Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FDA Halloween Safety Tips for Parents

Take these simple steps to help your children have a fun – and safe – Halloween:

  • Children shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating. Urge your children to wait until they get home and you have had a chance to inspect the contents of their “goody bags.”
  • To help prevent children from snacking, give them a light meal or snack before they head out – don’t send them out on an empty stomach.
  • Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
  • Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
  • Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

And follow these tips for Halloween parties at home:

  • If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will say so on the label.
  • No matter how tempting, don't taste raw cookie dough or cake batter.
  • Before going "bobbing for apples," an all-time favorite Halloween game, reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • "Scare" bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include, for example, finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings. Cold temperatures help keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying. And don't leave the food at room temperature for more than two-hours.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shopping at Target

After my Sunday run to Whole Foods, I stopped by Target. While I don't usually buy groceries there, I decided to browse the aisles. I am happy to report I found some healthful products on the shelves. The next time you are there, you might want to pick up a few. The ones listed below pass the GoBeFull (GBF) test. For those of you who don't recognize GBF, it stands for eight keys to health and fitness:
Olive oil (and other healthy fats)


Unrefined grains (and other healthful carbs)
Lean protein

The Target I went to does not carry produce but they did have some frozen veggies that could work in a pinch. Just check the salt content. Here are some tomato products that are high in antioxidants:
Archer Farms Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
Archer Farms Salsa
Classico Sauce
Muir Glen Tomato Products
Newman's Own Sauce
Pace Salsa
Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce

Olive oil
I use the words "Olive oil" to mean healthful fats. The products I am recommending do not have any Trans fats. Monounsaturated fats like almonds, pistachios, olive oil and canola oils are the ones I like best; I prefer cold pressed. The products mentioned contain mostly mono fats but some have polyunsaturated fats, like soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and safflower oil, which are less preferable. Unlike mono fats which can reduce inflammation in the body, polyunsaturated fats or Omega-6-fats can increase inflammation.
Archer Farms Cashew Cranberry Almond Blend
Archer Farms Dry Roasted Pistachios
Archer Farms Raw Almonds
Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds
Land O Lakes Spreadable Butter

Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans
Bush's Black Beans
Kashi Black Bean Mango Frozen Entree

Grocery shopping burns calories! Next time I will check out the exercise equipment and report back.

No fresh produce.

Unrefined Grains
While some of these products are 100% whole grain, others are made from unbleached flour or a mixture of unbleached and 100% whole grain. I did not include any products with bleached flour. Bleached and unbleached both have had the germ and the bran removed. Bleached means they treat the flour with powerful bromine bleaches and should be avoided.
Amy's Pizzas
Archer Farms Arrabbiata Whole Wheat Penne Rigate
Archer Farms Blueberry and Multigrain Pancake Mix
Archer Farms Flaxseed Waffles
Archer Farms Spinach and Goat Cheese Frozen Pizza
Alexa's Spicy Sweet Potatoes
Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta
Kim and Scott's Gourmet Frozen Pretzels
Kashi 7 Grain Waffles

Gluten Free Products
Midel Crackers
Bob's Red Mill
Nature's Path

Lean Protein
I only like to buy hormone-free meats and poultry which Target does not carry. I did not see any tofu. I saw lots of products made with textured vegetable but generally try to avoid those too.
Silk Soy Milk
Cabot Omega 3 DHA Cheese

Read them any time your food comes in a box or a container! Look for fiber - you need 35 grams per day; look for unrefined grains; healthy monounsaturated and Omega-3-fats and no Trans fats; avoid foods with lots of preservatives.

Happy Shopping.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Candy Wars

No matter how hard you try, it is almost impossible to avoid candy at Halloween! Candy at Halloween is like eggs at Easter, gelt at Hanukah and candy canes at Christmas. It is a fact of life. So this year, instead of battling with the kids over when, where, and how to eat the candy, here are some suggestions that might help sweeten this ghoulish holiday.

Limit the container size: With young children it is easy to control the amount of candy by limiting the container size. Pick a small plastic pumpkin with a strong handle or a mini-sized shopping bag. Make a rule that kids have to carry their own candy. This will help limit the amount. When they start complaining that the container is too heavy, it’s time to go home.

Separate the candy: It is always fun to separate the candy when kids get home. They can make piles of ones that are not acceptable, like unwrapped or damaged candy, types they love, and kinds they dislike. Throw out the inedible candy and tell them you or dad will take the candy they don’t like to work. That leaves only the candy they want.

You can take this sorting process a step further and look for candy that contains partially hydrogenated or Trans fats. These types of fats are artery clogging fats. So if much of the favorite pile is full of hydrogenated fats, this would be a good time to cut back on other artery clogging fats like French fries, nuggets and burgers.

Limit the amount: The first few days most kids go hog wild eating candy but then it usually tapers off. In fact, by week two many kids have forgotten about the candy all together. If the candy obsession lasts more than a week or two, it can be helpful to set up guidelines to deal with the remaining supply. Limiting candy to a piece or two after dinner is a good idea. If it is not gone by Thanksgiving, throw it out! After the first few days, do not allow your kids to bring candy to school. Many schools will have policies prohibiting bringing in Halloween candy at all.

Brush your teeth: This is an opportunity to explain to kids how cavities form. Tell them they need to brush their teeth within a few minutes of eating candy because the sugar in the candy reacts with bacteria in their mouths to form acids which attack the teeth causing cavities. If you have not already banned sodas from the house, this might be a good time to start.

Adjust snacks: Since you know your kids will be eating candy, if not theirs probably someone else’s, make snacks healthy. Offer sliced fresh fruit, Trans fat-free popcorn, low-fat cheese sticks, fresh veggies and hummus, or whole grain pretzel sticks. Don’t keep sweets like ice cream or other sugared snacks around at this time.

Adjust meals: During the first week or so, make meals that are lower in carbohydrates to adjust for the extra candy intake. Avoid pasta, potatoes, rice, and breaded foods. Don’t send packaged snacks to school. Eat more protein, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and nuts.

Avoid extra calories: Obviously candy contains calories and carbohydrates. Here is a helpful hint: 15 grams of carbohydrate equals one serving of carbohydrate or the equivalent of one slice of bread. Look on the label of a candy package in their pile. See how many grams of carbohydrate are in one package or one piece. If you know 15 grams is one serving, you can figure out how many carbohydrate servings your child is eating in candy. The average young child who is fairly active needs about 90 grams of carbohydrates from grains, beans, breads, potatoes, crackers, and sweets. That is about six servings in a day. So if you figure they are eating two to three servings of carbohydrates from candy, 30 - 45 grams, limit the healthier carbs to about three servings per day. A serving is usually 1/3 cup cooked of pasta or rice, ½ of a baked potato, ½ cup of cereal, 1 tortilla, or ½ cup of beans.

While this may seem like a lot of work, it beats the alternative of turning into a witch by disallowing candy. Candy at Halloween, as long as kids are eating other healthy food, will not permanently ruin your child’s health. This balanced approach leads to happy memories and a cease fire.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is it Safe to Eat the Dark Green Leafy Veggies?

Health news is constantly changing. Just when we should be eating more greens, news comes out that greens might contain E. coli and be deadly. So what are we to do?

I would still eat the dark greens. You cannot avoid all risks. Here is some information from KidsHealth that might help:

What Is E. Coli?
E. coli is a common type of bacteria that can get into food, like beef and vegetables. E. coli is short for the medical term Escherichia coli. The strange thing about these bacteria — and lots of other bacteria — is that they're not always harmful to you.

E. coli normally lives inside your intestines, where it helps your body break down and digest the food you eat. Unfortunately, certain types (called strains) of E. coli can get from the intestines into the blood. This is a rare illness, but it can cause a very serious infection. Someone who has E. coli infection may have these symptoms: bad stomach cramps and belly pain vomiting diarrhea, sometimes with blood in it

One very bad strain of E. coli was found in fresh spinach in 2006 and some fast-food hamburgers in 1993. Beef can contain E. coli because the bacteria often infect cattle. It can be in meat that comes from cattle and it's also in their poop, called manure. Cow poop in your food? How does that happen? Not on purpose, of course, but it can happen if the manure is used for fertilizer (a common practice to help crops grow) or if water contaminated with E. coli is used to irrigate the crops.

Heat can kill E. coli, so experts recommend that people cook beef (especially ground beef) until it is cooked through and no longer pink. Choosing pasteurized juice is another way to avoid possible infection.

Lastly, some experts recommend washing and scrubbing vegetables before eating them. But others say E. coli is hard to remove once it has contaminated produce, such as spinach, lettuce, or onions. The solution, they say, is to take more steps so that E. coli doesn't come in contact with crops.

So continue to eat the bright leafy greens. They are good for you and help fight disease. Look at it this way, if in the very rare case you do come into contact with E. coli, your resistance will be stronger and the effects possibly will be less harmful!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's Time to Boost Your Immunity

I am basically a skeptic but the swine flu alerts are beginning to make me nervous. Since the vaccine is currently not available, I am putting my "immunity boosting" plan into effect now.

Germs and viruses are everywhere so building the body's resistance to infection is what we are after. Just like plants, strong healthy bodies are more disease resistant. Plants derive their resistance from the nutrients in the soil. The stronger, well nourished plants are more likely to avoid being eaten by bugs. Even though harvest season is around the corner, now is the time to nourish the soil for next year's plantings.

So to fight off the coming flu season, let's enrich our bodies (our soil) now. Here is what to do:

Eat vegetables: At least 5-6 servings a day. Vegetables, especially the dark green and orange ones, are high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A keeps the mucous membranes healthy. Viruses tend to enter the body through mucous membranes so keeping them strong is the first line of defense (after washing your and hands and covering your mouth.) Vitamin A acts like a shield.

A large entree salad is approximately four servings. Think dark green and bright orange colors. Broccoli, spinach, kale, yams, carrots, pumpkin, summer squash, green peppers and even avocado are all high in Vitamin A.

Use veggies in stir fry, casseroles, and as toppings on sandwiches and pizza (whole grain of course). Drink V-8 or fresh vegetable juices. Fajitas, ratatouille, eggplant Parmesan are also good choices. Tomato paste is a great way to boost Vitamin A. I like Amore's paste in a tube. You can mix it in sauces, dressings, and spread on sandwiches. Great on grilled cheese.

Eat Fruit: Just like veggies, there are lots of Vitamin A rich fruits. Eat about three servings a day. Mangoes, papaya, apricots, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelon, kiwi, oranges, and blackberries all contain Vitamin A. Guava is high in Vitamin A and so are gooseberries.

Add them to cereal, yogurt, or cut up in salads. Bring them for snacks and keep some in the car for the times you get really hungry. Now that the weather is cooler, foods can be safely kept in the car. Carry a container of cut up fruit, a fork and a napkin and have at it when you are stuck in traffic. Add a handful of nuts and you won't be starving when you get home; so no excuses not to exercise!

Eat Nuts: Though hard to resist, nuts build resistance. Some contain reasonable amounts of Vitamin A. Try pumpkin seeds, pistachios, pecans, chestnuts, pine nuts, and walnuts. Add them to salads, trail mix, cereal, baked goods, or eat them out of your hand for a quick snack. Eat about 1/4 cup of nuts every day, preferably raw or dry roasted.

Emerald has some awesome nut choices. I like their Cocoa Roasted Almonds, perfect for when I get chocolate craving. Lately I have been using almond milk on my cereal and in my tea. Almond Breeze makes a good one.

Finally, add in a few servings of whole grains, 4 - 6 oz. of lean protein, and a carton of low fat yogurt. Remember to exercise and get plenty of rest. Now the bugs should be less likely to bite you this flu season.