Sneaking Healthy Foods into Your Child’s Diet

If you have ever dealt with picky eaters, then you know how hard it is to make sure the kids get the right amount of healthy foods in their diet, especially vegetables. Kids are picky with just about anything that goes on to a plate at one time or another. Your kid may love peas one night and despise them the next. Kids are picky about the color, texture and even the size of all kinds of food. So, how do you make sure your kids get the healthy stuff in their diet? Here are some tips that can help you.

Meatloaf

Try sneaking vegetables inside the meatloaf

Baked goods:

Almost all kids like baked goods, especially muffins and quick breads. Take this opportunity to sneak in the good stuff. They will probably never even know the difference. For example, you can add whole grain flour to your banana bread recipe or add shredded carrots to your favorite carrot cake recipe. How about zucchini bread? Just make sure the green stuff is small enough to go undetected.

Add to sauce:

Another great tip is to add pureed vegetables to your sauces, such as spaghetti sauce. While there are some kids that turn their noses up to sauce, most kids will eat them. You may need a good food processor, but once you puree the vegetables, your kids will never know the difference. It makes it taste good, and adds some great nutritional value.

Think meatballs and meatloaf:

Do you have a kid that will eat meatballs or meatloaf? Jump on the chance to add in the vegetables. Again, puree the vegetables (try carrots) and add them to the meat before cooking. Also, another great way to feed your kid is to use leaner meats such as ground turkey or very lean beef when making these dishes. These are appealing and kids will never know.

Cut the sugar:

When you bake cookies, cakes and other baked goods, you can make it healthier by cutting down on the amount of sugar and fat in the recipe. For example, you can substitute honey for sugar and switch out oil or butter for applesauce. You get the same results, a great taste and it is far better for you and your kids, too.

Skip frying:

Of course fried foods are yummy, but they are so bad for you. Any food that you can fry, can also be baked. That includes French fries and tator tots. Simply place on a nonstick baking sheet, spray with cooking oil spray and cook until crispy. Your kids will love it and it is far better for them, too. Do the same with chicken nuggets.

Make healthy foods more appealing:

Another good idea is to make healthy food more appealing. For example, when you offer fresh vegetables, present them in a unique way alongside some favorite dipping sauce or peanut butter. Little baby carrots are sweet and easier to eat. Your kids might also enjoy eating frozen vegetables, straight out of the freezer. It sounds strange, but why not give it a try?

Eight Healthy Snacks To Get Today

You can always find healthy foods to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but snack time is not so easy. After all, when you think about snack food, you probably think about high fat or high sugar foods that you find in the snack machines. Chips, candy bars and cookies top the list of popular, but no-so-good-for-you snacks. In order to have a healthy diet, you need to make sure that all the snacks you eat are healthy. To help you, here is a list of eight healthy snacks you should stock up on today.

Popcorn

Consider buying your own air poper

Popcorn: Some popcorn is good for you. This is not the same popcorn you get at the movie theater. That popcorn is buttery, salty and full of bad oil and fat. The kind of popcorn that is good for you is either the low fat microwave popcorn or air popped popcorn. Popcorn without a lot of butter and salt is tasty and filling. If you don’t have an air popper, consider getting one. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Plus, it is cheaper than microwave popcorn. If you think you need some flavor, add some Butter Buds, or season salt.

Frozen Yogurt: Frozen yogurt is another great snack. You can get frozen yogurt in pints or gallons in all kinds of flavors, or you can make your own by freezing your favorite yogurt into pops. You can also add fruit such as strawberries or bananas for an added flavor.

String cheese: Mozzarella string cheese is another good choice for a healthy snacks. These are high in calcium and protein and when you buy the low fat version, it is good for you, too. Pair your string cheese with low fat crackers or lean turkey for a filling snack.

Apples and peanut butter: You know that apples are good for you, but peanut butter is great for you, too. Think about buying natural peanut butter and dipping your apple slices in it. This is filling and delicious.

Low fat pudding: Those little cups of fat free pudding also make great and healthy snacks. While they do contain sugar, they are full of calcium and flavor. You can get your chocolate fix of the day with pudding.

Baked chips and salsa: Baked tortilla chips with a little salsa are great healthy snacks, too. Baked tortilla chip are tastier than you may think and salsa is full of flavor and low in fat.

Graham crackers: You probably remember eating a lot of graham crackers when you were a kid, but they are still great. Dip them in applesauce or no sugar fruit jam.

Fruit smoothies: Fruit smoothes are really easy to make with just about anything you have. Use some yogurt, fruit and some fresh fruit and blend with some ice. You can also make smoothies with skim milk.

With these easy and tasty snacks, you are well on your way to a healthier diet in no time. Get to the grocery store and get some today.

Cutting Your Calorie Intake

Healthy eating is key when you want to lose weight. You must also make a commitment to yourself to get a little exercise each day, and to cut your calorie intake. Believe it or not, you can actually cut calories out of your diet and you will hardly notice the difference. If you want to learn how to cut your calorie intake, then consider the following tips.

Cut calories

Cut your calories

Switch to skim milk: Skim milk tastes good and it will save you calories and fat. If you have been drinking whole milk for a long time, you will probably notice a difference in the taste and texture, however, it is still tasty. You can use skim milk in all of your recipes, too.

Bake instead of fry: Just about anything you normally fry can taste just as good when you bake it. Frozen French fries, tator tots and chicken nuggets are great when baked in the oven. It is not difficult to bake instead of fry. You will need to spray the food with cooking oil and cook at a high temperature to make it crispy and crunchy. You will save quite a few calories when you use the oven instead of the fryer.

Look at sugar alternatives: You may have heard a lot about sugar alternatives such as Splenda. Some people think they are bad for you and while there is no conclusive evidence, you may want to do some research. However, the great thing about sugar alternatives is that it does save on calories. For example, you can use these substitutes in all of your recipes that normally call for sugar. Many of the lower calorie products you buy today, such as fruit juice, will also contain sugar substitutes.

Use low fat dairy: There are lots of low fat options when it comes to dairy products and they do not taste any different. Low fat cheese is a popular choice and holds up well in most recipes. You can also use low fat or fat free sour cream and cream cheese. These all taste good and you will hardly notice the difference. You will save calories.

Use low fat salad dressings: Another great low calorie option is low fat or fat free salad dressings. Salad dressings already have a lot of flavoring, so using them on your salad will keep it tasting great and save you calories. You can also marinate meats in low fat or fat free Italian dressing and save on calories. These are great alternatives to high fat sauces.

When you want to save on calories, then think about these low calorie alternatives. When you learn how to eat low fat, you may find that you can lose weight, too. That is an added benefit of eating low calorie.

The Many Benefits Of Healthy Eating

We have all been told that we should eat healthy foods. We know about the food pyramid. We know we need more fiber in our diets. Why should be care about the benefits of healthy eating? Most of us will not change what we do unless we know that the benefits of doing the change outweigh the reasons to keep doing what we are doing. The same goes for healthy eating. We are usually in a pattern of eating that we are comfortable with, such as eating from fast food restaurants, or eating on the go or in our cars. We get used to microwave meals that are quick to fix or grabbing a burger and fries and a drink and forgetting about vegetables and fruits all together. In order to change that pattern that we are used to we must be given a really good reason. So, what could that reason be? What are the benefits to healthy eating?

Healthy woman

Being healthy means you will feel better

Research has shown that when individuals prepare and eat healthy meals, they reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and they lower any already elevated blood pressure.

Some individuals are told to eat specifically healthy diets such as diets to help lower their risk for heart disease, or diets that are geared to the fact that they are diabetic. Doctors and nutritionist will tell you the benefit to you when you stay on these diets in terms of your specific health condition.

If you are a normal healthy individual making healthy food choice changes may be as simple as trying fat free (skim), (1%) or (2%) milk instead of regular milk. You may also consider buying cheeses that are marked, “low fat” or “fat free” instead of regular cheese. You may choose to eat fruits, vegetables without putting sauces or butter on them. You may also choose to eat lean cuts of meat, fish, and skinless turkey and chicken instead of the fatter cuts and meats with skin on them. It is better to choose one of these healthier choices and implement the change, get used to that change before making another healthier choice. If you make changes gradually, then you will have time to get used to them and not feel as if the entire way you eat is suddenly different. People shy away from different. Different scares some people. When you make the changes one at a time and slowly over time the benefit is that you are making strides towards a healthier eating way of life without feeling like you are making drastic changes and you will feel more comfortable with the process of getting healthier. People who make changes slowly are more apt to stick to the new way of eating than those who dramatically change everything about the way they eat. This being able to stick to it is a benefit because the healthier eating habits will continue and you will be able to feel the difference.

When adults make healthy eating changes, besides the healthy benefits they will experience to their health; the added benefit is that the children in their lives will notice the healthier eating habits and be more likely to follow suit and eat healthier too, making for a healthier family.

Healthy Eating Means You Have To Stop Giving Caffeine To Your Child

If you asked any mom if she would dare give her young child a cup of coffee for breakfast, she would stare at you in shock that you would even dare to suggest such a thing. Caffeine is definitely not something healthy to give a child, yet children consume caffeine everyday, some in large quantities.

Child drinking soda

Child drinking soda

Parents are just unaware, or unconcerned that there kids are eating and drinking food items that contain caffeine because it looks like normal everyday food and drink items. Caffeine lurks in everyday food items, and parents need to be aware not only of which items contain caffeine but why caffeine is so unhealthy for children to consume.

The United States does not have guidelines for caffeine consumption in children yet. Canada guidelines for caffeine recommend that preschool children get no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day. Do you know how much caffeine that is? A 12-ounce can of soda contains 45 milligrams of caffeine so does four 1.5-ounce milk chocolate bars.

Why is caffeine unhealthy for children to consume?

Caffeine is a drug, a stimulant to be exact. It stimulates the central nervous system. When taken at small amounts it makes people feel more alert. When taken in larger amounts caffeine can make you feel jittery, nervous, have an upset stomach, or have headaches, difficulty in concentrating, or have difficulty sleeping, or experience an increased heart rate or have increased blood pressure. In children it does not take much caffeine to achieve these effects. Do you want your child to experience difficulty concentrating at school? Do you want your child to have difficulty sleeping at bedtime? Would you like your child to have an increased heart rate or high blood pressure, or to experience headaches or upset stomachs?

These symptoms are not the only reason to make sure your child does not consume caffeineated products.

Statistics show that just one 12-ounce sweetened soft drink per day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%.

When kids drink soda they get filled up on the drink and then do not eat the healthy foods that they should be eating. They can fill up on soda and not take in any nutrients that their growing bodies need. Drinking soda also means that they do not drink enough milk and are missing out on the calcium for teeth and bones.

When children drink too many sugary drinks such as soda, they are prone to dental cavities from the erosion of the enamel of the teeth from the acidity in the soda. Do you know how much sugar is contained in a one 12-ounce can of soda? A 12-ounce non-diet carbonated soft drink contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar (49 milliliters), which is 150 calories.

When a person’s body is used to a certain amount of caffeine and then all of a sudden doesn’t receive the caffeine anymore there can be withdrawal symptoms such as temporary depression, headaches, irritability, and also muscle aches.

If an individual has heart problems or a nervous disorder, even if someone like a child does not know they have such conditions; caffeine can aggravate these conditions.

Children can become dehydrated when they drink caffeineated drinks because the drug caffeine is a diuretic. Diuretics cause the body to eliminate water, which it does through the process of urination. Especially in hot water, children need to replace the water they lose through perspiration and if they drink enough caffeinated drinks they may become dehydrated, which can be dangerous, especially in the heat of summer.

Kids probably get most of their caffeine from sodas, iced tea, caffeine is also found in chocolate, coffee ice cream, pain relievers, and other over-the-counter medicines like cold relief medicines, and of course coffee and tea.

Teaching Toddlers Healthy Eating

It is never too early to start teaching your children about good eating habits. The best time to start is when they are young and willing to try new foods. Of course, there will be plenty of times when your little one will turn away from foods. That is just a part of being a kid. There are things you can do to help teach your toddler about healthy eating habits.

Toddler shopping

If you only buy healthy food your toddler will have no choice but to eat it

Get everyone in on the act:

One of the first things you will want to do when you want your toddler to eat healthy is to make sure everyone that cares for your child is in on the plan. It will do you little good to offer and encourage healthy food at home while grandma or the day care provider stuffs your toddler with cookies all day. If your child attends day care or is cared for by someone else, then make sure they can offer healthy eating, too. There will always be times when a cookie or a cupcake is okay, but this should only be occasionally when teaching your child to eat healthy foods.

Buy healthy foods:

Of course, the next important step in getting your toddler into the healthy eating act is to buy healthy foods for everyone in your household. Limit the number of fattening and sugar-laden candy and treats that you buy. Stock your refrigerator with healthy choices such as low fat pudding, string cheese, whole grain crackers and granola bars. When there isn’t the choice between no-so-good-for-you foods and good-for-you foods, then your toddler won’t have a choice.

Set a good example:

This could be the hardest part of getting your toddler to eat right, but it is the most important. As a parent, you need to set a good example. If you stuff yourself with French fries and chocolate all day, it becomes a temptation to your child (and unfair). You need to eat healthy and show your child that you enjoy eating low fat foods, healthy grains and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Remember that kids learn by example.

Make eating fun:

It is also a good idea to make eating fun. When you present food in an imaginable and fun way, you can bet that your child will at least give it a try. Little tiny baby carrots dipped in peanut butter are much more appealing than handing your child a huge carrot. Toddlers love finger foods, so use a little creativity to spice up the healthy stuff.

Don’t expect perfection:

You know how hard it is to eat healthy all the time. You don’t expect this out of yourself and you should not expect it out of your toddler either. There will always be times when an occasional treat is acceptable to eat. What fun is a birthday party when your child can’t partake in the cake and ice cream? Besides, if a food is strictly forbidden, then it only becomes a greater temptation. Let you kid be a kid.

Whether You Call It Healthy Eating Or Green Living Here Are Some Tips To Buying Foods

Locally grown food is a great place to start when you are trying to follow healthy eating or green living lifestyles. Both lifestyles will benefit from eating organically grown foods from a local farmers market. You benefit in many ways including buying locally so that the local economy prospers from the fruits of the local farmer’s labor. Green living advocates will love the fact that organically grown food is done in a way that is environmentally friendly using only biodegradable pesticides and no toxins.

Farmer's market

Farmer’s markets are a great place to source organic foods

There is nothing quite like being able to talk to the person who grew your food to be sure that it was grown without harmful pesticides! It is also nice to be able to say thank you to the local grower who has provided you with fresh fruits and vegetables.

The number of farmers markets increased 2.5 fold between the years of 1994 and 2006. According to the USDA farmers markets account for approximately $1 million in local food sales. A significant part of local food sales is organic or natural foods. Looking at total foods sold, organic or locally grown foods probably only account for 5% or 6% of the total retail food market. This share will continue to grow as more individuals become aware of the benefits of buying from local food markets, including farmers markets. Typically producers of local foods are from smaller farms.

One reason people are choosing to buy locally grown foods is because they can purchase fresh, local foods that taste better than that found in grocery stores. Who hasn’t purchased a rotten, or wilted piece of produce from the store? The food you buy at a store is considered to be “industrial food” because it follows a system designed to be economically efficient by producing foods that can be harvested mechanically, then packed and shipped long distances while still retaining a long shelf-life in the grocery stores. To achieve this long shelf life quality clearly equates to appearance of the food and not necessarily the quality of the nutrients and condition of the food.

Food safety is another reason why consumers are choosing to buy locally grown foods over commercially produced and distributed foods. This concern is what has driven the popularity of natural or organic foods higher as more people are learning about pesticides and hormone and antibiotic use in commercial foods. Individuals who buy food locally expect the produce to be free of the potentially harmful chemicals and biological residues found in industrial foods.

The American public are being educated through books and Websites about how commercially produced food is deficient in everything except calories and toxins. Commercially prepared foods have also been accused of false advertising, of using too many artificial ingredients and us using potentially harmful agrichemicals and food additives in order to prolong shelf life and keep profits high.

Scientific studies seem to confirm these consumer fears regarding industrialized food safety. The fears have as much to do with what has been taken out of foods as what has been added to them. Recent research has revealed that industrial foods are indeed lacking in nutrient density, meaning lacking in essential vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients that are a necessary part of a healthy diet. Such deficiencies in nutrients are linked to diet related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. When researchers compared nutrient density between industrial foods, organic foods, and foods prepared pre-industrial foods (1950s) they found that there is a link to the foods density and the changes in farming practices after the 1950s. These changes in farming practices have to do with standardization, consolidation, and industrialization of American agriculture.

These studies add credibility to the push to buy locally grown produce for those who desire healthier eating or green living lifestyles.

Organic Eating Tips For Natural Goodness and Fantastic Flavor

Have you tried eating organic yet? Many individuals and families are now eating foods that are grown organically because of the many benefits doing so gives them. Organically grown foods develop their own natural defences to survive as they are growing, making the foods richer in antioxidants. Organically grown produce does not contain the pesticides and other toxins that non-organically grown foods do so they are healthier for you.

Organic produce

Organic produce

What is an organic food?

In order for a food item to be considered organic, it needs to be grown and processed in a certain manner. Food is certified as organic when farmers follow a strict set of regulations that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set forth for them. Organic farmers follow natural farming practices, feed their livestock 100% organic products, and use only biological pesticides if pesticides are necessary. They do not use genetically engineered seed stock. Organic farmers do not feed their livestock growth hormones. They also do not use any synthetic pesticides in their fields.

Where do you find organic foods?

Organic foods are becoming more available as more retail establishments want to please individuals who are striving to eat healthier. Organic foods can be found in grocery chain stores, farmers markets, natural foods stores, and online.

When buying organic, unless you are buying at a farmers market, look and read labels. If buying at a farmers market verifies that the food you buy is grown organically.

If buying from a store know what to look for on the label.

If a label says that the food is 100% organic this means that all of the ingredients in the food are certified to be 100% organic.

If the label just says organic, than at least 95% of the food item has to contain organically grown ingredients.

If the label says that the food item is made with organic ingredients than at least 70% of the ingredients are organic and the rest must come from a list of USDA’s approved foods.

Some evidence points to the fact that organic foods contain more nutrients, especially antioxidants than non-organic foods. Organic foods must meet the same strict guidelines set forth by the USDA that the non-organic foods must meet. Organic foods are safer for the environment to grow than non-organically grown foods are because organically grown foods use environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods are typically a little more expensive than non-organically grown foods but the prices are coming down because they are becoming more available.

Foods that are commercially grown and contain high levels of pesticides are the ones that you should start out going organic on and slowly switch your family over to all organically grown foods. Here is a list of some of the foods that are grown with high levels of pesticides:

Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach and strawberries.

Foods that are grown with lower levels of pesticides are:

Asparagus, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples and sweet peas.

Whether what you eat is organic or non-organic it is always a good idea to wash the fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

You can remove some pesticides and dirt by running the fruits and vegetables under running water. Soaking them is not as effective as running water over them. If a vegetable or fruit has an outer layer such as lettuce, peeling this outer layer can reduce the amount of pesticides that you consume. Do not peel apples, pears etc., because you will be peeling away fiber and nutrients.

When you choose a variety of foods you lessen your chance of being exposed to a single pesticide. A variety of foods also increase the amount of different nutrients in your diet.

Eating Healthy At Dinner In Under 30 Minutes

Who has time to make a healthy dinner after a long day at work? This is the main reason most people opt to grab a fast meal at a fast food restaurant on the way home from work. Fast food is easy, no preparation and no work. The problem is that most fast food meals are unhealthy for your body to consume on a regular basis. Do you think that people would eat healthier at dinnertime if they could have dinner prepared and ready to eat in under 30 minutes?

Healthy dinner

Quick healthy dinner

Getting a healthy dinner ready and on the table in under 30 minutes may not seem like a possible feat to most individuals but it can be done and without breaking too much of a sweat. How, you ask? In order to make a healthy dinner in under 30 minutes you must be willing to do a little bit of planning and organizing. There are a few things that you can do to achieve this healthy meal in less than 30 minutes and here are some tips on doing just that.

First it takes a little planning and making out of a shopping list. Take the list to the store with you and use it, but be flexible because you never know what the produce will look like, or when a totally delectable food item calls out to you. Try new recipes and expand your ability to add new colors and textures to your meals, which will tempt your family to eat more healthy foods.

Another way to trim time is to have your recipes organized so that you know where they are when you need them. Pull out the ones where the prep time is low (under 30 minutes).

If your recipes are in various cookbooks, use tabs or stickies to find them easily. If you use recipe cards have them in categories or arranged by alphabetically so that you can find them (whichever is better for you).

If you clip magazine recipes, tape them to construction paper and organize them to category so that you can make them into a sort of cookbook. Put them into a notebook or binder. You can also make up a recipe file with folders and tabs to through recipe cards into or clippings from magazines.

For those of you who are Internet users, have a favorites folder marked “Recipes”, for all your recipes and have a folder for each food group or category.

Now that you have your recipes organized move on to planning your menus.

Go through your favorite cookbook, or recipe file (listed above) and select some dishes that you want to include in your weekly menus. Make sure you chose a variety of colors and textures. Pick side dishes, main courses, fruits, salads, breads or rolls. Don’t forget cheese to go with your fruit.

Use these menus to write up your shopping list. Mark down the page # of the recipe next to the meal so that you can easily refer to it when needed.

If you know the store well you can make out your shopping list based on how you walk the aisles. Once you have a list that works well, photocopy it and use it as a master (make several copies and have these on hand).

Use a notebook for the shopping list and use the same notebook each week. You will have a handy record of your menus and your shopping list.

Prepare foods ahead of time and store them safely according to food guidelines until needed. You can chop enough carrots for all meals that week at one time, same with potatoes. Double recipes and make two dinners at once, freezing one for another fast meal later in the week.

Food Diary for Healthy Eating

Many people who want to lose weight will start off with a food diary or journal. A food journal is a great way to see and visualize exactly what you are eating everyday. In fact, once you get the hang of using it on a day to day basis, you may be surprised about what you learn. Your will easily see where you need to concentrate your diet efforts.

Food Diary

Food Diary

A food diary has several benefits. First of all, it will help you see exactly what you eat each day. If you are good about recording what you eat, you will see how many cookies or how many rolls you ate. This will give you a good idea about where you need to cut back as far as your diet goes.

Another advantage of using a food diary is that it may help you control your portions. If you see that you had five slices of pizza, you will soon realize that you are eating way more than your body needs. This is an effective tool for any dieter.

Yet another advantage of keeping a food diary is that you will be able to tell why you eat. Most people do not eat simply because they are hungry. People eat for many reasons. You may eat when you are bored, or sad or stressed. When you keep a food diary, you will be able to see these trends and work to do something to make a healthy change.

Here are some easy tips for starting and maintaining your food diary.

You will need to get something to keep track of what you eat. You can use just about anything, but if you are on the go, you might want to consider a small notebook or binder that you can keep in your purse or desk. If it is portable, you are more likely to keep up with it.

Next, you will want to get in the habit of using it every time you eat. You need to write down each and every snack, nibble and taste. Make sure you write down the date, the time and the place. This is effective so that you can go back and look at your own diet trends. If you see that you eat a candy bar everyday at 3 p.m., then you can use this information to make a change. You know that you need to work through your 3 o’clock slump by eating something healthier than a candy bar.

You may also want to get a book that will help you learn the fat grams and calories of the food you eat. This is important when you need to know the total amount of fat and calories you eat each day. You can also record your serving size such as “five chocolate kisses”.  At the end of the day, tally the servings of each food group, your total fat intake and your total calorie intake. This will give you an excellent idea of where you need to go with your diet.