Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little Pizza Man!

It is so hard to think of what to feed your kids for lunch.. . .especially in the summer time when they are all home. Today we had pizza. Sounds hard, but it is sooo easy.

  1. Take a flour or corn tortilla and spread about 1 T. jarred spaghetti sauce on the bottom.
  2. Put some type of shredded cheese on top. We used the Kirkland brand shredded Mexican cheese. My friend Cristy introduced me to this, and I have had a bag in my fridge ever since then. (Note: not the same bag.)
  3. Add olives to make a cute face. I used the ends of the olives for the nose, and a slice of red bell pepper for the mouth. Use what you have on hand.
  4. Bake on 350 degrees for about 5 minutes.

Serve with the rest of the olives from the can, and some kind of fruit. My girls ate the whole can of olives! Don't worry, olives are good for them. Olives have lots of monounsaturated fats in them. Olive oil reduces the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the good cholesterol (HDL). It also has anti-inflammatory effects. One study found that 1/4 C of olive oil a day helped reduce your risk of cancer.

Here are some other combination to try when making little pizzas.

  • Whole wheat English muffin, mozzarella cheese, spaghetti sauce. Add fresh broccoli for hair on top of your little guy.
  • Corn tortilla, salsa, and cheese. If your kids like spicy, add jarred jalapeno peppers for the eyes and nose.
  • Whole wheat bread, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella cheese. If you have leftover spaghetti noodles, make this his curly hair on top.
Don't forget to use your pizza cutter to cut the mini pizza in quarters. This makes it really easy to pick up.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Snack Drawer

I have been married for 11 years and have moved 9 times, so being in this house for 2 years made me want to reorganize. One thing I have always wanted is a snack drawer for the kids to have readily available snacks that are healthy. I have had a snack shelve for the last 2 years, but the pantry is over crowded, and it is hard for my 4 year old to reach. So last night I found a new home for my cook books and I make a snack drawer.

I wanted to share some snack tips and some of my favorite healthy snacks.

  1. Have healthy snacks somewhere that the kids can help themselves.
  2. Don't forget the fruit. Have a fruit basket or bowl that is in sight so that the kids will see that first when they are looking around for something to eat.
  3. Have a special water bottle in the fridge that your kids can access at all times. This cuts back on dishes and helps kids drink lots of water. Sometime all they really need is a drink.
  4. If you have some unhealthy snacks as a treat (ie, I have some candy for movie night), keep it in a grocery bag and up high so that they are not even tempted by it.
  5. Have a rule about snacking close to dinner time. Ours is that if it is past 5pm, but dinner is not ready, you can eat a fruit or a vegetable. That way if they do fill up, it is on healthy things. Also, since fruits and veggies are low calorie, they will likely be ready for dinner when it is ready.
Our favorite snack drawer items

  • Almonds- raw
  • Raisins (only 1 kid eats these)
  • Gold fish
  • Apple sauce- no sugar added. I do get the ones sweetened with apple juice sometimes. Just no high-fructose corn syrup.
Other snacks that are not in the snack drawer

  • Cheese sticks
  • Slices of cheddar cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cold Cereal with or without milk
We have other snacks too, but these are the ones my kids like that are healthy and that they can get by themselves! I am really into that since having twins :)

I have done other blog posts on the snack ideas that you can click on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Growing up, I loved eating cold hot dogs out of the fridge. It was a great snack. Sodium Nitrites are found in most processed meats. Picture yourself at the grocery store buying hot dogs. Now look at all the lunch meats and sausages all around the hot dogs . . . all of it has Sodium Nitrate. Sodium Nitrite is what is formed when you ingest sodium nitrates. Sodium Nitrite is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). You have to eat vitamin C to negate the nitrites. So you would have to have a slice of tomato on your sandwich. Sodium nitrite is what is formed as the sodium nitrite is oxidized (exposed to oxygen). Keep in mind as I talk about "meats" that I am referring to processed meat. NOT chicken, steak, pork chops, and those fresh meats. Examples of meats that have nitrites in them ARE bacon, lunch meat, sausage, hot dogs, and jerky.

Sodium nitrite is a food additive that prevents the growth of the bacteria that causes botulism. Potassium nitrate is used for the same purpose. It is good that our meats don't give us botulism, but nitrates are toxic in high amounts. They die the sodium nitrite bright pink so that it doesn't get mixed up as anything else since it is toxic in high amounts. This is why so much of the meats with nitrates in it are kinda pink (think hot dogs).

Some concerns come up when it comes to these additives. Back in 2006, a study was done that linked lung disease to eating cured meats. It found that people who ate cured meats regularly had a 71% higher chance of developing lung disease than those who never ate cured meats. Though not proven, nitrites are what people want to blame this on.

If you read my recent post on breakfast burritos, you remember me saying that processed meat consumption gave you a 67% higher rate of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. On a stage for stage basis, cancer of the pancreas is met with the shortest median survival time out of all cancer types, most often less than 1 year. Pancreatic cancer is not something you want to get!

What are some other alternatives to never eating another cold cut sandwich and summertime hot dog?

  1. They do have nitrate free meats. Hormel has nitrate free ham. See my Breakfast Burritos Post. They also have buffalo hot dogs that are made from grass-fed bison, so they are loaded with omega3's. You can get them at Applegate farms has organic nitrate free meat. You can buy this at Whole Foods. Boar's Head is a brand of lunch meats that you usually get at the deli counter at the grocery store. Their turkey and chicken products are nitrate free, but their ham is not. I love their turkey and chicken . .. sooo good!
  2. Just get out of the habit of eating these foods. Most are high in fat and salt.
  3. Vegetarian is always an option, but I am often left with a tasteless taste in my mouth when I have tried this option. Morningstar does make some tasty morning vegetarian sausage, and when I was pregnant with the twins, I couldn't get enough of their vegetarian corn dogs. You can find morning star products in the freezer section of your grocery store.
  4. For kids, try cheese sandwich without the meat. Have hamburgers instead of hot dogs when you do a BBQ.
  5. Nuts instead of jerky. Both are high in protein and help feel you up.
  6. Make bacon and sausage for breakfast a special treat. We always have sausage for Christmas morning, and when it is your birthday, you can pick what ever as well. (we are having doughnuts in August for my son's birthday breakfast).

To sum up, here are the top reasons not to feed your family lunch meats and hot dogs with nitrates.

  • Because they contain sodium nitrites which converts into sodium nitrites, known carcinogens.
  • Most lunch meat and hot dogs are mechanically separated meats. "Mechanically separated meats" means the meat was removed from the bones by machine. These meats can have a gritty quality due to small bone particles.
  • Most lunch meats and hot dogs contain high levels of salt. This can cause high blood pressure.
  • Hot dogs are very high in fat. You know this isn't good.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Healthy Ice Cream?!

I am an ice cream snob. I think it is a waste of calories to eat "no name" ice cream. I only waste my calories on top brands. My all time favorite is the Haagen-Daz chocolate ice cream bar . . . at 300 calories, and I don't even want to know how many grams of saturated fat (oops, I found out ).

Tonight, for family night, I made a Vita-mix strawberry frozen yogurt. It was so creamy and delicious that I consider it to be up there with my favorites. It only had 3 ingredients in it . . .

3 Cups Frozen Strawberries
1 Cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/3 Cup sugar

It not only tasted great, but for 1 Cup of it only has 212 calories, and no fat! You also get a bonus of 3 grams of fiber and 100% of your daily vitamin C. And don't forget about all the health benefits of yogurt.

Here is the directions for the recipe

You will probably need a Vita-mix for this, but it never hurts to try.

Place all ingredients in Vita-Mix container, yogurt first, then frozen strawberries, then sugar. Select VARIABLE, speed #1. Turn on machine and quickly increase speed to #10; then to HIGH. Use tamper to press ingredients into the blades while processing. In about 30-60 seconds, then sound of the motor will change and four mounds should form in the mixture. Stop machine. Do not over mix or melting will occur. Serve immediately.