Monday, September 12, 2016

5 reasons why French kids eat everything and LOVE IT!

Sitting at a cafe in her red stroller moccasin shoes and a red ribbon politely cutting up her steak and cheerfully munching on her haricots verts (green beans) and broccoli. 

Yes that is your typical 4 year old Parisian girl. If you have ever visited France or most parts of Europe you probably wondered how are these kiddos so open to eating what we call here "adult food"?!

Here are a few habits you can easily adopt into your child's eating routine. 

- Variety! 
Expose your child to as many different foods as possible even if they just have one bite! A common French parenting phrase when it comes to meal time is " Juste essaye!" (Just try it).  Instantly your child will step away from what I often hear as "a picky eater". 

Have your child taste everything you  prepare from the first course to the last one. Keep in mind that your child is able to have as big of a taste palate as you do if you just expose them to a variety of foods. 

- French kids are involved in all family activity and routine! 
French kiddos help mommy with making dinner and are involved in family meal time. Get your child to wash the vegetables, sprinkle the spices into the pot and help you set the table. French kids not only help prepare for the meal but they also sit at the  "salle à manger"(Dining room) just like mommy and daddy and are expected to enjoy meal time conversations with their parents. Not your typical dinner in front of cartoons but a truly pleasant and enjoyable family time meal. 

-  Serve your meals in courses- Yes courses! 
Serving meals in courses will not only teach your child patience and good manners but will also promote healthy eating. Start your meals with a warm soup or a plate of veggies and fruits. You can also make a plate of "crudité" (raw veggies) for your kiddos to munch on while you finish up making dinner. Keep it wholesome! Keep it fun! 

Below is a sample menu of what we serve our kiddos at school. Similarly to the French creché (preschool). The menu is balanced with a variety of organic and wholesome foods served in multiple courses. The kids LOVE IT and most of all they are excited about having a balanced nutrition or as the french say "repas équilibrés: ;)!

Bringing up Bébé is a fabulous and entertaining book all about French parenting... 


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Need A No Mess Rosh Hashanah Dessert for Your Little Ones?

Honey Cake Mason Jars

With Rosh Hashanah around the corner I just had to post a dessert recipe...Isn't that what Jewish holidays are all about? :)

The Mason Jar Honey cake recipe is a fantastic no mess kind of dessert for your little one to make and eat. We made them with our little preschoolers and they had a blast! Not to mention the excitement they had to finally dig in when mommy/daddy came to pick them up. :)

They are also a perfect "Have a sweet year" gift for your next door neighbor. I know...we live in LA... not in a small Italian suburb. :) But, what a great way to inspire your child to be giving especially during this holiday season!

Here we go:

2 1/3 cup of flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup dark brewed tea, made with 3 tea bags, cooled
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1/2 medium ripe banana thoroughly mashed

For the decoration: 

Mason Jars-absolutely adore mason jars. They are perfect to have at home for your little can store crayons, pencils, small toys, bake cakes and perfect for a morning smoothies on the go...the possibilities are endless and you can find them anywhere (target, smart and final etc). 

Chalk stickers- Also a must have in every house...I love labeling. From my flour jars to the kids toy boxes these chalk stickers are great multi use. I got mine on Amazon. You could also instead of the stickers make a little Shana Tova card, hole punch it and attach it to the ribbon. 

Bee cake toppers- Not a must but it is cute. I got mine on Amazon Bee Cake Topper

Honey Sticks - Just a little optional sweet touch.


Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs, in a mixer at medium speed (you can also beat manually if your child is helping you), gradually add sugar. Lower the speed and add the tea, oil, honey and banana. 

Gradually add in flour, baking powder and baking soda. (use a whisk is you still have clumps of flour in your batter.) combine well.

Pour batter into a pitcher for easy pouring. Fill the jar halfway only as they do rise to about double the size. :) 

Have a Sweet Year! 

Yours truly, 

Sophie Le Petit Gan 

Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Get Your Little One to Snack Healthy

Little ones are visual in every sense of the way. So, your typical colorful and fun potato chip bag or sugary cereal boxes are much more attractive to our little ones than a plain slice of cheese or a carrot stick. 

Keep it fun! Keep it colorful! And most importantly...include them in the process. From growing the veggies to displaying them in a silly colorful way. Keep in mind, keeping it healthy and organic does take more time, but if you include your child in the process it instantly becomes a bonding experience. 

Here are some fun wholesome snack idea:

- Dipping bowl out of a red bell pepper for your veggie sticks. Having a yummy healthy dip makes eating veggies that much more delicious. (Greek Yogurt with a bit of salt is a great one)

- A mouse out of your plain laughing cow cheese wedges.

- Almond butter heart shaped mini sandwiches.

- Silly cheese umbrella out of Babybel cheese.

- Homemade French Crepes. Some delicious healthy spreads can be almond butter, blueberries or strawberries with Greek Yogurt.

The kiddos in our Los Angeles based French/ Israeli preschool absolutely adore these silly, fun and healthy snacks! The best part about it all is their priceless enthusiastic reaction when they get to eat their silly snacks. :) 

French Crepes Recipe 

Whisk together flour and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add milk and water, stirring to combine. Beat until smooth.
Heat a lightly greased frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop 1/4 cup batter onto griddle. Tilt pan with a circular motion so batter coats the surface evenly.
Cook crepe until bottom is light brown, about 2 minutes. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook other side.

Do you have any fun healthy snacks that work for your little ones? 

Yours truly, 

Sophie Le Petit Gan 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

3 Ways to Get Your Little One Off the Screens and Into Nature :)

You are not alone in the screen time battle with your family we are all there with you!

We all wish that little ones today would have the same running in the fields and climbing trees childhood memories as we do but, unfortunately they spend more time on an ipad, tv and phone.

Sadly the amount of leisure time we all spend in front of the screen is directly causing our children to disconnect from one of the best childhood experiences - Nature. Playtime in nature, especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play is increasingly recognized as an essential component of a wholesome child development.

Cornell University environmental psychologists reported in 2003 that children with more nature in their direct environment received lower ratings then peers without nature on measures of behavioral conduct disorders, anxiety and depression. In Norwegian and Swedish preschools for example, nature plays an enormous component of a child's day and consequently, these countries rank in as the highest levels of preschool education both academically and socially.

All this information is great but, how does a busy rural Los Angeles family get their child off the screens and into nature?

Here are some easy tips I can recommend:

1) Take you child on a hike on a Sunday morning. Let them explore the unpaved paths and climb rocks and trees. Let their imagination wonder and give them the space to work and explore all of their five senses. :)

If you live in LA here is a list of some fun kid friendly hiking places:

- Malibu Creek State Park
- Solstice Canyon
- Runyon Canyon (Less kid friendly but, it is centrally located)

2) Have a family weekend gateway in a near by camping ground. Instead of the typical resort vacation, be adventurous! Take your family camping. Yes... the old fashioned bug friendly camping vacation. :) It's an amazing experience for your child and it surely is a bonding experience for the entire family.

Wheeler Gorge Campground is a close one to LA and it is beautiful. It has a gorgeous waterfall and it is super kid friendly. Make sure to arrive early, it gets busy quickly.

3) Have a fun family dinner picnic under the stars once a week in your backyard or a nearby park. :) 

Hope this all helps getting your child off the screens and into the best place on earth....Our beautiful and magical world! :)

Feel free to share your comments or send me an e-mail!

Yours truly,

Sophie Le Petit Gan

Below is a book I strongly recommend. A must read for every parent. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to whip up a quick and healthy dinner for your family.

Keep it wholesome, fresh, organic and most of all FUN for the kids to help mommy in the kitchen! :)

Light and simple dinners are the perfect meals to end these beautiful sunny days.
This vegetarian Eggplant  burger is a great healthy light and savory meal for your little ones to enjoy making and eating. For this quick and simple dish start by inviting your child into a cooking mommy and me kitchen adventure! :)

Here we go....
Ingredients for 3 servings:
1 Bunch of Fresh Kale
1 tomato
3 Buns (I used Challah buns but any will work)
1/2 an onion

Slice your eggplant to about one inch thick then, have your little one sprinkle some salt and let it sit. (This will help absorb all of the eggplant's liquids).
Lightly dust your eggplant with paprika and some olive oil. Let your child get messy and rub the spices onto the eggplant!  Once eggplant has been sitting for a few minutes grill it well on both sides on your barbecue (you can also fry it instead).
Now that your eggplants are grilled it is simple and fun to put it all together into a delicious plate:)
Top the bun with thin slices of onion, some kale and slices of tomatoes then, top with a slice of eggplant. Generously spread hummus on top of the eggplant and layer with one last slice of the delicious grilled eggplant. Serve and Enjoy!

Does your child get curious in the kitchen when you are cooking?
What are some ways you get your little one involved in preparing dinner?

Yours truly,

Sophie Le Petit Gan

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Raising Multilingual Children

He/she is too young....
You will confuse your child... 
Wait until he/she is fluent in one language first....

These are common myths any multilingual parent has definitely heard! In fact its quit the opposite. The earlier you expose your child to another language the better and easier it is. So.... if you are expecting your bundle of joy, start now. Read books in other languages, play a variety of music in multiple languages and start preparing your child to become a creative thinker! 

So before you get started on a lifelong journey with your child here are some amazing benefits of raising a multilingual baby :) 

- Multilingualism enhances your child's cognitive skills 
- Multilingual kids have a better memory
- Multilingual kids have shown to have better concentration, analytic skills and ability to multi-task 
- Multilingual kids have better listening skills 
- Multilingual kids learn to read much sooner then their monolingual classmates
- Multilingual kids are great communicators, writers and creative thinkers

These are only a few of the reasons I am a huge fan of exposing children to different languages. It truly is magical when a little tiny 2  year old starts with little bursts of words in another language. The most incredible part of it all is how at such a young age they can differentiate between the languages. 

I have little two year olds in my Los Angeles based preschool that quickly learned to say Bonjour to the French teacher, Shalom to the Hebrew teacher and Hello to the English teacher... To me that is magical! 

Having your child simply exposed to another language whether in preschool or at home in an organic and casual way is all you need for them to flourish into multilingual kids... Start with simply saying in French "Bonne Nuit" at night or in Hebrew "Lila Tov".... :) 

Do you have a multilingual child or is your child in a Multilingual environment? 

Yours Truly,

Sophie Le Petit Gan

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Raising an Organic Child.

It's time to step away from your plain Jane tasteless chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and pizza dinners!

Children are mini adults... they truly are in every sense of the way. They love exploring, trying touching and most of all tasting! They are my # 1 food critiques ;). The love and excitement they have for new flavors is quit surprising at first. I enjoy exposing children to new flavors and spices, get them used to eating foods from around the world, and allow them to experience the benefits of whole rounded and fresh organic foods, spices, veggies and grains.

The key to having children who can appreciate the sweetness of a good old apple and get excited to try a new dish full wholesome ingredients is to make it FUN! Take your child to a farmers market...give them a little basket, share with them new flavors exciting colors and uplifting smells. Bring it all home and have a fun cookout.

As a preschool teacher (not yet a mommy but I feel like one at times;) ) I truly incorporate as much organic wholesome and clean ingredients into the little one's meals.

Here are a few recipes for good wholesome flavor full family dinner or left over lunch for your preschooler to take to school. :)

Sushi Salad!

This unique Sushi Salad is the perfect "I don't feel like cooking its Sundayyy night... " kind of recipe.
Its healthy, Yummy fun and easy...  kids LOVE it!
It has all the healthy ingredients of sushi minus the hassle and the expensive price tag.
Here we go mommies:

Prep time 15 minutes.
1cup of Sushi rice
1 package of chicken breast
3 small cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
3 Sheets of seaweed
Soy Sauce
Boil the Sushi rice with two cups of water on low until fully cooked. Sautee chicken breast with some soy sauce. Chop all veggies.
In a large bowl place rice topped with the cooked chicken breast veggies and chopped seaweed. Mix add soy sauce and spicy mayo to your own taste.
For my vegetarian friends, the salad is delish even without the chicken.


Quinoa Salad!

This salad is the best thing that happened in my little two-by-two kitchen. It seems to be loved by everyone (vegans and vegetarians too). It has simple ingredients that when combined together the flavors become heavenly.
Here we go!
1 cup quinoa
1 red onion finely diced
½ cup sultanas
½ cup dried cranberries (craisins)
¼ cup dried blueberries
1 cup roasted peanuts (save ¼ cup for garnish) This is optional depending on allergies.
1 red capsicum finely diced
1 green capsicum finely diced
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped coriander
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen-thawed)
(For a big party multiply quantity by two)
Curried Balsamic Dressing
1 heaping teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 fresh red chili finely diced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar if you want it sweeter (optional)
fresh coriander leaves and a few peanuts for garnish

This recipe is a perfect "cooking with your little one" kind of recipe.
Chop all ingredients in advance and have your little one taste each ingredient and share what kind of flavors he/she is tasting. Then have them help you pour it all into a bowl and mix it up!

 Have fun cooking healthy for your little one !!!

Feel free to share what are some challenges you might be having keeping it wholesome in the kitchen for your kids?

Is your child not cooperating with some healthy changes you are trying to make?

Yours Truly,

Sophie Le Petit Gan