Category Archives: Nutrition

What’s The Best Way To Refresh Post-workout? Coconut Water or Sports Drinks?

What’s the Best Way To Refresh Post-Workout- Coconut Water vs. Gatorade vs. Powerade?

This is a guest post by Shannon White, the choreographer of the MECKids Dream Team.

The “New” Kid in Town                                   

Before you divorce your favorite sports drink for nature’s alternative, ask yourself if you’ve tried to work it out. Let’s take a moment to make sure this is the right decision. Rehydration after a strenuous activity (like playing with your kids) is essential to ensure that your body replenishes its nutrients. In the last few years, coconut water has splashed on the scene in the U.S., with celebrity endorsements and big names like Pepsi and Coca-Cola getting in on the action too. Coconut water is far from new, however. Americans are “tardy for the party”; tropical countries (Caribbean, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia) where the young, green coconuts are found have been getting the “super water” straight from the source for many years.

MECKids Mission: To find out whether or not coconut water is an adequate, healthy substitute for popular sports drinks of today.

Water WIth Lemon

Why all the Fuss?

What is so great about coconut water anyway? If the liquid from this tropical fruit isn’t manipulated too much, coconut water is a natural, low calorie source of electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium) with a slight nutty and refreshing taste. In fact, the Molecules scientific journal boasts that it can also help to prevent heart attacks and treat kidney stones. Its other benefits include:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Fights free radicals to help fight cancer
  • Can have anti-aging affects
  • Has trans-zeatin that is used to prevent and/or treat Alzheimer’s and dementia

So far so good, right? Let’s continue.

Potassium is the key electrolyte that contributes to coconut water’s star power— if electrolytes were famous, potassium would be an A-list celebrity. It helps not only control the amount of water in your body, but it also helps maintain a healthy pH level in the blood. Because there aren’t as many sources that are rich in potassium as say, sodium, potassium deficiency is very common, especially in African American women. If severe, it can be fatal (eek!).

Raw coconut water has about 20 times the potassium of Gatorade, which equals about four bananas. For all the banana haters out there, talk about a win!

Does it measure up?

e5aacdb5-c77f-4654-b0be-7179bf747b32Even though potassium is a salt (which we now know is important), it’s not the primary salt we lose while sweating it out. That prize goes to sodium. Here are the cold (and refreshing) facts: Powerade and Gatorade both have more than double the amount of sodium of coconut water per ounce. Normally, less sodium means it’s better for you. But in this case, sodium is the most essential electrolyte to the rehydration process (after a strenuous workout). The Scientific Committee on Food suggests 460-1150 milligrams of sodium per liter in order to rehydrate properly. Sodium helps the small intestine absorb water and carbohydrates, helping to replenish fluids and energy. In other words, coconut water does not have enough sodium content to roll with the rehydration “big dogs” Gatorade and Powerade. Stick with these engineered performance drinks for optimal rehydration after your workout.

Don’t Say it’s Over

cut coconutDon’t fret though, albeit coconut water isn’t your go-to after a workout, it can still be your go-to for a potassium supplement, along with the other benefits mentioned above. Just make sure you pick the right brand. Because of the mass marketing of coconut water, a lot of companies are cutting corners to get (and keep) their products on the shelves. Coconut water is incredibly perishable once it’s taken from the coconut, meaning that its nutrients are literally a ticking time bomb. Most companies use concentrates or heat to pasteurize the nutrients right out of the water or use a mature (and less nutritious) coconut as a substitute, masking the acidic taste with sweetener and fruit flavors.

Vani Hari of Foodbabe.com suggests keeping it simple. Pay attention to the labels and avoid:

  • Concentrates
  • Heat Pasteurization
  • Added “fruit” flavors
  • Added sweeteners

Try an organic or raw brand from your local organic store. If there isn’t one nearby, Amazon has a few organic brands that ship within a few days (Harmless Harvest is at the top of our list!) And if you happen to visit any tropical areas this summer, make sure you try the best way— straight from the source!

Do you drink coconut water or sports drinks after you workout and what has been your experience? Please share in the comments below!

So now it is time to decide if Gatorade or Powerade is better for you. Click here to take a look at our article for a comparison of the two.

 

 

roasted chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

roasted chickpeas

Toddler and Dad approved, Bookofyum.com‘s crunchy twist on a usually soft favorite is low in carbs, gluten free and high in protein, too. It’s also Vegan! Translation: Roasted chickpeas? Yes, Please!

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • herb blend, herbamare or other mild herbal salt blend (salt-free
  • is ok)
  • smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Drain chickpeas in a strainer. If you desire a lower sodium batch, rinse with water.
  4. Place in a bowl lined with a cloth towel.
  5. Pat the chickpeas dry and rub off any translucent skins. Turn the towel wrapped chickpeas upside down into the bowl, removing the towel.
  6. Drizzle the oil over the chickpeas, distributing evenly.
  7. Pour the chickpeas onto the baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with your herb blend, herbamare, smoked paprika, and then nutritional yeast.
  8. Roast for 30-40 minutes.

Enjoy!

You can receive more healthy recipes right in your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter! Click here to sign-up today! Be sure to come back and let us know how your chickpeas turned out!

The Nutrients You’re Not Getting

The Nutrients You’re Not Getting

This is a guest post by Shannon White, the choreographer of the MECKids Dream Team.

Every once in a while, the government comes out with a study letting us know that we are not getting one (or many) of the key nutrients we need in our diets. Then comes the subsequent panic: What are they? Who can remember all of those, and better yet, what foods can you get them from?! Never fear… the most AWESOMEST healthy snack list is here!

Photo From: www.hsph.harvard.edu/

Here is what you’re not getting— And how to get it!

  • Calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones (dairy products, leafy green veggies, fish with bones)
  • Fiber keeps us regular, helps you lose weight, stay full longer and improves your health (fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains)
  • Magnesium helps keep your blood pressure normal, keeps your bones strong and keeps the heart beating rhythmically (nuts, seeds, bran, halibut and other fish)
  • Potassium acts as an electrolyte that maintains your body’s fluid balance and keeps many of the body’s organs in good condition (potatoes, tomato paste/puree, white beans, yogurt, soybeans, bananas)
  • Vitamin A plays a major role in bone growth, reproduction and a healthy immune system (orange veggies, leafy green veggies, organ meats)
  • Vitamin C protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease and skin wrinkling (fruits and veggies, red/green peppers, kiwis and guavas)
  • Vitamin E helps fight the signs of aging, protects the skin from sun damage and lowers skin cancer risks (some cereals, some oils, almonds, peanut butter)

Now it’s time to get your (healthy) snack on! Be sure to sign-up for our newsletter to receive healthy recipes and snack ideas right in your inbox! Click here to join our list today!

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? Please share in your comments!

Powerade VS. Gatorade

Powerade VS. Gatorade

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Water is one of the best things for you and we need it to survive because it keeps you hydrated. There are also other drinks that help you hydrate by giving you electrolytes and nutrients lost in sweat like Gatorade and Powerade. The question is which one is better for you I drink both when I’m playing soccer in my games, at practice, or at a camp. The best thing about both of them is that they are beneficial and they both taste good there are also many flavors to try, time to find out which one is better.

People may think that Gatorade is better because it has more flavors that are delicious from cucumber lime to fierce melon. but is that the only reason why it’s good? Gatorade started in 1965 at the University of Florida (home of the gators). Gatorade is used to fight dehydration and is a mix of water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes all of those together are very effective with handling dehydration. Your body starts to cramp when you do not have enough potassium but drinks like Gatorade and orange juice have potassium which will help you avoid those extremely painful cramps. Gatorade also has different types of drinks for different situations some of them are for before you play, while you play, and after you play there are also energy chews. Gatorade also gives you the opportunity to have it where ever you have water because they sell Gatorade powder in which you can make your own Gatorade just by mixing it with water.

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Gatorade is not the only sports drink out there that tastes good and is good for you Powerade is Gatorade’s prime competition. People may prefer Powerade because it has Vitamins in it (B-3, B-6, and B-12) and it tastes good. Aside from giving you carbs, electrolytes and water Powerade also provides you with vitamins like B-3, B-6, and B-12. Based off of a 2,000calorie diet per day Powerade provides ten percent of your daily value of vitamins. Vitamin B-3 is associated converting food into energy and digestion, Vitamin B-6 is associated with the production of red blood cells, which adds oxygen to the blood stream, and Vitamin B-12 maintains the blood cell count. Also Powerade also offers a zero calorie version which is good for people who do not want such sugary drinks. I think Powerade is great because it contains these vitamins and I also think that is why it is so popular among athletes.

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So now it is time to decide which one overall is better for you Gatorade or Powerade. Gatorade’s best features are all the different flavors they have, and all the different forms they have. Powerade’s best features are they have vitamins and minerals (B-3, B-6, and B-12), and it has a zero calorie form. Because Gatorade and Powerade are so similar the best way to see which one is better for you is to do it based off of nutritional facts. For carbs,Gatorade uses sucrose, and dextrose which are two simple sugars and Powerade uses high fructose corn syrup which is associated with certain health issues. For electrolytes Gatorade has more potassium and sodium which is necessary for athletes but Powerade also features vitamins. Powerade and Gatorade are both great sports drinks but if you are doing marathon level distances or high level intensity activities than Gatorade is the better choice, Gatorade also has a lot more flavors than Powerade.

Spaghetti for breakfast?! DO we dare?! WE DO!

Waking up to a bowl of WHOLE GRAIN pasta for breakfast may be a deviation from usual your bowl of cereal, but it turns out that you can eat this Italian staple for your morning meal. Just make sure it’s whole grain.

Typically, pasta is not associated with breakfast, but why not? Pasta is filled with tons of carbohydrates which convert to energy and what better way to start your day. Whole grain pasta is a way better way to start your day rather than a bowl of sugary cereal.

With this said, I am saying a “healthy” pasta breakfast is great for the body. Avoid fettuccine alfredo and other sauces made with high-fat cream.

Liz Pearson, leading Canadian dietitian and best-selling author, says that “eating whole grain pasta provides essential nutrients, such as fiber, calcium, selenium, potassium, zinc, magnesium and vitamins K and E.” She points to a Cornell University study which found that more than 80 percent of disease-fighting antioxidants are found in the bran or germ part of the whole grain, which is removed in refined grains. “Whole grains have an antioxidant content that rivals or exceeds that of fruits and vegetables, and contain as much as double the calcium and selenium, four times more fiber, potassium and zinc, six times more magnesium and vitamin K, and 14 times more vitamin E than refined grains,” she explains.

Scientific studies link eating more whole grains to a reduced waistline, she adds, pointing to a recent Penn State study of 50 obese adults on a calorie-reduced diet, half of whom ate only whole grains while the other half ate only refined grains over a 12-week period.

Research also suggests that the regular consumption of whole grains translates into lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

One of the recipes I love for morning spaghetti is the ‘Breakfast pasta with bacon and poached egg’ found on joybaker.com.

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Breakfast Pasta with Bacon and Poached Eggs

serves 2 and is easily doubled
8 ounces dried spaghetti
4 slices thick-sliced bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
juice of 1 lemon
small handful coarsely chopped parsley
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
salt and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 large eggs, poached

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place uncooked bacon on a single layer atop the foil.  Place in the oven and allow to cook until  bacon is crisp, 8 to 12 minutes depending on how crisp you like your bacon.  Remove from the oven and placed the bacon on two paper towel atop a dinner plate.  Allow to rest until cool enough to handle.  When cool, chop coarsely.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a large pinch of salt to the boiling water and add dry spaghetti.  Cook until al-dente then drain.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add the sliced garlic and cook over low heat until the oil is fragrant and the garlic is just slightly golden.  Remove from the heat and add butter.  Stir to melt.

In a large bowl, toss together warm drained pasta, garlic oil with butter, lemon juice, parsley, bacon, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Poach eggs, according to your own genius.

Divide between bowls and top with egg.  Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.  This breakfast is best served the day it is made.

 

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Can’t get enough of spaghetti for breakfast! Try it with your family and share your thoughts on the comment feed found below!

 

 

Whole Grain Pasta Facts Found here: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/816050/pasta-for-breakfast-is-good-for-your-health-1

Breakfast pasta with bacon and poached eggs recipe found here: http://joythebaker.com/2013/09/breakfast-pasta-with-bacon-and-poached-eggs/

H2O Intolerant

Let’s face it, most of us know how much water is essential to everyday health, but we neglect to meet the requirement.

Soda can be more inexpensive and convenient than a bottle of Aqaufina™ . Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, headaches, acne, and a general weakness. I have found that even drinking a cup of water with your breakfast- instead of my  usual juice- wakes me up and makes me feel just as energized as if I had a cup of coffee. The dreaded “Eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day” rule makes drinking water sound like a chore. However, I have learned a plethora of tips to help make drinking water easier.


 

Have it handy

When I was younger, I used to love to drink water. When all my friends would respond with Sprite™ or Coca Cola™ when asked what their favorite drink was, I would always stay faithful to H2O. I even drank water when it became hot from sitting in the car all day. Nowadays, with such a busy schedule, I usually choose whatever is convenient when I find myself parched.

It’s pretty self explanatory that keeping a bottle or tumbler accessible at all times can make drinking water a habit. Whether it be in your locker, on your desk, or by your bedside table, reminding yourself that water is available will make the need come naturally.

Spice it up

I used to go to camp every July. The sticky, humid air of Louisiana would weigh all of us down, and we would have our water bottle strapped to our hips at all times. The counselors made it a rule that before we ate, we had to drink three glasses of water. It was not fun for me, especially since being told what to do takes the fun out of everything. So I began to put watermelon cubes in my glass as a way to sweeten the chore. Ever since then, naturally flavored water is my preference.

You can flavor water with any type of fruit, excluding bananas. My mother prefers lemon and lime water. I like to use strawberries and watermelon. It’s simple to make infused water. Here are the steps:

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Step One: Choose your fruit

Here are some fruits that I had handy. Today I am choosing the trusty watermelon. I am also using the mason jar, even though all these containers are viable possibilities. You can even make it in a pitcher.

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Step Two: Squeeze!

After putting the fruit in the container, take a spoon or spatula and squeeze all the available juice out. Try to avoid mangling the fruit itself.

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Step Three: Ice Ice, Baby

Using a handful of ice cubes, pack down the fruit.

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Step Four: Take a Chill Pill

Fill with water and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours. I steep mine overnight.

Another good tip regarding variety is to eat your water. Foods containing high percentages of water can hydrate you. Watermelon, cucumbers, celery, or even soup with a lighter broth can count as your water intake.

Track it

You don’t actually have to follow the 8×8 rule, you just need to remember when and how frequently you should be drinking in the first place. There are many apps available, like Waterlogged, that has set reminders for water breaks. If apps aren’t your thing, you can set alarms to drink 2-3 glasses in intervals throughout the day. Here is a helpful chart to find how much water you should technically be drinking:

http://www.slenderkitchen.com/how-to-calculate-how-much-water-you-should-drink-a-day/

Stay Healthy,

Adia

Happy National Nutrition Month!

PrintHappy National Nutrition Month MECKids! This month marks an annual celebration of nutrition education sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In recognition of this delicious and nutritious campaign, we will be featuring weekly blogs and healthy recipes that highlight this year’s theme of what “Enjoy the Taste Eating Right” means to us and the importance of making  informed food choices and developing sound nutritional habits!

As the largest health and fitness community designed just for youth and families, MECKids believes that practicing healthy eating habits and daily nutrition at a young age is the key to shaping a healthy, balanced, fruitful lifestyle throughout a lifetime.  Eating clean  and green also fortifies our bodies and helps to combat health issues such as childhood obesity. We “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” by nourishing our minds and bodies with the tasty treats found in nature’s very own garden- fruits and vegetables! Rich with vitamins and minerals, these super foods deliver great flavor, bountiful benefits and are amazingly fun to eat, as well!

Today’s healthy, fun and flavorful recipe is for Apple Sandwiches! Apples are a great source of vitamin C, A and fiber and these wonderful nutrients promote great heart health.  It’s true what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so it green and enjoy this delicious fruit snack!

Ingredients:

* 1-2 apples cut into rings970199af107f462d69d24f6e983ff9ec

* almond  or seed butter

* raisins

* granola

Directions:

* Spread almond or seed butter on one apple ring and place chocolate chips on top of butter.

* Sprinkle raisins with granola and top with a second apple ring to make a “sandwich.”

Yummy! Eat clean and Enjoy!

Everyday Activities Can be Just as Beneficial as Going to the Gym?

According to a new study, short stretches of physical activities such as raking leaves, taking the stairs, etc throughout the day can be just as useful as going to the gym.

More than 6,000 American adults were looked at by researchers and found that this “active lifestyle approach” seems to be just as effective as planned exercises in preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and etc.

“Our results suggest that engaging in an active lifestyle approach, compared to a structured exercise approach, may be just as beneficial in improving various health outcomes,” study author Paul Loprinzi said in an Oregon State University news release. “We encourage people to seek out opportunities to be active when the choice is available. For example, rather than sitting while talking on the phone, use this opportunity to get in some activity by pacing around while talking.”

“You hear that less than 10 percent of Americans exercise and it gives the perception that people are lazy,” study co-author Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise and sports science at Oregon State, said in the news release. “Our research shows that more than 40 percent of adults achieved the exercise guidelines, by making movement a way of life.”

The study was published in the January/February issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Many people say they don’t get enough exercise due to lack of time. These findings are promising in that they show that simply incorporating movement into everyday activities can provide health benefits, Cardinal said.

“This is a more natural way to exercise — just to walk more and move around a bit more,” he noted. “We are designed by nature as beings who are supposed to move. People get it in their minds: ‘If I don’t get that 30 minutes, I might as well not exercise at all.’ Our results really challenge that perception and give people meaningful, realistic options for meeting the physical activity guidelines.”

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Hands-On Time: 10min

Cook Time: 35min

Ready In: 45min

Yield: 4-6

This recipe is my go to when I’ve got sick kids or we need a comforting and filling supper. I usually use rotisserie chicken when I make this, or any other leftover chicken I have on hand, and I add lots of vegetables and noodles to make it extra chunky. Grandma was right, chicken soup really is a cure-all, especially when it can be made from start to finish in just over half an hour. Serve with biscuits or crispy crackers to sop up all the flavorful broth.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large stockpot, melt butter with olive oil over medium low heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add broth, turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
  3. Add egg noodles and cook for approximately 9 minutes, or until noodles are tender.
  4. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, stir in chicken and parsley and cook for 5 minutes more, or until chicken is heated through. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed.

 

Confetti Soup

Here’s another receipe that you need a grownup’s help b/c you need to use the oven/stove and chopping with a knife.

Prep time: 1 hour

What you need:

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 cups raw carrots, diced

1/3 cup raw kale, chopped

¼ cup onion, chopped

¼ cup celery, chopped

½ teaspoon black pepper

3½ cups water

2 tablespoons raw parsley

¼ teaspoon whole fennel seed

Pinch of crushed red pepper

1 pound black-eyed peas

½ pound turkey ham

½ teaspoon salt

Equipment and Supplies

 

Strainer

Large stockpot

Measuring cups/spoons

Oven/stove

What to do:

 

Place a large pot over medium high heat. Add the oil, chopped onion, and chopped celery and cook until translucent (the pieces will be soft and you can sort of see through them).

Add the diced carrots, salt, pepper, fennel seed, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the black-eyed peas and water and cook for 25-30 minutes.

When the peas are soft, add the turkey ham and kale and cook for another 10 minutes until the kale is tender.

Adjust seasoning (if necessary) and serve.

How much does this recipe make?

Six servings

Fish Sticks

 Everyone loves a great Fish Stick…and its easy to make too…just try these easy steps!

Makes: 4 servings

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole-wheat dry breadcrumbs, (see Shopping Tip) or 1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 1/2-by-3-inch strips

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.
  2. Place breadcrumbs, cereal flakes, lemon pepper, garlic powder, paprika and salt in a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Transfer to a shallow dish.
  3. Place flour in a second shallow dish and egg whites in a third shallow dish. Dredge each strip of fish in the flour, dip it in the egg and then coat all sides with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the prepared rack. Coat both sides of the breaded fish with cooking spray.
  4. Bake until the fish is cooked through and the breading is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Shopping Tip: We like the Ian’s brand of whole-wheat dry breadcrumbs, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs,” for their coarse and crunchy texture. Find them in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or substitute plain dry breadcrumbs (they’re finer so you need less).

NUTRITION

Per serving: 274 calories; 3 g fat ( 1 g sat , 1 g mono ); 57 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 29 g protein; 3 g fiber; 479 mg sodium; 464 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (86% daily value), Foliate (24% dv); Iron (15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 2 starch, 3 1/2 very lean meat

 

 

Bean and Roasted Pepper Burgers

Have you every had a bean burger?  It tastes great…and is less fat and healthier than ground beef.  Try it out..you’ll love it like I do!

Bean and Roasted Pepper Burgers

Prep Time 15min

Bean burgers can be dry, but this one uses richly flavored and textured roasted red peppers to add body and moisture to the chickpeas.

What you’ll need

 

1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers plus 2 Tablespoons liquid from jar

4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 clove garlic, minced

2/3 cup panko bread crumbs

 

Notes:

Yields 4 patties

How to make it

Pour beans into a food processor or blender and add peppers, onions, salt and garlic.

Pulse until a thick paste forms but tiny chunks of beans are still visible.

Spoon into a bowl and add panko crumbs, mixing well until a thick dough forms.

Form into 4 patties and cook over a preheated grill pan or lightly greased skillet, about 4 minutes per side.

Serve on whole wheat buns with your favorite condiments and veggies.

Central Valley Harvest Cake

This receipe you may want to get mom or dad’s help with like I did…bc you need to use the oven/stove and chopping with a knife.

Prep time: 90 minutes

What you need:

1¼ pounds butternut squash, cubed

1½ tablespoons red bell pepper, chopped

1¾ teaspoon jalapeño pepper, chopped

2½ tablespoons yellow onion, diced

5 tablespoons applesauce

5 tablespoons black beans, drained

3½ teaspoons fresh oregano

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red quinoa (to be prepared according to package directions)

½ cup low-fat granola

Equipment and supplies:

 

Knife

Cutting board

Sheet pans

Aluminum foil

Measuring cups/spoons

Pot for cooking quinoa

Three large bowls

6×6-inch baking dish

Oven/stove

What to do:

 

Line two pans with foil.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine cubed squash, chopped red pepper, and chopped jalapeño pepper in a mixing bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Place squash mixture on a lined pan and roast in oven for 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, toss chopped onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Spread onions on second lined pan and roast in oven for 10 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, prepare 2 tablespoons quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine quinoa, applesauce, black beans, oregano, and salt.

When cool, add squash mixture and onions to the bowl. Toss lightly.

Place into the baking dish.

Top with granola.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until granola is slightly browned.

How much does this recipe make?

Six ½-cup servings

Berry Tasty Muffins

Another fav receipe…why not try it at home yourself.

Berry Tasty Muffins

Prep time: about 40 minutes
What you need:

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. oatmeal
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. blueberries, washed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk
  • ¼ c. vegetable oil
  • nonstick cooking spray

Equipment and supplies:

  • oven (you’ll need help from your adult assistant)
  • mixing spoon
  • 2 large bowls
  • fork
  • muffin/cupcake tin
  • paper muffin/cupcake liners
  • wire rack for cooling muffins
  • measuring cups and spoons

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Mix in blueberries.
  4. In another bowl, break the egg and use a fork to beat it just a little bit. Then add the milk and vegetable oil, and mix.
  5. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl.
  6. Using a mixing spoon, mix about 25 or 30 times. Don’t mix too much! Your muffin mixture should be lumpy, not smooth.
  7. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or lightly spray with nonstick spray. Spoon in the muffin mix. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way up.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  9. When muffins are finished baking, remove from muffin tin and cool them on a wire rack.
  10. Enjoy your berry tasty muffins!

How much does this recipe make?
12 muffins
Nutritional analysis (per serving):
136 calories
3 g protein
6 g fat
19 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
18 mg cholesterol
344 mg sodium
86 mg calcium
0.9 mg iron

Note: Nutritional analysis may vary depending on ingredient brands used.

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Here’s one of my favorite things to make at home….you can try it too!

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Prep Time 25 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes

 

How did we make a finger-licking chicken recipe more family-friendly? First, we replaced the traditional bone-in chicken wings with boneless strips of white meat, then we swapped in oven-baking for deep-frying. That gave us a lower-fat dish that’s also easier for kids to help prepare. Finally, we whipped up a simple blue cheese dip, great for dunking both the chicken strips and a healthy serving of celery.

 

by Alexandra Kennedy | Photographs by Bill Milne

What you’ll need

 

Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips

1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

canola oil cooking spray

 

Buffalo Sauce

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot sauce (we used Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce)

1/4 cup butter

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

 

Blue Cheese Dip

6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

 

Notes:

 

Serves 8

How to make it

 

In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the ingredients for the blue cheese dip, mashing the cheese crumbles into small lumps as you work. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Make the sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the hot sauce and the vinegar. Set the sauce aside.

 

Heat the oven to 450° F. Arrange three shallow bowls for dredging the chicken. Put the flour in the first bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg in the second, and stir together the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper in the third. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.

 

Coat each chicken strip by dredging it first in the flour and then in the buttermilk mixture. Press each piece into the bread crumbs, then transfer the strips to a baking sheet. Space the pieces on the sheet so that they don’t touch. Lightly spray the strips with oil.

 

Bake the strips for 10 minutes. Flip each piece and spray them again. Return the strips to the oven and cook them until they’re golden on the outside and no longer pink on the inside, about 10 minutes longer.

 

Brush each baked strip on both sides with the sauce (apply it generously for grown-ups, less so for kids who prefer a milder version). Serve the strips with the blue cheese dip and celery sticks on the side.

 

Nutritional Information

 

Per serving (3 chicken tenders) Calories 279, Total Fat 10 g (16%), Saturated Fat 5 g (24%), Cholesterol 115 mg (38%), Sodium 770 mg (32%), Total Carbohydrate 17 g (6%), Fiber 0.7 g (3%), Sugars 2 g, Protein 29 g (57%)

Healthy snacks for kids: 10 child-friendly tips

If you’re like most parents running from home to school to work with the kids, its hard to plan in advance for eating healthy.  So we’ve made it easy for you with a few healthy snace ideas kids will love. Consider 10 tips for quick-and-healthy snacks.

Snacking is a major pastime for many kids — and that’s not necessarily bad. Nutritious snacking can help your child curb hunger throughout the day, as well as provide energy and important nutrients. Find out how to make healthy snacks for kids.

1.      Keep junk food out of the house

Your child won’t clamor for cookies, candy bars or chips if you don’t keep them on hand. Set a good example by choosing healthy snacks yourself.

2.     Go for the grain

Whole-grain foods — such as whole-grain pretzels or tortillas and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — provide energy with some staying power.

3.     Mix and match

Serve baby carrots or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing or hummus. Dip graham cracker sticks or fresh fruit in fat-free yogurt. Spread peanut butter on celery, apples or bananas.

4.      Broaden the menu

Offer out-of-the-usual fare, such as pineapple, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, mangoes, tangelos or roasted soy nuts.

5.      Revisit breakfast

Serve breakfast foods — such as scrambled eggs and whole-grain toast — as healthy snacks for kids in the afternoon.

6.      Sweeten it up

Healthy snacks for kids don’t have to be bland. To satisfy your child’s sweet tooth, offer fat-free pudding, frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars. Make smoothies with skim milk, fat-free yogurt, and fresh or frozen fruit.

7.       Have fun

Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of low-fat cheese slices, whole-grain bread or whole-grain tortillas. Make fruit kebabs or show your child how to eat diced fruit with chopsticks. Make a tower out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit.

8.      Promote independence

Keep a selection of ready-to-eat veggies in the refrigerator. Leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Store low-sugar, whole-grain cereal and fruit canned or packaged in its own juice in an easily accessible cabinet.

9.      Don’t be fooled by labeling gimmicks

Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories and sodium. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Check nutrition labels to find out the whole story.

10.  Designate a snacking zone

Restrict snacking to certain areas, such as the kitchen. You’ll save your child countless calories from mindless munching in front of the TV. If your child needs to snack on the go, offer string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars, a banana or other drip-free items.

Teaching your child to make healthy snack choices now will help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. Start today!

Banana Bread

MY FAVORITE!!!!

Banana Bread

What you need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ c. sifted flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

Equipment and supplies:

  • oven (you’ll need help from your adult assistant)
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • mixer
  • sifter
  • spatula
  • small bowl
  • medium-size bowl
  • large bowl
  • bread pan coated with nonstick cooking spray

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Beat eggs well in a small bowl.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, add the vegetable oil. Add the sugar a little bit at a time, and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs to the mixture in the large bowl and beat well.
  6. Add some of the flour mixture to the large bowl and beat well. Then add some of the mashed bananas and beat some more. Continue adding flour, then bananas, then flour, then bananas, until everything is mixed in.
  7. Pour mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 70 minutes.
  8. Flip your banana bread out of the pan, let it cool for a bit, and cut it into slices to eat and share!

How much does this recipe make?

16 slices
Nutritional analysis (per serving):
145 calories
2 g protein
5 g fat
24 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
27 mg cholesterol
155 mg sodium
37 mg calcium
0.8 mg iron

Note: Nutritional analysis may vary depending on ingredient brands used.

 

Disappearing Zucchini Muffins

My mom likes this one…and you might too.

Note: You don’t have to peel the zucchini before shredding it for this recipe. It won’t affect the taste and the peel will provide some extra fiber.

Prep time: 30 minutes

What you need:

1½ c. shredded zucchini (about 2 small)

2 c. whole-grain pancake or biscuit mix

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

2 eggs

¾ c. brown sugar

¼ c. unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

powdered sugar (enough to dust the muffins)

Equipment and supplies:

 

oven (you’ll need help from an adult assistant)

bowls — one large, one medium

grater — a plastic grater is safest for kids

measuring cups and spoons

muffin tin and paper liners

What to do:

 

Wash zucchini and remove ends.

Shred zucchini using largest holes on grater.

Wrap grated zucchini in a couple of paper towels and squeeze to remove water.

Measure 1½ cups of squeezed-dry zucchini.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix whole-grain pancake mix (or biscuit mix) with spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, and lemon juice.

Fold the egg-sugar mixture and shredded zucchini into the pancake-spice mixture; do not overmix.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full with batter.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Remove muffins from tin (with help from your adult assistant) and cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle muffins with a dusting of powdered sugar.

How much does this recipe make?

About a dozen muffins.

Creamy Cheese Cucumber Sandwiches

Note: You’ll want to keep these sandwiches refrigerated. They’ll keep for 8 hours, tightly wrapped.

Cream Cheesy Cucumber Sandwiches Recipe

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

What you need:

¾ cup light cream cheese, slightly softened

half a large cucumber, thinly sliced

8 slices of whole-wheat bread

Equipment and supplies:

 

Large knife

Cutting board

Plastic wrap (optional)

What to do:

 

Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese (about 3 tablespoons per sandwich).

Place about 4 cucumber slices on 4 of the slices of bread and top with remaining bread slices.

Cut into quarters and serve immediately or wrap sandwiches and save for later.

How much does this make?

 

4 sandwiches

Confetti Quinoa

If you don’t have quinoa, substitute brown rice or whole-wheat couscous, but be sure to adjust the cook time as needed.

Confetti Quinoa Recipes for Kids

Note:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

What you need:

1½ cups low-sodium vegetable stock or water

1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup frozen chopped, mixed vegetables such as peas, carrots, green beans, corn

Equipment and supplies:

 

Medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Fork

What to do:

 

Add vegetable stock or water to medium saucepan.

With an adult’s help, bring stock or water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Stir in quinoa, salt, and pepper.

Switch heat to low and cover pot with lid.

Cook until liquid is evaporated and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove lid and stir in veggies with a fork.

Place lid back on quinoa so that the heat from the quinoa cooks the vegetables.

Serve immediately or place into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

How much does this recipe make?

 

4 servings (consider making a double batch to serve for dinner and lunches)

Chocolate Sweetheart Parfait

Note: Parfaits can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Prep time: 5 minutes

What you need:

  • ½ teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1½ cups low-fat or fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • ¼ cup shaved dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Equipment and supplies:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk or fork
  • Tall glasses, preferably clear

What to do:

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and vanilla.
  2. Add honey and yogurt and stir until they’re well combined with cocoa mixture. It will turn light brown.
  3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of yogurt mixture into the bottom of four clear glasses.
  4. Top with some raspberries and repeat until all of the yogurt and raspberries are used up.
  5. Sprinkle each parfait with chocolate shavings.
  6. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

How much does this recipe make?
4 parfaits

 

Chicken Salad and Greens

Note: Here’s a great way to use leftover chicken from last night’s dinner. No leftovers? Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Either way, get a grownup’s help with the chopping and cutting.

 

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

 

What you need:

 

½ cup plain, nonfat Greek-style yogurt

¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup grapes, cut in half

2 cups leftover roasted chicken, chopped into ½-inch pieces

4 cups romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped

Equipment and supplies:

 

Mixing bowl

Knife for chopping

Bowls for serving

What to do:

 

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, celery, red onion, grapes, and chicken.

Mix gently until everything is well coated in dressing.

Divide lettuce between four bowls.

Top each bowl with some chicken salad. Serve cold.

How much does this recipe make?

 

4 servings

Chic Penne

Note: Get a grownup’s help with this recipe, which requires using the oven/stove.

Prep time: 55 minutes

What you need:

1 box whole-wheat penne pasta (14 ounces)

3 cups of raw broccoli florettes

¾ cup of precooked chicken strips (4 ounces)

½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

3 tablespoons skim milk (1.5 oz)

2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

Equipment and supplies:

 

Pot for cooking pasta and steaming broccoli

Colander for draining pasta

13×9-inch baking dish

Steamer basket for broccoli

Measuring cups/spoons

Mixing bowl

Spoon

Skillet

Oven/stove

What to do:

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook pasta according to directions until crisp-tender. Drain pasta.

Place drained pasta in a 13×9 baking dish.

Place broccoli in a stockpot of boiling water or a steamer for about 5 minutes.

Rinse with cool water.

Add the drained broccoli and the precooked chicken strips to the pasta.

Sprinkle shredded cheeses over pasta mixture.

In a mixing bowl, combine milk, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.

Pour milk mixture evenly over the pasta mixture and mix in with a spoon.

Cover baking dish with foil.

Bake 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.

How much does this recipe make?

Six servings

Awesome Applesauce

Awesome Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 small red apples
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon

Utensils:

  • knife (you’ll need help from your adult assistant)
  • blender or food processor
  • measuring spoons
  • serving bowls

Directions:

  1. Peel the apples and cut them into small pieces. Throw out the core.
  2. Put the apple pieces and lemon juice into the blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is very smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into two small bowls and stir in the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Enjoy your awesome applesauce!

Serves: 2

Serving size: 1 bowl (half the recipe)

Nutritional analysis (per serving):
84 calories
0 g protein
0 g fat
22 g carbohydrate
2 g fiber
0 mg cholesterol
3 mg sodium
14 mg calcium
0.3 mg iron

Note: Nutritional analysis may vary depending on ingredient brands used.

 

Almond Crusted Chicken Fingers

 Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Makes: Makes 4 servings

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, (see Ingredient Note)

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
  2. Place almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
  3. Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.
  4. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Ingredient note: Chicken tenders, virtually fat-free, are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, but they can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken fingers.”

NUTRITION

Per serving: 174 calories; 4 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 66 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 27 g protein; 1 g fiber; 254 mg sodium; 76 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (31% daily value).

Exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1/2 fat

 

Tips for Eating Right

Like most of my friends I want to eat good but it’s not always easy.  So here are some simple things I’ve learned to eat better:

  • Start every day with a healthy breakfast.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose whole grains like 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal or brown rice instead of refined grains like white bread and rice.
  • Choose low-fat or nonfat milk, cheese and yogurt.
  • Don’t let sugary soda or other sweets crowd out healthy foods and beverages.
  • Go easy on mayonnaise, creamy sauces and added butter.
  • When you eat out, consider a salad with grilled chicken and fat-free or low-fat dressing.  Even take-out and high-fat foods can be part of a balanced diet if you don’t eat them every day and don’t eat too much of them.  For example, eat only a child’s order of french fries or one slice of pizza.
  • Watch how much you eat.  Even if you eat a healthy mix of foods, if you weigh too much you’re at a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.  Value-size servings aren’t a bargain if you’re eating more than your body needs.
  • Remember that food with labels that say “low-fat,” “reduced fat” or “light” aren’t necessarily low in calories.  Fat-free or low-fat muffins or desserts can have even more sugar than the full fat versions.
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV or in other situations out of habit.  Instead of reaching for that cookie, do something else like call a friend or take a walk.
  • Be aware of when, where and why you eat, and try to eat balanced meals throughout the day.

10 Ways to Boost Your Exercise Motivation

 

Like me you may want to know how to keep moving when you don’t want to…so here are my 10 favorites for motivation.

Be realistic

Unfortunately, first-time exercises come up with unrealistic targets that are too ambitious. Gerald Endress, fitness director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C. says, “They want to go for maximal goals, but they tend to get overwhelmed.” Instead set more reachable goals that you know you can reach.

 Keep Track of Your Progress

Use a chart progress to keep track of your progress. You could use a high-tech online tracker or a fitness journal. Seeing your own progress boosts your confidence and motivation to work harder.

 Don’t Expect Perfection

Except that you will make faults and mistakes because it only will help you prepare mentally for setbacks. Be ready to know that you will miss a couple of days of exercising but don’t let that be an excuse that you are giving up.

Make it Convenient

Do what is necessary to remove on exercising and make it as convenient as possible. Try doing some at home exercises to DVDs instead of driving all the way to the gym if you are pressed for time or wake up early in the morning to exercise.

 Forget the Past

Don’t let prior bad experiences with exercises stop you. Your target now is to stay healthy and enjoy your life.

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself for efforts made to exercise with something that you enjoy doing, like going to the movies. Think of what would motivate you to keep a mind-body connection. Or plan a trip to anywhere, like a botanical garden. It helps remind you that every time you enjoy yourself it is because of the good things you have done for yourself.

 Don’t compare Yourself to Others

Don’t compare yourself to others because you are not them and they are not you. Don’t let them determine how you will exercise or what your target is.

 Get support

The best thing to have is support. If there are people there for you and support what you are doing, it is the best thing in the world. Their support motivates you to do better for yourself and for them as well.

 Find the Fun of it

Find some exercise you like to do and it will be fun for you. Find different places to exercise if you are not a gym person. If you like to exercise outside, then go walk through the neighborhood or go to a park. Just make sure to do something that appeal to your interest and it will help you stay engaged.

 Break it up

Dividing your exercises in two or three different sessions makes it easier on yourself and said to be much more beneficial than one long workout. For example if you don’t like exercising for an hour split it up into four different workouts.

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-motivation?page=2

What Do The People Think About Metabolism

Many people hear the word metabolism used in common health conversations such as, “I have a very high metabolism.” or “I have a very low metabolism.”  Even though we often use this word almost everyday do we really know what it means and its relation to both weight loss and weight gain?

Metabolism is the energy used for your body to function , including burning calories and breaking down food.  A calorie is the amount of energy a food or drink provides when you eat it.  Your body’s metabolism is constantly burning a continuous amount of calories to provide energy needed.  Healthy foods help your metabolism regularly perform its function and fatty, greasy foods slows it down, this may cause people to become overweight and obese.  This explains the common beliefs about fast and slow metabolisms.  Metabolism is based on body composition, the greater percentage of muscle, the higher the metabolism.

Children have a higher metabolism than adult because children are more physically active than adults and their bodies burn calories faster.  Their metabolic system can be easily shaped since they are young and it can also be affected by growth hormones and puberty.

In conducting interviews with people and their thoughts on metabolism I learned that people really don’t have an understanding of what metabolism really is.  “Hmm, I guess I can say that metabolism is what fuels the body,” said James Mickens, security guard for Martin Luther King Jr. Library.  He added there should be more recreational center activities for the kids and more programs to get them moving.  “It is a regulatory device used to burn fuel,”  said librarian Liane Rosenblatt.  Each of these interviewees agreed that children of this generation are less likely to have a high metabolism because they aren’t as active as they used to be when they were children.  “Look at the kids today, sitting around with all this social media; they need to get outside,” Rosenblatt added.

In my opinion, its all about knowledge and awareness.  The more adults and teenagers that are aware of health issues and what can be done to prevent them, the more children will want to participate and be more healthy.  Also, children should encourage each other to be more physically active so that they can have high metabolisms and healthy diets.  Since it is summer time children can take group trips to the pool and play team sports that everyone is familiar with.  Making their own healthy snacks like apple slices, and carrot sticks with peanut butter is an alternative instead of spending money on junk food.  Older kids can encourage younger children to use technology in a positive way such as looking for resources to get kids engaged in other activities than watching t.v.and playing video games.

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

What People Think About Childhood Obesity In America

obesity_epidemic_america
Even though childhood obesity is an epidemic, many people aren’t aware of it.  I found a couple of people today that were willing to let me interview them on the topic at hand and they gave me some really great feedback.  A librarian, when asked about her feelings on the childhood obesity epidemic said, “I think it is sad that the world has come to this, and it is all because of lack of parental involvement.  They just let their kids stay in the house.”  She also added that obese kids not only suffer from being overweight but also because of the teasing and bullying that comes with it.  “Fat kids get teased all the time.” She remarks.  Russell a second librarian had strong feelings toward the epidemic and the tools that can be used to stop it.  He argues that America is obese because “Affordable food is unhealthy and healthy food is expensive.”  When asked why minorities are the largest of the obesity percentile of America he says there is lack of knowledge and inequalities amongst people and neighborhoods.  He mentioned a couple of great programs that reach out to communities in the quest to healthy eating such as Eat Local, Farmers Markets and even Michelle Obama’s Lets Move campaign.  There is a lot of help out there but if people don’t know about them how will the world be a healthier place?  I asked the librarians what could they do to contribute to slimming down America and they both agreed on promotion, education and encouragement.  “Schools should plant gardens and let the children eat the fruits and veggies from them.” And “Kids should get outside and encourage their friends to come out to play.” These are a couple of helpful tips the librarians gave.  I think with the use of the programs available and parents pushing their kids off the couch we can put a stop to childhood obesity.

 

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

Kid Friendly Fitness

Joseph H. Cole Recreational Center is a place for kids of all ages to enjoy themselves all year around.  It is fully equipped with a basketball court, gymnasium, computer room, playground equipment, a wide grassy park area for team sports and a small water park area for kids to cool off in on hot days.  “We provide a summer camp for the kids between the ages of 6 to 13, we have small trips planned for the kids to explore their neighborhood and encourage them to engage physical fitness activities as well,” said the rec center manager Zenobia Moton.  I asked her about her take on the childhood obesity epidemic and she said she really didn’t know what to think about it because, “The kids that come here aren’t obese, I haven’t really come in contact with any obese kids.”  She added, “In order to stop childhood obesity however, I think kids should become more involved with what the community has to offer.  Sometimes I think its hard though for kids to just be outside because parents become concerned about if their kids are safe and if they are hanging out on the streets, but to solve that problem parents can get their kids involved in the summer camp or recreation center activities so they will know their kids are in a safe, healthy environment.”

In my opinion, there are many kid friendly fitness opportunities for kids to be engaged in but they don’t know about them.  The recreational centers are the best places for kids to exert energy into becoming healthy and fit.  Swimming pools and community centers that have boxing classes and football teams are all essential to helping kids become healthier and more active.  I think there needs to be more promotion from not only adults but kids themselves to fill the centers and get kids moving.

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

Kids Workout Gear

What’s more fun than watching kids exercise?  Watching kids exercise in cute exercise clothes!  Often parents aren’t aware that you can buy activewear for kids and hassle them to keep their clothes clean when they go out to play.  Jill, the founder and daily blogger of The Rockin’ Bodies Club spoke about C9; an activewear line by Champion for men, women and children.  Jill said, “ I had never even thought of buying activewear for my boys. Besides their baseball uniforms, I have never had clothing set aside for them to wear when they play sports and outside. In fact, I didn’t even know they made work out clothes for kids. (1)”  She acknowledges the fact that the clothes are not only comfortable, cute and stylish for the kids but also very affordable for the parents.  “They are more than reasonably priced, like tennis shoes for under $25 and shirt and pants around $10. With prices like these, you can get many pieces to mix and match (1).”  C9 apparel for kids can be found at Target.  They have everything from athletic shorts, tank tops, hoodies and tennis shoes for boys and girls.  The breathable fabric and vibrant colors of these clothes will make kids want to get out, run around and have fun without worrying about getting their everyday clothes worn out and smelly.

c9-spring-fitness-boys.jpg

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(1) “Activewear Your Boys Will Love.” Rockin Boys Club. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2013. .

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

Fun At The Fall Fitness Mix

On Thursday September 12, 2013; MECKids proudly hosted our first Fall Fitness VIP event of the year. It was a rainy and gloomy day but MECKids did not allow that to put a damper on our festivities. Our professional partners, sponsors and friends joined us for an evening of great fun and entertainment in paying attribute to MECKids and our hallmarks in health, fitness, education and technology. The Fitness Mix featured an exclusive Heart & Soul Magazine Media Suite, Sport Zone’s VP for Sales and Marketing John Mastrianni, performances by Chi Chi Monet and many more.
As a blossoming blog ambassador for MECKids, I was touched and inspired by the testimonials and stories told by those who reach out and support us one hundred and ten percent.
Heart & Soul has been a publication for twelve years but Patrick H. Detry and Clarence I. Brown have been the proud owners for two years. Detry stated, “We have this mantra called mind, body and soul and like MECKids we want to motivate young people; we want to move them forward because there is not a lot of positive images for young people.” Brown announced, “It was so important for us to partner with folks like MECKids because you have to get information out to people to teach them how to be healthy and live healthy lifestyles. It feels good to not only own a business; but to own a business that helps our community, its like a give back.”
Sports Zone’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Mastrianni said, “What I really want to do is get out there and partner with great people and MECKids is great. It’s extremely important that we get our kids eating right and exercising and that’s exactly what their goal is.”
In addition to such great sponsors, there was Chi Chi Monet who is a 9 year old singer and rapper that inspires kids to make healthy choices. Her inspiration was a song she came up with in first grade called Like to Learn, “I thought the kids would like it because its positive so I kept giving them what they like,” recalls Chi Chi when asked about her inspiration for rapping about positive things. Furthermore, when asked how it feels to be such an inspiration to kids in teaching them to eat healthy and exercise she replied, “It feels amazing! I like doing it and I never ever quit.”
Overall this event was a success. It was an utter delight for me to be a part of such a stunning event surrounded by so many influential people in not only my life but in the life of todays community as well. As I stated earlier this was MECKids’ first VIP Event, I hope to see many more. Thank you to those who came out to speak and support MECKids, and remember:
YOU GOTTA MOVE!!

Do You Want Fries With That?

The Happy Meal; specifically targeted for children is a quick and easy meal that puts a smile on every kids face and a hush to the mid-day tummy growls.  The Happy Meal has been sold at McDonalds since 1979 and continues to sell at a whopping one million per day in the United States alone. Happy Meals, depending on the combination of food and drink can be about 400-600 calories per meal.  “As a result, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled since 1980 — today, 16 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese. An additional 15 percent of kids are at risk of becoming overweight or obese” reports NBC News.  At this rate parents and kids should start finding other alternatives for a quick and easy meal.

Its not only Happy Meals that have America’s kids becoming obese by the second, sweetened cereals such as Cap’n Crunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch contain empty calories and food colorings that have been linked to irritability and behavioral problems in children.  Sunny D and Hawaiian Punch only contain 5% juice, one cup is the equivalent of eating a dozen Chips Ahoy cookies; might as well grab an ice cold cup of sugar.  Last but not most definitely not least are Hot Pockets; the pepperoni stuffed frozen sandwiches.  One serving yields 735 calories and a heart stopping 1,352 milligrams of sodium.  The only pros of these food and drinks are the cheap market value and easy preparation however, the easy route isn’t always the best route to take.

As a solution to settling for unhealthy foods, explore new options.  Instead of unnatural, preservative filled breakfast foods try fresh fruit and a lightly sweetened whole grain cereal with a glass of orange juice or 2% milk, and for a midday snack grab some frozen yogurt or pita chips with hummus.  Dinner Time should be a joyful occasion to sit down and enjoy a satisfying meal with family and friends.  Have everyones input in the kitchen for healthy choices.  Make a rainbow colored salad and slice some lemons for a baked salmon and wild rice dish.  Instead of ordering a pizza decorate and bake your own.  Healthy eating should not be a choice, it should be a lifestyle that you follow everyday.  A lifestyle that you feel good about and that can put you on the pathway to a better you.  Now for what its worth, do you really want fries with that?

 

  • “Happy Meal.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 May 2013. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

  • “How Many Happy Meals Are Sold Each Day in the United States?” Questions & Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

  • “The 20 Worst Kids’ Foods in America.” Msnbc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

  • “Calorie Counter.” Calories in Hot Pockets Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Sandwich Frozen. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

 

Student Ambassador: Tameka Evans

 

Washington Redskins News

By Da’Quan Givens, MECKids Blog Ambassador

Five months after their first-round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins are facing their traditional off-season rivals: critics of the team’s name. Writers, activists, and scholars have argued for years correctly that, the Redskins team name is a racial slur against Native Americans. The name has been declared derogatory by the US Patent and Trademark Office, and opponents have sued so far unsuccessfully to have it changed. Now, members of the DC Council are joining the fight. At-large Council Member, David Grosso, introduced a non-binding resolution , calling on Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, to scrap the team’s moniker. “The name ‘Redskins’ is historically racist and derogatory,” Grosso said in a letter to Snyder. As a replacement, he suggested the Washington Red Tails, a reference to the Tuskegee Airmen, a celebrated group of African-American World War II pilots. He hasn’t heard back from Snyder, nor does he expect to, as Snyder insists he won’t change the name.

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins

MECKids Goes Green at The White House Gardens!

Lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli and more… these are just some of the greens that MECKids adores! These and many more delectable legumes can all be found on the South Lawn of the White House,  beautifully arranged in it’s ornate gardens with a host of delicious and nutritious vegetable varieties. MECKids had the wonderful pleasure of visiting the White House Gardens this month, and experiencing a grand tour that walked us through colorful landscapes that told a beautiful story of our nation’s Presidential history.

We were truly inspired by the walking tour which featured many illustrious landmarks, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden and South Lawn of the White House. We were especially thrilled to observe the many crops found in the vegetable garden, that inspires healthy eating and living for youth and families across our local and global communities. Mrs. Obama planted the vegetable garden in 2009 to help launch the Let’s Move! campaign, an initiative to end childhood obesity, encourage healthier lifestyles and more physical activity for children. The 1,100-square-foot garden is the largest and most expansive vegetable garden to date on the White House lawn. It features 55 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including garden Swiss chard, arugula, potatoes, wheat, radishes, cilantro, garlic, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and herbs, along with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and even an apple tree!

This year, the First Lady planted lettuce and other crops in her garden on the South Lawn of the White House, with assistance from students from Washington Metropolitan Area school districts and around the country, as well. To date, the garden has produced over 3,000 pounds of food, a large amount of which The White House donates to local area soup kitchens and The Food Bank Organization. Mrs.Obama  has placed great emphasis on the vegetable garden movement to encourage children to increase healthy food choices in effort to prevent childhood obesity and diet related health issues affecting the nation. The Obama’s vegetable garden is a wonderful example of community-orientated sustainable gardening and it’s positive effects on the betterment of the health of our nation, as a whole.  MECKids applauds the Obama’s efforts towards childhood obesity prevention and healthy living. We are truly honored to observe the White House Gardens and inspired to advance Mrs.Obama’s Vegetable Garden initiative by encouraging children to nourish and enrich their lives, every healthy meal at a time!

In the spirit of going GREEN, MECKids wishes youth and families around the world a very Happy Earth Day and recognizes the Obama’s sustainable vegetable garden model as a resource for healthy eating and living. In recognition of Earth Day, we encourage families to Spring into action with your very own community garden, and begin planting fresh fruits and veggies that will contribute to the overall health of our local and global communities.

DSC_0300

Click Here to View More Photos of the Beautiful White House Gardens in our Photo Gallery!

MECKids Goes Green at the White House Gardens!

MECKids Goes Green at the White House Gardens!

By Tatiana Noboa, MECKids Team Captain

Lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli and more… these are just some of the greens that MECKids adores! These and many more delectable legumes can all be found on the South Lawn of the White House,  beautifully arranged in it’s ornate gardens with a host of delicious and nutritious vegetable varieties. MECKids had the wonderful pleasure of visiting the White House Gardens this month, and experiencing a grand tour that walked us through colorful landscapes that told a beautiful story of our nation’s Presidential history.

We were truly inspired by the walking tour which featured many illustrious landmarks, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden and South Lawn of the White House. We were especially thrilled to observe the many crops found in the vegetable garden, that inspires healthy eating and living for youth and families across our local and global communities. Mrs. Obama planted the vegetable garden in 2009 to help launch the Let’s Move! campaign, an initiative to end childhood obesity, encourage healthier lifestyles and more physical activity for children. The 1,100-square-foot garden is the largest and most expansive vegetable garden to date on the White House lawn. It features 55 varieties of fruits and vegetables, including garden Swiss chard, arugula, potatoes, wheat, radishes, cilantro, garlic, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and herbs, along with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and even an apple tree!

This year, the First Lady planted lettuce and other crops in her garden on the South Lawn of the White House, with assistance from students from Washington Metropolitan Area school districts and around the country, as well. To date, the garden has produced over 3,000 pounds of food, a large amount of which The White House donates to local area soup kitchens and The Food Bank Organization. Mrs.Obama  has placed great emphasis on the vegetable garden movement to encourage children to increase healthy food choices in effort to prevent childhood obesity and diet related health issues affecting the nation. The Obama’s vegetable garden is a wonderful example of community-orientated sustainable gardening and it’s positive effects on the betterment of the health of our nation, as a whole.  MECKids applauds the Obama’s efforts towards childhood obesity prevention and healthy living. We are truly honored to observe the White House Gardens and inspired to advance Mrs.Obama’s Vegetable Garden initiative by encouraging children to nourish and enrich their lives, every healthy meal at a time!

In the spirit of going GREEN, MECKids wishes youth and families around the world a very Happy Earth Day and recognizes the Obama’s sustainable vegetable garden model as a resource for healthy eating and living. In recognition of Earth Day, we encourage families to Spring into action with your very own community garden, and begin planting fresh fruits and veggies that will contribute to the overall health of our local and global communities.

DSC_0300

Click Here to View More Photos of the Beautiful White House Gardens in our Photo Gallery!

National Nutrition Month

From infancy through our senior years, nutrition is essential at every stage of life to keeping our bodies running at their best. As we age, our nutrient needs change with our bodies. It is important to get to know your own body and what works best for you. March is National Nutrition Month, so what better time than now to try to incorporate some news foods and spices or rediscover some old favorites in a new way!

 

Avocados

Creamy, succulent avocados not only contain the best kind of fat (monounsaturated oleic acid) but also help your body block the absorption of bad fats (cholesterol). They’re high in lutein, which aids eyesight, and in potassium and folate, which may reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. And they’re low in pesticides.

 

Sweet    Potatoes

Whether orange or white, sweet potatoes contain phytonutrients that promote heart and eye health and boost immunity. They’re flush with beta-carotene (thought to lower breast cancer risk) and vitamin A (which may reduce the effects of smoking).

 

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables—cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli rabe—contain a powerful range of disease fighters. One particular hero, sulforaphane, may increase enzymes that lower the incidence of colon and lung cancers.

 

Blueberries

Fresh or frozen, blueberries have sky-high levels of antioxidants, which combat the damage done by inflammation. Anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds that give blueberries their deep color, may have antidiabetic effects as well. And new research suggests blueberries might protect the heart muscle from damage.

Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and swiss chard are an excellent source of iron (especially important for women), vitamin A, and lutein for eye health. Best of all, you know those omega-3s everyone’s talking about? They reside in dark greens (including seaweed, which is why they’re concentrated in fish).

 

Oregano

Superstar levels of antioxidants mean that a half teaspoon of dried oregano has the benefits of a spinach salad. Oregano has the ability to act as an expectorant, clearing congestion, and can also improve digestion.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the gold medalist of the spice rack, with one of the highest antioxidant levels of all herbs and spices. It also has a   positive effect on blood glucose levels, so adding it to foods can keep you feeling steady and satiated.

Walnuts

Of all nuts, walnuts contain the most alpha-linolenic omega-3 fatty acids, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and may reduce    inflammation in arteries. Walnuts are also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium.

Dark Chocolate

It’s just like chocolate to crash the party, but it’s no mistake that the dark variety confers health benefits. The high antioxidant levels make it a perfect indulgence. Chocolate is high in flavonoids, substances that have been shown to improve blood flow, suppress coughs, improve memory, and give you hydrated, smooth skin. A 1 oz. dose of chocolate a day is now officially the doctor’s word.

Carbohydrates Broken Down

Glycemic Chart

 

The glycemic index,(GI) provides a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating a particular type of food. The effects that different foods have on blood sugar levels vary considerably. The glycemic index estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate in a food raises a person’s blood glucose level following consumption of the food, relative to consumption of pure glucose. The scale ranges from 0-100, with 100 being pure sugar. Foods with high GI tend to be simple, while foods with low GI seem to be complex. Foods with a score of 70 or higher are defined as having a high glycemic index; those with a score of 55 or below have a low glycemic index.

Many factors can affect a food’s glycemic index, including the following:

  1. Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined—removing the bran and the germ—have a higher glycemic index than whole grains.
  2. Type of starch. Starch comes in many different configurations. Some are easier to break into sugar molecules than others. The starch in potatoes, for example, is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream relatively quickly.
  3. Fiber content. The sugars in fiber are linked in ways that the body has trouble breaking. The more fiber a food has, the less digestible carbohydrate, and so the less sugar it can deliver.
  4. Ripeness. Ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have more sugar than unripe ones, and so tend to have a higher glycemic index.
  5. Fat content and acid content. The more fat or acid a food or meal contains, the slower its carbohydrates are converted to sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream.
  6. Physical form. Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested, and so has a higher glycemic index, than more coarsely ground grain.

 

Diets rich in high-glycemic-index foods, which cause quick and strong increases in blood sugar levels, have been linked to an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and overweight, and there is preliminary work linking high-glycemic diets to age-related macular degeneration, ovulatory infertility, and colorectal cancer. Foods with a low glycemic index have been shown to help control type 2 diabetes and improve weight loss. Other studies, though, have found that the glycemic index has little effect on weight or health. This sort of flip-flop is part of the normal process of science, and it means that the true value of the glycemic index remains to be determined. In the meantime, eating whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables—all foods with a low glycemic index—is indisputably good for many aspects of health.

 

To search some more of your favorite foods visit: www.glycemicindex.com, which has one of the most comprehensive and updated lists available.

Sneaky Sugar

When you read the labels on foods in your supermarket, it’s no surprise that you find plenty of sugar in products like cake mix, ice cream, jelly, cookies, and soda. But it can be downright shocking to see 12 grams of sugar in bottled pasta sauce or barbecue sauce — and even more so to find 50 grams of sugar in a healthy-sounding bottled tea!

Just because there’s a nutrition-oriented statement on the package (like “contains whole grain,” “excellent source of calcium,” “fat-free,” “100% juice” or “25% less sugar”) doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain a shocking amount of sugar. And just because the brand name or product name sounds like it’s good for weight loss (Weight Watchers, Skinny Cow, etc.), don’t assume the food is lower in sugar.

So how much exactly is a gram of sugar? One teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar. To put it another way, 16 grams of sugar in a product is equal to about 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Keep in mind, though, that the grams of sugar listed on the nutrition information label includes natural sugars from fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) as well as added sweeteners like refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. That’s why the label on a carton of regular low-fat milk says there’s 13 grams of sugar per cup. And that’s why the grams of sugar per serving in Raisin Bran (or any cereal with raisins or other dried fruit) seem unexpectedly high.

Soda    Per    Can:    41    grams
Yogurt    (1 container):    28-31    grams
Sports    Drinks    (1 bottle):    28    grams
Energy    Drinks    (1 can):    54    grams
Chocolate    Milk    (16 oz.):    54    grams
Granola    (1/2 cup):    16    grams    sugar
Cereal    (1/2 Cup):   19    grams
Salad    Dressing    (2 TBS):    12    grams
Ketchup   (1 TBS):    1    teaspoon
Bars:    20    grams
Spaghetti    Sauce   (1/2 cup):    12    grams
Frozen    Dinner:    25    grams

ATTENTION!

Do    not    skip    breakfast — or    grades    could    pay    a    price.

 

Evidence suggests that eating breakfast really does help kids learn. After fasting all night, a developing body and brain need a fresh supply of glucose — or blood sugar. That’s the brain’s basic fuel.

Dozens of studies from as far back as the 1950s have consistently shown that children who eat breakfast perform better academically than those who don’t. In a recent study of 4,000 elementary school students, researchers measured the effects of eating breakfast by administering a battery of attention tests. They measured short-term memory and verbal fluency. Across the board, the breakfast eaters performed better than those children who had skipped breakfast.

So breakfast is important, but does what kind of breakfast kids eat matter? The answer is: Yes!

Finding a meal that has a low glycemic index will help keep a child more alert. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrates in food is absorbed into our bodies and converted to fuel. When it comes to sustained brain power, food that is low on the scale is preferable. Even though a bowl of sugary cereal and a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal may have the same number of carbohydrates, they have very different glycemic loads.

Sugary cereals get into your body quickly and cause a peak in blood-sugar levels, but the levels then fall dramatically after two hours. This dip in blood sugar can bring a release of hormones that affect mood, and in some children, the hormones seem to affect concentration and memory. Oatmeal, on the other hand, is absorbed slowly, so there is a slow rise in blood sugar and enough energy to last through the morning.

Scientists have recently begun to study this phenomenon. One recent study had one group of children eat sweetened oatmeal for breakfast while another ate Cap’n Crunch cereal. Then both groups were given academic tasks, like memorizing the names of countries on a map. Both cereals had the same sugar content, but the oatmeal eaters did up to 20 percent better than the Crunch consumers. The reason being, the oatmeal had more protein and fiber, and therefore a lower glycemic index.

Families should start to make breakfast part of kids’ morning routines. There are some easy and quick meals that have low glycemic index that will help keep your child full without taking up too much time in the morning.

Smart    Simple    Breakfast

Banana with peanut butter
Banana sliced into yogurt
Oatmeal with fruit: apples, blueberries, or peaches
Small tortilla with a few tablespoons of nut butter and chopped strawberries. Roll it up, slice it.
Breakfast smoothies — berries, ice, and milk or yogurt.

 

You can also try making your own granola bars which will be less processed and contain less sugar. Try making the recipe below and get the kids involved in the kitchen!

 

Granola    Bars

Ingredients:

granola

1 & 3/4 C rolled oats

1 C crisp puffed brown rice cereal

3/4 C seeds (1/4 C each of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds)

1/4 C finely ground flaxseed

1/4 C unsweetened coconut

1/2 C brown rice syrup

1/3 C creamy peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 T of mini chocolate chips

Directions: Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Mix them together. In a separate (microwave safe) bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, then   microwave them for about 20 to 30 seconds. This will make it easier to mix and add to the dry ingredients since it’s really sticky! Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix! Keep mixing until the wet binding ingredients are as well distributed as possible. Put some muscle into it! Then, put the mixture into a shallow pan and flatten it down. Refrigerate. Done and done!

Diet Commercials & Pills

In this blog I am going to focus on diet commercials and diet pills. When I watch TV all I see are commercials about losing weight. I feel like I see commercials about Weight Watchers, Nutra System, Slim Quick, and Green Tea Extract supplements ALL OF THE TIME. Since these commercials are so catchy, I decide to Google more information on these types of programs/pills that can help you loose weight. As I look up information I find that if you are young, all you have to do is eat right and exercise, these programs are not for young people. This can relate to MECKids’ message because their mission is to get children to exercise and eat right. Some kids may think that’s not the easy way, but if you really think about it exercising and eating right is the healthiest way for young people to loose weight and stay in shape. So in the mean time….

Shake    that    Bagel    Don’t    wanna    Be    a    couch    Potato    MOVE    MOVE

Heart Health

The heart is an amazing muscle, yet sadly we seem to ignore it and treat it poorly.  Without even asking it our heart preforms these really amazing activities:

  1. Every day your heart beats about 100,000 times
  2. Although it’s no bigger than your fist it pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through your body.
  3. Your heart has the mighty job of keeping blood flowing through the 60,000 miles of blood vessels that feed your organs and tissues.

 

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is conducted by the CDC periodically among a nationally representative sample of Americans to track health issues. The report is based on an analysis of three different surveys of adolescents aged 12 to 19 between 2003 and 2008, including a sampling intended to accurately represent minorities. The children in the study included 4,157 kids aged 12 to 17.

The toughest measure to hit was healthy diet. Not one adolescent reported meeting recommended targets on five different nutrition categories: at least 4½ servings of fruits and vegetables a day; three whole-grain servings a day; two or more servings of fish a week; less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily; and less than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks a week.

In fact, only about 20% of the adolescents met recommendations on two or three of the nutrition factors.

For exercise, 50% of boys and 60% of girls didn’t regularly exercise for more than 60 minutes a day, the optimal target for children. Between 10% and 20% reported getting no exercise. About 30% to 45% had less-than-ideal cholesterol, while about one-third were either overweight or obese.

It is important to make healthy family choices at a young age. Try this simple and easy oatmeal recipe and eat it as breakfast, a snack or dessert!

Personalized   Sized   Oatmeal   Cups

 

Ingredients:

  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 2 cups applesauce, unsweetened
  4. 1 banana, mashed
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons stevia powder or 1/2 cup honey
  6. 5 cups, Old Fashioned rolled oats
  7. 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  8. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  9. 3 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 2 3/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
  12. Optional toppings: raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and Stevia together in a bowl.
  3. Add in oats, flax, cinnamon, baking   powder, salt and mix well with wet ingredients.
  4. Finally pour in milk and combine.
  5. Spray a 12 and 6 capacity muffin tin with cooking spray or use cupcake liners. Pour mixture evenly into muffin tin cups.
  6. If using toppings add them onto the tops of muffins now. If using fresh or frozen fruit, drop it right into the batter.

 

Bake 30 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool and enjoy or freeze them in gallon freezer bags.

Bananas for Bananas

These bright, easy to eat, cheap, and tasty fruit are so versatile it is no wonder why they are America’s top selling fruit. Contrary to popular belief bananas do not come from a tree, but the world’s largest herbaceous flowering plant.  First noted by Alexander the Great on his conquest to India in 327 B.C, this banana flower has become sacred in many cultures.  The Hindus associate bananas with prosperity, while Indians believe they are good luck. They are often seen in ceremonies, such as weddings.

Nutrition   Profile:

Rich is potassium

2 grams of protein

4 grams of fiber

Very low in calories and fat

Provide multitude of vitamins and minerals

For   your   health:

Help treat anemia

Lower blood pressure

Resolve bowel issues and diarrhea

Boost brain power and energy levels

Fight depression

Soothe heart burn

Help with mood disorders

Buying   and   Using   Bananas

Fresh and available all year round

Ripen best off the plant

The more they ripen the sweeter they are

Recipes:

1. Chunky Monkey Soft Serve

  1. 2-3 frozen bananas (peeled and frozen for at least one day)
  2. Options: nut butters, cocoa, chocolate protein powder, agave
  3. Throw bananas in food processor/ Vitamix and let run for 5 minutes (scrapping the sides every minute)
  4. Bananas will get increasingly fluffy and light.
  5. Top bananas with granola, chocolate chips, fruit, or other favorite toppings.

 

2. Top of the Mornin’ oatmeal banana bowl

  1. 1/2 cup rolled oats
  2. 1 cup milk of choice (I used almond)
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1/2 a ripe banana
  5. 1-2 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  6. 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  7. sweetener (the amount will vary, depending on your taste buds and what milk you use)
  8. Optional: chocolate chips

 

Cook the oats, salt, and milk (either on the stove or in the microwave). Meanwhile, blend the pb and banana. Then add your vanilla, sweetener, and 1/2 of the cooked oats to the blender (I used a Magic Bullet) and re-blend. Stir in the rest of the oats. You can blend all the oats if you prefer, but I like the chewiness of leaving some un-blended.

(Feel free to slice remaining banana on top.)

 

bananas

How’s Your Posture?

Posture is the position of a person’s body when standing or sitting.  The Cleveland Clinic states that good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is put on muscles and ligaments during movement.  See the diagram below for examples of good and bad posture:

Posture

 

There   are   several   advantages   to   good   posture:
  1. It helps keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly now.  It also helps decrease abnormal wear on joints that could result in arthritis in the future.
  2. Helps the body have more energy because muscles are being used more efficiently.
  3. Prevents backache and muscular pain.
  4. Contributes to you looking your best. By avoiding slouching, you appear taller and leaner which can heighten your self confidence and esteem.

 

So how is your posture?  Do you need to improve?  Do not fret!  Here are some recommended ways to improve your posture:

  1. Take a Ballet or Pilates class. Both these classes can help with body awareness and the elongation of the body.
  2. Try walking for a few minutes a day balancing books on your head.
  3. Develop an awareness of your posture.  For instance if you sit at a desk all day, post a diagram on your desk to remind you to sit up straight.

 

Remember, good posture helps your health and appearance.  So, the next time your parent or teacher says, “Sit up straight!” Do it!!!!

You’ve been STAMPED!

XOXO,

O

 

References:

Google Dictionary

The Cleveland Clinic

Melrose Chiropractic

Rise & Shine!

Eating breakfast is an important part of powering up your body for the day. Eating a balanced breakfast can help keep your family alert, improve mood and reduce mid-morning food cravings.

6 Tips for a Healthy Breakfast:  
1.)   Oatmeal in an Instant

 Oatmeal

Instant oatmeal is great on a cold morning and contains fiber and vitamins. Choose oatmeal that isn’t already sweetened. Sweeten it with raisins or fresh fruit.

2.)   Smoothie Madness
Smoothie

Blend frozen fruit (bananas and berries are great) and low-fat milk for a quick, tasty breakfast smoothie with lots of nutrients.

3.) Go 100% Whole Grain

Whole grains

100% whole-grain, fiber-containing cereals served with low- or fat-free milk are a healthier alternative to sugary cereals.

4.)   Egg Head

Eggs

Boil, scramble or poach eggs and serve on whole-wheat toast–they’re packed with nutrition, and in appropriate portions, are great for kids.

5.) Toaster Treats

Waffle

Frozen whole-grain waffles take almost no time to make. Top them with berries, low-sugar applesauce or sliced bananas instead of syrup.

6.)  Go Nutty!
Nuts

Spreading peanut or almond butter on whole-grain toast is a great way to get both protein and fiber.

Did you know?
  1. People who eat breakfast are significantly less likely to be obese and diabetic than those who usually don’t.
  2. Children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.
  3. One study showed that “students who ate breakfasts before starting school had a general increase in math grades and reading scores, increased student attention, reduced nurse visits, and improved student behaviors.”

 

A healthy breakfast does not have to take a lot of time. Stick to the basics and serve simple foods that are nutritious and quick in the morning.

My New Year’s Resolution

My New Year’s resolution is to become more responsible, mature, and wiser because I’m getting older to the stage where those qualities matter the most. I say responsible because as you get older there’s different responsibilities I have then what I had when I was a little girl. I have to finish school, find a career, and finish my career really just to be successful in life. Being successful comes with responsibilities. I say mature because there’s always room for more maturity I’m not saying I’m not mature but my maturity can become better, always room for improvement. To me mature means to act accordingly to your age no younger not to be so childish. And I say wiser because yes I know humans are not perfect but we all make mistakes and I have throughout the year and there are some I do regret. I wish to be wiser about the decisions I make. Becoming more responsible, mature, and wiser is my new year’s resolution.

Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap

Note: This recipe calls for broccoli slaw. What’s that? Cole slaw is mostly shredded cabbage so broccoli slaw is shredded broccoli, sometimes mixed with shredded carrot and cabbage. You can find it in the produce section.

Prep time: 25 minutes

What you need:

  • 6 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1½ cups broccoli slaw
  • 1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup crushed and drained canned pineapple
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, diced
  • ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoon chili powder

Equipment and supplies:

  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Knife
  • Bowl for mixing dressing
  • Whisk

What to do:

  1. Prepare dressing by whisking mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder together. Set aside in refrigerator.
  2. Mix broccoli slaw, drained pineapple, and spinach.
  3. Put ½ cup of the broccoli/pineapple/spinach mixture on a wheat wrap.
  4. Top with chicken.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon dressing to each tortilla.
  6. Wrap tortillas, burrito style. Cut on diagonal. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

How much does this recipe make?
Six servings

 

‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine’

Fight the Flu With Foods

It’s that time of year where it seems that kids seem to catch colds and school class numbers seem to dwindle. But there are plenty of steps you can take to try to prevent illness this winter!

1. Limit refined sugar.

sugar-dumb

Sugar suppresses our immune system by causing a 50% drop in our ability to fight off bacteria and germs.

 2. Increase healthy fats.

Nuts

Our skin dries, our lips chap and our digestive tracts get dry, which causes our bodies to produce more mucous. Where there is mucous, there are colds and flu. Try to add more healthy fats such as the omega-3s found in salmon, walnuts and flax seeds.

 3. Add onion, garlic, and ginger to everything!

Onions

These are natural immune boosters that can be added to any dish to add flavor without calories!

 4. Drink water.

Water

When our bodies are dehydrated, we are much more susceptible to colds. Water flushes bacteria and viruses from our throats, stomachs and digestive tracts.

5. Avoid dairy.

Milk

Dairy prompts our bodies to produce mucous that becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. We can’t avoid the bacteria and viruses floating in the air, but we can help our bodies to ignore them.