Friday Favorites # 3

friday favorites

Hi friends! How has your week been? Getting this published was a struggle, but I’m back for round 3 of Friday Favorites. Enjoy!

Good Reads

Mom, Thank You For Never Talking About Your Weight (Or Mine) If you have little ones, this is a must read! Even if you don’t, read it! I  feel so thankful to my Mom for not talking about her weight or dieting when my siblings and I were growing up. She may have embarrassed us by exercising to Sir Mix A-lot every morning or wearing short tennis skirts to pick us up at school, but the F-word was not a problem!

Why you shouldn’t be too concerned if your doctor tells you you’re fat. BMI is BS, So How Do You Know if You Are Really Healthy? Oh P.S. did you notice the correct use of “your’s” above ^^

Sometimes, failing is good for us. I Failed at Whole 30, And I Couldn’t be Happier. 

Struggling with what to pack for your child (or yourself) for lunch? I came across this great list when a client requested school lunch ideas. 50 School Lunch Ideas (Healthy and Easy). 

Good Recipes

Chunky Guacamole

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White Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie. 

smoot

Heart Beets for Valentine’s Day

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The Best Ever Falafels

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Mini Coconut Cream Tarts with Salted Chocolate

tart

Feel Good Friday (Happy News!)

30 Powerful Photos of Love From Around the World. Number 7, so heart warming.

It may have been shared a few times already, but as a former gymnast I can’t let you miss out on this awesome floor routine from  Sophia DeJesus. 

Happy Friday Everyone!! What are your plans for this long weekend? I’m excited for a very special two year old birthday party!

Milk, it does a body good. Or does it?

milkDo you drink milk? I do sometimes, but I’m beginning to have second thoughts about it. Growing up my mom was always concerned we weren’t getting enough calcium. Although she never made us drink milk she did encourage us to finish the milk in our cereal bowls. I always did, my sister didn’t, I thought surely she was doomed for a life of weak bones. Being a vegetarian for most of my life I’ve always felt that milk was a good source of protein for me because I wasn’t eating other animal products.  I usually try to get 1-2 servings of either milk, yogurt, or cheese per day.

For years the government nutrition recommendations have included three servings of milk or dairy foods per day. These recommendations are based on the fact that the recommended intake of calcium is approximately 1000 mg and a 1 cup serving of milk has 333 mg of calcium, or approximately one third. That logic is a little bit silly because there are many other foods that have calcium besides dairy. Some of those foods include dark green vegetables, almonds, beans, oranges, tofu, and salmon.

Non-dairy calcium rich foods
Non-dairy calcium rich foods

A couple weeks ago there was a study published in the British Medical Journal that showed Swedish women with high milk consumption (3-4 glasses per day) actually had a higher risk of bone fractures than women with lower milk consumption. How can it be? Milk builds strong bones! That is the message that has been drilled into our heads by the Got Milk Campaign. Interestingly, high milk intake was also correlated with overall increased mortality risk in both men and women. Strange. The study is just an observational study so it can not prove causation, but it does make you think twice. As any good scientist would, I scrutinized the study searching for “lurking variables” (I think my statistics teacher is proud right now). One possibility is that the women who have a family history of osteoporosis or bone fractures drank extra milk in an effort to prevent fractures. Obviously, it didn’t work. One last interesting thing about this study is that the increased risk of death and fractures was only seen with milk consumption, NOT yogurt and cheese. The researchers think it may have something to do with galactose, but it is just a theory at this point. If you to know more about galactose, let me know!

Aside from this new study, there are a few other hesitations I have with milk. For one, approximately 65% of  adults are lactose-intolerant. It does not make sense for us to drink something that makes us bloated and crampy, when we can drink water and have no side effects at all. I think this alone is pretty good evidence that milk is for babies and small children.  Lactose intolerance in babies is actually quite rare. Babies produce larger amounts of the enzyme that helps break down lactose, as we age we lose that ability. Second, Mama’s milk is the perfect food for babies and cow’s milk is the perfect food for cow babies  humans? Hmm, I don’t think so… It just doesn’t add up people! Those freaking milk marketers are really good! Finally, Harvard School of Public Health recommends drinking water instead of milk. I really like the Myplate that Harvard makes as opposed to our government’s “Healthy Eating Plate.” Perhaps the government should loosen its ties with the dairy farmers just a bit…

Heather’s Milk Recommendations

  • Only drink milk if you really love it and keep it to 1-2 servings per day
  • If your kids are drinking milk at school offer them water at home
  • Yogurt and cheese are ok, but I recommend no more than 1 serving of each per day
  • Go organic if you can afford it
  • Don’t be afraid of other calcium sources: soy and almond milk, leafy greens, tofu and beans!

5 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Halloween

I love Halloween. Last night we had our annual Halloween party and it was a blast. The night was filled with costumes, catching up with old friends, and good food. You know what it was not filled with, candy. There was not one piece of candy present and I don’t think there was one guest that minded. Yes, you can have a fun Halloween party without candy! I’m not against candy. However, we all know that Halloween night will bring plenty of treats for the lil’ ones and there is no reason to pre-load the kids all week long before the main event. Here are some tips for how to enjoy a healthier Halloween!

1. Make vegetable art! Check out this awesome eggplant owl and bell pepper monster. Crudite is awesome, and it always gets gobbled up in our house. For a healthier dip try mixing half low-fat sour cream and half plain non-fat Greek yogurt with a ranch or onion seasoning packet. vegetable art2. Get Fruity. Sliced apples and caramel dip, always a hit around Halloween time! Or, try making these adorable ghost bananas! The kids will go bananas for them! (hehe).

banana ghost
Who doesn’t love chocolate and bananas? These ghosts do look like they have been through a bit of a war, but they look great from far away!

3. Pack in the Protein. Make spooky deviled eggs. Pop a sliced green olive in the middle and bam, you have eyes, or make spiders with black olives. Another delicious protein packed treat-pumpkin seeds! After all that hard work that goes into carving a pumpkin, you definitely don’t want to throw away those seeds. Season them with salt and pepper or go sweet with cinnamon and a pinch of sugar!

4. Get Moving! All I have to say about this is please do NOT be that mother driving her children from house to house on Halloween night to go trick or treating. So unnecessary, and so silly! Part of the fun of Halloween is roaming the streets at night with or without your parents, but NOT in the car. No no no!

5. Moderation is Key. Don’t restrict yourself or your children from candy. This can sometimes lead to an increased desire for the food that is off limits. If you know you have a hard time not overeating candy, try buying the candy last minute or purchase a type of candy that you don’t really like. Try playing the “switch witch” with your kids, after they have eaten their fair share of candy. If you are interested in more tips for a healthy Halloween check out this great article by fellow RD Sally.

Happy Halloween from the PSL and the Sushi Roll!

Pumpkin spice latte halloween costume

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Is pizza healthy? Can I lose weight and still eat pizza? How often can I eat pizza? I get these questions all the time. Americans (at least Simi Valleyians) love them some pizza. The answers depends on many factors, primarily: what kind of pizza are you eating and how many slices? I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. To me, moderation would probably mean once a week or less. This is the one rule I have for pizza. If you eat pizza, you eat salad (or some type of green vegetable). This does not mean forcing your child to eat vegetables. It simply means making a salad to go with the pizza or just ordering one from the delivery man.

pizza
Cookin’ with my munchkin!

Now that we have established that pizza can fit into a healthy diet, lets talk about this pizza. Yes, It does have candied nuts and pears and yes, it is amazing! I’m really really excited about this pizza because I no longer have to pay $13.99 at California Pizza Kitchen to get my beloved Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza. Sounds super weird but this is a must try! I think I may even like my version better than theirs. Take that CPK!  It’s funny, because I don’t even like Gorgonzola cheese. When I get it at CPK I ask for light Gorgonzola because it is just too pungent for me. You could also try subbing the Gorgonzola for feta or goat cheese!

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one slice, who am I kidding?

I used Trader Joe’s refrigerated pizza dough for this pizza and it worked great! You can probably use any good quality pizza dough you like though. This pizza is amazingly simple to make, despite having quite a complex and deep flavor profile. I actually had dinner ready early tonight, score! Here’s a helpful tip, if you are also feeding little kids, just buy some pizza sauce and also make a more traditional cheese or pepperoni pizza. Although, I do think it’s best to expose kids to all different types of foods and not be a short order cook. P1160066 P1160064 P1160068 P1160074 Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Ingredients- one 12″ pizza

  • TJ’s pizza dough (whole wheat or white)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter (optional)
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 thinly sliced pear
  • 1/2 sliced onion (caramelized)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (enough to fully cover pizza)
  • 2 TBSP Gorgonzola crumbles
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped candied pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F
  2. Let pizza dough come to room temperature and stretch out to a 12″ pizza round. Place on oiled baking sheet or pizza stone.
  3. Brush top of pizza with olive oil
  4. Put balsamic vinegar and sugar in sauce pan. Turn on medium heat, add thinly sliced pears and cook for 2-3 mins. Make sure you get a good sizzle. Put pears to side
  5. Add 1 TBSP olive oil and butter to sauce pan. Cook onions until translucent and caramelized
  6. Place pears and onions on pizza. Cover with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake pizza for 8 mins. Remove from oven, add Gorgonzola and chopped pecans
  8. Return to oven and cook for 2 more minutes
  9. Serve pizza with mixed greens and favorite Ranch or balsamic dressing. Feel free to add extra cheese, nuts or pears to your salad!

Cooked or Raw: What is Best?

Do vegetables lose nutrients when they are cooked? This is a question I get all the time. My initial answer is no, but it really depends. It depends on several factors: including how they are cooked, how long they are cooked for, and what vegetable it is. For example, some vegetables which have water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and B-complex vitamins) can be destroyed or decreased during the cooking process. Other vegetables which contain fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) are retained during the cooking process. Some foods which contain carotenoids or lycopene (orange vegetables and tomatoes) actually become healthier during the cooking process because the heat breaks down the cell wall and allows the nutrients in the plant to become more bioavailable and easier to absorb by our bodies.veg

So which foods should you be cooking and which foods are best raw? Carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers supply more antioxidants to the body when they are cooked rather than raw. Cooking in the form of steaming, roasting or boiling is recommended. Frying is a source of free radicals which are not good for your health. Lycopene is another nutrient that is better absorbed from food after it is cooked. Lycopene is found in tomatoes and other rosy colored fruits and vegetables. High intake of lycopene has been linked to a lower risk of some cancers and heart disease.

Asparagus is most nutritious cooked!
Asparagus is most nutritious cooked!

As for foods which are best eaten raw, those would be the foods high in Vitamin C. Many of these foods are citrus fruits, so one would naturally consume fruit without cooking it. Certain veggies that are better raw include broccoli, beets (which are a great source of folate which is in the B-complex family), and onions (although they taste so much better grilled). Tomatoes do lose some of their vitamin C when cooked, so I recommend enjoying them both raw and cooked.

Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli is reduced during cooking
Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli is reduced during cooking

Fruits and vegetables should be enjoyed daily in both the raw and cooked forms. Now you have the knowledge to optimize your nutrient intake. The bottom line when it comes to eating vegetables is not exactly how they are prepared but that they are consumed on a regular basis. The recommendations for most adults are approximately 3 cups of vegetables per day and 2 cups of fruit per day. By choosing cooked asparagus and raw broccoli you can make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.

What fruits and veggies do you plan on eating this weekend? Do you prefer cooked or raw?

Kale and Brown Rice Salad

This post is inspired by the Hearty Veggie and Brown Rice Salad Bowl from Starbucks. Have you had it? It’s amazing! It’s extremely nutritious, very tasty, and it leaves you feeling satisfied for less than 500 calories! It’s filled with dark green vegetables (something everyone could use more of), whole grains from the brown rice, and healthy fats in the dressing. If you have to grab a quick lunch I highly recommend this salad bowl! It is much healthier than fast food or a sugar and fat laden pastry. One salad has over 100% of your daily value of vitamin A and C. It is also a good source of iron at 25% of your daily needs. I really enjoy this salad because you can eat the whole thing (including the dressing) and know that you’re nourishing your body well and eating something delicious!

In an effort to not give all of my life savings to Starbucks I decided to create my own version. I modified it just a bit from the original based on the ingredients that I had available, but it is very similar and pretty darn tasty! This salad is a bit more labor intensive than your standard salad greens, but it is worth it. One of the many good things about kale is that it holds up well in storage, as opposed to lettuce which will turn brown and wilt very quickly. I suggest making this salad for company or storing in the fridge and packing it for lunch. Your coworkers will be amazed at your healthy lunch!

The dressing Starbucks uses is really good. I looked at the ingredients and I’m still not sure how it gets that bright orange color. I tried to recreate the dressing as best I could, it’s not exactly the same, but it is very tasty! If you are not into making your own dressing I suggest using Trader Joe’s Goddess dressing or just drizzling some olive oil and fresh lemon juice on your salad.
Please try out this recipe! Or, if you are feeling lazy, just go order one from Starbucks! You will not be disappointed!

P.S. Starbucks is not sponsoring me, I just happen to really love this salad! (However, if the Starbucks CEO is reading this I wouldn’t mind if you threw some money my way ☺)

Kale salad
It is very important to massage the kale! I find it helps relieve stress…

kale and butternut squash salad

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mixed kale salad

Salad Ingredients
1 bag chopped kale
1 C cubed butternut or Kabocha squash
1 C broccoli florets
3/4 C brown rice
1/2 C sliced tomatoes
1/2 C sliced beets

Dressing Ingredients
4 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 tsp honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP tahini

Directions
1. Cook butternut squash in oven for 30 minutes at 350. Dice into cubes. If you bought a whole squash you need to find your sharpest chef’s knife and whack into that baby.
2. Cook brown rice according to package directions (or buy precooked for easy prep)
3. Chop kale into smaller pieces. Massage with a drizzling of olive oil and lemon juice. The kale should turn a darker color.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well
5. For the dressing combine all ingredients in a small bowl and beat with a fork. (Note- tahini is very hard to find in a normal grocery store and can be omitted if you desire, TJ’s does carry it though)

If You Are Good You Can Have a Cookie

“If you are good you can have a cookie.” These words seem harmless enough, right? Wrong! Rewarding children with food is a common practice which can have short and long term negative health consequences. For example, if you go grocery shopping before dinner and you reward your child with a candy bar for behaving well at the store, it may lead to your child not wanting to eat much of his dinner (short term consequence). More importantly than the one missed meal, is the connection that the child makes between the food and behavior. “If I’m good, I get to eat my favorite sweet foods.” This teaches your child to eat for emotional reasons rather than his physiological hunger. Children are actually very good at regulating their appetite by listening to their natural hunger and fullness cues. However, when children are taught to eat for emotional reasons, these natural cues are overridden and it may lead to a lifetime of overeating and emotional eating.

candy-and-kid
Similarly, food should NEVER be used as a punishment. Sending your child to bed without dinner is totally unacceptable and may create a cycle of overeating. Studies show that when children and adults are not sure when they will get their next meal they are likely to overeat. Children living in food insecure households are more likely to be obese than children who are food secure. Another example of using food as a punishment, is telling a child they can only have dessert if they eat their broccoli (or other vegetable). Research shows that this practice leads to the child becoming less interested in eating the healthy food (broccoli) and the sweet food becomes even more desirable to the child. This is the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. Asking a child to eat broccoli in order to get dessert, may work in the short term. However, the real goal is for the child to eat broccoli because he likes it, not because he has to in order to receive a “reward.”

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I am not against rewarding children for good behavior, going to the potty, good grades, etc. I am against rewarding children (and adults) with food. For little children there are endless substitutions that are just as easy and almost as cheap as candy-stickers, crayons, temporary tattoos, bubbles, all make great non-food rewards. This is a simple substitution that you can start right now if your child is usually rewarded with food. Sometimes, an even better reward is just giving your child verbal praise or doing an activity with them. Activities such as going to the park, playing a game, or reading a book together take a bit more effort but they are worth it in the end.
What types of rewards work for your family? Do you remember being rewarded with a lollipop after getting a shot at the doctor?