Get your Kids Excited about Eating Healthfully

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My girls love to eat healthy and this warms my heart. I have many clients who tell me that their kids are picky eaters or that they have no interest in trying new and healthy foods. Well, here are some tips they may just excite your kids about eating healthfully.

Play a game in the supermarket

Have each child pick out three snacks that they think are healthy to add to your cart. Getting them involved in the shopping process helps spark their interest in healthy eating. Empower them to make good food choices.

Get creative with cooking and let them help!

I make my girls whole grain pancakes that look like Mickey Mouse or a bowl of oatmeal with a smiley face made with raisins…little things like this get kids excited to eat healthy! There are great recipes out there that are kid-friendly and fun too—check out this website to give some a whirl.

Our government has some pretty awesome kids’ recipes too! Check them out!

Go for colorful

Kids are attracted to vibrant colors. I keep red, green, and yellow peppers on hand. My girls eat them like an apple. You can also cut them into strips and use ranch or hummus as a dip for them.

I keep frozen grapes and berries in the freezer. The perfect healthy snack or dessert. We also use them in smoothies.

Make up cool names for veggies

A 2009 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that kids are more likely to eat food with cool names. Introduce them to power peas, x-ray vision carrots, or dinosaur trees (broccoli).

Grow your food

Kids love playing in the dirt! Easy to grow veggies like beans and tomatoes will excite them! Tomatoes in particular grow well in containers too—no big yard needed!

Eat together

Research shows that families that eat dinner together typically have healthier diets that are higher in fruits, vegetables, and calcium and lower in saturated fat.

Try these ideas out with your kiddos! I find that it actually keeps me on top of my nutrition too!

 

 

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New Year’s Resolution: Convert your Kids to Healthy Snackers

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Childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country. It’s not uncommon for children to be overweight, but think about the convenience foods on the market. They are loaded with sugar…even some foods that we think are “healthy.”  And. sugar converts to fat and has even spiked incidents of type-2 diabetes in children

Start reading labels when you go grocery shopping and have your children “investigate” with you. Look at yogurt for example; it’s marketed as healthy, but many yogurts have 16 or more grams of sugar. That’s crazy—every four grams of sugar represents a teaspoon and your kids up to the age of 8 really should not be having more than 3 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day. This means that one container of yogurt could take up all the added sugar they should have in a day (try plain Greek yogurt instead and add fruit for sweetness).  Older kids and teenagers should limit themselves to no more than 5 to 8 teaspoons of added sugar each day.

You will find that sugar is everywhere when it comes to packaged foods, so your best bet is to try to get your kids hooked on fresh fruit for a sweet treat. Here are some other healthy snack ideas:

  • Mixed Nuts
  • Trail Mix
  • Edamame Poppers
  • Hummus Dippers
  • Greek Yogurt and Granola
  • Tuna and Whole Grain Crackers
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Popcorn
  • String Cheese
  • Hardboiled Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt & Berries
  • Dried Fruit
  • Frozen Watermelon Kiwi Or Grapes
  • Melon Kabobs
  • Cherry Tomato & Cheese Kabobs
  • Whole Grain Cereal Dry

Also make sure that your kids drink a lot of water, avoid soda, and when they drink juice, make sure that it is 100 percent fruit juice.

I hope these tips help you help your kids! It takes a little planning, but the snacks I listed are “almost” as convenient as sugary granola bars, yogurts and other not-so-healthy snacks that are marketed otherwise.

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!

 

 

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!

Powerful Lunches to Pack this Fall

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Fall is coming upon us in full force. I don’t know about you, but for me and all my clients, the first couple of weeks of school are stressful— trying to figure out new schedules and dealing with mishaps along the way. Fuel your children (and yourself) with hearty lunches and all will be well in the world. They will be able to focus at school and you will not be experiencing the 2-3:00 pm sugar cravings!

When planning lunches, think about the power of five: veggies, fruit, protein, whole grains, and hydration. You want your lunches to incorporate all of those five powerful fuels.

One way I like to incorporate many of the groups is through grain-based salads. On my website, I have two particular salads that are big hits, even with kids: Tabbuleh Salad and Quinoa Salad with Black Beans. Click here to check them out. With the Tabbouleh Salad, you get the veggies and whole grain components. With the Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, you get the whole grains, protein, and veggies, all packed together! You can make these salads on a Sunday evening and they will last through Wednesday, refrigerated.

Making sandwiches is another great way to incorporate multiple food groups. I love making my girls Turkey & Swiss Sandwiches with Sliced Tomatoes and Romaine Lettuce. I first select a whole-grain bread (when you purchase bread, make sure it has a few grains of fiber and NO high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS); some bread brands market their bread as healthy when a closer look at the label reveals that they have harmful chemicals like HFCS). I then choose a nitrate-free lunch meat; the brand I trust the most when it comes to nitrate-free meats is Applegate. All of their meat is natural, antibiotic-free, nitrate-free, and there are organic options as well. I turn to Applegate for the cheese I use on my girls’ sandwiches as well. For the final touch of the sandwiches, I add sliced fresh tomatoes (they’re in season locally right now so they’re especially delicious) and romaine lettuce.  A dollop of mustard and voila! My girls’ sandwiches incorporate three of the five power-foods: whole grains, protein, and veggies.

We haven’t talked about fruit yet. I sometimes make salads with fruit. Check out my Pomegranate-Citrus Salad or my Strawberry-Kale Salad on my website.

Don’t feel as though you have to stick to the traditional by packing sandwiches or salads. Get creative. Here are some ideas to fulfill the protein, fruit, and veggie groups without having to prepare anything.

I turn to Kind Bars often for protein. They’re so delicious, packed with protein, and contain less than five grams of sugar. Turn your kids onto them and they’ll rarely, if ever want candy bars—Kind Bars taste just as yummy. They have awesome new fall flavors too.

Another unique protein option is Beanitos Chips. Yes, chips packed with protein because they are made with beans!  They’re so tasty when dipped and guacamole. Don’t worry, you  don’t have to make guacamole—you can get it pre-packaged buy buying Wholly Guacamole.

 Some other quick protein choices include:

  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Hummus
  • 2% or Skim milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Nut butter (a little Tupperware of almond butter to dip sliced apples in—yum)!

Here are some easy fruit choices:

  • Apple
  • Applesauce
  • Pear
  • Raisins
  • Berries

And some easy veggie options, that can be dipped in hummus

  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Sliced peppers

Last but most important, let’s talk about hydration. Move over juice boxes, hello Motive Pure! Motive Pure is a little electrolyte drink that you mix with water. Dehydration harms your brain—when you are dehydrated, concentration goes through the window. Don’t reach for a soda, you may be tricked into thinking you are fulfilling your thirst, but really, you are dehydrating yourself even more because of all of the sugar or artificial sweetener. Fruit juice can be dehydrating too. Motive Pure has a wonderful selection of flavors and is sweetened with a natural sweetener called stevia.  Hydrate yourself with an awesome, flavorful calorie-free drink—choose Motive Pure. Your kids will like it too!

Let me know about your favorite healthy lunch ideas in the comments section below!

 

 

Easy Go-Tos for Recovery after your Kids’ High-Intensity Sports Practice

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Fall sports are upon us! How do we get our kids to recover from intense practice and games? Even as the weather gets colder, hydration before and throughout the practice or game is paramount. Just as important is getting some high-quality protein in your diet and a colorful array of fruits and veggies for their antioxidant value. Protein builds lean muscle, helps with recovery, and improves strength and performance. Antioxidants help prevent inflammation, reducing the likelihood of injuries!

Here are some go-tos that I suggest parents pack for their kids to have after their sports practices and games; these are especially handy for away games when the food stop on the way home almost always is fast-food.

Protein Suggestions:

  • Make a yummy trail mix of raw nuts and dried fruit (a big favorite I find is raw almonds, cashews and raisins)
  • Another all-time favorite is banana and peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • A super easy protein-packed protein option is EAS’s 100% whey protein shakes. They’re pre-made and so easy to take with you. Each one contains a whopping 30 grams of protein. Whey protein is awesome because it is digested and absorbed faster than any other protein source.

Antioxidant Suggestions I especially recommend for Athletes:

  • Red and green bell peppers with hummus
  • Apples
  • Blueberries (they’re so tasty frozen too—keep them frozen using an insolate lunch bag with an ice pack)
  • Edamame (soybeans that you have to pop out of their pods…kids love the opportunity to “play with their food,” even teenagers love it!
  • Cherries

Find a way to incorporate these food choices in your kids’ post-practice or game repertoire and they’ll be at the top of their game for sure!