LEWISTON – Kerrie Poulin not only believes in providing a healthy menu of meals, but also in educating her two children about the foods and why good nutrition is important.

“I am a part-time student working toward a nutrition degree, as well as a certified Pilates instructor,” says Poulin. “I love to make people feel good about themselves and have a sense of accomplishment. There is nothing better than when somebody comes up to me after a class and tells me they are ‘really starting to notice a difference.'”

Healthy eating and living have long had a place in Poulin’s life. Now with her own children, she can share that love and interest. “I have always had an interest in nutrition and healthful eating, but it was much more important to me once I had kids. I just find it so important to teach healthy eating habits at a young age. The way that you eat now is something that you have learned while you were younger. I want to instill healthy eating habits into my kids and eventually teach others about what are healthful food choices. I think a lot of parents just do not know.”

Poulin enjoys experimenting with recipes in order to make them as tasty and nutritious as possible. “I love to make dishes that do not need any added sugars … ingredients that are sweet on their own. Whether it is adding fruits or sweet potato, I like to use ingredients that are packed with nutrients to get the maximum benefits from each meal. I also love to substitute. For example, I love to use wheat germ instead of bread crumbs for chicken Parmesan, two egg whites in place of one egg (extra protein) and whole-milk plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise. I am always experimenting with substitutions. My husband wishes that I would just cook normal for a change.”

She says the best part of cooking is “having my daughter help and teaching her about all of the nutrients. She was 2½ and if you asked her what salmon had in it, she would say ‘omega 3s.’ Not only do I think that it is important for kids to eat healthy, but also for them to know the ingredients, nutrients, what exactly they are putting into their bodies and how it will affect them.”

When it comes to cooking for kids, Poulin advises, “Keep it simple.”

“There is nothing worse than preparing this big huge meal, and your toddler sends the plate flying off of the high chair. If it’s too fancy, they probably won’t go near it,” she said. “Having your child help and have a choice in the meal is always good. Even if you are busy and the quickest thing you can come up with is mac and cheese (always whole wheat, of course; no white pasta) have them help with the vegetable that you are going to add. You could say, ‘Should we add broccoli or peas to your macaroni and cheese?’ Even if they hate both vegetables, they may try it just because they had some control over the meal.

“Remember, it takes some kids 10 times to accept a new food. Never force them. Have them try one bite and try again some other night. A great way to get them involved with their vegetable/fruit consumption for the day is to ask them to try as many colors as possible. I try to get Devyn to eat a ‘rainbow of colors’ throughout the day. When I make salads for Devyn, I tell her to try to eat as many different colors as she can find and to concentrate on the most vibrant shades because those have the most powerful nutrients. It makes it more fun that way. I explain to her that each color contains different power nutrients that are making her body run in the best way possible.”

Poulin and her husband, Kyle Jackson, live in Lewiston. The couple has two children: daughter Devyn, now age 4½, and son Corbin, 18 months. Poulin teaches Pilates two days a week at Fitness World in Lewiston and another two days a week at Alma Lea’s Dance Studio in Lisbon. She is also a licensed cosmetologist. She says Wednesday nights are “sacred” because that’s when she goes to the Dance Center in Auburn for a hip-hop dance class with a group of other moms.

Whole wheat pita and a healthy spread
Whole wheat pita bread cut into triangles (it’s more fun that way)

2/3 cup canned white beans, drained

3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/3 cup apple juice

Blend white beans, peanut butter and apple juice in a blender until smooth and spread onto your triangles. This is a high-protein, whole-grain snack.

Banana-berry yogurt pops
2 ripe bananas

1 cup frozen berries, unsweetened

1½ cups nonfat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons pineapple juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour mixture into six Popsicle molds. Place in freezer.

Toddler super smoothie
1 banana

Half a ripe avocado

1 ounce tofu

¾ cup soy milk

¾ cup juice, any kind
2 tablespoons wheat germ

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 2 servings

Special breakfast
Ingredients, per serving
1 whole-grain waffle

1 cup yogurt (your choice)

1 cup frozen, unsweetened berries
1 tablespoon of wheat germ

Toast your waffle. While it is toasting, thaw the berries in the microwave until they are warm and have some juice. Take toasted waffle and spread 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt on the top of waffle. Add half of berries including some of juices to the top of your waffle. Your waffle is ready! I usually eat it right away so that it doesn’t cool off. After the waffle, take the remaining yogurt and spoon it into the remaining berries and juice. Add 1 tablespoon wheat germ, stir and eat.

Kerrie’s notes: My daughter named this one and we eat it every day because it is fast and easy. The first ingredient for the waffles must read “whole wheat” not “wheat.” There is a big difference.

Sweet cottage cheese pancakes
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1 egg

3 egg whites

3 tablespoons apple juice

¼ cup soy milk

1 tablespoon melted butter

¾ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup wheat germ

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor thoroughly. Let batter stand 5 minutes.

Heat skillet to medium high and coat with cooking spray. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto surface. Cook until bottom of pancake is lightly browned. Turn and brown the second side.

Kerrie’s note: To add a punch of antioxidants to your breakfast, add ½ cup of blueberries into the pancake batter after blending.

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