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Archive for February, 2011


This Dinner Bar features a quick stress-free meal that will be fun for the whole family.  If you have never tried a pizzadilla, you are in for a treat!  As its name suggests, it is simply a marriage of pizza and quesadilla which is especially easy to make and delicious.  Merging these two ordinary items creates an enticing vegetable-packed supper your kids will be begging for again and again.

You will need:

Protein:

  • Turkey pepperoni slices
  • Roasted shredded chicken (optional)

Grains:

  • Burrito-size (10-inch) whole wheat tortillas (1 per person)

Vegetables:

  • Jarred marinara sauce
  • Chopped green pepper
  • Sliced mushrooms (no salt added, canned or fresh)
  • Chopped onions

Fruits:

  • Sliced apple
  • Sliced banana
  • Sliced strawberries

Dairy:

  • Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup skim milk

Fats:

  • (See others)

Others:

  • 1/2 can Sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 oz. Dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • Olive oil or non-stick cooking spray
  • Wood skewers or popsicle sticks

How to prepare the fruit:

Slice desired amount of apple, banana and strawberries.  Purchase sliced apples in a bag, or use an apple slicer for quick cutting.  Arrange sliced fruit on a large plate or in separate bowls and set out alongside wood skewers or popsicle sticks.  Use the skewers to spear the fruit and dip!

Tip:  Any leftover fruit can be combined to create a fruit salad that can be enjoyed later.

How to prepare the chocolate fondue: (adapted from www.lifemojo.com )

Break chocolate squares into small pieces and drop in a medium sized bowl and set aside.  Combine skim milk and condensed milk in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove the mixture from heat and pour it over the chocolate. Once the chocolate has melted, whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the vanilla extract.  Pour the chocolate in a fondue pot if you have one.  If not, pour into a microwave-safe bowl.

Tip:  Reheat the sauce in the microwave if it becomes too thick.

How to make pizzadillas:

Place a tortilla on a large plate or cutting board and spread with a thin layer of marinara sauce.  Add a thin layer of cheese on half of the tortilla.  Layer chosen pizza toppings on top of the cheese.  Top off with another thin layer of cheese and fold the tortilla in half.  Brush the top of the tortilla with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray) and invert onto a non-stick skillet on low heat or a Panini grill with the sprayed side down.  Brush the other side of the tortilla with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray).  If using a non-stick skillet, flip the pizzadilla when the cheese is melted and the bottom is crisp.  Once the other side is crisp, remove from the pan.  Slice the finished product with a pizza cutter.  Place remaining marinara sauce in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave.  Pour marinara sauce in small bowls or ramekins  and use for dipping.

Tip:  Wrap any leftover pizzadillas and pack in lunches for the following day!

Enjoy!

Contributing Author: Katherine Fowler, MS, RD

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As a working mother, I am always trying to streamline and work faster in the kitchen, while keeping food quality and taste a top priority.  And to be honest, while I like to cook, I often find the joy of cooking lost during the work week. To my delight, I acquired four new gadgets over the holidays that have brought the joy back into my kitchen! Perhaps one of these will bring you happiness and good food to your family too.

Bodum Chambord (The Original French Press)

I love my morning coffee! And often I am a single-parent not wanting to go through the process of making a pot of coffee (at least not while I am waking children, making breakfast and packing lunches). This Bodum Chambord has been a quick and delicious alternative, allowing me to make one or two mugs of coffee at a time. I was doubly-delighted when I figured out I could use my hot water spigot instead of boiling a tea kettle of water! Recently, my husband and I decided that our new french press made the best cup of coffee we’ve ever made at home. Starbucks ground coffee helps. Now who doesn’t want a good cup of coffee fast?

Cuisinart 7-Quart Dutch Oven

This was a gift to myself this year. I have always wanted a dutch oven (for many years), but was too intimidated by the high price. One day while passing through TJMaxx, I spotted this dutch oven, at a very reasonable price.  I scooped it up, and haven’t looked back.  My only regret is that I didn’t purchase one sooner.

KitchenAid Auto Lift 4-Slice Toaster

I received this Christmas gift from a family member and frequent house-guest. He (my dad) was probably as frustrated with my old toaster as I was! To me, toasters are a tough purchase.  I have bought many: they typically under-perform or they break. This toaster, though, has been working great for our family.  There are no levers to jam, and getting the right ‘toast’ is easy and accurate.  Everyone has been pleased over and over by the performance of this toaster–and when the family is happy, I am happy.

Breville Smart Grill

Another holiday gift, this cooking gadget has truly made dinner faster and healthier. I am wowed by the ease and quality of this product. I have grilled fish, shrimp, beef, chicken, veggies and paninis in record time. Adding to its efficiency, is the easy clean-up–the griddles can be removed and tossed into the dishwasher. I, like you, am interested in fast and convenient, and this product hits the nail on the head.

What products help you get through the week?

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In a culture plagued with weight problems and thin idealism, it’s no wonder kids are asking their parents, “Do you think I’m fat?” In fact, according to a 2008 Canadian survey, 37% of ninth grade girls and 40% of tenth grade girls believed they were, in fact, too fat.

Many parents are blind-sided with this question and are left stumped into silence or heading to Google, the doctor, or a friend for advice. According to Laura Newton, a psychotherapist and eating disorder specialist in Nashville, TN, the timing of this question is an important factor in deciding how to respond. “If this is the first time this question has come up, tell them they look fantastic, and make sure to stay away from using words like ‘big’ or ‘small’, ‘thin’ or ‘heavy’,” states Newton. If this is not the first time this question has been asked, then this is a real concern that needs your time and attention. “Sit down with your child and have a conversation, beginning with, “you have asked me this question a couple of times—what’s this about?” advises Newton.

Newton states that kids get these questions from a variety of influences, including their own parents, peers, and the media. Coming up with a thoughtful and meaningful response depends upon the influence your child is concerned about.

The Parent: Without even knowing it, parents pass on their own body image and weight concerns to their children. “If you find yourself asking, “Do I look good?” or “Do I look fat in these jeans?” to your hubby or other family members, you may want to temper those questions in front of the kids,” says Newton.  Rather, Newton suggests parents consider using this mantra for themselves and their family, “Enjoy your own body, as if your body is more than a clothes hanger. Revel in the beauty of a functioning body, which is the vehicle that will take you where you want to go in life.”

The Peers: Children surround themselves with their friends and find themselves in situations where body comparisons come naturally, such as the gym and the locker room. And particularly during pre-adolescence, the child has a developmental urge to find out if they are normal. “Answering the question, “Am I normal?” is developmentally on target and relies, in part, on looking at others and comparing oneself with others,” states Newton.

The Media: The ‘thin is in’ ideal makes its mark on children, too. And when you combine media power with a general desire to fit in, it’s easy to see how questions about self-worth and inadequacy can surface.

So what can parents do?

Most importantly, your child needs to hear that you accept and love them regardless of what they look like. No matter what. Period.

Here are some other things Newton encourages parents to keep in mind:

Respect and Honor your own body, no matter what the size or shape it is—it is your body after all…and the body that produced your child, and takes you where you want to go.

Tolerate normal child growth.  Pre-pubescent girls and boys gain weight in preparation for the rapid growth of the teen years—this is a normal process.

Focus on your child’s inner qualities. Begin pointing out inner qualities as early as possible, to help build self-esteem and worthiness.

Limit media influences. Think twice about buying that fashion magazine for your 11 year old and be sure to scrutinize the TV shows your child is watching.

Attitude is everything! Everybody has value, no matter what it looks like.

When your child asks “Do you think I’m fat?”, she is asking you to discuss your values and ideals about body weight, shape and size. He is also giving you the option to debunk media messages, thin idealism, show your acceptance and assure love. Seems like a golden opportunity to me.

Have you had this question? If so, how did you respond?

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This is the last installment of our eating disorder series by guest blogger, Katherine Fowler, and we are ending with prevention.  Next week we will feature a post on the question many parents get asked, but don’t know how to answer.  Join us for an expert perspective on how to handle the tough question–Do You Think I’m Fat?  For now, read on for what you can do to keep your child in a healthy state of mind and body.

Part 2 of this series discussed the warning signs of eating disorders and what to do if you witness them.  This segment will focus on primary prevention, or what you as a parent can do to stop the occurrence of eating disorders before they begin.

Studies have shown that eating disorders do run in families.  Even if you do everything you can to control your child’s environment, he or she still has a chance of developing an eating disorder. So what is a parent to do? It’s impossible to control all the influences outside of your door, but your actions can have an impact.

DO:

  • Encourage positive body image.  Be a model of healthy self-esteem.
  • Become a critical viewer of the media.
  • Choose to talk about yourself with respect and appreciation.
  • Choose to tell your child you love him/her for what is inside, not because of how he/she looks.
  • Have a neutral view about all foods.
  • Allow your child to determine when he/she is full.
  • Emphasize positive aspects of healthy eating rather than effects of unhealthy eating.

DON’T:

  • Make negative comments about your own or others’ weight.
  • Label foods as “good” and “bad”.
  • Use food for rewards or punishments.
  • Follow fad diets or encourage your child to diet.
  • Focus on the calorie content and grams of fat or sugar in foods.
  • Restrict sweets and high calorie foods from your child.
  • Make your child clean their plate if they are full.

There are 3 major things you need to remember:

  1. What you say sticks. You definitely don’t want your comments about food, eating, body weight, shape, or size to affect your child’s self-esteem.
  2. Your feeding style is important.  An authoritative feeding/parenting style is associated with preventing childhood obesity and eating disorders and has a “love with limits” approach.  What type of feeder are you, and is it having a positive or negative impact on your child?
  3. Family meals matter.  Regular family meals are associated with preventing disordered eating and promote healthier body weight, less behavioral problems, and better grades in school.

To reap the benefits of family meals:

  • Make mealtime peaceful. Save arguments, TV, and phone calls for another time.
  • Make mealtime fun! Involve kids in planning meals, shopping, and cooking.
  • Offer balanced meals. To create balance, serve nutrient dense foods like lean meat, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in larger quantities and serve less nutrient dense foods like high fat dairy and processed grains in smaller amounts. Offer fried foods and sweets less often.

You have a number of chances to interact with your child each day.  Each is an opportunity for you to promote a confident eater that has a healthy relationship with food.  You can make a difference!

Contributing Author: Katherine Fowler, MS, RD, LDN

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