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.
This is an excerpt from our recent Veggie Tales "The League of Incredible Vegetables" radio show. Jaimie Proctor, R.D., our Nutrition and Education Manager wrote it. Thought is was so good, decided to share her words of wisdom with you. If you want to listen to the whole interview with Larry the Cucumber (hilarious!) and Veggie Tales founder, Mike Nawrocki, please listen Tuesday 9am EST on W4WN radio. Or, look for Family Food Experts radio on iTunes.
CUCUMBER: (Larryboy aka Larry the Cucumber)
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘cool as a cucumber’ Well, cucumbers could have the super hero ability to stay cool under pressure. They truly have a cool and refreshing taste – try adding a few slices to your drinking water or blending some with honeydew melon and you’ll see what I mean. Their high water content plus the electrolytes they contain, make them great for hydration and also for your heart and muscles. Cucumbers also provide vitamin C and silicon important for healthy skin and strong nails and bones.
TOMATOES: (Thingamabob aka Bob the Tomato)
Next are lightning fast tomatoes! Their speed comes from potassium, a mineral needed for muscle contraction. Of course, when you move really fast your heart rate and breathing rate also increase. The lycopene in tomatoes acts as an antioxidant to protect your heart and lungs. And in case you didn’t know, the lycopene content of tomatoes actually increases when tomatoes are cooked!
ASPARAGUS: (Ricochet aka Junior Asparagus)
The next Super Hero veggie is asparagus, which has the power to create a protective shield like a force field. This shield is made of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, which protect the body from free-radical damage. And asparagus also contains glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful antioxidant defenders. In fact, glutathione can help get rid of toxins that may have slipped through that protective shield.
RHUBARB: (Vogue aka Petunia Rhubarb)
Rhubarb has the power of disguise. If you have ever tasted raw rhubarb then you know it is quite tart! That’s why it is often combined with fruit such as strawberries and cooked into sauces or pies. With a little sweetness from fruit and some added fruit juice or sugar, you may just think rhubarb is a fruit!
SQUASH: (S-CAPE aka Mister Lunt, a guord)
There are so many kinds of squash. Winter squash varieties such as butternut or acorn squash are very popular this time of year. And you may not know this, but they have super night vision (without any special goggles!) You can tell by their deep yellow and orange colors that they are some of the best sources of alpha- and beta-carotene, which our bodies turn into active vitamin A. Vitamin A is very important for vision, especially at night or in low light situations. And winter squash are also a good source of protective vitamin C.
BROCCOLI: Super power: Bones of steel. Broccoli ounce for ounce has as much calcium as milk! Plus broccoli supplies a number of minerals important for bone health such as magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. The vitamin C in broccoli is needed to form collagen, a component of bone (and connective tissue).
BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Super power: they are smart and have super fast reflexes. They contain choline and folate important for development of the brain and nervous system. And they are also a good source of B vitamins, copper, manganese, and potassium needed for nerve signaling.
PEAS: Super power: super strength. They supply iron and B vitamins for blood supply and delivering oxygen to muscles. And they also contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium needed for muscle contraction.
SPINACH & Dark leafy greens: Dark leafy greens are packed FULL of nutrients and could probably have all of the super powers listed above. But they could also have x-ray vision and a heightened sense of smell and hearing. Their high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin protect your eyes, especially the retina, by absorbing certain types of light. These carotenoids are also associated with a lower risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Dark leafy greens are also a great source of B vitamins, manganese, and copper for a healthy nervous system – to send signals from the eyes, ears, and nose to the brain. And all of the antioxidants in dark leafy greens protect the ears, nose, and nerves from damage due to free radicals.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- 4 small (6-inch) whole grain pitas
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
Place pitas on cookie sheet or pizza stone. Brush each with 1/2 tsp oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Place in oven for about 10 minutes or until golden and starting to crisp. Remove from oven.
BASE PIZZA TOPPING
– 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (reduced sodium)
– 1/2 tsp dried oregano
– 1/2 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
Divide spinach, sauce, and oregano evenly among pitas. Spider Pizza: on 3 pitas sprinkle first with spinach and oregano, then sauce. Frankenstein Pizza: add sauce first then oregano and spinach in a rectangular shape (the green will show through the cheese).
SPIDER TOPPING DECOR
– 1 block Cabot Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
- Black olives
Lengthwise, cut off a little less than 1/4 the cheese. Slice into long thin strips for the spider web. (Shred the rest in a food processor ).
Slice a black olive in half lengthwise for the spider's body and use small olive slices for legs.
FRANKENSTEIN TOPPING DECOR
- Black olives
- Green olives
- Red bell pepper
- Green bell pepper
- Small fresh mozzarella balls
Add shredded cheese in a rectangular shape for frankenstein's face and outline with green bell pepper. Decorate face as pictured using the "decor " items. Or , create you own version
Jack O'Lantern: Sprinkle cheese evenly over another pita and decorate with black olives for jack o'lantern face. Add red bell pepper outline and green bell
Ghost: Sprinkle cheese in the shape of a ghost over another pita. Add black olive halves for eyes and a large olive half for mouth.
COOKING PIZZAS: Place in the oven about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and pizzas are hot. Serve immediately.
Options: Hand grate the cheese if you don't have a food processor. Use other veggies for toppings such as eggplant for the ghost's mouth, mushrooms for the bolts in Frankenstein's neck, etc… Get creative using uncured turkey pepperoni or sausage for decorating. Let your kids decorate! (Though you'll have to do the chopping unless they cut shapes out using small cookie cutters.) Make all of one kind of of pizza. If you are pressed for time, the ghost and jack o'lantern are easier to make.
Halloween can be a sweet time without the sugar-high side affect. Trick or Treating seems to be on the wain. Parties seem to be replacing that tradition. Too bad, 'cause when I was young, we walked wherever we wanted unsupervised. Tons of fun. No more for understandable reasons… the world has changed.
When your kids are collecting bags of candy as part of the Halloween tradition, there are ways to manage the consumption. After it arrives back home, make a rule: one piece a day for snacks, not for dinner dessert nor in lunch boxes. It takes a long time to go through 7 pieces – two weeks to eat 14 pieces. Eventually it gets old, losing not only importance in your children's minds, but also in taste. Let it go stale in the back of a high cupboard.
The way to manage sugar cravings is to give your children protein. So when they say, I need a piece of candy, first ask them to have some nuts/seeds, cheese, yogurt, piece of chicken, piece of cheese pizza…any food with protein. Often they lose interest in the candy – their bodies will be well satiated.
In fact, if you want to avoid a sugar high when having some sugar, eat protein. Fiber-filled protein takes helps manage insulin rushes. Thus, give them a piece of cheese before you give them a piece of candy.
Lastly, have a Halloween party and serve cracker, chip, fruit, high-fiber low-sugar snack foods – decorated! There are so many creative ways to use real foods in a fun way. Check out these Ghost Banana Pops by Carolina. Listen to this week's Family Food Experts radio show, W4WN, Wed. 6pm ET: "Guilt-Free Halloween Treats." You'll get great take-away ideas from co-host Tracee (Real Food Moms) and guest Monica Clem (Wholesome Sweeteners).
And, we party on Tuesdays. 2pm ET, #famfoodexperts. This week, same subject with more ideas pouring from many moms!
Will you please join us?
… for the health of families,
Recovering from exploring hundreds of food booths at Expo East for three days… lots of new products. One was a Greek Yogurt "ice cream" bar. Another, Chocolate Greens by Barleans (see photo). Oh, you want to know who is in this photo? Part of our Family Food Experts Network team, Kathy and Lauren (Nutrition Babes), Tracee (Real Food Moms), and Molly, our business manager. The guy is Andreas, head of marketing for Barlean's. I'm taking the photo.
The BIG trend was non-GMO foods. Prop 37 will be voted on in CA requiring food companies to identify their products as GMO or non-GMO. This will have a huge rippling affect on food production because it will impact consumer buying decisions. Research is now confirming what we all suspected, GMO (genetically modified organisms) food is related to health problems. Google it to learn more. Bottom line, it is best to eat non-GMO foods.
OR, you can listen to our internet radio show this Wed. 6pm eastern on W4WN (Women for Women) radio. With Dr. Heather Manley and food expert, Kimberly Stewart, we discuss this GMO issue. Learn the truth by listening.
… for the health of families,
The large eastern Natural Products trade show is in Baltimore this week. I will be there with our team to search for new food products that will meet our healthier ingredient standards for Kid Kritics to taste test. As you know, at least 70% of the kids have to give positive results for them to award a product their seal of approval. Then, odds are, you kids will like them too.
You may be surprised to learn that there are many "natural" products that fail our ingredient qualifications. And, there are many that meet our standards but do not taste good. In our eyes, many are not family nor kid friendly. We won't tell you about them.
Between now and next Sunday, I will have walked my feet off trying hundreds of foods. The challenge is to keep my weight off at the same time. I am wiser thanks to years of doing this. I won't try anything that sends and red flag signals. A sweet has to be REALLY worth it before I will try it… same for chips… there are hundreds of them.
Next Sunday I will let you know my top picks from this food show!
In the meantime, if you have any products to suggest, please let me know (ellen@KidKritics.com)
… for the health of your family,
PARTY WITH ME: Tuesday, 2pm eastern, #FamFoodExperts. We'll be talking about School Night Dinners!
Research continues to point out how the sweetener Fructose negatively impacts your brain… as well as your children's. Please read this report by Dr. Mercola,
September 2, 2012 – Issue 2206
Too Much Sugar Makes You Stupid!
The rats fed fructose syrup showed significant impairment in their cognitive abilities—they struggled to remember their way out of the maze. They were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier.
Additionally, the fructose-fed rats showed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar and synaptic function in your brain.
Because insulin is able to pass through your blood-brain barrier, it can trigger neurological processes that are important for learning and memory. Consuming large amounts of fructose may block insulin's ability to regulate how your brain cells store and use sugar for the energy needed to fuel thoughts and emotions. The average American consumes roughly 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture2.
Researchers concluded that a high fructose diet harms your brain, as well as the rest of your body. But there is even more to this story.
A second group of rats was given omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), in addition to the high fructose diet. After six weeks, this group of rats was able to navigate the maze better and faster than the rats in the non-DHA group.
The researchers concluded that DHA is protective against fructose's harmful effects on the brain. DHA is essential for synaptic function—it helps your brain cells transmit signals to one another, which is the mechanism that makes learning and memory possible. Your body can't produce enough DHA, so it must be supplemented through your diet.
YOUR CHOICE IS either to cut out all sweeteners, artificial included, use a little cane sugar for occasional treats, and take DHA supplements – fish oils! OR, go down the road of destruction, ignore conclusive research, eat lots of sweet junk food, including "candy cereals" and be stupid.
I think you are smart enough to follow choice one.
… for the health of your family,
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 freeze. This 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,
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,
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,
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
… for the health of your family,