Friday, November 15, 2013

How You Can Stay Healthy And Still Eat Out

Everyone loves food that is quick and easy. Who doesn’t love being able to feed their family without even getting out of the car? Not to mention just trying to get that picky eater (that only wants junk food) to eat something! Just because it’s fast, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you and your family. Those McDonald’s fries that many people love are NOT just potatoes, salt and oil. They actually contain SEVENTEEN different ingredients including things that are used as sealants, listed as hazardous for ingestion! They even contain TBHQ which chemical makeup is similar to lighter fluid. This is linked to asthma, skin conditions, hormone disruption and cancer.

Does your child love soda? Other than the weight related issues that soda can cause, including diabetes, there are a mouth full of cavities and many ingredients that can also be detrimental to your child’s health. Some sodas contain industrial chemicals that are used as a flame retardant in plastics which is known to cause memory loss and nerve damage.

Alternatives? Other than good old fashioned water, try substituting that bubbly soda with some flavored sparkling water such as Sparkling Ice. It contains zero calories, and has zero grams of sodium.

If you must go out to eat, try making some healthier choices from the menu.

Instead of:                                                                         Try:

Double patty hamburger with all the toppings           Single patty hamburger with no cheese and especially no mayo.

Fried chicken                                                                      Grilled chicken

Salad with ranch, croutons, and cheese                       Garden salad with grilled chicken and low- fat dressing on the side

French fries                                                                        Baked potato, sweet potato fries, fruit, salad

Shake                                                                                  Greek yogurt with fruit

Fried chicken                                                                     Skinless un-breaded chicken breast

Refried beans                                                                    Black beans

Ham, bacon, meatballs, steak                                        Roast beef, chicken breast, lean ham

Cheddar cheese, American cheese                               Swiss cheese or Mozzarella

White bread sandwich                                                    Whole grain and/or take off top layer of bread

Fried white rice                                                                 Steamed brown rice

Battered or fried                                                               Steamed, baked, roasted or broiled

Thick crust pizza                                                               Thin crust pizza with light cheese and veggie toppings

  Remember: Moderation is important. Make sure not to go overboard with the portions. Drink water before eating your meal, it will fill your stomach so you won’t eat more than you need to.

You Really Are What You Eat

Many people think “As long as I workout, I can eat whatever I want.” NOT TRUE! This is a huge problem that people need to realize. It is important to have a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle. As a child, my younger brother was always very active. He's been playing basketball and football since he was five years old. He has always been such an active kid, practicing both sports twice a week, not to mention at least two games a week. With all this running around, you’d imagine him to be a skinny child; he wasn’t. He had always been a husky kid, struggling with his weight. How could this be? The food he ate. After practice, the boy was hungry so my parents always took him to the most convenient fast food drive-thru and bought him the usual hamburger, fries and a soda. If he did really well during one of his games, he deserved a reward… pizza! Man, that boy could eat. When grandma was babysitting him, it was worse. She never wanted him to feel an ounce of hunger so she made sure she fed him almost every hour with sweets, fattening, and greasy foods. No one really thought about the problems that food caused, that’s just how we all ate.

I would eat exactly the same, McDonald’s was my favorite place to go. I would go so often that the people who worked there all knew me by name. I lived off of fast food and soda. Nothing healthy would ever touch my tongue. I never took a second look at what I was eating because I was so skinny. Seventh grade to my sophomore year in college I weighed only 94lbs no matter how much junk I ate. Only problem was, I was in and out of the doctors on almost a weekly bases. If it wasn’t for one thing, it was the other. There was always something wrong with me. But of course it wasn’t what I was eating, I was so tiny! During one of my regular doctor visits, he made a “joke” to me about how my medical file was thicker than most of the elderly patients he has seen. Wow! That comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe I do need to change my lifestyle.

By the age of 20, my luck started to run out and my metabolism wasn’t working in my favor anymore. It seemed as though my weight started increasing out of nowhere. I had to do something. I started to change the way I ate. Eating fruits, veggies and only drinking water. I also started to workout a few days a week and started to see some changes. I didn’t need to see the doctor so much, I wasn’t so cranky anymore, and just felt better overall. Recently, my brother decided to start eating the right things and for the first time in 10 years his weight didn’t make him feel bad about himself. Pounds have been falling off of him and he can now fit into pants that he had to stop wearing 3 years ago. He now has this self-confidence that no one has ever seen in him before.

It is very important for people to take a look at what they are eating or feeding their loved ones. Just because they are active or even skinny, it doesn’t mean that is okay for them to eat.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time Issues for Parents

The biggest regret a parent can have is spending too much time at work when the children were young.  Spending family quality time has been decreasing through the years due to the demands of modern life.  A new survey says that parents and children spend less than eight hours together in total each week. 

During the week, the amount of time parents and their children spend time together average to just 36 minutes as families try to work between work, chores, school and extra-curricular activities.  Even when families are together, most of the time they are spent sitting in silence while watching TV, reading a book, or playing computer games.  Weekends are slightly better, as family spend on average of two hours and twenty minutes on both Saturdays and Sundays. 

As parents, it is easy to forget that their little ones are young and it’s easy to imagine your child being that age forever.  The only real time that families spend time together is when they go on holiday and vacations. 
They key is to schedule time with your children and show that they are important.  By taking  10-15 minutes to bond with your children can have a huge impact in the future.

The pace of modern life can distance family members, but we urge families to reestablish bonds and connections with their family members and create precious memories. 

Healthy After School Snacks

Once the bell rings, it marks the end of a school day.  Kids go home and head straight towards the kitchen to grab a snack or two.  The best thing to serve hungry kids is healthy snacks.  By eating healthy snacks, it will provide children with good nutrition, lifelong eating habits, and prevent health issues in the future.

The key is to find what your kids like to eat during snack time.  Most snacks that should be served to children should consist of fruits and vegetables.  By eating fruits and vegetables, the risk of developing heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure drops. 

Fruits are naturally sweet and can be served in many ways. 
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Vegetables can be served raw with or without dip or salad dressing.

  • Broccoli
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Celery Sticks
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato Slices
  • Zucchini Slices

Serving fresh fruits and vegetables to children may seem challenging, but with proper planning, you can find various ways to find out what your children like best.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Video Games to Keep Your Kids Active

It's that time again! Temperatures are falling, street lights are turning on earlier, and kids are indoors more often. Instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, here are some video games that will keep your kids' brain and bodies active.


Exergaming is a term used for video games that are also a form of exercise. Almost every video game system on the market today provides technology that tracks movements and reactions. Here are some games that we enjoy for the Wii and Xbox 360 consoles.
  • Wii- The Wii console, which is popular with younger children ages 3-8, focuses on games that kid friendly and contain minimal to no violence. A lot of the games on this console are designed after popular children's movies and cartoons. Here is our top exergaming picks for this console:
    • Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus - The Wii Fit and balance board comes with some standard fitness games that will help keep track of your children's indoor training. The exercises included are: yoga which is great for toning muscles,  aerobics which is great for increasing heart strength, and finally strength training. These exercises are pretty generic and can get boring quick, especially for children. We suggest purchasing the Wii Fit Plus package. The Wii Fit Plus package adds 20 more games that are much more fun to play. 

  • XBOX 360 with Kinect
    • Dance Central - We really like this game because it doesn't really seem like exercise. It's fun and has several songs to choose from. Your kids will be dancing for hours.
    • Kinect Sports - Are you ever worried about you child playing soccer indoors? Well now you don't have too. Games such as football. soccer, boxing, and bowling will keep your child active for many hours of the day.
Brain Games
  • Lumosity - We have all seen the commercials on TV but will this really help your child's brain? According to their site "In a recent study from the University of California, Berkeley, children aged 7 to 9 who played a set of challenging games that involved critical reasoning skills improved by over 30% on standardized measures of nonverbal intelligence". We have tried games on the site the site and its actually really fun. Lumosity focuses on five areas to improve you brain; memory, problem solving, attention, speed, and flexibility. The site is free to sign up but you are limited to only a couple of games and features. In order to access the full line of games you have to pay $14.95 a month. Don't let the price deter you. Give it a try
  • Brain Age - This Nintendo DS game is a classic. It has been around for some time and you can buy it used at GameStop or online through any of the popular retailers. Brain Age is similar to Lumosity in which it has games that stimulate memory cognition but do not really seem like homework. The feature we really like most is that you can see how old your brain is after you play every game. This way you can see how well your child's brain is developing. 

There are several other games on the market that can help your children stay active both mentally and physically. What games do you and your children play at home? Please leave a comment letting us know.

Hidden Menaces Part 2: Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been a topic of controversy for some time now. Almost all foods today contain GMOs and it is difficult to determine whether a product contains these organisms or not. States across the nation have proposed legislation that requires manufacturers to label products containing GMO's; but most of these pieces of legislation have failed. Proponents believe that as consumers we should know everything that is in the food that we consume. They also believe that labels are a crucial part of the evaluation process when choosing a food product. Opponents argue that if food manufacturers are required to put labels on their products; they may face decreased sales. Ultimately, some manufacturers may see increased costs because they would have purchase or use more costly ingredients that are GMO free. 

The big question is: Are GMOs safe and if not what can you do to avoid them?

What are GMOs?

GMOs are organisms (plants or animals) that have had their DNA injected with the DNA of another organism. The purpose of modifying the organism is to give it enhancing characteristics such as: resistance to disease or spoilage, increased growth or yield, and/or tolerance of pesticides. The info-graph the to the right breaks down the GMO process.

Are GMOs safe?

Very little research has been performed on the side effects of GMOs (on humans) because they are relatively new. Lab research on field mice indicates that GMOs can cause problems with the gut, immune system, liver, kidneys, heart, and adrenal glands. Some researchers say this could cause problems such as obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, accelerated aging and infertility. Much of this research, about the negative effects of GMOs, has been suppressed by agriculture companies and major corporations.

The bigger problem is what GMOs are doing to the soil and the environment. GMO crops have a higher tolerance to herbicides which allows farmers to increase the amounts used to protect crops from insects. These herbicides are harmful to birds, insects, soil organisms, and the marine ecosystem. Once GMOs have been introduced to seeds, cross pollination can contaminate the gene pool of other crops. If there are problems with GMOs discovered in the future, it would be difficult to remove this cross contamination.

GMOs have been used in food production for centuries and many scientists believe that the good outweighs the bad. Because there is no significant evidence that the GMOs cause problems in humans, it is difficult to say that GMOs have negative consequences. But we think is better to be safe than sorry and to insure that our children have healthy futures, we suggest avoiding GMOs. 

How can you avoid GMO's?

Although GMO's are difficult to avoid, you can:
  • Eat Organic –USDA standards will not allow the use of GMOs in any product listed as organic
  • Buy Fresh –Experts suggest that 60% - 70% of processed foods in the US have GMOs. Pre-made, pre-packaged or boxed foods typically contain GMOs. Eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Stay away from products that contain sugar beets, soy, canola, crook neck squash, cottonseed, or non-cane sugar. Do not buy them unless they are listed as organic. Products that typically contain these ingredients are cereals, soft drinks, and crackers.
  • Search for verified food products using the "Find Non-GMO" tab located on the Non-GMO Project website Their database is extensive and you can browse by category, brand or search by name. Another nice feature of their website is you can search for restaurants and retailers located in your state that are verified NON-GMO.
  • Shop at specialty food stores such as:
  • Eat At Home – this will increase the likelihood that what you consume is GMO free.
Extra Halloween Tip!

Since Halloween is right around the corner, we thought we would share some popular Halloween candies that contain GMOs.

For more detailed information check out the Non GMO Project at:
And for more reasons to avoid GMOs check out:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Healthy Recipes for Kids

Lets face it, getting kids to eat right is harder than it looks. Sometimes to ensure your child gets all their needed nutrients, you have to sneak it into their favorite foods. Here we have a couple simple recipes that sneak nutrition into your kids favorite snacks with the clever use of baby food.

Serves 2
  • 1 (8 to 10-inch) flour tortilla, ideally whole wheat
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp pizza sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sweet potato or carrot baby food
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp shredded low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together pizza sauce and baby food.
2. Spread the sauce mixture onto the tortilla (stay 1/2 inch away from the edge).
3. Sprinkle on the cheese, and roll up into a log.
4. Slice and toast immediately, or wrap (unsliced) in plastic and freeze. When ready to eat, remove from freezer, slice into 4-6 pieces, and toast for a few minutes until golden brown.

French Toast Rollers
Serves: 4

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 tsp each cinnamon and salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sweet potato baby food
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp carrot baby food
  • 4 slices of bread (ideally whole wheat)
Optional fillings:
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 Tbsp sweet potato or carrot or blueberry baby food (or other fruit spread)
  • 1 mashed banana + 1 Tbsp sweet potato or carrot or blueberry baby food (or other fruit spread)
  • 1 Tbsp light cream cheese + 1 Tbsp fruit spread
1. In a large, shallow baking dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, honey, and baby food or fruit puree. Set aside.
2. Use a rolling pin to roll out each slice of bread on a cutting board until flattened.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix the optional fillings. Spread about 2 Tbsp of the filling mixture on each flattened slice of bread, keeping about 1?4 inch away from the edges. Roll up each slice of bread, pressing to seal the edges.
4. Dip each log roll in the egg mixture until saturated on all sides, then cook in a well-greased skillet over moderate heat, turning to brown each side. Remove from heat and lightly dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Free recipes courtesy of Missy Chase Lapine, aka "The Sneaky Chef."
More recipes just like these available here.