Super Starts Here.

Health Benefits of Black Raspberries

I am sure at some point everyone has tried traditional red raspberries, but what about black raspberries? This super fruit is quickly growing in popularity due to the multiple health benefits one can receive from consuming a single serving. Here are just a few!

1. Antioxidant Power– Black raspberries contain 40% more antioxidants than both strawberries and blueberries due to the anthocyanins they contain – the natural compounds which gives them their black color.

2.Natural Sweetness– This low calorie, high fiber fruit has a natural sweetness, which makes a great substitute for traditional sweeteners in things such as oatmeals and cereals, yogurt, ice cream toppings, etc. The next time you have a bowl of oatmeal, top it with a serving of berries!

3. Nutritional Power– 1 cup of black raspberries contains over 60% of the RDA for Vitamin C. A single serving also comes in at about 80 calories, zero grams of fat and 7 grams of fiber, which is more than most breakfast cereals contain. They do have eleven grams of natural sugars, but the fiber causes the sugars to be more slowly absorbed, so they’re a good choice even for people with diabetes.

Where To Find Black Raspberries

-Black raspberries are typically in peak season in June and July

-They can be found along the East Coast and out through the Rockies, however they are not available in the Deep South due to the hot, dry climate.

– Another common name for black raspberries is “black caps.”

– Black raspberries are easy to grow and require little maintenance.


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Food Bank For NYC and Their Mission To Help With Childhood Hunger

Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend an open house for the Food Bank for NYC.  This organization has always been something close to my heart as I have spent many hours volunteering there.  Last nights discussion was on the focus on childhood hunger, especially during the summer.  A grandmother who supports her 4 grandchildren by herself spoke to the group about her struggles and what her daily life is like.  It was heartbreaking to hear and by the time she finished the entire room was in tears.  The constant concerns and stresses she faces on a daily basis are things that most of us take for granted.

In New York City, 1 in 5 people rely on the Food Bank For New York City’s programs and services for meals. Among the 1.4 million New Yorkers who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries, women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities make up the largest groups. Facing challenges such as low wages, unemployment and healthcare costs, these groups are particularly vulnerable to food poverty.

The open house was held at the Central Harlem location on 116th Street since that neighborhood has one of the largest numbers of children utilizing their services.  Over 75% of the families in their neighborhood are below poverty level, which equates to about 3 out of 4 children being in poverty.

While many of these children are eligible for the national free and reduced lunch program, the application process and the stigma associated with being identified as poor act as barriers to participation. Meanwhile, only about 1/5 of eligible students participate in school breakfast, which is free for all public school students in New York City.  The food bank is actively working the communities to help schools increase awareness as well as encouraging the community to apply.

Those children who take advantage of these programs, have been left in the dark during the summer up until now.  What most of us do not realize is that families rely on those 2 meals during the day for their children because their budgets simply do not allow for parents to purchase food for the additional meals.  When summer comes along, the parents are not getting a raise simply because it’s summer, so the question not only becomes “what is my child going to eat?” but “how am I going to supply it?.”  The food bank will serve all children who enroll free breakfast and lunch during the summer.  The meals will be served at local schools, community centers, or at the Food Bank itself.

The Food Bank is proud to announce that they have 14 operation sites, this number is up from 8 the previous year.  They are able to serve 36,000 meals and hope to continue to increase the number of children they can serve.  Since the Food Bank relies heavily on donations and volunteers, those are two of the best ways to help with the cause.  There are currently 900 sites throughout all 5 boroughs so it is easy to find one in your neighborhood.  You can visit the Food Bank For NYC site for ways to help and donate.

If you live outside of the city, check with your local food bank and schools to find out if they are participating in the No Child Hungry By 2015 Campaign so that you can help in your local community as well!


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GMO’s- Are They In Your Next Meal?

I am sure by now, everyone has heard of GMO’s, but do you really know what they are or what foods they are in?  Natural News posted a great article on this very topic.  The question of whether or not genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption is an ongoing debate that does not seem to see any resolution except in public opinion. Due to lack of labeling, Americans are still left at a loss as to whether or not what is on the table is genetically modified. This lack of information makes the avoiding and tracking of genetically modified foods very difficult.  Below is a list of just a few food items that are genetically modified.

1. Corn – Corn has been modified to create its own insecticide. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared that tons of genetically modified corn has been introduced for human consumption. Monsanto has revealed that half of the US’s sweet corn farms are planted with genetically modified seed. Mice fed with GM corn were discovered to have smaller offspring and fertility problems.

2. Soy – Soy has also been genetically modified to resist herbicides. Soy products include soy flour, tofu, soy beverages, soybean oil and other products that may include pastries, baked products and edible oil. Hamsters fed with GM soy were unable to have offspring and suffered a high mortality rate.

3. Cotton – Like corn and soy, cotton has been designed to resist pesticides. It is considered food because its oil can be consumed. Its introduction in Chinese agriculture has produced a chemical that kills cotton bollworm, reducing the incidences of pests not only in cotton crops but also in neighboring fields of soybeans and corn. Incidentally, thousands of Indian farmers suffered severe rashes upon exposure to BT cotton.

4. Papaya – The virus-resistant variety of papaya was commercially introduced in Hawaii in 1999. Transgenic papayas comprised three-fourths of the total Hawaiian papaya crop. Monsanto bestowed upon Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore technology for developing papaya resistant to the ringspot virus in India.

5. Rice – This staple food from South East Asia has now been genetically modified to contain a high amount of vitamin A. Allegedly, there are reports of rice varieties containing human genes to be grown in the US. The rice will create human proteins useful for dealing with infant diarrhea in the 3rd world. China Daily, an online journal, reported potential serious public health and environment problems with genetically modified rice considering its tendency to cause allergic reactions with the concurrent possibility of gene transfers.

6. Tomatoes – Tomatoes have now been genetically engineered for longer shelf life, preventing them from easily rotting and degrading. In a test conducted to determine the safety of GM tomatoes, some animal subjects died within a few weeks after consuming GM tomatoes.

7. Rapeseed – In Canada, this crop was renamed canola to differentiate it from non-edible rapeseed. Food stuff produced from rapeseed includes rapeseed oi (canola oil) l used to process cooking oil and margarine. Honey can also be produced from GM rapeseed. German food surveillance authorities discovered as much as a third of the total pollen present in Canadian honey may be from GM pollen. In fact, some honey products from Canada were also discovered to have pollen from GM rapeseed.

8. Dairy products – It has been discovered that 22 percent of cows in the U.S. were injected with recombinant (genetically modified) bovine growth hormone (rbGH). This Monsanto created hormone artificially forces cows to increase their milk production by 15 percent. Milk from cows treated with this milk inducing hormone contains increased levels of IGF-1 (insulin growth factors-1). Humans also have IGF-1 in their system. Scientists have expressed concerns that increased levels of IGF-1 in humans have been associated with colon and breast cancer.

9. Potatoes – Mice fed with potatoes engineered with Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki Cry 1 were found to have toxins in their system. Despite claims this shows that Cry1 toxin was stable in the mouse gut. When the health risks were revealed, it sparked a debate.

10. Peas – Peas that have been genetically modified have been found to cause immune responses in mice and possibly even in humans. A gene from kidney beans was inserted into the peas creating a protein that functions as a pesticide.

Since there is still very little information on the long term affects of GMO’s, everyone should really take another look at what they are eating.  Since 2008, a variety of strange illnesses have come up and are linked to this.  With so many studies done showing such a high amount of health hazards, everyone should think twice.


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Sunscreen Banned In Schools: Do You Think It’s Right?

Yesterday, I read an article that was both shocking and heartbreaking.  Elementary school children in Tacoma, Washington were severely burnt after playing outside during an all-day school event due to the fact that bringing sunscreen to school and applying it is banned unless you have a doctors note, from all public schools, not only in this district, but actually in most around the country.  The children suffered severe burns, which actually led one child needing additional treatment at the hospital.  The mother is taking action with the school board, not only for her children but for all children.  As a result, the school board is making an effort to overturn the current rule.

With all of the articles and information we have on premature skin cancer and sun damage, in combination with the importance of applying SPF, allowing children to bring sunblock to school should be as accepted as allowing them to bring their lunchbox.  Many parents around the country are already working on signing petitions to submit to state and local legislatures in order to have this overturned.

What do you think?  Do schools have the right to prohibit sunscreen being sent to school and applied without a doctors note?


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Children Taking Responsibility For What They Eat

Yesterday we discussed the importance of portion control and serving sizes with children.  An article from BBC news now shows that these heathy eating habits at a young age might actually pay off in the long run for children.  It started when children in the UK first wanted to take videos and pictures of their school lunches and blog about them to show the types of food they were expected to eat.

A child in North Carolina who was tired of being bullied for being overweight adopted a healthy eating plan to help him loose weight  and in addition to that got his entire family involved.  His mother actually took responsibility for his weight problem and agreed that more children should take a stand against unhealthy eating whether it’s at home or school.

Shows and programs such as “Food Revolution” or Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign have really helped to encourage and promote this type of thinking not only in children but in adults as well.  It is important to take interest into what you are putting into your body in order to insure that you are practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Some schools in the UK have also adapted sustainable eating practices to help educate the students on where their food is coming from.  The great thing about this is that it is something the students asked to have, not the schools.

Since there are so many options in the stores and at schools today, it is great to see children starting to take interest in what goes into their bodies.  As parents, we need to continue to encourage healthy eating habits and educating our children where their food is coming from, especially when purchasing items from local farmers markets.  The next time you are there, let your child talk to the farmer’s who are selling their produce and let them ask questions they might have about the produce.  Positive encouragement like this will only help to further promote a healthy lifestyle.


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Portion and Serving Sizes For Kids

It seems like every package has a different serving size on it and I am not sure about you, but I find it hard to keep track with what serving size I should be following regardless of what the package says.  With childhood obesity being such a huge epidemic right now, it is important to monitor portions and serving sizes for our little ones to make sure they are receiving a balanced diet.  Here are a few easy tips to make it less confusing.

Toddler Portion Sizes– the general rule of thumb is that a toddler portion size should be approximately 25% of that of an adults. If your child asks for more fruits and veggies, certainly give it to them, however you must make sure to limit things such as milk and juices since they can fill the toddler up before a meal.  Here are a few examples of serving sizes.

1/4 to 1/2 slice of bread
1/4 cup of dry cereal
one to two tablespoons of cooked vegetables
1/2 piece of fresh fruit
1/3 cup of yogurt
1/2 egg
1 tablespoon of smooth peanut butter (if no risk of food allergies) spread thinly on bread or a cracker
1 ounce of meat

Preschoolers and Younger Children– the portion size goes up slightly for this age group so that it should be approximately 1/3 of an adult portion size.  Here are a few examples of serving sizes.

1/2 slice of bread
1/2 cup of dry cereal
1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
1/2 piece of fresh fruit
1/2 cup of yogurt
1/2 cup of low-fat milk
1 egg
1 ounce of meat

Older Children– the portion sizes for this age group are very similar to that of adults.  As with adults, it is important to monitor sugars, sodium, and fat to avoid weight gain.

1 slice of bread
1 cup of dry cereal
1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
1 piece of fresh fruit
1 cup of yogurt
1 cup of low-fat milk
1 to 2 eggs
2 to 3 ounces of meat

Easy Ways To Help Monitor Serving Sizes 

– Offer a single serving of the main course of any meals that you prepare at home, and let your kids have extra salad or other vegetables if they are still hungry.
– Choose child portions, small orders, or half orders when you eat out at restaurants.
– Buy only single serving or bite-sized snacks.
– Review the label and repackage foods into single serving sizes. If a bag of cookies says that a single serving is 3 cookies, then put 3 cookies in a zippered plastic bag or on a plate when you give it to your kids.
– Avoid letting your kids just eat from a bag of snacks or carton of ice cream, since they will likely eat much more than one serving.



Healthy Pool Side Snacks That Are Kid Approved!

The first full week of summer is finally here.  With the temperatures soaring and school finally out, most kids are ready to hit the pool.  Here are a few snacks that are low in calories and sugar but are still sure to be a hit!

Fresh Squeezed Juice Pops– These are great, especially if you have a juicer so you can use any variety of fruits that you want.  For a watermelon lemonade version, 2 cups of watermelon, 6oz of frozen lemonade concentrate, and 3T of sugar or agave nectar.  Blend until smooth then pour into pop molds.  Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Grape Skewers– Frozen grapes are a summertime staple, however instead of throwing them in a bag, place 2-3 grapes on a toothpick and freeze for up to 4 hours.  This will make them easier to handle.

Beet Chips– These make a great alternative to the fat and calorie filled chips that are always staples during the summer.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Peel the beet skins using a vegetable peeler. Using a sharp knife, slice the beets as thinly and evenly as possible. Lightly brush both sides of the beet slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the beets until the slices are crisp. Allow to cool and enjoy!


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Healthiest options for kids if fast food is on the menu

While, we all agree that fast food is far from the best options, but with summer here and full of long car rides home from the beach and schedules jam packed, sometimes it may seem like the easiest thing to do.  Earlier this week, we gave you a list of the worst offenders for fast food, today we compiled a list of some of the healthier options.  While there is still no comparison to a freshly cooked, nutritious meal, these options will at least help to provide your children with fewer negative attributes of fast food.

1. Subway– While all of their sandwiches are relatively healthy, the veggie delight is the best option since there is no sodium packed meat included in this.  Add a side of skim milk and apple slices and the entire meal comes in at only 285 calories!

2. KFC– Their grilled chicken drumstick with corn on the cob, string cheese, and and unsweetened tea comes in at only 270 calories and has the adequate amount of protein and calcium needed for the day!

3. Chick-Fil-A– Their chargrilled chicken sandwich with a fruit cup might come in at 420 calories, however this meal also provides 10 grams of fiber, adequate amounts of Vitamin A and Calcium, as well as the full daily amount of Vitamin C for the kids!

4. Au Bon Pain– Not only is this chain rated as the “healthiest fast food restaurant in America,” but the food speaks for itself as well.  The grilled chicken on multigrain bread is a protein-packed option that’s sure to keep your little one satiated all afternoon. For on the go options, try some of their “portions” offerings, which include smaller servings of nutritious snacks like hummus and cucumbers; cheddar, fruit, and crackers; and apples, blue cheese, and cranberries.

5. Burger King– Their children’s chicken tender meal with apple slices and skim milk comes in at 350 calories and provides adequate amounts of Vitamin C, Calcium, and protein.

6. Wendy’s– The chicken nugget combo with apple fries (minus the caramel sauce), and unsweetened tea in place of a soft drink comes in at 250 calories.  Your children will get a protein packed meal and adequate amount of Vitamin A and C.

Hands down, the one fast food restaurant you should stay away from is Taco Bell.  In all research conducted, studies have shown that they unfortunately do not offer any options of well balanced meals for children in relation to the caloric intake for each meal.

One tip that many nutritionists provide with regard to fast food and children, is to consider order smaller versions of adult items instead of doing the traditional kids meal that usually contains fries, etc.  Sure, the children might miss the toys but in the end they will thank you later.  Some options are ordering a 4pc nugget meal with a fruit and yogurt parfait from McDonalds.  Wendy’s also offers a lot of their salads and sides in half options, so if your little ones love salads then that could also be an option.  One of their healthiest salads is their berry almond chicken salad which contains grilled chicken, fresh blueberries and strawberries and a serving of almonds which provides a well balanced meal at only about 175 calories for the half size of the salad.



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Thai Black Rice Salad

Yesterday, we told you about the benefits of Forbidden rice aka black rice, and today we have a great recipe for you to try.  This works well served with your favorite grilled shrimp or fish, such as halibut, for the perfect light summer meal.  Enjoy!

Thai Black Rice Salad

1 cup Thai black rice
1 red pepper (diced)
1 mango (stoned, peeled and diced)
3 green onions (sliced)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup mint (chopped)
1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
1 lime (juice and zest)
1 teaspoon palm sugar (grated or sugar)
1 birds eye chili (chopped)


1. Cook the rice as directed on the package.
2. Mix the black rice, red pepper, yellow mango, green onions, cilantro, mint and cashews in a large bowl.
3. Mix the fish sauce, lime juice and zest, palm sugar and birds eye chili in a small bowl.
4. Toss the salad in the dressing.  Enjoy!!

Adapted from:

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Black Rice: One of the hottest super foods around!!

Sure, we all know about brown rice, white rice, and a variety of substitutes, but have you heard of black rice?  It is quickly becoming one of the most talked about super foods due to the amazing health and nutritional benefits a serving offers.

Not only is black rice high in fiber, with over 2g of fiber per 1/4 cup, but it is also a great source of amino acids, iron, and is also low in calories when compared to traditional rice.  In addition to that, black rice has been linked to a reduction in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, heart attacks, and Alzheimer’s.  A serving of black rice contains a similar amount of antioxidants per serving to that of blueberries, which is the main reason why so many people love it.

Due to the increase in popularity, black rice can be found in most super markets.  One thing to keep in mind is that black rice, traditionally takes a little more time to cook than white and brown rices, but the extra time is well worth the wait.  In addition to that, you can find black rice noodles, bran cereal, sushi, and pudding as alternative options to basic rice.  It can easily be used as a substitute in any rice dish.


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