Monday, February 28, 2011

There Is No Investment More Important Then Your Kids Health

As a mother of two children, an educator and a health councilor, I live by the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Our children’s health is being greatly compromised by lifestyle, environment, diet and exercise. When we feed our children overly processed, pasteurized, and chemically infused snacks, loaded with partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, antibiotics and unpronounceable food additives.We our compromising their health and setting them up for a myriad of possible diseases.

The media is focused on obesity, but this is just one side effect of overfeeding and undernourishing our children with poor quality food and snack products. Kids today have higher levels of asthma, allergies, behavior problems and even cancer than years before. These health issues are connected to the poor quality food products that they are eating. You might say it's the by product of "convenience".

Our grandmother’s old saying, “we are what we eat” has never been more true. What we eat and feed our kids matters. While every person is different and there is not one diet that is good for all, what holds true is that most conditions and health are greatly improved when we make some simple dietary choices. While changing our families diet may seem time consuming and inconvenient, with some proper planning and a couple of easy tricks; transitioning to a healthy life style can be fun and easy. It also enables us to share some great quality time with our children. Here are some of my favorite tips:
  • Start by reading labels and removing artificial ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG and nitrates from children’s diets.
  • Plan your weekly meals and snacks. When you go shopping, stick to your list and never shop on and empty stomach.
  • Buy in bulk when you can and cook double batches so you can have a second meal or a snack ready to go. Some great things to purchase in bulk is nuts, grains, breakfast cereal or create your own trail mixes.
  • Buy hormone free meat and chicken. 
  • Buy local eggs, dairy, fruits and veggies. Visit your local farmers market.
  • Recycle leftovers – wrap them up in a whole grain wraps, throw them in stews or stir fries. Have your child cook with you. They are more apt to try new things if they are involved in the creation of the food.
  • Make a big batch of soup, stew or chili each week and freeze them in portion sizes for on those busy days.

Kid-Friendly Hummus Wrap

Kids love to eat what they help prepare. So instead of bearing the burden of what to pack for your children’s lunches or snacks each day, enlist their help. It’s a win, win situation! You will find they eat healthier, have less waste, and you, save time, aggravation and money.

While at first this might seem time consuming and inconvenient, with some proper planning and a couple of easy tricks it can be fun and easy. It also enables us to share some great quality time with our children. Stay tuned for some of my favorite shopping, preparation and getting your kids to eat healthy tips!

Makes 1 3/4 cups hummus, or enough for six or seven wraps

Hummus Ingredients:
1 to 2 garlic cloves
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Sea Salt to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Wrap Ingredients:
4 tablespoons tahini or plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large flour tortilla or whole wheat wrap

1 avocado
1 red pepper or veggie of choice leaves

1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic cloves. Process until they are chopped and adhere to the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
2.Warm a large flour tortilla for about 10 over a burner, just until flexible.
3. Lay it on your work surface and cover with lettuce leaves, leaving a Place desired amount of hummus (about 1/4 cup) on top of the lettuce on the bottom half of the tortilla. Top with the red pepper, avocado.
4. Fold the bottom edge of the tortilla over the filling. Fold in the sides, and then roll up, squeezing the tortilla so that the roll is compact. Place the roll on a piece of plastic wrap. Fold in the sides of the plastic over the ends of the wrap, and roll up tightly to secure. Refrigerate for at least five minutes and for as long as 24 hours.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Banana Bread That will Help Beat The Ground Hog Day Blues

If you are anything like me, and winter is getting you down this yummy healthy banana chip bread is a great pick me up. It's high omega 3 content should help banish the winter blues, as well as making your house smell great, and making your kids smile. Best yet, it won't hurt your waistline. A perfect snack or grab and go breakfast for the whole family.


1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
2 teaspoons flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease baking pan. 
2. Combine oil and maple syrup, then add eggs and mix well. 
3. Stir in mashed bananas, flax seeds and vanilla; then stir in salt and flour. 
4. Mix baking soda with water; then stir into banana mixture. Fold in chopped chips. 
5. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes.
6. Let cool before slicing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Working With a Child’s Diet Can Help Reduce Symptoms Of ADHD

In  the News: Eggs, Diet and ADHD
Several  interesting reports were released last week.  The first was new data showing that the nutrition in eggs is better than previously thought.  They have less cholesterol and more vitamin D. I personally love eggs, however I only use organic grass fed eggs. They are easy to prepare, chock-full of nutrition and loaded with omega's which are great for kids concentration and brain development

Another study published in The Lancet showed that a strict elimination diet decreased symptoms in kids with ADHD by 60 percent.  The study uncovers how working closely with a child’s diet can help reduce symptoms.  More research still needs to be done, but evidence shows that diet may be an alternative--or a support--to medication for ADHD.

 Twelve years ago, before anyone was talking about this, I worked with  The Eras Center in Los Angeles, a special needs school with a high population with kids with ADHD, autism and other special needs. I was employed as a creative arts therapist. When I was hired, I was instructed to follow the footsteps of the person before  me, who would do a 20 minute activity with the kids, and then if they were able to sit through the group without disrupting, they would get to pick a sugary treat from a hat. 

When they hired me, they had no idea my intense passion for healthy food, how I grew up with a 550 pound dad, how I watched his incredible struggles, and how, from the age of eight, I had read about every existing dietary theory. In short, they didn't know my passion has always been about showing people how to make good food choices.

After a couple of weeks I convinced my supervisor that I would give stickers for rewards instead of candy. The kids were just as happy.  A couple weeks late,  I convinced  my boss to give high protein snacks such as cheese sticks, and homemade smoothies that the kids would prepare themselves throughout the day.

 A couple weeks after that, I began hosting parent workshops in order to get the parents involved in helping their children make better food choices. 

 Within less then a year, 50 percent of the children were able to get off medication with an intense food detox diet.  I did daily cooking classes with the students, and kids who previously only liked artificially-colored  blue or red foods, were now eating colors from fruit and veggies. Feeding kids a healthful diet can often seem like a huge task--after all, even seemingly "healthy" foods are loaded with nitrates, MSG, preservatives and other triggers. A nutrient-dense, whole food diets take work and preparation.  That is where I come in. I help you decipher your children's food triggers, and help you  enrich their diets with delicious kid-friendly superfoods that are fast and easy to make.

Personal and group classes available. Check out for more info!

"With some simple and delicious changes to the snacks we fed our students, Dawn helped many of out students wean off medications for depression, ADD, and ADHD. Our teachers noticed how much more focused the children were only minutes after snack time. What's more, her snacks were delicious and easy to prepare."-Mishelle Ross, Ph.D., mother and Director of the Eras Center, Culver City, California
And lastly, I want to share my contribution thoughts about superfoods for kids, which were featured in the current issue of New York Family:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Berry Smoothie----the perfect way to start your kids day

To me, sending my kids off to school nourished is a must. Especially on Valentine's Day when I know my kids are going to be bombarded with well meaning parents and teachers expressing love with sugary treats. I find, if my kids are well nourished even if they have treat at school they are less likely to over indulge. This bright red berry smoothie is the perfect start on valentine’s morning.

1 cup of milk of choice (almond, soy, rice, coconut, hemp)
1/2 plain yogurt

1 small ripe banana

1 1/4 cups mixed frozen berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)

1 scoop of protein powder
1 tablespoon flax seeds

1. Gather all your 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.
4. Add more milk if the blend is too stiff. Add more fruit if it is too thin.
5. 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 heart. Flax also contains substances called lignins, which are an excellent source of fiber to keep kids regular and happy!