Sunday, November 14, 2010

The start of balanced nutritious meals!

Alright, we have a lot of information on the types of healthy foods we should be buying. Colorful vegetables of different varieties. Incorporate many different proteins into your day. Buy whole grains: pasta, rice, bread, tortillas. Different dairy choices for strong bones. Limit your families drink options: water is the best choice.

I do believe the only food group I'm missing is fruit. The best snack (and dessert) in the world! Keep plenty of fresh fruit around the house that is easy to grab. Once again, try all the different varieties you see in the store, I just noticed that mandarin oranges just got into my local store. These only come around this time of year and my family will eat a ton of them.

Now, on to making nutritious meals, this is what I will be focusing on for the next couple of weeks. If good nutrition starts at home, parents need to set a good example for children to take with them everywhere they go. Children will eat a lot of food in school and at friends houses. If they eat healthy at home, then it won't matter if their friend's parents fix...well, not so healthy meals. Or if they see asparagus on their plate at grandma's house, they may just get excited to see one of their favorite foods! :)

In order to fix nutritious meals at home, you need to be prepared. Have healthy food in the house! If your cupboards are full of whole grain pasta and brown rice, you have one healthy step out of the way. If you did your vegetable shopping with your kids after school, there's another step out of the way. Some people are recipe people, they prefer to use a recipe, no matter what. Some like to make things up off the top of their head. Either way, be prepared.

There are alot of different ways to obtain healthy and quick recipes. You are sitting in front of your computer right now, open up google and go for it. This is a good way to get lots of ideas for those of you who don't actually use the recipes. Once you find some recipes you like or they give you good ideas...write them down (or print them off).

Here's a good note: it is okay to change a recipe!! I have a wonderful recipe for Spinach Bake: frozen spinach, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon, onions, salt, pepper, and garlic. I like to make a lower fat version of this using low fat sour cream (my family is sour cream crazy and if I didn't keep low fat, cholesterol free sour cream in my house, my 11 year old son would have clogged arteries by the age of 20), remember that cheese is good for us, so buy some low fat cheese, I take out the bacon on normal occasions to limit the fat and cholesterol content of the recipe. Now, the spinach bake tastes just as good as it would with all of the original ingredients, it's just a bit healthier, and I bet your kids will like it if they see you like it!

If the recipe you find has chicken thighs and legs, it's okay to substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast to lower the fat content from the skin of the thighs and legs. But, do you know what my store sells; boneless, skinless chicken thighs...what a great way to have the nice juicy taste of the dark meat without the hassle of bones and the fat of the skin.

So when looking through your cupboards (which should be filled with healthy foods) and going through recipes for creative! Some of the best meals will come from quick fixes that you have to make up in a pinch :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dairy: It Does A Body Good!

Most people know that milk is good for a toddlers growing body, but adults and older children need milk too. But when we say that milk is good for us, we are wanting the calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein that is found in most dairy products not just milk.

Everyone of all age groups need milk. Bones keep developing into our 20's and peak development ends around in our 30's. Also, it's important to maintain the density that we attained by the age of 30. The most important mineral for this development and maintenance is, of course, calcium.

Dairy products can have a high content of saturated fat and cholesterol. So, when choosing dairy products whether it's cheese, yogurt, or milk, we should always choose a low fat or fat free version after one year of age.

There are many ways to incorporate dairy products into your day. A couple of quick grabs are: cheese sticks and yogurt. When making many of your favorite recipes it's easy to add a little low fat cheese. Desserts can be nutritious if they are made with low fat milk, such as puddings and fruit smoothies. Make a veggie dip from plain low fat yogurt. And drink milk :)

Here's a link to the MyPyramid's chart on how much dairy different age groups should be getting:

I also found a link from the Dairy Council of California to estimate your calcium intake:

I hope everyone is keeping their bones strong by getting in a good dose of dairy each day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whole Wheat! Just Do It!

People have many excuses why they don't want to eat whole wheat products. But I'm here to say that your body will thank you if you just buy and eat whole wheat. The two biggest excuses I hear are: I don't like the taste of it and it's too expensive.

If a person started eating whole wheat products at a young age and ate them throughout their life, they wouldn't know the difference. They wouldn't think that they don't like it. If you are starting to make your life healthier, whole grains are a great start. Once you get used to the heartiness of the grains, you will grow to love it and you won't want to go back to enriched grains. As a parent, start having your children eat whole wheat products and this is what they will be used to eating, and their cardiovascular and digestive systems will thank you later on down the road.

Why is eating whole grains good for you? According to, whole grains will lower your risk of heart disease, reduces the occurrence of constipation which will lower your risk of colon cancer and diverticulosis, and whole grains are a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, folate, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. WOW! I think those are a lot of good reasons to start eating whole grain products.

Many think that eating whole grain products are too expensive, well I went to the store to price all of the different brands. I live in a small town in Kansas, so these are not Walmart or HyVee prices, these are small town prices.

When looking for whole wheat products look for the word...whole! It doesn't matter if it's whole wheat or whole grain, as long as it says whole....not just wheat (that means nothing, it could just be enriched wheat, which is not what we are looking for!)

Bread: Whole wheat from the cheapest (not the store brand) to the most expensive: $1.99 to $3.39; the store brand whole wheat is $1.69. Regular white bread from cheapest (not the store brand) to the most expensive: $2.69 to $3.19; the store brand white bread is $1.09. Sorry to say, but the whole wheat wins in my book!

Pasta:  Whole wheat spaghetti $1.13 to $1.57 (13.5oz), regular spaghetti $1.30 to $2.22 (16oz). Whole wheat macaroni noodles $1.13 to $2.24 (16oz), regular macaroni noodles $1.30 to $1.58 (16oz). Other whole wheat pasta $1.13 to $1.56 (13.5oz), other regular pasta $1.30 to $1.21 (16oz-8oz in that order). Well it looks like whole wheat wins again!

Pancake Mix:  If you haven't tried it--do it--YUM! Store brand regular mix $1.92 32oz, Hungry Jack whole wheat $2.57 28oz, Buckwheat $4.40 32oz. Ok, this time the regular mix beats the whole wheat in price, but this is the cheapest in the store compared to a name brand (the only whole wheat at my store). But remember, this is for your health.

Tortilla Shells:  10 count whole wheat: $2.89, 10 count regular: $2.29. 8 count whole wheat: $1.81, 8 count regular: $1.84. In my book, the whole wheat wins again!

Rice:  Brown rice: $1.98 14oz, white rice: $1.68 14oz. Now, what is 30 cents when we are talking about your health!

Flour:  5lbs whole wheat flour: $2.50, 5lbs regular white flour: cheapest $2.07 to pillsbury $2.44. The whole wheat price is not too shaby!

No more excuses about why you don't want to eat whole wheat products, like I said once you get used to it, you won't go back! See you next week :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Protien: building blocks for the body.

Protein can come from many different sources and they are all important to our health. The different sources of protein also provide other nutrients that are needed for our bodies. When a person thinks of protein they normally think about meat; beef, pork, chicken, and fish. But the other sources that are just as important for reason's beyond just protein are beans, nuts, and eggs. It doesn't matter if you eat meat or if you are a vegetarian, getting complete protein from a variety of sources is good for your health.

Protein is the building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, enzymes, and hormones, the list could keep going. It is very important for growing children to get plenty of protein in their diet, because in order for a body to grow, the body needs these building blocks. I mentioned complete protein earlier, what I mean by this is there are certain amino acids (those are the things that make up protein) that we have to get from the foods that we eat. Meat sources of protein are complete, meat has all of the amino acids that the body needs. Plants have proteins too, but not all plants contain the needed amino acids, that is why it's important to eat a variety of plants and/or dairy to get all of the needed amino acids to be complete.

OK, so now we know that protein is important for our bodies, what are some ways we can incorporate healthy choices into our busy day?

It is best to chose meats that are low fat. The fat that we want to stay away from is usually visible fats, the fat around the sides of steaks or roasts, the skin on the outside of your chicken. Try to cook your meat in as little of fat as possible. And try and stay away from fast food places which usually have a higher fat option of foods you could cook at home with less fat.

Use your crock pot or roaster! Before you leave for work in the morning, throw a beef roast, pork roast, or whole chicken in, toss in some onion, celery, carrots, and potato. When you come home from work, your supper is waiting for you. This can be done with whatever meat your family likes and it incorporates the different vegetables your family likes. Using the roaster or crock pot is a low fat way to cook, no added fats!

Use your skillet, but don't use it to fry in! One of my favorites, and it's fast and easy, cranberry chicken or pork. I like to start off with seasoning my meat and placing in the pan with a little broth to get the meat started cooking. When it's time to turn your meat, mix together one can of whole cranberry sauce and 1/2 a bottle of French or Russian dressing and a diced onion, top your meat with this and simmer until it's done. This idea can be done with any topping, green peppers and diced tomatoes, or plain old BBQ sauce. Come up with different ideas for different cuts of meat.

There are many different ways to get fast and easy low fat meats on your plates at home. If your in a hurry, don't forget about the other protein options. Cheese sticks are a fast grab, and if you think ahead of time, boils some eggs and keep them in the fridge for a fast snack. Don't forget that nuts are a great way to get in your protein.

The last protein I want to talk about is fish and seafood. These are very healthy and should be eaten a couple times a week to get a dose of omega-3-fatty acids which help lower your risk for heart disease. Canned tuna and salmon are easy ways to eat fish, make a tuna casserole with canned tuna, whole wheat noodles, peas, and a cheese sauce made from a little butter, flour, low fat milk, when that thickens add in your low fat cheese. Salmon patties are a favorite in my house, take the can of salmon (use the bones, good source of calcium) crush some crackers, add an egg, seasonings, onion, worcestershire sauce. Mix it all up an cook it in a skillet. I just made crab cakes last night! Yum!

I hope everyone has fast and easy ways to get healthy low fat protein into your kids mouths. It's too easy to eat those Big Mac's when you're in a hurry.    

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remember that drinks are foods too!

Many people forget that drinks are consumed just like food. So, just like food, drinks can add good nutrients to your body or unnecessary calories, sodium, and other unknown substances. It's good to know what to allow you and your kids to drink throughout the day.

I'll start off by saying that water and low fat milk are the best choices for you and your children to drink. Kids need to be used to quenching their thirst with water, it has no calories, no sodium, and no sugar. Low fat milk is wonderful for kids to drink, they need the calcium that milk provides to keep their bones growing and milk contains other good nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

But we all know that we as adults and our children will be drinking many different beverages. We should know which ones are the best choices and which ones we should probably stay away from. Also we should limit ourselves and our kids to the different beverage choices because like I said we can be packing alot of un-needed calories to our day.

I think you all will know that I'm going to say to limit our soda pop consumption, but I bet you didn't think I would say that about juices also. Everyone knows that soda has a lot of calories, sugar, and caffeine, and that we should limit ourselves to how much soda we drink. But have you looked at the different choices in juices? There are many that are made with 10% real juice (stay away from those) and many made with 100% juice (those are the good ones). But kids don't need to be drinking a jug of juice a day just because it's made with 100% real juice, this is still adding a lot of sugar in their diet. Limit your juice intake to one glass a day and make it a good one, when was the last time you tried tomato juice? My son loves getting tomato juice for a change from orange or grapefruit juice. Juice can also count toward getting in one of your fruit or vegetable serving per day.

Now on to a beverage that doesn't contain very many calories, but does contain alot of sodium: sports drinks. Yes, sports drinks are good for hot summer days when everyone is running around and playing hard, this is what sports drinks were made for. When a person sweats alot they can loose some of their electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and replacing those electrolytes with a sports drink is good for your body. But drinking too much or if your not sweating all day long, sports drinks are not good for you. If your child has been working hard and they want to have a Gatorade, read the serving size on the back of the container, it will tell you that a serving size is probably around 8 ounces, which is only one cup, this is enough Gatorade to replenish your child's electrolytes.

When I was in the store looking at all of the different drinks, I noticed two different drinks I never looked at before. One was SoBe Lifewater and the other was VitaminWater, other stores in different states may have similar items. I was curious about the nutrient content of these, they have no or low calories, no or low sodium, no or low sugar, and they contain alot of different vitamins. If you have a child like mine who would prefer to have a Gatorade or Powerade over bubbly soda pop, I would let him have these flavored waters before the high sodium sports drinks.

The last drink choice I would like to discuss are energy drinks. I don't think children should have any kind of energy all. Along with soda, I don't think caffeine is good for children. The Mayo Clinic's website states that just like adults, caffeine can cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability, high blood pressure, and headaches. Energy drinks contain alot of other items besides sugar and caffeine, such as guarana and ginseng which are herbal substances that can raise your blood pressure. You should always know what you are drinking, it might contain items you don't want in your or your child's body.

It is also good to know when to drink some of these beverages. If your child drinks a big glass of soda at the restaurant right before the meal comes, I doubt there is going to be room for the food. Always save your different drink options for after the meal or between meals, so your child doesn't ruin their appetite and miss out on the important nutrients from the food that needs to be eaten. One thing we do is, when we go out to a restaurant for breakfast, my son can order chocolate milk, but he can't drink it till his meal is gone, so the chocolate milk is more like a dessert for breakfast.

I hope this helps you the next time you or your child says they're thirsty, think before you drink. :) I hope you come back next week when I discuss protein, we'll go beyond just meat.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Be a vegetable role model!

If you ask anyone young or old, vegetables are probably not a favorite food. The best way to get your kids to eat their veggies is too eat them yourself as parents. When I talk about vegetables, I mean more than canned green beans, corn and peas; I want you to spend some time in the produce section of your grocery store and look at the different varieties of vegetables. Now once you see all of the different kinds, look at all the different colors. Here is what I want you do to, with your children, pick out three different kinds of vegetables making sure you pick out different colors. Take those veggies home and eat them, you don't have to eat them all at once, spread them out through different days of the week. Then the next time you're at the store, pick out three different vegetables of varying color and take those home and try them. This is just the baby steps, work your way up to eating different vegetables at every meal.

You may ask: Why eat different vegetables of different colors? Because vegetables have been found to lower cholesterol, protection from some cancers, lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, and the list could keep going. Also, the more variety of vegetables, the better your chances to lowering your risk for these diseases. Why be a good role model for your children? Researchers have found that the plague build up in arteries starts at a young age, by the time a person is 20 the plague in the arteries has formed and keeps collecting more plague. The earlier we can start having our kids eat healthy food (and have them enjoy it) the better their health will be for the rest of their lives.

Have your children help you along the way to eating more vegetables each day, take them to the store. I know some parents prefer shopping without their kids because it reduces the "I wants" while strolling down each isle. So make your vegetable shopping trip just that, vegetables and only vegetables, one goal, nothing else. This also teaches self control, a good thing to teach our children in the age of I wants. Make this shopping trip while you are already out and about with your kids, after sports practice or on the home from school. When you get those veggies home, have your kids help plan ways to eat them. Then eat the vegetables together as a family.

Okay, now you have those vegetables at home, what do you do with them? Let me tell you, the possibilities are endless! Eat them raw, here is your "on the go" ideas...cut up varieties of veggies and keep them in a see through containers, when your headed out of the house and need a quick snack...cucumbers, red peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, the list keeps growing.

Eat your vegetables cooked, steaming them in the microwave is the fasted and you won't lose the nutrients of those veggies like you would if you boiled them. After you steam them, it is ok if you want to add something to them, such as salt, pepper, and butter (small amounts, keep them healthy), add some cheese, try Parmesan for something different. The point is to get yourself and your kids to eat vegetables in a variety of ways.

Vegetable are also good to incorporate into other meal items. I love to add spinach to my lasagna, shredded carrots and zucchini in meatloaf, and use spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles.

I feel like I've gone on and on all day and I still have more to say about vegetables, because they are my favorite food. I keep multiple containers of cut up vegetables in the fridge, once they are in the fridge cut up, they are a fast and easy way to snack and use for meals. If I run out of fresh veggies; I open the freezer door. Buying them frozen instead of canned reduces the amount of sodium and frozen veggies contains more nutrients than the canned version. When we have salads at home, no matter if it's for taco salad or a side salad, my salad mix incorporates two different leafy greens; I buy a bag of fresh baby spinach and a bag of another green (not iceberg because iceberg has the lowest amount of nutrients) when I get home I mix the bags and store them in the fridge.

Kids love ranch dressing with their fresh veggies and salads right? Here are some different ideas, because ranch dressing can add a lot of calories to your healthy vegetables. On salads use cottage cheese with a dash of pepper, mix a dry ranch packet with lowfat sour cream or blend with tofu to make a different kind of dip.

I will finally end my discussion on vegetables, although I could keep going! Just remember keep your vegetables colorful and if you want your kids to eat them, you need to eat them too!!

Next week I plan on talking about drinks, the unseen addition of calories. See you then.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am a dietetic student, one year away from my bachelor's degree and becoming a Registered Dietitian. I am also a mother of an 11 year old son, I work full time as a dietary manager for an assisted living facility and I lead a busy life style; just like most parents these days. Between my husband's job, my job, my schoolwork, my son's schoolwork, running our son from boy scout meetings or camp-outs and going to and from football practice or basketball practice and games on the weekends, church and Sunday school...Oh My! I'm getting tired just thinking about it!

With everything that we as parents have to do, the most important aspect of our day should be eating right and feeding our families healthy food. But how do we do this in our hectic lives? This is a place where I would like to give you all ideas on how to incorporate healthy foods into our busy day, teaching our children that 'good for you food' can be 'good tasting food', and I would like everyone to come up with their own ideas. Most parents out there have different and creative ways their families eat healthy 'on the go'.

I am always trying different ways to cook food, to make it quicker and healthier, finding good foods that travel well to games, and not going over my budget!

Next week I plan on discussing everyone's favorite: Vegetables!! Okay maybe not everyone's favorite, but vegetable are mine and I'm not joking! I even take cauliflower on my camping trips because I can't live without it!  Hope to you then.