The Four A's of Fiber: "Remember the four A’s of fiber: apples, artichokes, apricots, and avocados. "

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Healthy Heart Diet

A Healthy Heart Diet:
What’s good for heart, is good for all of you!

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods, with an emphasis on reduced saturated and total fat – is now recommended as a foundation for healthy eating for all Americans.

Plan your meals with these three things in mind:
Emphasize fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Include lean meats, low-fat diary products, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
Limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), artificial additives and added sugars

Healthier Eating
The healthy plan calls for two to three servings of low-fat dairy foods and eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily—foods that Americans tend to under consume.
This diet is high in calcium, potassium and magnesium, all of which are associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

You don’t need to make radical changes in your current food choices to eat healthier.

Consider these simple changes to adopt a healthier eating plan:
Add a serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner
Use fruits as desserts and snacks—preferably fresh
At each meal include a calcium-rich dairy food (low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese)
Choose whole-grain bread
Include beans (legumes) or nuts in several meals each week
Limit meat to no more than six ounces a day—three to four ounces is about the size of a deck of cards
Add fruit or 100 percent juice as a snack
Drink water!

Snack Ideas:
Unsalted pretzels with peanut butter
Nuts mixed with raisins
Graham crackers and cream cheese
Low-fat or nonfat yogurt with granola
Frozen yogurt with berries
Raw vegetables with dip of choice

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Balancing Act

The most important word we want you to learn is BALANCE. Often parents ask us if "eating macaroni and cheese" is okay, or "what do I do if my child won't eat anything green?" It's up to you to help your child balance his eating. Macaroni and cheese is just fine as long as you balance out that meal with some protein and a fruit or vegetable.

"What if I drink coffee?" Fine. Then make sure for every cup of coffee you drink, drink a cup of water as well .

"What if my daughter has decided at 14 that she is a vegan?" Fine. Just make sure she supplements the meat protein with legumes or nuts of some kind (for specific recommendations, see Brain Food).

It's all a balancing act.

Recently at our book signings we set out a table full of "goodies" for those in attendance (especially the kids) to make Cool Kabobs. If you look closely, you'll see strawberries, cucumbers, chicken, tomatoes, cheeses, and other "good stuff", and then . . . marashino cherries and a marshmallow.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

ADHD or Erratic Blood Sugar?

Do you remember the old commercial that asked, "Is it live or is it Memorex?" Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. It's equally hard to blame frustrating behavior on poor discipline, ADHD, and less than optimal nutrition. Although they can all be connected.

There's a blame game being played by parents, teachers, and pediatricians when it comes to a child who just can't sit still and who attends to everything except what he needs to attend to. ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity) is often misdiagnosed, first by parents and teachers, then by doctors. We believe that your pediatrician is the last person you query about your child's behavior, not the first.

Nutrition can play a part in any person's behavior; erratic blood sugar is often the culprit. Every person's personal body chemistry reacts differently to different amounts of sugars, proteins, and other nutrients. Knowing how your child responds is crucial. If poor nutrition choices is ruled out, then you may need to look more closely at your child's behavior. You can view a behavior checklist to see if you need to investigate further.

How well hydrated is your child? The brain, as an organ, needs water to process the other nutrients we ingest in order to perform optimally. Without censoring, keep track of what and how much your child is drinking. If water isn't a normal part of your child's diet, then a change is in order. Simple sugars, which are nutrient-poor, are still found in many of the drinks children tend to use to quench their thirst. Until they are old enough to make their own decisions, we need to decide for them what they should drink and how much.

Attention to a child's nutrition is not a "cure" for ADHD but a complimentary treatment for it. It can improve quality of life and increase in learning when nutrition is improved - regardless of whether your child is ADHD or not. There is still great controversy about treatment options, but a good parent is an informed parent. To find out more, check out both CHADD and the National Research Center on ADHD.

Recipes that offer a more balanced approach to eating only benefit the body, brain, and well being of each and every one of our children.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Recent Q&A's


What are ‘good’ fats? I thought low fat diets were the way to eat?

Too much of anything is not good. But, we all need fats to function. Our bodies are made up of a system of organs and organs need fat to protect them physically and to function properly. Our brain is no exception. As an organ, the brain also needs fat. Choose ‘good fats’, such as Omega-3 essential fatty acid; typically found in fish or supplemented with a strained variety (without mercury) of fish oil tablets. Omega-3 has shown to balance hormone levels, reduce cholesterol and help with many disorders, such as ADHD and Autism in children. See for more info.


What do you do when kids kick the breakfast habit?

Breakfast has always been toted as the most important meal of the day. However, in our fast pace lifestyle, breakfast at best is a ‘fast break’. Grabbing a cup of java or rolling through the nearest drive thru for a hot butter biscuit seems to be more our speed. So how do we teach our kids to eat breakfast? Start by having more healthy and quick morning snacks around the kitchen. Fruits, yogurts and hard boiled eggs are good examples of grab and go foods for the morning. The night before try making one of the varieties of yogurt parfaits or waffles found in our book Brain Food: Recipes for success in school, sports and life.


Does my child have a food allergy?

Some allergies are inherited at birth, others are developed over time. When they are seen later in life, allergies may first start out as a sensitivity or intolerance. Severe reactions, including breathing difficulty and skin eruptions are indicative of full blown allergies. Most common sources of food associated with allergies and sensitivities are corn, dairy, wheat and nuts. Check out for related information on diagnosis of childhood allergies.


Should your kids drink coffee before school?

Kids and caffeine first thing in the morning, especially in place of breakfast set kids up for memory and attention problems during class time. Drinking coffee or energy drinks without any breakfast foods which include protein go for the fast fix. The quick boost in energy in a high caffeinated and sugary drink is temporary. By the time ten o’clock rolls around, kids are dropping from their morning high and becoming irritable and unfocused. They have no food for fuel to sustain them through out the morning, and it is not lunch time yet. A little caffeine for older kids in the morning is ‘ok’ as long as it is paired with a protein rich morning snack (Example: yogurt with fruit or eggs). Just remember, kids need fuel to sustain their brain power for 3 to 4 hours at a time to be successful in school.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Could improved nutrition affect my son's low test scores?

"This year on the state test my son dropped two levels from the year before. Do you think what he eats affects how well he does on his testing?

I get this question often from concerned parents. High stakes testing has every parent a little anxious and if their child drops in his scores, there's cause for concern. Nutrition can affect how well you perform on standardized tests, but in two different ways.

Schools know the importance of good nutrition on testing days because they remind parents to make sure their children eat a nutrient-rich breakfast on testing days. Schools often provide water and snacks to students during breaks in the testing day. They also offer a free breakfast for all students regardless of whether they are on a free or reduced breakfast/lunch program or not. So, the short answer is "yes" nutrition affects your child's test scores.

But there's more to it than good nutrition on testing day.

Our brains better retain information and make those all important connections when they are "well fed." In other words, all year long as your children are trying to learn in the classroom, you can set them up to succeed by making sure their developing brains get what they need. Then when testing time comes, it will reflect how well they learned throughout the year. If your child has dropped in his test scores from the year before, it could be because (1) he had a bad test day and possibly didn't eat well that morning, or (2) his eating habits during much of the school year weren't up to par and that was then reflected on his test scores.

Life happens and things change. Maybe your own schedule got out of whack for one reason or another, and you were less able to attend to your child's nutritional needs during this time. For whatever the reason, it's time to re-evaluate how you feed your children and be intentional on feeding the brain what it needs. For more age by age nutritional needs, check out Brain Food: Recipes for Success in School, Sports, Life, now available

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How Can I Get My Kid to Eat Breakfast?

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many of us have to admit that it is the most difficult one to get our kids to eat. In fact, there's a good chance we don't eat breakfast either. Funny how we expect our children to do something we ourselves don't do.

I was guilty for a long time of not eating breakfast. I'm just not a morning person and the thought of eating upon waking made my stomach turn. It took until I was pregnant for the first time that I changed my ways. I learned, just as our children need to learn, that our bodies are in a state of "fasting" overnight. We haven't eaten since dinner the evening before, so we're talking 12 or more hours since we've eaten. It's crucial that we fuel our bodies and brains with protein first thing in the morning if we are to be at our best.

My son doesn't like to eat in the morning either. The fact that he doesn't like most breakfast foods makes it even more of a challenge. For us the key is to stock the fridge or freezer with choices he is willing to make. We strive for balance in his eating over the course of a week, so if we resort to hot pockets or waffles (even the multi-grain kind), then he will make up for that choice later in the day with fruit, vegetables, and other "good" carbohydrates.

Adding yogurt to breakfast is a good way to get much needed morning protein. Cereal with milk and a banana is also an easy way to get going, although cereal doesn't "stick" with you very long. Kids will be hungry again by mid morning.

During the summer experiment with different breakfast options. It may mean preparing something the night before or getting up earlier yourself to make sure your child gets what he needs for his first meal of the day. Look for nutrient-rich foods, color and variety. Offer your child choices; just make sure those choices are relatively good ones. And if you they're not the best choice, make up for the lack of real nutrients later in the day.

What makes it difficult for you to get your child to eat breakfast?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Dream On

There's a saying, "The family that cooks together stays together." Okay, it may not be an official saying, but there's something to be said for the family who spends time together in the kitchen.

Cooking with and for your family definitely promotes family closeness and conversation, but have you ever thought of cooking together as a way to help others? We're all trying to find ways to save time and money, right? But maybe it's not your family you can save.

Have you heard about Dream Dinners? It's a place where you can go and prepare a week's worth of meals ahead of time in their kitchen with their ingredients and using their recipes for a fraction of the cost of your time and money you may end up spending in the take out line instead. That's sounds great all by itself, but there's another way to use Dream Dinners you may not have thought about - charity.

There are always families in need of meals: in your neighborhood, from your church, from your child's school. Maybe a friend just had a baby, provide a few home cooked meals. Maybe there's been a death in a family, show up with sympathy and a meal. It's hard for us to plan that far ahead and fill our freezers with "extra" meals, but you could make an appointment at Dream Dinners and as a family prepare meals for someone in need.

Our children need ways to reach out in their communities and realize that it's not all about them. There are many ways to serve in your community, but maybe serving up a great meal can nourish more than a body - it can feed the soul.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Belly Aches

I used to be able to eat just about anything I wanted with few consequences. There was that time when I was 17 when I had way too much pizza and I got sick. That kept me off pizza for almost 10 years after that. I had a similar experience with cottage cheese while in college. I have to say that I have yet to regain that craving.

At 44 years old my insides just don't handle much. I'm lactose-intolerant, so I only use soy milk. I drank ALOT of milk growing up; easily a full glass with every meal and often in between meals with a snack. I always wonder if that has anything to do with it.

There are a lot of food myths out there that we use to explain why our tummies bother us. My youngest son says he can't eat apples because he's allergic to them. When I ask him why he thinks that he says, "They make my throat itch!" I have no idea what that feels like, but I'll take his word for it. The bottom line is that if it bothers you, don't eat it.

What I see, however, is how people (including my own husband) eat the things that do give them belly aches anyway! They're willing to pay the price of indigestion, nausea, and the other gastrointestinal ailments the "pink" medicine soothes. Obviously the price isn't high enough. The good feelings they get from eating that ice cream or chocolate or fried food outweighs the bad they feel afterwards.

The problem is that sometimes those who live with them are the ones who pay for it!

And the drug companies get rich - how many commercials do we see for that little purple pill or the pink medicine or the chalky, calcium-enriched antacids? It's big business. . . all because we don't avoid the foods that bother us.

Why is it that we eat what we know we shouldn't? I'm not talking about low fat versus high fat, but foods that hurt us. I must have a low tolerance for indigestion because I'd rather drink soy milk than be doubled over in pain after a glass of milk or a bowl of cereal.

How about you? What foods do you eat that bother your belly?

Want to find out more about what might be causing your belly ache, check out this article.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Feeding Other People's Children

"Mom, can Rachel eat over?" your sweet daughter says ten minutes before dinner while Rachel is standing just out of sight in the hallway. We'll leave the hospitality manners for another day, but today, you say "Yes, of course she can," but then quickly add, "Make sure she calls her mom first though to make sure it's okay."

Do you cringe when your child asks if a friend can eat lunch or dinner at your house? Do you panic when one of their friends spends the night and you're faced with feeding a complete stranger breakfast in the morning? Do you run out to the store to buy frozen chicken fingers, curly fries, soda, and cookie dough? Or do you punch the speed dial on your phone and order from Pizza House?

Too many of us fear rejection by these "little" people and make changes to our existing mealtime routines just to please them. Consistency is the key. Let your kids' friends see what it's like to live and eat in your house. Even if they don't like what you serve that night, they will see a family that enjoys eating together and values good nutrition. For all you know, what they eat at your house may be the only nutritious meal they'll eat all week. You can contribute to another child's well-being and development by not deviating from the balanced approach you use to feed your own kids.

Friend Friendly Recipe - Pot Luck Pizza
Let your kids and their friends decide what goes on these pizzas


Freezer bread or pizza dough
jar red or white sauce
anything you have left in the fridge you need to get rid of!
(deli meats and cheeses, hot dogs, black olives, jalapenos, whatever is "topping worthy")


Defrost dough completely
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Divide dough in half
Spray two round pizza pans (cookie sheets) with non stick spray
Spread dough evenly over both pans
Top each with your choice of sauce, cheese, and toppings
Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes
Allow to cool slightly before slicing