Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vietnamese Shaking Beef, Bo Luc Lac

I think anyone who is a true foodie experiences the love of food on a very deep, emotional level. Food needs to have smell, texture, and evoke an emotion. There is not a single important event in my life where there was not some kind of food memory or smell that went along with it.
When I was in the hospital giving birth to my daughter, It was a C section, so my state of mind was a little altered. But what I remember most about lying on that gurney unable to move or eat was one doctor, asking another doctor what they wanted for lunch.

Doctor one said, "The Bo Luc, Lac from Saigon Grill." I actually had tasted Bo Luk, Lack one time before. It was ok. A little salty, and very different from my normal tastes.

I am not much of a meat eater. Especially meat that is not grass fed. But at that moment , I wanted that beef with crispy crackers more then anything on earth. I looked at my husband who looked as pale as ghost ---as apparently half my insides were on the table in front of him.

I said, " you must go get me the Bo Luc, Lac the second I get out of here" He looked as he was about to faint.

"How do you feel?" he asked. All I could think of was how hungry I was and how good that beef would taste.
I shouted to the doctor, "Could I see a menu?," thinking that perhaps there was something else I wanted. I thought Bo Luc Lac would be good, but it would be better if it had and orange glaze or a dash of lime. Then I though what if I just order the Bo Luc Lac with the sauce on the side to satisfy my craving. 

Just as I was about to create the best recipe, I heard a cry, and she was born. My beautiful baby girl. As the days passed, I forgot about the Bo Luc Lac. But when it was time to leave, I saw the menu for Saigon Grill on my table with the diapers and baby belongings. I threw it in my bag with the fleeting thought to order it at a later date. I never ordered the Bo Luc Lac, but every time some one mentions Saigon Grill, I remember being in that hospital room and strongly I craved that Vietnamese beef. As I was cleaning out my drawers today, I found the menu and decided to create my own version. This version is much healthier and simple, and shaking the beef added that element of fun. It is a perfect dish for the holidays, either as an appetizer or main course.

A Healthier Bo Luc Lac

Makes 4 servings

1.5 lb. grass-fed flank steak cut into 1″ cubes
2 cloves garlic, diced
half of lime or orange
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 leaves of lettuce
3 T. sesame oil
2 T. Braggs amino acids (an all-natural, sodium-free soy sauce substitute)

1. Prepare marinade by combining garlic, Braggs amino acids and oil with the beef for at least half an hour.
2. Heat a large wok or pan over high heat, adding about 2 T. oil.
3. When it begins to smoke, add a layer of beef and allow to sear for about 2 minutes. 
4. Begin “shaking” to sear the opposite sides for about another 1-2 minutes more to brown all sides. 
5. Add a squeeze of lime or orange, then give it one last toss before transferring to plates.
6. Place beef on a bed of lettuce and tomato.
7. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Makes two servings

Why go to an ice cream shop when you can make your own healthy and all natural ice cream? With this simple recipe, you and your kids can enjoy homemade ice cream anytime. It makes a great snack, or a special treat! It is not only delicious, but is also loaded with fiber and omegas from the bananas and nut butter.

2 frozen bananas, chopped
1½ T. natural creamy almond/peanut butter
1/4 cup almond or rice milk
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 grain-sweetened dark chocolate chips

1. Put bananas, almond butter, and almond milk and vanilla in the blender.
2. Blend on low, stopping to stir occasionally.
3. Remove and top with chocolate chips, nuts or other ice cream toppings you enjoy!

Almond milk is a non-dairy milk substitute drink made from ground up almonds mixed with water.  Unlike regular milk, it contains no cholesterol or lactose and is sweet in taste. It has different nutritional elements as well, with hight quantities of vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, fiber, zinc and calcium. Almond milk is also low in fat and calories, at only 40 calories per eight ounce serving.

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits, especially for kids. Children love their  sweet flavor and texture. Bananas are high in potassium and contain moderate amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin B. Consumption of bananas has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as regulate dopamine levels, which play a crucial role in mental and physical health.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Healthiest Pumpkin Pie on Earth

Makes two pies

Everyone has a favorite Thanksgiving dessert, and pumpkin pie is mine. This recipe is so delicious and healthy, that you will want to eat it all year round. I even made it for my daughter’s birthday party in June, because her teachers asked if we could celebrate in the morning, and I thought this would be the perfect alternative to sugary cupcakes. This pie is loaded with super foods that provide protein as well as vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese, folate and omega 3 fatty acids.

2 (9 inch) whole wheat uncooked pie crusts
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 ripe bananas
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 vanilla
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. flax seeds
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) organic Pure Pumpkin
1 cup milk of choice (I prefer almond milk, but you can use soy, rice, etc.)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine all of the ingredients into a vita mix or blender. Blend.
3. Pour the resulting mixture into the piecrust that has been defrosted.
4. Bake for 15 minutes.
5. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
6. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate.

Pumpkin Power!
Pumpkin is celebrated for its unusually high level of beta-carotene, the form of vitamin A found in plant food. In fact, a one cup serving of pumpkin or other winter squash (such as butterneck, acorn, kobacha, hubbard, etc.) has almost 146 percent of a child’s daily requirement for vitamin A. Pumpkin also boosts vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese, folate, omega 3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, tryptophan and B-complex vitamins.

Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is considered a nutritionally dense food because it is loaded with important nutrients. It is a great source of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and regularity. Wheat germ contains vitamin E and an abundance of B vitamins, which promotes healthy hair, bones, and skin. Wheat germ is a great alternative to traditional ice cream sprinkles and other toppings because it provides texture in addition to beneficial nutrients without the unwanted refined sugar and unhealthy additives. If your kids love to use sprinkles to decorate their food, have them top their yogurt or ice cream with wheat germ for a nutritious treat!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches: The Perfect Lunchbox Treat!

Makes one serving

This is my kids' favorites for lunch or an after school snack. It takes minutes to make and is the perfect combination of protein, fat and complex carbs. The almond butter (or sunflower butter as an alternative) is loaded with both protein and omega 3 fatty acids, which sustain energy and concentration. The banana adds just the right sweetness and the star-shaped raisin bread makes this filling snack fun to eat.

Feel free to cut into any shape you like. Better yet, let the kids help cut the bread into shapes or spread the almond butter. Don’t be afraid to let them get messy! Some of my favorite memories involve getting my hands dirty in the kitchen with my grandmother. When kids are involved in making their food, they are usually more invested in eating it. It is a win, win situation. It is my number one tip in helping kids to transition to eating a healthier diet.

2 slices of Ezekiel sprouted raisin bread or any whole grain bread
1 tablespoon of almond, cashew or sunflower butter
½ banana, sliced
½ teaspoon flax seed
Drizzle with maple syrup
Cinnamon sprinkled on top, if desired


1. Spread the butter of choice on raisin bread.
2. Slice bananas and then sprinkle with cinnamon, flax seeds and drizzle maple syrup on the bread.

Who is Ezekiel? 

Food for Life's Ezekiel bread, English muffins and bagels are popular products in the whole food community. They get their name from the biblical prophet Ezekiel, who declared in the Book of Ezekiel: "Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel and make bread of it." The bread that was eaten by Ezekiel for two years while he was exiled in the desert. It is claimed that the formula’s six grains and legumes, when sprouted and combined, create a protein similar to the protein found in milk and eggs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oatmeal Apple Frittata

Makes 6 servings

This morning I made a batch of oatmeal for my kids, but we ended up behind schedule and did not get a chance to eat it before heading out the door. Once I had dropped them off at school, I decided to take the uneaten oats and combine them with some apples and a few of other basic ingredients, and voila! I created an easy oatmeal apple frittata. It turned into the perfect after school treat. 


1 cup oatmeal (gluten free if you have an intolerance)
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce/ pumpkin puree
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups chopped apples
2 teaspoons chopped walnuts for topping
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon flaxseed
2 teaspoons raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook oatmeal following package directions.
3. In a bowl, mix the oatmeal with the eggs, apple sauce, salt, cinnamon, apples and vanilla.
4. Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.
5. After its done baking top with chopped walnuts, maple syrup, honey, and flax.

Magic Oats!

Oats are a great way to give your kids strength and energy throughout the day. They are loaded with fiber and taste delicious. Oats also are rich antioxidants that reduce bad cholesterol, they are also loaded with manganese, and B vitamins. If you are on a gluten-free diet, there are even gluten-free oats out there!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

Makes 1–2 servings

My kids and all their friends love this creamy omega loaded chocolate pudding. It is free of dairy and refined sugars. Even your hard core picky eaters will love it, especially if they have a hand in making it. This delicious pudding makes a great snack, or party treat!

1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 teaspoon agave, maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons almond milk, rice milk or water

1. Halve the avocado and remove the pit.
2. Cut a checkerboard pattern in the avocado and remove it from the skin.
3. Put the avocado, cocoa powder and honey into a blender or food processor.
4. Blend until creamy. You may need to blend it for a while to get it extra creamy and break up the small pieces. 
5. Add milk, vanilla and salt and blend until desired sweetness and texture.
6. Serve and enjoy!

Avocado Power
Avocado’s rich, creamy texture can add great flavor to a variety of dishes. It can also give a nutritional kick to any snack, even sweets like this delicious pudding. Avocado contains over 20 essential nutrients making it a super star food for kids! They are especially rich in vitamin E, B-vitamins, folic acid, omega three fatty acids and beta carotene. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients more efficiently.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Candy" Apple Wedges

Makes one serving per apple

These apple wedges are the perfect not to sweet, healthy Halloween treat! Making these crunchy treats is both fun to decorate, and delicious to eat. Whether at a Halloween party; or after school, kids will have fun adding their own personal touch.

Cold water
Lemon juice
Nut butter or sunflower butter
Agave nectar, maple syrup or honey

Chocolate chips

Goji berries
Chopped nuts
Wheat germ or ground flax meal

1. Cut and core apples.
2. Soak apples, cold water and a few drops of lemon juice in a bowl for a few minutes. This will prevent the apples from browning.
3. Dry thoroughly.
4. Spread nut butter or agave on each apple wedge.
5. Decorate with your kids!

Unsulphured Dried Fruit
Unsulphured fruits are the healthier choice when it comes to dried fruit varieties because they maintain more natural vitamins. Dried, unsulphured coconut is no exception. It contains a good amount of potassium, iron and fiber. Coconut is also naturally delicious, giving a tropical kick to any recipe!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Best Brain Boosting Foods

Adding a few key super foods to your kid’s diet each day is an easy way to help your children to take on the many challenges of their demanding schedules. By adding the following foods you may increase your kids brain function, promote overall brain health, and prepare your kids for a bright future.

Super Brain Foods

Avocados are super food for kids. They contain omega three fatty acids, which are necessary for the brain to function properly. Pack some guacamole and chips in their lunch box.

Eggs are rich in choline which helps promotes memory and brain development. Also eggs provide long-lasting satiety because of its protein power. They are a great for breakfast or snack- hard-boiled or deviled.

Whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole grain breads contain phytonutrients, folate and B vitamins that boost memory. Pack some whole grain crackers and pair them with cheese or nut butter of choice.

Deep water fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to healthy brain function. Wild Salmon also contains low numbers of contaminants and it is easy to find both fresh and in cans. Eating salmon helps memory, mood and concentration. Make salmon patties, or use salmon instead of tuna on sandwiches.

Protein is for concentration it helps kids feel full longer, avoiding a sharp drop in blood sugar. Choosing protein sources that are raised humanely and are fed a proper diet, or pastured, are your best bets. Pack your kids pinwheels with organic turkey, cheese on a whole grain tortillas.

Organic fruit: berries, grapes, apples, pears and seasonal fruits are rich in antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and fiber. The fiber in fruit also helps the digestive system. Berries in particular contain high amounts of phytonutrients like anthocyanin that promote high brain function and help to preserve memory function.

Nuts and seeds: A serving of pumpkin seeds offers a mammoth amount of good things to help your children’s brains, bodies and immune systems. A quarter cup contains 92% of your daily value for magnesium, which helps with several body systems including cognitive function and mood. Zinc helps prevent infection and boost immune system. Try roasting them or adding them to muffins and oatmeal.

Filtered water: Dehydration can lead to fatigue, fogginess, and more, so drinking plenty of water is crucial to keeping concentration and energy levels high. Send a fun BPA free water bottle with your kids to school instead of fruit juices or other sugary drinks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Super Foods for Bone Health

Children need proper nutrients to grow. The junky diet of chicken nuggets, pizza and french fries doesn’t cut it. Since kids' bodies are constantly changing and their bones are still developing, they need the right fuel to make their bones grow and move properly. Making sure your kids eat a few bone-boosting super foods everyday is an easy way to ensure your child's bone health.

These best foods include... 
Giving your kids beans, especially pinto, black, white and kidney beans, is extremely beneficial to the growth and health of their bones. Beans will give them an extra boost of magnesium and calcium.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that enables the absorption of calcium in the body. There are not too many foods that contain high amounts of vitamin D but some varieties of fish do. Eating salmon, tuna, and mackerel provides vitamin D that the body will store for future use.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and dairy products including milk, cheese and yogurt contain very high amounts of it. Consuming enough calcium is crucial as most of it is in the bones. Eating dairy products which are so rich in calcium promote bone growth and by giving your kids dairy products consistently will keep their bones strong for life. I love organic, and raw dairy products. Many people have allergies, but there are plenty of great alternatives.

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard are packed with bone-building nutrients like Vitamin K and Magnesium. Vitamin K helps to form bone protein and cuts down on calcium loss. Green cocktail are great for your overall health.

Calcium and vitamin D do play a major role in the strength of our bones, but so does magnesium. Magnesium is also stored in our bone and is necessary for the storage of calcium. All seeds are great sources for Magnesium, especially pumpkin and chia seeds.

Soy is a legume that is also very rich in calcium. Soy products like soymilk, miso, tofu, edamame and tempeh are good sources and are easy to prepare or buy in the store. Eating soy foods are good for creating more bone density; denser bones equal stronger bones.

Water is great for the functioning of any part of the body including the bones. Tap water in particular contains fluoride, which is a necessary component of your bones and adds density making them stronger. I am still researching this as there is mixed research on fluoride. I do by my toothpaste with out fluoride.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Makes 4 snack size servings

My kids love this dip served with crispy veggies, pita triangles or, whole-wheat pretzels. With a yogurt base, this dip is a great source of calcium. Combined with the crunch of cucumbers, the dip has a great texture. It also doubles as a great spread for sandwiches and burgers.

8 oz. yogurt
½ cup of peeled chopped cucumber
2 tablespoons lemon
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Combine yogurt, cucumber, lemon, and mustard into a blender. Blend contents until smooth.
2. Serve with cut vegetables, crackers, or any other foods you like. 
3. Enjoy!

Cool as a Cucumber
Cucumbers are packed with nutrients that enhance brain function. The magnesium found in cucumbers helps the brain to stay focused and pay attention. Cucumbers contain potassium, which makes your brain learn and remember facts. The vitamin C found in cucumbers enters the brain and protects brain cells, acting as a defense shield against unwanted toxins. Cucumbers also provide a dose of fiber, which removes toxins from the body so that your brain doesn’t get foggy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Apple Crisp

Tomorrow is my daughter's first family school breakfast, and she wanted to bring something warm and yummy to share with her friends. Since our fruit bowl is overflowing with apples that we purchased at the farmers market this weekend, we thought apple crisp would be the perfect morning treat. This recipe is not only delicious and easy to make, but is also loaded with omega three fatty acids from the flax seeds and coconut oil, which help to boost kids' moods and learning abilities. Additionally, this is a great recipe to get kids in tune with the seasons, eat locally and help with snack preparation. When kids help make a dish, they are usually more excited about eating it and the experience of trying something new.

Makes 15 snack servings

Apple mix
6 apples, washed, cored, diced
½ cup apple juice

Crumble Topping

½ cup maple syrup
2 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoon butter/coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon flax seeds
1/3 cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly oil the bottom of baking pan with coconut oil.
3. Spread apples evenly in the pan and add apple juice.
4. In a bowl combine maple syrup, rolled oats, flax seeds, raisins, vanilla and cinnamon.
5. Fold in softened butter/coconut oil until combined. There should be no large chunks.
6. Press dry ingredients on top of the apple mixture.
7. Cook uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

An Apple a Day

Apples provide a big dose of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as a host of other benefits. The polyphenols found in apples are powerful cardiovascular guardians, also helping to protect growing (and adult) bodies from the oxidation of bad fats (think trans fats), while offering bold anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies have also shown that apple’s phytonutrients and high fiber content help children maintain an even mood by preventing spikes in blood sugar.

Local ingredients 

Purchasing food that’s grown in your surrounding area is beneficial for your health and for the environment. Transporting foods over long distances generates pollution, whereas buying groceries from local venders, like a farmers market, decreases your carbon footprint. Foods sold in grocery stores have traveled an average of 1500 miles from where they are grown. On the other hand, foods that are grown locally are picked when they are ripe, which allows for a better taste and more nutritious product.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Super Foods for A Super Smile

The foods you eat can affect the health of your smile just as much as proper brushing and flossing can. Eating foods high in starch or sugar can create bacteria that cause plaque as well as teeth decaying acids. However, certain foods actually strengthen teeth and gums by fighting plaque and bacteria, improving enamel and freshening breath.

Super Smile Snacks
When eating raw celery or carrots you have to chew extra long; creating more saliva, which stops bacteria from forming. The extra chewing also cleans between teeth and cleanses the gums.

Cheese is low in carbohydrates and extremely rich in calcium and phosphate, which has several benefits for your teeth. It helps to lower acid in your mouth that encourages the growth of cavities. Cheese also strengthens the teeth by rebuilding tooth enamel, and creating saliva, which fights bacteria and helps to prevent gum disease.
Believe it or not some teas like green, white and jasmine are actually good for teeth. These teas contain catechins that kill bacteria in the mouth, which create plaque. Catechins also kill the germs that cause bad breath.

Eating onion causes bad breath but the vegetable has unique properties that are antibacterial. Onions contain antibacterial sulfur compounds that kill several different types of bacteria including the type that cause plaque and gingivitis. They are most powerful when eaten raw or fresh.

Kiwis have tons of vitamin C supplying 100% of the daily-recommended amounts of the vitamin. Getting enough vitamin C is crucial for the health of gums. Vitamin C is necessary for the collagen in gums, which is important for their strength. Without enough Vitamin C gums are more susceptible to the bacteria that cause periodontal disease.

Eating parsley or mint leaves after eating a meal helps maintain fresh breath. These fragrant herbs contain monoterpenes, which travel to the lungs where bad breath is released through your mouth.

Shiitake mushrooms in particular contain high amounts of the sugar lentinan. Lentinan prevents bacteria from forming plaque on the teeth. Fresh shiitakes contain more lentinan but dried ones also contain the bacteria fighter.

Sesame seeds scrape plaque that accumulates on teeth. Seeds also help to build enamel, which protects teeth. Sesame seeds are high in calcium, which preserves and build bone that surrounds your teeth and gum as well in your jaw.

Wasabi and other naturally spicy foods contain isothiocyanates, which are substances that make wasabi hot. They also aid in the growth of cavity fighting bacteria. Eating wasabi a few times per week can drastically reduce the chance of getting a cavity.
Perhaps the simplest thing you can do to have healthy teeth is to drink plenty of water. Drinking water keeps gums hydrated making them healthy and perfectly pink. Water is also necessary for creating saliva, which is the mouths greatest defense for fighting bacteria that causes plaque and cavities.

Brushing and flossing your teeth daily is imperative, but these foods can give you that extra boost to maintain a healthy mouth and beautiful smile.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

The Environmental Working Group has once again compiled its list of the dirtiest and cleanest veggies and fruits out there. The fruits and vegetables that make the dirty list are the produce items with the highest amounts of pesticides, meaning you should avoid buying unless they are organic! There are some changes from last year but some of the regulars like apples made the list once again this year.

The Dirty Dozen are:
  1. Apples
  2. Blueberries
  3. Celery
  4. Grapes (imported)
  5. Kale/Collard Greens
  6. Lettuce
  7. Nectarines (imported)
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Red, orange and yellow bell peppers
  11. Spinach
  12. Strawberries
Other fruits and veggies were close to be on the dirty dozen list again this year. Also buying these organic would be smart. All berries, bananas, cucumbers, green beans, all leafy greens and carrots have all been on the list in recent years. In the middle of dirty and clean is a small group of veggies. Broccoli, Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts only use a small amount of pesticides but to be safe it is recommend to buy organic or local for a truly pesticide meal or snack!
So what produce is clean?

The Clean Fifteen are:
  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocado
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Eggplant
  6. Grapefruit
  7. Kiwi
  8. Mango
  9. Mushrooms
  10. Onions
  11. Pineapple
  12. Sweet corn
  13. Sweet peas
  14. Sweet potatoes
  15. Watermelon
Buying from small farms is a good option because they use far less sprays than larger farms or the produce sold in grocery stores. Being aware of what produce is clean and which are dirty is so beneficial to you and your family. The food we put in our mouths is important and needs to be the best it can be so we can live happy, healthy and energetic lives!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cornflake Crusted Chicken Fingers

Makes 6 servings

Do you already feel like you’re stuck in the “what am I sending for lunch tomorrow” rut? Packing a delicious, nutritious lunch that children will eat and that parents will feel good about is often a challenge. This recipe is delicious, nutritious and fun to make with your kids. Serve with crunchy fruit or veggies.

6 boneless breasts, butterflied and sliced
1 large egg
2 cups organic crushed cornflakes
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice for taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Rinse chicken, and pat dry.
3. In a small bowl, whisk egg with 1tablespoon water and juice.
4. In a large bowl, mix cornflakes and flaxseed.
5. Working with one piece at a time, dip chicken in egg mixture, then coat with seasoned cornflakes, pressing flakes to help them adhere.
6. Transfer coated pieces to a rimmed baking sheet.
7. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.

Homemade Chicken Strips vs. Fast Food Nuggets

If your kids love to snack on chicken pieces, choose homemade fingers over fast food nuggets. Why? Homemade chicken fingers are made from real strips of hormone free chicken—usually breast meat, though thigh meat can be used—that are battered or breaded then baked or pan fried. Nuggets are made from chicken meat, skin, gristle, fat and other scraps that are puréed into a slurry, thickened with flour, molded into shapes, breaded then baked or fried. Your kids deserve the best, right? For more on this topic, check out Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Need we say anymore?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Smart, Kid-Friendly Snacking Tips

Snacking is a major pastime for kids and adults. It can help you and your children curb hunger throughout the day, as well as provide energy and nutrients. But the quality of your children's snacks is key. Consider these tips:

1. Give your kids a say. Offer comparable choices such as celery or carrots, sprouted toast or whole-grain crackers, apples or pears, cheese sticks or sliced cheese. Try to involve your children's help at the grocery store when you're selecting snacks or in the kitchen when you're preparing snacks.

2. Designate a snacking zone--a shelf or an area of the fridge where kids can grab things themselves.

3. If your children need to snack on the go, think beyond chips and cookies. Offer cheese, hummus, hard boiled eggs, whole grain crackers, nuts, raisins, goji berries, sliced chicken or beef from last night’s dinner.

4. Read and understand labels and marketing. Foods marketed as low fat or fat-free can still be high in sugar and chemicals. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Read the back of the box not the advertising in front

5. Whole-grain snacks not stripped of fiber such as whole-grain pretzels or tortillas and low-sugar, whole-grain cereals can give your children energy with some staying power. Especially paired with homemade guacamole or salsa.

6. Serve them fresh fruit or raw veggies with some thing to dip them in is always fun for kids. My kids love dipping anything!

7. Have your children to make towers out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with whole grain pretzel sticks or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit. Use a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter as glue.

8. Think outside the box. Offer something new, such as fresh pineapple, cranberries, bell peppers or roasted soy almonds.

9. Top celery, apples and bananas with peanut butter.

10. Many breakfast foods such as low-sugar, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain toast make great afternoon snacks.

11. Mix mashed bananas and peanut butter, spread between graham crackers and freeze. For a new twist on old snack-time favorites - freeze grapes or peeled bananas, or fill an ice cube tray with fresh watermelon juice or smoothies.

12. Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of cheese, whole-grain bread or whole-grain tortillas. Eat diced fruit with chopsticks. Give snacks funny names. Try the classic "ants on a log" - celery topped with peanut butter and raisins

13. Healthy snacks don't need to be bland. To satisfy your child's sweet tooth, bake goods such as oatmeal cookies, banana breads, pumpkin breads, and brownies.

14. Make your own smoothies. See my smoothie recipe from last week!

15. Promote independence. Make it easy for older children to help themselves. Keep a selection of ready-to-eat veggies in the refrigerator. Leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Have bowls of nuts out.

16. Offer plenty of water between meals. Liven it up with shaped ice cubes, a crazy straw, or a squirt of fruit juice.

17. Be a role model. Let your children catch you munching raw vegetables or snacking on a bowl of grapes.

18. Be patient. Your children's snacking habits may not change overnight.

Teaching your children to make healthy snack choices now will determine how they eat in the future.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strawberry Oat Thumb Print Cookies

Makes 15 cookies

My kids love to make these cookies for their lunch boxes. This treat is loaded with fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids Use oat flower instead of almond flower if your kids have a nut allergy or go to a nut free school. This cookie also doubles as a quick out the door grab and go breakfast.


6 tablespoon of softened butter/ coconut oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup agave nectar/ maple syrup
1/2 cup almonds flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/4 cup oat flour
Strawberry Jam
1 teaspoon flax seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl combine all the wet ingredients and mix with a hand blender.
3. In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
4. Combine them into one bowl.
5. Then, as always with me, get your hands in there and mix it all together until the dough is sticky and you can tell that is thoroughly combined.
6. Roll the dough into balls; I like mine to be about an inch and half to 2 inches.
7. Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and push your thumb into each ball.
8. Add a dollop of jam or preserves into the thumb imprint.
9. Sprinkle with powered sugar.
10. Bake for 15 min.

Homemade Fruit Spread

Making your own fruit spread is easy and it’s a great way to make sure your kids are eating products that don’t contain artificial flavors and colors and other unwanted additives. Simply add together juice, berries, and fruit pectin and you can create a jam that is perfect for spreading on toast or filling cookies. Mix your homemade jam with cream cheese/ ricotta cheese to create a protein packed frosting that’s the perfect topping for muffins and other baked goods.

Red Light, Green Light

This game will help raise your kids food IQ.
children will learn the difference between the foods that make your body go slow and the foods that make your body grow! Me and my wonderful intern Sophie Malamut designed this game and had such a wonderful time testing it on kids this summer.

Green light foods are found in nature and do not come in a package! You should try and eat these foods every day, because they nourish your body, making you healthy and strong.  These foods appear on your plate how they look in nature. You should be able to pick these foods from a garden or find them at a farmers market, ready to eat.

Yellow light foods are foods that are okay to eat sometimes. They don’t nourish you but aren’t extremely harmful toward your body either. These foods are usual found in packages but are not as bad as candy, soda, and fast food.

Red light foods mean STOP! These foods are loaded with fake ingredients and chemicals that are not good for your body. Red light foods are made in a lab from many ingredients and include “fast food” and candy.  You can’t find these foods in a garden. They are packaged in containers covered in words that you don’t recognize. If you can’t say it, don’t eat it!

Red Light Foods
French Fries
Potato Chips
Milk Shakes
Fast Food
Soda & Soft Drinks

 Yellow Light Foods
White, Refined Grains
Chocolate Milk
Ice Cream
Cereal Bars
Bottled Smoothies

Green Light Foods
Organic Fruits
Organic Vegetables
Organic Milk/ Milk Alternatives
Plain Yogurt
Sprouted Grains
Grass-fed Meat and Poultry
Homemade Smoothies

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tropical Guacamole

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and the pulp thoroughly mashed
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons orange or pineapple juice                                                           
¼ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
salt to taste

1. In a large bowl, mash the avocado
2. Stir in cilantro, juices, cumin and salt
3. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving, placing one of the avocado pits into the bowl to help
keep the guacamole from browning.

Why You Should Include Avocados In Your Children’s Diet
Avocados are on of nature’s most delicious, nutrient-packed superfoods. They contain important vitamins, which are essential to the growth and support of young bodies: vitamin A, C, D, E, K and the B complex vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate). They’re also bursting with potassium to help with muscle growth, lutein to maintain eye and skin health, glutathione to support cognitive ability and magnesium for brain and body function and omegas for concentration. Guacomole is the ultimate way to enjoy avocados. For something different, blend a few slices in your morning smoothie or use as an easy sandwich spread. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Before You Give Into Temptation, Learn How to Snack Outside the Box!

Most kids love to snack.  In fact, most grown-ups love to snack. And snacking can be healthy when we stop and evaluate the quality of what we eat. 

I have said it before and I will say it again, a snack is very different from a treat. A snack nourishes and energizes you.  A treat is usually a sugar high that depletes you and eventually makes you crash. Sometimes you may think it is easier and it can definitely be very tempting to pick that bag of chips or that candy bar, but selecting a healthy option is really more satisfying in the end.

Choosing what you are going to eat should not be a chore.  Below are some selections that should keep you satisfied until dinner but are still delicious and simple:

  • Air-popped popcorn with nutritional yeast to make it cheesy
  • Ants on a log: Just take some celery and spread almond butter/ ricotta cheese,/cream cheese onto it.  Then add some raisins/ dried cranberries, or goji berries.
  • Keep a big bowl of fruit on the counter for kids to grab, pair it with nut or cheese
  • Raw veggies dipped in hummus or a yogurt dip
  • Almonds and a cheese stick
  • Banana / Dates with nut butter
  • Crackers with cream cheese/goat cheese and cut up fruit
  • Hard boiled egg and carrots     
  • Mini pizzas—whole grain/sprouted English muffin with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese
  • Organic string cheese with grapes
  • Plain Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of flax seeds
  • Pinwheels.  Take a whole grain tortilla and lay your child's favorite sandwich items on it-- cheese,/turkey / nut butter butter/jelly..ect . Roll up the tortilla and slice it into one-inch pieces.
  • Trail mix: Mix raisins, goji berries, granola, and popcorn and toss it all together. Think about what your children like to eat and mix it all up. Then pre-portion the trail mix into smaller bags.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seasonal Smoothies

Makes 2 Servings

Smoothies are the perfect snack to grab after school or in the morning. They are a balanced-- loaded with complex carbs,  powerful proteins and fiber. It is perfect to keep you and your kids satisfied and focused for hours. Best of all kids can customize them .It is a great easy way to get kids involved in the kitchen and to take charge of their snacks. Easy,cheap, healthy, and most importantly out of the box.

1 cup of milk of choice -- almond, soy, rice, coconut, hemp, grass fed
1/4 plain yogurt

1 small ripe banana

1 cups mixed frozen berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

1 scoop of protein powder
1tablespoon flax seeds

1. Gather all ingredients.
2. Add the milk, frozen fruit, banana, protein powder, yogurt and flax seeds to you blender. 
3. Blend until smooth. Thickness tastes vary. I like my smoothies thick, my kids likes them thin. 
Add more milk if the blend is too stiff. Add more fruit if it is too thin.
4. Serve in smoothie glasses, garnish with a fresh strawberry and a fun swirly straw if you have one

Why add flax seeds?
Flaxseeds are a powerful source of fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, and potassium: and Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect kids brains and the hearts.  Flax also contains fiber, which acts as a broom sweeping out all the toxins and waste, keeping kids regular and happy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Powerhouse Foods For Eyesight

Adding the proper super foods to our diet can promote and maintain eye health as well as general health. The Antioxidants, highly concentrated in vibrant fruits and vegetables, have been shown to improve eye sight. Antioxidants that promote eye health include, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Highly pigmented fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants that benefit eye health. So, the next time you’re grocery shopping, choose fruits and vegetables that appear rich in color. When you color your plate. you color your world.

Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, the antioxidant pigment responsible for giving certain produce a vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A, which ensures normal functioning of the retina and prevents the development of night blindness. Vitamin A also protects against vision related degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. (Tip: If your kids aren’t fans of carrots, offer them watermelon instead, because this hydrating fruit contains the same antioxidants that promote eye health that carrots do.)

Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are loaded with antioxidants that promote eye health, including vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that protect the eye from damaging free radicals found in UV light. In other words, carotenoids act as a sun block for our eyes, preventing UV light from causing degenerative eye disorders. Fruits, such as mangoes, apricots, peaches, oranges, tangerines, and melons are also great source of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to prevent the development of degenerative eye disorders, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and even glaucoma. Vitamin C can also be found in tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. Additionally, these vitamin C containing foods are also great sources of lutein and lycopene, antioxidants that support eye health and prevent age-related degenerative disorders.

Goji berries are the number one source of zeaxanthin available. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid that protects our eye from age related degenerative changes. Goji berries are loaded with tons of antioxidants, especially carotenoids. Snacking on goji berries is a delicious way to protect your eyesight.

Sunflower seeds are packed with selenium, a mineral that prevents harmful free radicals from damaging the eye. Other sources of selenium include garlic, brown rice, oatmeal, and walnuts.

Avocados are the best fruit source of lutein, an antioxidant that protects the eye from degenerative disorders, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Avocados are extremely nutrient dense and contain an array of additional antioxidants that promote eye health, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Vitamin E is especially helpful in delaying cataract growth and preventing cataract formation. Other food sources of vitamin E include green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fortified cereals.

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote overall eye health and help to maintain proper eye moisture. Flax seeds and flax seed oil are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Edamame 411

Edamame is a Japanese soybean, commonly steamed and served as an appetizer. Recently, edamame has been popularized as a popcorn substitute and is offered in bulk, frozen, at Costco, Whole Foods, and other stores. Although edamame offers an array of health benefits, it should be eaten in moderation. If consumed in bulk, certain toxins and antinutrients can accumulate in our bodies and cause health problems.

First, always cook edamame. Raw and undercooked edamame has a higher concentration of toxins and phytoestrogens than does cooked edamame. Boiling or steaming edamame helps to destroy some of the toxins that are natural found inside the soybean. Secondly, try and avoid eating edamame in bulk. If you eat edamame in moderation you can get all of its health benefits without allowing its toxins to accumulate in your body.

On the plus side, edamame is loaded with antioxidants and isoflavones, which strengthen your immune system and protect your body from damaging free radicals. It has a high nutritional value and is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Edamame is loaded with B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Each bean contains an array of minerals, including iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, and manganese. Additionally, edamame is a great source of folate, which is especially important for pregnant women to ingest because it offers certain properties that help to prevent birth defects.

Edamame is the most protein rich soybean. We use protein to make enzymes and hormones, which are necessary to complete various bodily processes. Every edamame bean is about 35 percent protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, making edamame a complete protein. It’s a great snack for vegans and vegetarians who typically have a hard time getting sufficient protein in their diet.

Edamame is packed with fiber, which helps to maintain a healthy metabolism and digestive system. One serving of edamame provides you with more than 4 grams of fiber, so eating edamame in moderation is a great way to get your daily dose of fiber. Additionally, eating snacks that contain fiber helps to keep you satisfied longer, so that you can power through your day without experiencing cravings and fatigue.

Try roasting edamame with sea salt. Simply place unshelled edamame, sea salt, and olive oil in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. This is a great snack that’s loaded with protein and fiber, which help to sustain energy and keeps you satisfied. Best of all, roasting the edamame helps to destroy unwanted toxins that are naturally found in soybeans, so you get all the benefits without the antinutrients.

Back to School: Fast Lunchbox Snacks

With school almost back in session, It is time to think about what goes into those lunch boxes. Kids need healthy, fast snacks that will sustain their energy, appetite, and mood throughout their long days.

Healthy high quality snacks, that consist of powerful proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats are a great strategy for regulating blood sugar, appetite and warding off those mid-afternoon meltdowns.

The trap most parents fall into is not realizing the difference between a snack and a treat, or not being prepared enough to pack balanced snacks. A snack is merely a mini meal, meant to nourish your children. So Plan ahead and have healthy snack choices on hand. The ice cream truck is a treat, not a snack and will not sustain or nourish your kids.

Below are some of my favorite grab and go snacks, which should give you some ideas and help you plan ahead. I would love to hear your kids' favorite snacks!
  • Apple or pears with almond, peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter 
  • Lara bars- a great three ingredient snack bar 
  • Cottage cheese mixed with, berries, walnuts /almonds/flax seeds 
  • Hummus with carrot sticks/ sliced red/yellow/orange pepper 
  • Guacamole with carrot sticks/ sliced red/yellow/orange peppers 
  • Ricotta cheese mixed with cocoa powder, stevia, and vanilla extract topped with berries 
  • Hardboiled eggs with carrot and celery sticks and hummus 
  • Celery sticks with organic peanut butter or almond butter add raisins for kids 
  • Avocado slices wrapped in nitrate-free turkey breast 
  • A piece of sprouted grain toast sprouted-grain preferred nutritionally over whole grain with almond butter and bananas 
  • Fresh sliced pineapple with a handful of pistachio nuts 
  • A bowl of blueberries mixed with raw almonds 
  • Cottage cheese with cinnamon, apple slices, and walnuts 
  • Organic cheese stick and carrots

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Difference Between a Snack And a Treat

Snacking is a major pastime for kids and adults alike. Our lives are filled with busy work schedules, long school days, after school activities, play dates, and meetings. When we become hungry, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating and grab what’s most convenient. Making smart snacking choices; however, shouldn’t be a challenge, and snacking is not bad, if done right.  Stop the cycle of unhealthy snacking by thinking outside the box and discovering that snack boxes, bags, vending machines, and drive-thru’s are not your only choices. 

Don’t fall prey to marketing and advertizing, which doesn’t always have our best health interest at heart. Phrases like “Low Fat,” “Non-Fat,” and “Fat Free” can be misleading and may lead you to ignore other important facts about the foods you’re putting into your body. For example, McDonald’s recently came out with a new kid’s menu that they claim offers more healthy snack options than their previous menu. The menu was changed to satisfy people who criticize McDonalds for contributing to the growing population of obese people in Today’s world. Although the menu now includes apple slices and free milk, these rumored “healthy” options are loaded with sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. Unfortunately, the new menu has done more for publicity than it has done for the actual health of McDonald’s customers. 

The key to healthy snacking is to know the difference between a nutritious snack and a treat. Low fat muffins and granola bars may be easily accessible and seem like the healthiest choice, but these foods don’t contain important nutrients that your body needs to sustain energy and concentration. In fact, these foods are treats, not snacks. Smart snacks should be a primer of powerful protein, healthy brain boosting fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to maintain energy throughout your busy day. 

A nutritious snack includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Avoid synthetic food items that contain high amounts of sugar, artificial flavors and colors, sodium and chemicals meant to prolong the shelf life of a product. Be a label detective and look at the ingredients list before you put food into your body. Many foods that are marketed as “healthy” snacks are actually loaded with sugar. For example, sports drinks, cereals, granola bars, low fat muffins, and certain yogurts are packed with sugar.  Learning how to decode food labels can detect hidden sugar inside rumored healthy snacks.  Stay tune for our favorite healthy grab and go snacks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nathan’s "to die for" Hot Dog! How Much Is Your Health Worth?

Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest was held this year on Coney Island at the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. The winner was Joey Chestnut from San Jose, California. Chestnut ate a whopping 62 hotdogs to claim $20,000 in cash and prizes.

We all know that the hot dog, a classic summertime treat is not the healthiest thing we can eat. So are the cash and prizes won by Joey Chestnut worth the health consequences? And what about the consequences to our own health when we consume the hot dog? A hot dog is one of the most processed foods we can eat and is full of toxins, preservatives, sodium and food coloring. Hot dogs contain two of the worst chemicals found in foods today, sodium nitrate and MSG. Sodium-nitrate is a preservative that gives the hot dog its pinkish color and gives it a longer shelf-life. Eating too much sodium nitrate has been strongly linked to cancer.

MSG is another chemical in hot dogs that flavors the hot dog. However, this flavoring is so intense that it actually kills neurons. So by consuming a few hot dogs at a barbecue, you are, in fact, killing neurons and making yourself more at risk for various types of cancer. Therefore, the competitors participating in the hot dog eating contest are killing numerous neurons in their bodies and causing themselves to be at a much greater risk for cancer than they ever would be if they did not participate in the contest. If that is not enough to way the consequences of this contest, a single hot dog contains...
  • 297 calories 
  • 18.21 grams of fat
  • 6.88 grams of saturated fat
  •  .49 grams of trans fat
  • 34.40mg of cholesterol
  •  692.07mg of sodium
  •  23.98 grams of carbohydrates
Now multiply all of those values, which are shocking enough on their own, by 62. What do you think that amount of calories, fat and sodium does to your body?

With this said, I love organic turkey dogs, as they are a healthier alternative to regular hot dogs. Buying hot dogs that are labeled 100% beef, turkey, chicken or tofu and that are also labeled organic and nitrate free is a better option to the classic hot dog. Applegate is a my favorite brand. They are available in health food stores, or in the organic section of the grocery store. Pair them with a whole grain bun, organic ketchup and sliced avocado to makes a great summer snack or meal for kids without any negative health consequences.