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Archive for April, 2009

Top 5 List of “Kid-Tested, Parent and AKApproved” Snacks

  1. Nature’s candy bowl: make a homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried coconut, dried fruit, chocolate chips, whole grain cereal (packaged choice: Nature’s Path Agave granola)
  2. Smooth Move: In a blender or magic bullet grab ingredients like frozen fruit, milk or unsweetened milk replacement, honey / agave, cinnamon or cocoa, peanut or almond butter and blend! (packaged choice: Fage or Chobani plain Greek Yogurt + add your own fruit and nuts)
  3. Snow it! To make vegetables or eggs a more delicious. Treat – melt some parmesan over it. (packaged choice: veggie sticks + a string cheese)
  4. Mini-Me’s: whether its Petite Pizzas, or Teeny Tacos, or Mini-Meatball kebabs, a great way to make leftovers go the distance is to reform them into a teeny version (packaged choice: Dr. Praeger’s kids Spinach, Broccoli, Potato Littles)
  5. Freezer Fun: grab an ice cream or popsicle makers and create treats at home – chocolate banana almond milk ice cream, coconut water blueberry popsicles (packaged choice: Coconut Bliss ice cream)

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For different reasons, significant numbers of kids are choosing a vegetarian diet. As I recently discussed on Good Morning America and GMA Health (watch them here), a vegetarian diet can be an extremely healthy nutrition plan for a child as well as an adult. I wanted to follow-up those pieces with more tips for parents of vegetarian kids.

How do we develop eating occasions for vegetarian kids? Paying attention to a) nutrient balance (carb, pro, fats) b) providing variety c) including vegetables …I will start with C first.

Vegeta – rian…say it with your child…veg-e-ta-rian…parents often struggle with getting their kids to eat vegetables. If your child chooses to be a vegetarian, its worth it to discuss the old “what’s in a name” and have them commit to eating a rainbow of vegetables during their week. Tip #1 Dip them in hummus, peanut or almond butter, or a yogurt (or tofu) -based dip and they will get protein as well Tip #2 Try great-tasting products like Dr Praegers broccoli or spinach bitelets, or Amys vegetable pizza (keep on hand in the freezer) or add salsa to salads and beans. Also, check out my recipe for Greensadillas in Recipes for IBS which offers many digestively friendly vegetarian options (or adaptable ones).

When it comes to carbohydrates and vegetarians, its good to know what counts as a carb so we don’t end up overdoing the carb intake compared to the protein and healthy fats (remember we want a balance at each eating occasion). A good goal for vegetarian kids is anywhere between 15-25 grams per eating occasion or 1-1 1/2 servings. For a complete list of what goes in the carb category look at the AKA menu worksheet

Tip #1 split up the carbs between eating occasions- if you serve beans, do so with guacamole and salsa and some melted cheese vs. Beans and a tortilla or rice. If you have a veggie burger, serve it without the bun and with some baked zucchini “fries”. If you serve a tortilla , spread some nut butter on top and a few slices of fruit.

Protein: depending on the type of vegetarian, your child may consume some or no animal protein Tip #1: vegetarian sources of proteins that are also carbs include beans (soybeans / edamame are a complete protein), quinoa (a grain you can prepare like rice or like oatmeal or make it with some cheese and broccoli heads; note: quinoa pasta will provide a little less protein) Tip #2: vegetarian sources of protein that are also healthy fats include nuts and seeds. One seed in particular, hempseeds, provide a complete protein. So instead of a banana, add a nut butter (you can even freeze this and make it a great dessert), instead of just ice cream, have a 1/2 scoop less and add berries and hemp seeds.

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To Cleanse??

Spring cleaning? In prep for bathing suits and beach fun, many are trying to think of the fastest and most effective way to shed winter weight, winter skin, and achieve that summer glow. The question is are all cleanses created equal? And if not, which ones pass muster.First, keep in mind that we can’t outsmart our bodies – the body has specific systems for cleansing which include the short term (excretions(bowels, urine and skin), as well as expectorant (sneeze, cough, etc) to get rid of bugs immediately. For a deeper cleanse, the body has systems as well: a two phase system to liberate toxins and then to eliminate them. So if a nutrition cleanse doesn’t tap into the body’s systems it will be working at cross purposes and can at minimum be ineffective and at worst, be dangerous. Speaking of dangers, anyone on medications (even something as seemingly unrelated as anti-depressants) or other with risk factors for heart disease, and others, gets a red light, do not proceed, until speaking with your doctor and ideally a dietitian before starting a cleanse.

So what’s a cleanse? A cleanse my definition is a clean-up…and that’s where I start with patients interested in cleansing. Skip food products, chemicals, sugar and alcohol and caffeine – and replace them with organic vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and you’ve got yourself a cleanse…one that will work with the body and get you the desired results. (more…)

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With so many supplements on the market today, one question I get (or one that I often point out) is does the form of the vitamin – tablet, capsule, liquid, powder, spray – matter? My answer – indeed, yes!

I spend a lot of time explaining that the type of nutrient in a supplement matters a great deal – for example, d-alpha tocopherol (as a vitamin E source) versus dl-alpha tocopherol…that one extra letter means the difference between natural and synthetic as in nut versus photo paper – yup, you read right…photo paper! And what about magnesium oxide versus magnesium citrate…major difference in absorption! And vitamin D2 versus D3…huge!

But beyond getting the right ingredients in your supplement, the FORM of the supplement makes a difference too. (more…)

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It sure makes a difference when one can stumble off the dreaded red eye to a tea spot serving herbal organic teas with fresh, locally grown mint. Or sit down to a meal of local produce. Were I in LA, I wouldn’t think twice about such abundance (we are so lucky to be that jaded), but arriving in the “concrete jungle” I felt particularly fortunate to find such wonderfully fresh, local options.

On my trip, I found local, organic and extremely fresh on a grand scale – whole foods – on a smaller scale, Le Pain Quotidien (an AKA favorite) – on a smaller scale, the amazingly divine Blue Hill (see below) restaurant – and even on an individual level, in talking to chef Allison Weiner about her selections for her personalized food service whose creations are influenced from her work on a Vermont farm.

I wanted to take a moment to highlight my dinner at Blue Hill – aka “mecca” for a dietitian-foodie– as it proves that nothing is lost and sheer indulgence is gained when farmer meets chef and heads directly from farm to table …no shortcuts here. Elegant and delicious – our amuse bouche amused more than the mouth and was oh so simple – different colored seasonal veggies served atop posts they looked like colorful lollipops. With every appetizer, side, and main dish sounding delicious, it was hard to pick — but the waiter piqued my curiosity when describing the cauliflower steak…there’s nothing like this! – that is truly just cauliflower (but nothing “just” about it). What topped off the dining experience was the wait staff – so knowledgeable about everything – the wine choice, the way they cook the vegetables, the type of oils and how they are stored, as well as the wine selection. Wow! I wanted to eat here everyday and night and from the welcomes exuberantly offered for patrons at the bar I realized that this was exactly what locals do…lucky to eat from the farm in NYC.

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With all the marketing messages and nutrition info out there, sometimes it feels so hard to keep it all straight. In honor of April Fool’s, I wanted to arm you against some of the most foolish mistakes folks make in the name of nutrition.

  1. We need more calcium for stronger bones. Marketing and research have done an excellent job of demonstrating the need for calcium for strong bones. But the real truth is that the body needs a balance of minerals and nutrients for strong bones. We need vitamin D and K, we need magnesium, and we can benefit from micronutrients such as strontium and boron and others for bone health. What’s more, because of dietary choices (no and low carb diets; poor intake of greens), food processing (has reduced magnesium content in foods as much as 80%), and supplementation, our bone problems may actually be excess calcium and insufficient other vitamins and minerals. I like Osteo Calm AKA Approved, Natural Calm AKA Approved, Complementrix, and New Chapter AKA Approved among others to improve bone health.
  2. Drink more water, or vitamin water to hydrate! Hydration is really a mineral game. Yes, water is critically important. But so are the right type of minerals and the right balance of minerals to ensure that the water not only gets into the body but it gets into our cells. Potassium is water’s cellular escort, bringing it into the body. See Hydration blog for recommendations
  3. Label Fools: “no sugar added” – this means there was already enough sugar in there they didn’t need to add anymore. “naturally Fat-Free” this means this product doesn’t contain fat in it…ever…so that’s good reason to look at the sugar content (I especially love this label on candy which is all sugar). “no Trans Fats” read the ingredient label; it still may have partially hydrogenated oils in it as the label law allows for a small amount per serving.
  4. Looking for a quick fix or a bail out: you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, so let this be one thousand and one…there are no short cuts to nutrition for optimal health.
  • A quick fix, like a caffeine “pick me up” or a sugar “sweet me up” only leads to major let down minutes to hours later. The sage approach is a nutrition plan for optimal energy that helps us avoid the energy pitfalls. If we enjoy caffeine or sugar, make sure we recognize their potential effect on us (this is an individual response) and plan our recovery accordingly.
  • The old “I will start my diet on Monday” bail out plan will land you in a health crisis on par with our economic crisis…it may seem like it works for a few weeks or months or years, but all the yo-yo’ing takes its toll on the body making long term healthy weight maintenance quite challenging. We need a sound, responsible investment plan. If you want to take a day off, do so, but acknowledge it as such and back to your nutrition for optimal health plan the next day even if it is a Saturday or a Sunday

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