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Healthy Pool Side Snacks For Kids

With the end of summer quickly approaching, pool and beach days are a necessity for the month of August.  Here are a few of our favorite snacks that the kids will love!

Banana Boats

1. Cut a banana in half lengthwise and spread with peanut butter. Then sandwich back together for less of a mess!

Boiled Eggs and Veggie Sticks

1. Packed full of protein, boiled eggs are easy to transport and filling. Veggie sticks are a given.  Add a little hummus for dipping and it’s the perfect snack!

Frozen Grapes

These are sweet, delicious, and healthy!  The coolness is also refreshing on a warm day.

Homemade Lunchable

Cheese, turkey, whole-grain crackers and your favorite fruit. Great for a pool-side snack or lunch!


This simple and quick snack is packed full of protein and fiber.

Banana Bread Muffins

Who says muffins are just for breakfast? Packed full of healthy carbohydrates, they are the perfect pool snack to give your kids lots of energy. Make them ahead, freeze them and then pull a few out for your next trip to the pool. Your kids will go bananas over these Banana Bread Muffins.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. nutmeg


1.Mix dry ingredients together. In separate bowl, combine: 2 eggs, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 cup mashed bananas,2 TBL plain yogurt.

2. Mix wet ingredients into dry until it is all moistened. Drop batter into muffin tin. Then sprinkle over each muffin the following mixture. 1/2 cup sweetened coconut, 1/2 cup crushed walnuts.

3. Bake in oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes, or until muffins are cooked through.

Cheese & Homemade Crackers

When you make your own, you know exactly what is in them. Plus you can make lots of varieties! Here is a great recipe for cheddar crackers!

Cheddar Crackers

1. In a food processor or blender add the first 5 ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal, blended until fine in a blender or food processor
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs- OPTIONAL (I used both basil and rosemary in mine)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive or other oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2. Then add the water, olive oil and cheese. Blend – the dough should come together into a ball. You can add more water or oil if the dough seems to dry.

3. Roll the dough out as thin as possible on a floured surface.  Cut out shapes using a knife or cookie cutter.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (or silpat or parchment paper)  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes – until they start to turn golden.


Super Healthy Kids

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Adding Calcium To Your Child’s Diet

Earlier this month, Fox News ran an article discussing the decline of children consuming milk in favor of sweetened beverages such as sodas and juices, however one major part of their research demonstrated that those children who were given milk on a daily basis at a younger age were more likely to continue drinking healthier liquids as they got older.

We all know how vital calcium is for the body.  It is vital for bone growth and development, brain function, strong teeth, and children who consume adequate amounts of calcium are also less likely to break bones.  Below are the RDA for calcium in children.

-Age 1 to 3 years: 500 mg
-Age 4 to 8 years: 800 mg
-Age 9 to 18 years: 1,300 mg

While milk is the most popular choice due to it’s high calcium content, here are some other alternatives that can help you child get the calcium they need if milk is something they are not fond of.

-Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt (especially low fat or skim options)
-Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, bok choy, and broccoli
-Fortified juices
-Fortified cereals and breads
-Tofu with added calcium sulfate
-Frozen yogurt


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Olive Oil: The healthier baking alternative

While it may seem impossible to make some of your favorite baked goods healthy, making the small switch from butter to olive oil can help you cut out the saturated fat in your favorite recipes without sacrificing the taste.  Extra-Virgin olive oil has large amounts of healthy monounsaturated fat which promotes the good cholesterol as well as an abundance of antioxidants which promote cardiovascular health.

Here are some easy conversions to help with substitutions.

1 teaspoon butter = 3/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter = 2 1/4 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup butter = 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup butter = 3/4 cup olive oil

Here is a great recipe for Honey and Goat Cheese Filled Fig Muffins.

3/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 cups white or whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
1 cup low-fat or nonfat buttermilk
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped dried figs
3 tablespoons turbinado or granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.

2. Thoroughly combine goat cheese (or cream cheese), honey, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Whisk flour (see Measuring Tip), baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Lightly beat eggs and egg white in a medium bowl; add brown sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in buttermilk and oil until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in figs.

4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Add 1 generous teaspoon of the reserved cheese filling to the center of each muffin, and cover with the remaining batter. (The filling should not be visible.) Sprinkle the muffins with sugar.

5. Bake the muffins until the edges start to brown and the tops spring back when gently pressed, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Eating Well has a great collection of olive oil based recipes that are sure to become staples!


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Sugar Shock: The drinks with the highest amounts of sugar

With the NYC sugar ban being a hot topic as of lately, many researchers have started compiling lists of the worst offenders for sugar-filled beverages.  The RDA is a maximum of 36g of sugar per day which equates to about 9 teaspoons of sugar.  Most of these beverages on the list contain up to 3 times as much sugar as the most popular candy bars.

1. SoBe Energize Green Tea- This healthy green tea has taken a turn for the worse with a whopping 51 grams of sugar per serving!

2. Starbucks White Hot Chocolate- This beverage contains 76 grams of sugar which is more than 2 candy bars combined!!

3. McDonald’s Chocolate Shake- This 32oz shake has 168 grams of sugar which is the same as having 40 sugar cubes AND 6 chocolate bars!!

4. Mountain Dew- Not only is this soda packed with sugar, it also contains brominated vegetable oil which is a chemical flame retardant! Yikes!

5. Rockstar Energy Drink- Not only does this contain 62 grams of sugar, but it is also one of the few drinks which also puts a disclaimer about it not being suitable for children and pregnant women!

6. Vitamin Water- While the concept and name sound healthy, the average Vitamin Water contains 30 grams of sugar!

7. Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha- This drink is not only full of calories and fat, it has a whopping 94 grams of sugar!

8. Minute Maid Lemonade- This beverage contains as much sugar per serving as 20 sugar cubes!

9. Cold Stone Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake- Not only does this shake contain more calories than the average adult needs in a day, it has 140 grams of sugar!!


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Beet Burgers With Goat Cheese

Yesterday we told you all about the nutritional benefits of eating beets and here is the perfect summertime recipe.  Just make a batch of these and they are sure to be a new family favorite!!

Beet Burgers With Goat Cheese

2 cups cooked brown or white rice

1 cup finely diced or grated roasted beets

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, like a mixture of parsley and dill

1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 egg

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil, as needed


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the rice, beets and herbs in a large bowl.

2. Purée the beans with the lemon juice and egg in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or with a fork. Scrape into the bowl with the rice and beets. Add the goat cheese, salt and pepper, and mix the ingredients together.

3. Moisten your hands and form 6 patties.

4. Working in batches, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil at a time in a heavy ovenproof skillet and brown the patties on one side for 2 minutes. Turn over onto the other side and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with or without buns, ketchup and your favorite toppings.

Tips: You can make these up to 3 days ahead, either through Step 3 or 4, and keep in the refrigerator. They can also be cooked ahead and reheated in a low oven or in a pan on top of the stove.



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Beets: The Nutritionally Dense Vegetable You Should Try

Sure, we have all seen beets as they are recognizable by their distinct color, but did you know that they are packed it essential nutrients that promote good health?

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.  Beets contain high percentages of magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphorus.  They are also considered a high-fiber food due to the large amount of dietary fiber they contain and contain vitamins A and C as well as niacin. Beets contain folic acid which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. This is especially important for pregnant woman or anyone undergoing physical healing.

Beets are available all year round, so they are not difficult to find in any produce section if you want them fresh.  End of July/beginning of August is their peak season.  Beets can be eaten raw or you can boil, steam roast or sautee them.

Select beets that are firm with smooth, blemish-free dark red or golden yellow skins. If you want to cook any attached leaves, make sure they are bright green.  Before refrigerating, separate the beets from the leaves. To keep the beets dry, store them and the leaves, unwashed, in separate plastic bags in the vegetable drawer.  The leaves will last for only two to three days, but the beets can stay fresh for two to three weeks.


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Drowning: The Silent Killer

All summer, we have discussed the importance of water safety to prevent drowning for you and your family.  The article from GCaptain depicts a different vision of how drowning actually occurs vs. the way we see it played out in movies.  There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind.  To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this, it is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under just behind car accidents.  Approximately 750 children will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult.  In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening.  Many studies have shown that when someone is actually drowning, they do not look like they are drowning.  Here are a few things that usually happen when drowning.

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs (On Scene Magazine).

2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water (On Scene Magazine).

3. Drowning people cannot wave for help.  Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe (On Scene Magazine).

4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment (On Scene Magazine).

5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs (On Scene Magazine).

The article makes it a point to express that if a person is able to call out for help and do some of the above, they may still be experiencing some kind of emergency.  Those who are able to do this, are more likely to assist with their own rescue such as grabbing life rings, lifelines, etc.

If you are in the water, pay close attention to the below signs of drowning that will be present in a person.

Head low in the water, mouth at water level
Head tilted back with mouth open
Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
Eyes closed
Hair over forehead or eyes
Not using legs – Vertical
Hyperventilating or gasping
Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
Trying to roll over on the back
Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.


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The Dirty Dozen: Fruits and Veggies With The Highest Amount of Pesticides

Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases their list of the most common 45 fruits and vegetables and the pesticide levels for each.  Those with the highest levels of pesticides are thus named “the dirty dozen.”  Since they contain the highest percentage of pesticides, these items are the ones which are suggested to buy organic if possible.  At the bottom of the list is the Clean Fifteen, 15 foods that have the lowest pesticide load. If you’re on a limited budget and have to pick and chose your organic produce, EWG recommends that you spend the extra money for the Dirty Dozen in their organic form and buy the Clean Fifteen in their conventional form.

2012 Dirty Dozen

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Peaches

5. Strawberries

6. Imported nectarines

7. Grapes

8. Spinach

9. Lettuce

10. Cucumbers

11. Domestic blueberries

12. Potatoes

2012 Clean 15

1. Onions

2. Sweet corn

3. Pineapples

4. Avocado

5. Cabbage

6. Sweet peas

7. Asparagus

8. Mangoes

9. Eggplant

10. Kiwi

11. Domestic cantaloupe

12. Sweet potatoes

13. Grapefruit

14. Watermelon

15. Mushrooms


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Healthy Homemade Frozen Treats

Yesterday we broke down the worst frozen treat offenders so today we compiled a few great recipes for easy ice cream and other frozen treats that you can make in your own kitchen!  While a traditional electric ice cream maker is most convenient for making frozen treats, our recipes can be made with or without an ice cream maker.

Coconut-Banana Ice Cream

-2 cans of full fat coconut milk (no preservatives please!)

-10-12 ripe bananas (small bananas. If you have large ones and don’t fit in your blender make separate batches) you can also taste the batch to see how much banana taste you want out of it. If you feel like it’s too banany then use less. simple as that)

-2 -3 tbs of ground cinnamon

-10 ice cubes

Tip: You can mix your favorite nuts, raisins or chocolate chips in it, even some coconut oil doesn’t sound bad. Also a pinch of cayenne pepper on top does the trick for me.


Mix all ingredients in a blender with like 10 ice cubes in it. Blend high-speed 3X. Serve in a plastic container, close and store in freezer for about 4 hours.  Enjoy!

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

-3 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

-2 cups low-fat plain yogurt

-1/3 cup sugar

-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-1/2 cup chocolate chips, preferably mini


1. Place raspberries, yogurt, sugar and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth.

2. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch pan and place in the freezer. Stir every few hours, until the mixture is firm along the edges and semi-firm in the center, 2 to 6 hours (using frozen berries will shorten the freezing time). Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, stir in chocolate chips, cover and freeze until ready to serve.

Banana Pudding Pops

-1/3  light brown sugar

-2 tablespoons cornstarch

-Pinch of salt

-2 cups low-fat milk

-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-2 cups diced bananas, (about 2 large)


1. Whisk sugar to taste, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan. Add milk and whisk until combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

2. Put about half the pudding in a food processor or blender and add bananas. Process until smooth.  Stir the mixture back into the remaining pudding.

3.Divide the mixture among freezer-pop molds. Insert the sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Dip the molds briefly in hot water before unmolding.



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7 Unhealthy Ice Cream Treats To Avoid

When the temperatures soar in the summer, ice cream always seems to be the go-to treat of choice to help cool us off.  Chacha compiled a list of the worst ice cream offenders to help make your selection easier.

1. Cold Stone PB & Chocolate Shake: At 2,010 calories and 131g of fat it comes as no surprise that this is the worst offender.  It contains as many calories as an active woman should consume for the entire day.

2. Dairy Queen Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard: This treat has earned the title of most unhealthy blizzard on the menu.  It contains 1,460 calories and 81g of fat.  Opt for the Dilly bar or Starkiss bar on the menu instead.

3. Nestle Baby Ruth King Size Drumstick: Not only filled with sugar and tons of fat, it comes in at a whopping 480 calories for one drumstick!

4. Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich: A single sandwich contains 520 calories and has 23 grams of fat!  It contains more calories than some traditional fast food meals!  You can make your own version using low fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and homemade chocolate chip cookies that will cut the calories in half!

5. Burger King Bacon Sundae: This treat has 500 calories and 61g of sugar!  The bacon not only adds to the fat and calorie content but it also increases the sodium of this item as well.  With the chocolate and caramel also in this sundae, it makes it an unhealthy option.

6. Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream: A single 1/2 cup serving contains 360 calories and 24g of fat per serving which makes it one of the unhealthiest ice cream flavors you can purchase.

7. Baskin Robbins Oreo Layered Sundae: At 1,330 calories, its almost 75% of the average person’s daily caloric intake. A homemade version with low fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, Oreos, and chocolate syrup is a great alternative to lower the calories.


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