Friday, May 29, 2009

Live Cultures

I never grew up with plain yogurt at my house, but when I married my husband, he wanted me to buy it at the store. He loves plain yogurt mixed in with a banana and grapenuts. My youngest daughter Emily has always loved yogurt. When she was one, I have it down in her baby book that it was one of her favorite foods. Emily still loves yogurt. My husband started giving her plain yogurt when we were out of the flavored stuff. He would put "mix-ins" into the plain yogurt. It is so much healthier to do plain yogurt with "mix-ins"

A few of our favorite mix-ins include:

  1. Lemon Sauce, also called Lemon Curd
  2. Jam- We use Smucker's Simply Fruit (sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar or high fructose corn syrup).
  3. Homemade fruit syrup - frozen or fresh berries cooked down in the microwave with a couple tablespoons of sugar and blending together.
Another great way to enjoy yogurt is with Grapenuts added to it. Amanda loves this combo. We usually use pre-sweetened yogurt for this.
Here is Emily with her strawberry jam mix in.

Be aware that when you buy yogurt you want to avoid

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Added food coloring
And be sure that the yogurt you buy has live active cultures in it. It should say "Live and Active Cultures". A lot of yogurts go through a heating up process after the yogurt is made that kills the live cultures to extend the shelf life.

So why are "Live and Active Cultures" so important?

The May issue of Mayo Clinic Women's Health Source covers the benefits:

- One 8-ounce cup of plain low-fat yogurt provides around 400 milligrams (mg) of calcium, more than the 300 mg in an 8-ounce glass of milk.

- Yogurt also has as much potassium as a banana and as much protein as an egg or ounce of meat.

- The live bacteria in yogurt help in digestion and protect you against other harmful bacteria.

Probiotic Yogurt is a very hyped up thing right now. I have done some research, but I have not found very much about this. It just seems that it helps regulate you, but they never really specify if it is good for you if you are constipated, or have diareahea. The most helpful article I have found you can find at this link.

The main thing to understand about live cultures, is that we all have live cultures in our intestines that help with breaking down food and it keeps everything in balance. Antibiotics kill these bacteria off along with whatever other bacteria is making you sick. That is why it is a good idea to give your kids yogurt while they are taking antibiotics.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Smoothie Popsicles

Every kid loves popsicles, but most of the time they are just made up of sugar and water. The best way to do it is to make your own popsicles. This may sound complicated, but if you have ever made a fruit smoothie, then you can make your own popsicles. Look for popsicle molds at the dollar store, Walmart, or your grocery store in the summertime. You can usually find them very cheap. I like the ones that are small and round the best. They are small so that they eat it before it melts and round because they are easier to unmold.

Before I give you some of my favorite recipes, I wanted to put in a plug for Vita-mix. Vita-mix is a very high powered blender. It is, or is like the ones at Jamba Juice or other similar smoothie eateries. When I tell you I am blending something up, I am doing it in a Vita-mix. If you don't want to spend the money on a Vita-mix, at least spend the money for a really good blender. The $30 one at Walmart will just leave you frustrated.

Here are some smoothie/popsicle recipes for you.

Lisa's Basic Smoothie Recipe
1 banana

1 cup smoothie frozen fruit (such as the big bag at Costco that has peaches, strawberries, blueberries and such)

1/2 Cup frozen blueberries or a frozen berry combo

Put all in a blender and then fill up with water til half of the fruit is covered. Then put in some soy milk or regular milk till the fruit is just covered.
Add 1/4 C frozen OJ concentrate.
Throw in a handful of baby carrots and a large handful of spinach for extras.

Spinach Tip: My friend Jen gave me the tip of putting spinach in your smoothie, but beware that if you don't have any dark berries like blueberries or black berries, your smoothie will be green and that might scare some kids away!

Chocolate Banana Smoothie
1 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk or Milk

1 Banana

Handful of ice

1 T Nesquik

1 T Cocoa Powder

Add Water if you need it a little thinner. Blend together and enjoy!

This is perfect for anyone who is a chocolate addict like myself.

Orange Banana Strawberry
1 Cup frozen or fresh Strawberries
1 whole navel orange, peeled

1 or 2 Bananas
Handful of ice if using fresh strawberries
2-4 T orange juice concentrate
Fill to cover fruit - 1/2 with water and 1/2 with milk or soy milk

Blend together and enjoy!

Keep in mind that all of my so called "Recipes" are not really recipes, but guidelines. I do not ever measure.

PS One of our favorite ways to make popsicles is to make a smoothie in the morning for breakfast and then pore the leftovers into the molds for popsicles that very afternoon.

Tip of the day: Make it a rule that you have to eat the popsicles outside. :)

Banana Bo Bana

Here is a great way to get some omega-3's to your kids. Take a banana and cut it in half long ways, like a banana split. Then spread the inside with almond butter. Peanut butter works well too, but almond butter tastes better. Then drizzle a little honey on top.

Emily loves this snack.

Benefits of this snack

  1. Protein
  2. Omega-3's in the almond butter
  3. Something sweet that is healthy
  4. Fiber
Keep in mind that if your child is under 3 eating nuts can be a choking hazard. That is why this snack is so great for this age group. Be sure not to have any huge clumps of peanut/almond butter because this can be a choking hazard too.

REMEMBER! When you buy peanut butter to check to see if it has ANY hydrogenated fats in it. Most peanut butters do! Hydrogenated fats are trans fats. Look for words in the ingredient list such as "partially hydrogenated soybean oil, or fully hydrogenated vegetable oil. Anything that has the word hydrogenated. Also beware because you can have a trans fat free product that still has partially hydrogenated fat in it. This is because if their is less than 1/2 gram/serving, they can say it is trans fat free.

  • Hydrogenated fats can block your body from using the good essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids
  • Hydrogenated fats have to be processed by your liver because your body does not recognize it as a "fat", but rather as a non-food substance
  • Hydrogenated fats increase the bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your good cholesterol (HDL).
  • New York ban trans fats from their cafeterias and restaurants
  • In animal studies, eating trans fat also promotes obesity and resistance to insulin, the precursor to diabetes.
  • An analysis of the health effects of industrial trans fats conducted by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition indicates that eliminating trans fats from the U.S. food supply could prevent up to 1 in 5 heart attacks and related deaths.
I hope I have scared you into buying the good kind of peanut/almond butter.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lemon Meringue

I have been studying up on fish oil ever since I got pregnant with twins. I had heard a couple years earlier that if you have enough fish oil during your last trimester, you won't have a colicky baby.

One of the biggest benefits of fish oil for children is for their brain development. Over half of the brain is made of fat.

From what I have read, omega-3 fatty acids help
  • Kids with ADHD- One study at Purdue University found that boys with ADHD had lower levels of omega-3 fats. The boys with the most abnormal behavior had the lowest levels of DHA, the main omega-3 fat found in fish.
  • Infant formula now has DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is found in breast milk and helps with brain development.
  • Experimental animals whose diets are low in DHA have been found to have delayed brain development and smaller brains
  • Research shows that senior citizens who eat more fish are less likely to develop dementia
  • Research has also found a strong link to being happier with getting enough omega-3 fatty acids . . .ie. less depression.
  • Omega-3's help lower bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.
  • Getting enough of the good kind of fat can help with dry flaky skin
My husband is a Psychiatrist and he often recommends taking fish oil (in addition to other prescribed medicines) for patients with ADHD, depression, or bipolar disorder.

We produce all the cholesterol that we need, but we do not produce essential fatty acids which include DHA found in fish oil. Yes, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from other sources that are not fish, but this is hard to do. The best source is cold water fish such as salmon, halibut and trout. Remember that kids, pregnant and nursing women should avoid large fish such as shark, sword fish, or mackerel. Large fish have a greater amount of mercury.

Other non-fish sources include nuts like walnuts almonds and flax seeds. Keep in mind that flax seeds are so tiny that if you eat them whole, they won't give your body nutrients. You have to put them in a smoothie in a powerful blender such as the vitamix, so buy flax seed meal and sprinkle on top of hot cereal or in a smoothie.

Another perk of fish oil is that it is a good source of vitamin D. After I had the twins, I researched about vitamin D in breast milk. We live in a very shady area, and I don't mean that we have a lot of crime . . . just a lot of trees. I was worried that the twins and I were not getting enough vitamin D through the sun. My husband and I didn't want to end up with babies that had rickets! I learned that if a mother is low on Vitamin D, then so is her breast milk. Vitamin D helps ensure that the body absorbs calcium and phosphorus, both critical for building bone. Laboratory studies also show that vitamin D keeps cancer cells from growing and dividing, and plays a role in controlling infections. As I researched ways to get vitamin D besides the sun, I found out that cod liver oil has vitamin D in it. The main difference between cod liver oil and fish oil is that cod liver oil has vitamin A and D in it. That worked out well, because about the same time I sampled this fish oil supplement at Costco that taste like lemon meringue (First ingredient is cod liver oil). So now everyone in the family has their lemon meringue fish oil each day. (I take it and then breastfeed the babies :) My kids love it so much that they remind me to give it to them.

My favorite way to get the fish oil is from the lemon meringue that I mentioned earlier. It is made by "Nature's Fresh" Omega Blendz. This is a drinkable approach to omega-3 fatty acids. What a great way to get kids to take it. NO fishy burps and tastes great. For my sister-in-law Jenny, click on the link and you will see that they also have a Vegan version of omega oils (she hates fish). Isn't it worth it to have your kids be smart, have smooth skin, healthy hearts, and be able to pay attention at school?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Trail Mix

My Mother-in-law likes to stick with a diet that is as close to "just out of the ground" as possible. This is what I would call "real food". You can't plant a seed and grow a Twinkie.
My kids were home recently for a week without school because of the swine flu scare. I found a new challenge in keeping up with feeding them all day every day. I know trail mix is good for us, but often store bought trail mix has hydrogenated fats, or my kids don't like what is in them. So one night after they went to bed I got everything out of my pantry that would make healthy trail mix. The next morning I gave them each a Tupperware container and let them put their own trail mix together. Then I put their name on a piece of masking tape and they put it in the pantry. When I knew we were going to be in the car for awhile, I had them bring their trail mix to snack on. They loved having something that they made and had their name on it. Here is a list of things that I put out on the counter. All nuts were raw and unsalted.

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Craisins
  • Raisins
  • Cheerios
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Organic "gold fish"
  • Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal
  • Peanuts
My son didn't want to make any. He said their wasn't anything he liked. We did think of some stuff he does like a couple days later, so I will be sure to have those things for next time we make our own trail mix. One of his ideas was to have dried mangoes.

I tried to get each of my kids to put some kind of nut, some kind of dried fruit, some kind of cereal, and a few chocolate chips in theirs. Keep in mind that kids ages 3 and under could choke on nuts. It might be best to leave the nuts out of their trail mix and give them an almond-butter sandwich.

Why are nuts so good for me and my kids?

  1. Nuts are high in fiber
  2. Nuts have healthy oils in them that help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
  3. Nuts are a good source of protein.
  4. They are generally high in Vitamin E.
  5. They help make you feel "full" because of the fat, fiber, and protein in them.
As far as the chocolate chips go . . . use dark chocolate, or semi-sweet. Do not use milk chocolate.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Info Please!

I bet you are wondering what this new blog is all about. It is going to be all about kids nutrition. After all, I have 5 kids of my own, and I feed them about 5 times a day. . . I feed the babies maybe even more often. I have always been interested in nutrition. In college I majored in School Health and minored in Biology. Before I even graduated, I married my "nutrition nut" of a husband. One year for his birthday I made him a whole wheat, low-fat, cake with chocolate soy ice cream in the middle. Even though my husband likes healthy food, he also likes good food and food from all over the world. My husband introduced me to all sorts of things, like Moroccan Couscous, Nicoise Salad, and cooking without a recipe. Then his parents moved across the country and lived 10 minutes away. My mother-in-law taught me how to make all sorts of healthy and fresh foods. My mother taught me about healthy food . . . she never let us eat potato chips, she converted us to skim milk, and sugar cereal was a real treat. I have always been interested in healthy food. I used to make my Mom have all 4 food groups at dinner time, and I would make fresh salads from the garden for dinner all by myself. I once begged my Mom to take me to the store to get the ingredients to make Pesto, even though I had never eaten it before.
I hope to put good ideas that I have on the blog so that I can help those moms that are not as passionate about healthy eating, so that they can teach their children good eating habits.