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Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Veggie Burger

I was speaking with my friend Dani last night and she used to love meat and especially hearty dishes like ribs. I asked her why she became a vegetarian, she did so for health purposes – many families these days are vegetarian families and there are many great ways to make sure your kiddos get the nutrients they need.

“I can’t eat that, I’m a vegetarian!”

You may have heard kids in the cafeteria or at a birthday party say this as they passed on a burger and grabbed a slice of cheese pizza instead. Did you wonder what a vegetarian is exactly? A vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat, and mostly eats foods that come from plants, like grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Did you know…there are many types of vegetarians?
Here are some of them:

  • semi-vegetarian: eats meat, but only fish and chicken
  • pesci-vegetarian: eats only fish
  • lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats no meat, but will eat dairy products (milk, butter, cheese) and eggs
  • ovo-vegetarian: eats eggs, but no meat or dairy products
  • vegan (say: vee-gun): eats no meat or animal products

Can Kids Be Vegetarians?
Kids can be vegetarians, but they can’t do it alone. They need grown-ups to help them make sure they get the vitamins and minerals they need. Eating a nutritious diet helps kids develop and grow as they should. Meat is a good source of protein, iron, and other important nutrients. So someone who’s a vegetarian needs to take care to replace those nutrients with non-meat foods.


CLASSIC VEGGIE BURGER RECIPE

These easy meatless burgers are prepared with bulgur wheat, canned pinto beans, grated carrots, and Swiss cheese. Cook the patties in a skillet!

Serving: 4 ppl

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrots (from 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 buns
  • Sprouts, for serving
  • Avocado slices, for serving

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a large bowl, combine bulgur and 1 cup boiling water. Cover tightly and let sit until bulgur is tender, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid, then return bulgur to bowl. In a food processor, pulse pinto beans until coarsely chopped. Add beans to bulgur, along with Swiss cheese, carrots, scallion, and egg. Season with salt and pepper; mix well.

2.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add 1/2 cup bean mixture and press lightly with a spatula to flatten. Make 3 more patties, working in batches if necessary (add more oil for second batch), and cook until browned and cooked through, 3 minutes per side. Serve burgers on buns with sprouts and avocado slices.

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I don’t even know why, but I have been hearing more and more about gluten-free diets. I had thought it was only for people with celiac disease, but it seems that a non-gluten diet is actually catching on with health-conscious people. Oddly enough, people with  celiac disease —the people who genuinely need gluten-free food—seem to have little to do with the current boom in gluten-free products. The question is why?

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when triggered by gluten, a portion of the protein present in grains. This attack by the immune system on the intestines causes damage which leads to malabsorption of nutrients, many gastrointestinal problems, and possibly many other symptoms that may be associated with other diseases.

The Low-Down on Gluten-Free
According to Children’s Hospital Boston Pediatric, “A recent survey reports that 15 to 25 percent of consumers are looking for gluten-free choices when they shop for food. The same survey reveals that only 1 percent of those shoppers actually have celiac disease—a permanent sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some contaminated oats.”

Anecdotally, stories are being shared online of children and adults who have credited a gluten-free diet for improvements in everything from infertility and ADHD to helping clear up severe acne or depression.

Alan Leichtner, MD, senior associate in medicine in Children’s Hospital Boston’s Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, is quick to refute these tenuous connections, worrying that the public’s fascination with “going gluten-free” could lead to inappropriate self-diagnosis. “There are no studies showing that the gluten-free diet has an impact on anything other than celiac disease,” he says.

Another misconception is that gluten-free is synonymous with healthy, because many people automatically associate the word “free” with something unhealthy being removed from their diet. For example, many prepackaged foods may be gluten-free, but it doesn’t mean they’re nutritionally complete. Some gluten-free alternatives can be just as high in fat and sugar—or just as lacking in fiber—as their gluten-containing counterparts.

My thoughts? Don’t just be “gluten-free” as a fad – most kids with celiac disease don’t go on a gluten-free diet unless it is medically required. Make sure you are looking at nutrition as a whole for your kids. You should understand your child’s needs and sensitivities. Some children may be only mildly intolerant to gluten or dairy, allowing you to keep it in the house with minimal precautions or to use products produced in the same facility as wheat or dairy items. More sensitive children, and particularly those with celiac disease, may require that you avoid even the smallest traces of gluten, according to Celiac.com. All in all? You should consult your child’s pediatrician for information and support before making a major dietary change. Your child may have specific nutritional needs that require additional care.

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Okay, okay, so us ladies all live in a world where we try to be healthy and stay slender and as soon as you get pregnant, the fear of being unhealthy and gaining weight can get even scarier.  For example, eat your greens and no more ice cream because it is “bad”.  Ha! 

I hear mom’s all the time ponder whether or not the food they are eating while they are pregnant affects their baby’s tastes and food likes/dislikes. Of course every mom knows it is important to think about what they eat during pregnancy as sharing and teaching their future babies how to eat healthy.

During pregnancy, your baby is fed nutrients through the umbilical cord. At the same time, the amniotic fluid, which surrounds the baby, takes on the flavor of the foods you eat. Even though your baby isn’t technically ingesting the amniotic fluid the way you ingest food, the baby is constantly swallowing it and tasting the same flavors that you do. Thus, as a mommy – you have a huge impact on your child’s palette before its even born!

In addition, if you choose to nurse your child, your breast milk will take on the flavors of the foods you eat. Certain flavors come through stronger than others, such as onion, garlic or mint.  My advice? Try to eat a good variety of foods, and your child will get used to experiencing new flavors on an everyday basis, and will be less resistant in the future to trying new foods when he or she is older.

In a 2001 experiment conducted by Julie Menella, a psychobiologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, a group of pregnant women was asked to drink carrot juice during their third trimester; another group of pregnant women drank water instead. Six months later, the women’s infants were offered cereal mixed with carrot juice, and their facial expressions were videotaped while they ate. The offspring of the carrot juice-drinking women consumed more carrot-flavored cereal than babies who had not been exposed to the stuff before birth, and appeared to like its taste more.

What is interesting is that a mother’s eating habits while the baby is in the womb can correlate to various cultures and their cuisines. For example, certain flavors or tastes of particular foods are most likely introduced before birth and can affect a child’s likes towards certain foods. For example, I am half Chinese and as a baby in the womb I tended to eat Chinese food and not much dairy. Today I am allergic to most dairy products and crave Chinese food (ever since I was born).

Menella stated that “when a baby is born, he is not a blank slate. He has already been shaped by a rich array of sensory experiences that we are only now beginning to understand.”

There is no true verdict on whether your diet during pregnancy can affect your baby’s tendency toward food sensitivities or allergies, but the fairest answer is that we don’t really know for sure. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers at high risk of having an infant with food allergies—women with a family history—consider avoiding peanuts, one of the most highly allergenic of all foods, during the third trimester.

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Did you know that Chelsea Clinton served meat at her wedding? I recently found out she was a vegetarian. In a random conversation with friends, we discussed the new questions that may arise from her being newly married such as “When do you want kids?” or maybe even “Will they be vegetarians like you?”

Vegetables and kids … the two words are usually used in a context where the child isn’t such a big fan of veggies. But raising a child as a vegetarian is not as unnatural as it may sound. Most parents who are vegetarian receive questions such as: Why are you a vegetarian? Will you raise your kids that way? Or do you think parents should choose their preferred diets for their kids, or let the children choose what they want?

Vegetarianism is a popular choice for many adults and families nowadays. But many parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all necessary nutrients. Most dietary and medical experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat.

However, special care must be taken when serving kids and teens a vegetarian diet, especially if it doesn’t include certain proteins, dairy and egg products. It is important to understand the nutritional needs of kids for their health and growth.

There are Different Types of Vegetarian Diets
Before your child or family switches to a veggie diet, it’s important to note the various kinds of vegetarian diets because they are all very different. Major vegetarian categories include:

  • ovo-vegetarian: eats eggs; no meat
  • lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats dairy and egg products; no meat
  • lacto-vegetarian: eats dairy products; no eggs or meat
  • vegan: eats only food from plant sources

And many other people are semi-vegetarians who have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish (commonly referred to as pescatarian).

The Choice of Vegetarianism
Kids or families may follow a vegetarian diet for many reasons – ethics, philosophy, economics and religion, to name a few — but in recent years, there are many nutritional studies linking large amounts of meat with certain chronic diseases, which has caused many people to change their meat-eating ways.

Nutrition for All Ages
It is good to ask your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you plan your child or family’s vegetarian diet. A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet kids’ nutritional needs and has some health benefits. For example, a diet rich in fruits and veggies will be high in fiber and low in fat, factors known to improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight. Depending on the type of vegetarian diet chosen, kids may miss out on some of these important nutrients if the parents don’t monitor the diet. Here are nutrients that vegetarians should get and some of their best food sources: 

  • vitamin B12: dairy products, eggs, and vitamin-fortified products, such as cereals, breads, and soy and rice drinks, and nutritional yeast
  • vitamin D: milk, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, and other vitamin D-fortified products
  • calcium: dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, dried beans, and calcium-fortified products, including orange juice, soy and rice drinks, and cereals
  • protein: dairy products, eggs, tofu and other soy products, dried beans, and nuts
  • iron: eggs, dried beans, dried fruits, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals and bread
  • zinc: wheat germ, nuts, fortified cereal, dried beans, and pumpkin seeds

The less restrictive the vegetarian diet, the easier it will be for your child to get enough of the necessary nutrients. In some cases, fortified foods or supplements can help meet nutritional needs.

(more…)

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AppleWe have all grown up hearing “An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor Away!”  Now, as a mom, I am focused on providing the right nutrition for my daughter so she can grow up strong and healthy.  I began by asking myself ‘What are the rules that we should be nutritionally living by?’  I know that healthy habits should start early, beginning with exercise, portion control and choosing the ‘right’ foods – these habits will set the stage for the rest of her life.  Children learn by observing their role models – mostly family – so I did some research to educate myself about the necessary nutrients needed to make our entire family healthy.  Here is a list I’ve complied – it is just what the doctor ordered!

Calcium:
Calcium is crucial for bone mass development, but a third of 4 to 8 year old children don’t get enough.  A bonus is that many high calcium foods are also high in Vitamin D – helpful for preventing Type 1 diabetes. Foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D include milk, cheese, yogurt (excellent but watch the sugar), fortified cereals, soy products and some juices.

Iron:
Iron is essential – it helps red blood cells carry oxygen to cells throughout the body, directly affecting brain development.  Studies show that up to 20 percent of kids are not getting enough Iron.  If this deficiency is left unchecked it can lead to learning and behavioral problems. Some of the best sources of Iron are lean meats including shrimp, beef, and chicken. If your child is a vegetarian or doesn’t care for the taste of meat try beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Although Iron from plant sources is not absorbed easily by the body, Vitamin C based foods can increase the absorption level.  Foods high in both Iron and Vitamin C are broccoli, Swiss chard, and other dark green leafy vegetables.

preschool lunchVitamin E:
What is important about Vitamin E? It is an antioxidant that protects our cells from damage. It is estimated that 80 percent of children under the age of 8, and more than half of preschoolers, are lacking sufficient amounts of the vitamin. To my surprise, eating fat free foods, since they generally lack essential oils, is part of the problem. Make sure your child’s diet includes small amounts of nuts (if no allergies,) avocado, tomato sauce, wheat germ or spinach.  Fortified cereals may have Vitamin E but all-natural cereals do not. 

Fiber:
This seems to be a buzzword for adults, but it keeps children regular, fills them up and may help protect them from other illnesses later in life. An easy way to establish a goal for grams of daily fiber is to add the number 5 to your child’s age.  It’s ideal to have at least one high-fiber food at every meal. Cereal can be a great way for your child to obtain fiber – just make sure it has 5 grams or more per serving. Other great sources of fiber are fruits, beans, lentils, chickpeas, whole-grain breads, oatmeal, nuts, sweet potatoes, popcorn and green beans. My daughter LOVES hummus and just 2 tablespoons has as much fiber as a half cup of brown rice.

Bananas…and last but not least, Potassium:
Potassium is the main contributor to maintaining healthy muscles that contract and maintaining beneficial fluid balances and blood pressure. Most kids are getting slightly more than half of the recommended dose needed. Remember getting a muscle cramp as a kid and hearing your mom say, “Eat a banana!?”  She was right!  Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, along with oranges, dried apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew, sweet potatoes, fish, and tomatoes.

As the mom of a two year old girl I know it can be difficult to get all of these needed nutrients into your child!  Fortunately many of these suggested foods, like beans or nuts, can serve a dual purpose. If you have a finicky eater you may want to talk to your pediatrician about adding vitamin supplements, but IT IS possible to get all they need by eating the right foods.

I found something that was interesting and fun…the US government has a food pyramid and website just for kids with lots of helpful hints about their health – Check it out!

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thumbnail1Looking for a healthy summer dessert? You’ve found it.  This is  a great way to use up the last of that pint of sorbet or frozen yogurt. For a less healthy approach (and even yummier) use your favorite ice cream instead. Kids will love them!!!

Makes 1 serving

ACTIVE TIME: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

INGREDIENTS:
4 small vanilla-snap cookies
2 tablespoons fruit sorbet or frozen yogurt

Mini Dessert SandwichDIRECTIONS:
Top 2 cookies with 1 tablespoon sorbet (or frozen yogurt). Top with 2 more cookies. Freeze sandwiches for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

source: EatingWell Magazine

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I was reading a blog entry about Maya Rudolph gaining 70 pounds with her first pregnancy. And I’m thinking, “OMG! That’s a lot of weight.” But I don’t think it’s completely out of the ordinary. A lot of my mommy friends gained around 50 pounds, and some up to 100 pounds. And these women are small and petite.

When I was pregnant (both times), my doctor suggested that I gain no more than 25 pounds. The first time around, I said, “Sure, no problem.” But as the pregnancy progressed, my total weight gain was around 35-40 pounds. It wasn’t like I pigged out on everything, nor was I “eating for two.” But I definitely couldn’t control my weight gain. With my second pregnancy (since I had gestational diabetes), I was put on a low-carb, no sugar diet, and I followed this diet to a T for the health and well-being of my unborn child. Trust me. It was HARD not to give in to my cravings. Yet, I still gained about 30 pounds. My point is, whether I followed a nutritional diet or not, I still gained over the recommended 25 pounds.

Just out of curiosity, how much weight did you gain?

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