My two year old is a huge fan of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and I have to admit, I’m fond of the show myself. We often sing the opening song together…
“It’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the land of make believe….won’t you ride along with me? Ride a-looong….won’t you ride along with me?!”
Of course, it is reminiscent of my days watching Mister Roger’s Neighborhood as a child. The writers have done a remarkable job blending the two shows and carrying on Mr. Roger’s values. I credit Daniel Tiger for getting us through the “potty training setback” with the creative song and instructions when Daniel and Prince Wednesday learned to use the potty. “If you have to go potty, STOP and go right away…flush and wash and be on your way!” It was also Daniel Tiger who taught us to “clean up, pick up, put away” with a another catchy tune we could all sing and our neighborhood tiger even explained why big storms don’t have to be scary as long as you are safe inside with a grownup. Our daughter eats these lessons up like they are the gospel truth. That’s why when Mrs. Tiger made veggie pizza and also veggie spaghetti my eye brows went up.
I’m all for teaching our children to eat healthy, take care of their bodies and to help them receive good nourishment. Which is why it bothers me that they leave beef out of the picture.
Angela Santomero is the Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer of this new favorite show of ours and I recently read her reasoning behind this “healthy” eating focus. Here is what she said,
Since the Tiger Family was dining at a restaurant, I got to choose what my four year old little Daniel Tiger would order to eat. So, what did Daniel order? Pizza? Burger? Chicken fingers?
Daniel ordered grilled chicken and broccoli.
Then I got THE notes.“This is not what real kids eat. We should show him eating like a normal four year old.”
First of all, Daniel is a tiger.
Second of all, I have millions of children and parents every day learning and (hopefully) modeling what our characters do. We carefully test our episodes to maximize learning of our life lessons curriculum. If making a good food choice is not a major life lesson, then I don’t know what is.
(Excerpt from Modeling Healthy Eating Habits by Angela Santomero)
Both of her arguments completely fall apart at the seams and here’s why. First of all, she is correct Daniel IS a tiger. No, she cannot have the tiger tearing into a zebra on children’s animated television. However, she also can’t say that is it the reason he is isn’t eating like a “normal” 4 year old when she is trying to get all “normal” 4 year old children to eat like Daniel Tiger. Her argument is a never ending circle. If she wants to argue that he is a tiger and not human then why does it matter what he orders to eat? Oh, that’s right, because he is modeling what a human child SHOULD eat. Then wait, he isn’t just a tiger is he? No, he’s a role model for young minds.
Which leads to her next argument. I agree with the premise on this one. Making a good food choice is a valuable life lesson. Which is why we should be HONEST with children and teach them all of the health benefits available to them through their food. Did you know that if Angela would have added beef to her vegetable rich spaghetti, little Daniel Tiger and Miss Elaina would have received much needed protein and iron to strengthen their muscles and blood flow, vitamins B6 and B12 to help their growing brain functions, Zinc for their immune systems, Phosphorus which helps build strong and healthy teeth, Selenium which helps protect cells from damage and Riboflavin to give them the fuel and energy their active bodies need? And that’s just SOME of the health benefits of beef. There are several more! I understand her wanting to introduce kids to new foods and focus on food groups they might not want to eat very often, but why leave beef out altogether?
Some parents may ask, “But what about the fat content?”
All lean beef cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 oz cooked serving. Some cuts of beef are as lean as a 3 oz skinless chicken thigh! When I brown our hamburger (raised on our farm) I rarely have to drain off any extra juice or grease. We have corn-fed beef and it is still lean and heart healthy!
“But what if my child only eats beef if it’s covered in gravy or cheese?”
So I’m assuming based on that argument that we are only feeding kids chicken that hasn’t been fried or covered in gravy or cheese? What if they ate the cheeseburger or roast beef with gravy and cut down on the potato chips and only had one cookie after dinner? How about we teach our kiddos that vegetables, ALL meats, cheeses and carbs are HEALTHY! Even dessert is a fun treat! Maybe the life-lesson on children’s television and also around the dinner table should be that it’s all about self-control, listening to our bodies and not over eating anything, including vegetables. I would love to see Angela use her creativity to mesh the food groups together and represent ALL farms and the gifts they bring to the table. Maybe they could even visit their local farmer’s market and come home with conventional corn-fed beef, all-natural chicken, organic veggies, fresh eggs and buttery homemade bread along with a scoop of homemade ice cream and share the importance of the nutrients and safe ingredients found in each food group. Maybe, just once, a television show could praise ALL of America’s bountiful harvests and brag on the safety and health of our food! Now that would be a “major life lesson” worth watching!
Ready to introduce beef at the table? Here’s an easy, kid-approved recipe thanks to my dear friend and mother of 4, Cindi Glenn! I think Daniel Tiger would LOVE it!
- 1 lb browned hamburger
- 1 packet Ranch Dip seasoning
- 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
- 6 tortillas
- Brown your hamburger and stir in the packet of ranch seasoning until it is well mixed.
- On a George Foreman grill or your handy, lightly sprayed skillet, lay out one tortilla and cover it with a nice layer of browned, Ranch flavored beef.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheese and cover with another tortilla.
- Cook until cheese is melted and quesadilla is heated through.
- Repeat process 2 more times or until you run out of ingredients!
- Serve with sour cream or salsa and enjoy!!!
Post written by Kara Edwards of Beef Stew with a Twist