Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Free" Holiday Ideas - TWO

Gluten Free can be tough this time a year, especially for kids. Eating before you go to parties may be one way to make sure you have a safe meal but is not much fun AND once there is food in sight, you (or your child) is probably going to want to eat again.

Bringing some easily bagged snacks such as crackers, cheese, veggies or fruits can help but when everyone else is eating a meal, don't you want one too?
Solution: Orgran makes individual cans of GF pasta with tomato sauce. Pop top lid single serving can is great for taking to parties, putting in the lunch box or storing with the earthquake supplies.
Orgran is often carried by smaller, independent natural foods stores or can be ordered online at the traditional GF sites or Amazon.


"Free" Holiday Ideas - ONE

Let's make the holiday table a bit freer this year by offering a variety of foods that everyone can enjoy!

Dairy Free Ranch
• 1 cup mayonnaise or Vegennaise for egg free or vegan
• 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 7 1/2 tablespoons soymilk
• 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
• 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
• 1 clove mashed or finely chopped garlic
• Pepper to taste
Mix lemon juice and soy milk and let sit for 10 minutes.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and soy milk mixture with the herbs.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fish Update

I panic at the fish counter. What fish is low in contaminants? What can I buy and still be environmentally sensitive? What fish has a lot of omega 3 fatty acids?

Well, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has updated their list of what is "super green".
Top 5 are:
Albacore tuna (troll or pole caught from the US or Canada),
Farmed mussels,
Farmed oysters,
Wild Pacific sardines,
Wild pink shrimp from Oregon,
Farmed rainbow trout and
Wild caught Alaskan salmon.

Need more choices? Go to their website for a more extensive list:

Want more info on why you should be increasing your omega 3 fatty acid intake? Our June 2009 newsletter focused on the benefits of those omega 3 fatty acids found in fish (you can find it in the newsletter archives on our website).

Remember that children and pregnant women should not have more that 12 ounces of fish a week.
- Patricia

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sugar and agression

Research was published this week reminding us again of why we may want to think more about the ramifications not just of what we feed our children but how we feed them.
This research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that by allowing kids to have candy frequently (in this study daily), kids " do not learn to delay gratification, which some think is a feature of violent individuals generally"
The researchers, from Wales noted that 69% of the study participants who were violent by the age of 34 reported that they ate confectionery nearly every day during childhood, whereas only 42% of those who were nonviolent did. The authors further stated that "persistently using confectionery to control childhood behavior might prevent children from learning to defer gratification, which can lead to more impulsive behaviors. These are both biases that are strongly associated with delinquency."

The overall conclusion is that early food experiences DO matter and food rewards to control behavior may not control behavior in the way imagined.

So, please, go ahead and say "no" to candy. Remember that candy is not a "TREAT" (please see our newsletter for this month for my rant about how candy is as much as a "Treat" as letting your child eat a stick of lard or a cup of salt). Rather than create a neighborhood of hooligans this Halloween, hand out some low sugar snacks or toys (little plastic animals, bubbles) or art supplies (pencils, crayons, chalk).
For more information see the British Journal of Psychiatry October 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Let them eat cake

This is my absolute favorite cake. Basically the only cake I ever make. Yes, it has sugar and of course it has chocolate (why else would I make it) but it also has sweet potato (or yam or pumpkin). You can even add more nutrition by tossing in some ground or chopped nuts. In case you need further justification for eating this cake, add cinnamon as cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Add a little ginger for digestion.

These make great black and orange cupcakes for Halloween!

The recipe was adapted from the Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash, a wonderful cookbook and great reference for growing and cooking vegetables.

Black and Orange Marble Cake
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a bundt or angelfood cake pan.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside:
3 cups flour (how about 1 of these being whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
Combine wet ingredients in a mixer:
1 1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs (add one at a time, beating well after each)
1 1/2 cup sugar (can do a mixture of brown and white)
To the wet ingredients add dry ingredients ALTERNATING with 2 cups of pureed sweet potato, yam, pumpkin or butternut squash. Both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods carry pureed, organic pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash in cans during the fall months.

Separate out 1/2 of the batter. Melt 4 ounces chocolate chips. Mix into 1/2 of the batter. Spoon both batters into pan, alternating scoops of batter then take a knife and swirl (your kids will love to help with this part). Bake for about an 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check for doneness by putting a toothpick into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Batter sticking to the toothpick, cook longer. If it is not cooked yet but starts to brown on top, cover with a piece of foil while the center cooks.

Variations: Add 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts.
Add the rest of the chocolate chip bag, do not melt these first.
Omit the chocolate part and add raisins or nuts and raisins.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Folic Acid: THE pre prenatal prevention vitamin

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is found in green veggies, orange juice and whole grains.
Foods that are often in short supply in the American diet. Folic acid also is a very fragile vitamin and easily destroyed. In the past, folic acid rarely got any press because it was one of the few vitamins regulated because high doses could mask a deficiency of another B vitamin, B12. BUT, in the last 20 years we have realized that folic acid has critical roles in cell division. Research in the 1980s indicated that low folic acid prior to and in the first few weeks of pregnancy could contribute to birth defects involving the spinal cord and brain, primarily spina bifida which can cause paralysis, learning disorders, kidney defects and a variety of other life long chronic concerns.

Folic acid is now added to many of our staple foods such as breads and grains. Since fortification, the incidence of spina bifida HAS decreased over 50% (in Canada) and there has been a parallel decrease in heart defects and anencephaly. The important point to remember is that supplementation should start prior to pregnancy and continue throughout the first trimester. Many public health organizations recommend supplementing the diets of all women of child bearing age.

So drink your orange juice and if pregnancy is in your near future, take a supplement (about 400 mg prior to pregnancy) and talk to your OB-GYN about supplementation!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A spoonful of sugar.....

Health care reform is in the air. While many people argue over how to improve our health care insurance coverage, we can't forget the issue of increasing costs due to increasing care.
A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the medical costs associated with treating obesity-related conditions may have reached $147 billion last year, up from $74 billion a decade ago. $147 billion dollars spent on preventable conditions.

In light of the enormous health catastrophe of obesity, the American Heart Association has announced a remarkably specific and forceful recommendation: limit added sugar to just 6 teaspoons a day (100 calories) for women and just 9 for men (130 calories). Currently, Americans have about 22 spoonfuls or 350 calories per day of added sugar. These are calories that provide no nutritional benefits and include calories from sugar or corn syrup in sweets, candies, soda and sweetened beverages.

How can you follow this recommendation? No more soda- 8 teaspoons of added sugar in a can of soda. If you substitute soda with a sports drink, you will still be getting 4 teaspoons in 12 ounces. Since soda contributes 33% of the added sugar in our diet, eliminating soda is a great first start. One study addressing pediatric obesity found that just taking soda and sweetened drinks (lemonade, Capri Sun, fruit punch, sports drinks) out of child's diet led to significant weight loss. A glass of sparkling water is a great alternative with 0 spoons of sugar.

But why is the American Heart Association talking about sugar? While obesity develops as a combination of food intake, activity and genetics; increased caloric intake is often associated with a high intake of sweets. A lot of sweetened foods also come packed with "bad" saturated fats (think pastries, store bought cookies). Excessive sugar as well as excessive weight gain can lead to the "metabolic syndrome" which leads to heart disease.

So toss the soda, the lemonade. Stock up on bubbly water (mix with a little bit of 100 % juice or a slice of lime). Throw away the candy, gummy snacks and chip's ahoy. Try some trail mix instead. You still have a few teaspoons to use, so go ahead and have a snack that although it has some added sugar contains vitamins and minerals as well such as frozen yogurt, sorbet or some really good homemade peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip (dark chocolate of course for the heart benefits) cookies (see the recipe in this month's newsletter).


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fiber Glorious Fiber

In our last NutritionWise newsletter we gave you the scoop on fiber... why its good for you, where to get it and a great cookie recipe. (To sign up for this newsletter go to

If you are wondering how your favorite foods stack up in terms of their fiber content, here are some of the leaders of the pack...

½ cup of cooked navy beans (9.5 grams of fiber)
½ cup of cooked lima beans (6.6 grams)
1 medium baked sweet potato with peel (4.8 grams)
1 whole-wheat English muffin (4.4 grams)
½ cup of cooked green peas (4.4 grams)
1 medium raw pear with skin (4 grams)
½ cup of raw raspberries (4 grams)
1 medium baked potato with skin (3.8 grams)
¼ cup of oat bran cereal (3.6 grams)
1 ounce of almonds (3.3 grams)
1 medium raw apple with skin (3.3 grams)
½ cup of raisins (3 grams)
1/4 cup quinoa (3 grams)
¼ cup of baked beans (3 grams)
1 medium orange (3 grams)
1 medium banana (3 grams)

Remember that if you are increasing your intake of fiber, always ncrease your intake of fluids or you might get a little "backed up". Fruits and veggies are naturally high in both fiber and fluids so get your daily 5-9 servings today! ~Nicole

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beyond Olive Oil and Mayo

Sometimes it is hard to find ways to add calories AND add nutrition. There is only so much olive oil or mayonnaise to add. This is a great dip or spread (could call it a pate' but a bit too elegant for a kid's meal). It is full of B vitamins, zinc and protein and tastes just like the chopped liver that my Poppie used to make. Surprisingly so!

It is vegetarian not vegan and pretty easy to make. Like most recipes posted here, variations are included so you can make one that works best for your family and your child. This recipe is adapted from the Oakwood School cookbook submitted by a lovely vegetarian family. Personally, I prefer this with peas, try each variation and let me know how it works. -Patricia

1 onion finely chopped
1/2 cup lentils OR 1 1/2 cups cooked peas OR 1 1/2 cups cooked green beans
many recipes like this recommend using canned veggies for ease
1/4 cup cashews or 1/3 cup walnuts
3 hard boiled eggs

Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent, for a richer flavor, saute until golden ( carmelize them). Cook up the lentils, peas or green beans. They should be well cooked, not crispy.
Toss all of the cooked ingredients in a food processor with the nuts and eggs. Add some seasoning ( a little pepper, a little salt) and puree up. If it is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil (more calories!)or water or soup stock.

Let sit for an hour or two to let the flavors combine and dip or spread.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pennywise, pound foolish

Our newsletter this month (go to to view or subscribe) focused on the importance of nutrition in early intervention. Reminding that early intervention services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, child development services and physical therapy just will not be as effective if a child is malnourished.

We can mention the importance of nutrition in a child's development and the need to provide nutrition intervention, but the reality is that these services are becoming very scarce in light of the financial situation in the state of California. We all know that when the budget passes in California this fiscal year, ALL health and related services will be cut. It is hard to argue one health need over the other. Mental health, HIV, immunizations, home health care, the list goes on and on, are all vitally important and so is early intervention. Unfortunately, early intervention often is cut first and cut hard. We all know the benefits of early intervention and now is the time to publicize these. The problem is, the recipients of early intervention are too young, the parents too tired and the interventionists are too busy providing services to research and publish.

We all need to realize the extreme risks to our state if early intervention services are cut too deeply. Already there has been a 3% cut in reimbursement to interventionists. In addition to the dollar cut, treating hours are being reduced as well. This does not mean that interventionists just get paid less, many agencies that specialize in working in early intervention have closed. Many professionals can no longer afford to practice in this area. That leaves fewer experienced professionals in this field and reduces access to services. Often there are other programs that can pick up the slack, such as MediCal, but these services are being cut back as well. Private insurance may fund some intervention but usually the services are limited and children need to use insurance specific providers. An occupational therapist or dietitian working with adults may not have the specialized skills for working with a young child, especially one at developmental risk.

Why should we worry? What are the risks? The risk to the child and family are great. Early intervention can reduce or even PREVENT some disability. Without it, the child, family and our state will be paying the cost of greater and longer lasting disability. What does that mean? Special education perhaps instead of a regular classroom. Lifelong social services instead of independence. Living to a child's potential, or not.

Please consider what is at risk. Services will be cut therefore it is important to make the most of what you receive. Be a responsible and receptive user of early intervention services. Partner with your therapists to make the most from your services. Let your physicians, service coordinators, friends and legislators know how it has helped your child and your family. Legislator information can be found at


Friday, June 26, 2009

My Very Own Vegetable Garden...who would have thought?

To let you know a little bit about me, I am actually a city girl, through and through (at least that is what I thought!). I was born and raised in New York City and moved out to Los Angeles after going to College at the University of Michigan (I had to defrost... if you have ever spent a winter in the Midwest, you know what I am talking about).

So, to make a very long story short, my family recently moved into a new house and decided to take one of our side yards and turn it into a vegetable garden. We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! We have always had potted tomatoes and grown strawberries, citrus trees, etc. We have now taken it to another level and I am loving it! I have always known that when a child sees a plant grow from the seed to the vegetable, that they are more likely to eat it, and now I know this is really true. My little boy who is a very good eater, has now tasted salad (he's 4, and had always refused lettuce for some reason) among other veggies that are starting to come in. Not to mention, the home grown veggies taste much better!

If you are looking for some stress relief, a good way to grow delicious organic vegetables/herbs and to have fun with your kids outside... planting a vegetable garden is for you! You don't have to do anything huge, in fact start small so that you can learn the ropes. I am still learning so much from reading blogs, magazines, books, etc. I will keep you posted on how my veggies turn out (my yellow squash are just about ready and here is the list of what we have planted but are not sure what is going to happen: onions, carrots, broccoli, peas, pumpkin, butternut squash, zucchini, watermelon, corn, hot peppers, an herb garden, and tomatoes.)

This is a great blog to get started... happy gardening! Nicole.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen: Nut butter snacks

Summer is a great time to be in the kitchen with your kids. Each of these snacks can handle a great degree of variation and creativity in the recipe, so make it fun. These nutty snacks are high in protein and can help your child make it through a looong afternoon. Each recipe has modifications for kids on allergy restricted diets.

Nutty Frozen Pops
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup nut butter: peanut, almond, cashew or even soy nut butter
1 cup flavored milk: vanilla or chocolate, rice, cow, goat, soy or hemp
Mix the gelatin with boiling water until it is dissolved. Using a beater or whisk, blend in the nut butter and then stir in the milk. Pour into small paper cups or popsicle molds, place in the freezer. After 20-30 minutes, when starting to freeze, place popsicle sticks in the cups.
Be creative: mix in chopped strawberries, blueberries or banana.

Nut Butter Balls ( or Bees or Worms or Butterflies or ?)
This is my favorite recipe almost of all the recipes I have ever made. It can be adapted to meet almost any shape or holiday design. Read Miss Spider's Tea Party and make spiders. How about the Hungry Caterpillar and make caterpillars and butterflies. St. Patrick Shamrocks or Easter Eggs. They taste like candy but are loaded with nutrition. Depending on the nut butter you choose, you may need to adjust the amount of dry and wet ingredients.

1/2 cup honey
1 cup nut butter: almond, peanut, cashew,hazelnut or soy
1 cup nonfat milk powder (if dairy allergic, can use almond meal or ground dry cereal- use a coffee grinder or food processor )
Mix these all together and then form into shapes.
Now comes the fun, decorate!
Butterflies- shape into a long oval and add corn flakes as wings.
Spiders- shape into a ball and add pretzels for legs
Caterpillars-shape into logs and roll in coconut for furry caterpillars or make stripes
by dipping the side of a damp toothpick in cocoa powder then pressing it on the caterpillar
Ladybugs-make balls and use mini chocolate chips for polka dots
Balls- form into a ball roll into coconut, mini chips, wheat germ or chopped
cereals (color possibilities are endless, plus a great way to get rid of stale cereal).
Even the plain balls call for a bit of creativity-make baseballs or golf-balls.
Refrigerate a short time after shaping

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something's Fishy

Our June newsletter was filled with praise for health promoting fish! Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which benefit our bodies in many ways. It helps our hearts, keeps our blood flowing, helps reduce inflammation, may help us focus better and improve mood. For infants and children the benefits are great as well- omega 3 fatty acids support brain and eye development and may help with speech and cognitive development. Of course there is a catch! Many fish are high in heavy metals such as mercury and selenium or pollutants such as pharmacological waste or pesticide run off. In addition to concerns regarding negative effects we might encounter eating fish, we need to be concerned about the negative effects eating fish have for the fish.
Since fish is such a health promoting food, we are fishing all our fish away!
So what to eat? How much to eat?

Guidance is often difficult to come by as recommendations are influenced by the philosophies of various groups.
Here are some websites to help you make decisions regarding which fish to eat.

For mercury content and how much of a fish is safe to eat visit:

To chose ocean friendly seafood, download a guide at:

For more information on omega 3 fatty acids visit:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kids In the Kitchen: Perfect Pie

Pie is a wonderful thing. It can be savory, like a quiche. Or it can be sweet like pumpkin pie. Unfortunately we tend to save pumpkin pie for fall and winter but it is almost the perfect food for young eaters. It is creamy, full of vitamin A and protein. Pumpkin pie is forgiving, add a little of this and a little of that and it is still good. This is a basic recipe, play around with it until you make it your own.
Add more flour to make it a bit sturdier for finger feeding, use a crust or not. Sweeten with regular sugar or use agave syrup. Blend up those peaches hanging from the tree or open a can of pumpkin. Make one low calorie and make one high calorie and keep the whole family healthy and happy.
Perfect for Me Pie
1/2 cup granulated sugar (see "customize" for sweetener ideas)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can of Pumpkin or Butternut Squash or Sweet Potato OR 2 cups pureed peaches
Dairy or alternative (see below for amounts)
2 Tablespoons wheat or tapioca flour

Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done. This will make two shallow pies or one deep dish. You can also make in custard cups for individual pies.

Full of Dairy
High calorie: use 12 ounces of evaporated whole milk or 2 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese.
Low Calorie: use 12 ounces of evaporated NONFAT milk or 2 8 ounces of neufchatel cheese

No Dairy (Casein/milk free)
Use ¾ cup coconut milk instead of milk. Let the can of coconut milk settle a bit and just scoop out that nice thick milk. Don't add the water at the bottom of the can.

Sweeten it up
If you want to use honey, maple syrup or agave syrup, you will need to add a bit more of flour or tapioca flour to thicken your pie. Remember that agave is sweeter then sugar and you will need a bit less. Start with 1/4 to 1/3 cup and work your way up to 1/2 cup if needed.

Crust or Crustless
Crusts add crunch and some whole grain. You can use a graham cracker crust. Make one from graham crackers or a combination of graham crackers and breakfast cereal. If you are looking to go gluten free with the crust, you can use ground gluten free cookies or cereal for the crust. Add some ground almonds, pecans or walnuts to the crust to bump up the vitamins, minerals and protein.

Most importantly, sit down with your child, eat and enjoy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

GMO's- What's The Deal?

We have all heard the term GMO, but what is it and where exactly do we find these mysterious chemicals?

Scientists are now able to genetically modify the seeds of some fruits and vegetables to enhance traits such as being resistant to various herbicides/pesticides and producing larger crops. The FDA has approved over 50 genetically modified foods, including potatoes, corn (think high fructose corn syrup), soybeans (think soy lecithin), papaya, squash, tomatoes (one of the first to be genetically modified) and others.

Manufacturers do not have to disclose if they use genetically modified foods in their products although many products that are free of GMO’s are clearly stating that on their labels. Produce that is labeled “organic” cannot be genetically modified or have genetically modified components as part of the product. For more information go to (The Environmental Working Group) and (Healthy Child Healthy World).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Soy: Friend or Foe, part two

The same reasons that we love soy may also be the reasons that a diet rich in soy may be of concern. Soy contains "phytoestrogens", plant compounds that mimic the female hormone, estrogen. This is great when you are post-menopausal woman and needing a little extra estrogen to combat those hot flashes and other side effects of menopause. But some researchers feel that soy has the same influence on young boys and girls.
High soy intake in babies and young children may contribute to earlier menarche in girls and later fertility issues in boys. These theories have been explored in animals but not confirmed in people. There is enough evidence though for some countries such as Israel, England and New Zealand to limit the routine use of soy formula. How much soy is too much and do we want our kids to be taking in large amounts of "phyto-estrogens"?

What to do? Well, until all of the evidence is in, it may be better to think before you drink.
Small amounts of soy milk are fine, but consider the other dairy alternatives such as nut milks or hemp milk. If your baby shows an allergy to dairy based formula, soy might not be your best choice, talk to your doctor about an elemental formula.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Soy: Friend or Foe, part one: friend

Depending on where you look, soy is either a villain or a hero. Leading to health or heartbreak!
For the next two blog posts, let's consider soy, today : soy the hero, the preventer of cancer. A study published in the March 24, 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention looked at women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino heritage living in San Francisco or Oakland California or living in Oahu, Hawaii. The women who ate the most soy during childhood had a 60% reduced risk of breast cancer as compared to women who ate the least amount of soy.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fat Free Talk

I HAD to share this video... Now, more than ever, we need to focus on our health and not our looks. Fears about obesity are feeding so much "fat phobia" that experts worry of an increase in healthy kids obsessing about weight and more parents projecting irrational fears about fat on their children.

Please watch this youtube video and share it with anyone that you think might benefit. True beauty is on the inside!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Autism and Bellyaches

In the March 2009 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics it was reported that researchers at Vanderbilt University have linked a specific gene related to brain development AND gastrointestinal tract repair to autism. The MET gene comes in a variety of "forms". Children who inherit two MET "C" alleles (a portion of DNA) have twice the risk of developing autism as children who inherit the MET "G" allele. The genetic variation MET C allele, turns down production of MET (a protein), and therefore may influence gut repair, brain development as well as some other body functions.

While this study does not suggest that changing diet will "cure" autism, it does support the often reported observation that kids with autism have GI issues such as pain, constipation or diarrhea. Helping kids address tummyaches leads to better attention, improved mood, greater participation in therapies and generally better eating and nutrition.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Recipe for Excess

We all are well aware of the increasing size of our population, not in terms of number but in terms of actual SIZE. Studies show that about 20-40% of children are overweight (varies depending on what groups of kids they are looking at), and there are many different theories why. Could be activity. One study correlated the increased and prolonged use of strollers to increasing weight of 2-3 year olds. Could be the increase in fast foods. Another study found that french fries were the most popular vegetable eaten by two year olds! Or the increased use of soft drinks made with the ever present "high fructose corn syrup". In one study, overweight school age children stopped drinking soft drinks with no other changes and ALL lost a significant amount of weight. But no studies have linked it to home cooking....until now!

Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab looked at recipes in the Joy of Cooking comparing recipes from the 1936 version all the way to the 2006 version. Overall, they found that the calories per serving in 17 of the recipes increased 63%! More fat, more meat, more butter, more sugar and larger portions (what once served 8 now was serving 4) contributed to the increase. There were also incidences where the calories came with greater nutrition, for example when raisins or nuts were added but overall the increase generally came from extra fat and sugar or the larger portions. They found similar calorie increases in other cookbooks such as the "Better Homes and Garden Cookbook".

While the calories may have gone up for many of the classic recipes, there are ways we can turn back the clock on calories. The one consistent theme is portion size. Remember when a cup was actually 8 ounces and not a Big Gulp and a hamburger was a hamburger not a Whopper?
Practice assessing portion sizes by going to "Portion Distortion" at Not only will it show you how our perceptions of portions have changed but what you need to do to use up those extra calories.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What do I drink NOW???

A recent study in the January Diabetes Care journal ( indicated that those who drink diet soda on a daily basis are at significant risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The studies authors state, "although these observational data cannot establish causality, consumption of diet soda at least daily was associated with significantly greater risks of select incident Metabolic Syndrome components and type 2 diabetes."

"Limitations of this study include observational design, precluding determination of causality; possible confounding by other dietary and lifestyle/behavioral factors; and difficulties in estimating intake of diet soda or artificial sweetener."

So, how do you still get a little flavor with your water or get your fix of carbonation without a lot of added sugars? Try:
  • sparkling water with 1-2 oz of your (or your child's) favorite juice added (homemade soda)
  • Making your own flavored water: use a large pitcher of water and add fruit slices (or veggie slices- cucumber water is very refreshing) and leave overnight in the refrigerator. The result is a delicious flavored water with very little sugar added.
  • Try decaf unsweetened iced tea for something different.
  • Try diluted juice (1/4 juice and 3/4 water)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What our kids with food allergies WANT us to know!

Courtesy of, here are some ways that we can help our kids who have food allergies feel like everyone else, despite their special dietary needs. Enjoy!

*(You can download a nice copy of this article on their website)

10 Things Children with Food Allergies Want You to Know
By Gina Clowes

1. I long to be included. I would like to look, act and eat like everyone else. I’d like to buy my lunch and sit wherever I want. I know I can’t, but I am so happy inside when someone cares enough to provide a safe potato chip, cookie or Popsicle for me. It’s nice when I can have something similar to what others are eating but I love it when I can eat the same thing as everyone else. Whenever it’s possible, please think to include me!

2. I’m scared I could die from my food allergies. I’ve heard my parents and teachers mention “life-threatening” food allergies and I remember having some reactions where I felt very sick and really scared. I could see how frightened my parents were too. Sometimes, I could use a little reassurance that I will be okay.

3. I feel like I’m the only one sometimes. If you have a support group or another way to arrange for me to meet other children who have food allergies, I would really like to know that I am not the only kid who has food allergies. Having another friend with food allergies in my classroom or at lunch time helps too.

4. I get confused when grown-ups offer me food. I know I’m supposed to be polite and listen to grown-ups, but my parents have told me I am only supposed to take food from them. When you offer me food or especially candy, I’d like to take it but I’m not sure about what I am supposed to do.

5. I get itchy spots sometimes when grown-ups kiss me after they’ve eaten something I’m allergic to. I get itchy spots when your dog licks me too. I’m not quite brave enough to tell you this so I’m hoping you will remember that if you have just eaten something that I’m allergic to, I may get hives if you kiss me soon afterward.

6. I’m embarrassed when people fuss over what I’m eating. I know I have to eat my own safe food, but it’s easier for me when I’m not singled out. Sometimes, it’s embarrassing when grown-ups ask lots of questions. I love to fit in more than anything.

7. I hear all adult conversations about my food allergies. My ears perk up when I hear grown-ups mention my name or food allergies, so don’t pity me or act terrified because then I get scared. Food allergies are just one part of me. Let me overhear you talk about all the other wonderful things about me!

8.Sometimes I’m sad about having food allergies. It’s hard to be the only kid in class not having a cupcake and eating something different from my box of “safe treats” especially when there are about 20 other birthdays in my class. I know it’s not the end of the world, but from my perspective, it’s tough at times.

9. I’m watching you—Mom and Dad! You may think that I’m too little to notice, but I see that you went back home to get my Epi-Pen® when you forgot it. I see that you read the ingredients on the Smarties every time. You are my role models and I am learning how to manage my food allergies from you!

10. I will do about as well as you do. My parents “can-do” attitude will help me cope with the challenges of living with allergies and ensure that food allergies don’t stop me from being everything I was meant to be!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Eating a Rainbow

We all know how important fruits and vegetables are in our diet. The problem is that some kids just don't like them. Well, maybe they would like them if they would only try them. Focus on fun, not food. Valentine's day just cries out for Red food night. How about pasta with tomato sauce, sliced red pepper and strawberries for dessert. What about trying for a leprechaun's rainbow on St. Patrick's day. Purple berry yogurt with blue berries and red strawberries followed by a orange juice, a yellow tortilla with green avocado and white cheese.

These muffins can magically change color with whatever special ingredient you add:

Magic Muffins
2 cup flour- use1 cup whole wheat, the other cup can be a combination of white flour, corn meal, flax or soy (keep Flax or Soy to only about ¼ cup then add ¾ cup flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg (or egg substitute)
1 cup milk, soy milk, rice milk or yogurt
¼ cup canola or olive oil
¾ cup brown or white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup applesauce, sweet potato or pumpkin OR 2 bananas
optional: raisins, dates, nuts, cranberries, blueberries, mini-chocolate chips

Gently combine the dry ingredients with the wet, put in muffin cups and bake at 400 for 15 minutes.
Want them orange?: use pumpkin or sweet potato puree instead of milk
How about purple?: use frozen blueberries and mix in.
Polka dots?: dried cranberries and blueberries and raisins,
Yellow?: use some corn meal and bananas

Monday, February 2, 2009

Try it, you'll like it!

How many times have you offered a new food to your child only to hear them say “I don’t like it” even when they have never tried it. Food “neophobia” or fear of new food is a very common development in kids about two years of age. They begin to realize they have control, and that means over food as well. Dr. Lucy Cooke, who published a study on food neophobia in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, believes that being apprehensive about a new food is an evolutionary, protective mechanism. If a child were not cautious about what went into their mouth, all sorts of dangerous plants would have been consumed by little cave-toddlers.

But don’t blame your child when they won’t even allow summer’s first ear of corn on their plate let alone near their lips. Researchers at the University College, London, tell us that 78% of food neophobia is genetic! If your child is selective (nice word for picky), chances are you were too.
Luckily, food neophobia and selectivity tend to be time limited if addressed appropriately. Forcing, begging, rewarding or punishing seems to make matters worse. Patience, food play and maybe a sense of humor seem to have a more positive lasting effect.

So relax, make another PB &J, pretzel and carrot stick lunch. One day your child will come home from a play date and ask why you don’t make squid ink pasta with sun dried tomato like Will’s mom and you will just smile and say “I don’t know!”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No peanut butter please...

With all of the craze due to the peanut butter recall, I wanted to provide a link to the FDA's website where you can find a wealth of information related to the recent recall. You can even search for individually recalled products!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's Snack Time

After school is a really important time for a nutritious snack for many reasons. Many kids have not had anything to eat for 3-4 hours and need to refuel; many kids participate in sports after school and this snack helps many kids control their level of hunger at dinner time.

Giving kids a little more control often helps them make better choices. Remember you still choose what to buy!

For young children, offer them a choice of 2 things to help keep choices healthful (for example: do you want crackers and string cheese or yogurt and fruit?)

For older children and teens, make a list of possible snacks and post. When it is snack time, choose one together.

Try pizza! English muffin or mini-bagel pizzas, that is!

Use half of a whole grain English muffin (or one mini whole grain bagel), top with marinara sauce, low fat mozzarella cheese and veggies. Place in and oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly!

This snack is well balanced, contains protein and has 3 food groups- whole grains, dairy, veggies.

Enjoy :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Food Allergies with Style

Managing your child’s food allergies involves not only food but a list of other things including medical ID bracelets, medication carriers and emergency plans/phone numbers. We try to do everything that we can to make our kids feel included by bringing foods that are like their friends but then, what about that bracelet or bag they have to carry? Are they wearing it when we aren’t with them? Do they have emergency phone numbers or information in case something happens?

Never fear… there are several online resources, like, that offer a wide variety of very fashionable medical ID bracelets (think leather, watches and beaded bracelets) or (glow in the dark and mood straps). With all of the cool styles offered, your child will actually WANT to wear it (and their friends will probably want one too). My son has his eye on the camo wristband... I think it will be my next purchase!

In all seriousness, medical ID bracelets and portable self-injectable epinephrine and other medications are essential and can save your child’s life. Always remember to educate others about your child’s allergies, teach them how to avoid exposures and what to due in the event of an accidental exposure/ingestion.

Additional resources:

The next Food Allergy Support Group Meeting will be on Saturday February 21st at 10am... it's free! Email for more details

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Food Art: Art You Can Eat

The "eyes" have it, when motivating us to eat. Artfully constructed layer cakes. Shiny, shaped chocolates. Rainbow sprinkle cookies. We are invited to consume.

A dish of pale green, limp broccoli may not be too inspiring, but an "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" constructed by you and your child will surely be a hit at dinner time. (From the Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen).

Looking for more inspiration, seek out any books by Joost Elffers and Saxton Freyman such as How are you Peeling, Food Play, Food for Thought or Fast Food. Find instructions such as making a race car out of a small cucumber; hollow out a seat for the driver and attach some zucchini or carrot circles for wheels (little toothpicks to attach). Find some drivers- animal cookies, Kashi Mini-bite cereal pieces or make your own- a cherry tomato, a funny shaped carrot or piece of string cheese with CRAZY hair. It will be pretty exciting when those cars speed through some marinara sauce or get washed in a balsamic dressing car wash. These will surely be a hit for a preschool snack.

Seek out more inspiration by looking at the art of Carl Warner. Your dinners will never be the same.

You can find any of these books at You can request the book and have it delivered to your local Los Angeles library free of cost. Look for some of Mollie Katzen's other cookbooks specifically for kids such as Pretend Soup, Honest Pretzels or Salad People. Visit her website for more kid friendly ideas,

Monday, January 5, 2009

Each week this blog will highlight a different area of food, nutrition and health. The first week look for research highlights. The second week look for kid-friendly food and food play ideas. The third week of the month, find new information regarding food allergies. The fourth week will have some healthy nutrition tips for the whole family.

Nuts? or Nuts!
Many pediatricians recommend that infants avoid peanuts and peanut products for the first year, some pediatricians recommend no peanuts until age 3 or 4. But a study in the November 2008 issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that perhaps by avoiding early exposure to common allergens, we are actually encouraging more allergies. These researchers compared the prevalence of peanut allergy in two similar groups of children who lived in different environments-5,171 Jewish children in the United Kingdom and 5,615 Jewish children in Israel. They found that peanut allergy was 10 times higher in the children in the UK, 1.85 % compared to .17%.

What was the difference between these groups? According to the authors, the only difference seemed to be the timing of exposure to peanuts. In Israel, 69 percent of children consumed peanut products by 9 months of age compared to 10 percent in the UK. Israeli mothers also consumed more peanut products during pregnancy then did mothers in the UK. The researchers suggested that the recommendation to limit early exposure to peanuts may actually be contributing to the growing incidence of peanut allergy in the US, UK and Australia.

Remember that this is just one study and more studies will be necessary to determine the best way to introduce foods. The timing of food introduction may be one piece of the puzzle of food allergies but it is not the only piece. This is definitely food for thought.
If your child has food allergies, especially peanut allergies, speak with your doctor before making any dietary changes.