Archive for the 'Healthy Eating' Category

Lunches Kids Will Love

Big Burger

I’ve decided to pack lunches for my daughter this year. I know tons of parents have made their child’s lunch for years upon end and I figure it’s my turn to join the ranks. School lunches, while supposedly balanced and nutritious, look about as appetizing to me as those cellophane wrapped sandwiches sitting on the counter at the local gas station.

Yeah. Mm, mm good.

My husband and I are pretty health conscious and luckily, our children love their veggies. If you’re wondering how we got so lucky, it’s a matter of introducing the kids to vegetables as if they were treats when they’re still very small. Black olives are great fun to pop on the end of tiny fingers and nearly every child loves to pop sticks of carrots or celery into any type of dip. It’s like a requirement of being a kid to dip everything that’s remotely dippable.

So, in search of the perfect lunch, I married some ideas. Kids like to have something they can just pick up easily. Wraps are a great way to go if your child is like that. But, you can run out of tortillas at the wrong time. Then you’re stuck with a soggy old sandwich. Or are you? Nope! Just trim the crust off of a piece of bread and roll flat. Voila! Instant wrap. You may have to use a toothpick to hold it shut, but this does work really well. For smaller kids, don’t worry about the toothpick, just add smaller amounts of filling.

Sometimes it seems like a nice idea to make a hot sandwich or wrap, but don’t fall to that temptation. By the time lunch rolls around, the melted cheese on a hot sandwich or wrap will be gummy, the bread soggy, and the mayo…I don’t even want to go there. Try cold versions of hot foods. Chop chicken, season with taco seasoning, mix with a bit of sour cream and salsa, spread on top of a lettuce leaf that lines a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, then roll tightly. A cold chicken fajita!

You don’t have to stick to normal sandwich fillings or breads. You can also use bagels, pita bread, crackers or rolls. Ever try strawberry preserves with cream cheese? Uh huh, kids love that, too. Leftover stew? Wrap it! Just drain the excess liquid, squish the vegetables and meat together a bit, then wrap. Let your imagination run wild.

Next time, we’ll talk about easy desserts for packed lunches!

Posted in Parenting, Nutrition, Cooking, Daily Living, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Important Recall Information!

One of my favorite home bloggers, Maricar at Keeping the Castle, alerted her readers to this important recall for Castleberry’s canned food items. This is a very serious recall if you’re a Canadian reader. So look over the list here and check Castleberry’s site for updates.

Chili recallMaricar has the scoop from MSNBC:

FDA investigators believe Castleberry Food failed to properly cook some or all the products, allowing the Clostridium botulinum bacteria to survive the canning process.

The bacteria produce a toxin that causes botulism, a muscle-paralyzing disease.

“We’re not talking here about a bug that lands you in the bathroom for a few days with diarrhea. We’re talking about a toxin that puts you in the intensive care unit,? said Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s lead food safety expert. “This is foodborne illness with an extra kick in it, big time.?

From the Castleberry’s site:

“The Great Value Chili products included in this recall are distributed and sold in Canada ONLY. The Great Value brand in the United States is not associated with Castleberry’s or this recall.”

Check your cupboards as some cans have been reported to burst open. You can learn safe disposal methods and how to get a refund here.

Here’s the entire list of recalled items: (more…)

Posted in Uncategorized, Health, Healthy Eating, Recall Information | 1 Comment »

How Fat Can We Get?

human jawsThe race to get fat is on!

And, according to research released by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, most Americans are going to place in this race with a big fat blue ribbon.

The research points out that if Americans keep gaining weight at the current rate they’re gaining; in just eight years 75% of Americans will be overweight and 40% will be obese.

Raise you hand if you’d like to come in last in this race.

Our kids are affected as well. It’s not fair to train them for a contest that will kill them.

Sorry if I sound agitated, I do tend to be chipper and positive — look on the bright side.
But when my son and I go to the city park I count far more chubby kids than slim kids. More parents sitting on the bench then playing Frisbee or swinging with their children. It’s sad. Many of the people my age aren’t going to live to see their grandkids. Fat will do them in early — if they even have grandkids. Studies show that overweight individuals have a much harder time conceiving.

Right off the top of my head I can think of two revolutionary ways to stop this…

Eat better and exercise.

Cutting out soda and fruity sugary drinks will help too. As will trimming down food portion sizes and actually hanging out with our kids; setting a good example by playing with them, outside in the fresh air.

Other key points found by Johns Hopkins:

But no one is entirely off the hook. The overall fact remains that 75% of ALL Americans will likely be overweight by 2015. Imagine what this will do to the already escalating health care costs.

This is serious. I hear peppy talks by fitness trainers. I see nicely worded articles about slimming down youth. I feel all warm and fuzzy when I learn that yet another overweight pregnant woman thankfully gave birth to a healthy baby.

But honestly, I think we’ve reached the point where happy pep talks and saying “robust” when we mean “grossly overweight” has got to stop. It’s not working. Maybe knowing that we’re willfully harming our children will work. Maybe considering that there soon won’t be enough healthy people to care for the unhealthy people will work. Is death a motivator to get in shape?

Maybe…

If you’d like to see your children grow up healthy and happy you can visit:

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Youth Becoming Healthy

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences kids page

Healthier US.gov

Why not make a choice right now that you and your children will lose this race. All you have to do to get started is click on a link above. It’s that simple.

Posted in Child Abuse, Exercise, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition for Adults, Weight Management | 3 Comments »

Fat Suit

It always happens.  I get to my parents’ house and eat like a five hundred pound football player.  It’s pretty disgusting.  But, I can never seem to stop myself.

I spent the whole week the kids were gone reintroducing myself to a more familiar style of eating (you know, more familiar than the stuff your face when you get a chance and eat your kids’ leftovers style that most most moms live by).  I was eating very balanced snacks and even more balanced meals - and ONLY when I was hungry.  As a very busy mom with several other jobs, I find myself eating meals that I don’t want just because I know I won’t have time later.  It makes for a lot of random weight gain and even more weight loss.  So, I spent the week letting my body tell me what it needed - I listened very diligently and found myself feeling good and healthy and energized.  Now, the worst of two eating worlds have collided:  I am back with my kids (cooking three squares for them and helping them eat it all AND the typical overindulgence that always comes with visiting my mom and dad).  I feel so gross.

With the chocolate brownies innocently lying around staring at me, urging me to take just a nibble to the decedent pot of Hoppin’ John that my mom made New Year’s day getting better and better by the day in the refrigerator, I just can’t stop myself.  Top off the complete imbalance of food to people ratio with my unnaturally sensational love of food and eating and you have one big mess.  And one big me.

Granted I haven’t actually gained any more weight than like a pound or two.. And, I know, there are some of you out there looking at my skinny picture on the right and rolling your eyes.  But, come on.  Any woman out there reading, thin or not, knows how awful it is to not fit into your pants in the morning after a pan of pecan brownies with mint chocolate chip ice cream on top was shoved in your mouth the night before.  It’s feels as dirty as waking up in a stranger’s bed with no clothes on and a flask of whisky in your hand.  Not that I know what that feels like.  I would just imagine that it would be about the same.

So.  That’s where my holiday has taken me thus far.  Over-indulgent and feeling fat as a hiefer.  Happy f#@*! New Year to me and all my fat rolls.

 

Posted in Lifestyles, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Somebody Stop Me..

I have grown accustomed to the fact that, since having children, my body has somewhat become it’s own creature.. Changing and evolving (if you can call it that) into something that I have little control over.  I have grown used to the feathery stretch marks on my belly and have become thankful that they aren’t as bad as some of my friends.  I have dealt with the fact that I have nursed two children and, well, the ladies are a bit tired these days.  There isn’t a lot of “perk” to my jiggle and jerk, if you know what I mean.  I’ve eased into all of these things and thought that I was doing pretty good.

Somehow, as I crouch toward thirty, some scary things are happening to me.  Widening type things.  Things that have nothing to do with producing children.  My body is spreading.  All over the place.  Of course, I’m the only one to notice.  So far.  I can admit that most of it is in my mind - but some of it is not.  And that’s more than I can handle. 

Here’s the thing.  I’m not an jazzercizer.. I don’t really “do” exercise.  In fact, I hate pointless exercise and think that people who go to gyms are weird.  Can’t explain it - I just get annoyed with exercise.  I know this about myself.  No big deal.  I am still very physically active, nonetheless.  I live a very energetic life.  Really.  I do.  Exercise isn’t my problem.  I know what my problem is and I can’t (don’t want to) fix it.

It’s food.  I love it.  I mean, I love it like most people love sex or drinking or - name your addiction.  Seriously.  If you want me to be somewhere, just dangle a carrot in front of me - if food will be there, so will I.  And, here I am, two days into the flu and it’s in front of me and even though I feel like dog shit, I want to eat it.  I love it.  Love. It.

My adoration of food has never been a problem.  Until tonight.  I caught a glimpse of my spreaded out ass today in the mirror.  Sure I was wearing my “sick” pants (a very old and very saggy pair of sweat pants that are far from flattering) but, still.  It looked gross.  And, I know that my love of eating is the cause.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have an actual addiction.  I just love food.  I love cooking it, smelling, picking it out at the farmer’s market, reading about it, planning meals..  

So, what’s a girl to do?  The Dr. Weil trial is going well but, since I have been sick all week, it is hard to be following a health regimen.  All I have felt like doing is sleeping (and eating, somehow).  Perhaps if I keep following it, I will develop a better sense of balancing foods I adore with foods I should eat to age “gracefully” and without the mom butt creeping up on me as fast as it is. 

Posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living | No Comments »

Food Poisoning 101

I had my first experience being the parent of a kid with food poisoning yesterday, thanks to Sonic.  Against my better judgement and my usual disregard for fast food of any sort, I found myself in a bind yesterday - we were counting on eating lunch at the birthday party we had just attended but pizza was served and, somehow, my son hates pizza like most kids hate brussel sprouts- so we swung by and let the boy pick anything he wanted.  Anything.  He picked a corndog.  Apparently, and I’m only taking a wild guess here, but the evil cornbread coated weenie was the culprit.  By 10pm that night the poor kid was projectile-ing anything and everything he had eaten in the last ten hours - all over the bathroom, kitchen and, of course, not his bed but our bed.  I felt so bad for him.  In between blows, he would look up and say “do ya think the cake made me sick?”.. “do you think it was the corndog??”.. “do you think it was the roller skating???”…  He had gone to his very first roller skating party and I think the sweet darling thought that he was having delayed motion sickness - but I had my money on the greasy stick injected meat composite.  He was a real trooper throughout the whole thing - I even had to stop him from helping me clean up the floor.  It was pretty upsetting for him, I think. 

With the flu there is significant warning to any horrific vomiting episodes that might occur.  The sweats, the chills, the fever - all good indicators that things aren’t right.  Food poisoning, though, creeps up on you.  I tucked him in, kissed him good night and entirely out of nowhere he starts groaning like a collapsing steel bridge and when I suggest he take some time in the rest room we are, within seconds, all covered in - well, you get the picture.  I can’t even say that I have ever had food poisoning (knock wood, knock wood)… My husband has - actually had to rush to the hospital for dehydration.  Awful.

So, I just let him take it easy today.  I didn’t force food on him though, by the end of the day, I was being a little pushier than this morning.  I had realized that he didn’t want to eat because he was scared he would throw up again - not because he wasn’t hungry.  I’m quite certain, judging by his requests for dessert tonight, that he is feeling much better.  Just thought I’d share.   Aren’t you glad.  Nothing like a good food poisoning story. 

Posted in Healthy Eating | No Comments »

Something Fishy

So, after thirteen years as a devout vegetarian, I have decided to incorporate fish into my diet.  The steps of this vegetarian journey have been interesting for me to be a part of:  the young, idealistic, revolutionary-minded fifteen year old that started it all, the turn to becoming an introspective college kid who was more interested in saving herself than the world, the woman with kids who wanted to make sure her children weren’t suckered into our horrifically un-nutritious culture and, now, an almost-thirty year old wanting to insure my own longevity and health for many, many years to come. 

I don’t disagree that a person can live an ultimately healthy and long life as a pure vegetarian.  I’ve seen it in many over-fifty friends of mine.  Something changed in me, though, about two years ago.  I am not certain what it was, but, somewhere along the lines I started having an insatiable urge to eat fish.  It struck me as odd because I have never eaten fish in my life - with the occassional popcorn shrimp or fishstick my mom would fry up when I was a child.  I wasn’t craving something that I missed - I was craving something that I have never had before.  I started to think that maybe my body was trying to tell me something - maybe my body wasn’t so interested in the taste of fish as much as it was interested in what the fish could offer in nutrients.

Here’s what I have found:

Fish are nutritious and good to eat. When properly prepared, fish provide numerous health benefits, especially for the heart. The American Heart Association recommends eating two to three fish meals each week. The benefits of eating fish include:

*Fish offer high-quality protein with fewer calories than a similar-sized portion of meat. For example, both catfish and ground beef are about 18% protein. But, for an 8-ounce meal, the catfish will have only about 232 calories, while the regular ground beef will have about 640 calories.
*Fish are low in sodium and are good sources of potassium, vitamins, and other minerals.
*Fish are generally low in cholesterol and saturated fats, which have been associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.
*While the benefits of fish on nutrition are still being studied, much of the current research is focused on various kinds of beneficial fats in fish, particularly a kind called omega-3 fatty acids which are in some fish and fish oils. Some studies have indicated that these fatty acids have favorable effects on health conditions such as hardening of the arteries, high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Granted, you can get all of these nutrients elsewhere if you work really hard to incorporate them into your diet.  I used to use a lot of flax seed in my cooking but, since having children I don’t cook as many things from scratch as I used to.  I dunno.  Also, I guess I am just tired of feeling guilt - which I hate to admit is a large part of my deal.  I can’t stand the thought of anything dying because of me.  I want to find balance in my life that can reconcile the fact that,indeed, I may want/need some other proteins and nutrients that I am not getting due to my lack of diligence with my diet with my need for a clear conscious.  I want to find some maturity to my ideals and find that balance.  I want to explore the next step of my progression as a human being. 

Posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition for Adults | No Comments »

Indian Pizza Rocks My Socks Off

What a treat I had last night.. We went to our lovely friends’ Jonathan and Lesley’s house where they made us Indian Pizza that was to die for.  I don’t have the recipe for it, but basically, you can make a tomato sauce that is curried and top it with a nice white cheese of your choice.  You can also make a spinach version - reminded me of sag aloo.  So good.  You should give it a whirl.  Sorry I didn’t get an exact recipe - but it seems like something you can play around with and not go wrong.  I do, however, have a nice recipe for a mango chutney to pair alongside it if you do ever make it.  Here you go:

3 unripe mangoes (about 3 pounds total)
1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1/3 cup sugar plus additional to taste if mango is very sour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 cup raisinsFor seasoning paste
a 1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled
2 fresh Thai (bird) chilies or 1 fresh jalapeño chili
5 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

3-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 tablespoons corn or safflower oil

Peel mangoes and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. In a small bowl toss mangoes with vinegar, sugar, salt, and raisins.Make seasoning paste:
Cut gingerroot into 4 pieces. For a milder chutney, wearing rubber gloves, remove seeds and veins from Thai chilies or jalapeño. To a food processor with motor running add gingerroot, chilies, and remaining seasoning paste ingredients, 1 at a time through feed tube, and purée to a paste.

Heat a 4-quart heavy kettle over moderately low heat until hot. Cook seasoning paste, cinnamon stick, and star anise in oil, stirring frequently, 10 minutes, or until very fragrant. Stir in mango mixture and simmer, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mangoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and star anise and cool chutney completely. Chutney keeps, covered and chilled, about 1 month.

 

Posted in Cooking, Healthy Eating | No Comments »

Finding Nutrition Facts for Weight Watchers

Introducing Weight Watchers(R) TurnAround(TM)!WeightWatchers uses a tool called POINTS Tracker that helps you keep track of the food you’re eating each day. The idea is that you have a point range that you need to within in order to see weight loss results. Although their POINTS Tracker tool has a ton of foods in their database, they don’t have all of them. That’s where their POINTS Calculator comes in. If you can’t find the food in their database, they have a tool that will calculate points for a particular food based on calories, fat and fiber. But what happens when you can’t find the food in their database and you don’t have the nutrition facts for it? That’s where NutritionData’s Nutrition Facts Calorie Counter comes in.

Their website has Nutrition Facts for most fast food restaurants and for other food like produce, meats and poultry. The thing I like about NutritionData’s website is that they go beyond the typical Nutrition Facts. They also display the moisture content, Caloric Ratio Pyramid, Nutrient Balance Indicator and Nutritional Target Map. However, most of the time, it’s just a good place to get the calories, fat and fiber numbers to plug into the the WeightWatchers’ POINTS Calculator.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Adults, Weight Management | 1 Comment »

Sugar Sugar

I have been giving something a lot of thought lately. I am thinking about my son and sugar. We are not a family that consumes a lot of it - but lately we have been very lazy about how much we allow our kids to have.  I have always felt that we balance our healthy diet with fun foods - the kid enjoy a bowl of fruit and yogurt as much as a bowl of ice cream.  However, with my son’s unpredictable energy levels and erradic behavior becoming more constant I have decided to think about his diet a little more.  I am starting with sugar.

Since I started poking around for info about it - I have found some astounding numbers about our culture’s relationship with sugar.  Check this out:

Children do not need to eat large amounts of sugar. In the 1800s, the average American consumed 12 pounds of sugar per year. By 1975, however, after the overwhelming success of the refined-food industry, the 12 pounds had jumped to a world-leading 118 pounds per year, and jumped again to 137.5 pounds per capita (for every man, woman, and child) by 1990. (Food Consumption, Prices and Expenditures, United States Department of Agriculture, 1991).

No wonder we are dealing with obesity issues, no?  I think, as a family, we might think about being more watchful about how much we consume.  This includes juices and sugar found in granola and breads.  It might just do us all some good to take it into consideration - not just the kids.

Posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living | 1 Comment »

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