Five Healthy Snacks for Your Child

Homemade Popsicles
By Be Well Health Coach Courtney Blatt

It’s so easy to break open a bag of goldfish, pretzels or fruit snacks for your kids. The companies producing these products make it simple with individual servings, fun character themes and cute little shapes. But, guess what? These cute little snacks are full of chemicals and are made in laboratories. The list of ingredients is long and confusing, full of strange chemicals and carcinogens. With the onset of childhood obesity and developmental issues, it makes me wonder how these foods are affecting our children.

As a parent with young children I’m often asked advice on healthy alternatives. In the words of Dr. Lipman, choose foods that come from God, not from man. Keep it simple and do your best to feed your children real, whole foods.

In reality, preparing fresh food can seem overwhelming for parents, especially when there is such little time. There’s no need to be holed up in the kitchen by yourself slaving away. Why not make it an activity and do it with your kids? It’s fun and an ideal way to generate awareness around the food you’re eating.

To make it easy, here are the top five snacks my children gobble up in my house:

1. Homemade Popsicles

Popsicles are a crowd pleaser and such a great way to pack a huge amount of nutrition into a fun treat. I take one of my favorite smoothies and turn it into a popsicle. Here is the recipe:

8oz almond or coconut milk, handful of spinach, scoop of cacao, handful of cacao nibs, tbsp of chia seeds, ½ avocado and 4-5 cubes of ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Divide among molds or paper cups. Cover and freeze until firm and serve!

2. Sweet Potato Chips or Squares

Kids love the crunch of a good chip and it’s simple to make them on your own. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, slice 2-3 sweet potatoes (parsnips or carrots work well too!) in ½ inch circles or squares. Brush them with olive oil and pop in the oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and serve.

3. Ants On a Log

This is a new spin on this old school favorite snack and it happens a to be a fun project for the kids.

These days there are so many ways to make this filling, protein rich snack. I recommend swapping peanut butter for almond, cashew or sunflower seed butter. As an alternative, you can use dried cranberries instead of raisins.

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 | 1 Comments

Be Well Kitchen:
Kale, Swiss Chard, and Butternut Squash Salad

Kale Salad

With raw butternut squash ribbons, crisp kale, delicate Swiss chard, and an orange vinaigrette, this salad is simple and one of my favorites.

Ingredients

For orange vinaigrette:

  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup pulp-free orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For Salad:

  • 2 medium bunches (4 cups) kale, chopped
  • 1 medium bunch Swiss or rainbow chard
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 6 ounces fresh chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled, optional

Directions

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients for vinaigrette to combine.

2. Clean and thoroughly dry kale and chard. With a sharp knife, remove woody stems from kale. Chop both greens into bite-size pieces.

3. Remove and discard seeds from butternut squash. Use a vegetable peeler to slice thin ribbons from inside squash.

4. In a large bowl, combine greens, squash ribbons, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Toss with half the vinaigrette. Transfer salad to 6 plates. Top with crumbled chèvre and serve additional vinaigrette on the side.

Posted by on Apr 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Care and Feeding of Your Mitochondria

Mitochondria

Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.
By Pamela Weintraub

They’re essential to energy, focus, vitality, and metabolism. And yet most of us have no idea how our mitochondria work. Here’s how to tune up your body’s quadrillions of “energy factories” so you can perform at your peak.

We spend billions of dollars every year buying pills, potions, and creams that promise to slow the aging process. But what if we could enlist our own bodies to help us live longer, healthier lives?

Meet your mitochondria — the tiny factories in each of our cells that turn the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe into energy.

When the communication breaks down between our cells’ nuclei and their mitochondria, aging accelerates.

But here’s the exciting news — the opposite is also true: When intracellular communication is improved, the aging process slows down, and overall health and vitality improve.

Researchers used to think that unavoidable mitochondrial mutations were to blame for such aging-related miscommunications, but they’ve now discovered that such disconnects can be repaired if the mutations have not advanced too far.

“The aging process, we discovered, is like a married couple,” states Harvard Medical School biologist David Sinclair, PhD. “When they are young, they communicate well. But over time, living in close quarters for many years, communication breaks down.”

Fortunately, Sinclair notes, “restoring communication solves the problem.”

The great thing is, caring for your mitochondria and upgrading their communication network doesn’t just help slow down the aging process. It can also enhance your energy, metabolism, and cognitive powers. And it can reduce your risk of age-related diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and infertility.

Ready to embark on a mitochondrial makeover? Here’s what you need to know about your body’s primary power source.

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Get to Know The Avocado – The Superfood You Should Eat Every Day

Avocado

It’s no secret that I love to eat and my favorite food of all? Avocados. I’m bananas for them! Avocados are truly one of nature’s little miracle foods and I encourage you to enjoy them several times a week. These little green gems can do so much to help keep you well from head to toe, they’re simply too good to pass up. Here are a few thoughts on why you need to get to know them better – and eat them more often:

1. Relax. Avocados Won’t Make You Fat!

The heyday of food-fat-phobia is over. If you’re still avoiding avocados because of some misguided, left-over-from-the-80’s belief that avocados will make you fat, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You’re also missing out on an excellent source of monounsaturated fat – the good fat also found in olive oil – that helps boost heart health. What’s more, those good fat and fiber-rich avocados can also help curb hunger. Studies indicate that meals which include avocado tend to increase feelings of satiety for longer than those without, so consider adding a few avocado slices to your daily diet to help tame between-meal munchies.

2. An Avocado Is a Creamy, Delicious Nutrient Bomb

As with many superfoods, it’s what’s inside that counts, and avocados are a nutritional goldmine. What’s inside? In addition to “good” monounsaturated fat, avocados pack plenty of health-boosting nutrients to help your body thrive. Underneath the tough green exterior lies over 14 minerals; protein, complete, with all 18 essential amino acids; soluble fiber, to trap excess cholesterol and send it out of the system; phytosterols; polyphenols; carotenoids; omega 3s; vitamins B-complex, C, E and K, to name a few.

3. Watch Out Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and Diabetes – Avocados Are Coming for You

OK, so avocados are packed with nutrition, but what does it all mean in practical terms? It means a belly that feels fuller longer; a brain that’s being well-supplied with the nutrients needed to function optimally now and down the road; and a body that’s receiving the nutrition it needs to help protect it from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases. What’s more, all those nutrients, good fats and fiber in avocados can help naturally lower LDL and raise your good HDL cholesterol, help regulate blood sugar and tamp down inflammation throughout the body and brain. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why it’s called a superfood.

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

7 Strategies for Picky Eaters

Picky Eater
By Be Well Health Coach Laura Kraber

We all want the best for our children – for their health, happiness and future. One of the best ways to support their growth and their future is through instilling good eating habits and providing them with a nutritious diet. None of this is easy with our busy schedules and our culture of processed food, unhealthy school lunches, and restaurant “kid menus” full of trans-fats and sugar. Although we may not have research telling us how damaging, if at all, it is to deny our children processed foods, we do have a multitude of studies showing how unhealthy processed, artificial foods and sugar are. It is never easy to change your habits or your children’s habits, but it does not get easier as they get older – so now is the time to start!

Here are a few recommendations to get you started with improving your child’s diet and eating habits.

  1. Only keep food in your home that you want you children to eat. “Sorry, we don’t have any cookies” is much easier than “Sorry, you can’t have any cookies.” Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy items and do some prep work so kids can easily grab cut and peeled carrots and hummus, or celery sticks with almond butter, or whole milk yogurt with fresh or frozen berries.
  2. Explain your food-related choices and decision-making process so that your children understand why you are making the changes you are making: That you love them and want their bodies to grow strong so they will grow up healthy and feel well. They may not like the changes, but understanding that you have a reason for them is important.
  3. Ensure that your children are really hungry before mealtimes. Take care to time snacks 2 – 3 hours before mealtimes. Fruit, vegetables, cheese, yogurt or whole grain crackers make good snacks. Sweet treats do not! Removing (or strictly limiting) sugar in the diet does wonders to make other types of foods acceptable.
  4. Involve your kids in some aspect of food preparation. Let them help peel veggies, turn on the blender, measure an ingredient, or choose between two menu items. It may take a little longer (or a lot longer, depending upon the age of your child) but it is often worth it because kids are more interested in tasting food that they helped to make.
  5. Revise your expectations regarding your child’s acceptance of a new food. Some picky eaters may need to try a new food 10 times before they are willing to eat it. Create rewards for trying new foods multiple times. When introducing new foods, always have one other item available that you know your child will eat. Familiarity is comfortable; once a food becomes familiar, it may not become a favorite food but it can become an acceptable one. Stay calm through the process and don’t pressure your child; merely offer it again and again, over time.
  6. Make time to sit down together for a meal as often as possible. Relaxing, family meals may only be possible on the weekends, or with a subset of the family, or only on occasion, but do what you can to demonstrate that meals are a time to come together as a family, talk, and enjoy each other, as well as to eat.
  7. Feed your children the same food you eat.  As long as your children can chew the food, there is no reason their meals at home and restaurants should be any different than yours. Give them the opportunity to experience the textures and colors of ‘real’ food and not become partial to the bland “kid foods” which are usually deep-fried, coated in flour, or sweetened with sugar.
Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 | 0 Comments
09
Apr

Be Well Kitchen:
Keren’s Famous Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Cake

Many of us are willing to stick to healthy eating and stay away from refined sugar — except for birthdays and holidays. This chocolate fudge cake is a wonderful dessert to make for those special occasions. You can have your gluten-free, sugar-free cake and eat it too!

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of Lily’s vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 6 large organic eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons palm sugar or 2 packets of stevia (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Melt chocolate chips and oil in double boiler.
  • In the mixer beat six eggs, add vanilla, add sugar/stevia then slowly add chocolate into the eggs. Make sure you add the chocolate very slowly while continually beating the eggs.
  • Pour into a greased 9” round cake pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes and let it cool.
  • You can top with some shredded coconut or chopped nuts, and enjoy.

Optional

If you want the cake to be a little more “fluffy,” then separate the egg yolks from the whites. Follow the directions above, leaving the egg whites to the side. Then beat the egg whites so they are fluffy and add it to the rest of the batter and cook the same way.

Happy baking!

Posted by on Apr 09, 2015 | 0 Comments

Pollution and Aging: 5 Ways to Counteract Pollution-Induced Skin Damage

Pollution

You know pollution isn’t good for you. Scientists have connected it with respiratory problems, birth defects, cancer, and more.

But did you know that your exposure to pollution could also make you look older?

In 2010, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a landmark study connecting pollution to skin aging. Researchers examined 400 Caucasian women aged 70 to 80 years, and gave them scores based on how much their skin had aged. They then evaluated pollution at each woman’s place of residence, measuring traffic emissions, soot, and fine dust. Finally, they analyzed the results.

Here’s what they found:

Air pollution exposure was significantly related to the signs of skin aging, in particular to hyperpigmentation, age spots, and wrinkles.

  • An increase in soot was linked with 20 percent more pigment spots (or age spots) on the forehead and cheeks.
  • An increase in traffic particles resulted in 16 percent more age spots on the forehead and 17 percent more spots on the cheeks.
  • Background particle pollution—present in low residential areas of the city with less busy traffic—was also linked with an increase in age spots.
  • Soot, particles from traffic, and background pollution were also associated with a more pronounced nasolabial fold (“smile” wrinkles).
  • Women who lived less than 100 meters or less from a busy road had 35 percent more pigment spots on their foreheads and 15 percent more on their cheeks.

“This study provides epidemiological evidence that traffic-related PM [particulate matter] represents an important environmental factor that contributes to extrinsic skin aging in humans,” the researchers wrote.

More Recent Study Suggests Additional Damage

More recently, another study reported similar results—that pollution ages skin.

This time, researchers reviewed a number of studies that had already been published on pollution and health effects, and sensitive skin. They found the following:

  • Pollution-induced skin damage is a global problem.
  • Exposure to ambient particulate matter contributes to premature skin aging.
  • Ozone depletes antioxidants from the skin.
  • Air pollution causes detrimental effects on healthy and diseased skin.
  • Individuals with sensitive skin may be even more susceptible to pollution-related damage.

According to this study, the effects of pollution go beyond age spots, to cause other damage and problems.

Great. So what can we do about it?

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 07, 2015 | 3 Comments

4 Fantastic Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation

Meditation is one of the most beneficial practices one can engage in, and just about everyone knows they should make time for it. Meditation has a wonderfully calming effect on the body and mind, and encourages a less stressed, more peaceful and aware state of being. Unfortunately though, most people get swept up in life’s frantic pace, more urgent matters come up and thoughts of meditation go out the window. But not making time for meditation is a real loss for your health. If you’re one of those who can never seem to find the time, here are four simple health-boosting reasons why I urge you to get into a meditation groove without further delay – your health depends on it!

1. Meditation Chemically Boosts Happiness, Curbs Anxiety and Cuts Pain

Meditation encourages the release of mood-boosting endorphins into the bloodstream, which in turn increases feelings of well-being. Those biochemically-induced good feelings spill over into other areas of your emotional life, helping make regular meditators calmer, more empathetic, slower to anger and less likely to sweat the small stuff. According to the Journal of Neuroscience, meditation also delivers powerful pain-relieving chemicals to the brain – making the practice something of a DIY pain-buster. For many of my patients, particularly the city-dwellers, a meditation practice can be an especially helpful way to combat stress and/or anxiety, enabling them to carve out a slice of serenity in the middle of urban chaos, or where ever they may find themselves.

2. Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure, Stroke and Heart Disease Risk

When it comes to meditation’s impact on health, the news is all good, especially when it comes to lowering blood pressure, stroke and heart disease risk. Even the ultra-conservative minds at the American Medical Association have come out in favor of meditation, having recently issued a report stating that “transcendental meditation (TM) may be considered as an alternative approach to lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.” When blood pressure is lowered, stroke and heart attack risk follows suit.

3. Meditation Slows Aging Brain and Keeps Chromosomes Young

In recent years, a number of studies have suggested that meditation can help slow aging in the place where we fear it most – the brain. A new study by UCLA researchers concluded “that meditation appeared to help preserve the brain’s gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons. ” Which means, the more gray matter can retain with help from a meditation practice, the less neurological trouble you’re likely to have down the road.  That should inspire even the most time-pressed among us to give this incredibly important practice a closer look. Still on the fence? Then consider this: another study out of UC Davis showed that meditation stimulates telomerase activity, which keeps your chromosomes young and is linked to longer life expectancy. 

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 06, 2015 | 0 Comments

How to Stock a Probiotic Pantry

 Miso Soup

Here’s your guide to foods high in “good” bacteria.

Probiotics — the live microorganisms found in fermented foods such as kefir and kimchi — are one of the hottest, and most promising, topics in nutritional research. Your gut is teeming with trillions of bacteria that help you digest food as well as thwart intruders — and it turns out, you can give those friendly bacteria a boost by adding probiotics to your body. “We’re only at the cusp of understand the potential of probiotics,” says Gregor Reid, PhD, a microbiologist at the University of Western Ontario. Soon, Dr. Reid theorizes, probiotics may be used in prescription drugs to treat a range of conditions, from acne to depression.

There’s another way these mighty microbes help your gut: In a recent study in the Journal of Functional Foods, people who ate probiotic-rich yogurt daily lost 3 to 4 percent of their body fat in 6 weeks. The shift in gut bacteria prompted by probiotics may favor fat burning over fat storage, explains study author Jaclyn Omar, of the University of Manitoba in Canada.

Some probiotics are much better than others. “The best, most natural forms of probiotics are fermented foods,” says Lisa Ganjhu, DO, a gastroenterologist at New York University Langone Medical Center. Fortified foods, such as probiotic-enhanced dough, may deliver fewer of the good guys, since the manufacturing process can kill off many of the healthy live cultures.

The amount and kind of live cultures per bite will vary, but words like raw, lacto-fermented, or unpasteurized on the packaging indicate that the bacteria haven’t been killed off during the manufacturing process. Look for yogurt with the “live active cultures” seal; this indicates that it has not been heated after the fermentation process and contains at least 100 million cultures per gram (or 10 million cultures per gram for frozen yogurt).

In my new book 20 Pounds Younger, I detail the probiotic-friendly foods to track down at your grocery store. Here’s a sneak peak: Besides yogurt, some common fermented foods include kefir (a fermented milk drink), sauerkraut (plus it counts as a veggie!), kombucha (fermented, sweetened black and/or green tea), kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), miso soup, and fermented pickles. It’s great if you can eat some fermented foods every day, but two or three times a week is a good place to start.

Kefir

Kefir can improve digestion and restore beneficial bacteria after a round of antibiotics. Bonus: It has more protein and less sugar than yogurt, but with the same creamy texture and tangy taste. Try it in salad dressings or smoothies. Plain kefir is in the dairy aisle and can be consumed in all the same ways as yogurt, says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, president of Nutritious Life in New York City.

Kimchi

Lactobacilli, a type of good bacteria found in kimchi, can help prevent yeast infections. Kimchi is usually eaten as a side or garnish, says Glassman, who suggests pairing it with fish or vegetables.

Sauerkraut

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating sauerkraut may help prevent cancer. Sauerkraut goes with more than hot dogs and Reuben sandwiches: You can eat it as a stand-alone side dish (it’s a great substitute for slaw), on top of lean chicken sausage and veggie or portobello burgers, or added to stir-fries (after cooking, to avoid killing the good bacteria). “Sauerkraut adds a sour note,” says nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD. “Chefs call it a brightener — it makes your food’s flavor pop.”

Miso

Miso, a staple in Japanese cooking, is a paste made of fermented soybeans — and is also a good source of probiotics.

What if your diet isn’t full of probiotic-rich foods?

(more…)

Posted by on Apr 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Cherry Pear Smoothie Recipe

Cherry Smoothie
By Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian

Since smoothies are one of my favorite ways to get well-rounded nutrition in, I’m always experimenting with new flavor combinations and ingredients to keep it fun, flavorful and fresh! Here I share a recent fave, which offers healthy fats and protein from the cashew butter and hemp seeds, fiber which helps the body eliminate toxins and promotes digestive health, and phytonutrients in the greens.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup greens of choice (kale, baby spinach, romaine)
  • 1 pear (sliced with core removed)
  • ¼ cup frozen dark cherries
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp Be Well Fiber
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • a few ice cubes

Directions:

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend on high for 30 seconds, if it’s too thick you can add a bit of water to thin it out.

Enjoy!

Posted by on Apr 02, 2015 | 0 Comments