How do you pack your child's lunch? One of my favorite back to school must haves are containers from Kids Konserve. Check back soon for a full review on this awesome line and how you can win in our giveaway! In the meantime, consider how our daily food intake in this country impacts our environment! Kids Konserve is helping my family produce less waste when we eat and my kids are encouraged to pack their own healthy lunches too!
• A waste-free lunch saves on average $216 per child per year (versus a disposable lunch).
• 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in the U.S.• Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. Placed end to end, the number of disposable straws used in the U.S. in the past 4 days could reach the moon.
Think about this for a minute...consider using a great alternative like Kids Konserve! Stay tuned for a review and giveaway!
How often do you let your kids just enjoy being kids and let them load up on sugar and other things they may not normally eat? I try to encourage my children to eat healthy and for the most part we do a good job around our house of accomplishing healthy eating habits. We take them to the farmer’s market almost every week, we have them help in the planning and preparation of family meals and encourage them to make healthy eating choices.
But do you allow your healthy eating habits rules to be bent and how often? I sometimes struggle with this balance, maybe because I also like to enjoy things that aren’t so great for you every now and then. I simply can’t resist having a few french fries or having my mother in law’s homemade treats. There are some traditional Latino treats that I just love - buñuelos anyone? My mother just spent two weeks with us, helping our family adjust to life with a newborn, and my kids definitely enjoyed her stay….partly because she buys them all sorts of things to eat that we don’t normally purchase in our house – the sugary cereal is a big hit with the kids! However, even my mom – who is skeptical of things “organic” being healthier than non-organic items - had her fridge stocked with our favorite organic milk and yogurt the last time we visited her and my father in Chicago.
I want my kids to know what healthy foods are and to enjoy eating them, but I also want them to know that it’s ok to enjoy certain treats once in a while too. My kids do drink chocolate milk – the organic and low fat kind. My kids eat burgers and french fries every now and then. We buy organic frozen yogurt but also allow them to have “real” ice cream. We always allow them to pick out their birthday cake and don’t limit sugar on holidays. And yes, on occasion they go with their grandparents to McDonalds. Is it about balance or should we be strict with our healthy eating rules? How often do you allow your kids to eat junk food? We'd love to hear about what works for your family...
St. Patrick's Day Recipe Tips by Coco Peate
Happy St. Patricks' Day!
I love that you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, that’s for sure! It’s a great holiday for fun and games. It's one of those days that everyone can enjoy and be a little green!
I've been thinking about healthy snack and recipe ideas for celebrating this holiday with your family, check them out below.
Tip 1: Start with Green-Colored Ingredients
- Green Apples
- Green Beans
- Green Chiles
- Green Grapes
- Honeydew Melon
- Spinach Pasta
- Spinach Tortillas
Tip 2: Plan a green meal. Just add a dab of green food coloring to some your favorite soft-textured foods. Here are some suggestions:
- Alfredo Sauce
- Cake Frosting (white/light colored)
- Cottage Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Deviled Eggs (add green dye to yolk mixture)
- Low Fat Vanilla Pudding
- Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
- Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
- Mac & Cheese (with a white cheddar sauce)
- Vanilla or Banana Milkshakes
- Mashed Potatoes
- Ranch Dressing
- Pasta Salad
- Pesto Sauce
- Potato Salad
- Scrambled Eggs
- Sour Cream (for garnishes)
- White Gravy
- Whipped Cream (low fat)
Tip 3: Serve Green-Colored Recipes/Foods
- Leafy Salads
- Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- Spinach Ravioli (with a cheese sauce)
- Spinach Dip (with green veggies)
- Spinach Soup
- Spinach Tortillas (as wraps)
- Green Fruit Pops
- Green Colored Smoothies or Shakes. This site has some great ideas.
- Whip up a batch of sugar cookies, adding a couple of drops of green food coloring to the dough. Try substituting 1/2 of the white flour with wheat flour.
- For a healthier alternative to corned beef and cabbage, try these two recipes at Healthyrecipeoftheweek.com and www.dailyspark.com.
Tip of the Week
3 months ago I lost my Father-in-Law to pancreatic cancer at the age of 60, and 4 years ago, I lost my Mom to colon cancer at the age of 46. Cancer is becoming an increasing problem all over the world. It has touched my life closer than I wanted, but in away, it has been a blessing. I have learned more about cancer than I ever wanted to know, but this knowledge has allowed me to change the way that I live and eat. I feel like the knowledge that I have gained will hopefully benefit my children, and maybe inspire you to learn a little more too.
What is cancer? Cancer is a disease defined by a normal cell mutating and multiplying out of control. The best way I have heard it explained, is that cancer is like rust. Once a piece of metal begins to get rusty, it takes no time at all for the rust to spread and destroy the original piece of metal. That’s what happens to a healthy cell. It mutates, then spread to other healthy cells. Left untreated, it (the cancer) will take over and eventually kill its host (the person).
According to the National Cancer Institute, 80% of all cancers are caused by factors that have been identified and can potentially be controlled. Colon, breast and prostate cancers are believed be linked to an unhealthy diet. People with these cancers typically have diets that are high in meat and fat.
In parts of the world where more whole grains, fruits, beans, veggies and nuts are eaten, cancer rates are much lower. Many of the foods that are considered healthy – such as fruits, veggies and grains - offer antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc. Animal products, on the other hand, are thought to release carcinogenic compounds and are believed to increase cancer risk. I am not suggesting becoming vegetarian, but limiting the amount you consume is a good start.
An important thing to note is cancer and the Latino community – just as the Latino population is growing, so are its’ cancer rates. Latina women in particular have a lower survival rate for breast and cervical cancer than Whites. To learn more about how cancer is impacting the Latino community, see the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanics and Latinos 2009-2011.
So, what can you do to decrease your chances of getting a cancer?
Cancer Prevention Tips
First, educate yourself and know your family history. If someone in your family has or had cancer, you NEED to know so that you can get checked. My Mom died at 46, but they believed she began to develop polyps in her early 30s. It takes polyps 5-10 years to become cancerous. So, had she been checked early on, they could have removed these polyps and she may still be here. She’s not, and now I know what I need to do. Get checked in my early 30s – not when the standard 50 year-old check is recommended.
Second, you can change and/or improve your diet. Like I mentioned earlier, diets rich in grains, fruits, beans, veggies and nuts are good diets! The less that these foods have been processed - cooked, peeled, mixed with other ingredients - the better they are for you! These types of food are also high in fiber. A diet rich in fiber is key because it helps keep your digestive system clean. Fiber is also found in whole grains, but it’s not found in meat, dairy and white rice…..or most desserts! For additional ideas on how to incorporate fiber and more fruits and veggies into your diet check out this helpful article posted by the folks at Helpguide.org.
Third, incorporate more cancer fighting foods into your diet. Have you heard of the Mediterranean Diet? It is a diet that contains many anti-cancer foods. Check out this website for a full view of what this diet consists of. Also, here is a table with some cancer fighting foods that can easily be incorporated into your life.
While there is no known singular cause to cancer, the best thing you can do to prevent it by knowing some of the “assumed” causes, and be proactive with them. Don’t smoke and minimize alcohol consumption. Eat a diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and don’t add too much additional fat. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Bottom line, an overall healthy lifestyle may prevent cancer, while additionally helping prevent heart disease, obesity, and many other health complications.
Check out these helpful resources
Tip of the Week
Do you ever find yourself bored with making the same meals day in and day out? Maybe it’s not you. Maybe your kids are the ones who are bored with the same old meal. So, how do you mix it up and make it fun and healthy - without heading to the closest fast food joint? The key to “mixing” things up. Be creative, get involved, and have fun!
Maybe you can take a traditional lunch item, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and make “sushi” rolls instead of the traditional sandwich. You take the crusts off of a slice of wheat bread, roll it out to thin the bread out. Spread peanut, or another nut butter, followed by jam. Roll the bread up, and cut into 4 pieces. Now you have peanut butter and jelly “sushi rolls!” I did this for my boys a few days ago, and they thought it was hilarious.
What about you? Are you completely bored with your turkey sandwich or salad? Try turning your sandwiches into a healthy wraps. Take a whole wheat tortilla, spread it with a low fat seasoned cream cheese or dressing, and add your favorite sandwich ingredients. Roll it up and cut in two. Make your “boring” salad into an awesome chopped salad! I take my everyday romaine and favorite salad vegetables and chop it really small– like you get at a restaurant - add a bit of crumbled feta (it is lower in fat that most cheeses), some dressing, and voila! To me, things that come wrapped or chopped up really small just make food taste better.
You can also try getting involved with your food. Sounds weird, but seriously! For example, grow some of your own vegetables and/or herbs. If you have children, have them garden with you. My boys “help” by throwing all my garden dirt out of the garden. It may be a little messy, and not exactly helpful, but they are outside with me having fun, and seeing how certain foods are grown. It is a really neat way to learn about the food you are going to eat, and it makes you appreciate the hard work that goes into producing your food. It is an extremely fulfilling feeling to eat what you grow.
So many times we feel that if we can’t make this crazy elaborate meal, then what’s the point? Sometimes even the simplest of meals, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, can be made fun by being creative. Experiment with your food. When I was younger, my Mom, a single mom of 6 kids, didn't have time to make anything from scratch. So, my mom got creative. One of the many ways she did that was making cookies from a cake mix! She wanted something quick and easy, and not a lot of ingredients. Natural food stores carry healthier cake mixes that work well with this trick. My sister, who is a single working mom, makes these all the time because they are cheap, easy, and sooooo yummy!!
Food is what sustains us. It is here to nourish us, not stress us out and make us unhealthy. It should be enjoyable and fun to make! I found this really cool book called “Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won’t Trade” by Sandra Nissenberg and Barbara Pearl. While it is geared toward children, I think that some of the recipes and ideas in this book can be used for adults too! Try to mix things up at home, and stock your kitchen with “go to” items that will allow to make meals quickly and creatively! Check out this article on vidacoco.com to help you get started. Just have fun with your food!!!