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Your Toddler and NuVal: Keeping (Food) Score

With so many choices in the grocery store, it is often difficult to pick out the healthiest foods for your family. Recently, a system was introduced to help consumers make this decision. It is called the NuVal system and it was developed by a team of healthcare professionals led by Dr. David Katz, a nationally recognized authority on nutrition, and funded by Yale University School of Medicine

With the NuVal scoring system, foods receive a simple numeric score between 1 and 100. This score summarizes the overall nutritional value of the food. The score considers many factors, including the presence of nutrients and the quality of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. With this system, you can compare items across food groups. For example, you can compare veggie burgers to actual veggies, or cheese to chicken.

Through a partnership with retailers, the NuVal system will soon be seen in supermarket aisles. NuVal Scores will be displayed right at the point of purchase. At a glance, you’ll be able to see and compare the nutritional value of products, which will support you making informed, healthy food choices!

Here’s a sample of common Toddler Favorites with HIGH scores:

100 Broccoli
100 Blueberries
96 Apples
91 Banana
89 Avocado
61 Instant Oatmeal

And some common Toddler Foods with LOWER scores (< than 25):

1 Popsicle
5 Hot Dog
2 Saltine Crackers
11 Pretzel Sticks
20 Chocolate Pudding
23 Peanut Butter

Toddler Treat: Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Many toddlers know broccoli as “trees.” Simply steamed, it is a perfect finger food. While broccoli is terrific in its native “tree” form, it is also yummy chopped, julienned, and pureed. Our broccoli and rice casserole is an example of what can be done with pureed broccoli. If you don’t feel like making the rice called for in the recipe, stop by a Chinese restaurant and buy a quart to go (by the way, brown rice is better for you than white rice).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2–3 cups of cooked brown or white rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Instructions:

Pre heat oven to 350° F. Steam broccoli until tender (about 3–4 minutes in microwave/stovetop). Place broccoli, soup stock, oil, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and process to a smooth puree. Place rice and cheese in an ovenproof dish. Pour broccoli mixture over the rice and cheese. Toss mixture gently to blend ingredients. Place in oven for 15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted. (Instead of using the oven, you can heat this dish in the microwave for 3 minutes, stir, and cook 3 more minutes.)

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for 3–5 days, or can be frozen for up to 2 months. This dish should not be introduced to children under 12 months old.

Toddler Treat: Blueberries N’ Banana Cream
Blueberries are great finger foods for toddlers. Try making this recipe as a surprise snack or for dessert.

Age to introduce: Over 12 months. All berries contain high allergen properties and should not be introduced to babies under 12 months old. This recipe also contains honey, which should not be introduced before age 1.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained

Instructions:

1. In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients except the blueberries. Puree until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

2. Pour into a medium-size mixing bowl and fold in the blueberries gently. Serve in bowls with a big spoon!

This recipe does not keep well. Refrigerate leftovers and use for breakfast the following day. Makes 4 servings.

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