mysuperfoods

Super Starts Here.

What are these chemicals doing to me?

medical historyI read alarming statistics on cancer rates and fertility rates as they relate to chemical use all the time.  Those statistics are part of the reason I wanted to build this company in the first place.  Priority one is to create delicious, good-for-you food for children, inspired by feeding my own.  Priority number two is to contribute to a positive movement that is taking back our food from becoming science experiments, with us lined up as the guinea pigs.  Fortunately for me, while I tackle the food, other like minded companies are working on the chemicals in cleaning products and everyday goods.

In this month’s Honest Company Blog, Lindsay Dahl, the Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families carefully lays out a slew of troubling stats that scientists say are impacted by the use of unregulated, toxic chemicals.  Chemicals and Our Health: A Call to Action paints an initially bleak picture of what has happened to our health in the last 35+ years.  Leukemia, asthma, learning disabilities, all on the rise.  Fortunately, they do also call out some positive strides, like the removal of BPA in many products (especially for children…like our MySuperSnack pouches) as well as the removal of lead from many products.

The stat that haunts me personally? “Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. From 1982 to 1995, the incidence of reported difficulty almost doubled in younger women, ages 18–25.”  Many who know me, know that I am not shy about sharing my experience with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to conceive my daughters.  It was a difficult, emotional journey that I wouldn’t wish on any hopeful woman trying to have children.  But I’m thankful it was an option for me.  That said, I do not have a history of fertility issues in my family.  Many of my friends, of all ages (not just the 40+ women that are always cited when IVF comes up in conversation) have had to turn to IVF.  None of them have family fertility issues either.  I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a health professional.  But I am someone who went through this with little to no explanation as to why.  If there is even a chance that toxic chemicals in our cabinets or our refrigerators are contributing to my issue or any other disease on the rise, shouldn’t we do something about it now before those stats get any larger?

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Leftovers again? Not At Sarah’s House.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 9.35.15 AM {Written By Guest Blogger, Sarah)
I admit it. I hate leftovers. You know what I hate even more than leftovers? Wasting food. Quite
the conundrum, especially when I have a tendency to cook for a crowd of ten instead of cooking for
a party of five. If I don’t like to eat the same meal three nights in a row, how can I expect my kids to
eat the same meal three nights in a row? How can I use up all those leftovers when we don’t like
leftovers?! If I was a really good planner, we would never have leftovers, right? I wish I could say
that I make a weekly meal plan and stick to it, but I definitely do not. I don’t even make a list for the
grocery store when I am doing a big shop. I buy what looks good and what I am in the mood for,
which usually results in a lot of food being wasted. I like to think of myself as a “free spirit in the
kitchen”, having options and not being tied down to a meal plan. (“Free spirit” is the polite version
of “disorganized mom of three boys who is too lazy to make a meal plan and grocery list.”) I am
trying to shed that “free spirit” way of thinking and become more organized in meal planning and
grocery shopping, but baby steps, right? First things first… NO MORE WASTING FOOD.

Without fail, everyday sometime before lunchtime, my kids or husband will ask, “what’s for dinner?”
The old me would come up with something before perusing the array of glass containers full
of leftovers in the refrigerator. I would make a chicken dish despite having leftover pork in the
refrigerator. That pork would then sit there for a few days, along with the chicken I would make, and
both would eventually get thrown out. Shame on me, right? There are starving children out there!
I know, I know! So I have started “shopping” in my own refrigerator to see what is available before
blurting out “CHICKEN!” Or ordering a pizza.

I have started to make extra of things I am cooking for the purpose of turning them into a different
meal later in the week. For example, Monday night I made a pasta dish with spicy chicken sausage
I picked up at Whole Foods. I cooked up all the sausage, but only used a few links in the pasta dish.
I decided I could use the leftover sausage in some soup, the leftover homemade pasta sauce could
be used for pizza, and I used the leftover orechiette to make a pasta dish with zucchini and tomatoes
last night. No more wasting! We are eating leftovers, but not in their original form. Who wants to
eat the same thing night after night? After all, variety is the spice of life.

Leftover wild or brown rice can be used to make a healthy stir fry or used in a chicken, rice,
and grape salad. I like to make a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and add it to
scrambled eggs or yogurt for my sons. Any meat can be shredded and transformed into tacos by
adding spices and your favorite toppings. Leftover veggies can be used in quesadillas or scrambled
eggs. If I am roasting sweet potatoes for my youngest son, I like to roast an extra one to turn into
sweet potato hummus. The ideas are endless. A perk of using what you have to make another dish
is that there is little prep or clean up, and dishes come together quickly since everything is already
cooked.

I decided to make that soup I mentioned above today because it feels like it is 2 degrees outside.
I also did not want the chicken sausage to sit another day. I quickly scanned my refrigerator to
see what else I could add to the soup. I had leftover lentils and chicken stock, and I always have a
bag of spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs on hand. So chicken sausage, lentil, and
spinach soup it was!

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 9.35.01 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Sausage, Lentil and Spinach Soup

1/2 onion, diced

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

2 links of chicken sausage, diced (whichever variety you prefer. mine was spicy italian)

2 cups of cooked lentils

26 oz. chopped tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

Few handfuls of spinach

Few sprigs of fresh thyme

Salt & pepper to taste

Shredded parmesan for topping

Sautee onion & garlic until translucent. Add the thyme and cook until fragrant. Add the diced
chicken sausage and cooked lentils and cook until warm. Add tomatoes and chicken stock and
bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until your heart desires. Add spinach a few minutes before
you are ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste, and top with fresh parmesan.

The beauty of this soup is that you really could use anything you have in your refrigerator. No
chicken sausage? Use roasted chicken or omit meat altogether. No spinach? Use kale. No
Thyme? Try a different herb like rosemary or basil. Want to spice it up a bit more? Add red pepper
flakes.

There you have it! A tasty, filling, healthy, and warm lunch that used up four things sitting in my
refrigerator. Most importantly, my oldest and youngest sons loved it. My middle son would not go
near the soup since it was not a bagel, avocado, yogurt, or cheese. That’s right – I have been cursed
with a picky eater, but more on that later…

——————————————————————————————————-

Sarah lives in New Jersey with her husband and three little boys.  She loves to cook and have dance parties in her kitchen with her sons; she also dabbles in photography and interior design, and works hard at becoming a better baker.

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I Don’t Have Perfect Eaters (A rant from a mom who owns a natural food company)

comic book momDespite what many of you think, my children are not “perfect” eaters.  Silvia admitted to this the other day too, in her article about 7 tips for picky eaters.  But no matter how often I say it, ever since I started this company, I notice that people around me think otherwise.  Isn’t my family eating each spoonful of whole grains and broccoli in a peaceful, nutrient dense cloud of happiness?  Even my closest friends dodge conversations about what’s on their dinner menus.  Eyes shifting, nervously moving from one foot to the other, pleading to change the subject as they sheepishly admit to having served…PIZZA…for dinner the night before.
HELLO?!  I’m a mom.  I have three year old twins.  I live on Earth.  There is nothing perfect going on at my dinner table.
This brings up one of my biggest pet peeves of being a mom.  Thinking that other moms have it all together while we, alone, flail around like fish newly plucked from the ocean.  This is not a new idea.  But I do this all the time.  Beating myself up, listing reason after reason about how I don’t measure up, scouring the Internet for inspirational articles about girl power and mom power and putting post its on my mirrors that say “YES!”.  I am not alone.  You are not alone.  We are in this day-to-day battle of wills together.  And the kitchen table can often be the biggest battle field of the day.
So, what does a typical day at my house look like around the kitchen table?  Something like this.
Claire: “Mo-ommy! I want milk.”
Me: “Please???  I’m getting your cup right now.  Have a seat at the table.”
Claire: (As I hand her and Rachel a cup) “NO! I WANT THE PINK ONE!” (Pulls at Rachel’s cup, screaming, milk everywhere)
Me: “TIME OUT!”
Rachel and Claire: crying….Crying….CRYING
Me: (deep breath, take two) “OK, come on back to the table.  Would you like oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast?”
Rachel: “Oatmeal!”
Claire: “Yogurt!”
Rachel: “Yogurt!”
Me: (I usually mix some plain Greek yogurt with a flavored Siggi yogurt to cut down sugar, then add some Kashi or Cheerios and blueberries with sprinkle of probiotics or flax seed and hand them out at the table)
Rachel: “I don’t like blueberries”
Me: (She doesn’t like blueberries??  Since when?) “Can you try two bites?  You might change your mind.”
Rachel: (tries 1/18 of a teaspoon.  Gagging) “I’m all done”
Me: “Just try a couple bites and then you can be all done if you want.  But you might be hungry later.”
Claire: (3 bites in) “I’m all done.  Can I have something else?”
Me: “Nope.  This is breakfast.”
Claire: “But I’m so HUN-gry!”
Me: “Great!  There’s a nice bowl of yogurt right in front of you.”
Claire: “I’m full”
Me: “Ok, but you might be hungry soon if you don’t have a couple more bites.”
Claire: “Can I have something else?” (and by something else, she usually means SUGAR)
On and on we go until a few more bites (or in Rachel’s case this morning, ALL the bites including the dreaded blueberries…that she miraculously decided were good) are eaten and we move away from the table.
Yes, I try to make nutritious choices.  I use lentils and quinoa and flax seed and chia seeds on a regular basis.  I try to serve vegetables at lunch and dinner but sometimes they go untouched.  I try to eat what they are eating but sometimes I don’t want to eat ravioli for lunch two days in a row and I just want them to eat it so I don’t throw left over food away AGAIN.  I try to make most of what they eat but we do order pizza on Friday nights and eat pancakes at the diner on the weekends.
The goals I set for my family at the table are not unlike the goals I set for the food that we make at MySuperFoods.  Fun, nutritious, realistic, delicious, and all natural.  We make Chocolate Chip (soft) Granola Bites.  I know people who would never dream of giving their kids chocolate chips.  But that’s not me or my family.  We like chocolate chips.  But you have to eat some dinner first.
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Cheers for Coconut

coconut meganKatie’s follow-up article this week about the success of coconut oil on Rae’s sensitive skin inspired me to highlight the plethora of other health benefits of coconut oil.  I am sure many of you have heard the recent growing popularity of coconut oil in cooking, foods, and as we know from MySuperFoods’ posts, skin care.  However, what is not widely known is that coconut oil has been used for centuries as a superfood due to its many beneficial health and healing properties.  Check out the long list of things we can utilize coconut oil for on a daily basis.  Did I also mention that coconut oil is a fraction of the price (and more effective) of many of the other products it can act as a substitute for? Read on to find out….

WHAT IS COCONUT OIL? (SOURCE: NaturalNews):

Coconut oil is a popular nutritional oil derived from the meat of matured coconuts. Coconut has long been a primary source of food throughout the tropics. Its various industrial and cosmetic applications have made it a very viable commodity. Coconut oil is heat stable, making it suitable for cooking at high temperatures (Megan meaning: the biochemical composition of the fats do not break down or form dangerous byproducts, which is what happens when you cook with/heat olive oil too high; what we think is “healthy” actually winds up working against our health!).  Coconut oil is slow to oxidize (Megan meaning: it’s not going to lead to free-radical damage, a.k.a the stuff that causes cancer and other degenerative diseases in our bodies), resists rancidity (it doesn’t spoil easily), and has a shelf life of approximately two years or more; virgin coco creme created through a wet-milling process has an indefinite shelf life.

HOW COCONUT OIL HELPED RAE’S SKIN….A LITTLE THING CALLED LAURIC ACID (SOURCE: NaturalNews):

Coconut oil has many health benefits which are attributed to the presence of lauric acid. When it is present in the body, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses and other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid (fat)membranes (a.k.a. protective outer shields) and virtually destroy them.

Monolaurin is effective for treating candida albicans, fungal infections and athlete’s foot. It also targets bacterial infections and viruses like measles, influenza, hepatitis C, and even HIV. In fact, researchers from the Philippines are studying the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS due to its strong anti-viral properties. Moreover, lauric acid is non-toxic, making it a better alternative to modern drugs that are typically prescribed for viruses as well as fungal and bacterial infections.

Without lauric acid, monolaurin cannot be produced by the body. Breast milk is the only other source of lauric acid, which must explain the lesser incidents of infections with breast-fed infants. It has also been observed that regular consumption of coconut oil boosts immunity and reduces incidences of sickness.

In Rae’s case, coconut oil acted as an excellent skin conditioner because it contains medium-chain triglycerides (which are naturally occurring fats that deeply penetrate, moisturize and acts as a protective barrier against environmental and free radical damage).  Added bonus, the oil also provides sun protection by screening 20 percent of ultraviolet exposure!  I use this daily on my own skin to help with daily sun exposure rather than slather on chemical-ridden sunscreens that cause my skin to break out in all kinds of rashes.

Coconut oil is rich in anti-oxidants and bursting with the natural microbial and antibacterial agents caphrylic and capric acids.  Its ability to smooth the skin while infusing with anti-oxidants makes it a perfect anti-aging moisturizer (why spend hundreds on fancy chemical creams for your face each year?!?  I don’t think those creams do that much anyway).  More importantly, coconut oil contains vitamin E, which is another antioxidant popular for hastening the recovery of skin abrasions, burns and other trauma.

WHAT MAKES COCONUT OIL DIFFERENT FROM OTHER OILS (SOURCE: NaturalNews):

The coconut possesses great fiber and nutritional content, but it is the oil that makes it a remarkable source of food and medicine. It has definitely earned its reputation as the healthiest oil in the world despite the fact that its high saturated fat content was once falsely claimed to be unhealthy.  I for one, was shocked when I first looked at the nutrition label and saw how much saturated fat was in a serving of coconut oil.  It made me a little hesitant to eat, but after I educated myself on why this type of saturated fat was not as bad as I once thought, I made it a daily dietary staple.

Oils and fats are composed of molecules known as fatty acids (we’ll learn more about these another time…it will be like a mini bio-chemistry lesson [FUN!] that I think is important for people to understand and it would make a good article topic). They are classified either according to saturation or based on molecular length and size of the carbon chain within each fatty acid.  For now, just know that the second classification is based on molecular size or length of the fatty acid’s carbon chain. Long chains of carbon atoms consist of each fatty acid with an attached hydrogen atom. There are short chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) such as coconut oil, and long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Whether unsaturated or saturated, the majority of fats and oils in our diet are composed of long chain fatty acids. In fact, a majority of the fatty acids commonly consumed are LCFA.

Coconut oil is predominantly medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and the effects of the MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from the LCFA found in other foods. In fact, the saturated and unsaturated fat in milk, eggs, meat and even in plants and most vegetable oils are made of LCFA. Why is this relevant? It is important because our bodies respond and metabolize each fatty acid differently. It is the MCFA found in coconut oil that makes it special because these fatty acids do not have a negative effect on cholesterol (cholesterol is only found in animal products, anyway, but even plant-based products we eat can have a negative impact on our body’s cholesterol levels because our bodies produce cholesterol in addition to what we ingest from our foods). In fact, the MCFAs from coconut oil are known to lower the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. There are only few dietary sources of MCFA, and one of the best sources by far is coconut oil.

The liver and gall bladder do not need to digest and emulsify (break up) MCFA, resulting in instant energy, increased metabolic rate (how fast our bodies break down food and create energy), and subsequently more heat production as well as increased circulation.  Anyone with an impaired fat digestion or removed gallbladder will benefit from coconut oil as this oil is easily digested (despite what one might think when looking at the nutrition label and witnessing a high fat and saturated fat level).

WHAT ELSE IS COCONUT OIL GOOD FOR!??! (SOURCE: NaturalNews):

Hair Care – The unique fatty acids in coconut oil have a small molecular structure and pass freely into the hair’s cell membrane, allowing for the oil to penetrate the hair’s shaft; this literally brings out the deep conditioning from within compared to other conditioners that work from the outside in.  Massaging the oil into the scalp can offer relief from dandruff, dry scalp, or itchy skin. Dandruff is caused by dry skin or an internal fungal condition that reached the scalp. With regular use, coconut oil can kill the fungus and eliminate dandruff issues. For deep hair conditioning, a teaspoon or two on damp hair left for as long as possible can give an ultra-nice shine. Leave it on overnight and see startling results.  I have even heard coconut oil being an effective treatment for lice rather than dousing a child’s scalp with harsh pesticides (although I am sure many parents freak out at the thought of lice and want something to massacre the little creatures as quickly as possible).

Weight loss – Medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil can speed up metabolism faster than long-chain fatty acids because they are easily digested and converted into energy. In fact, a study reported medium-chain fatty acids to be three times more effective in raising metabolism than long-chain fatty acids, leading researchers to conclude that effective weight loss can be achieved by replacing long-chain fatty acids with medium- chain fatty acids.

Natural remedy for pneumonia – In a study presented before The American College of Chest Physicians on October 29, 2008, coconut oil was found to offer pneumonia patients faster and more complete relief from symptoms. This could be a welcome development for many as this means a reduced stay in the hospital, lower medical expenses and lower exposure for the patient to a hospital environment. Moreover, it is an inexpensive addition to traditional antibiotics and has no known side effects.

Lowers risk of diabetes, heart disease and improves cholesterol levels – In a study made on women subjects ranging from 20 to 40 years old, half of the subjects were instructed to take a 30 ml soybean oil supplement while the other half were instructed to take a 30ml coconut oil supplement while maintaining moderate exercise routine over a 12-week period. Results of the study showed that although both group of women had a decrease in body mass index (BMI), only the women who were taking coconut oil showed a notable decease in waist circumference significantly lowering the risk of conditions like type II diabetes and heart disease.

Furthermore, the study also showed that the subjects who experienced an improvement in their cholesterol profile along with higher HDL levels and higher HDL: LDL ratio were the ones taking coconut oil. Those taking soybean oil did not receive the same benefits, but reflected a higher total cholesterol as well as higher LDL cholesterol lower, lower HDL cholesterol and a lower HDL: LDL ratio.

Assists in bone health and chronic fatigue – Research has found coconut oil to help prevent osteoporosis because it helps in the nutrient absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium – important minerals that fight osteoporosis.  Moreover, the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil produce energy rather than body fat, thereby improving metabolism and preventing fatigue. The oil has also been shown to destroy organisms in the body that sap its strength and contribute to the condition of fatigue.

Alzheimer’s Disease – Dr. Mary Newport, after failing to get treatment for her husband’s dementia, discovered that coconut oil contained natural medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). The same substance was used in a drug trial her husband failed to qualify for. So, she gave her husband 1 tbsp. of coconut oil twice a day for a month and a half and saw him almost completely recovered.

Aside from the health benefits already mentioned, the following health benefits have been attributed to the beneficial use of coconut oil:

• Protects against cancer and HIV and other infectious diseases
• Kills bacteria and parasites like tape worm and liver flukes
• Eases acid reflux, aids in proper bowel function
• Lowers incidence of hemorrhoids
• Heals and relieves intestinal problems
• Soothes earaches
• Deals with symptoms connected with prostate enlargement
• Strengthens the liver and protects against degeneration
• Reduces incidence of epileptic seizures
• Reduces joint and muscle inflammation
• Eases neuropathies and itching from diabetes.

WHAT DOSAGE SHOULD ADULTS AND CHILDREN TAKE? (SOURCE: NaturalNews):

According to researchers, an adult should consume around 3 1/2 tbsp. of coconut oil daily: an amount equal to the MCFA a nursing infant would receive in one day. The benefits of coconut oil are derived from the nutritional value of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s), and the best comparison in nature as to the percentage of MCFA consumed in a diet is in human breast milk. For those who are not used to having coconut oil in their diet, it is best to start out with a lesser amount and see how the body reacts before following the recommended amount.  Children would most likely do best with about 1 tbsp. of coconut oil a day, although I have heard of some parents giving their children as much as 2 tbsp. a day.  I always tell individuals to notify your medical professional once you incorporate something new into your diet/routine.

SIDE EFFECTS/CAUTIONS TO COCONUT OIL (SOURCE: NaturalNews):

Coconut oil has no known side effects. However, if you are used to a low-fat diet, a common adverse reaction would be diarrhea. It is probably not advisable to start with a large amount right away. Spreading the recommended amount over the course of one day and building up to a larger dose can help to avoid unwanted effects.

In coconut-producing countries, it is considered beneficial for pregnant and lactating women to enjoy coconut oil; Westerners used to a low-fat diet, however, are cautioned not to experiment with coconut oil while pregnant if the body is not used to it. If you have been consuming coconut oil regularly with no adverse reactions, there is no reason to discontinue consumption.

Here is another interesting link about coconut oil: http://coconutoil.com/coconut-oil-research-alzheimers/

I love this info graphic that makes a super visual guide to the benefits, doses, and uses of coconut oil:

http://www.naturalnews.com/Infographic-Benefits-of-Coconut-Oil.html

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Jamie Oliver Launches Food Tube

laptop at breakfastjamie oliver

 

 

 

I didn’t really know who Jamie Oliver was until his show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” that aired in 2010 and focused on completely transforming the unhealthy eating habits of Huntington, WV.  Cited as one of the unhealthiest cities in our country, Huntington was a brutal, but successful effort, proving that bad habits can be broken.  Watching that season, I was especially sad for the kids, who voluntarily spoke out about their difficulties being overweight and their desire to change.  Jamie Oliver’s humorous, down-to-Earth, simple approach to health and nutrition spoke to the people of Huntington and many people around the world today.  It doesn’t hurt that he always seems to be having a blast, even when he’s leading up a massive crusade against a “harmless” organization like the National School Lunch Program.  (You’ve probably seen our thoughts on tomato sauce as a vegetable…ugh)

Just over a week ago, Jamie relaunched his YouTube channel as Food Tube.  There are several great introductory videos to this endeavor, but he breaks it down simply here.

Time will tell if this channel will upend YouTube’s own efforts at a Food Network, or if the two will work in tandem to simply reach more people overall.

We are eager to see what Jamie has in store for us in the days ahead.  With almost 130,000 subscribers so far.  It’s safe to say we’re not alone.

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7 Tips for Picky Eaters

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 11.53.42 AMMy kids were great eaters once.  They would actually eat the vegetables first, and then the pasta and chicken.  Yet, one day *poof* it all changed!  These days, their favorite adjective is “yucky”.  I am hoping this is just a stage — just another attempt by my willful toddlers to control everything (and everyone) around them.  We have even had a few instances lately where my daughter has protested dinner altogether and did not eat a single thing.  I worried that she would be hungry at bedtime, but she never even asked for food that evening.  I’m not sure what happens to kids at this age, but like all of the behaviors that I can’t understand, I just assume it’s a phase and it too shall pass.  What I do worry about is creating bad habits that will stick around, so I’ve read a lot about children’s eating habits lately, and here are some tips that I  have found helpful:

1. Manage snacks – we typically will have a small snack at 10am and another around 3 or 4pm, but I have noticed, that the closer the snack is to 4pm, the less dinner they eat (we eat at 6pm), so I have tried to keep it closer to 3pm, and make sure it not too filling.

2. Resist the urge to negotiate – We all do it, but according to experts, we shouldn’t. “One more bite and you can have dessert”, while it sounds like a great strategy, it could lead kids to see desserts as a reward, versus just another food that we eat in moderation.  Also, the more pressure we place on kids to eat, the more unpleasant meal times become.  I was a picky eater and still remember the pit in my stomach during dinner time.  The experts advise parents to just offer a variety of food and let kids did what and how much they want to eat (painful, I know).  But the belief is that they will eventually come around and the less pressure they have, they more likely they will enjoy mealtimes and be open to more types of foods.

3.  Eat together and model good eating – It’s no secret that kids learn everything from watching us, and eating is no different.  So, if you want them to eat their broccoli, eat with them and show them how much you enjoy it.  Not to mention that this is only one of the many, many benefits of family meals.

4.  Make family friendly meals – Some meals are just not kid friendly, and while they should be exposed to as many foods as possible, it’s unrealistic to expect them to eat everything.  If your kids are being extra picky, try making meals they will recognize and likely enjoy.

5.  Always offer dessert – I know it sounds counter intuitive, but experts suggest that dessert be offered at regularly with meals, some even suggest they are served along with the meal and children should decide when to eat it.  I’m too afraid to serve dessert with meals, but I do always offer something sweet after meals, usually fruit, or homemade baked goods.  The important lesson is not to make dessert a reward.  As an example, I made a ginger chicken stir fry yesterday, and while my son loved it, my daughter just didn’t like the taste — so she took two bites and was done.  I still let her eat the dessert (avocado smoothie) and I’ll try ginger chicken again next time.  (It can take kids up to 10 tries before they “like” something)

6. Drinking calories –  Be aware of the calories that kids are consuming with meals, because if they fill up on calories from juice or chocolate milk, they won’t have room for much food.  I only serve water at meals, but if you serve juice, try to limit the amount, or offer it at the end of the meal.

7. Don’t ban junk food outright, but don’t buy it in bulk either – Banning certain foods outright, will only make them more appealing.  While I work hard at making healthy food for my kids, I allow them to pick their meals when we eat out, and allow them to have two pieces of cake at a party if that’s what they want.  My goal is to help them to understand that healthy food is good for them, and makes them feel better, but we can eat less healthy food in moderation.  My fear is that if I ban all junk food, then I risk having kids that will gorge on it once they are old enough to make their own choices.

The good news is that kids usually outgrow their pickiness with food at 12-13yrs old, the bad news for me is that my youngest is not even one!

sources: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/1709-kids-healthy-eating-tips.html, http://www.themotherco.com/2012/01/getting-your-kids-to-eat/

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I can eat it, so I put it on my daughter’s skin (a follow up)

coconutRemember a couple of weeks ago when Megan Monday brought us a disturbing article about all the chemicals in the products we (probably) use on ourselves and our children?  “If you can’t eat it, it doesn’t belong on your skin” sent me running for my medicine cabinets and bathroom countertops.  Just because we were smart enough to bring Megan on our team, doesn’t mean we know in advance the information she is helping us pass on to you.  It doesn’t even mean we are half as aware as we should be.

As I was scanning the backs of every bottle in my daughters’ bathroom like a crazy woman, I stopped and thought, “I can’t do it all.  I can’t fix EVERYTHING.”  This whole scene is not uncommon for me.  Get a piece of news.  Freak out.  Decide to change everything I currently do.  (Hopefully) take a breath and realize I can’t do it all, but maybe I can do something.  So I chose something.

Since my daughter Rachel inherited her mother’s skin (the only thing I prayed she wouldn’t inherit when she was in the womb) she is constantly plagued by bumps, redness, eczema, you name it.  I’ve tried all natural shampoos, fragrance free everything, Seventh Generation, Aveeno, California Baby.  All the brands I’m not supposed to use and all the brands I am supposed to use.  The bumps on her arms have come and gone but never for good.  So, I bought some coconut oil, a piece of advice from Megan’s article, and took a chance rubbing it on her skin after bath one night.  “What could I lose?” I thought.  “At least it’ll smell like the beach in here.”

The next morning, her skin was smooth as silk.  Redness on her cheeks was gone and the bumps on her arm had disappeared.  Really?  Amazing.

If I (or my husband…) forget to put coconut oil on her skin one night, the bumps resurface a bit.  That could be a product of so many things (and my brain screams “detergent! water! FIX EVERYTHING!”) But for now, we are trying to be more diligent with a little fancy lotion after bath.   Plus she loves how yummy it smells.  And clearly so do I.

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My (new) Favorite Mac & Cheese Recipe

IMG_0598Cauliflower is healthy, but can be a bit blah.  Mac and cheese is yummy, but depending on how you make it, it can beat a bag of Doritos for lowest nutritional value (Velveeta anyone?).  I’ve made butternut squash mac and cheese too often lately, and was ready for something new.   Not only did I find it, it’s even better than the butternut squash version!  Cauliflower mac and cheese is so creamy and delicious, it rivals even a veggie-less mac and cheese dish.  Before I go on, let me get you excited about how awesome  cauliflower is — they really are so much healthier than they appear.  I, for one, always think that really nutritious foods have bright colors, ie. beets, blueberries and kale; and therefore, bland color means less nutrition, ie. a potato.  Cauliflower breaks that rule.  It’s packed with antioxidants (vitamin C & manganese), phytonutrients, vitamin K, omega-3’s, fiber and a slew of B vitamins. Few things make me as happy these days as serving a dinner that I know my toddlers will love (& eat) and knowing that’s is really good for them!  If your family likes mac and cheese, you really need to try this.

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

1lb of pasta (I used whole wheat penne)

1 head of cauliflower, chopped

1 vidalia or sweet onion, diced

6 cloves of garlic

2 tblspn olive oil

sprig of thyme or tsp dried thyme

salt/pepper to taste

2 cups 1% or 2% milk

3 oz sharp cheddar, shredded

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Set oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium size pot, add olive oil and saute onions and garlic until golden color (this is important bc it adds lots of flavor to dish).  Then add cauliflower and 1/4 cup of water, cover and steam over med heat for 20-25 min (until cauliflower is soft).  Boil pasta in separate pot.  Add milk to cauliflower and puree (I used immersion blender).

It should look like this:

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Add thyme and salt/pepper  to cauliflower and return to medium heat  for 3-5 minutes.  Add 2oz cheddar and grated parmesan to cauliflower mixture, add pasta and pour into glass baking dish,  Top with remaining cheddar and bake for 20-25 min.

Adapted from: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/baked-penne-cauliflower-cheese.aspx

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What has more sugar per serving, a Coke or Mott’s “Original” Applesauce?

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A four ounce serving of Coke contains 13.5 grams of sugar and a four ounce serving of Mott’s Original Applesauce contains a whopping 22 grams of sugar!  How sad is that?  Not to mention that Mott’s “Original” Applesauce is sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Considering that the company was founded by Mr. Samuel Mott in 1842, I highly doubt that HFCS was used in the “Original” recipe.  A fellow mommy blogger recently wrote about how she was “tricked by the packaging” and never even thought to look for unsweetened applesauce which contains only 11 grams of sugar. Apple sauce is just cooked and pureed apples right?  Wrong.  I had a similar experience recently with those “healthy” fruit pouches that give the impression that they are 100% fruit.  After I purchased them, I noticed that the 2nd ingredient was “apple juice concentrate”, which increases the sugar and reduces the fiber of the pureed fruit, far from ideal.  It’s unfortunate that we can no longer trust simple things like applesauce from a company that has been around for over 150 years, but this is the monster that the food industry has created.

While the FDA and FTC have rules in place to protect us from misleading ads, etc, the though the laws are grey and often not enforced, the FTC did recently charge the makers of POM Wonderful for using deceptive advertising to market their products.  This included making health claims like “reduces risk of heart disease and prostate cancer”.  While I can’t say whether or not their claims are valid, what I do know is that one bottle of their juice has 17 teaspoons of sugar, 320 calories, and ZERO fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and vitamin A. SEVENTEEN TEASPOONS OF SUGAR!   The way I see it, even if they could prove their health claims (which they haven’t yet), there are much healthier ways to reduce heart disease and cancer risk than consuming a beverage loaded with sugar.

I know we’ve said this dozens of times, but for the sake of your health, and your family’s health, PLEASE READ LABELS.  I know it’s time consuming and tedious, and many times I find myself just throwing things in my cart while counting the seconds to the next meltdown from one of the three amigos. When I am able to glance at the back of a package, look for the following:

1. Sugar – Be aware of the amount per serving, this is especially tricky with beverages; and look at it as a percentage of the total serving size.  So, if the serving is 40 grams and the sugar is 20 grams, that’s 50% sugar, and probably not a good choice.

2. Fat – Try to avoid anything with Trans Fat and keep Saturated Fat to less than 10% of DV

3. Fiber – For foods that should have fiber, ie. cereals, bread, crackers etc, I generally avoid products with less than 3 grams per serving.  Also, look for “whole wheat” or “whole grains” in the ingredients.

4. Sodium – I look for products with less 10% DV of sodium, but 15% DV is my absolute cut off.

5. Ingredients – While ingredient lists may seem overwhelming, focus on the first 3-5 ingredients, those are the most relevant. Avoid things like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, artificial colors and sweeteners.  I also pass on on anything that any form of sugar/sweetner as the first ingredient.

source: http://blog.fooducate.com/2013/01/22/pom-not-so-wonderful-gets-slapped-again-by-ftc/

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Top Ten Things That Are Happening at MySuperFoods

The top 10 things that are happening in our business right now that you should know about:top 10
1. MySuperSnack (soft) Granola Bites are 4 months old – we launched at the 2012 Natural Products Expo East in September.  Like raising any 4 month old baby…a bit of a sleepless, awesome blur.
2. Megan Kalocinski has joined our team!  She is a certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach and the voice behind our “Megan Monday’s” posts.  She rocks.
3. We hired a demo team.  No, we’re not shopping for a bulldozer.  They are helping us get the word out at our local retail stores.  Keep an eye out on Facebook for when you can get some free samples and see their smiling faces.
4. Speaking of stores, check out our website for a list of where we are.  Oh, and if you’ve heard of Whole Foods, we’ll be there soon too.
5. In case you didn’t hear me, we will be in WHOLE FOODS soon!  Woo hoo.  The Northeast Region (NY, NJ, CT) has welcomed us with open arms.  We will make the official on-shelf announcement soon.
6. Our awesome co-packer, Fairlight Bakery will start our next production run at the end of the month.  Fire up the oven!
7. As of today, we have 688 Facebook fans.  So cool.  Let’s get to 1,000!
8. We are very thankful for lines of credit and new potential financial partners.  It takes a village with an ATM machine to build a natural food business.
9. Natural Products Expo West is coming up at the beginning of March, in Anaheim, CA.  When you wish upon a Granola Bite, dreams come true.
10. There is a kid out there who loves our product so much that after he eats the Granola Bites, he sleeps with the pouch.  How cute is that?
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