Parmesan Chicken Fingers

With the Super Bowl this Sunday, we’re sure you are busy preparing for your Super Bowl party.  We thought these Parmesan Chicken Fingers, from Laura’s, “The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook“, which are  diabetes-friendly, kid-friendly, and Super Bowl friendly would be the perfect addition .  Your guests are sure to feel satisfied with this delicious dish!

Parmesan Chicken Fingers

Makes 4 Servings

 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup bran flakes cereal, finely crushed
  • 1/3  cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 ½ tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Season the chicken with pepper.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a shallow bowl.  Combine the crushed bran flakes, cheese, flaxseeds, basil, and garlic powder on a plate.
  4. Dip the chicken tenderloins into the egg, shaking off any excess, and toss in the bran flake mixture.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until no longer pink and the juice run clear.

How important is breakfast?

My child is never hungry for breakfast, and it turns into a fight every morning.
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD, CDN

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Yes, I get it.  I have three boys (middle school and elementary school age), and sometimes they tell me they are not hungry when I say, “Quick, what do you want for breakfast?” as I make lunches in a craze because everyone woke up late!  I know, some of you may be saying we should all be waking up earlier to make time for breakfast, but the truth is sometimes on those cold, dark mornings it’s just hard to wake up early!  I also understand because sometimes you are just not hungry as soon as you wake up.  However, I do believe that getting food in our kids is important before they head off to school or sports practice/games.  I believe it enables better concentration and superior performance, and many studies validate this belief.  I don’t want my child feeling shaky or ill due to lack of eating before leaving the house.  I actually got a call from the school nurse this year because my son was feeling really nauseated.  I told her, “That’s because he didn’t eat breakfast!” He refused to eat what I offered him before I dropped him off at school.  The nurse gave me a whole lecture about how important breakfast is and gave me suggestions (I couldn’t tell her I was an RD because I was too embarrassed!).  After the nurse gave him some crackers, he felt better and it held him over until lunch.  After this episode he didn’t go to school again without eating something first!

 

If your child still refuses to eat breakfast, despite what you tell him or her about food’s importance,  suggest that he or she conduct an experiment for a few days:  eat breakfast for 4 or 5 days and then skip a day of breakfast.  Make a chart to record how he or she felt each morning.  Instead of traditional breakfast food, maybe your child will eat leftovers or a sandwich for the morning meal. The key is simply for a child to eat healthily; the morning meal doesn’t necessarily need to qualify as “breakfast food.”   I’d also suggest trying different breakfast foods and/or nutritious shakes on the weekend instead of on a weekday morning when breakfast can be rushed and stressful.

 

Some kids have their lunch period early in the day, as early as 10:00 a.m.  If this is the case, I give my kids something quick like a bar, apple, banana, or even a baggie of dry cereal to munch on in the a.m. because I know my boys will eat larger portions during lunch and when they get home.  If their lunch time is on the later side and they give me a hard time about breakfast, I explain how yucky they will feel because their brains rely on energy from food, and without nutrients their stomachs will feel sour during morning classes and they won’t be able to do their best.  So, consider offering your kids a source of protein, whole grain, calcium, and fruit for breakfast if they have a late lunch.

 

Hopefully these suggestions help! Good luck!

TriplED

TriplED
A personal blog on being a triplet…a triplet with an eating disorder!
A blog by Courtney Darsa, Dietetic Intern at the University of Delaware

 

I am a triplet.

 

The first reaction most people had when I told them I was a triplet was: “Oh my god, that is so cool!” Yes, being a triplet does have its perks and certainly makes for a unique experience. But for me, being a triplet came with its downfalls as well. I have a brother and a sister. It was particularly hard for me to have a sister the same age as I was. We had the same friends; we were involved in the same activities—and even worse—we shared a room! We were never apart. It felt like a constant competition. This was particularly true when it came to appearance. My “disordered thoughts” relentlessly told me that my sister was thinner and prettier than I was. I assumed everyone liked her better than they liked me. I felt as though I was living in my sister’s shadow and that I had to be exactly like her—“perfect.”

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

This perfectionism caused me to become obsessed with losing weight because I wanted to be just like her. I started to run track in high school. I even took it to another level by running more than what was required—longer than the other sprinters. I was burning calories and that’s what mattered. I was a sprinter, but not for long. My coaches quickly saw my “love” for running and introduced me to distance running. And so began my career as a cross-country and long-distance runner.

 

I wanted to be thin and “perfect” like my triplet sister. So I asked my mom to take me to a registered dietitian early in my sophomore year. I wanted to come up with a regimented meal plan that would benefit my training—aka lose weight! Unfortunately, the RD provided me with a meal plan that helped me to lose weight and further my obsession with calories. This caused me to spiral in the wrong direction. Due to my obsession about wanting to be thin and never really feeling good enough, I found myself losing weight at a more drastic pace than ever. But I was accomplishing my goal and becoming more like my sister. To my absolute amazement, I was receiving compliments about my new appearance. I was finally getting the attention I had longed for! However, I was not healthy. I was obsessing and isolating.

 

This continued until my very close friends and, much to my surprise, my sister stepped up and told me that they were worried about me. They were concerned that I might have an eating disorder. Of course, I felt attacked and totally denied it. I even wondered: “How could they think such a thing?” I’m fine! Well, my friends and my sister didn’t think so! They went directly to my parents and told them how worried they were. They thought I had an eating disorder. Unfortunately, my parents, who in hindsight were obviously in denial, ignored the subject. I too, was in denial!

 

I soon found myself training very intensely for my upcoming cross country season, sometimes running up to 60 miles a week. My undiagnosed eating disorder became worse. I was severely underweight and always exhausted. I slowly started to see my performance decline, but chose to ignore the signs. My performance was negatively affected and my relationships with family and friends were compromised. I was irritable, moody and depressed. Being perfect and skinny like my sister was not all it was cracked up to be! Unfortunately, I had dug myself too deep a hole to easily get myself out. At the end of the cross-country season, my coach noticed my eating disorder’s effects on my running performance, pulled me aside and told me that I had to stop training until my weight was “stable enough to handle the training intensity.”

Photo Credit: Vincent_AF via Compfight cc

Running had become my whole life; I was utterly devastated. Slowly but with much resistance, I gained enough weight to start running again—but my self-esteem continued to unravel. I hated the way I looked and my disordered thoughts continued to tell me that I wasn’t good enough. I had achieved my goal of being thinner; however, I was far from perfect. I was still living in my sister’s shadow. For the remainder of high school, I was able to maintain my weight at a “stable/higher” level, yet I felt like an emotional mess. I restricted and binged. I realized I had no tools to express my emotions and that food had gotten intertwined. I was so obsessed with food that I decided to major in nutrition and dietetics in college. No one could convince me otherwise!

 

It didn’t take long for my new college friends to notice my unusual eating habits; they approached me in the fall of my sophomore year—and encouraged me to utilize the student-counseling center. With much anticipation and great fear, even though my friends accompanied me, I met with a psychologist where I discussed my personal issues with eating, body image and low self-esteem.

 

I was diagnosed with EDNOS—Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This roused so many mixed emotions—anger, relief, shock and fear—which I still had no idea how to express. After attending many sessions however, my thought processes began changing. I was determined to get better and to start developing a healthier relationship with food. I took more steps than ever to move onto my personal road to recovery.

 

I began journaling everyday and confiding in my close friends. I was learning to express my emotions. To truly commit to recovery, I also had to do the hardest thing—tell my family what I was going through. This was not an easy task, but I readied myself by practicing during my therapy sessions. I told my family about my eating disorder and my feelings. Again, to my surprise, they were extremely supportive and understanding. Knowing that I had their love gave me the strength to continue through the recovery process. Most especially, having my sister at my side gave me even more courage to push through to recovery. During my senior year of college, I continued with weekly therapy and worked on separating my emotions from food. I learned to separate the eating disorder voice and my own real voice.

 

Being able to differentiate between “the two voices” allowed me to develop a much healthier relationship with food. I started to slowly take on the task of eating “fear foods.” This was a gradual and difficult process, but through much work and determination, my eating habits improved. I began to establish a neutral relationship with food. I learned that food is for nutrition and does not determine who you are as a person. Separating food and feelings was the key for me in my recovery. I was finally able to start to recognize my own voice!

 

Perhaps the best thing I discovered during my recovery was who I really was. For the first time in my life, I was no longer living in my sister’s shadow. I learned that the way you look has nothing to do with who you are as a person. What you have to offer to the world is far beyond your physical appearance; it’s who you are on the inside that truly matters. By finding out who I truly was, I was able to strengthen my relationships with my friends and my family. Most important, I was able to develop a close relationship with my sister.

 

I’m now one year out of college and finishing up my dietetic internship. It’s true when people say that so much can change in just a few years. I was lucky that I forced myself to major in something that I ended up loving. Learning how to have a healthy relationship with food was so important and crucial for my own recovery. Due to my own struggles and my eventual recovery from an eating disorder (and as a future registered dietitian), I’m determined to help individuals grappling with eating disorders to develop their own healthy relationships with food. I also know that it’s important for all dietitians to screen their clients for disordered eating and eating disorders. Being healthy is not about being a certain weight. Being healthy is a balance that honors your body.

Positive Interactions: How Friends Affect Our Health

Positive Interactions: How Friends Affect Our Health
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom

I needed to keep my two boys as active as possible during their spring break from school. My intent was to safeguard their physical health—and my own personal mental health as well! We shared a fun-filled week. Although we did engage in some “brainy” activities like touring the Math Museum, we truly stretched our bodies and minds rock climbing.

 

Yup, thanks to my wonderful clients (they teach me things too!), I was introduced to indoor rock climbing. I have rock climbed in Colorado but never thought it would become an afternoon activity I could replicate here in NYC. Well…we did it…and will definitely be doing it again.

 

My “mommy” friend and I rounded up our children, and literally, up they all went! My older son Bobby has always been a little timid about rock climbing. He was about five years old the first time I introduced him to the sport…and he was positively terrified. As you might easily imagine, I was so very disappointed. I had paid for a full semester of mommy and son rock climbing! But now with some extra age plus the addition of his younger brother and his two peers, he just had to become highly self-motivated. Upon our arrival at the rock-climbing venue however, Bobby told me he wasn’t going to climb. Before I could say anything, my friend Abby said: “That’s okay. You can just watch.” Thank goodness she had responded to him first; it influenced me in a very positive way. I casually chimed in: “Yeah, don’t worry, you can just watch.” So, because the pressure had been removed, he decided to do it on his own. He saw the other three kids—including his younger brother Billy—happily putting on their harnesses and clipping in. I think he decided against letting his fears be the cause of his missing out on all of the fun. I also wonder if the fact that his friends were girls, and they were excited to rock climb, had any bearing on his decision. He even told the instructor he wasn’t sure if he was climbing. But, as soon as he saw the girls and Billy go up, he clearly said: “I’m next!” And he truly had the best time!

Wow! What a confidence booster for Bobby and real assurance for me about not pressuring my kids into doing anything they may not immediately embrace. Abby’s (the other mom) demeanor was great. When I thanked her for unknowingly helping me through the difficult earlier moment, she just laughed. And then she told me that if it had been her kids, she too would have been urging them to try and just do it.  So while I was supported by my peer, my older son also was supported by his peers. All four kids were climbing “rock stars”! I was so jealous. Now I’m planning to go back to climb there myself.

 

After two hours of rock climbing, the kids were famished and the moms were exhausted just from watching. When we all headed out to share dinner, Billy had this wonderfully positive interaction. His little friend was dipping her bread in olive oil with salt and pepper. He simply adores her…and surely was influenced to follow her lead. Playing it very cool, he poured himself some olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper on it. He dipped his bread with real pride. We moms laughed knowing how the kids had all been such great role models for each other that afternoon and evening. And what a great day the moms had too. My belly laughs, the delight of watching all four kids summit the climbs, plus having another mom to share the experiences with. Easily the best dose of good health ever!

 

Did you catch Laura on The Daily Meal yesterday? Click on the photo below to hear Laura’s tips and to learn more about her book Healthy Habits!

A Likable Lunch Giveaway!

With Spring officially here, we’ve been looking for ways to spruce up our lunches and on-the-go meals. Soon there will be sports practices to go to, play dates, and afternoon excursions to the park, so we wanted to host a giveaway to give our readers a chance to win some awesome items that will help you pack meals and snacks on-the-go. So keep reading to learn how to enter to win these great prizes:

An OOTs Lunchbox

A gift from gnu foods
FiberLove Bars

 a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Too Much Weight on BMI

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Too Much Weight on BMI
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE

A few weeks ago I was asked to share my thoughts on Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative with radio host Rita Cosby. I researched the campaign at length while watching the boys play soccer, and what I came up with is that the movement is generally positive. I do believe that a bit of tweaking is in order, however, and that certain ideas could be rephrased. (Check out the complete podcast here.) As I continue to think about America’s “obesity epidemic” I think the measurement called Body Mass Index is overrated and has the potential to misdiagnose ourselves and our kids.

At the end of the day, it always comes back to this same question: “What can we as parents do to prevent disease?” This includes obesity-related disease.

I recognize we need measurements for statistic purposes and possibly diagnostic tools. However, I think BMI should be emphasized less and instead we can focus on behaviors and a cluster of measurements. BMI is only one measure, and it’s not always reflective of a person’s state of health.

BMI is based solely on height and weight. (You can read the official definition from the NIH here.) Weight can be a funny subject though. After all, the number on the scale is not always reflective of how healthy a person is. Therefore, one’s body mass index is not going to accurately reflect a person’s health status.

As parents, healthcare facilitators and makers of change, we must remember that obesity does not always equate with overeating, high cholesterol and/or inactivity. A dear client of mind, for example, has a BMI that would qualify her as overweight, and yet she is a shining example of good health. She runs marathons, eats a balanced intake of food, and has an ideal cholesterol ratio.

Let me let you in on a little secret: I, too weigh more than the black and white number recommended for my height, otherwise known as my “ideal body weight.” Me—a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and “paragon of health (by all other measures)”!

Granted, there is a ten percent range above and below IBW. I fall into the range above my IBW, as many people do. That being said, you can see how easy it can be for someone above their IBW to assume they are overweight, even when it’s not true. I’m by no means overweight, rather I am the weight that is appropriate for me.. If someone were to slap a label on me based on weight alone, or to use Weight Watchers’ recommended weight, I would be over my goal number.  Well, I don’t need to lose weight, so the point is, using these means to determine a person’s health with a Body Mass Index are somewhat antiquated and inaccurate.

Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. Otherwise, most hyper-muscular football players (even Tom Brady!) would be considered overweight too, if only by their BMIs. Some people are also more densely built than others. My nephew, who is visually lean and bony, qualifies as obese according to his doctor, though if anything, he could stand to gain a few pounds.

Whether lean and dense or round and curvy, we are all decidedly beautiful. We must remember that BMI is not a measure of self-worth. Rather, it’s merely one tool that aims to measure health—and a flawed tool at that.

On the flip side, I also work with a number of clients who have extremely low BMIs. These individuals are struggling with their health.  They may use unhealthy behaviors such as skipping meals or starving themselves to keep their weight down and or BMI low. So you see, a low BMI may not be indicative of health either. What we need to be sure of is to take our focus away from the body mass index and to instead consider healthy behaviors as a whole.

So if weight isn’t the ultimate measure of health (nor is one’s appearance), then what is? Blood pressure, liver function, Total Cholesterol/ HDL ratio, endurance, energy and other daily habits are much better ways to gage a person’s physical condition. As parents, political pundits and health care professionals, we must move toward size-acceptance, promoting confidence and self-esteem in our children. I propose to start with the following:

  • Foster a positive opinion of food in the household.
  • Feed your children a balanced intake of whole grains, lean proteins and heart healthy fats.
  • Tell your children you love them. Have them look in the mirror and tell themselves they are loved. Tell them they are  more than a number.
  • Encourage healthy behaviors by setting an example.
  • Focus on your children’s efforts and behaviors, not on outcomes or measures. Praise them for trying a vegetable or sport rather than for being a veggie eater or a great baseball player.

A Moment of Momzilla!

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Last winter I took my eldest son, Bobby, and my nephew skiing for their very first time. When Bobby did great on his first run, I decided to take my nephew down the mountain too. Of course, it was ridiculous to think I could handle 2 beginners. Bobby ended up falling.

I was convinced I had ruined skiing for Bobby forever; he was resistant to sports to begin with. I had already scheduled private lessons for the boys 2 days later, so I sent them anyway.

Bobby was not exactly excited to get back on skis after his initial spill. He resisted. He acted out. It was ultimately a failed attempt.

Hoping he’d maybe forgotten about his first experience, I tried to get him back on skis on another weekend at a different mountain. This time, he was like a limp noodle, refusing to as much as stand upright let alone listen to his instructor. Bobby only wanted to ski with me, but that was impossible since I had unfortunately been in a ski accident the week before and was forced to sit on the sidelines for the rest of the season. I was so distraught.

Maybe it was the concussion speaking, but I just couldn’t understand how my son—my own flesh and blood—didn’t love skiing as much as I did. I was looking into buying a ski house. What would I do with Bobby if he hated skiing? To add insult to injury, my nephew, whose parents don’t ski, was having the time of his life. I couldn’t stop thinking how reversed the situation was.

To me, this was a catastrophe. Sad to admit, but I even cried about this to my therapist. It wasn’t so much that Bobby hated skiing or that my dream house was quickly becoming a nightmare. No, it’s because I was suddenly becoming this mother that I didn’t want to be—a momzilla of sorts.

Refusing to accept Bobby’s athletic distaste (how can a dietitian’s son be physically inactive?), I gave the whole sports thing one more shot (he refused to play soccer too)—this time with mother-son rock climbing. The result? Bobby thought that scaling the smaller wall was fun, but when faced with the full rock wall, he went running for the hills. (Well, really, he hid under the mat as though he were a small animal.) I, of course, said all the wrong things—and hated myself as each word escaped my mouth. I offered rewards. I made threats. I knew I was completely out of line.

Both my therapist and husband said I was overreacting. They said when my son was ready, he would participate in whatever physical activities he wanted. So, heeding their advice, I dropped it. No more sports classes, no more private instructors, no more pushing or comparing or dreaming. I needed to let Bobby be himself and grow into someone different than who I may have thought he’d be, at least at that age.

Well, guess what? This fall, I enrolled Bobby in a school soccer program. I know you’re thinking, “Here she goes again.” But my husband and I send our children to progressive schools that encourage self-exploration, teamwork and learning through activity, and I hoped he would react differently in a more supportive environment, especially now that Bobby was older. I sent him to a soccer program that focuses on having fun—not on drills—and it worked. He loved the class and never complained.

Since turning five, Bobby has taken to a few other sports too. He smiles through swim lessons (my husband initially taught him to swim since he hated the classes), has started skateboarding (and is doing well) and has even attended a 2-week sports camp with a classmate over winter break.

Apart from giving him enough time to acclimate to new athletic endeavors, I think that Bobby’s peers have positively influenced him as well. As a colleague of mine, a pediatric development specialist, taught me, when kids try new activities, they don’t have to do them well. It’s more important to offer encouragement and praise for trying. So this is what I have been doing and I think it is effective in building self- esteem and acceptance.  After his first swim lesson, Bobby said to me, “I know why you are proud of me. Because I was scared, but I tried it and I had fun.”

As parents, we need to focus on building our children’s self-worth as they learn to cope with their environment. Give your child time to be who they are, not who you want them to be. I caught myself being a momzilla and changed my ways. It’s a delicate issue, but as parents we have a responsibility to handle it with care.

Have you ever found yourself facing your inner momzilla?