Archive for Nutrition and Cooking


Salsa Chicken

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Salsa ChickenPersonalize this recipe by using your favorite tomato-based salsa. Or try a fruit salsa such as peach, cranberry, or pineapple. Serve over white rice.

 Photo by: Randy Mayor; Jan Gautro
  • YIELD: 4 servings
  • COURSE: Main Dishes


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup bottled salsa
  • 2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 (4-ounce) can whole green chiles, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives


Preheat oven to 475°.

Combine chicken and seasoning in a medium bowl, tossing to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook for 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Arrange chicken in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with salsa, cheese, and chiles. Bake at 475° for 8 minutes or until chicken is done and cheese is melted. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 1/2 teaspoons olives.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 207
  • Calories from fat: 15%
  • Fat: 3.5g
  • Saturated fat: 1.4g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 1.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g
  • Protein: 33.4g
  • Carbohydrate: 9.5g
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Cholesterol: 71mg
  • Iron: 1.5mg
  • Sodium: 587mg
  • Calcium: 130mg


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Tantalizingly Tangy Meatloaf

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Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 45 Minutes
Servings: 8

“A sweet, tangy glaze covers this tasty meatloaf that will have everyone requesting seconds.”

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg
garlic powder to taste
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple preserves

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well, and place into a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
3.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 50 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar and pineapple preserves. Pour over the meatloaf about 20 minutes before removing from oven.

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Cajun Spiced Pork Chops

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Cajun Spiced Pork Chops

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“Pork chops are seasoned with paprika, cayenne, cumin, and sage for this mouth-watering meal.”

1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon rubbed dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 center cut pork chops

1.  Mix paprika, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sage, and garlic salt on a plate. Liberally coat each pork chop with the spice mixture.

2.  Heat olive oil and several pumps of non-stick, butter-flavored spray in a large skillet over high heat. Place pork chops in the skillet, reducing heat to medium. Cook until the pork is no longer pink in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).


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Crispy Phyllo Spinach Tartlets

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Frilly layers of phyllo dough surround the festive spinach and sun-dried tomato filling in a dressed-up version of Greek spanakopita. Serve these as a main dish for supper and you’re sure to please vegetarians and omnivores alike.

Crispy Phyllo Spinach Tartlets Recipe

8 tartlets

Active Time:

Total Time:


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4-1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 16 cups spinach, (about 1 pound), tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta, or goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (not oil-packed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 20 sheets (9-by-14-inch) phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Add spinach in batches and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Whisk ricotta, feta and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or goat cheese and 1 teaspoon salt), eggs, egg whites, dill, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the spinach mixture and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  4. Melt butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat.
  5. Unroll phyllo sheets onto a clean, dry surface, keeping them in a stack. (To make the tart in an 11-inch round tart pan instead of individual tartlets, see Variation, below.) Cut the stack in half crosswise (you’ll have 40 half-sheets). Cover with a piece of wax paper and then a damp kitchen towel. (Keep the phyllo covered to prevent it from drying out while you work.)
  6. Lightly brush each tartlet pan with some of the melted butter mixture. Place 1 half-sheet of phyllo in each pan, pressing it into the edges; brush with the butter mixture. Continue adding sheets and brushing with the butter mixture until you have 5 layers in each pan. Trim the phyllo, leaving a 1/2- to 1-inch overhang.
  7. Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet. Divide the spinach mixture among the pans. Fold the dough over the filling (it won’t cover completely). Brush the edges of the dough with the remaining butter mixture.
  8. Bake the tartlets until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then gently turn the tartlets out of the pans. Serve warm. Variation: This recipe can also be made in an 11-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Use 2 overlapping sheets of phyllo per layer, for 10 layers. Brush each layer with the butter mixture. Add the filling. Trim the phyllo to make a 1- to 2-inch overhang; fold the dough over the filling. Bake until set and golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the filling (Steps 1-2), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. | Equipment: 8 individual (4- to 4 1/2-inch) tartlet pans or 11-inch round removable-bottom tart pan


Per tartlet: 265 calories; 15 g fat ( 5 g sat , 6 g mono ); 76 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 11 g protein; 3 g fiber; 645 mg sodium; 461 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (80% daily value), Folate (21% dv), Vitamin C (20% dv), Calcium 15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 2 fat

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Wholesome Cranberry Bars

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Enjoy these delicious cranberry bars with some hot apple cider or a mug of nonfat cocoa.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 X 8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.In a small bowl, beat egg and egg white with brown sugar. Add oil and vanilla extract, and beat again.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined.

In a small bowl, toss cranberries with confectioners’ sugar, then stir berries into batter.

Empty batter into baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Makes 12 bars

Per bar: Calories 105, Calories from Fat 26, Total Fat 2.9g (sat0.3g), Cholesterol 19mg, Sodium 39mg, Carbohydrate 17.9g, Fiber 1.7g, Protein 1.9g

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No one wants to feel deprived of Christmas cheer and to miss out on all the great food that is an inevitable part of the Christmas celebration. You don’t want to offend anyone by appearing to be a Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) by saying no to the stuffing, sweets, chocolates, pudding, pavlova and all sorts of other things. But those on a diet don’t want to destroy all their efforts through a the silly season of overindulgence which may turn our trim new bodies into Santa’s pouch.

The key to success in controlling overindulgence is to make simple swaps. This is much easier to do and is less like to offend anyone.

Swap overindulging on twelve, five or three days – reduce it to only One Day – Stop at the ‘partridge in a pear tree’ – sounds healthy!

At Christmas most people on diets just want to eat and enjoy whatever they want. That’s fine but try to only ‘go for it’ on just one day, not five days or twelve.

Skip the birds, hens and doves; only 1 Day of overeating

Swap the slough and ‘sitting around’ for regular exercise breaks at the right time

Keeping active over the holiday period can offset the impact of the over-indulgences. Don’t stop exercising, but keep to your schedule, without being a bore. This doesn’t mean leaving the Christmas celebration to go for a run, but you can keep active. You don’t want to return from holidays to face a “you’re fat again” notice from your scales and have to work

much harder at the gym to work it off. Being consistent and keeping active will help.

Swap huge stuffed plates for smaller servings rich in taste sensations

Research has shown that when you eat you get 90% of the taste in the first mouthful. The sense of flavour and tastes declines with subsequent mouthfuls to follow. So opt for a small servings of a variety of things and savour them as much as possible. No seconds please.

Swap will-power defeats with mini will-power wins with non-food rewards

Most people say that will-power is the cause for Christmas over-eating as it is all the time. Keep motivated and in control by setting yourself small mini goals over the holiday season with non-edible rewards. This will help you control your willpower and stop being so-silly during the silly season

Swap fatty dips and snacks with tasty healthy alternatives

Pate and many of the Christmas dips and snacks are full of calories and saturated fats. There are delicious healthy alternatives. One great way of coping with this is to bring your own dips and snacks to the celebration. Make them as interesting and appealing as possible – not the carrot and celery stick stuff, but fabulous alternatives. See the recipes below. Swap goat’s cheese for brie or blue cheese. Swap unroasted, unsalted nuts for roasted one. Swap potato crisps with toasted pita bread pieces sprinkled with lots of paprika and herbs.

Swap emotional eating with proactive and positive engagements

Emotional eating is a constant danger that can get worse at Christmas as you struggle to deal with all the emotional baggage of dealing with the relatives. On the other hand the Christmas cheer itself may make you overeat just because you are happy. Try to distract yourself with positive swaps and keep in control of those trying situations by being proactive and keeping things as positive as possible. Be aware of the dangers of emotional eating which is a special temptation in the silly season.

Swap high GI (Glycemic Index) foods for low GI alternatives

Simple Christmas lunch swaps such as fat-laden roast potatoes, for dry roasted whole potatoes roasted in their jackets or sweet potato, corn or carrots keep the GI low. Swapping white bread crumbs in your stuffing for wholemeal low GI bread or traditional oats also lowers GI. Also offering fresh fruit as well as custard pavlova and sugar laden sweets can avoid the glucose peaks and reduce over-eating.

Swap winter fare for summer style (in Australia)

In Australia we have Christmas in the middle of summer, yet we persevere with roast turkey and all the vegetables. Many Australian are shifting to lighter alternatives such as seafood and salads. You can replace the roast pork with crackling with roast lamb or eye fillet. Dry cooked barbequed vegetables are a wonderful and colourful alternative to heavy roast vegetable dishes. There are many fabulous salads that can be added to tradition Christmas meals

Swap a glass of bubbly for a glass of sparkling water

Sounds boring but alternating drinks will reduce your calorie intake and can help you maintain better food choices. Start with a glass of champagne or wine, but male the second glass sparkling water or low cal beer. Avoid the punch or just try a tiny sample. It is widely known that drinking alcohol lowers people’s to “say no” when tempted by poor food choices. If you are to drink, opt for lower carbohydrate beverages such as low alcohol beer or vodka with soda and a squeeze of lime. Try to set a limit and stick with it.

Swap heavy Christmas plumb pudding for lighter, fresh fruit sweets

Christmas pudding with custard is one of the delights on Christmas Day, but have a small serving and make a range of alternative sweet dishes available. Pavlova with light whipped cream, 99 % fat-free fromage frais or low fat yoghurt, topped with sliced bananas, strawberries, grapes, and passion fruit is a great option for restricting the amount of pudding you eat. Other suggestions are vanilla panna cotta covered with a strawberry salsa, or Christmas shaped wholemeal gingernut biscuits. Making these small substitutes can lower the GI of your dinner and help prevent weight gain.

Swap saving food gifts for sharing them with your friends

Sharing is caring at Christmas and sharing can also help to stop over-indulgences. If you received sweet treats as gifts share them with your guests and friends so that you have no naughty nibbles remaining on the next day to tempt you.

Healthy Low Calorie and Low Fat Alternatives

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Comforting Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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Ok I know it isn’t the 1st day of Christmas until the 25th…but here is my bariatric breakdown to the 12 days of Christmas with some wonderful recipes and advice for the run-up! First out of the block is a comforting Cauliflower Cheese Soup…brilliant for everyone pre and post-op (as well as other family members) and suitable for all but the very earliest of post-surgery eating. It’s a simple recipe, a doddle to make,  and whilst brilliant for the winter months…when the North winds shall blow and we will have snow…can also be served at room temperature in the warmer months.  I made this soup using Marks & Spencer 3% fat Cheddar cheese so the stats are based on that…look for the lowest fat hard cheese you can find to keep the fat levels low.




1 small to medium cauliflower
1 large potato
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
900 ml/33/4 cups skimmed milk
175g/11/2 cups grated low-fat mature hard cheese
salt, freshly ground black or white pepper and grated nutmeg to season


1.  Trim, wash and finely chop the cauliflower, discarding any rough stalks. Peel and finely chop the potato into very small pieces, about 2cm/3/4 inch in size.

2.  Place the cauliflower, potato, garlic and milk in a large pan and put on a low heat. Simmer until the potato is very soft, about 10-12 minutes.

3.  Add the cheese with salt, pepper  and nutmeg to taste and using a stick blender process until smooth. Alternatively, place in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve piping hot or allow to cool to room temperature to serve.



V suitable for Vegetarians

*  suitable for Freezing

Calories per portion:  247
Protein:  28.9g
Carbohydrate:  27.2g
Fat:  2.6g



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Good nutrition is the bedrock of lifelong health, and it begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. Unfortunately, kids are bombarded by messages that can counteract your efforts. Between peer pressure and the constant television commercials for junk foods, getting children to eat well might seem more futile than fruitful.

However, there are simple steps that parents can take to instill healthy eating habits in their kids, without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults.

Developing healthy eating habits

Children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy the most, so the challenge is to make healthy choices appealing. No matter how good your intentions, trying to convince your eight-year-old that an apple is as sweet a treat as a cookie is not a recipe for success! However, you can ensure that your children’s diet is as nutritious and wholesome as possible, even while allowing for some of their favorite treats.

The childhood impulse to imitate is strong, so it’s important you act as a role model for your kids. It’s no good asking your child to eat fruit and vegetables while you gorge on potato chips and soda.

Top tips to promote healthy childhood eating

  • Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
  • Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults grocery shop, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.

For information on making smart nutrition decisions for you and your family, see Healthy Eating.

How can I get my picky child to enjoy a wider variety of foods?

Picky eaters are going through a normal developmental stage, exerting control over their environment and expressing concern about trusting the unfamiliar. Many picky eaters also prefer a “separate compartmented plate,” where one type of food doesn’t touch another. Just as it takes numerous repetitions for advertising to convince an adult consumer to buy, it takes most children 8-10 presentations of a new food before they will openly accept it.

Rather than simply insist your child eat a new food, try the following:

  • Offer a new food only when your child is hungry and rested.
  • Present only one new food at a time.
  • Make it fun: a game, a play-filled experience. Cut the food into unusual shapes.
  • Serve new foods with favorite foods to increase acceptance.
  • Eat the new food yourself; children love to imitate.
  • Have your child help to prepare foods. Often they will be more willing to try something when they helped to make it.
  • Limit beverages. Picky eaters often fill up on liquids instead.
  • Limit snacks to two per day.

Persuading children to eat more fruit and vegetables

Making mealtimes playful can mean healthier eating for your kids. Here are some fun, creative ways to add more fruit and vegetables to your child’s diet:

  • Top a bowl of whole grain cereal with a smiley face: banana slices for eyes, raisins for nose, peach or apple slice for mouth.
  • Create a food collage. Use broccoli florets for trees, carrots and celery for flowers, cauliflower for clouds, and a yellow squash for a sun. Then eat your masterpiece!
  • Make frozen fruit kabobs for kids using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
  • Go food shopping with your children. Let them see all the different fruits and vegetables and have them pick out new ones to try.
  • Try fruit smoothies for a quick healthy breakfast or afternoon snack.
  • Add vegetables and fruits to baked goods – blueberry pancakes, zucchini bread, carrot muffins.
  • Add extra veggies to soups, stews, and sauces, grated or shredded to make them blend in.
  • Keep lots of fresh fruit and veggies washed and available as snacks. Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, figs, carrot and celery sticks are all easy to eat on the run. Add yogurt, nut butter, or tahini for extra protein.

Limit sugar and salt

One of the biggest challenges for parents is to limit the amount of sugar and salt in their children’s diets.

Limiting sugar

The American Heart Association recommends that sugar intake for children is limited to 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. Cutting back on candy and cookies is only part of the solution. Large amounts of added sugar can also be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, frozen dinners, ketchup, and fast food.

  • Don’t ban sweets entirely. Having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance.
  • Give recipes a makeover. Many recipes taste just as good with less sugar.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than three times the daily recommended limit for children! Try adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water instead.
  • Cut down on processed foods, such as white bread and cakes, which cause blood sugar to go up and down, and can leave kids tired and sapped of energy.
  • Create your own popsicles and frozen treats. Freeze 100% fruit juice in an ice-cube tray with plastic spoons as popsicle handles. Or try freezing grapes, berries, banana pieces, or peach slices, then topping with a little chocolate sauce or whipped cream for an amazing treat.

Limiting salt

One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. Some guidelines for the maximum salt intake for children:

If a child is… They should eat less than…
1 to 3 years old 1,500 milligrams a day
4 to 8 years old 1,900 milligrams a day
9 to 13 years old 2,200 milligrams a day
14 to 18 2,300 milligrams a day
  • Avoid processed, packaged, restaurant, and fast food. Processed foods like canned soups or frozen dinners contain hidden sodium that quickly surpasses the recommended limit. Many fast food meals are also loaded with sodium.
  • Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
  • Cut back on salty snacks such as potato chips, nuts, and pretzels.
  • Choose low-salt or reduced-sodium products.

Healthy eating for toddlers and young children

Toddlers can be introduced to new tastes and textures as they transition from baby food to “real” food. Keep in mind that toddlers have very small stomachs. It may be better to feed them 5-6 small meals a day, rather than three large ones.

Depending on age, size, and activity level, your toddler needs between 1,000-1,400 calories a day. It is perfectly normal for your child to be ravenous one day and shun food the next. Don’t worry if your child’s diet isn’t up to par every day—as long as he or she seems satisfied and is getting a well-rounded diet.

Nutritional needs of toddlers and young children

An important part of a toddler’s diet is calcium (they need about 500 mg/day), and the best source of this nutrient is milk. Until the age of two they should drink whole milk, but older toddlers can usually switch to 2% or skim milk if approved by your pediatrician. If your kids are lactose intolerant or don’t like dairy, incorporate calcium-rich foods like fortified soy products, cereals, and orange juice.

Toddlers need 7mg a day to prevent iron deficiency, which can affect growth, learning, and behavior. In infancy, breast-milk has a readily-absorbed type of iron, and baby formula and food is usually iron-fortified, so babies don’t need to worry about getting enough iron. After switching to “real” food, it’s important to ensure that your child is eating good sources of iron like fortified cereals, small amounts of red meat (like soft meatballs), or eggs.

Dietary guidelines for toddlers and young children
Fruits and vegetables Two servings each per day. These may be given as snacks, such as apple or carrot slices. Also try adding veggies to soups.
Whole grains Four daily servings. Can include buckwheat pancakes or multigrain toast for breakfast, a sandwich on wheat bread for lunch and brown rice or another whole grain as part of the evening meal.
Milk and dairy Three servings, or one pint of whole milk per day. Cheeses, yogurt and milk puddings are useful alternatives.
Protein Two servings a day. Encourage your child to try a variety of proteins, such as turkey, eggs, fish, chicken, lamb, baked beans, and lentils.
Vitamins and minerals Check with your child’s doctor to be certain their diet is adequately meeting the recommended nutritional needs for this age group

Healthy diets for school-age children

Eating becomes a social activity in this stage of life. Your kids probably spend more time in school than they do at home; eat meals at friends’ houses; and adopt eating habits from their peers. It can be difficult to ensure they are getting adequate nutrition when you are not around to monitor their choices, so try to maintain regular family mealtimes.

For kids aged 5-12, the key word is variety. Creative serving ideas will go a long way towards maintaining the healthy eating habits established in the first years of life.

Not only do family meals provide an opportunity to catch up on your kids’ daily lives, they also enable you to “teach by example.” Let your kids see you eating a wide variety of healthy foods while keeping your portions in check. Refrain from obsessive calorie counting, though, or commenting on your own weight, so that kids don’t adopt negative associations with food.

Nutrition guidelines for school-age kids

As children develop, they require the same healthy foods adults eat, along with more vitamins and minerals to support growing bodies. This means whole grains (whole wheat, oats, barley, rice, millet, quinoa); a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; calcium for growing bones (milk, yogurt, or substitutes if lactose intolerant); and healthy proteins (fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat, nuts, and seeds).

Healthy fats are also important:

  • Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
  • Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines, or in unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and walnuts.

Kids, like the rest of us, should limit:

  • Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

See Healthy Fats for more information on “good” and “bad” dietary fat.

Dietary guidelines for school age children
Vegetables 3-5 servings per day. A serving might be one cup of raw leafy vegetables, 3/4 cup of vegetable juice, or 1/2 cup of other vegetables, raw or cooked.
Fruits 2-4 servings per day. A serving may consist of 1/2 cup of sliced fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice, or a medium-size whole fruit, such as an apple, banana or pear.
Whole Grains 6-11 servings per day. Each serving should equal one slice of bread, 1/2 cup of rice or 1 ounce of cereal.
Protein 2-3 servings of 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day. A serving in this group may also consist of 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, one egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for each ounce of lean meat.
Dairy products 2-3 servings (cups) per day of low-fat milk or yogurt, or natural cheese (1.5 ounces=one serving).
Zinc Studies indicate that zinc may improve memory and school performance, especially in boys. Good sources of zinc are oysters, beef, pork, liver, dried beans and peas, whole grains, fortified cereals, nuts, milk, cocoa, and poultry.

The special nutritional needs of teenagers

This is growth spurt time: kids gain about 20% of adult height and 50% of adult weight during adolescence. Because growth and change is so rapid during this period, the requirements for all nutrients increase. This is especially true of calcium and iron.

Eating disorders in teens

Adolescents and teens are at a high risk of developing anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. To learn the warning signs, see Helping Someone with an Eating Disorder.

Eating habits, however, are pretty well set by now, and if your child’s choices are less than ideal, it can be a challenging time for a course correction. The best way to make teen dietary changes is to present information about short-term consequences of a poor diet: appearance, athletic ability, energy, and enjoyment of life. These are more important to most teens than long-term health. For example, “Calcium will help you grow taller.”  “Iron will help you do better on tests and stay up later.”

Special nutritional needs for teens
Calories Due to all the growth and activity, adolescent boys need 2,500-2,800 per day, while girls need around 2,200 per day. It’s best to get these calories from lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and fruits and veggies.
Protein In order for the body to grow and maintain muscle, teens need 45-60 grams per day. Most teenagers easily meet this need from eating meat, fish, and dairy, but vegetarians may need to increase their protein intake from non-animal sources like soy foods, beans and nuts.
Calcium Many teens do not get sufficient amounts of calcium, leading to weak bones and osteoporosis later in life. Encourage teens to cut back on soda and other overly-sugary foods, which suck calcium from bones. The 1,200 mg of calcium needed per day should come from dairy, calcium-fortified juice and cereal, and other calcium-rich foods such as sesame seeds and leafy greens like spinach.
Iron Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, and weakness. Boys need 12 mg each day, and teen girls, who often lose iron during menstruation, need 15 mg. Iron-rich foods include red meat, chicken, beans, nuts, enriched whole grains, and leafy greens like spinach and kale.

A “weighty” problem: children, weight and self esteem

Children who are substantially overweight or obese are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem, as well as long-term health problems in adulthood. While childhood obesity doesn’t always lead to obesity in adulthood, it does raise the risks dramatically. The majority of children who are overweight during preschool or elementary school are still overweight as they enter their teens. Most kids do not outgrow the problem.

Addressing weight problems in children requires a coordinated plan of physical activity and healthy nutrition. Unless directed by your child’s doctor, though, the treatment for childhood obesity is not weight loss. The goal should be to slow or halt weight gain, thereby allowing your child to grow into his or her ideal weight.

Think of exercise as a food group in your kid’s diet

Add physical activity to your child’s day, just as you would add fruit or veggies. To encourage physical activity, play with your kids – throw around a football; go cycling, skating, or swimming; take family walks and hikes; and help your kids find activities they enjoy by showing them different possibilities. The benefits of lifelong exercise are abundant and regular exercise can even help motivate your kids to make healthy food choices.

For ways to help your child reach and maintain a healthy weight, see Childhood Obesity and Overweight Kids

Kids and junk food

No matter how well parents promote healthy eating, it can be difficult for any kid to avoid the temptation of junk food.

Instead of eliminating junk food entirely, which tends to increase cravings even more, try substituting some healthier alternatives.

Kid-friendly junk food alternatives
Instead of… Try…
  • French fries
  • Ice cream
  • Fried chicken
  • Doughnuts or pastries
  • Chocolate-chip cookies
  • Potato chips
  • “Baked fries” grilled in the oven and salted lightly
  • Low-fat frozen yogurt; sorbet; fresh fruit smoothies
  • Baked or grilled chicken
  • Bagels; English muffins; home baked goods with less sugar/fat
  • Graham crackers, fig bars, vanilla wafers, fruit and caramel dip
  • Pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, baked potato chips, soy crisps

Eating out with kids: fast food and restaurant nutrition for children

It might be challenging to persuade your youngster to order a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but you can steer them towards healthier options. Some important tips to remember about fast food and restaurant dining for kids:

  • Avoid sodas – Kids should drink water or milk instead.
  • Avoid chicken nuggets – Unhealthy imposters of real chicken.
  • Skip the fries – Consider taking along a bag of mini carrots, grapes, or other fruits and vegetables to have instead. This will add vitamins and fiber to the meal.
  • Order the kid’s meal with some substitutions – Children often love the kid’s meal more for the fun box and toys than for the food. Ask to substitute healthier choices for the soda and the fries if possible.
  • Opt for chicken and vegetables or spaghetti with tomato sauce in a sit-down restaurant, rather than a big plate of macaroni and cheese.

Including your children in your weight loss efforts ensures that your children have the necessary knowledge to make good food choices in the future.   At Central Baptist Hospital Surgical Weight Loss Center we want to make sure that you have all the right tools for your weight loss journey.   If you would like information on our support groups, give us a call today!

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Making Weight Loss a Family Affair

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Eating Healthy on the Go: Quick Foods Kids Will Love

Hot, home cooked meals … just the thought of hearty food brings back memories of mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes or chicken noodle casserole. But many weight-conscious families are frequently on the go and eating meals in a hurry. Unfortunately for many American families, this translates into eating packaged and processed foods and doing the fast food drive-through more often. So how can your family focus on weight loss when you’re on the go?

When meals and snacks are prepared at home, parents can provide nutrient-rich, whole foods and de-emphasize packaged and processed foods high in saturated fat and sodium and low in fiber. But most families today have super-busy schedules.  So how can you have the best of both worlds? With a smartly stocked kitchen and some new tips and ideas to try, your family can have healthy and homemade meals and snacks AND eat on the run, too!

Good Nutrition: A Family Affair

Good nutrition is an activity the whole family can be involved in. If your children are helping you cook and shop for a healthy, homemade meal or snack, they are more likely to want to try it and like it. Cooking is also a terrific alternative to television and video games. Some ideas to get your kids involved include:

  • Kids love to cook, and they start showing an interest around the age of 2. Start them off with tasks like scrubbing vegetables clean with brush and some water, tearing lettuce, snapping the ends off green beans, and dipping foods into dips or sauces. By age 3 they can usually begin pouring and hand mixing, shaking, and spreading. 4-year-olds can try to peel, roll, and mash food, while 5-year-olds can begin to measure, cut with a plastic knife, and grate cheese or vegetables (using a square upright grater with supervision).
  • Many favorite foods, such as muffins, waffles, pancakes, and biscuits, can be mixed with a spoon or whisk instead of using the electric mixer. This way, even younger children can help.
  • Have children learn to measure and pour by setting your ingredients and measuring cups on a jelly roll pan. The jelly roll pan catches any flying flour or splashing liquids, which is a breeze to clean compared to your floor and kitchen counter.
  • A great way to get children interested in eating fruits and vegetables is to let them help you in the produce section. Even little hands can pick out apples, oranges, pears, zucchini, potatoes, carrots, and corn on the cob, avocados, and more.
  • Take your child to your local farmer’s market so they can celebrate the freshness and flavor of in-season fruits and vegetables.

The top health concerns for today’s youth are the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. Many nutrition experts would argue that this epidemic is fueled, at least in part, by the typical American diet, which relies heavily on processed and fast food. For American teens, the proportion of calories that come from fast food or restaurants tripled between the late 1970s and the late 1990s to a whopping 19.3%, and this number continues to rise.

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Get the information you need about healthy weight loss solutions from a caring, knowledgeable team.  Contact Central Baptist Surgical Weight Loss Center to learn more.




Buffalo Burgers with Cancun Chili

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Use your favorite chili mix to moisten a lean grilled burger – top with cheese, Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and add olives, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, hot peppers or your favorite Mexican garnishes.

One recipe of your favorite chili – Susan Maria’s Cancun Chili Mix is the best chili you ever made and is a spice blend that is available on our website – or I have written out my basic version below to make without my secret blend of spices.

  • Lean beef or buffalo burgers
  • Cheddar or your favorite cheese, shredded – we love Cabot Reduced Fat Cheddar
  • Black olives

Susan Maria’s Cancun Chili

I used to live in Mexico and have always loved the flavor of good chili. No one says that we have to eat bland food after having weight loss surgery. This chili can be made as spicy as you like at the table… I add a few shakes of Tabasco Chipotle Sauce. The alcohol of the beer cooks out so don’t worry even if you are a new post op.

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or buffalo
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
One 12-ounce bottle of Mexican beer
2 cans black beans, rinsed and well-drained
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Shredded cheddar – Greek yogurt – Sliced scallions – tortilla chips – optional garnishes

Sauté the meat in the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the pieces, until the meat is brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, oregano, and Tabasco, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the tomato paste, and beer to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Add the beans, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving stir in the chopped cilantro.

Serve chili with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, some scallions, and a few tortilla chips for dipping, if desired.

8 servings
WLS 1-cup serving Calories 230, fat 12gr, carbs 7gr, protein 17gr



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