April 1, 2014

Eat Like a Nutritionist: Kid-Friendly Food Ideas

This is the sixth installment in my “Eat Like a Nutritionist” series. Check out the other posts here.

untitled11 Eat Like a Nutritionist: Kid Friendly Food Ideas

Getting kids to eat healthy food is an age old struggle. They can be extremely picky and introducing new foods to their diet can be difficult. Our nutritionists came together to provide some tips on how you can encourage your children to eat a healthy, varied diet. Use these tips and your kids will be excited to eat brussels sprouts and lima beans in no time!*

Beth H.

With three children at home, I have lots of experience trying to get them to eat healthy. Meal times can really be a battle and for most Moms, the fewer the battles, the better.  Thus, I always try to offer healthy foods that are both delicious and nutritious. Think veggies, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

And, if they tell me they don’t like it or don’t want to eat it, I just put the plate back in the fridge and wait until they ask for a snack or tell me they are hungry.  Then, I offer up that plate again. The point is to continue to offer healthy foods and beverages.  It sometimes takes several times of offering certain foods before kids will eat it.  If everyone in the home eats healthy 90% of the time, it sets a good example for your little ones.

Allison C.

I don’t have any kids yet, but from my experience tutoring and babysitting I find that they love to snack on graham crackers, low-sugar fruit gummies, apples, carrots, and orange slices. At meals, I give them milk or water to drink and make sure they finish the majority of their meal, but never force them to finish all of it if they say they’re full. I like to keep the kids active when I babysit. Toddlers and preschoolers always love a good dance party. Older kids usually like to play with friends, so provide them with things that will facilitate group activity-  jump ropes, balls, baseball gloves, and Frisbees (outside of course!).

Haley S.

I have a little boy at home and, from my experience, kids will eat almost anything if you put it in a quesadilla, so I use whole grain tortillas with some grilled chicken and low-fat cheese. I play the same trick on my husband! Check out TSOLC’s Kid-Friendly Pinterest board for great cooking tips and recipes that your children will enjoy.

Theresa H.

I’ve found kids will eat more vegetables if they have something to dip them in, so try a small amount of salad dressing or hummus to encourage them to eat raw vegetables. Or make a light cheese sauce to drizzle on their cooked veggies. Those new pouches of pureed fruits and/or vegetables are also a great invention – they’re portable, no mess, and an easy way to get a serving of fruit or vegetables into their diet. Kids love to be at the center of activity so include them when making a meal, especially when introducing them to something new. Ease them into the idea of a new food by talking to them about where it came from and how you’re preparing it. They’ll be more likely to try a new food when they’re excited about it and have some ownership over the final dish. *Ok, we may be reaching a bit here….

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March 31, 2014

Your Diet Soda Isn’t Going to Give You a Heart Attack or a Stroke

Senior Woman Drinking Diet Soda Your Diet Soda Isn’t Going to Give You a Heart Attack or a Stroke

Research from the University of Iowa on post-menopausal female diet soda consumption and potential risk for heart attacks and stroke was presented yesterday at the American College of Cardiology Annual Conference. Take it with a grain of salt, people. These researchers reportedly had no background in diet soda or low calorie sweeteners and the study has not yet been published.

Let me just go ahead and tell you that this study is definitely not in line with the majority of the research on this issue -which has concluded that there is no association between low-calorie sweeteners and cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke). Even some media coverage was smart enough label it “informal” research.

Registered Dietitian Robyn Flipse directly disagrees with the study:

“The findings from this study are not relevant to the general population since only postmenopausal women were studied,” said Registered Dietitian Robyn Flipse.  “A large body of scientific research supports the safety of low calorie sweeteners and does not suggest their consumption is linked to heart disease.  Low calorie sweeteners can be helpful tools in weight management and are safe to consume.”

In fact, the American Heart Association has stated that they recommend sweeteners to limit added sugars:

“The AHA strongly recommends limiting added sugars. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain, and those extra pounds can lead to a string of health problems. In addition to obesity, it can increase triglyceride levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Replacing sugary foods and drinks with sugar-free options containing non-nutritive sweeteners is one way to limit calories and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.”

Basically, if you’ve gained weight, you’re already at risk for heart attacks. Diet soda and sweeteners can help you cut calories. Which makes them a tool to help people lose weight –which helps reduce the risk of a heart attack in the first place.

And in a 2013 published (yes, actually published!) review of aspartame, a low-calorie sweetener often used in diet sodas, over a decade’s worth of data on aspartame was examined  related to poor health outcomes including different types of cancer and cardiovascular events. The authors concluded that, “low-calorie sweeteners are not related to vascular events….”

Back to the study itself, it turns out it was only an observational study, which means that cause and effect can’t be determined. Even the study author states, ““We only found an association, so we can’t say that diet drinks cause these problems.”

Basically, that means that other factors about people who drink diet drinks could be at play. In fact, the authors didn’t take into account many dietary factors, like fat consumption, that are related to heart disease.

There you go.

When reading about research in the news, you’ll save yourself from panicking if you do the following:

  1. Check to see if it was published. This study has not yet been.
  2. Check to see if it was observational (cause and effect can’t be determined). This study was.
  3. Read the authors’ conclusions, which should be able to show more than just an association, if it’s to be taken seriously. This study’s authors couldn’t show more than an association.

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March 27, 2014

Skinny Recipe: Easy Lemon Chicken

This recipe is perfect for Spring! If it’s still too cold outside in your neck of the woods, follow the pan cooking directions below. But if it’s warm outside, break out the grill! Just cook the sauce separately and bring together at the table. Pair with seasonal grilled or baked veggies and brown rice for a healthy, filling meal everyone in the family will enjoy.

Makes 4 servings, 3/4 cup chicken each

lemonchicken Skinny Recipe: Easy Lemon ChickenIngredients

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
12 ounces uncooked chicken breast tenders
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon SPLENDA® granulated or the equivalent of your favorite sweetener
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch strips
1/4 cup green bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch strips

Directions

Mix 1 tsp. cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a small mixing bowl. Add chicken. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 10 minutes.

Stir the lemon juice, 1/4 cup soy sauce, chicken broth, ginger, garlic, sweetener and 1 tsp. cornstarch together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until just done. Add sauce and sliced peppers. Cook 1-2 minutes more or until sauce thickens and peppers are slightly tender.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 150
Total Fat: 4.5g
Cholesterol: 50mg
Sodium: 730mg
Total Carbs: 6g
Fiber: 1g
Protein: 21g

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March 26, 2014

Quick Tip: Park and Walk

Park your car at the far end of the parking lot. Not only will you save your doors from dents and scraps but you’ll sneak in a little exercise. Or hop off the bus a stop or two early to add a little exercise to your day.

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