Halloween Advice for Parents

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Halloween is almost here! Are you worried about all of the sweets that will invade your home after your kids go trick-or-treating ? In this blog entry, I will teach you some strategies for limiting your kids’ sweets consumption and I will give you some options that you can pass out to trick-or-treaters so that you aren’t contributing to the onslaught of unhealthy “goodies” kids are bringing home.

Okay, so let’s talk about the ingredients found in most candy these days. Look for these ingredients and toss most of the candies that contain them. I’m not saying you have to trash them all, but at least educate yourself on these sneaky, yucky chemicals

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

High-Fructose Corn Syrup is so ubiquitous in candy because it is cheap. We know that too much sugar all together is a bad thing, but the reason why I am especially concerned with high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener is because in addition to a ridiculously high content of fructose, it also contains other chemical toxins. What we know, for example, is that chloralkali is used in making HFCS, and it contains mercury. While some may argue that it is a “trace” amount of mercury, I am going to do whatever I can to limit the amount of mercury entering my daughters’ bloodstreams.

Partially-Hydrogenated Oils

Partially-hydrogenated oils are trans fats and trans fats contribute to high cholesterol, obesity, and subsequently heart disease. It is also important for children to avoid trans fats because they block the utilization of healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids that children need for optimal brain development.

Artificial Dyes

Commonly-used food dyes like Yellow #5, Yellow #6, and Red #40 are made from petroleum and have been shown to be carcinogenic in various research studies. Additionally, studies have shown that consumption of artificial dyes contribute to hyperactivity and behavioral problems and should especially be avoided by children on the autism spectrum or those who have ADHD. Note that “caramel color” is also an artificial dye.

Does this scare you? One thing you can do to combat these toxins is to make sure your kids have extra vegetables (you can even sneak them into smoothies) so that they fight the free radicals produced by this junk food.

And, as I promised, here is the list of options you can give out so as to lessen the junk that your trick-or-treaters bring home:

  • Stickers
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Halloween-themed Pencils
  • Halloween-themed Erasers
  • Halloween-themed rings (spiders—eek!)
  • Bottled Water
  • Swirly Straws
  • Bubbles
  • Glow sticks
  • Whistles
  • Crayons

Wishing you all a safe and Happy Halloween!

 

 

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How to Curb your Sweet Tooth from now through the Holidays

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Halloween is just a couple of weeks away. Such a weary time for the health conscious! The office candy bowl is always filled with little “pick-me-ups” calling out your name. How do you curb your sweet tooth to resist the temptation of the ubiquitous candy? I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Eat a filling breakfast with complex carbs.

Don’t skip breakfast. You are doomed if you do. Breakfast sets the stage for the entire day! And did I say carbs? Why yes I did. A good complex carb (like oats) will fill you and stabilize your blood sugar so that a.) You won’t resort to candy to cure that “hungry” feeling and b.)Your sugar cravings won’t be so high. Click here to try my yummy overnight oats recipes.

  • Make sure your lunch has a good protein and fat source.

Do you often feel ravenous around 2-3:00 PM in the afternoon? This is the mid-afternoon slump and I find this to be common with many of my working clients. Why is that? Because either they skip lunch or they eat a lunch that lacks protein and healthy fats. So if you think you are doing a good thing by eating a salad for lunch, you may be wrong. Make sure your salad has protein and fat. For a double whammy food choice that has both healthy fats and protein, add some tuna, salmon, or walnuts. Add some chickpeas, kidney beans, or grilled chicken to your salad for protein. And an olive-oil based dressing will give you some fat as well. The added protein and fat will keep you satisfied throughout the afternoon, helping you to defeat the allure of the candy bowl!

  • Try incorporating some healthy seasonal sweets derived from the earth!

There is no better time than now to have an apple for a snack! Curious which apple you’d like best? Read my blog about the wide variety of apples that I love. Roast some butternut squash and sprinkle some cinnamon on it; add a handful of dried cranberries to it…such a delicious snack. Bake a sweet potato and eat ½ as a snack! Again, so yummy. Though winter squashes and sweet potatoes aren’t traditionally viewed as snacks—change your thinking because they actually make awesome snacks. And these truly natural sweets will help you to resist candy, I promise you.

I hope these recommendations help you from now through the holidays…because the sweets are out to get you from Halloween through the end of the year, sad, but true! You can beat the battle; I know it!

 

Could you have Celiac Disease?

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October is Celiac Awareness Month so I want to share with everyone a little bit about Celiac Disease. I have had clients who were diagnosed with Celiac Disceliacease as small children and I have had clients who never knew they had Celiac Disease until they were tested based on symptoms they had when they were in their late 30s, 40s, or even 50s! Scary, right?

First, let me start off by telling you what Celiac Disease is. Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the consumption of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications. Some of the complications that can result from not treating Celiac Disease include iron deficiency, chronic diarrhea and severe weight loss, and even cancer!

If you have digestive difficulties, chronic migraines, brain fog, menstrual irregularities, recurrent canker sores, or any autoimmune condition, you could possibly have Celiac Disease and should get tested. Eight-three percent of people with Celiac Disease are undiagnosed! So frightening!

How is Celiac Disease treated? The main way to treat Celiac Disease is to follow a gluten-free diet. This means consuming no food that has gluten. Some foods are easier to avoid than others. Wheat, rye, and barley are the main glutinous grains so those need to be avoided and here are just some of the not-so-obvious foods that often have gluten: potato chips, ice cream, condiments, soups, beer, seasonings, candy, and the list goes on. Two websites that are great resources to learn more about Celiac Disease are www.celiac.org and www.beyondceliac.org. Be sure to check them out!

 

October 10-14 is National School Lunch Week

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I don’t know about you, but for me growing up, our school lunches were far from nutritious. French fries and ketchup counted as vegetable. Even tomato sauce on pizza counted as a vegetable. When a vegetable side was served, it was always mushy—what kid would consider eating veggies like that? Well, I have good news for you!school_lunch

School lunches are getting healthier! So don’t totally freak out if you aren’t able to prepare your kids’ lunches from time to time. Looking at my daughters’ school menu, I see choices like turkey tacos with roasted carrot “fries,” fish sticks with seasoned broccoli, and chicken fajitas with  marinated cucumbers. Not too terrible if you ask me!

Statistics back the fact that school lunches are getting healthier. A federal report released last spring showed that the nutritional profile of school meals in the United States had improved substantially since higher government standards went into effect in 2012. Nearly 80 percent of schools offered two or more vegetables per meal in 2014, the data showed, up from 62 percent in 2000. Two or more fruits were offered in about 78 percent of schools, up from 68 percent in 2000. About a third of schools now have salad bars.

Our kids need healthy lunches to perform well in school, to develop healthfully, and to conquer the obesity epidemic.  School Lunch Week is sponsored by the School Nutrition Association; the theme this year is “Show your Spirit,” which reminds parents, school officials, and students that a healthy school lunch helps students power through the day! The School Nutrition Association website has a plethora of fun resources to help make this week effective and celebratory. Click here to check them out!

Apples are Awesome!

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apples.jpgWelcome to October everyone! Want to know what makes me love October so much? No, it’s not Halloween! It’s Apples! October is Apple Month and I have the privilege of living in Apple Country. In Central New York, there are over 80 apple orchards; you can find apple orchards and farms where you can pick your own of almost everything on a great website called Pick Your Own.

In honor of this fantastic month, I am going to review 10  different apples in this blog and I will explain why the adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” still holds true today.

There is such a wide variety of apples to choose from. Here are some of my favorites and what I like to use them for:

Braeburn: This type of red apple has a sweet and tangy flavor It’s super crisp with yellow flesh. Kids tend to love this type. I pack them for my girls as a snack.

Cortland: This great, all-purpose red apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1898. It is deliciously sweet, with a hint of tartness and snow-white flesh. Looking for an apple to include in a fruit platter? Pick this one because it doesn’t turn brown quickly! I love putting Cortland apples in my salads. Cortland apples with toasted walnuts over a bed of salad greens is an awesome treat!

Crispin: This type of green apple is very sweet and super juicy. I find it to be the perfect baking apple. And if you are looking for crunchiness, this crisp apple is one to try for sure! Yummy!

Empire: Developed by Cornell University in the 1940s, Empire apples are available at almost all of the orchards in CNY. These red apples are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. They are a great choice for apple sauce or apple pie.

Fuji: This red apple is a blend of Red Delicious and Ralls Janet, an antique apple that goes back to the late 1700s. One of the sweetest apple varieties, you can make apple sauce with this apple without any sugar and even those with an intense sweet tooth will be 100% satisfied!

Gala: A great choice for snacking, Gala is a variety developed in New Zealand. It’s got the mild flavor that “picky eaters” prefer, plus a striking bright yellow-red color that also makes it visually appealing. The skin is especially thin on this type of apple, making it easy for kids to eat.

Ginger Gold: This golden apple is one of the first available in early September. It is sweet with mildly tart overtones. It is also slow to brown, so this is another great choice for fruit platters.

Idared: Developed in Idaho, Idareds are a cross between two old-time New York apples, Jonathan and Wagener, that were first grown in Penn Yan in 1791. Tinted pinkish-red, Idareds make a beautifully colored applesauce. Cook the apples with the skins on and strain the sauce to get the best pink color.

Jonagold: Jonagold is another success story from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. It’s a cross between mellow Golden Delicious and tart Jonathan apples, and creates a great aroma when baked in apple pies. Pan-fry this red apple with a little coconut oil and a dash of cinnamon for an unbelievable delicious dessert!

Zestar!: Yes, this type of apple truly has an exclamation point in its name. A Zestar! Is an early-season apple that’s juicy, with a light and crisp texture. Developed at the University of Minnesota, Zestar! trees are especially hardy and handle cold weather beautifully. Like the name says, there’s zesty flavor and crunch when you bite into one. This is one of the longest–lasting apples. It maintains its crunch and flavor even after weeks in a refrigerator.

So, why does an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

It’s mostly about the soluble fiber in apples. Most Americans do not get nearly enough fiber in their diet! Women are supposed to get at least 25 grams of fiber a day and men should aim for 38 grams. How does fiber help your health. To name a few of the benefits, fiber normalizes bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels and aids in achieving healthy weight by keeping you full longer. You won’t find fiber in meat or dairy, and definitely not in processed food! Apples are a good choice for fiber. Keep the skin on and you’ll get about 5 grams of fiber in one medium apple.

Apples also have pancreatic-cancer-fighting flavanols: Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent.

Also, red apples contain the antioxidant quercetin, which does an amazing job boosting your immune system. How convenient is it that apple season coincides with the start of cold and flu season! Get jarring applesauce for the winter!