Monday, August 5, 2013



A quick thank you to my guest summer guest bloggers, Leo Lundholm of the Sunnyside Head Start Center and Corey Ferrugia of MyTown Music.  I'm so thankful for their June and July contributions!  It's also great to be back.  I'm Enrique, the Founder and Director of Education for the Fostering Arts-Mind Education Foundation, a national non profit leader in Professional Development.  My passions in life include:

  • My Family
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Music in it's many forms
  • Dancing Salsa with my wife
  • and FOOD!

I'm a total foodie.  I'm the chef in my home and proud to say so!  In this blog, I've combined my passion for food and early childhood education.  It's SO important to open up the taste buds of our young ones as soon as we can.  Here are some tips, followed by some recipes.

1. It's all in the name!  Quite often, if we describe a food in a playful way, giving it a fun title, children will at least be interested enough to try it.

2. Having tasted a certain food ourselves as adults is key.  We have to expand our own sense of taste and model the trying of new foods for our children.

3. Having children grow their own vegetables in a student created garden is a must if we're going to really create the needed paradigm shift needed related to healthy eating as a way of life.

4. Know your allergies and of course check with the families of the children you serve to make sure you're being safe with the foods you introduce to them.

Remember.... modify these to make them your own and allow your children to experiment with you.  You might end up having to throw some unsuccessful experiments away, but get your children involved in the creation of food and they'll be much more interested in eating new foods!


Quinoa Cream of Wheat


  • Quinoa (amount depends on number of servings needed)
  • Several Dashes of Cinnamon
  • Several Dashes of Nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • Dash of Salt

Quinoa takes approx. 25 minutes to make.  I like for the flavor of the ingredients to have time to really get inside the quinoa itself, so try the following: Follow the box directions on amount of water and quinoa; add all the ingredients and bring to a boil; bring down to a simmer and cover for 25 minutes and you're done!  With a high protein content, this breakfast will be very filling and you're body will thank you since it knows how to break this food down in healthy ways... Enjoy!

Cuban Omelette

2 Eggs
1/2 a small Plantain (you can substitute with ripe bananas)
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper
Canola or Grape Seed Oil

While Eggs are not a new food for children, plantains may be, and certainly the idea of combining different flavor profiles is most likely new.  To build any palette, it's important to introduce contrasting flavors.  In this instance, savory and sweet.  It also helps that this recipe is simply unctuous and truly wonderful and easy to make.  I need to thank my wife's Grandma, Isabelle Perez Sierra, for having been the source of this traditional Cuban dish.
  • Heat a pan with about 1/4" oil to medium heat (make sure it's not smoking)
  • Cut your plantain (or ripe bananas) in 1/2 inch slices, ideally at an angle.  
  • Fry both sides of the plantains and once they're darkened and soft, take a tablespoon and slowly smash them so they flatten out.
  • Take the eggs, put them in a bowl, add the salt and pepper, and whisk them until blended.
  • Make your omelette and just before it's done, add your plantains, and fold the omelette over them.


We all know the importance of water.  Here it is:  Being hydrated makes EVERYTHING in our body WORK BETTER.  Simply put:
  • Large Adults: drink at least 8 large glasses of water daily, spread out through the day.
  • Small Adults/Large Teens: drink at least 7 glass of water daily.
  • Children: 5 - 6 glasses of water daily.

Coconut Water
A great replacement for sports drink and an all natural way to hydrate, increase potassium level and according to some research delay aging.  Some of the brands come with bits of coconut in the water and some don't.  I recently introduced coconut water to preschool children and about 75% of them immediately like it.  Keep in mind that Coconut Water:

  • Has 5 electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
  • Has approximately the same amount of potassium as a banana.
  • Promotes heart and kidney health.
  • Low in Calories.
  • Makes great freezer pops!

Almond Milk
I used to drink regular milk.  I have been drinking Almond Milk for about 3 years now and my body feels much better.  Also, know that Almond Milk:

  • typically has 0 grams of saturated and trans fat
  • 0 mg of Cholesterol
  • 60 mg of Potassium
  • 30% of your daily calcium needs
  • 25% of your daily vitamin D needs
  • 50% of your daily vitamin E needs
  • Oh yeah... and it's really yummy!

Coconut Milk
I don't always eat coconut... pause... but when I do...pause... it's coconut milk.  Actually, my daughter is a vegan and Coconut milk is a huge source of B12.  I use it when I'm making a rare dessert if I want a coconut flavor highlighted, and sometimes I use it with my cereal.  Also, know Coconut Milk:

  • typically has a lower caloric value than Almond milk
  • 0 mg of Cholesterol
  • 65 mg of Potassium
  • 50% of your daily need for B12
  • 30% of your daily need for Vitamin D 


Superman Salad
Kale, Arugula, Cilantro, Basil

In the last 5 years I've slowly lost 65 pounds, lowered my percentage of body fat dramatically, increased muscle and improved my cholesterol levels in significant ways.  I've done this with daily exercise and by changing what I eat.  I'm not perfect and I do eat some naughty things every once in a while.  A staple to my new routine of what I eat are hearty salad.  Here's my favorite:

I COMBINE KALE, the spinach of the Sea...

with ARUGULA, a lovely peppery green...

with a handful of CILANTRO...

and some FRESH BASIL...

Here is a more detailed description:
  • 4 Cups of Kale
  • 4 Cups of Arugula
  • 1/2 a bunch of Cilantro
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh Basil
  • Add any fruits or nuts to your liking (I enjoy green apple or grapes)
  • Dress as you like (I suggest a lemon vinaigarette)

With young children, I typically introduce Kale and arugula as part of fruit smoothies first.  The same goes for cilantro.  The key is to introduce it in fun, playful ways and in small portions combined with foods they already like.


Dark Chocolate Covered Edamame

So far, I've shared things we need to grow and make, or that come from a natural source.  I'm going to share one store bought item because it's become a great replacement for something sweet for me and the kids I'm around.  I also realize I'm by default, promoting a store, but I happen to be a big fan of "Trader Joe's" which offers many healthy options.

Dark Chocolate Covered Edamame are a pretty healthy alternative to cake, pie and milkshakes.  With 7 grams of protein in one serving and only 200 calories for a 1/4 cup of these sweet, yet salty treats, you're in good shape.

My suggestion for maximum enjoyment is to put the treat in your mouth and slowly let the dark chocolate dissolve in your mouth and then the dried edamame nut shares its salty flavor with you!

Enjoy these tips and use them in playful ways with your children, your families and yourself.


  1. Pinned! Wonderful! Now I am going to make my husband read this.


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