Easter is the second biggest holiday for candy sales in the United States after Halloween. Kids will expect a basket full of candy and while it’s fine to indulge every once in a while, the Easter Bunny may want to consider swapping out some of the sugar and artificial coloring for non-food items. Here are a few ideas that can help:
It’s cheap, delicious, and kids and adults both love it. Peanut butter is a quick and easy way to get some protein and make other foods more exciting. Consider trying the “natural” varieties of peanut butter, as they don’t have the added sugar and oils that others do. Here are 5 reasons we like peanut butter:
For some time, activated charcoal has only been used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses. Now, however, it can be purchased over-the-counter in many different forms and is gaining in popularity due to its various absorption properties. Here’s what you need to know about activated charcoal:
•Scientific research on its over-the-counter uses is still very new and somewhat limited.
•It’s not the same stuff you use in your grill at barbecues or what you get if you burn dinner.
•Creating activated charcoal involves heating carbon-rich materials such as wood, coconut husks, or peat to extremely high temperatures.
•This heating is what makes the charcoal “activated” as it removes previously bonded molecules and makes it ready to absorb new ones.
•It can be purchased as capsules or powder and can even be found in toothpaste.
•Kidney health is one of its uses. Animal studies have shown that activated charcoal helps filter out undigested toxins and improve renal function.
•Excessive gas is another area activated charcoal can help. It’s thought that gasses trapped in the intestines can be carried out of the body in the charcoal and animal studies back this up.
•Charcoal and carbon has been used in water filtration for quite some time as a means to absorb and trap toxins.
•Teeth whitening and oral health is another area activated charcoal is being used. It’s thought to have antibacterial and detoxifying properties, but research in this area is still very limited.
•Skin care and deodorant uses are popular as the charcoal draws in and absorbs toxins, odors, and moisture.
We all know vegetables are part of a healthy diet, but did you know the way they’re prepared can affect just how healthy they are? It depends on the vegetable, but some cooking methods can cause nutrient loss.
•As a general rule, it’s best to keep cooking time, amount of water used, and temperature to a minimum when cooking vegetables - that’s why steaming is one of the best methods for retaining nutrients.
•Boiling often causes vitamins and minerals to be leached out into the water, that you’ll then pour down the sink as you drain the pot unless you’re making a soup.
•Cooking vegetables by any method causes the nutrients to change and the impact varies depending on the vegetable. Carrots notably keep their nutrients whether raw or cooked. Also, studies found carrots and potatoes weren’t nutritionally affected much whether they were boiled or steamed.
•Steaming was found to result in the best taste, texture, and flavor of vegetables in blind taste tests.
•When in doubt, go for cooking vegetables using a steaming basket over a pot of boiling water or microwaving in a covered dish with a small amount of water.
•Regardless of the prep method, getting vegetables on your plate and in your body is the most important thing!
Along with brushing and flossing, your nutrition can play a big role in the health of your mouth. A balanced diet that’s full of variety will help increase your overall health as well as the health of your teeth and gums. Here are a few key things to look out for that can help support your healthy smile:
•Calcium for strong teeth and bones - Rich sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, and tofu.
•Phosphorous for strong teeth - It can be found in eggs, fish, lean meats, dairy, beans, and nuts.
•Vitamin C for healthy gums - Tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, peppers, and potatoes are all great sources of this vitamin.
•Snacking - Keep in mind that every time you eat, you are bringing on acids to your teeth so you want to minimize the severity as much as you can when it happens. Choosing healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt, raw veggies, or popcorn over sugary snacks will help keep your teeth and whole body in better shape.
•Sticky/Chewy Candy - The stickier a candy is, the worse it is on your teeth. Extra chewy or sticky candy like taffy or caramels will hang around on and in between your teeth for long periods of time after you’re done eating them. This gives bacteria plenty of time to turn those sugars into acids that can harm tooth enamel and cause cavities.
•Sour Candy - Candy that is both chewy and highly acid, such as extra sour candy, is a double-whammy on your teeth. Sour candy is high in citric acid, which delivers its own blast of harm on your teeth in combination with the sticky sugars left behind.
•Soda - If you need another reason to stop drinking sodas, think of your teeth. They take enough hits throughout the day from eating, the last thing you want to do is increase the time they’re exposed to acid and sugar even more. Drinking soda throughout the day keeps your teeth constantly bathed in sugar that can have harmful effects.
When it comes to frozen desserts, you have lots of choices and some are better than others. Frozen yogurt is becoming increasingly popular, so let’s take a quick look at how a ½ cup serving of vanilla bean ice cream (listed first) compares to the same serving of vanilla bean frozen yogurt:
•Calories 🍦150 🍨100
•Total Fat 🍦9g 🍨2.5g
•Sat Fat 🍦5g 🍨1.5g
•Cholesterol 🍦50mg 🍨20mg
•Sodium 🍦45mg 🍨55mg
•Carbohydrates 🍦16g 🍨19g
•Sugars 🍦15g 🍨16g
•Protein 🍦3g 🍨4g
•Vitamin A 🍦6% 🍨2%
•Calcium 🍦10% 🍨15%
To sum it all up, frozen yogurt comes out ahead in calories, fat, cholesterol, and calcium. Ice cream wins when it comes to sodium, carbs, sugar, and Vitamin A. Keep in mind there are many different varieties of ice cream and frozen yogurt with varying nutrition, but it’s definitely something worth comparing next time you’re in the freezer aisle.
If you’ve gone gluten-free due to Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity, or just personal preference that doesn’t mean you have to give up pasta. There are lots of different varieties of gluten-free pastas available now that include ingredients such as rice, soba/buckwheat, quinoa, and corn. Today we’re taking a look at how a popular brand (Barilla) of 2oz whole grain spaghetti noodles compare to the gluten-free variety.
• Calories - WG wins by 10
• Potassium - WG wins by 4%
• Carbs - WG wins by 2%
• Fiber - WG wins by 18%
• Protein - WG wins by 4g
• Calcium - WG wins by 2%
• Iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, manganese were all absent from the gluten-free pasta
So summing it all up, some categories were close but Barilla gluten-free pasta is quite a bit lower in fiber, a little lower in protein, and doesn’t contain minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese. That being said, it’s still a good alternative that will let you enjoy pasta dishes even if you’ve gone gluten-free. Like we mentioned before, there are lots of other varieties of gluten-free pasta available too and their nutrition varies. The example we looked at used corn and rice ingredients. A quick fix for the fiber and protein could be adding black beans or chickpeas to your dish or on the side.
When it comes to food, every choice you make matters and eating healthier can be as easy as switching up your usual choices. Here are some quick food swaps that can help to reduce calories and increase overall nutrition:
•Greek yogurt instead of regular/low fat - you can almost double the protein by going Greek
•Wheat pasta instead of white - higher in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants
•Mustard instead of mayo - this simple swap could save you 90 calories
•Whole fruit instead of fruit juice - fruit juice may have vitamins, but it’s higher in sugar and doesn’t provide you with fiber like eating whole, fresh fruits
•Tuna in water instead of tuna in oil - saves 30 calories but just as much protein
•Popcorn instead of chips - air-popped popcorn has less calories and also more fiber per serving than potato chips
•Thin crust instead of hand-tossed - switching to thin crust on a small Domino’s pizza can save you 330 calories
Earlier this week, we looked at what vitamins and minerals are needed for a child and teen to maximize their peak bone mass. The other critical aspect of building bone health at a young age is exercise. Here are some quick tips related to that:
+Weight-bearing exercise stimulates bones and makes them grow stronger.
+Some of the best exercises a kid can do for their bones are running, dancing, gymnastics, climbing, hiking, tennis, basketball, skateboarding, volleyball, soccer, and weight training.
+Activities such as swimming and biking are good cardio, but don’t do much for strengthening bones since they aren’t weight-bearing.
So we’ve looked at the things kids and teens SHOULD do to help build bones that will last a lifetime, now let’s take a look at things that interfere with bone development that they need to avoid:
-smoking and drinking
-excessive dieting and eating disorders (these can cause hormonal imbalances)
-absent or missed periods
-Corticosteroids (typically for asthma) and anticonvulsant medications, if possible
We usually think of bone mass issues as something that affects older people. While that’s usually true, the time to “invest” in bone health is when you’re young in order to avoid future issues. Children build 40% of their bone mass between the ages of 9-14 and reach 90% of their peak bone mass by age 18 for boys and 20 for girls. The younger years are critical! Here are the main nutrients to look for to build strong bones:
•Calcium - Great sources of calcium are dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, figs, and calcium-fortified foods such as cereals.
•Vitamin D - While you can absorb Vitamin D from the sun, it usually doesn’t provide you with enough, and can have harmful effects on your body. Foods that can help are egg yolks, salmon, and tuna as well as fortified foods such as orange juice and milk.
•Magnesium - For this mineral, think avocados, peanut butter, black beans, spinach, and almonds.
•Vitamin K - You can find lots of this vitamin in leafy greens such as kale, cabbage, spinach, and broccoli. Peas and green beans are also good sources.
As you can see, a healthy diet plays a huge part in a child’s bone health. Check back later this week as we look at other ways to boost bone health even further and things to avoid that may harm their growth.