It’s time to think Summer Camps already!

It's only March, but if you have school age kids you are already thinking about Summer plans! Most camps start their registration around this time of year. My kids are just now old enough to start participating in some of the camps at our local YMCA. We are super excited since they usually get so bored staying at home all summer. When visiting with the camp coordinator my first question, to their surprise, was not about their activities, number of kids, sports, art or even qualification of their counselours, (don't get me wrong, I did want to know those things too!) my first question was about their lunch and snacks. 

Fortunately my children do not have food allergies or intolerances, but we do avoid several foods because of their artificial added sugars, food colorings and sometimes their packaging as well. Therefore, choosing a camp that will allow us to pack a lunch, or has a food program that aligns with our belief in healthier eating and avoiding junk foods is very important. 

Packing our lunches for camp is just like packing for school, so I'm pretty used to that! But when I heard of a few camps that accomodate food allergies and intolerances while promoting healthy eating I was so excited. I will for sure be searching for those around my area. What a great way to combine the fun of camp while not having to compromise their health in the process. Have your children participated in camps with healthier lunches, no junk foods or modified menu selections? Share with us the camps you recommend!

Our friends at Rudi's Bakery love summer camp too! And this year are helping 20 kids go to camp, all you have to do is enter here and you are in to win one of their sponsorships for a gluten-free camp: Desktop: http://shout.lt/q1v2 Mobile: http://shout.lt/q1v3

And don't forget to enter this weeks sweepstakes for a whole case of Zatar Chips from Flamous Brands here: http://bit.ly/YSfW9E  They are a great snack to add to your camper's lunch box!

… for the health of your family,

Carolina

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Newly Kid Kritics Approved RW Garcia Chips!

Everyone loves a salty snack now and then, right?  Kids like to find that crunchy snack in their lunch boxes.  Adults enjoy munching on something salty during the big game or at parties.  I know our family does!  The problem is, so many popular salty snacks are filled with junk – MSG, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, and other additives.  Plus, they can contain upwards of 200 mg sodium per serving.  And who knows if they are made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.  I don’t want to serve that kind of snack to my family or guests. 

rw-garcia-mixtbag-chipsIn steps RW Garcia.  Their philosophy?  “Great tasting can be good for you.”  And they mean it.  RW Garcia makes organic and 100% natural snack foods.  As a Registered Dietitian, I like that this company is committed to sourcing top quality ingredients.  Their MixtBag Tortilla Chips are Non GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten Free, and made with simple, all-natural ingredients.  And the sodium content is much lower than most with 50-80 mg per serving.  The Kid Kritics team approved of the MixtBag ingredients and the Kid Kritics themselves loved the taste and crunchy texture. 

Intrigued about the name MixtBag?  In each Mixtbag you get not just one, but two varieties of tortilla chip!  There are three different Mixtbags.  First is the Yellow & Blue Corn MixtBag made with, you guessed it, stone ground yellow and blue corn!  Next comes their Red & Yellow Mixtbag made with yellow and white corn.  Beet powder gives the red chips their color (and some added phytonutrients).  Finally, the Sweet & Spicy Salsa MixtBag is bursting with flavor and spices. 

The Kid Kritics raved about all 3 in the blind taste test.  Here are a few of their commentes, “Yummy in my tummy … Extraordinary … Tastes like chips you eat with Nachos … I would take these on a vacation … I will take them to the movies … They were superb … scrumptious!”  It’s true, they do taste great on their own, but you can also pair them up with veggies and a healthy dip such as salsa, guacamole, hummus, black bean dip, spinach dip, or even lima bean dip!  Find these recipes and more on KidKritics.com! (click here for recipes)

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

… for the health of your family,

Jaimie Proctor, MS, RD

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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Clean Eating – Turkey Burgers! Recipes and ideas on how to dress yours up.

As a family we love to barbecue, but my favorite part is that my husband takes over the prepping and cooking and I get to sit back and relax. To make his life easier without sacrificing flavor and quality we searched for a good turkey burger that is ready to grill.

The problem with most of the turkey burgers available is the fillers. I don’t want hydrolyzed corn or soy protein, water, MSG or any other “junk” in my burger.  When grilling for the family or a party you may have to accommodate for food allergies or intolerances and kids may prefer a different seasoning than parents.  So we needed a simple, wholesome turkey meat burger.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShelton’s Turkey Burgers fit the list! Their free-range and antibiotic free turkey meat makes up 100% of their burgers, no additives, no fillers – also making them gluten free.  That’s the epitome of clean eating!   As a Registered Dietitian I love that Shelton’s leaves out the salt so you can season the burgers as you wish – perfect for those on a low sodium diet.  And, as a mom of two young children, I also love that their turkeys are free-range and never given antibiotics or artificial growth stimulants.  (see product label here)

These turkey burgers are conveniently packaged and can go straight to the grill or skillet without thawing.  They cook evenly and fit on a regular sized bun perfectly.  When preparing it on the grill we wait until it’s almost cooked all the way before adding a slice of cheese, which melts to perfection.  My husband likes to spice his up by sprinkling a little chili powder on both sides before placing it on the grill. For my kids I like to add a little onion and garlic powder for flavor while adding some extra nutrients.sheltons chick dont do drugs

When we served these burgers to our Kid Kritics taste panel the result was an overwhelming praise that included a lot of: “Yummy,” “I want my mom to get some,” “Delicious and so tasty.”  They collectively awarded it the Kid Kritics Seal of Approval without question!

Taking it one step further, we sent Shelton’s Turkey Burgers to our Healthier Recipe Mom group who loved the product and sent us back some delicious recipes they created using them. (see recipes here)italian turkey burgers

We are so proud to have our Kid Kritics Approved seal behind products from a company like Shelton’s Premium Poultry. These are ones we can buy for our family and recommend to yours with confidence because their free-range turkeys “don’t do drugs!”  Shelton’s is a family-owned business in the clearest sense.  All of the ownership and upper management are made up of one family, the third generation Flanagans. I have had the pleasure of meeting them and they are just as amazing in person as they are described. It is so nice to know the people making our food are sincere, honest and driven by passion!  They are committed to raising happy, healthy free range turkeys … for the health of their family and yours.

~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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Fabulous NO SUGAR ADDED Applesauce Recipe that take minutes!

I wish I could remember where I found this recipe on the web.  Thank you to the person who shared/created this fabulous applesauce.  I am calling it:

Pink Cinnamon Applesauce

8-10 cooking apples
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract

Wash, core and quarter apples.  Put in pot.  Add rest of ingredients.  Simmer until soft.  Stir occasionally.  Serve chunky with skins (good source of  nutrients) , or, strain until smooth.

TIPS: If it appears to be a bit dry when first cooking, add a little more orange juice. 

When serving it one evening, I topped it with a few fresh raspberries – was out of this world delicious!  What berries would you put on top of this applesauce?

… for the health of your family,
ellen

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Fresh Apples. There’s a bazillion ways to eat them.

   

Fresh Apples are everywhere!  Organic ones are easy to find.  You may be in the enviable position of having an apple orchard near you so you can take you family to pick your own.  Or, at least go to local market. While in season, stock up.  My two young apple trees were not very productive this year.  I'll have to give them an organic fertilizer boost to improve their harvest next year. 

I love apples.  Every afternoon I bite into a crisp apple to satisfy my desire for sweet and give myself an energy upper. And, its natural fluoride helps keep my teeth clean and healthy!

Apples are delicious!  Serve them raw for mouth watering fresh bites, dehydrate or freeze them with a little lemon juice for winter use, make applesauce, pies, tarts and crisps, use them as toppings on pancakes or waffles, put chunks or shavings into salads, fill or coat acorn or other squashes with an apple mix, and cook them with meats.  Healthier Recipe Mom, Shonda, created this Apple & Veggie Stix Stuffed Chicken scrumptious meal. The Kid Kritics were amazing that their chicken was so moist and had a touch of sweet. They loved, loved, loved it!  Your family will too. Try it!

… for the health of families,
ellen

 

 

 

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The truth about School lunches

There is an improved awareness in the school systems that healthier foods need to be on their menus.  Chef Carlino, who serves school lunches, reminded me of the obstacles in front of decision makers.  So before you go storming in and demand better food for your kids, take a look at what these obstacles are; then make your move.

1. Food DIstributor's make deals with food companies.  Food companies are known to off load their over-runs or soon to be out of date products to school lunch 
    distributors for pennies on the dollar.  This fits the school's food budget.

2. Contracts with food distributors and food companies are made for multiple years.  In order to change the planned orders, these contracts have to be broken at
    a price, or, they have to run their coarse. 

3  Cafe managers and workers need to be educated about healthier products and menus.

Chef Carlino suggested that parents "create a demand, not a protest."  In other words, offer constructive practical solutions without being negative or angry.  A group of parents has more power than a single one so work together.  Talk to principal, supervisors, cafe managers in a helpful mode.   

Number One way to change the system – don't use it.  If most of the kids brought their own lunches to school, the school lunch program would fail – it could not survive.  Then the school would need redesign their school lunch program. You could be right there to help them!

Chef Carlino offers more helpful and delicious school lunch ideas in our interview with himClick HERE. to listen.

… for the health of your family,
ellen

 

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Look at what I brought home with me!

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A RECIPE to die for!  I call it the Pineapple Mint Refresher. Why, because one sip of this ice cold drink and you'll feel the fresh mint rush.  During a really hot summer in Jerusalem, we walked into the Aroma cafe where coffee is their specialty.  Since I have never like the taste of coffee, not even mocha, my eyes searched for an alternative and spotted a green drink.  It turned out to be a combination of lemon juice with mint and ice cubes pulverized in a blender.  Think they may have added some honey as a sweetener.  It was out of this world delicious!  For the rest of the days we were there, I order a glass full.  When I returned home in the states, I decided that since I wasn't sure of the exact lemon recipe, I would make my own using 100% pineapple juice.  It was sensational! Ever since, I have made one everyday for my afternoon pick-me-up. 

The key that makes this cooling drink a stand out is the use of a blender to grind fresh mint leaves in a 100% fruit juice along with some ice cubes.  My proportions are 1 cup of 100% pineapple juice (not from a can), 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves and a handful of ice cubes.  That's it! CLICK HERE for RECIPE details

For this photo, I realized I had run out of pineapple juice so I pulverized fresh pineapple with water.  Then added the mint leaves and ice.  The more mint leaves you use, the greener it is… here the green has yet to settle.  The more mint leaves your use, the fresher the uplifting taste! 

Now I will admit that after I took this photo, I noticed I had a couple of strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.  So, I threw them into the blender and now I have a purple/pink mint drink.  There is hardly a fresh fruit that can't be enhanced by fresh mint.  Try it!

Where do you buy fresh mint?  You can find it in a grocery store in packets or as a plant.  Since it grows like a weed, I recommend buying a plant of two, put them into larger pots either directly into the ground or on your balcony.  Now this drink becomes really inexpensive.

By the way, refreshing has a double meaning here.  Mint and pineapple are both full of nutrients, antioxidants and even anti-inflammatory properties. Serve it to you whole family this summer.  Once you have made this – just takes minutes – I'll best you also will be hooked – that's a good thing!

… for the health of your family,
ellen

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Where have I been?

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Traveling to celebrate our 25th anniversary! Yes, I have been traveling a lot mostly for pleasure though when I am around food, I am always working… and I was around lots of great food. While touring Israel, I was surrounded by fields and valleys filled with banana, date, olive, pomegranate, peach, nectarine, plum, nut, and citrus trees. Rows of lettuces, herbs, corn, beets, beans, garlic… you name it, were abundant. Grain fields had just been harvested. This country knows how to make every inch of the earth and every drop or water count to produce food!

Consequently we ate fruit and vegetables for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner! Tons of mouth-watering alkaline food. Hummus was a daily side at dinner. Cheese and meat were also fresh and delicious but less was served so less we ate. Fresh fish was more often offered as a main entree so we enjoyed some. As a result, we never felt or slept better! In Spain, we continued to enjoy fresh produce with each meal. The portions were small and yet we felt full thanks to their fiber based delicious dishes, especially tapas!

By the time we arrived back in the states, we were hooked on the benefits of eating more alkaline and less acid-based foods. We no longer have meat everyday. More beans please! We crave lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Now we go to the market more frequently to buy what we don't have growing in our little garden and pots. Our food bill is lower and as is our weight. We actually lost pounds on our trips and are determined to keep them off. We invite you to do the same. We invite you to fill you meals with colorful fruits and vegetables. Kids living around the Mediterranean eat these foods; serve them to yours!

… for the health of your family,
ellen

P.S. I asked if Israel has an overweight or obesity problem with children.  The answer was,  "No."  What I witnessed confirms this. 

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4th of July Hot Dog Bun Sub Recipe

Recipe,HotDog Sub 004  RED KK logo JPEG

If you are not a hot dog fan but love the buns, make this recipe!  "Amazing… Best in the whole entire universe…I taste a bunch of flavors floating in my mouth… Thought it was a delicious masterpiece… Crunchy bacon with soft bread – it was a great combination… I just loved it!"  The plus of a hot dog bun is its size… not too big, not too small – just right for kids.  You may want to warm it on a grill for a few minutes… take a look CLICK HERE

                              KidKriticEatingHotDogBunSub  KidKriticEatingHotDogBunSub,Boy

… for the health of your family,
ellen

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Recipe. Egg Salad Kids Love!

Egg salad 004 RED KK logo JPEG

Trick to making egg salad… chop everything finely, especially the hard boiled eggs. Make it a bit mushy.  We spread it between two rice crackers.  The kids couldn't get enough!  "More,  seconds, PLEASEEEEEE…. I like it a lot… Yes, I loved it – it is a crunchy delight… It was Egg-squisite!"  The added taste touch of Parmesan cheese steps this up to the rank of a favorite food.  What a great way to get you kids to eat eggs, the perfect brain food!  CLICK HERE for RECIPE

        KidKriticsCooking,EggSalad   KidKriticsEggSaladKidsLove

Invite your kids to help you make it.  Bet half  is gone before you serve it.

… 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.