Wednesday, December 24, 2008

With the holidays here, many of us are enjoying the season, anticipating the beginning of something new! Let's start 2009 off with a bang! Pledge with me to recycle as much as you can this year, AND try to use as many recycled products as you can. I've been using Marcal paper products for quite some time and I have to admit, I feel really good about supporting a company that cares about the environment. Their recycling efforts save enormous quantities of Earth's resources every day, including 6,000 trees, 2 million gallons of water, 140,000 gallons of oil, 30,000 cubic feet of landfill space, and 22,000 pounds of pollution. HMM? You never realize just how powerful your buying power is!

It's nice to know that the baby steps we take every day, really DO add up to big environmental changes--for the better.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tips for Healthier Snacking-Kid Style

In my constant quest to find after school snacks, I came up with a few ways that might help you, too!

Give your kids a say. Offer comparable choices, such as regular or frozen yogurt, celery or carrots, whole-grain toast or whole grain crackers, apples or oranges. Better yet, recruit your children's help at the grocery store when you're selecting snacks or in the kitchen when you're assembling snacks.

Designate a snacking zone. Restrict snacking to the kitchen. You'll save your children countless calories from mindless munching in front of the TV.

Make it quick. If your children need to snack on the go, think beyond a bag of potato chips. Offer a handful of almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds, string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars or other drip-free items.

Don't be fooled by labeling gimmicks. Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Check nutrition labels to find out the whole story.

Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks - such as whole grain pretzels or tortillas and low-sugar, whole-grain cereals can give your children energy with some staying power. I find that Kashi cereals are a super source of fiber and protein!

Out of sight, out of mind. If the cookie jar is full, your children will probably clamor for cookies. But if there is fresh fruit or raw veggies instead, these may seem more appealing. Try putting some fruit in a beautiful bowl in the center of the table for better "grabbing".

Play with your food. Ask your children to make towers out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit. Use a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter as glue.

Think outside the box. Offer something new, such as fresh pineapple, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, or roasted soy nuts. Slice a whole-wheat pita and serve with hummus.

Mix and Match. Serve baby carrots or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing. Dip graham cracker sticks or fresh fruit in fat-free yogurt. Top celery, apples or bananas with peanut butter.

Revisit breakfast. Many breakfast foods - such as low-sugar, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain toast make great afternoon snacks. Again, Kashi is a good choice!

Use the freezer. Mix mashed bananas and peanut butter, spread between graham crackers and freeze. For a new twist on old time favorites, freeze grapes or peeled bananas, or fill an ice cube tray with juice or pudding.

Have fun. Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of low-fat cheese slices, whole-grain bread or tortillas. Eat diced fruit with chopsticks. give snacks funny names. try the classic "ants on a log" celery topped with peanut butter and raisins or make up your own.

Sweeten it up. Healthy snacks don't need to be bland. To satisfy your child's sweet tooth, offer frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars.

Pull out the blender. Use skim milk, fat-free yogurt, ground up flax seeds, a dash of flax oil and fresh fruit to make your own smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to "hide" the good stuff.

Promote independence. Make it easy for older children to help themselves. Keep a selection of ready to eat veggies in the refrigerator. Leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Store low-sugar, whole-grain cereal in an easily accessible cabinet, and stock fruit packaged in its own juice.

Remember your leftovers. A small serving of last night's casserole might make a great snack.

Drinks count too. Offer your children plenty of water between meals. Liven it up with shaped ice cubes, a crazy straw or a squirt of lemon, cranberry or other fruit juice.

Keep it safe. Make sure your childrens snacks are age appropriate. Never give foods that pose a choking hazard such as nuts, raisins, whole grapes or popcorn to children younger than age 4.

Practice what you preach. Let your children catch you munching raw vegetables or snacking on a bowl of grapes.

Be patient. Your childrens snacking habits may not change overnight. Look for positive changes over weeks or months.

Happy Snacking!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pass on the Ketchup

It's no surprise that ketchup is found in 97 out of every 100 American homes… and each of us eats about three bottles a year. Four tablespoons of ketchup have the nutritional value of a whole ripe, medium tomato. That's the good news!

The not so good news: most popular brands of ketchup contain unwanted chemical additives. The same holds true for many mustard and relish brands.

Because of this, I'm encouraging everyone to READ LABELS!!

Many people unwittingly choose these condiments, not realizing the hidden dangers "in the bottle". Rather than canning the condiments, make an educated effort to choose the brands that are chemical-free. It will get you one step closer to preventing chronic disease.

According to,

The Good News: Condiments can be nutritional powerhouses. Ketchup is loaded with cancer-fighting lycopene; mustard seeds contain plentiful amounts of healing phytonutrients; and relish is a probiotic that improves your immune system by restoring beneficial bacteria!

The Bad News: Most brand name condiments contain junk ingredients – these harmful additives often outweigh or negate the health benefits!

Here are some of the not-so-healthy imposters:

Seeing is believing, so take a look at these well-known varieties.
NOTE: I’ve bolded the chemical additives so that you can easily spot them.

Hunt's Ketchup
(Serving size 1 tbsp, 15 calories, 180mg sodium, 0g sugar)

Ingredients: Tomato Concentrate Made from Vine Ripened Tomatoes, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Onion Powder, Natural Flavors, Garlic Powder.

Grey Poupon Mustard Savory Honey
(Serving Size 1 tsp, 10 calories, 5mg sodium, 0g sugar)

Ingredients: Mustard Seed, Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Honey, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid, Spice, Sugar, Turmeric, Caramel Color, Paprika.

Vlasic Relish Sweet
(serving size 1 tbsp, 15 calories, 140mg sodium, 4g sugar)

Ingredients: Cucumbers, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Dehydrated Peppers, Alum, Natural Flavors, Polysorbate 80 And Yellow 5.

The Big Three condiments are founded on all-natural ingredients like tomatoes, mustard seeds and pickles. When you see all kinds of chemical additives you can be certain these varieties have been highly processed. This means most of the nutrition has been replaced by cheap chemical taste-a-likes needed to boost flavor.

Bypass the regular condiment aisle and go directly to the “healthy food” section of your local grocery store. This is where most of the healthy brands hang out. (Note: Mustard is the exception. You’ll find the healthy brands in both the regular and healthy food sections.)

Look for the all-natural organic varieties. They may cost a few more pennies but the health benefits make them priceless. Our kids are the major consumers of ketchup, mustard and relish; buying the healthier brands curbs their intake of food additives!
Avoid label claims like “reduced sugar,” “low sugar,” or “low carb!” These are often code words for added artificial sweeteners.
Always avoid the junk ingredients high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, yellow dye #5, polysorbate 80, and sucralose.

Here are a few brands that are free and clear of unwanted ingredients:

Annie's Naturals Ketchup, Organic
Countrys Delight Tomato Ketchup
Woodstock Farms Organics Tomato Ketchup
Muir Glen Organic Ketchup
Full Circle 100% Organic Tomato Ketchup

Maille Mustard Dijon Original
Grey Poupon Mustard Country Dijon
Grey Poupon Mustard Harvest Ground
Gulden's Mustard Spicy Brown
Boar's Head Delicatessen Style Mustard
Boar's Head Honey Mustard All Natural Squeeze
Full Circle Organic Spicy Brown Mustard
Full Circle Organic Yellow Mustard
Woodstock Farms Organics Mustard Yellow
Mustard Girl Mustard Stoneground Deli All Natural
Mustard Girl Mustard Sweet n' Fancy Yellow All Natural

Cascadian Farms Sweet Relish
Full Circle Organic Sweet Relish
Bubbie's of San Francisco Pure Kosher Dill Pickle Relish
(available online at

REMEMBER when you're armed with knowledge, you're in control at the grocery store!

*Thanks to for the helpful information!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Facial Secrets You Can Eat

We've all heard the phrase, feed your soul, but have you heard, feed your skin?

One of the best-kept, age-defying secrets for moms is to nourish your body, including your skin, with plenty of nutrients from the food you eat. There is plenty of research indicating that consuming certain healthy foods can help prevent wrinkling, sun damage and can keep your skin well hydrated, so let's take that advice and feed our skin with some super foods.

Here are some useful "facial" finds:


Fruits and vegetables that are high in orange and red pigments are high in antioxidants that can help prevent wrinkles. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cantaloupe, for examples, can help keep your skin firm and bright. Add more of these vibrant fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Instead of making mashed potatoes or baked potatoes with white potatoes, use sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar and a dab of butter. When you eat a sandwich or a salad for lunch, add a few slices of fresh, bright red tomato and instead of eating chips or pretzels, snack on juicy cantaloupe chunks.


Eating citrus fruits on a daily basis will help keep your skin hydrated, which in the long run prevents wrinkles. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can keep the collagen in your face from sagging. However, because vitamin C is water-soluble, the levels of vitamin C that can be stored in your body is low, which means you need to stock up everyday. Oranges are the best source of Vitamin C, but grapefruits, lemons and limes are also good choices to keep your vitamin C levels up. Collagen begins breaking down in your 30’s – start stocking up now.

Mix grapefruit into a salad for a summery fresh addition. Squeeze fresh lemons or oranges and make lemonade or orange juice. Squeeze limes or lemons over fish and chicken for some tangy pizzaz.


The antioxidant known as EGCG is a highly potent substance that can prevent acne, sun damage and inflammation of your skin. EGCG has also been known to combat skin cancer and tumors. Real teas, green, black or white are the best ways to consume EGCG. Four to six cups of tea per day is the amount needed to have a beneficial effect on skin. Gradually replace your daily coffee with tea – in addition to helping your skin, the antioxidants in tea will be healthful for your whole body.


Vitamin A, one of the most important skin helpers prevents your skin from becoming dry and scaly. Vitamin A is essential in the cell renewal process and promotes growth of new skin. Spinach, broccoli and escarole are just a few tasty examples of dark leafy green vegetables that pack tons of Vitamin A. Fresh, frozen, raw or steamed leafy greens are all beneficial for skin health.


Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, sardines and shellfish have anti-inflammatory properties and can fight sun-related skin damage. Omega-3’s also help protect against sunburn. While eating fish can make your skin glorious, keep your seafood intake at moderate levels so you don’t end up consuming too much mercury. Eating fish once or twice a week is sufficient, especially if you chock your diet full of other healthy skin foods.

So dig in and start cooking...for your skin!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kellogg's: Keeping Up with Healthy

Below is a posting I found today regarding Kellogg Company's Progress towards health and nutrition. This move shows that consumer influence is strong. So, keep "voting" with your fork because what consumers want, they will get. Demand clean food products that are more nutritious! Let me know what you think of this report below, by emailing me at

Kellogg Co. Reports Progress In Health And Nutrition Initiatives

Kellogg Co. reported on the progress it has made in its ongoing health and nutrition initiatives to help consumers successfully manage both sides of the calories in/calories out equation. A year ago, Kellogg announced that it was undertaking two major initiatives to further strengthen its commitment to meeting consumers' health and nutrition needs by adjusting what and how the company markets to children, and through front-of-pack nutrition labeling and education.

"More than a century ago, our founder W.K. Kellogg said, 'We are a company of dedicated people making quality products for a healthier world,' and we've been devoted to that principle ever since," said David Mackay, president and chief executive officer, Kellogg Co., in a prepared statement. "Today we're sharing the latest progress in our ongoing journey, and we're exploring how we can continue to make a positive impact on consumer health, working together with our industry peers, government, academics, communities and stakeholders around the world."

The Kellogg Global Nutrient Criteria, a global standard based on a broad review of scientific reports, is being used to determine which products the company will market to children. The Nutrient Criteria were shared with key stakeholders prior to being finalized to gather feedback and to ensure that the Nutrient Criteria aligned with consumer needs.

When Kellogg announced its commitment in mid-2007, about 50 percent of its products marketed to children around the world met the Nutrient Criteria. Since then, significant efforts have been made across the globe to both renovate certain existing products and introduce new products that meet or exceed the Nutrient Criteria. By the end of 2008, approximately 70 percent of the company's products marketed to children will meet the NutrientCriteria; that's 20 percent more products with improved nutrition credentials. In
keeping with Kellogg's commitment, as of Jan. 1, 2009, any remaining products that do not meet the Nutrient Criteria will no longer be marketed to children under 12.

Kellogg reformulated a number of its cereals including Froot Loops(R), Corn Pops(R), Rice Krispies(R), Cocoa Krispies(TM) and Apple Jacks(R) in the U.S. with improved nutritional profiles that now meet the Nutrient Criteria. Kellogg is pleased to report that consumer research demonstrates that the cereals deliver the same great taste consumers know and love.

Kellogg also recently launched a number of new product choices in the U.S. including:

* All-Bran(R) Strawberry Medley cereal contains 10 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving;
* Kellogg's(R) Frosted Flakes Gold(R) cereal is made with 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams of whole grains per serving;
* Mini-Wheats Unfrosted(R) cereal offers the lightly toasted, whole-grain wheat cereal with 6 grams of fiber per serving and no added sugar;
* Special K(R) Cinnamon Pecan cereal offers weight managers another great-tasting variety without sacrifice; and
* All-Bran(R) Fiber Bars and All-Bran(R) Fiber Drink Mix, which both contain 10 grams of fiber.

Kellogg recently updated its Worldwide Marketing & Communication Guidelines, which govern all of the company's marketing communications globally, to reflect the Kellogg Global Nutrient Criteria commitments. Kellogg is also a founding member of several industry "Pledge" marketing initiatives currently in place such as the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative in the U.S., and similar initiatives in Canada, Thailand and the EU, which demonstrate the industry's collective commitment to effective self-regulation. The company continues its efforts working with industry and other stakeholders to expand and strengthen self-regulatory programs around the world.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Healthy Tropical Alternative

When you think of coconuts the image of palm-lined beaches and clear blue water surely comes to mind, but did you know coconuts also may help protect your heart? Because coconuts contain more saturated fat than butter, at one time many health experts believed that consuming this sweet treat would result in clogged arteries and heart disease. However, studies show that the benefits of coconuts outweigh the possible risks, which should please those with tropical fever. In a study published in Clinical Biochemistry, 2004 1, researchers looked at coconut oil as a component of diet in laboratory animals (Sprague-Dawley rats). In this study, virgin coconut oil, which was obtained by wet process, had a beneficial effect in lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).

Even though coconuts do have a high saturated fat count, more than 50% of that is lauric acid. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that although lauric acid raises LDL ("bad") cholesterol, it raises HDL ("good") cholesterol even more. The other 50% of the saturated fat content is made up of fatty acids that have little or no effect on cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol levels is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, so it looks like coconuts are back on the menu!

This tasty tropical treat is still high in calories, so don’t overdo it. Instead, buy a bag of shredded coconut and have just a handful as a mid-morning snack or mixed into your trail mix. Try to avoid a sudden spike in your blood sugar by making sure you consume bagged coconut that is free of added sweeteners. If you’d like to try cooking with coconut milk, try a delicious grilled coconut shrimp or coconut-crusted chicken on a balmy summer evening for a change of pace. If you’re really in the coconut tropical mood, go ahead and plant a palm tree, buy a set of tiki torches, have a Caribbean cookout, because you’ll be jam’in to a healthier you!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bye Bye Bottle

This may be worse than we thought
Reusable plastic bottles leach BPA at room temperature

A lot of people have those reusable polycarbonate water bottles; you can’t go to a college campus these days without seeing students carrying these multi-hued bottles around as they make their way through classes.

Well, a couple weeks back researchers at the University of Cincinnati released a startling new study showing that many of these bottles leach bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor, into water that is being stored within the container.

These researchers found that these plastic bottles leach BPA into room-temperature water. That’s bad enough, but if boiling water is put into these bottles, the rate of BPA leaching goes up by quite a bit.

All the evidence out there tells us that this stuff is not good for you; Environmental Working G roup tested canned foods recently, which are lined with the same BPA plastic as these water bottles are made from. As it turns out, foods from metal cans contain significantly more of the chemical than water from bottles.

I applaud the use of reusable water bottles to cut down on the environmental impact of bottled water, but with this new research, stainless steel and metal water bottles are looking better and better. Some have a plastic lining, but Klean Kanteen and Sigg makes metal water bottles that are BPA free.

Parents who are concerned about baby’s plastic bottles should know that although this study didn’t look at baby bottles, it studied the same type of plastic. At this point, there’s enough research out there to justify the added expense of buying BPA-free or glass bottles. But an even more critical step would be to substitute powdered formula for liquid formula if your baby isn’t drinking breast milk. Babies don’t need to be getting extra endocrine disruptors in any form.

Back to the drinking fountain, I guess!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Cows Have It!

This week's post comes from the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine.

There has never been a better time to go vegetarian. Mounting evidence suggests that meat-based diets are not only unhealthy, but that just about every aspect of meat production—from grazing-related loss of cropland, to the inefficiencies of feeding vast quantities of water and grain to cattle, to pollution from “factory farms”—is an environmental disaster with wide and sometimes catastrophic consequences.

There are 20 billion head of livestock on Earth, more than triple the number of people. According to the Worldwatch Institute, global livestock population has increased 60 percent since 1961, and the number of fowl being raised for food has nearly quadrupled in the same time period, from 4.2 billion to 15.7 billion.

The 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to make one pound of beef represents a colossal waste of resources in a world teeming with hungry and malnourished people. According to Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soy, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn—but only two raising cattle.

Food First’s Frances Moore LappĂ© says to imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce steak. “Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls... For the feed cost of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains.” Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer says that reducing U.S. meat production 10 percent would free grain to feed 60 million people.

U.S. animal farms generate billion of tons of animal waste every year, which the Environmental Protection Agency says pollute our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. The infamous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Prudoe Bay, but the relatively unknown 1995 New River hog waste spill in North Carolina poured 25 million gallons of excrement into the water, killing 14 million fish and closing 364,000 acres of shell fishing beds. Hog waste spills have caused the rapid spread of Pfiesteria piscicida, which has killed a billion fish in North Carolina alone.

Other than polluting water, beef production alone uses more water than is used in growing our entire fruit and vegetable crop. And over a third of all raw materials and fossil fuels consumed in the U.S. are used in animal production. Meat also increases our carbon footprints. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock around the world contribute more greenhouse gases (mostly methane) to the atmosphere—18 percent of our total output—than emissions from all the world’s cars and trucks.

“There is no question that the choice to become a vegetarian or lower meat consumption is one of the most positive lifestyle changes a person could make in terms of reducing one’s personal impact on the environment,” says Christopher Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute. “The resource requirements and environmental degradation associated with a meat-based diet are very substantial.”

CONTACTS: Food First,; UN Food and Agriculture Organization,; Worldwatch Institute,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at:, or e-mail: Read past columns at:

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Soda Blues!

Research has shown that:

  • 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system, which is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake. You'd normally vomit from such an intake, but the phosphoric acid cuts the flavor.
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar skyrockets. Your liver attempts to maximize insulin production in order to turn high levels of sugar into fat.
  • 40 minutes: As your body finishes absorbing the caffeine, your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver pumps more sugar into the bloodstream.
  • 45 minutes: Your body increases dopamine production, tricking you into feeling pleasure and adding to the addictiveness of the beverage.
  • 60 minutes: The sugar crash begins.
I'll take the lemon water, if you please!