Saturday, February 28, 2009

dangers of nutrition education for children

This is a great article with science and anecdotes in the NYT about how much of the "nutrition education" for children can be so dangerous. A 4 or 6 year old is not cognitively developed enough to learn about nutrition the way we think about it. Their job should be deciding how much, not what to eat. Its why I'm so scared with the push for nutrition education in preschools and daycare. Labeling foods as "good" or "bad," "healthy" or "unhealthy" (which a child will just turn into good or bad) makes judgements about food and brings guilt, fear, and shame into the relationship with food. 
Chances are your school staff are not trained to provide appropriate nutrition education. Many argue they shouldn't be doing it at all, while they should be providing positive food experiences perhaps through cooking, tasting, or garden experiments linked to science class- all presented without judgement. You may want to look into what messages your kids are getting from their educators. Though well-intentioned, the message may not be benign.
Variety and moderation are the key to good nutrition. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

home-made fish sticks

One of my favorite proteins is breaded fish or chicken. M eats it happily most nights, with a little ketchup, but so do I! I've shown the fish we usually use. Its frozen, has a firm and mild fillet that lends itself well to this recipe. I don't know my fish all too well, so I ask. I find the fish guy and say "what is a firm, mild fish that will fry well in a pan with no bones..." and he tells me! I make my own bread crumbs because we have a bread machine and we use up our stale bread that way, but Progresso plain or Italian Seasoning Bread Crumbs work really well too. (Or use your favorite!) The method is key, so I'll try to explain it. This is pretty messy, so I do this by myself. A little Wiggles for the wee one. Great source of protein and omega-3s. You can also make this with chicken breast tenders or breasts. Its yummy, and tastes like super delicious fast-food for pickier kids who enjoy the crunchy coating.

FFD's breaded fish sticks takes about 15 minutes (see egg allergy modification)

Be sure fish is completely thawed. Pat dry with a towel and salt and pepper to taste. Remove bones if using a boney fish.

Prepare 1 plate with two beaten eggs, another plate with about 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour on one side and 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs. (Use a separate plate for each if its the first time you are making this.) After you make it a few times, you will get better at estimating how much. 

Preheat large skillet with about 3 Tbspns olive oil until hot (medium-high heat)

The order of dipping is critical, pay attention! (I dipped wrong last night...) Also, have one hand for the messy hand (dipping etc) this will build up on your fingers and is a mess. I tried tongs, but its too clumsy.

1) hold fillet by tip, dip in flour, pat it and flip so it is covered.
2) shake off excess flour, then dip in egg, cover both sides
3)shake off excess egg and dip into bread crumbs last, both sides
4) put in skillet, should sizzle. Flip after about 4 minutes, you'll see the fish turning white. Allow nice brown crispy coating to develop. May need to add a little more olive oil. Watch the heat, may need to turn it down. It can scorch quickly. 

Serve with dipping sauce if it helps your kids. (Ketchup? Ranch? What is her favorite?)

cancer is your fault (really?)

After recently watching two friends die of cancer- two beautiful, slender, healthy, fit, organic-food eating forty-somethings, I am saddened by the continued insistence that somehow, cancer is a preventable disease. My mom, at 68, eats better than anyone I know and regularly swims and goes for several mile walks and she got breast cancer. I watched all of them to some degree wonder if refined sugars, not enough leafy greens, stress, pesticides etc caused their cancer. I think of all the poor people who will blame themselves and that 'last ten pounds' for causing their cancer. (I am not saying that healthy habits are irrelevant, but caution the fear-mongering and misinformtation exposed in the following links.)
You might see stories about cancer and lifestyle in the media popping up in the next few days. Please see JunkFoodScience new post and an older one detailing the stats.

You hear the term "evidence based" a lot these days. Its as if that means you can say whatever you want. What the JFS articles point out is that the studies used were often poor studies with confusing or no conclusions, and that science can be manipulated to say whatever you want. Experts often chose to ignore studies with conclusions that don't back up what you are trying to prove. 
 Another case of this evidence based charade is the recent endocrinology association's "evidence based" guidelines to combat childhood obesity. What you see if you look at the fine print is that by their own admission their "evidence" is weak, faulty and not dependable at best. 
Don't be fooled by the terms 'evidence based.' You may need to look deeper.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

milk allergy question

I received an email from a mom who wondered how her child would get enough fat with his milk allergy. She was planning to wean at one year and wasn't sure what to do. 
Hydee (Family Feeding Dynamic's pediatric nutritionist consultant) and I came up with some thoughts for this not uncommon problem. Remember though to consult your child's health care provider to be sure there are no other allergy concerns. 
Most of the time in fact fat consumption with dairy allergies is not a problem. Soy milk has roughly the fat equivalent of 2% milk. If your child does not have other allergies, good sources of fat are eggs, nuts (almond butter if peanuts are a risk) avocados (my daughter loved guacamole,) meats, cooking oils and fish. Make some muffins with oil, or zucchini or carrot type breads with oil. Many of the pre-packaged cereal type bars that kids eat often have fat. Very rarely a child might need a high calorie and fat drink supplement. You should be consulting a nutritionist if there is enough concern to warrant this.
Keep an eye out to be sure your child maintains his growth, but mostly don't worry about it and be careful not to fall into the trap of pressuring your child to eat because of allergy concerns. (Many moms worry that their allergic kids don't get enough calories and end up pushing food all day long which often makes matters worse. Kids who are pressured to eat grow less well and gain weight more slowly.) 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

book review for pro-family feeding

I checked out a couple resources from the library.  I'm looking for resources to help families cook, eat and feed better. Its tough! Lots of resources have good ideas, but then I don't agree with their approach on nutrition education (for example labeling foods as "good" or "bad," which sets up all kinds of judgements, guilt and documented problems with how we view food. )
Food Nanny Rescues Dinner didn't seem to offer much new. I liked the idea of having "theme" nights to facilitate meal planning. For example, Monday might be Mexican inspired, Tuesday might be Italian, and weekends are for comfort foods that might require more cooking time. I thought many recipes seemed unrealistic for weeknights if the cook is getting home later from work. 
I also didn't like her emphasis on portions. I know it seems revolutionary, but the idea of trusting/intuitive eating means that externally prescribed portions are not the way to go. If my body and mouth want extra noodles tonight, I should have them. If I trust and listen and provide for my body, I will compensate and likely eat less the next day. I've watched with awe as this works for my daughter and have allowed myself to eat in a way that is responsive to my hunger and satiety cues. If I want chocolate, I know I can have it when I want, so I seem to be satisfied with less. Its not forbidden. (Again, a teaser of a huge topic...) Also, Food Nanny cooks with shortening and I'm not a big fan of trans fats. I'd rather have real butter and be satisfied with a natural product. Bottom line, didn't work for me. Check it out from the library for ideas, or get Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals which I like much better.

The Eat This, Not That is interesting and has been all over the media and Oprah. The things I found helpful showed how misleading fast-food menus can be. If you are choosing certain options, like a chicken sandwich because you think its healthier, this book can show you that the "healthy" options are often worse than the regular ones. For example, a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese at Dunkin Donuts has more calories and fat than a donut. So, if the major factor in choosing certain fast food is perceived nutritional value, then this book is useful. If, however, its a treat to have onion rings because you really like them, go for it. Eat until you are satisfied and include the foods in a general diet that is full of variety, fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains. (If you've been avoiding onion rings at BK because you thought they were 'worse' than fries, this book says its actually less fat and calories than fries.) Worth a browse from the library.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

keeping kids active the wrong way and the right way

Kids by nature are more active than most adults-me included. Living in Minnesota means lots of below zero days. I never thought I would refer to the teens as "mild." There's alot of talk in the obesity epidemic lingo about how to "get" kids to be physically active.  Various recommendations include having them "jog in place during the commercials of their favorite shows" (good luck with that one, I know I'd love to jog in place during Top Chef...) and there are kid-sized treadmills and exercise bikes. Nothing like getting kids to associate drudgery with exercise right from the start.
I see my job as a mom is to do my best to provide the opportunity for active play. So today, after I picked M up from daycare, we were heading in when she started jumping in some puddles. (It was in the 30's today-balmy!) I had my hands full of bags, and my first instinct was to rush her inside. I stopped myself, recognized this opportunity to provide play and ran in to get my wind-pants and boots on. What resulted was almost 45 minutes of playing in the snow, jumping in puddles, making snow-Mom and snow-Baby (see photo...) 
Sometimes we just need to slow down, make the extra effort to include play when possible. Is it pulling the couch cushions onto the floor and bouncing or jumping from one to the other? Is it putting your old B-52s CD in and getting down with Rock Lobster? (M loves the part where you have to crouch down and then spring up.) Turning on the TV is easy, and some nights we do a little more of that than I would like, but be aware and conscious of providing fun opportunities for your kids to move their bodies, and leave the kiddie treadmill collecting dust at the store.
What are some of your indoor play activities?

Monday, February 23, 2009

lamb recipes (my own cook once eat twice...)

Lamb is a treat for us. I grab it when its on sale. Often the meat counter sells boneless leg of lamb roast. I ask them to cut off two "steaks" about 1 inch thick. They will fall apart a little when you cook them, and you need to remove the string if there is one, but its a more affordable way to get a couple lamb dishes. If you've never cooked lamb, it cooks up much like steak.  See the web-link for temps and how to cook. We like ours a little pink in the middle. 

Night one:
Marinated Lamb steaks on grill pan: 5 minutes marinade prep, 1-24 hours marinade, 15 min cooking
1)Put lamb in ziplock bag. Add 2 Tbspn dijon mustard, 1 tspn dried rosemary, 1/2 tspn salt, pepper to taste, 1 Tbspn olive oil, 1 Tbspn red wine vinegar (can skip this) Squish bag around and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
2)heat grill pan over medium-high, coat with cooking spray. (use grill if available) When pan is hot, put meat on, cook about 6-8 minutes, flip cook another 6-8 minutes. If the drippings are burning, adjust heat and pour 1/4 cup of chicken broth or beer into the grill pan. Remove from heat, tent with foil. Cut after about 5 minutes. (We served this with cauliflower and a Knorr rice box, mushroom mix.) Save leftover meat...

Kid-report: M liked the cauliflower, rice and lamb (which she ate with ketchup...) This was our first cauliflower without sauce and she ate it...

Night 2: Greek Lamb pita sandwiches.
yogurt sauce: 1 container greek style yogurt. 1-2 Tbspns fresh lemon juice, 1-2 Tbspns finely chipped dill, one small garlic clove crushed, finely chopped (no seeds) 1/2 of a cucumber. Mix and let sit in fridge for about 2 hours.
1) cut the leftover lamb thinly. Warm in a pan with a splash of chicken broth. Add more rosemary if needed (a pinch or two)
2) warm pita pockets on 150 in oven or toaster oven for 5-10 minutes
3) serve with chopped tomatoes and lettuce
4) stuff any combo of ingredients above. Enjoy!

Kid-report: M passed on this dish almost completely. She ate some corn on the cob and that was pretty much it. Dad and I were happy, more for us! 

What to do when kids don't even want to try a food?  Experts advise not to push kids to try food. Not even the "no thank-you" bite. Any pressure to try foods tends to backfire and actually slows acceptance of new foods. Sit back and let the child eat the staple bread and butter, or enjoy the other sides, and yes the planned desert. Bribing with dessert counts as pressure too:)
She had had a big snack in the afternoon, and ate until she said she was full. We didn't push it. We figure next time she might give it a try, or maybe not! :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

more on evaporated milk

We buy evaporated milk by the case. It stays fresh on the shelf and I use it in my coffee every morning. I use the whole milk variety as I find evaporated skim milk is very thin and grey. 
In terms of cooking, I use evaporated milk all the time, basically instead of half and half which I often end up throwing away because I don't use it all up. 

I use it instead of milk for a creamier mac-n-cheese (I usually use the white cheddar variety from Annie's or store brand 365.) I also use it for my white sauce and tuna noodle casserole (see January posts,) or if I want to add a little creaminess to a tomato sauce or my mashed potatoes. Just use a can opener and put a big slit on opposite ends of the can and pour!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Body-image friendly TV

I can't stand that the only pull-up diapers that I can find for M (that aren't scented) have the Disney Princesses on them. Why every Disney female has a waist size smaller than the distance between her eyes is beyond me. Usually the only time a body shape is shown other than the idealized slim one is the goofy side-kick, the funny old lady, or the villain. 
One show that does a great job with diversity in general, including body shapes is Caillou (KI-yoo). Caillou's friend Leo is stocky and happy and active. He is Caillou's best friend. He is not depressed or sad, he is not shown compulsively eating, he is not lectured about 'good' and 'bad' foods. He's just Caillou's best friend. Caillou's mother wears baggy sweaters and doesn't have lip-liner or fake lashes like Bratz dolls do. Caillou's teacher shows up in a swimsuit with a normally ample body shape in a one-piece suit! No bikinis with cleavage. Its just not an issue. 
Its refreshing and important in an era when four-year olds already show signs of body dissatisfaction and self-loathing. Check it out!

Friday, February 20, 2009

harm of labels, must read this!

Please read this lovely post about a healthy, stocky girl who was lovingly told she was not right and how it changed her. 
Sometimes we parents cause the very outcomes we are trying to avoid. Healthy bodies can come in a variety of sizes. Love, honor and support your kids. 

unprepared doctors front line on war on obesity...

Try setting a google alert for "childhood obesity" for a few days. My mailbox is full with dozens of stories about "new initiatives" and "promising programs" to fight childhood obesity which is really just the same old stuff we've been hearing for thirty years. Eat less and move more. Hasn't worked for thirty years, but what seems new in the news is that insurers are now covering doctor visits to address obesity. 
While this sound promising, the reality is that the majority of clinicians don't know what they're doing when it comes to treating 'obesity' in children. I should know, I was a doctor 'treating' kids and it wasn't working. I followed the guidelines provided by the CDC, and Pediatric and Family Practice groups. I watched as I counseled, cheered, problem-solved, referred to specialty weight loss clinics, referred to dieticians. I watched as the weight kept increasing, as the children looked more depressed and dejected with each visit. At some point they just stopped showing up. Not only was I not helping these families, my intuition told me I was doing more harm than good, and I was right. 
Now I know why it wasn't working. The dirty little secret is that the standard of care does not work for the vast majority of patients. Guidelines, such as those recently put out by the Endocrine Society are "evidence" based, but what you have to look for in the fine print is that there is no good evidence supporting the standard of care. The US preventive task force reviewed hundreds of studies over decades and found "no evidence that screening (and intervention) for overweight in children/adolescents improves age-appropriate behavioral or physiological measures, or health outcomes." Trust me, I wish this weren't the case. We know that 85-95% of diets in adults fail, why would we expect the outcome in children to be any different. 
The piece that is consistently missing is feeding dynamics (that's why I started FFD.) The research shows that the feeding relationship is critical to healthy growth rates. The best predictor of abnormal weight gain is restriction (diet...) Kids who are restricted and not trusted to eat with structure and limits will eat more when they aren't hungry, eat during times of stress and be heavier. The medical push to put small children on fat and portion restriction is fueling the epidemic. Parents, following medical advice, are helping to cause the very outcome they hope to prevent. There is a better way. Its called trust, and the Division of Responsibility and doctors, public health officials and the media need to stop promoting the conventional wisdom which isn't working and is causing harm. (For study summaries see Ellyn Satter's resource list under references, last PDF titled Why do children gain too much weight.) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mashed potatoes are in! (for now...)

M is a fairly adventurous eater but still has gone through a more picky phase. This is typical starting around 18 months to about 3-4 for many kids. Your 10 month old that happily gummed guacamole might not touch it again for a few years.

Anyhow, I love mashed potatoes and M has never liked them. After at least two dozen neutral exposures, tonight I watched the magic happen. She scooped some up, popped them in her mouth and said, "these potatoes are really good Mom, can you make them again?" Music to my ears. 

Did she not like them because of texture or color? Does she only like them now because they are another vehicle for ketchup? I don't know. I just know that when you read articles about kids and eating you always hear that it can take "ten exposures" for a kid to like something. Well, it might take 20, or 100 as was the case with most meats that M didn't even touch until about 2 1/2.

Hang in there, include kids at your family table. If they don't want mashed potatoes tonight, there is bread and butter and other choices.  Don't give up! 

Mashed potatoes: time 30 minutes
1) peel and cut potatoes into roughly 1-2 inch cubes (cooks faster) *older kids can help peel, younger kids can "wash" the potatoes in the sink.
2) put in pot and just cover in cool water, add 1 tspn salt and bring to a boil 
3) cover pot with a small gap between lid and pot so doesn't boil over, simmer about 15-20 minutes or until you can slide a sharp knife easily into the potato
4) drain water
5) add 1 Tbspn butter and 3 Tbsnps evaporated milk (more if needed) and mash with potato masher.  salt and pepper to taste *young kids can add butter and pour in milk, older kids can do the rest * caution with hot pot.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Halloween II

No, I'm not talking about the President's Day box-office smash, I'm talking about Valentine's Day. In my day, it was little cards and a couple chalky sweet-hearts. Now it seems for weeks leading up to the "big day" there are aisles at Target and Wal-mart of small Valentine's candies. Seems like a case of the retailers driving a trend– creating the expectation that each child should give candy to classmates, not just cards. That can add up with lots of kids in a class. I picked up my 3 yo with a stash of chocolate , M & Ms, suckers, tart candies all wrapped in hearts, cute plastic figures, Disney characters... The whining started before we even made it to the car. 

We have a treat or more most days, and the whining is generally not an issue. There are several theories of how to handle treats etc, but I believe in and follow Ellyn Satter's strategies. (link to article or see her book Child of Mine.) Also see my January post, Let them Eat Cake...

We treated it like Halloween, and after a few days of intense interest we've gotten the whining and interest back to normal. Our usual way of dealing with treats: most days  as "dessert" with dinner (a reasonable portion) and the occasional 'snack' with treats when she can eat as much as she wants. (Note, our eager eater occasionally gets ice-cream snacks and stops at about 1/2 cup all on her own. During our transition to this approach, there were snacks where she couldn't seem to get enough, but that resolved fairly quickly with consistency.) 

The transition to a trusting treatment of treats takes time and often needs support. If you're being hounded for food, treats etc, consider reading Ellyn Satter's books or getting some support. Family Feeding Dynamics can do problem-oriented phone coaching. See our website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"I don't like that!"

So we know our kid's job is to individuate as toddlers, to learn that they are separate from us parents. This often means opposition– to everything it seems sometimes! There can be dozens of mini, and sometimes full-on battles as kids test us and learn limits: no shoes when its 10 below, no underwear, no toothbrushing, sitting at a different spot, etc. We chose our battles while trying to maintain consistent discipline.
Feeding should be no different. There are limits: about behavior, timing etc, but sometimes we should not pick a fight. Just take the power-struggle out of it as much as possible.

Recently, a friend brought a lovely baguette to eat with our spaghetti dinner. M promptly declared "I don't like baguettes!" Our poor house guest took the bait. So, while M's dad and I just smiled, "OK" and finished laying the table, our friend tried to convince her of the merits of baguettes. "Just try one! They're delicious, really! It would make me really happy!" He finally dropped the subject and after a few minutes, M grabbed a slice of baguette and proceeded to eat 2 more.
Message is, kids will test you and pick a fight. Your Angels may protest and groan about a food you know they enjoy (for goodness sake, M ate some baguette happily earlier in the week!) Resist the attempt to rationalize with the child and ignore the comments. Don't take the bait for a pointless battle where the child then has to stick to her guns and "win" the argument by not eating. Some kids with a stubborn temperament might rather fight than eat, and being upset makes it hard for some kids to listen to their bodies. 

Say "OK." put the food on the table and move on. Chances are if there's no fight or attention in it for him, he'll be more likely to eat it happily. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pho-nomenal (vietnamese soup...)

I just found a fun article on chicken soup and its medicinal qualities. I found it was the only liquid that helped with our recent sore throats.
Our favorite Pho is from Vina in Highland Village (St. Paul) and from Lotus in the Loring Park area of Minneapolis. Yum! M slurped down the broth and noodles, and picked out the chicken to eat with ketchup, as usual. She likes the bean sprouts, but wasn't too keen on the "leaves" in her soup. (Basil for flavor.) Its not spicey, but so hearty and MUCH better than broth in box, even the fancy organic free range ones. Not sure if the Pho has MSG. My friend from China cooks with a little jar of MSG at home, and its never bothered me. There has to be a secret to why it tastes so good! (Even my home-made broths with chicken and bones and veggies cant touch it.) Anyone else have a favorite chicken soup, or similar?

kid-friendly cucumber salad

M really likes this easy cucumber salad. We enjoy it too. M can pour the ingredients of the dressing into the bowl at age 3. It can sit for a few hours, or served the next day. M likes it in little tupperware containers in her lunch at daycare. 

CUCUMBER SALAD: time less than 10 minutes prep

1 (or more cucumber) 
3 Tbspns rice wine vinegar
1 Tbspn vegetable oil (optional)
a few drops sesame oil
2 tspns table sugar      (can adjust all ingredients to taste...)

Peel and slice one cucumber in half. May leave the seeds in or scoop them out with a teaspoon. (Some find the seeds are hard to digest, some kids may not like the seeds.) Slice the cucumber thinly. May also add chopped red pepper for color, or shallots (mild onion) or even some napa cabbage (sticking with the Asian influence.) We all enjoy plain cucumber for now.

 Kid-tip: consider buying a set of measuring spoons and cups with differently colored handles. Its fun to say "find the red measuring spoon"  instead of "teaspoon." It gives them a sense of mastery earlier and keeps them interested in the task. Also reinforces colors and amounts as you introduce the notions of half etc. 

Put all other ingredients into bowl big enough for the salad. Have the child hold the spoon over the bowl (in case of spills.) You pour the liquid into the spoon and have them tip it into the bowl. Kids can often scoop sugar out by themselves. It doesn't have to be exact here. Have child whisk the dressing then add the vegetables. Chill and serve. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

we're all sick– cook???

The last thing you want to do when you're sick is make food. (OK, maybe changing diapers tops cooking.) I find if I'm nauseated, I can't even think about food. Which, since M brought the bug home and recovered quickly (as kids do) makes it tough. She still needs to be fed, and all Dad and I want to do is crawl under the covers. As my husband likes to say, feeding kids is a marathon, not a sprint, and a few days of mac n cheese, or some takeout (Vietnamese Pho soup is my favorite sick food) or Rice Crispies and a pear for dinner are not the end of the world. Please be patient with posts until this blows over...

Monday, February 9, 2009

a tasty ready-made side

After half a dozen tries and liking it one day, rejecting it the next, M now consistently enjoys these "crispy triangles" (she knows there's spinach in them, but a little creative naming of foods can help.) They are in the freezer section at Whole Foods, and can make an easy side on a busy night. Saute a think pork chop with a little salt, pepper, a splash of chicken broth and garlic and serve these as a side with a glass of milk. (Whole Foods brand Spanikopita.) 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

reduce, reuse

We had left-over pulled pork last night from a shoulder roast. Yummy sandwiches on whole wheat buns with BBQ sauce (Daddy ketchup.) So good. M gets a little frustrated because the meat falls out of hers. We also had carrots with Ranch dressing and salad with a home-made dressing that was a little too vinegary. (This dressing was pink, for M, but she wasn't too keen on it.) 
I use lots of plastic bags, from packing lunches, to freezing left-overs and chopped onions. I feel guilty throwing them away, but I was having trouble washing and drying them. Some good friends use magnets and hang them on the side of the fridge to dry. Its nice because its out of site. We don't have that option.
I've seen wooden drying stands for $20 at 'green' stores, but I hate buying more stuff in my efforts to reduce waste. So far the wine glass option seems to work best. I wash the bag and invert it over our wine glasses and they're dry the next day. Its not very pretty, and we almost always have a few drying on our counter-top, but it makes me feel better so I do it. I usually toss bags that have had raw meat in them, but I  figure I reuse them at least 5 times on average which is not too bad. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

beet (and corn) salad

This is a great fall/winter veggie dish. Beets are also locally grown until late in the season (golden beets are great too.) 

Beet salad: total time 40 minutes (about 10 minutes prep)

1) Cut the greens off fresh beets, wash the outside of the beets and boil in water (cover, not just steaming in a few inches) for about 25-30 minutes until you can pierce it with a sharp knife and get to the center with little resistance.
2) Then put in cold water and let cool a bit. Peel and slice the beets randomly. Can do thicker slices, or on an angle. CAUTION this stains everything, your hands included. Consider wearing gloves or not prepping this before a big presentation at work...
May add a can of drained corn. I love this as it reminds me of pretty much every salad I ate in Germany, where I was born. M doesn't like the corn, but likes the beets.
3) Add about 4 Tbspns white balsamic or other white vinegar and about 2 Tbspns of vegatable oil and toss. (Adjust oil and vinegar ratio to taste.) May add salt and pepper, but I like it plain. This keeps great in the fridge for a few days and is served best cold (I find warm beets a little unappealing but that's just me.) 

*kid tip-eating beets turns your tongue bright pink. M likes to eat some and look at everyone's tongues. My pediatrician also tells me her kids like to eat enough to make their pee turn pink. It works!