Fruits & Veggies Really Do Matter

A variety of delicious culinary products.September is “Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month,” and according to the site www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org, 90% of us do not eat the daily recommended amount of either. We know how important they are for everything from nutrition to fiber to digestive health, yet most of us just don’t eat enough of them.

Fruits and veggies not only pack a serious nutritional punch, but add visual interest and color to our plates, are low in calories, may reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure, are easy to grab as a snack, and are fun to eat! So here are a few tips to help us get them into our diets:

First, remember the ‘half rule;’ fill your plate half full of fruits and vegetables. This even goes for snacks. Remember also, that all forms (frozen, dried, fresh, 100% juice), count towards the recommended daily serving. So when shopping, don’t just think about fruits when you’re in the produce dept. Dried fruits are great and easy snacks, and 100% juices are always a better choice than sodas.

Try these specific ways to add them into your diet:

  • Eat strawberries with breakfast; 8 whole strawberries = 1 cup
  • Add a quarter cup raisins to oatmeal; ¼ c dried = ½ c fresh
  • At snack time, 1 banana = ½ cup, and 100% apple/orange juice instead of soda
  • Add frozen or canned veggies to casseroles
  • Smoothies, smoothies, smoothies…any fruits or berries
  • ½ cup of fat, in many recipes, can be replaced with applesauce
  • Add beans to salads and veggie soup
  • Add dried fruit to grain side dishes such as rice or couscous
  • Stir fry and pasta dishes (my favorites): Anything goes in stir fry, and pretty much anything goes in Alfredo dishes and primaveras

Fruits and veggies are so good for us; we should really start reaching for the carrot sticks and dried cranberries instead of the candy bars, don’t you think?

Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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Easy No Cooking Summer Breakfast

Pixmac000075654835Don’t want a big heavy breakfast as you start your days this summer? Want something that is healthy but tastes great too?

This peachy cream smoothie recipe makes the perfect breakfast on those hot, muggy summer mornings. It’s quick and easy too. The kids will love it as much as you do. Enjoy!

Peachy Cream Smoothie

Serving: 1 smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 med peach, pitted and chopped
  • ½ med banana
  • ¼ c almond flour
  • 1 c orange juice
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 4 to 6 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS

  1. COMBINE the peach, banana, almond flour, orange juice, ginger, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. POUR smoothie into a glass. Serve.

NUTRITION (per serving) 380 cal, 10 g pro, 60 g carb, 7 g fiber, 41 g sugars, 15 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 15 mg sodium

Recipe and photo credit: http://www.prevention.com/food/start-your-day-right/10-no-cook-breakfasts-perfect-summer?s=9

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Amazing Alternatives to Sugar

Pixmac000079469967We all know how important it is to eat healthy, and getting kids to eat less sugar is a perfect way to start. Too much sugar can build up and can be stored as fat. There are alternatives to sugar that taste good and prevent the build up of fat.

1) Honey

Honey contains natural sugars such as fruit sugars. It is mainly comprised of fructose. Fructose does not build up as fat as it does not get stored anywhere in the body, instead it is used up as energy. It is actually glucose that can turn into fat, not fructose.

2) Agave nectar

This sweet liquid comes from plants and tastes a lot like mild maple syrup. Some say it tastes like honey. Agave nectar has glycosides and fructans. Glycosides are more easily broken down in the body than glucose. Fructans act like fiber so this can aid digestion and makes us feel more full. This is found in health shops.

3) Sweeteners

Sucrose – Be warned sucrose is not really a sugar substitute. It is formed by fructose and glucose, however it can give us energy that lasts.

Acesulfame potassium – This is a man made sweetener. It has no calories and is much sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way.

Aspartame – Also a man made sweetener, but it is bad news as far as scientists are concerned so try to avoid this.

Saccharin (Also known as Sweet n low) – It has zero calories.

Sucralose (Also known as Splenda)- Sucralose is really a sugar, not a sweetener.

4) Truvia

Truvia is an extract from the leaves of a plant called Stevia, which grows in South America. It is made of eight glycosides and has very little glucose. It also has health benefits as it has vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

So which ones are the best to use? At the end of the day it’s down to you but my personal favorite is Agave nectar and Truvia because they both have health benefits. I have tried Truvia and it’s not too sweet. Agave nectar is sweeter.

Written by: Arti Chauhan

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Healthy and Fun Easter Basket Ideas

Depositphotos_2063127_xsInstead of giving your child a basket full of candy this Easter why not consider some of the healthier alternatives to the traditional Easter basket found on www.popsugar.com:

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How To Eat Healthy Without Going Broke

aaaaweeeHey Parents! Did you know it’s National Nutrition Month? Here are some great tips for feeding your family healthy foods without going broke.

A lot of people assume that you can’t eat healthy without spending the big bucks. That’s often why many people end up choosing processed food over the real stuff, only because they think they’re saving money in the long term. But is that really the case? Are you really saving money when you buy all of those convenience foods? Today, we are going to dispel that myth once and for all, showing you that it is 100% possible to have a healthy diet without spending a fortune.

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Raising Healthy Kids

breakfast4006019a853fb015427554368In honor of September being Fruits & Veggies – Matter More Month, here is an article that details just how important the health of our children truly is.

The Problem

It is commonplace for me to see the parents that I coach working hard to feed themselves a nutrient dense diet flush with fresh veggies – their kids are an entirely different story. More often I see kids provided with a steady diet of macaroni and cheese, frozen chicken nuggets, dehydrated fruit snacks, hot dogs, sugary drinks, and fast food. The marketing propaganda for these foods may be tempting, but the fact is that they are not providing anywhere near the necessary daily nutrients to keep kids brains and bodies functioning properly.

Here are a few unsettling and sad facts about the state of American kids’ health from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
  • In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Keep in mind that obese and overweight children become obese and overweight adults. With the high percentage of overweight kids growing larger each day, they will face deadly health problems earlier in life including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

The cost of all this excess weight is staggering! America is facing in excess of $3 billion per year in direct medical costs for overweight kids. Since overweight and obese adults incur an estimated $1,429 more in medical expenses than the normal-weight peers, healthcare costs would be expected to rise dramatically. If nothing is done to tackle this crisis, 43% of US adults will be obese by 2018, costing the nation an estimated $344 billion in medical-related expenses.

The Solution

The good news is that the solution is at our fingertips and can be found in our kitchens. Cooking at home gives us the opportunity to provide our children with fresh nutrient dense meals and snacks. Plus, the kitchen is a terrific laboratory for nutrition education and a place to set healthy eating habits to last kids their lifetime.

Some tips to get kids to eat their veggies:

Super Smoothies

Sneak in the spinach with those blueberries and strawberries – the kids will never know! Add ground flax for protein, raw coconut water for hydration, and a teaspoon of raw organic coconut for a healthy source of fat to boost their brain function. They’ll love their super smoothies!

Make them your Sous Chef

Children who help to prepare food are motivated to eat it themselves. Start simply, teaching them to peel carrots and cucumbers; or measure out the ingredients you need for a particular recipe ahead of time and let them be in charge of adding each one during the cooking process.

Have Fun

Try new things and most important, HAVE FUN! Buy a spiral vegetable slicer and start making raw zucchini pasta or baked sweet potato curly fries. They will love it!

Help them to GROW

A vegetable garden can be simple or elaborate; regardless of its size this is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to spend time together and teach your kids about eating whole foods.

Toss out the packaged and processed foods and get back to basics in the kitchen. When children eat whole foods they have boundless energy, a twinkle in their eye, and strong healthy bodies. As an added bonus – when kids eat healthy they become more well behaved, easier to handle, more joyful, have less melt-downs, are more focused, and sleep better.

See more at: http://www.decadesofhealth.com

Written by: Margaret Lively, Founder & Certified Nutrition Coach, Decades of Health

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Healthy School Lunches

biggersandIt’s not easy to convince your kids to eat anything, but as parents we are all too well aware of saying the word “healthy” around them is a flashing red light for “doesn’t taste good.” Though this really isn’t true, we have to teach them that the stigma attached to food being good for them isn’t a fair stereotype.  Here are some helpful hints to make healthy school lunches.

Make It Look Pretty

Healthy diet for kids is a major concern of all parents. Kids love to eat junk food because it tastes different than the regular home cooked food. Peer pressure and media is also playing its role in making fast food look more delicious and tempting, so be creative and make your child’s lunch look more delicious than any commercial will.

Kids are picky eaters. In order to make the food look tempting, you need to wake up the artist in you. Add as many colors to the healthy bowl of food as you can because colors make the food more lively and delectable. You can cut the fruits and vegetables in different shapes and make cute faces or funny looking characters from them. You can even serve vegetables with some yummy dip sauces-this will make the kids enjoy their healthy food more.

New And Different

Sometimes kids won’t eat things just on the basis of it being “new” or “different,” so make the new healthy food you are trying to inspire your kids to eat all the more appealing and fun!

Don’t forget to talk to your children about why you select the foods you do, and continue to remind them how important it is to fuel their bodies with healthy choices.  Getting kids to eat shrimp and cucumbers isn’t an easy task, so create shapes and fun to make it seem more tasty.

Children learn from the meals you offer, the way you serve food, the way you shop, and the examples you set. Early habits can last a lifetime, so it’s never too early to make a change, which is why it’s important to get them to try new foods.

Design silly food faces out of fresh fruit and vegetable slices. Come up with amusing, ridiculous names and descriptions for the healthy foods you prepare. Celery and raisins become “ants on a log,” peanut butter and pretzels can be “mud on a stick,” and spaghetti with sauce can turn into “wiggly worms.” Take Goldfish swimming in a new soup. Wash raisins down with water because they are thirsty grapes.

Give Them Healthy Options

Pack stocks of healthy food including fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products at hand so when the kids go through their lunch box, they are limited to only healthy options.  Even if they don’t eat one of the items packed, they will feel in charge of the other items they chose to eat.   This is a good idea for encouraging kids to eat healthy because when they only see healthy food around, they would gradually develop inclination towards it.

Eliminate the junk food items from your kitchen and fridge and replace with healthy food choices, and let them pack their own lunch. If you see that your kid is indulged in a particular chips or snack bar, then make it disappear and offer an attractive yet healthy replacement.

To help your kids feel “in charge” of their own healthy choices take them to the nearest super store and make them fill the trolley with their choice of healthy food including fruits and vegetables.

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Sneaking in the Produce

Boy with green smoothie flexing musclesMy kids love fruit. I love fruit. My wife loves fruit. But, here’s the weird thing I have learned as a grade school teacher for the past eighteen years… not everyone loves fruit. And, lots of kids (adults, too, for that matter) aren’t too keen on veggies.

The thing is, I like to think of myself as a healthy eater, a good parent, and a rather good dancer (mostly late 80’s/early 90’s hip-hop). So, I know the importance of making sure my daughters both eat their fair share of produce. When they were young, we called blueberries “power buttons” (you know, what with all the oxidants and everything) and the girls literally ate it up.

But our problem was not so much fruit. We had vegetable issues in our home. The girls would eat carrots on occasion. One liked tomatoes (technically a fruit, though), and the other was a red pepper eater. That was it. No spinach, no onions, no broccoli, no cauliflower. Beets are out of the question. Turnips and celery… no go!

So, we have found over the years a few tricks to get the produce back into their diets. The first is the “smoothie sneak.” Because my girls love fruit, they also love fruit smoothies. So, with the frozen pineapple, bananas and strawberries we throw into the blender, I also sneak in some raw spinach and carrots. The spinach has virtual no flavor in the drink, and the carrots’ sweetness adds to the mix. They never know what hits them.

Our second secret is the “sneaky pasta sauce.” My wife makes her own pasta sauce, and when she does she throws spinach, broccoli, carrots, and onions into the food processor. These little guys become undetected when thrown on some noodles with a few turkey meatballs.

And, finally, not so much tricky, but a way to get the girls to consume more of the green stuff, we make kale chips in the oven. There are many different recipes all over the internet, but we just go the simple route. Spray the leaves with some olive oil, sprinkle on a bit of sea salt, stick in the oven until crispy. The girls cannot get enough.

Nutritious food is important for our children’s good health, but food should be fun. When it’s not, now you have a few ways to make it so.

Written by: Leon Scott Baxter, America’s Relationship Guru

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About the Author

Leon Scott Baxter is known as America’s Relationship Guru. He is the author of three books on love, romance and relationships, and is the founder of CouplesCommittedToLove.com. Baxter is also the father of two girls and has been a grade school teacher since 1997. His latest book is about raising happy, successful children. Join him at https://www.facebook.com/SafetyNetParenting. His favorite foods are kale chips, fruit smoothies and his wife’s pasta.

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Back To School Snack Ideas

almonds-curb-cravingsLet’s admit it, heading back to school can be a relief, but also throw your whole life in a whirlwind of chaos adjusting again. It also always seems hard to be creative with lunch snacks that are healthy, easy, and your kids will be excited to eat.

Here is a list of healthy and easy snacks for your children:

  • Ants on a Log
  • Carrots, Cucumber, or Celery with Hummus
  • Apples with Peanut Butter
  • Watermelon or Pineapple Chunks
  • Air Popped Popcorn
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Almonds
  • Grapes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Broccoli Florets
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Soy Chips
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Sugar Free Jello
  • Nonfat Yogurt
  • Lowfat Cottage Cheese
  • Protein Bars
  • Rice Cakes
  • Trail Mix
  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Apple Sauce
  • Veggie Sticks
  • Granola Bars
  • Turkey Slices
  • Walnuts
  • Fruit Smoothies
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Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

new-mom-doctor-sliderBreastfeeding is very beneficial for both mom and baby. It’s important to eat healthy and get a lot of nutrients while you are breastfeeding. The article below from www.healthfinder.gov provides some quick tips for eating healthy while breastfeeding.

Some benefits of breastfeeding include:

  • Help protect your baby from infection and illness
  • Give you and your baby time to be close and bond
  • Save your family money

Make healthy food choices to get the nutrients both you and baby need

Most people can get all the nutrients they need by making healthy food choices. If you are worried about getting enough nutrients while breastfeeding, ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin.

Make your calories count

To get the nutrients you need while breastfeeding, make sure to include these foods in your diet:

  • A variety of vegetables and fruits
  • Seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, and nuts
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk or soy products with added calcium
  • Brown rice, 100% whole-wheat bread, and other whole grains
  • Fortified cereals (cereals with added iron and folic acid)

Limit foods and drinks high in “empty calories” from added sugars and solid fats. Foods and drinks with lots of empty calories include desserts, fatty meats, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened drinks.

Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week

Fish and shellfish have nutrients that can help your baby see and learn better. Eat seafood 2 to 3 days a week. Be sure to include a variety of healthy choices, like:

  • Salmon
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Canned light tuna
  • White (albacore) tuna – no more than 6 ounces a week

Avoid fish that are high in mercury, especially swordfish, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel. Mercury is a metal that can hurt your baby’s development.

Drink plenty of fluids

Your body needs extra fluids, like water and fat-free or low-fat milk, when you are breastfeeding. Limit or avoid drinks that are high in caffeine or added sugars. Try drinking a glass of water every time you breastfeed.

If you choose to drink alcohol, follow these safety tips.

  • Wait until your baby is at least 3 months old and has a breastfeeding routine.
  • Plan ahead for how you’ll feed your baby if he gets hungry. For example, pump (express) some breast milk before having any alcohol.
  • Drink only in moderation – for women, this means no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Wait at least 4 hours after having a drink before breastfeeding. (Any alcohol that’s in your blood when you breastfeed will pass into your breast milk.)

Article source: http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/parenting/nutrition-and-physical-activity/eat-healthy-while-breastfeeding-quick-tips

 

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