Grocery Shopper’s Guide!

Do you make a list before going to the grocery store?

The first step in "smart shopping" at the grocery is store is a good list! In this podcast we navigated the entire grocery store with Kimberly L. Stewart, food journalist and author of "Eating Between the Lines"! She gave us the basic and most important tips on each section of the grocery store, from the produce section through dairy, meats, fish, canned goods, bread and grains! 

Produce,BasketFull

We also discussed food labels as they are getting an "uplift" by the FDA. We have said it before and emphasize again, it is more important to look at the list of ingredients than the actual nutrient facts on the label. The ingredients must make sense! It's as simple as using your own common sense and experience. For example: crackers shouldn't have more than 3-5 ingredients, beyond that it will likely be artificial stabilizers or preservatives. 

For the quick and dirty on how to better grocery shop for your family just listen to our podcast here: http://www.iheart.com/talk/show/24266287/?episode_id=26584892

 

And don't forget to share it with your friends too!

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

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Over 75 Healthier Snack Ideas for your kids!

I received requests (or cry for help!) on what would be better alternatives for snacks for children to bring to school. I started to put this list together thinking of practical things that we sometimes don't remember or think of! These are popular choices at my house and I've had great success brining them to my children's schools. No more sugar filled overprocessed snacks for us! Here is a list to help you with ideas and recipes of Better Food Choices Snacks, healthier for your family and Kid Kritics Approved. Note: the items in blue have links you can click on to get the full recipe!

Feel free to print this list and share at your schools, parents groups and after school clubs:

  • Banana (sliced with PB, or dip in honey)
  • Strawberries (dip in yogurt)
  • Mellon (cubed, good in a kabob)
  • Kiwi (cut in half, scoop out fruit – or skin, slice)
  • Grapes (great in a kabob, good frozen)
  • Blueberries (good with yogurt), fresh, frozen or dried
  • Cherries, fresh, frozen or dried
  • Peaches (good with yogurt)
  • Pineapple (great to dip in honey)
  • Apples (sliced with PB – can make into a sandwich, or with yogurt, dip in honey)
  • Applesauce (no sugar added)
  • Watermelon, fresh – in fruit kabobs
  • Oranges (especially easier to peel and eat smaller ones such as Clementine’s)
  • Freeze dried fruit of different flavors
  • Raisins and dried cranberries mixed with nuts (1/3 to 1/2 cup is a good portion size)
  • Carrots (dip in hummus or yogurt)
  • Celery (dip in hummus or yogurt, PB with raisins)
  • Cut up green, red or yellow peppers (dip in hummus or yogurt)
  • Raw broccoli and cauliflower (great with yogurt)
  • Cherry tomatoes (great in a kabob mixed with fruits)
  • Edamame
  • Cooked Green Beans (great with yogurt)

For all fruits and vegetables you can try a few different dips:

Fruits are also great in a kabob type recipe with the variation you choose! Pick fruits and vegetables that are fresh and in season.

Other snacks:

  • Cubed Cheese (great in a kabob with 3-4 veggies or fruit)
  • Gluten-Free Crackers
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Popcorn Mixes –
  •                 Deliciously Yummy Snack Mix
  •                 Light Cinnamon Popcorn
  •                 Monkey Trail Mix
  •                 Spicy Buffalo Trail Mix
  • Rice Cakes (great with PB and fruit spread or hummus)
  • Nut mixes (1/2 cup portion) -
  • Hard Boil Eggs
  • Plain yogurt (send fruits and honey separately for toppings)

Toppings: chia seeds, sesame seeds, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, granola, flax seeds

With a little more time to prepare:

Products we recommend:

  • Cabot Creamery Cheese and Greek-style yogurt
  • Snackimals Cookies – Barbara’s Bakery
  • Crunchmaster Grammy and Cheezy Crisps
  • Flamous Brands Falafel Chips and Zatar Chips
  • Good Health Natural Foods – Popcorns, Veggie Stix (original, pizza, hot)
  • Greens+ – Chocolate Energy Bites
  • Iceland Spring Water
  • Lisanatti – Rice Cheeze Sticks
  • Once Again Nut Butters
  • Shelton’s Turkey Jerky, and Turkey Sticks
  • RW Garcia Chips
  • Upfront Foods Granolas
  • Naturipe – Berry Quick Snacks

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

The suggested brands listed in this recipe are Kid Kritics Approved.  Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics Approved marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.    

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Deliciously Guilt Free Way to Start your Morning! A Good Bowl of Cereal.

Cereal is seriously one of my favorite things to talk about! I wasn’t introduced to cereal until I was 15 years old since I grew up in Brazil and we had no such delicious breakfast alternative to pour in a bowl with milk in the mornings.

Nowadays I have a love-hate relationship with cereal. Although I think it’s absolutely delicious, promotes extra milk intake, can pack a ton of nutrients and fiber it does not mean a complete breakfast. The weak attempt of most cereal boxes to “illustrate” a fruit next to or chopped in your bowl of cereal is hardly ever practiced at home by most families. I read recently that the cereal industry has been shaken due to constant demands for change in formulations.  Parents are demanding less sugar varieties and whole grains (so glad by the way!).  This combined with rushed family routines (no longer having time to sit down for a meal – even a bowl of cereal!) has led to the explosion in the granola bar and breakfast bar industry.  But cereal can be a part of a balanced diet and we need to take time to sit and eat even though we’re so busy.  I’m here today to bring attention why we, as Registered Dietitians, like Snackimals Cereals by Barbara’s Bakery and why the Kid Kritics Approved them in blind taste tests! barbaras cinnamon snackimals

Their package design is simply adorable! The cute monkey, panda and elephant are just as cute in the cereal pieces as they are pictured on the box. And how fun that they are running a promo right now that you can actually name the cute blue monkey on their box (click here to enter! You win a free app and enter to win a whole year of Snackimals stuff!).

Of course what’s inside the box is really what matters. The nutrition value is right on target for what I look for in a cereal, lower sugar than many kids cereals, with only 7g per serving! Good amount of fiber, calcium and protein as well. And thanks Barbara’s Bakery for making these from organic, non-GMO ingredients and whole grains! We so appreciate your dedication to transparency, honesty and only using the best quality ingredients.

Snackimals cereals come in two flavors: Cinnamon Crunch and Vanilla Blast. They are both Kid Kritics Approved.  In my house the cinnamon is a favorite. They are crunchy and safe sized pieces that you can pack as snack as well. I’m not a big fan of soggy type cereals, the ones you pour on the bowl and before you even grab the spoon (or answer to one or two kid emergencies) the cereal is already a bowl of mush. Snackimals is not one of those! It holds up well in milk (any kind too! We use almond, rice and cow’s milk) so you can enjoy it at your own pace and still get the same crunch until the very last bite.Snackimals cereals

Snackimals cereals are flavored perfectly with just enough taste to stand on their own, but not overpowering so you can pair them up with blueberries, strawberries or even banana and still taste all the flavors in your bowl. If you are lucky enough to have any extra cereal in the box you can incorporate it into a number of creative recipes (ok, you may just have to buy another box! But it’s so worth it). I like the idea of using cereals instead of cookies for recipes like pie crusts, parfaits, crumb toppings for desert or even breading for chicken. The difference is you are using a lower sugar ingredient (when compared to most cookies) and adding the nutrition that cereals pack (usually higher calcium, fiber and vitamins).

Lastly, if you are thinking this will be a great cereal for your kids to try you are right. But don’t be surprised if the parents finish the box before the kids even get a taste, that’s what happened at my house. My husband (yes, the guy that grew up on sugar laced frosted corn flakes!) is a big fan of Snackimals Cereal too!

For the health of your family,

Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LD

Disclosure: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics marketing program.  Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.  The taste tests were done by children at the YMCA/Boys and Girls Club and products only receive the Kid Kritcs Seal of Approval with 70% or more approval.  The company donated samples of this product for the creation of recipes.  I was compensated for my time.  All opinions stated are my own.

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Gluten Free: So Many New Choices!

Have you noticed how the gluten-free food section in your grocery store has expanded over the last couple of years? That is primarily due to an increased demand for them.  A gluten-free diet is medically prescribed to people with celiac disease; 1 in 100 Americans suffer with the diagnosis. But those are not the only ones demanding a larger variety of tasty gluten free products.

  

Many people have found that although they do not have celiac disease they greatly benefit from eating less or no gluten which is primarily found in wheat, barley and rye.  They noticed their skin is healthier, they experience less gastrointestinal distress such as bloating, and some even claim better mental health. Even with increased focus by the science community on studying the digestive tract, no conclusive research warrants warning everyone to avoid gluten, though some trials suggest this is a good idea.  Many people dealing with various digestive related issues have voluntarily adopted a low gluten or gluten free diet.  

Mothers, determined to alleviate some of those same symptoms for their children, have invested time and money to find products and recipes that are gluten free, ones their children will like.  We have searched and found several family-friendly gluten free brands and products Kid Kritics have approved.  These include Crunchmaster Cheddar Cheezy Crisps and Grammy Crisps which make great snack alternatives to wheat-filled versions.  Lisanatti Foods, Pamela’s Products and Barbara’s Bakery also have several gluten-free products that have been awarded the kids’ seal of approval. To make your life really easy, we have posted many gluten free recipes on our website! For our full list of Kid Kritics Approved Gluten free products simply click on this link: Gluten Free Grocery List. It is wise, so please do discuss gluten free conditions with your doctor and/or dietitian to make sure low or no gluten foods are right for your family and you!

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

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New products coming soon to join our Kid Kritics Approved List!

A couple of weeks ago I went for the first time to Natural Food Expo West and it was AMAZING! Imagine one gigantic 3 floors the size of football fields conference hall filled with over 2,500 booths featuring brands dedicated to making the best all natural foods. They were presenting all their new products to try it and learn about it. Needless to say I ate well! We met up with some of our Kid Kritics Approved Brands to find out what new products they are coming out with that we can taste test and potentially award Kid Kritics Approved Seals.

It was easy to spot all the new trends! Popcorn was everywhere, flavored from sweet, salty all the way to spicy. Hemp hearts, oils and seeds as well as chia seeds are being added to several products to make it easier to integrate into our diets. Gluten free products are in full swing! It is no longer a huge challenge to go on a gluten-free diet, with so many brands and products dedicating full lines to the gluten free market you can eat pancakes, cakes, cookies, pasta, tortilla and even pizza. I also enjoyed the variety of new drinks incorporating teas, coconut water, natural juices without the addition of any sweetener at all! Letting the taste of the fruit, vegetable and natural ingredients be the star. We found many products that we are super excited to taste test and bring them to you to try! So stay tuned to our Facebook page, twitter and webpage as we announce products we award Kid Kritics Approved Seal.

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

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We are here for you!

I recently read an article reporting the dangers of eating soy. I became extremely overwhelmed as a parent! How do we know what to feed our family when advice and warnings are issued daily against different types of food? Recommendations seem to change constantly when it comes to sugar, fat, vitamins, minerals, and so much more – now soy.  It is confusing and frustrating even for me as a registered dietitian. I am often conflicted on how to handle the new health information so I can’t imagine how tough it would be to decipher without nutrition training.

My advice is to approach it like you do most things in life. Build a relationship with experts you trust and have similar ideas, morals and beliefs. To this day when I am not sure what to wear for an important event, I call my mother! After all, for me she is my “fashion expert” and I trust her. Just filter out all the over dramatic news and hidden agenda advices and go straight to the source you can trust.

We hope you will find that we are here for you as your Family Food Experts! Kid Kritics Approved are a part of this dedicated group who works diligently to make sure all the advice we give has your family’s best interest at heart. The Kid Kritics Approved seal is there to help you when you shop (Grocery List link), and our recipes (Recipes link) are available to facilitate your menu planning. We also have our newsletter that we share two to three times monthly with a lunchbox menu, recipes and other nutrition tips. Our blog posts offer a little insight into my own experiences as a mother and nutrition expert. Our Pinterest Page is great for finding recipes by specific categories as well.

I invite you all to sign up for our newsletter today! (Click here to sign up) You will receive a free Breakfast Recipe e-Book with a collection of Kid Kritics approved recipes including many of our Kid Kritics Approved products. You can reach me on our Facebook page whenever you are looking for advice on something you heard, read, or about a specific topic you are interested in. I am here for you!

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

(In case you are wondering, yep, that’s my picture)

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Holiday Meal Makeovers

Can you believe there is a recipes using butterscotch that is healthier so you enjoy some without feeling a heavy sugar guilt trip?  Apple Butternut Squares was shared by Liz Weiss, one of the Meal Makeover Moms. That's not all.  From garlic shrimp to meatloaf to veggie lasagna, both Liz and Kathy Siegel (Nutritiion Babes) made over lots of recipes you will want to serve your family and friends while entertaining, or just dining at home!  LISTEN  for more!

… for the health of your family,
ellen

P.S. In case you missed it, here's the recipe link for Apple Butternut Squares: http://mealmakeovermoms.com/recipes/snacks-smoothies/apple-butterscotch-cake 

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Met Chef Paul Prudhomme!!!

Our kitchen cupboard always has some seasonings from Chef Paul Prudhomme in it… easy way to spruce of a meal.  Thus I see his cheerful face on his jars weekly.  Imagine how delighted I was to see Chef Paul last week at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.  Truth is, I was sad to see his him sitting in an electric wheel chair – hard work and being an excellent chef has caught up with him.  However, his warm smile shown through as he stirred the creation made for us to taste.  The good news is that he and his tall lovely wife have come out with a new line of low sodium seasonings.  Look for them in the stores.

… for the health of your family,
ellen

 

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It is time to go Corn-Free. FREEZE.

frozenfood-freezer

This summer’s drought is causing havoc on the farmed fields across America. You can expect food prices to go up.  Why the focus on going Corn-Free?  Because corn is a by-product in thousands of processed foods.  Whether it be high fructose corn syrup (a big healthy NO),  corn starch or other corn fillers, you’ll find corn ingredients in a boat load of grocery store products. We don’t recommend you eat those, unless they are organic.  The summer sad fact is that fresh corn is getting more expensive due to high demand and lower yield.  If you can find it, freeze it.  No doubt, the prices for frozen corn during this coming fall, winter and spring are going to be higher than now.  Buy now and freeze.

Now remember, corn is fed to many domestic animals.  Thus the prices of meat and chicken will rise. Buy now and freezeThis drought affects more than corn.  Soy is becoming more scare.  We only recommend that you eat organic soy to avoid GMO and toxins.  And, because soy is known to stimulate the production of estrogen in all bodies, young as well, we simply suggest you take soy products off your grocery list.  As to all other produce, the drought is endangering their harvest as well.  Buy now and freeze.

Bottom line:  Freeze now to save later.  It’s simple to do.  Do away with your frozen processed foods to make room for … fill your freezer with frozen vegetables, fruit, meat and poultry,  and eat well all winter!

As for grains, they can be kept in a cool, dry, dark container and cupboard.  Make sure the air has been removed from these container… use plastic bags, roll them tight and seal them.

Hey, if you want to can food, be my guest.  I find it challenging and prefer the ease of freezing.

You can beat rising prices if you act now.  Yes, I have to practice what I preach to save money, too.

… for the health of our families,
ellen

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Olympic Breakfast for Kids

Recipe,BreakfastBananaSplit

I was looking to see what Olympians eat for breakfast… no not cheeseburgers.  They know the science of  eating for performance.   Their breakfast food depends on the time of day they are competing.  Let’s say they are up at 6pm and their race is at Noon.  This would call for great grain carb sources and some fruit for energy, not a lot of protein.  The staple for most is oatmeal – better to have cooked rolled or steal cut oats.  Along with this I recommend our recently Kid Kritics Approved Breakfast Banana Split.  You simply cut a banana in half.  Spread some vanilla yogurt over the halves. Top it with freshly cut strawberries, pineapple and some blueberries.  Place a dollop of some vanilla yogurt over the fruit.  Sprinkle ground nuts of choice on top (or not if you have nut allergies in your home).  Serve.  This combination, with oatmeal lightly sweetened with 100% pure maple syrup or fair trade honey, prepares your kids for hours of  high performance.  FYI: all fresh produce contain some protein  – a little of a lot adds up.  Of course, include a tall glass of spring water.

Enjoy this Olympic Power Breakfast!  (Recipe details Click Here)

… for the health of your family,
ellen

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DISCLOSURE: Once a product passes ingredient standards evaluation followed by a blind Kid Kritics taste test, a company can opt-in to the Kid Kritics Approved marketing program. Though monetary compensation for marketing is involved, this does not affect the nutrition evaluation or taste test results.