Entries by feedtosucceed

Family Meals – Why and How

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Jen and Betsy dive into family meals – ups and downs, challenges, and how to overcome some of the most common obstacles such as time, frequency and benefits of making time to sit down together a few times a week.

Cream of Tomato Soup (mentioned in the episode)


2 Tablespoons Butter
¼ Cup Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons Flour
¼ Cup Milk
¾ Cup Chicken or vegetable broth
½ Bay leaf
½ Teaspoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Baking soda
1 Cup Tomato


Day 1 Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is transparent.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the butter mixture and continue to stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the milk, broth, bay leaf, sugar and salt, continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened.
  5. Stir the baking soda into the tomatoes in your measuring cup.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the milk mixture and bring just to a simmer.
  7. Remove from the heat and pour into a container.
  8. Cover label and refrigerate.


Day 2 Directions

  1. Pour soup through a mesh strainer or blend soup in the blender.
  2. Heat soup and serve with grilled cheese.

Introducing the Feed to Succeed Podcast

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Funny, down-to-earth, engaging talk show about kids’ food and nutrition; hosted by dietitian and pediatric nutrition expert, Betsy Hjelmgren and her co-host, culinary arts teacher and foodie expert, Jen Karakosta.

This first episode in a 12-part series about kids, food, and parenting in difficult feeding situations, introduces our hosts and explores their different backgrounds as food and nutrition experts, and parents themselves.

You’re Not a Short Order Cook

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Have you ever found yourself feeling like a short order cook in your own kitchen? We all have. Betsy and Jen discuss this approach to feeding kids, and provide their own insight and experience as a dietitian and a culinary expert to encourage you to take a stand against the temptation of short order cooking.


New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Family Make this year the healthiest year yet

There is no better time than the New Year to consider adopting some healthy habits for the whole family.

Wait. Strike that. There is NO TIME when you’re a parent.

That’s why we’ve done the work for you and came up with a few suggestions for making 2017 your family’s healthiest year yet.

Families–especially those with young children–have to constantly take stock and reassess what’s working and what’s not. And while big changes in diet are always hard, small changes that are achievable can still have a big impact.

We asked our registered dietitians to offer a few tips for making 2017 a healthy year, and here’s your family’s personal healthy growth plan for this year.

  • Try to sit down to a family meal at least 3-4 times per week. When it comes to developing good eating habits, children model what they seeing going in their home and with their family members. If dinner is logistically challenging, breakfast or lunch can work as well! ~Amanda Gordon RD with Feed to Succeed
  • Incorporate kids in meal preparation. This can be grocery shopping, recipe searching or prepping food–like vegetable washing, cutting (if safe!) and measuring. They will more likely be interested in the meal if they have helped! ~Gia Diakakis, RD with Feed to Succeed
  • Focus on protein! All meals should have some source of protein. Have the kids identify each source or protein at meal times or ask they to come up with the protein for that meal. ~Gia Diakakis
  •  Find a family activity that everyone enjoys doing to get everyone up and moving! For example, family walks to the park, bike rides together, walk the dog together, swimming in the summer, or ice skating in the winter. ~Flori Brioni, RD with Feed to Succeed and La Rabida Children’s Hospital
  • Commentary and pressure placed on a child or adolescent about their body appearance is most likely to result in bigger problems. Family discussions about food should revolve around health and not appearance. ~Betsy Hjelmgren, RD and founder of Feed to Succeed
  • A snack is a good snack if it contributes to good health in some way, such as being a good source of protein, calcium or vitamins – like yogurt, fruit and veggies. Betsy Hjelmgren

Want to make sure your family is successful? Then, follow these simple suggestions:

1. Choose one suggestion to adopt for your family from our list or come up with your own.
2. Tell everybody your plan and post it somewhere that everyone can see it.
3. Set aside 10 minutes on your calendar for Feb. 1 to reassess if your plan is working.

How Your Child Sleeps Affects Diet By Gia Diakakis, RD

As dietitians, during our patient appointments, you can assume we will ask about the foods your child eats, foods they dislike, stooling patterns, and medications/supplements (amongst many other things!). One question that might catch you off guard is “How is your child sleeping?” After all, what does sleep have to do with nutrition?

Sleep habits have been shown to impact obesity among adolescents (and adults!). Specifically, inadequate sleep has been shown to correlate with high BMI, high body fat percentages and increased waist and hip circumferences. In the HELENA study, inadequate sleep for adolescents was defined as less than eight hours per night (as defined by the National Sleep Foundation).  In contrast, adolescents that slept longer were found to have significantly lower BMI’s.

So how does sleep exactly impact obesity in adolescents? There are hormonal changes with inadequate sleep habits that have been found in adult studies that likely also apply to adolescents. For example, hunger hormones increase and satiety or “full hormones” drop with inadequate sleep, thus making individuals hungrier without feeling satisfied when they eat.  Then there are lifestyle changes that take place with inadequate sleep. For example, more opportunities to eat, increased fatigue, less energy to exercise, and an increase in unhealthy food choices. All of these things combined end up making a vast difference in our daily nutrition–excess calories consumed and less physical activity!

Sleep, along with having set times for family meals, snacks, and limited screen time are so important to nutrition. Next time you enforce bedtime, know that you are also doing more than making sure your child isn’t cranky the next day.

Garaulet, Marta, et al. “Short sleep duration is associated with increased obesity markers in European adolescents: effect of physical activity and dietary habits. The HELENA study.” International journal of obesity 35.10 (2011): 1308-1317.


We Moved!

We are so excited to share the news that Feed to Succeed is moving into a beautiful new space this September; just a mile down the street and closer to the Glen. Those of you coming to meet with us, please bear with the dust during this big transition. We can’t wait to have better resources to serve our wonderful community!

One Trick to Make Healthy Lunches

If there’s any mom out there who enjoys making lunches, I’d like to meet her.

And then I won’t believe her.

Here’s how lunch making goes down in most houses:

  1. Bleary eyed after a long day of work or household chores, we parents head to the kitchen to spend 20 minutes preparing lunches before bed.
  2. We have the best intentions of packing healthy food that our kids might eat, only to come up with… nothing.
  3. The next day our kids take one look at the lunches we managed to pack and either trade them or trash them.
  4. We open the boxes again that night to find mashed fruit, barely nibbled sandwiches and empty chips packages scored from trading.

And here’s the one simple trick to make lunches this school year better:

1. Buy bento boxes. If you don’t know what these are, you must find out. You can make one yourself out of tupperware or buy a big fancy one. They are all over stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or World Market for about $5.
2. Buy silicon baking cups to store goodies inside the bento boxes. Six for $2.49.
3. Pack REAL FOOD (read no more packaged, expensive junk), out of a bento box (aka a dish) so that your kids will eat lunch from plates and not mushy baggies.
4. If all goes well, your kids will actually eat the foods that they normally like at home from their lunch boxes.

Homemade Mac n’ Cheese

With so many gorgeous Chicago summer days, homemade macaroni and cheese is perfect for a quick, kid-friendly dinner. This recipe isn’t as easy as the one from the box, but it’s pretty close. And it tastes a whole lot better.

Now you see it, soon you won't.

Now you see it, soon you won’t.

1 package cooked whole wheat elbow noodles
2T butter
1.25 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2t salt
1/2t mustard powder
freshly ground pepper to taste

Once you prepare the noodles, melt butter over medium heat. Add milk, sour cream, spice, salt, pepper and cheese and stir until cheese melts. If your cheese clumps and doesn’t melt, try a different brand next time. Leave flame on while you mix the noodles into the cheese sauce. Serve immediately.