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Happy (and Healthy) New Year to Everyone!

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Water, It Does A Body Good

We are always reminded that adults should drink about 64 ounces of water per day, but there really aren’t any official guidelines for children, and while they get hydration via milk, fruit juice, etc., it is very important that their little bodies get enough pure water as well.  Results from a 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that all children except those aged 2-3 are not drinking enough water, with boys having the least amount of intake.  One of the main issues is that children consume the majority of beverages at meal times, and often, they are not drinking water with meals.

Water performs a variety of functions in our body including controlling body temperature, aiding digestion, preventing constipation, circulating blood and transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells. The only guideline that we could find is 1 quart of water for every for every 1,000 calories expended, but there really is no need to get that technical.  As long as you offer water at and inbetween meals, a child’s thirst should be the best guide.

Here are some tips to get your kids more excited about drinking water:

  • Use fun/colorful glasses and let kids pick from a collection of those loopy straws
  • Let your kids pick a water bottle that they can carry with them (BPA free, of course)
  • During the summer months, be extra careful and offer your kids water every 30 min or so, and if they are playing a sport, during every break.
  • Serve them half a glass of water at meals before you will offer juice or their preferred beverage, explain the benefits
  • When possible, offer filtered tap water as the fluoride will benefit them as well

One more small step to healthier 2012!


Add a little sunshine to your little ones lives…

My kids were preemies and the NICU doctors strongly recommended that we give them a daily infant vitamin for their first year.  Once they turned one and were eating a varied diet, I stopped giving it to them, and while they seem perfectly fine, I have read so much research about vitamin D deficiency in children lately, that one of my “small steps to a healthier 2012” is to start giving them a daily vitamin with an adequate amount of vitamin D.

Recent results by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 61% of children are vitamin D insufficient, and 9% are deficient.   Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to poor bone and heart health, as well as other diseases.  It’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D through one’s diet alone, so it’s critical to get some sunlight everyday as UV-B sunlight converts a form of cholesterol on the skin into vitamin D.  The main problem, however, is that kids today lead a more sedentary lifestyle and don’t spend enough time outdoors, and even those that do are using sunblock, which blocks UV-B rays.  But sunblock is also critical to prevent skin disease, so what can we do to ensure our kids are getting enough of this crucial vitamin?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400IU of vitamin D per day in supplement form, this includes infants, especially those that are breastfed.  Most infant and children’s vitamins have 400IU, so you can choose just about any brand.  You can also offer more vitamin D rich foods such as eggs, pork, salmon, canned tuna, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D such as milk, yogurt, cheese, breakfast cereals.

Yet another small step to a healthier 2012!


Sprinkle Your Kids’ Food With 23 Nutrients

Here’s another one of my favorite all natural supplements.  I add it to my kids’ cereal, yogurt, smoothies, pancakes and just about any baked good, and they have never noticed or complained.  Surprisingly,it is not widely used, but is a nutritional power house, a real SuperFood!  It’s Wheat Germ, the heart of cereal kernel that is removed during the milling and refining process, essentially, it is the embryo of the wheat seed where all the nutrients are stored.  Unfortunately, it is removed during production of white flour, so we don’t get many of these benefits in non-whole wheat products.

Just two tablespoons of wheat germ contains 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, as well as folic acid, omega 3, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, E; 16 minerals (including calcium, iron, magnesium. phosphorous and potassium), folate and pantothenic acid.  It can usually be found in the baking or cereal section of your grocery store, and should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum shelf life.

Just another small step to a healthier 2012!

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Small Steps to a Happy and Healthy 2012

Now that we are approaching the New Year, it’s time to start thinking about resolutions, and surprisingly, it doesn’t take too much effort to make changes that matter. Just a few small changes can make significant difference in our happiness and well being.  This week, we’ll focus on the little changes you can make to your child’s diet in order to improve the nutritional value in the foods they love to eat.

As my  kids approach their 2nd birthday, it has become much more difficult to control what they eat and how much of it, so one way that I try to ensure that they are getting the maximum nutrition in every bite is by adding natural supplements to their food.

Many of us have heard of flax seed, but how often do we actually use it?  Considering the nutritional value in just a teaspoon or two, we should all use it daily.  Flax seed plant is considered one of the healthiest plant foods on the plant.  While it contains several nutrients, the main three are:

1. Omega 3 essential fatty acids which are excellent for your heart, but also crucial in the development of one’s brain, eyes and nervous system, which is why it so beneficial for children.

2. Lignans, are a powerful anti-oxtidant that can boost immunity.

3.  Fiber, which most children lack in their diet.  Just one tablespoon contains 2 grams.

Flax seed is flavorless and easy to add to almost anything undetected.  One key to using flaxseed is making sure it is ground, you can either purchase it already ground and keep it refrigerated or grind it yourself  in a coffee grinder.  I add 1-2 teaspoons of flaxseed to my children’s oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, smoothies, soups, stews, mashed potatoes, pasta, sprinkled on peanut butter over toast, practically anything. I also add flaxseed to most of my baked goods, cakes, cookies, muffins, brownies, etc.

One small step to Healthy and Happy 2012!


Wishing You All A Very Merry Christmas Eve!

My husband’s family is Italian and so tonight we feast on fish.  I know many Italians have the meal of the “seven fishes”, but I am fairly certain we have more than seven fish dishes, I think the idea is the more, the better.  Every year I make a different fish dish to contribute the feast, I’ve made Paella, Marsicada, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Clams in Wine Sauce, etc, but this year I made something that I have never even tried before, but sounded amazing, Cioppino!  It’s basically a medley of fish and/or shellfish in a delicious broth that you serve in a bowl with crusty bread for dipping.  I made my Cioppino with Littleneck clams, Mussels, Squid and Shrimp, and while it was fairly easy to make, it tastes wonderful.  I used this recipe as a base, but doubled the shallots, used fresh, peeled tomatoes instead of canned, no tomato paste and lots and lots of garlic (probably 20 cloves, maybe more).

Hope your Christmas Eve is filled with family and friends, good food and wine, and lots and lots of happiness!

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On the 12th day of Christmas, we brought you the inspiration for our company…our kids!

They wake us up early in the morning.  They cause us to worry about everything.  They test our patience, our convictions, and our outlook of the world.

But whether it’s the days before Christmas or a random Tuesday in July…we couldn’t try harder, do better, or love bigger without them in our lives.

These little faces are the reason we are doing this at all.  So thank you, little faces!  We love you.

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On the 11th day of Christmas, we remembered to make dinner

Earlier last week, we recognized that the last thing you want to think about at the end of a busy holiday-prep day is…dinner.  That is, if you can stop long enough during the day to remember that you need to make something.

So, today we’re bringing you a fast, easy, nutritious meal that our families love.  The good news is, left overs are even better the next day.  I usually serve this the first night and lay out ingredients to make sandwiches or wraps the following night.  Bake some brussel sprouts to throw on the side.  Those reheat well too.  Bonus: if you have unexpected company drop by, you are covered.

Family Pot Roast

(1)     3-5lb boneless chuck roast

¼ C low-sodium soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 C beef broth

1 package of sliced mushrooms

1 T black pepper

3 T tomato paste

2 medium onions, quartered

1 (16 oz) package of carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces

16 small, red potatoes, cut in half

1 T canola oil

1 ½ T whole wheat flour

3 T water

Combine roast, soy sauce, and garlic in a large zip-lock plastic bag; seal bag and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Then, despite the remaining instructions, I literally put everything in my crock pot, set it on low for 8 hours and walk away!

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light Essential Slow Cooker

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On the 10th day of Christmas, we powered up your breakfast!

For many of us, this week is busier than most.  The kids are enjoying parties at school and coming home off a sugar high, you are grabbing a quick dinner before racing off to a neighborhood party or school play and even Frosty is chasing down trains to catch a ride to the North Pole.  By the time the alarm goes off tomorrow morning, your first thought will probably be to throw it out the window!  You need energy.

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  On the busiest days, WHAT you eat is just as important as eating.  Today, we have some breakfast ideas to help power up the whole family.

1. Oatmeal, chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, banana slices, flax seed
2. Greek yogurt, blueberries, chopped pears, tsp of honey
3. Scrambled eggs with chopped pepper, tomato and cheese (or any other veggies in the fridge) and a piece of whole wheat toast
4. Peanut butter banana smoothie with milk and a handful of spinach leaves (you won’t even taste it!)
Start off on the right foot and you might even find energy to wrap a present or two before bed tonight.  Maybe.
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On the 9th day of Christmas, we brought you side dishes everyone will love

Are we all in a sugar coma yet?  Whew!  The cookie swap last night was a huge success and I have a gorgeous plate of delicious, holiday inspired cookies to prove it.  But the holiday festivities are just beginning and despite what most 7 year olds will tell you, we can’t survive on cookies alone.

This year, my family is celebrating Christmas three times.  Once tonight, with my in-laws who are in town for a couple of days.  A second time with my husband and twin daughters, Claire and Rachel on “the big day”.  The third, a week from now when we visit my family in North Carolina.  To some, it may sound like a daunting task.  To me, it just extends my favorite time of year.

All that said, three celebrations  means three meals.  For me, the centerpiece of the meal (in tonight’s case, a ham) is often the second fiddle to the wonderful side dishes that adorn the table.  Two of my favorites that I am prepping as I type are Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts and a Butternut Squash and Apple Recipe.  My kitchen smells amazing!

Thanks to Whole Living, Terry Walter’s “Clean Food” and “White On Rice Couple” for the inspiration.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts

Butternut Squash and Apple Recipe

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