Decreasing Your Family’s Sugary Drink Intake



At WIC I talk a lot to families with toddlers and also to pregnant woman about increasing water and decreasing soda, juice, iced tea etc…but a lot are not aware of the risks of drinking too much juice. The sugar in these drinks can:

  • Increase weight gain
  • Increase risk of cavities
  • Fill stomachs so kids are less likely to eat at meal times
  • Soft drinks in particular can increase risk of Type 2 Diabetes & other chronic illnesses (According to one study 1-2 cans of sugary drinks daily has a 26% greater risk of type II diabetes than those who rarely drink these drinks…)

These risks can also be applied to 100% and home-made “natural” juice because even if there’s no added sugar to these products there’s still a lot of natural sugar. And sugar is sugar is sugar.

For example, the nutrient label on 100% Apple Juice states 23 grams of sugar and 24 grams of carbohydrates (which are broken down into sugars), which equals 47 grams in total! To put this in perspective that’s about 11 teaspoons of sugar in a single cup.

For the most part, juice also doesn’t contain fiber which is found in whole fruits. Fiber slows sugar absorption into the blood stream so its impact on blood sugar is less than with juice.

Does this mean we can never enjoy juice again?


For adults one cup of juice daily is the recommended amount. For kids recommendations are based on their age group and put forth by the Academy of Pediatrics:

Infancy to 1 years of age: No juice (unless suggested for treatment of constipation, then 2-3 oz. of juice daily)

1-3 years of age: 4 oz. of juice daily

4-6 years of age: 4-6 oz. of juice daily

7 years and older: 1-8 oz. cup of juice daily


9 Fun Ways to Get more Water

1.) Offer water with a splash of juice just for taste

2.) Add seltzer water

3.) Add lemons, limes, or other fresh fruits and herb/spices to flavor water (A personal favorite of mine is green apples with cinnamon stick)

4.) Pour juice into ice cube trays, freeze, and serve in water

5.) Buy sparkling water (I loved these as a kid and drank more water too!)

6.) Offer kids the small 8 oz. water bottles when going to the park

7.) Add frozen grapes or other frozen fruits like blueberries or raspberries

8.) Use fun cups for water (mason jars)

9.) Use funky straws



Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use Part 3

Hello! It’s been awhile since I last posted here. The past few months for me has been pretty busy with wedding preparations,  the wedding itself,  our honeymoon up to Alton Bay New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee, and all the little things that come after like changing one’s name.

You might have already noticed, but my name has changed and I updated all my social media handles to Leanne Davis-Ickes. So, don’t be confused, Leanne Cyr and Leanne Davis-Ickes is the same person!

I’m happy to report that everything went smoothly with the exception of the rehearsal. I forgot to pick up the marriage certificate; without which there would be no wedding! And there almost wasn’t one…It was such a blessing that my fiancee’s stepfather ran into a friend that worked at city hall so that he was able to get the marriage certificate.

Now onto the topic of Tools that Kids can Use Part 3Bowls, spoons, sieves, and HANDS are all common tools that one uses in the kitchen.

This next recipe is no exception and would be a great way to get the younger kiddos (2-3 yrs. old) cooking through mixing, dumping, and dredging. The recipe I chose is Baked Rosemary Potato Fries and Fish Sticks with a side of Steamed Veggies. Dredging the pieces of fish in egg yolk, breadcrumbs, and whole wheat flour is both messy and fun! At least I loved to get messy as a kid! I can’t say the same for my poor parents who were both neat freaks.

The recipe works best with cod fillets. I originally tried Haddock but it came out too fishy. Cod has a nice sweet and mild flavor that works well in this recipe.



Baked Rosemary Potato Fries and Fish Sticks w/ a Steamed Veggie*

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hr.


1 1/2 lb of Cod fillets, cut into strips

1/2 c. of Italian Style Bread Crumbs

1/2 c. of Whole Wheat Flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 bag of chosen vegetable (I used baby carrots and fresh green beans)

Ingredients for the Potato Fries

2 med sized potatoes

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Rosemary and Sea Salt to taste

Directions Part 1:

1.) Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

2.) Set aside a cookie sheet and grease it with either a vegetable oil based spray or olive oil

2.) Rinse and scrub the dirt off the potatoes with a vegetable brush (if available) then transfer to the cutting board.

3.) Cut the potatoes in half length wise and then cut those two halves into 1/2 inch thick slices.

4.) Place potatoes onto a previously greased cookie sheet, add rosemary and sea salt for flavor.

5.) Place on top rack of oven for 30 minutes. At half time remove from oven, flip, and return for another 15 minutes.

Directions Part II

1.) Spray baking dish w/ vegetable oil spray and set aside.

2.) Set out three medium sized bowls.

  • In the first bowl mix bread crumbs and seasonings together.
  • In the second bowl place the flour.
  • In the third bowl place eggs.

3.) On a separate cutting board slice the cod fillets into 1/2 inch pieces.

4.) Dredge first in flour, transfer to the eggs, and finally dredge through the breadcrumb mixture.

5.) Place fish sticks on the baking sheet and transfer immediately into the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Directions Part III

1.) When the fish sticks are at half time place choice of vegetables (baby carrots/green beans) into a bowl.

2.) Put a little water into the dish until barely covering the veggies

3.) Transfer to microwave and cover for 6 minutes on high.

4.) When all three parts of meal are done let cool and serve w/ homemade tartar sauce (mayo & relish).

Note: This recipe works best when you split the tasks between two people

Bon Appetite! 

Alternative ideas: Instead of the fries try brown rice. Use different vegetables. Use favorite seasonings. Try a steamer

*Recipe adapted from

Cooking Matters

For this month I’m mixing things up. Instead of highlighting a kitchen tool that kids can use and a recipe I’m going to be writing about an organization I’m passionate about; Cooking Matters.

I decided to write about this topic because this month my fiancee and I are incredibly busy preparing for our wedding on February 3rd. This past week has been consumed with coordinating our wedding party and trying to tie up loose ends. We’re both excited and anxious at the same time. Anxious about the flow of the days events and that all goes smoothly, but we are looking forward to the day and the week long vacation afterwards. We both need one!

Long story short it wouldn’t be feasible to be experimenting with recipes and kitchen tools suitable for the blog this month. So, what is Cooking Matters?

Cooking Matters is a non-profit organization that is part of the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign since 1994. They are committed to teaching families, children, and teens about healthy food through cooking and connecting them to nutritious food in high risk areas of food insecurity.  Though some participants mistakenly think the program is a cooking class it is really a nutrition program. The classes have students participate in nutrition education lessons on a variety of topics such as:

  • How to read the nutrition label
  • Difference between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
  • What is a whole grain?
  • Sugary drinks
  • Shopping on a  Budget
  • Making low cost, nutritious meals

Cooking Matters Set Up

Each lesson is taught by a Nutritionist while the cooking part of the class is taught by a Chef/Cook. There’ll also be other volunteers there to help out as the Nutrition/Cooking Assistant.

The program itself runs as a 6 week program where participants meet with instructors once a week usually after or during school hours. It’s usually 2 hrs. in length and each participant receives a bag at the end of the lesson that includes a copy of the recipes  used and the ingredients to cook them at home. At the end of the 6 week program each participant gets a certificate of completion and a bag of goodies including the recipe/instruction book used during the class, a cutting board, a Cooking Matters bag, and a cheese grater or other cooking implement.

In addition to cooking/nutrition classes they offer store tours where they will take a group through the store to give you tips for shopping on a budget, how to read nutrition labels, and compare unit prices. There’s even an app called Cooking Matters. You can download the app for free through the apple store. The app comes with cool recipe ideas and nutrition facts.

Cooking Matters Partners 

Cooking matters often partners with community organizations in the area like WIC, SNAP, Headstart, after school programs, and others to bring classes to your community. Follow this link to see the list of areas they commonly serve.

I had the opportunity to work with Cooking Matters as a volunteer on a couple of occasions before I got a job at WIC. They’re goal and mission to help families learn about nutrition through cooking combines two of my passions which can help to explain why I’m looking forward to being able to volunteer for them again in the future.

To Learn More: 

If you or your family would like to get involved in Cooking Matters follow this link.

Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use: Crock Pot

Continuing with our theme of tools kids can use in the kitchen is the crock pot. With winter upon us it’s a great time for soups, chili, and stews to keep us warm on cold winter nights. These recipes are simple enough to follow and easy to prepare using a crock pot. Older kids around the ages of 12-13 years old can use a crock pot as well as other heating implements: a stove, a skillet, etc…This age group can also read simple recipes & use a vegetable knife for preparing vegetables.

When I was brainstorming a recipe I could share using a crock pot a few ideas popped into mind: Creton (a French Canadian meat spread that’s also a family tradition), chicken enchiladas, soups, or  a chili. I ruled out Creton pretty quickly after I realized the cooking time was outrageous for working households and boring for kids (the meat sits on the stove and simmers until no water is left for HOURS!!!). The second idea I ruled out simply because I wasn’t in the mood for enchiladas. I decided upon soups/chili because it was easy to prepare, it was winter, and I’m always cold!

With that being said my fiancee and I went with a vegetarian version of the recipe that I found on account of it being Friday when we tried this recipe and we’re Catholic. It’s usually a well known Catholic tradition to abstain from meat on Fridays as a way of remembering the death of Christ and preparing our hearts to celebrate the mini Easter every Sunday. As a result, we usually do Meatless Fridays instead of Meatless Mondays (still good for the environment no matter what day is chosen!).

Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Bean Chili


29 oz. can of Kidney Beans, rinsed

1 teaspoon oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced fine

16 oz. can of corn

10 oz. can of Italian Style Diced Tomatoes

8 oz. can of plain tomato sauce

1/4 c. of low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon fresh garlic

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


1.) Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and saute the diced red peppers, onions, and garlic with a little oil until slightly translucent

2.) Transfer to crock pot and add the remaining ingredients (beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn, chicken broth, and spices).

3.) Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6 hours.

4.) Serve with any additional toppings desired.

Note: If preferred, 1 lb of ground turkey or beef can be used instead of the beans or try half ground meat and half beans.



Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use: Apple Corers

Apple corers are a nifty little device that makes making apple pies, apple crisp, and baked apples so much easier! Apple slicers are similar but instead of just coring the apple it slices the apple into even slices. Although the apple corer may need some practice with handling, an apple slicer doesn’t take that much practice to use.  In fact, kids ages 6-7 can use these kitchen tools.

To be completely honest with you this blog post was meant to be on double boilers and posted last month. The highlighted recipe was on candy apples (love this fall treat!). Unfortunately, the recipe fell through as it didn’t turn out as planned.

So, onto plan B! (Personally, I think planned B worked out much better.)

Below I have provided a fun fall dessert for families to make together using above tools. Happy Cooking!

Fruity Apple Crisp

Makes 4 servings; Preparation Time: 30 mins; Cooking Time: 45 mins.


6 medium Macintosh apples, cored & thinly sliced

1/2 cup of fresh cranberries or blueberries

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


2 tablespoons of flour

1/8 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 c. of oatmeal

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine


1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2.) Wash all apples & peel with a peeler. Then use an apple slicer to slice all the apples on a clean cutting board. Then take the sliced apples and slice them into thinner slicers. Place into the prepared baking pan.

3.) In a medium bowl mix flour, sugar, lemon juice, & cinnamon. Whisk together & pour over the apple slicers in the baking pan. Use a spatula to coat evenly.

4.) In a small mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients for the topping. Add the melted butter and stir. Spread evenly over the apples.

5.) Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 mins. Let cool before serving with a little bit of Greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Note: little ones can also help out by peeling and washing the apples. Younger kids, ages 2-4, can help wash & mix ingredients while the older ones, 6-7 can peel.


Kitchen Tools that Kids Can Use

A year ago I posted a blog article that listed the tasks children can help with in the kitchen by age. Today I decided to expand upon that idea, highlighting kitchen equipment and tools that kids can use and an easy recipe that kids can do with little to no supervision.

A Blender

This tool is versatile in the kitchen. It can be used to make smoothies, sauces, dips, and for combining ingredients in some recipes. It’s also a tool that kids ages 6-9 can use on their own. For the first time though it might be beneficial to have some supervision.

The two recipes I chose to highlight in today’s blog are dips and smoothies. These two I have found while working at WIC to be something of a fan favorite for kids. If your child is texture sensitive try experimenting with recipes to see if you can change the texture  or even taste. Personally, I like smooth/creamy textures and have an aversion to gritty textures so these two recipes highlight the first two texture combinations.

Green Monster Smoothie

1/2 c. of milk

1/2 c. of ice cubes

1/2 c. of vanilla yogurt

1 large banana

1/2 c. of baby spinach

1.) Add all ingredients in a blender.

2,) Blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.

3.) Pour into cups and enjoy!

Monster Mash Yogurt Dip

1 c. of greek yogurt

1 c. of baby spinach

1/2 small green pepper

1 medium sized chive

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1.) Put all ingredients into the blender.

2.) Pulse mixture until well blended and smooth

3.) Serve with tortilla chips of veggie sticks