew that this piece of jewelry was different; it had a man’s name and two dates engraved on it, and the inside contained ashes. She searched online, posted to Facebook, talked to customers, and even reached out to her local news station. Her determinedness paid off when she was able to reunite the locket with the woman who owned it.

It’s the Great Pumpkin … Farmer!

Sarah Frey has been supplying Walmart with pumpkins for about 20 years. She got her start with us when she was still a teenager helping out the family farm. Her business has grown from 80 acres to about 15,000, and she’s expanding beyond the bright orange gourds you pick up for Jack-O-Lanterns. Sarah is introducing Pumpkins of the World, exotic pumpkins aimed at cooks. We’re all familiar with the canned pumpkin used for Thanksgiving pie, but have you heard of Jarrahdales or Chioggias? No, we didn’t make those up, but they could be the next big food trend. Fun fact: Did you know that the pumpkins you carve up for Halloween are known as “jacks”? Store that one away for your next trivia night.

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