Category Archives: nutrition

Nutrition and Food Safety for Young Children

Feeding children can sometimes be challenging but proper nutrition is essential to their development.

For the pickiest of eaters, exposure to new foods is key. Children may need to be exposed to an unfamiliar food up to 8 times before they are willing to try it. When introducing a new food, serve it alongside foods the children are already familiar with and like. Maintain a positive attitude and model sampling new foods in front of them. Best practice is to offer no disappointment or praise when a child refuses or tries the food.


Allowing children to choose how much they would like to eat (if at all) is best so it’s important to offer a variety of healthy foods and textures. When possible allow children to serve themselves by offering a buffet or assisting them to pass dishes around the table.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that toddlers and preschoolers eat the following each day:

Children aged 2-3 years: 4 servings of vegetables and fruit, 3 servings of grain products, 2 servings of milk/milk products and 1 meat product

Children aged 4-8 years: 5 servings of vegetables and fruit, 4 servings of grain products, 2 servings of milk/milk products, and 1 meat product

Note that one serving is considered the typical amount a child of that age will eat in one serving, and is not necessarily a portion size.

In order to achieve these nutritional goals, aim to include all of the 4 food groups at each meal and foods from at least 2 food groups for each snack. This can be as simple as serving raw vegetables with hummus for dipping. Add a glass of milk to add a third food group!

healthier choices include:

– choosing wholegrain for more fiber

– steaming or baking foods instead of frying

– selecting foods that are unsweetened, low in sodium and fat

– choosing at least one dark green and one orange food per day – these options are high in essential vitamins (folate and vitamin A)

For more information on ~feeding children, 

~ food safety, visit: (I love their food storage chart)

~ the NutriStep (Nutrition Screening Tool for Every Preschooler), check out:

Thanks for reading!

Signature - Jo

Daycare Science: Vermicomposting

What child doesn’t love to play with worms and dirt?!

Shelly Wright, a CCPRN home child care provider member is not only encouraging this kind of play, she’s using it to promote learning about life cycles and healthy environmental and nutritional practices.         And she’s doing it just in time for Earth Day coming up on April 22nd.

Being an avid gardener, Shelly purchased an extra compost bucket for this special project. The small bins from the City of Ottawa’s green bin waste program (available at Canadian Tire stores) are ideal for housing worms because they keep the light out but still allow for air to enter through the tiny holes on the lid. Using this kind of container, allows Shelly to store her composter indoors and use it year round.

vermicomposting 1

To start vermicomposting, Shelly put about 2 cups of earth from her garden into the bucket with some shredded newspaper and about half a dozen red wriggler worms*. She recommends placing just a small amount of food scraps into the bin every other day or so and adding egg shells to neutralize the acidity. It’s important to avoid putting in meat, dairy or animal waste.

Shelly involves the children by asking them cut the food scraps into small pieces with plastic knives and placing them into the bucket. They give it a stir and check up on the worms’ progress regularly.

Vermicomposting 2

Vermicomposting is just a small component of the many earth-friendly concepts that can be introduced to your children.

Children can observe and participate in using worms to create earth – which leads to using the fresh soil to plant seeds – then watching the seeds turn to vegetables we can eat – recycling the vegetable scraps to feed the worms – which in turn creates more earth!

 Shelly also put together a simple sensory bin on the composting theme to further enhance her daycare children’s learning through play.

Vermicomposting 3

She included dry soil, fake worms from the fishing section of her hardware store, pretend food, a magnifying glass, a bottle of water, spoons and cups for the children to play with indoors.

Vermicomposting 4

For more information about vermicomposting, check out these helpful sites:

Thanks for sharing Shelly and for inspiring us to do the same!

Signature - Jo

* It is important to purchase red wriggler worms.  Here in Ottawa we have been able to buy them from Arbour Environmental Shoppe,  but it has recently closed its Bank Street location. So in the meantime, you can check where to order from here:


Healthy Choices

March is nutrition month, so I’d like to share some helpful resources today to help you and your children make healthy – and hopefully exciting – new choices in the kitchen.

healthy choices food

The first resource is the Eat Right Ontario website that offers tips on easy, budget-friendly menu planning. The resource section provides information on such things as tips for feeding young children and printable PDFs like Bake It Up!; a book filled with nutrition tips and recipes for baking healthier treats. What a fantastic resource for getting children excited about, and involved in the kitchen. Younger kids can help pour and stir while older ones can read recipes and measure ingredients.

Children’s development is directly affected by their food choices. Poor nutrition can lead to decreased academic performance and behaviour problems. If you suspect a child in your care may have a nutritional issue such as poor growth, iron deficiency or unhealthy feeding, you may benefit from Public Health’s Health and Nutrition Screening Tools workshop at CCPRN on May 2nd from 7-9pm. For more information on the NutriSTEP Screening Tool (Nutrition Screening Tool for Every Preschooler) click here. To register for the workshop, go to and search in the calendar of events.

This month CCPRN is also kicking off Recipe Tuesdays on Facebook so be sure to ‘like us’ to view the healthy, seasonally relevant recipes we’ll be featuring. We’ll be posting more recipes on our Pinterest ‘recipe & menu planning’ pinboard as well.

Thanks for reading,

Signature - Jo

Want to pick your own apples?

I’ve made it a tradition to take my children apple picking every year.

We usually have to get all bundled up in our Fall sweaters to make the trek out to the orchard but we’ll be going in our shorts and T-shirts this year. If you’d like to do the same with your family or daycare children, we’ve compiled a list of some Ottawa-area orchards just for you –

Cannamore Orchard
1480 County Road 32, Crysler 613-448-3633

Harvest Moon Orchard
4625 Carp Rd (Carp) 613-839-0378

Kilmarnock Orchards
1182 Kilmarnock Road, Jasper (between Smiths Falls & Merrickville) 613-284-9843 or 613-283-8964

Log Cabin Orchard
6121 Cabin Rd (Osgoode) 613-826-5081

Mountain Orchards
10175 Clark Road, Mountain (near Kemptville) 613-989-5601

Orleans Fruit Farm
1399 St Joseph Blvd, Orleans

Pine Hill Orchard
1818 St Felix Rd, Bourget

Pinewood Orchards
101 Herzberg Road, Ottawa

Please note that Dekok Family Berry Farm has closed their apple orchard this year due to crop failure.

And don’t forget to pick up some fresh apple cider on your way out too! I’ll be drinking mine with ice this year, rather than warm. Delish!

We have apple and tree dies at the office also if you’d like to build on the apple theme and create some resources out of foam, felt or paper. Our current newsletter is filled with apple-themed songs, rhymes and activities to help you along.

If you’re not able to make it out to the office for die cutting, but are attending a CCPRN children’s event soon – let us know and we can bring prepared Fall die cut bags for purchase!

Happy picking!

Healthy Meals for Wee Ones

Have you heard of It’s one of my favourite recipe sites created by mom of two, Catherine McCord. It features recipes and videos specially designed for families with young children.

Cinnamon Honey Wheat Thins. Image source: Catherine McCord,

When I had a home daycare, nutrition was a major concern for many of my clients. They wanted their children to be served healthy snacks, hot lunches, and even organic foods. Of course, as a mom, I did too.

The recipe box is filled with recipes that are not only healthy but quick to prepare too. The site is thoughtfully laid out, dividing recipes into sections for easy retrieval. You can search by ingredient or by category such as gluten or nut-free recipes, lunch ideas, and homemade snacks just to name a few. I especially love the ‘freeze well’ recipe section because I can serve up a  portion that same day and then freeze the rest for future meals. It’s a real time-saver to prepare two meals at once.

The Easy Chicken Nuggets, Spanakopita and Pumpkin Waffles are just some of my family’s favourites from (all of which freeze well).

Pumpkin Waffles. Image Source: Catherine McCord,

A new school year means an adjustment in routines and often reduced time to prepare healthy meals.  So if you’re looking for some easy, kid-friendly recipes and a little extra inspiration in the kitchen, check out!


%d bloggers like this: