Summer Fun Positive Food Activities: Make Your Own Muesli

Summer Fun Positive Food Activities: Make Your Own Muesli

By Nutrition Student, Deanna Ronne and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team

Now that the summer months are here, as a mom you’re probably lining up activities to keep your kids busy. Here’s a fun, creative, way to get your kids involved in making a nutritious breakfast or snack balanced with all three macronutrients – carbs, proteins, and fats. A trip to your grocery store, choosing their favorite ingredients, and mixing it may become a weekly pastime to cherish the entire year! Making your own muesli is affordable, easy, packable for day trip snacks, and flexible with the ingredients so perfect for picky kids and promoting the health.

Main Stream Breakfast Cereals

Many traditional breakfast cereals marketed at your children are made with refined grains, hidden sugars (like rice syrup, corn syrup, maltose and tapioca starch), and other “food additives.” Take a look at the “ready-to-eat”1 boxed cereal you have at home. Look at the Ingredients list, not the Nutrition Facts). Ingredients are listed in descending order, so if you see sugar listed as the first, second or third ingredient, just realize your cereal contains more sugar than any ingredients listed after it. This is cool with us, just use this as information. Know that this cereal is likely a low nutrient dense food (aka “Sometimes Food”) and is best eaten as a side to a sandwich at lunch or with a more filling food.

Also look to see what and how many ingredients there are. Many of the ingredients you don’t recognize, known as “food additives”, are meant to enhance the product’s texture, taste, appearance, nutritional quality or increase its shelf life.2 While fortifying cereal with vitamins and minerals improve the nutritional quality, other food additives like flavor enhancers (ex. artificial sweeteners) and preservatives (ex. sodium) generally do not. Most children’s cereals with refined grains are enriched with the vitamins and minerals lost during the refinement process.

The American Dietetic Association released a study in 2008 on the nutritional quality of children’s breakfast cereal showing that they are significantly higher energy, sodium, carbohydrate, and sugar, and significantly lower in fiber and protein than “non children’s cereal”.1

So consider buying cereal products that are for you, rather than kids! They are just as yummy but more nutrient dense. Most importantly, kids are incredibly active during the summer months, and need an energizing breakfast, that will fuel their days in the sun and keep their body clocks ticking.

Did you know?

Stronger cognitive benefits in breakfasts of oatmeal than for “ready-to-eat” breakfast cereals1.

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The “Recipe”

There really isn’t a recipe, which makes this idea so fun! You and your kids get to pick the ingredients. Go to your grocery store (preferably one with a “­­­­bulk department”, like at Whole Foods) and let your kids fill a bag with a cereal base of oats, granola, etc. Then, let your kids to find the rest of the ingredients! The set-up of most bulk food sections much resembles a candy store, so your kids will love it.

Here are some ideas:

  •  Nuts/Seeds: Walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds
  • Grains: Millet, Oats, Cooked Wheat-berries
  • Dried fruit: raisins, cherries, dates, cranberries, shredded coconut (no added oils or sugar)
  • Optional: dark chocolate
  • Cinnamon: add cinnamon 1 tsp to 1 cup muesli.

Let your kids be creative with this recipe, even let each kid make their own! As long as the base of oats/granola makes up most of the cereal, the added ingredients should be entirely up to them (with your direction, of course). It is important that kids have a healthy relationship with food. Show them how excited you are to pick out nutritious ingredients for your own muesli, and they will get excited with you! Happy Eating.

Breakfast and Picky Eaters

Breakfast remains to be one of the most important meals of the day. If you are dealing with a picky eater who only wants to eat, say, Frosted Flakes for breakfast, it is okay. Most important is they eat something before they walk out the door. This is the same for Mom and Dad. While it is important to try new things with your kids, force-feeding doesn’t work. Instead practice exposure therapy, let them make their muesli with the main stream cereal if that helps them expand their nutrition repertoire.

  1. Schwartz, M. B., Vartanian, L. R., Wharton, C. M., & Brownell, K. D. (2008). Examining the nutritional quality of breakfast cereals marketed to children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(4), 702-705.
  2. “Global Food Additives Industry.” PR NewswireMar 19 2013. Web. 31 May 2015 .
  3. Bulk Foods Aisle in Grocery Store. N.d. “Photo Courtesy Photos-public-domain.com”, n.p.
  4. “Harvard University; Dietary Intake of Whole and Refined Grain Breakfast Cereals is Linked to Lower BMI in Men.” Lab Law Weekly (2006): 88. Web. 1 June 2015.

 

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What's the Dirt on Clean Eating?

What’s the Dirt on Clean Eating?

Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

The mechanics of nutrition are based on science, yet at every turn we hear new headlines and buzzwords that make it hard to distinguish the difference between true, research-based science and the latest fad. One such catchy concept is that of “clean eating’” heard regularly in gyms, on magazine covers and throughout social media. But what is it? And how do we navigate it when it’s aimed at our children?

 

The truth is, there is not a legal, objective, research-backed or even consistent definition to the term “clean eating”.   To some, it means avoiding processed foods. To others, it’s interpreted as low carb, no meat, no dairy, non-GMO or a combination of various nutritional bends.

 

There are, however, many unintended implications attached to using the word clean, leading us to feel a sense of purity, superiority, a kind of “you are what you eat” mentality that takes on a moralistic emphasis.

 

Photo Credit: Arya Ziai via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Arya Ziai via Compfight cc

There is a belief that if I eat this way:

  • I’ll be healthy, prevent diseases and have an ideal weight.
  • I’ll be okay, in fact because I’m eating ‘good’, I’m actually a good person.

And on the flip side, if I don’t eat this way:

  • I’m probably going to become ill, gain unsolicited weight, and be unhealthy.
  • I’m making ‘bad’ decisions, which means I’m probably bad.

 

For many, the path of clean eating is one that started from a positive place, where they wanted to improve their life, health or energy. This is truly an admirable thing, yet as we shift toward rigid ways of eating or behavior change, we begin a mindset and patterns that are anything but balanced. We give up experiences and social opportunities because of the need to comply with limiting eating rules.  We cut out

 

So as a nutritionist, I have had opportunities to work with individuals in the throws of self-proclaimed clean eating.  And while it’s painful to see the side effects of rigid eating rules in adults, it’s most saddening when children and teens become entrenched in it. Whether it’s through social media, friends, a coach or a parent, I’ve begun to see more young people following this good/bad food mentality and the results aren’t pretty.

 

Some of the considerations of ‘clean eating’ for kids (and adults, too!):

  1. Look at what’s missing: are certain food groups limited or completely avoided? While fruits and vegetables give us some carbohydrates, they in no way to can replace the vast benefits of grains. Kids in particular are growing and using energy and at a speedy pace, and they absolutely require regular replenishment of carbs to their body and brain.
  2. Too much of a good thing…isn’t. Focus on high fiber, for example, can be problematic for children, leading to digestive discomfort, diarrhea or potential constipation, but also interfering with the absorption of protein, fats and certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron.
  3. Limited eating patterns can not only disrupt brain function and overall energy, but also decrease our children’s ability to create hormones and progress on their normal path toward and throughout puberty.
  4. As we teach kids to eat based on rules of good / bad, they become further disconnected from their own bodies, the signals of hunger and fullness, and the awareness of their own individual preferences.   This also disengages them from the process of being an adventurous eater, and can create an overall sense of deprivation.
  5. The limited variety and over-focus on food can either set the stage for or activate a full-blown eating disorder.

 

There is certainly no perfect way of eating, much as there is no perfect body, career or person. When we label food as clean or good, unclean or bad, we’ve moralized it, and that’s a message that permeates deeply within our children’s impressionable young brains. Instead, let’s get back to food being simply food, providing a variety of enjoyable, nutrient-filled options and guiding our kid’s to trust their bodies, not a “foods allowed” list.

The Debate About Milk

Photo Credit: mary mackinnon via Compfight cc

My friend asked a simple question “I don’t personally like cow’s milk so do I have to give it to my baby when she turns 1?”.  The question slowly turn into a conversation with other moms about organic vs. non-organic, grass-fed vs. non grass-fed cows, and why other milk options are or aren’t as beneficial to babies.  Every mom involved had a strong opinion!  Who knew a simple question could spark a debate?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children delay receiving cow’s milk until after they are 12 months old.  The organization recommends pasteurized, whole cow’s milk for most babies because of the high fat content helping to absorb vitamins and minerals and for brain development.  If there is a history of childhood obesity, 2% milk may be recommended but families should talk to their pediatrician.  (Source: www.aap.org)

But what to do if you’re not a fan of cow’s milk?  Or worse, what if your baby has a milk allergy or intolerance?  Cow’s milk is important for calcium, vitamin D, protein, fat, and hydration. There are so many milk options out there: soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and more coming to a store near you! Their nutrient compositions are similar to cow’s milk but nothing is exactly the same.  It’s a very personal decision how to feed your child, and one that you should talk about with your pediatrician and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  If you decide to switch to an alternative milk, make sure you supplement with other foods that contain the important nutrients your baby needs.

I was shocked that some moms would argue against cow’s milk, but why not try to see where they are coming from?  There are a lot of nutrition myths out there about food and I heard a lot of them that day, ranging from hormones in milk to absorbable calcium. Nutrition information is everywhere, but moms should really look to pediatricians and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for advice.  I took the opportunity to educate my friends about dairy products and nutrition, and also stressed the importance that all foods fit into a healthy diet.  Moms and dads shouldn’t feel ashamed about any nutrition decision they make for their family.  After all, it’s a very personal decision as to how to feed your children.  So what is this dietitian going to do?  I will give my baby whole cow’s milk when he turns one year old.  I will also let him try different kinds of milk with an attitude that all foods fit into a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Brussels sprouts have been all the buzz lately.  They’re a delicious side dish to any lunch or dinner.  Try this easy recipe from Cooking Lightwith your dinner tonight.  We’re sure you are going to be making more!

Courtesy of Cooking Light
Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  
Preparation

1. Heat a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.

2. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until almost tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Add sugar and Brussels sprouts; sauté 5 minutes or until brown, stirring occasionally.

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss.

The recipe and photo featured in this post were provided by Cooking Light. To read the original recipe please click here.

Kids and the Paleo Diet, Not!

Kids and the Paleo Diet, Not!

Photo Credit: CarbonNYC via Compfight cc

While surfing my mailbox dedicated to RD listservs, my eye caught “Paleo for Kids.” I was getting ready to be upset when instead I happily found Michele Redmond, MS, RDN, at The Taste Workshop’s comments.

She shared with my peers that “restrictive eating and fear of foods is inherent in any diet but particularly paleo which, depending on which paleo model you follow, promotes eating beans and grains as actually dangerous for your gut and health. Involving kids in these eating patterns and beliefs raises lots of nutrition and social-eating questions.”

Michele highlighted the three links below. They are worthy of your time. The TED talk is a must watch!! While the articles are not specific to our children, parents must be aware of the mental rigidity and consequential nutritional deficiencies that are likely to develop if you impose any diet on your children.

Photo Credit: rick via Compfight cc

1. There is no one right diet—Paleo debunked by archeologist:

Debunking the Paleo Diet: Christina Warinner at TEDxOU

 2. From strict and obsessed to balanced:

     My Ever Changong Viewpoint on Paleo and CrossFit

3. From the trenches of Crossfit and Paleo to the gray zone:

     Don’t Be a Fanatic 

 

You can learn more about Michele Redmond, MS, RD at www.thetasteworkshop.com.

Oh So Trendy!

MDIO’s Take on 2015 Trends

At the end of 2013 we featured a post on the predicted trends of 2014. As 2014 comes to a close, we wanted to do the same for 2015! Here are some predicted trends for 2015. Let us know in the comments section below what you think will be a new trend this year!

Gluten-Free

The gluten-free lifestyle rose to popularity in 2014, and experts predict it will continue to do so in 2015. In fact, dietitians predict that gluten-free food labels will continue to influence consumer choices this year, along with GMO-free, clean eating, and organic food labels.

Meal Delivery Boxes

2014 was the year of mail subscription boxes. Companies like NatureBox and Birchbox offer a random sampling of food and beauty products in monthly subscription boxes. For loyal customers, these companies offer discounts on full-sized products and even allow you to share a free box with a friend. We’re fans of these boxes, but we think there may be a new trend come 2015: meal delivery boxes. With companies like Blue Apron and Plated, we love the ease and convenience these boxes offer. Each box comes with a recipe and the most of the necessary ingredients to prepare a wonderful meal for weeknight dinners. We can’t wait to continue using these great services!

 

Boxing

We think that many people would agree that fitness classes are the new exercise craze. Some may even predict that these classes will become more popular than the traditional gym visit. We can see why classes are so popular, exercising in a room full of strangers can be a great motivating factor when exercising. Not to mention, the energetic class instructors who cheer you on as you work towards your fitness goals! Self Magazine has touted boxing classes as the “It” fitness trend of 2015, though we think that cycling, yoga, and pilates will continue to remain popular this year.

 

Bone Broth

New beverages and drinks, such as green juices proved to be extremely popular in 2014.  The editors at Well + Good anticipate that one of the big trends of 2015 will be an ancient remedy known as bone broth.  But, what exactly is bone broth? It is broth made from bones. The bones are boiled to release the main components of the bone: calcium, phosphate, and collagen. We love the health benefits of bone broth, which include improved immune function, shinier hair, and stronger bones and joints. It’s clear to us why shops are already popping up to serve bone broth around the city. Be sure to be on the lookout for this ancient remedy in 2015, we have a feeling it will become quite the trend!

Photo Credit: madlyinlovewithlife via Compfight cc

Juices and Smoothies

2014 proved to us that staying healthy on the go was doable.  With shops such as Liquiteria and Juice Generation, healthy juices and smoothies are easy, on-the-go ways to continue a nutritious lifestyle.  If you prefer to make smoothies and juices at home, try blenders such as Vitamix and Nutribullet, which are easy to use and much easier on your wallet. Just keep in mind that the Mom Dishes It Out team prefer to make juices and smoothies an addition to our daily diets, we don’t recommend, nor do we endorse them as meal replacements.