Here's a snack that was a staple when I was a kid. It's really simple and tangy. And, too be perfectly honest, I've got a lot of cucumbers to get creative with. Here in the desert we're on the tail end of cucumber season and I have a bumper crop to work my way through.
So for this snack all you need is a cucumber, white vinegar, salt and pepper. Pretty simple, and way better for you then salt and vinegar chips. Cucumbers are low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin K and also have anti-oxidants. They also have tons of water, which makes them really refreshing. add a little tang, and this snack is a great way to enjoy the afternoon. Enjoy!
Salt and vinegar cucumbers
Prep: 2 minutes
1 cucumber, slice thinly
enough white vinegar to cover cucumbers in a small bowl
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
salt to taste
Combine all above ingredients in a small bowl and serve immediately.
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It's time to get back on track after eating pumpkin pie for the last three days. So here's what we ate this morning, and the kiddos loved it.
Around here we are big berry fans, but during the winter good berries are pretty rare. So here's a tip to keep berries, which are full of vitamin C and antioxidants, in your kids diets. Keep a bag of frozen berries in the freezer for a healthy addition to muffins, yogurt, tarts and smoothies all year long. Then you're not buying berries that taste sub-par and come from half way across the globe.
I prefer whole wheat flour in my muffins, then it's a snack that I'm happy letting my kids have seconds (or thirds, in the case of these muffins). Compared to white flour, whole wheat flour has significantly more fiber, protein, iron, calcium and selenium. This difference is due to the fact that all of the wheat grain is used to make whole wheat flour whereas in white flour the bran, germ and endosperm are typically removed.
The key to using whole wheat flour is keeping it fresh and making sure you have enough liquid ingredients. For the first part of this keep your flour in the fridge or freezer, depending on the frequency of use, as opposed to on the counter where it will get stale faster. Stale flour results in dry baked goods. As for the liquid addition, I always add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt to keep my muffins from getting a dense, gritty taste. If you follow these tips you can sneak in more whole grain goodness into your kids snacks without them even knowing the difference.
I also like to sneak in a few more good-for-you foods, like wheat germ in this case. Wheat germ is full of great nutrients like vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, iron and protein. And it's pretty concentrated stuff; in 2 tablespoons you get 15% of your daily allotment of vitamin E.
So hopefully these muffins will help you get the family back on track and eating healthy after a delicious, though probably a bit gluttonous Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
Whole wheat strawberry muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minute
Makes: 12 muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar (I got this from Trader Joe's)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup chopped frozen strawberries, unthawed
Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease a muffin pan or line it with cupcake liners.
Mix together dry ingredients (all ingredients prior to milk) in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together milk, egg, butter and yogurt. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Add in the chopped strawberries, then mix together until batter is lumpy. Make sure not to over mix.
Cook for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. let cool, then serve.
Well the great Turkey Day is now over! So now everyone (hopefully) has tons of leftovers to work with. I love my leftovers, but sometimes you need to infuse some new leftover ideas instead just reheating dinner plates all week. So here's a few recipes from various tasty blogs. Enjoy! Prosciutto turkey paninis
Cranberry green chile sandwiches
No noodle soup Columbia turkey arepas White bea and green pea quesadillas Turkey salad with fruit Turkey grilled cheese Turkey omelets
One of my favorite small towns in Northern Arizona is a little jewel called Pine. The two best things in pine: Hawaiian ice cream (what!) and local honey. Seeing as this is a healthy blog, I'll focus on the latter. The Honey Stand
sells honeys of all different varieties and potencies. I like the lighter tasting ones, my husband goes for the hardy and and heavy varieties. My kids like their fruit butters (sugar-free, after all why does fruit need more sugar?) and we all leave happy with our purchases.For those of you that follow my sweeter posts, you'll notice that I use honey as my go-to sweetener. It's a great alternative to processed sugar and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. It also has antioxidants and is a great remedy for a coughing child (over one years old, of course).
There have been several times that I have mixed it with a little hot water and lemon juice for a natural cough medicine for my daughter, just like my Dad did when I was a kid.Something new that I recently learned is that honey can also help people acclimate to local allergens.
That's because local honey contains local pollens in small doses, which helps immune systems adapt. This pollen is also what gives honey it's nutritional properties. That's why recent analysis of honey samples from large food suppliers is so disconcerting.
The Palynology (the science of studying palynomorphs, such as pollen) Research Laboratory at Texas A&M analyzed 60 honey samples from 10 states and the District of Columbia. Here's what they found:
- 76 percent of samples bought at chain groceries had all the pollen removed.
- 100 percent of the honey sampled from chain drugstores had no pollen.
- 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores had the pollen filtered out.
- 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions had the pollen removed.
- Samples bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores had the full, anticipated amount of pollen
Without the pollen, health benefits of consuming honey are removed.
However this lack of pollen at large chain stores also has potential adverse health effects.Pollen residues help trace the origin of honeys. Without those residues that means the location that honey was produced is unknown. This untraceable nature of these honeys makes safety assurance difficult
. These honeys could have come all the way from China and have potential contaminants like heavy metals.
Bottom line: if you want your family to avoid potential contaminants from untraceable honey and get the health benefits of using a natural sweetener, then buy your honey locally. That will probably mean a trip to the Farmer's Market, which is always a great family activity if you ask me. Related reading:
I think it's time for a talk about fiber. Cue in the Metamucil ads that accompany the evening news.
Aside from the nightly reminders during commercial breaks on the news, I know that fiber is on not on the forefront of everyone's minds, unless of course you have a kid that suffers from constipation. And in fact that is a common complaint, according to a friend of mine that is a pediatrician. I know, not exactly a scientific evaluation there, but still relevant. And if it's gotten to the point of making it to the pediatrician, then that means it's pretty serious. However often parents don't recognize that their child has bowel issues if there isn't vocal, tummy aching complaints. But if a kid isn't having a bowel movement regularly (i.e. daily, not every three days) then there is a lack of Gi motility.
Too often kids just aren't getting enough fiber in their diets. This is due to a reliance of many kids on pastas, white breads, heavily processed cereals and cheese. This fiber-deficient diet is bad for the gut, which can result in a cranky kid. This crankiness might not be easily explained because sometimes kids just know that they don't feel right, but they can't necessarily tie it to a specific body malady.
So what is fiber? It is the part of grains and fresh produce that is not absorbed by the digestive tract. This material travels along the digestive tract and helps pull up wastes that might otherwise be stymied in the bowels. Furthermore, bacteria and fiber react to make substances that help repair the gut lining.
If you look at nutrition labels you'll see that there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Solubility just refers to the ability to dissolve in water, thus soluble fiber will readily dissolve in water while insoluble will not. Soluble fiber, like that found in oatmeal, also pulls in cholesterol and helps satiate appetites by making you feel full. Insoluble fiber helps push wastes through the digestive tract by adding bulk.
Great sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Here's a treat that utilizes that latter of these, and adds in an extra bonus for kiddos that obfuscate whole grains for the white diet (white flour-based foods). If you can't get your kids to eat it, sugar-coat it, literally. Do that in the form of chocolate, and you've got a sure winner.
Around Christmas time I've seen a similar treats made with cornflakes or Chex. As opposed to those, get a high fiber, multi-grain cereal. I used a Trader Joe's variety, but some other good options are Kashi, All Bran, and Fiber One. Just go for whatever cereal you can find that's the highest in fiber.
For this recipe you only need three simple ingredients: fiber cereal, chocolate chips and chia seeds. If you can't get chia seeds at your grocery store, then try your local drugstore. I've seen them at Walgreens. They add in fiber and essential fats. I hope that your kiddos enjoy these snacks, and get some fiber in their tummies without even knowing it. Enjoy!
Chocolate cereal bites
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooling time: ~ 1 hour
Makes: 1 dozen
1 cup high fiber cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, the higher quality the better since they don't have as many fillers
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Nuts to decoration (optional)
Melt chocolate chips in a microwave in one minute increments, followed by stirring, or in a double boiler. Add to cereal and chis seeds and mix well. Form into balls and set on a parchment paper lined pan. If desired, press one nut into the center. Put in the fridge and let cool completely before serving.
Here's a quick snack that we enjoy when we go out to the zoo or museum- rice cakes topped with nut butter and trail mix. Three ingredients and bam, you're good to go.
This recipe takes something as simple as a rice cake, which are low calorie while tasting light and crispy, and adds a little more protein to it so that this snack has more holdover potential. As you all know I love incorporating nuts and legumes into my kids snacks since both both have so many vitamins and minerals. Case in point, peanuts (a legume, though commonly mistaken as a nut) are a great source of manganese, tryptopan, niacin, magnesium, folate, phosphorous, copper, zinc and protein. That's a lot of minerals, and that doesn't include anti-oxidants like resveratrol.
I just want to caution about the rice cakes- the less processed the better. That means that you shouldn't get ones that are covered in caramel or that are really unusual flavors. I recommend getting either plain ones or purchasing flavored ones from a more natural brand so you don't get a lot of additives in with this healthy snack. My go to brand- Lundberg Family Farm
rice cakes. I wish I could say we go for the brown rice variety, but we tend to favor their apple cinnamon flavor.
As always feel free to experiment with the butter- I really like peanut or almond butter but you can also try cashew and sunflower butter. Also feel free to try all sorts of fruit or nut toppings. This is for one rice cake, so just multiply by however many you need to make.
Rice cake toppers
Prep time: 2 minutes
1 rice cake (plain or apple cinnamon work best)
2 tablespoons nut butter
Dried fruit or trail mix to sprinkle
Simply spread the peanut butter on the rice cake and sprinkle on the topping of your choice. Serve immediately or save at room temp in an air tight container. Related reading:
Zinc is a necessary mineral that is found in certain types of seafood, nuts, beans and meats. Fortified foods, like cereal, also have zinc. Despite a variety of foods that contain zinc, kids on a limited "white" diet (consisting primarily of pasta, white flour products and cheese) can have low zinc levels.
Kids that are deficient in zinc can have some serious consequences. Zinc deficiencies in children can result in:
Picky eating habitsChildren with mild zinc deficiencies have palates that are incredibly sensitive. Sometimes these kids are deemed supertasters, however as opposed to having a more acute sense of taste they actually can misperceive odors and tastes as sour or bitter. Zinc supplementation in these kids can result in better eating habits, though a little coaching on the parents end is involved to change deep-set behaviors.Growth retardation
Zinc is necessary for growth, and inhibition of growth is a cardinal sign of a zinc deficiency. Furthermore zinc deficiency can also suppress appetites, thereby causing kids to feel like their constantly not hungry.Impaired immune function and wound healingZinc is necessary for immune function. Just think about all the cold medicines that have zinc to promote getting better faster. In line with the immune system
health a suppressed immune system can't do it's job. That means kids that get sick more and slower healing from cuts and scrapes.
Although you might be giving your child a multivitamin, the amount of zinc in those (particularly in the gummy varieties) are pretty low if your child is already low in this necessary mineral. Furthermore phytates, which are present in whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes, and other foods, bind zinc and can inhibit its absorption Thus, the amount of zinc absorbed from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal foods. So even if your kids are eating plant sources of zinc they might not be getting all the zinc that's in them.Oddly enough the food with the most zinc... oysters. Now you're probably not going to get your kids to eat those anytime soon, so here's some other snack options:Chicken salad: Use left over rotisserie chicken from last night's dinner.
Just shred the chicken, add a little mayonnaise, salt and pepper and halved grapes. Serve with whole grain crackers of baguette slices.Cashew butter
: Diversify your nut butters with a little cashew butter. This is especially great if you have kids that have peanut allergies. Cashew butter is sold at natural food stores, but you can also make your own in a food processes if you process the nuts for ~10 minutes.Pepitas: With Halloween just behind us you can get pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, from most grocery stores. They are a great snack on their own or can be combined into a trail mix.Hummus: Tasty and a great high protein snack. You can buy it ready made, or make your own. Serve with pita chips, bread or vegetables.Related reading: