Archive for November, 2010

Happy Day-After Thanksgiving! For those of you who are wondering what to do with all of the food left from your holiday meal, fret no more. This month’s “Dinner Bar” recipe showcases all of the delicious morsels that you have put so much hard work into…..again. Why eat cold turkey when you can have a warm grilled sandwich with new and exciting flavors? And who looks forward to plain reheated veggies? Bring them back to life by transforming them into fun and colorful confetti to decorate your plate with. There is a veritable cornucopia of possibilities waiting in your refrigerator. To turn your boring leftovers into unbelievable “planned-overs,” you will need:


* Leftover Turkey

* Pecans, chopped


* Whole wheat flatbread


* Mixed greens, in a bag

* Baby spinach leaves, in a bag

* Leftover Green beans

* Leftover Carrots

* Leftover Corn

* Red onion, sliced

* Pumpkin pie mix, 14 oz. can


* Jellied cranberries, canned

* Craisins


* Fat-free cream cheese

* 2 c. skim milk (for pudding)

* Fat-free frozen whipped topping

Unsaturated Fats:

* Extra virgin olive oil

* Vinaigrette dressing, bottled


* Cheesecake-flavored instant pudding mix

First, make the cheesecake pudding using skim milk according to package directions. Add the canned pumpkin mix to taste (somewhere between ½ and ¾ of the can). Place in refrigerator to chill. Take whipped topping out of freezer to thaw. Chop pecans.

Next, get out all the leftover turkey and veggies from your refrigerator. Pick at least three vegetables for the salad. The firmness of raw, steamed, or roasted foods is best. I chose my family favorites, but any will do. Just remember, this is where the “confetti” part comes in, so pick lots of fun colors if possible. If cooked, reheat in the microwave. Dice each vegetable into small squares or circles and place into separate bowls. Thinly slice the red onion. Cut the flatbread rounds in half.

Open the jellied cranberries, craisins, cream cheese, vinaigrette dressing, and lettuce and spinach bags. Prepare a small cup of olive oil for the pan or press.

Place all the bowls and plates containing each item on your bar, and invite your family to make their own perfect Paninis, confetti-covered salads, and spiced pumpkin dessert. Remember, the Dinner Bar is all about allowing children the freedom to choose what and how much to eat. All of the items, in any combination, are fair game.

If you have a Panini press, now would be the time to use it. If not, a griddle pan with a lid or regular frying pan with a foil-covered brick for weight will also do the trick. Heat the pan and use a basting brush to lightly coat it, and the bread, with olive oil. This will keep you from using more than the desired amount of oil for cooking. Cook each Panini until heated through and golden brown on the outside, about 1-2 minutes. You should be able to do at least 2 at a time. Serve and enjoy!

I spread cream cheese and jellied cranberries on my bread, and added spinach and onions to the turkey. Then sprinkled the veggie-confetti on my salad greens. A dollup of whipped cream and a sprinkling of pecans were the perfect touch to a pumpkin-flavored pudding. Yum!

Contributing Author: Cami Ruark


Read Full Post »

Snacking is a normal and necessary, if not unavoidable, part of any child’s day.  Whether you are a fellow foodie, a concerned consumer, a proactive parent, or just a health happy nutrition nut, our new series is right up your alley.  “Consumer Corner” is not only an objective review of new and existing products geared toward children, but also an interesting and enlightening account of how products are made and what constitutes them.  The purpose is not to promote or demote any brand or type of food, but instead to give you the tools you need to make your own informed decisions about food purchases.  (Think of us as Switzerland!)  We hope it will take some of the guesswork out of grocery shopping on your life-long journey of healthy eating.

Popchips, Inc. was founded in California in 2007.  What are Popchips?  They are a new innovation in snack chips.  They are not baked, they are not fried, they are…..wait for it…..popped!  It happens using a little heat and pressure on pieces of potato the size of grains of rice or corn kernels.  (This simply couldn’t happen with the bigger slices of traditional chips)

Nutrition Facts: (1 oz./20 chips)

  • Calories- 120
  • Total Fat- 4g
  • Saturated Fat- 0 to 0.5g
  • Trans Fat- 0g
  • Sodium- 250 to 310mg

What’s In?

  • All-natural
  • Blend of seasonings
  • Safflower and/or sunflower oil for seasoning 
  • A little more sodium than traditional fried chips
  • Vegan- original, sea salt & vinegar, and salt & pepper only
  • Allergens:
    • Nuts- none
    • Dairy- Barbeque, Sour Cream & Onion, and Cheddar only
    • Gluten/Wheat- not an ingredient, but present in the processing facility
    • Soy lecithin- Parmesan Garlic only
  • Kosher (certified by kof-k kosher supervision)
  • Acrylamide (found in all fried, baked, and roasted products)

What’s Out?

  • Not Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Half the total fat of fried chips
  • Zero grams trans fat
  • Low saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
  • No hydrogenated oils
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • No preservatives (this makes proper storage more important to freshness)
  • No MSG
  • Low in sugar

What are the Options?

  • Original potato
  • Barbeque potato
  • Sour Cream & Onion potato
  • Cheddar potato
  • Sea Salt & Vinegar potato
  • Salt & Pepper potato
  • Parmesan Garlic potato

Where are they found? Whole Foods, Safeway, Target, Wegman’s, Jamba Juice, and select Costco locations. You can also order them online.

My opinion, for what it’s worth: I tried the Barbeque and Cheddar flavors.  To me, the taste was similar to traditional fried potato chips of the same flavor, but without the greasy mess.  There is also an airy quality to the crunch.

If you would like to try them yourself, or just want more information, visit www.popchips.com.  Happy snacking!

*This is not an endorsement of any particular product–just an FYI (for your information).  If there are products that you would like us to review, please let us know by leaving a comment.  Or tell us about the products in “Consumer Corner” that you have tried.  In fact, feel free to comment on anything you would like!

Contributing Author:  Cami Ruark

Read Full Post »

Chocolate milk can confuse parents…is it good or is it bad for kids?  Given all the publicity around sugar-laden drinks, high fructose corn syrup and obesity, offering chocolate milk to your child can be a confusing prospect!  I will attempt to weigh the pros and cons of chocolate milk in a child’s diet, and in the end, I hope you will have enough information to take the fear out of offering chocolate milk, or confirm the feelings you have.

Chocolate milk is widely accepted by children. It is considered a flavored milk and the addition of chocolate adds sugar, calories, and a boost of sweet flavor.  Many children enjoy the addition of chocolate milk to their lunch, and the school lunch program has been scrutinized for making this beverage part of the daily fare for children.

Pros of Chocolate Milk:

Nutrient Composition: Chocolate milk has an abundance of necessary nutrients that children require for healthy growth and development, including protein, calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium. Unfortunately, we are blinded by sugar!  Many parents hear “chocolate” and think SUGAR and these thoughts may override any common sense with regard to the important nutrients present in chocolate milk.  Parents, consider the weight of the matter–the good nutrients outweigh the sugar.

Taste: Chocolate milk tastes good!  Children like to eat food that tastes good, and that holds true in the case of drinking milk.  Studies have indicated that milk conumption is higher in schools when chocolate milk (or flavored milk) is offered.

Sports nutrition: Chocolate milk has been studied as a post-exercise recovery drink, and from all indicators, chocolate milk has a positive impact on muscle recovery, and replenishment of glycogen stores in muscle tissue.  From soccer players to cyclists, it appears that chocolate milk, when consumed after prolonged  exercise, has positive effects on the body’s ability to recover.  Parents of athletes take note:  8-10 oz of chocolate milk appears to do the trick.

Cons of Chocolate Milk:

Overconsumption: It is true with ANYTHING we eat–too much is too much, and this goes for chocolate milk also.  Too much of a good thing can be bad for your child.  As with anything we eat, reasonable amounts count. Chocolate milk can be part of a healthy and satisfying diet for your child. Aim for three servings of dairy per day, and be conscious of the recommendations for sugar (less than 10% of total caloric intake).

For You To Decide:

Schools: Many schools have eliminated chocolate milk.  Is this the right thing to do?  I am not sure…I am a moderate, so I can see limiting the number of days it is served, and assuring that the type of chocolate milk is a low fat version…but a complete ban?  When chocolate milk is pulled out of schools, overall milk consumption drops by an average of 35%.  Studies suggest that this occurs because fewer students choose milk (clearly their preference was chocolate/flavored over white), and more milk was wasted.  And unfortunately over time, a new and improved acceptance of white milk simply did not occur.

Shortfall Nutrients: The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that calcium and Vitamin D continue to be shortfall nutrients (nutrients with inadequate intake) for children.  And a review of calcium intake and status in children indicate that up to 50% of children as young as 2 years are not getting enough calcium.  While the optimist (and dietitian) in me knows that children can get calcium from other sources, the realist in me is saying, “But children don’t choose those foods, many parents don’t serve them, so they aren’t getting enough”.

Here’s how I approach chocolate milk with my own children:

I aim for 3 servings of milk/dairy per day.  I don’t purchase chocolate milk for my home.  If they choose it at school, that’s fine with me, as that will be the only place they will get it (and our school serves low-fat chocolate milk).  I choose to be neutral in my tone, manner and attitude, despite the drastic and emphatic beliefs around me.

To villify and eliminate chocolate milk would mean that I would have to be consistent across the board, and eliminate and villify the flavored coffee that I occasionally drink, the birthday cakes that I serve, the Thanksgiving pie in which I indulge, and the “fun food” (high fat, high sugar treats and junky food) that I provide to my children.  As I see it, making chocolate milk the “bad guy” gets us stuck in the muck, and it becomes difficult to classify and navigate the other foods in our less than perfect diets.  But of course, I like nearly all foods, and want my kids to be open-minded and like them also.

To me, it’s less about chocolate milk, and more about the balance, variety, and amounts of all the foods we serve our children.  Let us be better at teaching our children about choice, variety, balance, and amounts, rather than spending time and energy instilling fear and confusion about chocolate milk.  Time well spent, in my humble, dietitian’s opinion.

Read Full Post »

My sister, Karen, has always been a wonderful cook.  Not the gourmet, fashionable kind of cook, but the down-home, practical, family-style cook with which I grew up.  Her meals are always tasty and simple.

Karen has always been devoted to cooking for her family and she makes the effort regularly.

There was a time when I thought she was a little compulsive about her dinner meal. She would begin preparing dinner at 3 pm— this was the routine everyday.  It was a time when I was not working and at home with four very young children and she was doing the same with three children. The difference between us:  I thought I had all the time in the world to prepare dinners and she was always preparing to be prepared.  Her devotion to family meals impresses me to this day!  She is also a wonderful entertainer and mother.

Last night I made her turkey chili (actually I started it at 1 pm–see, I have learned some good tips from her!), which is a delicious, essentially fat-free turkey and bean chili.  Paired with cornbread and toppings, it’s a big family pleaser.  Warning:  it is chock-full of protein and fiber, so a little bit goes a long way.  Don’t make the mistake I did and have seconds…you’ll be feeling it for awhile.

You will need:

1# ground turkey

1 large onion, chopped

Pinto beans, 15 oz can, drained and rinsed

Corn, 8 1/2 oz can, low sodium; drain & rinse

Tomato sauce, 15 oz

Diced tomato, 14 1/2 oz

Diced tomato with green chile (Rotelle), 10 oz

Chili powder, 1 Tbsp

Cumin, 1 tsp

Garlic powder, 1/2 tsp

salt, 1/2 tsp

Brown the ground turkey in a non-stick skillet.  Chop the onion; drain, and rinse the corn and beans. Add all the ingredients to the crockpot and stir.

Cook on high heat for 4 hours.  Serves 8.

We love it, and we love Karen!  Let me know how you like it…I’ll be sure to share some of Karen’s other yummy, simple, family-style recipes in the future.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: