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.