Tag Archive | eating

Eat Better, Feel Better 4 Easy Tips to get Started

Eat Better, Feel Better – Easy Tips to get Started.

There are lots of programs out there that promise fast results if you follow a bevy of rules, restrictions and ridiculousness regarding your eating regiment.  I have found that the most long term success comes with slowly implementing changes in the way you eat, eating a balance of foods and nutrients, and getting enough fiber.  The recently updated Food Pyramid can give you more information on how much to consume based on age, gender and weight.  They have meal plans and recommendations for children, adults and pregnant women.  If you have the time there are also a great deal of free items you can request be mailed to you.  Visit them at: My Pyramid

But what about some things you can do quickly, today -to get in more nutrients per chew? Here are some tips from my own personal plan –

One of my favorite things to do is substitute. Don’t starve yourself, reward yourself and your body with healthy alternatives.

  1. Substitute Spinach for Lettuce in or on everything.  Per 100 edible grams Spinach has: 2.86 grams of protein to Iceburg’s 1.0, Fiber: 2.7grams vs 1.4 grams, Calcium 99 mg vs. 19 mg, Iron 2.7 mg vs. 0.5 mg, Potassium 558 mg vs. 158 mg, Vitamin C 28.1 mg vs. 3.9, Folate 194.4 mcg vs. 56 mcg.  The list goes on from the USDA Nutrient Database on why Spinach beats out Lettuce.
    1. Use Spinach on sandwiches and subs
    2. Throw some Spinach in a salad
    3. Add Spinach to your pasta, anything you like!
  2. Try switching to Agave instead of honey and sugar.  Agave has long been known for its healing properties when applied to the skin as used by the Aztecs but it has even better results for those looking for sweetness.  The carbohydrates in Agave nectar, when used moderately, do not cause the same blood sugar spike because they have a low glycemic index.  Many groups are now turning to Agave, including those with ADHD, Diabetics, Health Conscious, and People Managing Weight. Keep in mind Agave can be processed “miel de agave” should not be. Maple Syrup is a non-processed alternative for those not looking for low GI foods. 
    1. Use Agave instead of Syrup on your pancakes
    2. Use Agave instead of Honey in your tea
    3. Use Agave when baking
  3. Replace some of your grains and breads with 100 % Whole Grain / Whole Wheat.  The process of making bleached white flour looses eaters over half of the vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber, with only a small percentage being put back in through “enrichment”.   100% Whole Wheat / Whole Grain products retain the bran and germ, and are a very good source of fiber.  Of course, this does require reading on your part – read the labels and look for 100% Whole Wheat or 100% Whole Grain on the label and ingredients.
    1. Look for pastas that are 100% Whole Wheat – Barilla Makes a very good pasta, not ropey
    2. Look for breads that are 100% Whole Grain – Great Harvest Bread Company is a chain that produces delicious breads, Rudi’s Organic and Natural Ovens can be found in most grocery store chains.
  4. Drink plenty of Water.  The average adult is about 70% water so don’t skimp! Drink at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces per day.  If you weigh 140 lbs, get  at least 70 ounces per day of water. Water helps with brain functioning, reflexes, draining throughout the body, balancing minerals, and moving nutrients/vitamins through us.  Not an avid water drinker, neither was I, try these tips:
    1. Buy yourself a BPA Free Water Bottle and / or refrigerator pitcher – use them, fill them, drink!!
    2. Lob a slice of lemon and a squirt of Agave into your water for taste. (I keep this in a fridge pitcher to refill my bottle before I go out).
    3. Cut up cucumber and throw it in a glass of water
    4. Pick up some pineapple and add it to water
    5. Mix some mint leaves in your bottle and hit the road

I was not compensated by any of the companies mentioned, they are companies that I personally use products from and have given my opinions on freely.

Make Dining Out Easier With Kids LiveWell

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the National Restaurant Association. I attended a live event and received a gift bag and promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.” www.momcentralconsulting.com

This past Monday marked a first for me.  For the first time in my blogging I went to an event as a blogger.  Sure, I get invited all the time to attend events; IMG_3134book signings, movie openers, fashion week in NYC, interviews with WWE stars but all were centered around my previous blog http://skyyogastudio.com.  Since I have shifted my focus from fitness studio owner to mom trying to attain a Masters degree in Montessori Education I have also shifted my blogging and so was born FamilyCanBFit. My family is very healthy, we rarely eat out these days (which is an achievement from our history of eating out at restaurants for dinners and 3 times a day on the weekends) and even when we do we do not patron the regular mainstream restaurants that most Americans clamor to.  We eat at small independent healthy geared joints, all have to be vegan or have vegan options on the menu.

Not being a naive mom I know this is not the case for everyone.  I also know that the average parent doesn’t have the decades of training and certifications in health, nutrition and exercise that I do – so eating out can really be a double minefield.  There is the stress of taking children out to eat (will they jump off the back of the booth) and the stress of finding a place they will enjoy eating. There is nothing I dislike more than wasting money on a child who refuses to eat a meal out so we have narrowed our restaurant choices and what our 3 kids are allowed to order (based on prior eating performances and I don’t use that word lightly, my kids provide dinner theatre when they don’t like a meal).

Spotlight stage left, enter Kids LiveWell!

Healthful kids’ meals are the No. 3 restaurant food trend in 2013 for both full-service and limited-service restaurants. Children’s nutrition and whole grain items for kids’ meals ranked in the top 10 of the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2013” chef survey for fullservice.

The first restaurants in the Kids LiveWell program offer a total of 342 healthful children’s menu items, including 390 servings of fruit and vegetables, 144 servings of lean protein, 70 servings of low-fat dairy and 48 servings of whole grain. To date, more than 120 restaurant brands representing nearly 40,000 locations nationwide participate in the program, and participants include independent operators and national chains from quick-service to casual and family dining concepts, and even a Children’s Museum and group of theme parks.

I’m not a fan of dairy, even before I was a vegan, and there is growing evidence in support of cutting this bovine beverage out of our primate diet:

Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health have labeled the milk recommendations a “step in the wrong direction.”  One the most prominent critics is Walter Willett, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and head of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “One of the main arguments for USDA recommendations is that drinking milk or equivalent dairy products will reduce the risk of fractures. But in fact there’s very little evidence that milk consumption is associated with reduced fractures,” Willett tells WebMD.

There is also a hypothesized link between cow’s milk and type I Juvenille Diabetes. A study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, has shed light on a possible new mechanism behind this connection. This study highlights the problem associated with drinking the milk of another species. The protein composition within cow’s milk — particularly the beta-casein A1 molecule — is radically different than that found within human breast milk.

Why mention these facts? I believe it is each parent’s duty to raise their children to the best of their ability and to investigate what is healthiest.  While the KidsLiveWell App can make eating out healthier, and does force restaurants to take a look at what they are feeding our children, it doesn’t necessarily equate to the healthiest meal for your kids. Granted the program limits unhealthy fats and sugars but it doesn’t necessarily ban them.  High fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils never pass my kids lips for instance.  We also stay away from food dyes and any ingredient we can not pronounce, most of the restaurants we eat at serve organic produce as well.

Does that mean that a family like mine can not get use out of the Kids LiveWell App? We absolutely can. For starters Qdoba is a Kids LiveWell participant. I spoke with one of their people at the blogger event and was impressed to find that everything is made fresh in house. “Our beans come dried in a large sack, we don’t buy canned, we soak them in house.  Our pork is roasted in house, we don’t buy it from some guy down the road. This is one reason we have a lot of flavor. You can go on our website and see all of the ingredients.  I mean all of them, we don’t leave anything out, it’s all listed there.”IMG_3131

Qdoba is actually one restaurant chain that we have eaten at while traveling.  It is nice to know that a portion of their menu is vegan including their soup and made items are made with fresh ingredients. In the very short time I had to walk around the NRA floor I was able to spot a few signs for Kids LiveWell at other vendors’ booths.

So what makes it onto a Kids LiveWell menu? Items must meat these criteria:

Full Kids’ Meals (entrée, side option and beverage):

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤10% of calories from saturated fat
  • <0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
  • ≤35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤770 mg of sodium
  • 2 or more food groups (see below)

Side Items:

  • 200 calories or less
  • ≤35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤10% of calories from saturated fat
  • <0.5 grams artificial trans fat
  • ≤35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤250 mg of sodium
  • 100% fruit, vegetables or juice; and low fat (1%) and skim milks are permitted
  • 1 food group (see below)

Fruit, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Lean Protein and Low-Fat Dairy:
Full meals must include two sources, and a la carte sides must include one source of the following:
Fruit (includes 100% juice):
½ cup or more = 1 star
½ cup or more = 1 star
Whole Grains:
Contains whole grains = 1 star
Lean protein (skinless white meat poultry, fish, seafood, beef, pork, tofu, beans, eggs):
At least 2 ounces meat, 1 egg equivalent, 1 oz nuts/seeds/dry bean/peas = 1 star (lean as defined by FDA)
Lower-fat dairy (1% or skim milk and dairy): ½ cup or more = 1 star (while not considered low-fat, 2% milk is allowed if included in the meal and the meal still fits the full meal criteria)
                                     Deep fried items not permitted

Did this post whet your appetite for finding healthy kids meals? Well, here is where to find Kids LiveWell:

Your Family Can Be Fit

With this generation of children being the first expected to not outlive their parents due to the obesity epidemic it becomes every parents’ priority to keep their children fit and healthy.

How parents go about doing this can have a large effect on outcomes and children. Fun should always be at the heart of every interaction with children, especially those around health and wellness.

Three main areas to address are Environment, Eating and Activity.


Are you aware of the dangers in the areas your children sleep, play, eat and wash?  Although some parents roll their eyes at crazed friends who are constantly looking out for invisible “toxins”, they may want to take note of the ramblings every once in a while to keep their own children safe. BPA, bleach, and plastic water bottles have all come under fire recently for being less than healthy and have made it on the “toxin” list.


Family of four or family of one, eating healthy is sometimes less than fun.  So how can a busy parent provide nutritious options at every meal? It isn’t as hard as it sounds when you practice substitution.  Side step the salad lettuce and use spinach instead in many places. Or give your palate a new taste to contend with, try a delicious raw kale salad next time you are thinking about greens.  Get the kids involved with the chopping, tossing and then eating!


Armed with a healthy environment and full of energy boosting food it should be easy to get those little ones moving but that’s not always the case.  Today’s youth are growing up addicted to hand held devices and fantasy environments, something that can change the overall structure of their brain and how it responds to stimuli.  Start at an early age combating this leading cause of lethargy with fun activities.  An easy and quick one that kids will love to help out with is hula hooping. Build your own hoops, put on some tunes, and viola! instant party.  Be sure to join your kids in the fun and model good healthy fitness.

Be sure to keep anything you choose fun and the mood light.  There are enough harsh words in the world for children who are different and there is no need for them to come from parents.  The focus of getting and keeping kids healthy should always be fun and lifelong love for health.

You can connect with FamilyCanBFit on twitter and facebook.

Cabinet Culprits Keeping you From Optimal Family Health -CONTEST ENDED

If you haven’t already guessed my family is on a path to optimal health and nutrition. I am not a nutritionist or dietitian and I can only speak from my personal experiences of what has helped me and my family; though, as a tween and teen a great deal of money was spent on sending me to these professionals and I attend many workshops and trainings in regards to health and fitness. Over the years I have learned to weed out what doesn’t make sense and is a fad, from factual evidence based knowledge. Of course, at the end of the day I do what is best for my family.

The biggest offenders – cabinet culprits (pantry poisons seemed a little too sensational and I don’t have a proper pantry) are:

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • hydrogenated oil

I know a lot of people will put any white flour or white sugar up there too, corn products, soy products, etc.  but honestly vilifying all of those will leave the average American family on a budget with little to eat and working parents frustrated with what to feed their kids. More than a decade ago I went hunting through our cabinets and got rid of everything with those ingredients.  We didn’t have much since I have always been a label reader – but what we did have came as a surprise: ketchup, jam, tomato sauce, peanut butter, teriyaki sauce and others that had looked healthy at first glance.

Our family has never looked back.  We don’t purchase anything with those two ingredients and we look specifically for items listing whole grain/whole wheat first, that are low in sugar and low in salt.  We don’t buy anything with ingredients we can not pronounce.  When I was pregnant with my second son we went to a 24 hour grocery to pick up some bread.  They did not have our regular loaf so we started looking at other brands.  One in particular was free of HFCS and HO but it had some questionable ingredients.  Luckily, we had a smartphone and were able to look them up to see what we were buying.  My husband and I were shocked to find several of the ingredients in the bread were banned by the European Union for food products and one ingredient in particular was not only banned in Singapore, but if caught using it in food for human consumption – the penalty was death (I know the argument could be Singapore is strict, but still…)

That said here are some items to start including in your meals that would give your family higher nutrient quotients, more fiber and inevitably more energy for activities such as school, work, and play.

  • whole wheat pasta
  • whole wheat bread
  • fresh fruits and fresh vegetables
  • flash frozen fruits and vegetables is fresh aren’t possible
  • spinach instead of iceburg lettuce on sandwiches and in salads
  • natural peanut butter (or nut butters) over large commercial brands with high added salt and sugar/ oil contents.

There are 6 easy things you can add to your food arsenal tomorrow. If you include getting rid of sodas, or juices and opting for water or half water/half juice, or water infused with fruit – you can then cut your family’s sugar consumption. Wheat pasta may run only 50 cents more a box, though you can get Barilla Whole Wheat on sale for $1 or less at times and for wheat bread we buy Kinnikinnick bread which you can actually find at conventional groceries sometimes 2 for $5.

Recently I received a copy of The Self Health Revolution by J Michael Zenn and that has renewed my devotion to eating healthy.  I’m not a big fan of the new fad “eating clean” for many reasons most of which are addressed by a very level headed article written here http://www.jcdfitness.com/2010/09/clean-eating-is-a-scam-and-why-you-should-abandon-it/ so I don’t have to go into large detail about why I don’t subscribe to “eating clean” – if you are interested read it.

The Self Health Revolution is pretty straightforward and easy to understand.  The author even starts with a disclaimer about repetition so I can’t complain about the ideas he tries to drive home through constant repetition.  He won me over by discussing the importance of breastmilk and breastfeeding early on pages 28-29 and bringing to light the despicable campaign mounted by Henri Nestle in 1890 against mother’s milk so he could get a market share of selling to babies.

Zenn’s book is middle of the road, he invites the reader to be skeptical and teachable, open to the possibility of learning something uncomfortable.  Many may read his book thinking he is a conspiracy theorist with ideas like “big pharma” is out to get you, but he calmly and plainly states the obvious, big pharma is out to get your money.  He highlights legislation that allowed big pharma to advertise directly to consumers – something not allowed in Europe and other moves by the FDA and big pharma.

There are other interesting facts, such as Coke was used in India as a pesticide to grow crops and that low-fat milk isn’t truly low fat 2%. “Thirty-five percent of its calories come from fat. Worse, it’s only twenty to thirty calories less than whole milk.  They label it 98% fat free because they measure it by its weight, which includes water content that contains no calories.”  How does that work exactly is what you may be asking yourself.  Zenn explains,

“It’s like mixing a teaspoon of melted butter which is 100 percent fat, in a glass of hot water, then labeling the glass of melted fat water 98% fat free.  The truth is, water has no calories, and if I were to drink that glass, 100 percent of the calories in it would come from fat.”

There is no meal plan to adhere to, no measurements of food, or even exercises to perform.   Zenn holds that you simply need to start eating better, not an insane notion, but actually quite ancient.  Think of the father of modern medicine’s famous quote:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

Does it work? My family and I are vegans.  That doesn’t mean we don’t eat junk food – we just have a different version of junk than the average family and to be honest it is healthier – but not the healthiest.  A penchant for soul vegetarian food runs deep within our bellies – even though it gives me a stomach ache at times.  At the start of the New Year I made the resolution for us to not eat out.  Not even on weekends when we travel to the city to play. One week in and I have already lost 2 lbs.  I cook all of our meals at home and have tried a few of the recipes from The Self Health Revolution.  Our biggest at home difference is the pizza I make, I provided a recipe in a previous post. It is more satisfying and filling than anything we get outside of the home, and the kids learn to cook! (The homeschooler in me loves that)

Caputo’s (a local grocery) was instrumental in this change.  We left with a full cart of produce and some other groceries for $88. We ate for a week and a half and still have beets, greens and few fruits left. Normally I shop at Woodman’s but it is a little far so I don’t go frequently and Caputo’s is cheaper on a lot of things. If you are local to west suburban Illinois, check them out on Route 59 in Naperville.

Zenn’s biggest selling point is that he meets the average reader half way.  He doesn’t ask or require large change, he wants you to slowly and manageably switch to a healthier lifestyle.  The book retails for $12.99 but you could win a copy with this Giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Most Restrictive Vegans in the World – My Children

By all measures I am a lazy parent.  I have no idea how to set up and maintain a schedule and I honestly wouldn’t even want one.  Who in their right mind wants to be forced into a frenzy to get home in time for the kids’ noon nap? Children are always developing and forcing a ridged nap time on them is not something I ever was interested in doing.  That is not to say that my children don’t or never napped.

My oldest son would nap twice a day until he was a year old, then slowly he started once a day until a year and a half when he no longer napped. My middle child never slept at all.  This is not an exaggeration, he literally would stay up all day and night unless my husband held him and even then he barely slept.  By 1.5 he was diagnosed with epilepsy and his AEDs finally afforded him rest – they slowed his brain down enough to sleep I guess. He naps at school everyday at 2 pm for an hour or so.

My youngest daughter does nap about once a day somewhere between 11am- 1pm depending on when she woke up and how much excitement she is experiencing.  And that, dear readers, is the point to me.  If you provide your children with enough stimulation they will need to nap and will go to bed at a reasonable time, their minds and bodies need time to process all of the information they have taken in.

Now enter meal times.  We are a grazing family.  I keep cut up fruit in class containers, bananas and oranges on the counter and other healthy foods at hand. We don’t have soda in the house and have limited 100% juices.  I have a cheap wooden mug rack on the counter so even my 4 year old can grab himself a cup when he wants a sip of water. During the school year my husband and I attempt to prepare breakfasts – whole grain pancakes with agave, whole grain cereal – but sometimes the boys just aren’t hungry after waking.  Their school, Joliet Montessori, does allow them to snack when needed which is a policy I greatly appreciate.  I want my children to develop a healthy relationship with eating and learn to listen to their bodies for hunger and satiation cues.IMG_0973

I came from a family of big eaters like many of my friends from Jewish (and what I hear Italian) families.  Food is equated directly to love, comfort and caring.  The bigger the meal, the more you care.  The more you nag about eating, the more you care. You get the picture.  Needless to say I was an overweight child and teen, I did deal with eating disorders and body image issues.  My goal as a parent has been to avoid that for my children so I rarely press them to eat and I never make them “clean their plates”.

My younger son still breastfeeds, if he could he would eat this way exclusively I believe, and although I am getting a little worn down by it I truly believe that nothing comes even close to breast milk for optimum nutrition. Breast milk contains stem cells and if there is even a fraction of a chance that this golden liquid can help repair any damage seizures have caused or keep him functioning optimally then so be it, we breastfeed. I do however want to make sure that all of my children eat a diverse range of food.

In the past I have recounted how my older son went on pancake benders – times when all he would eat where pancakes.  We added vitamin and protein powders to them, and still do to this day. My younger son takes his cues from his older brother, and my daughter – she just eats anything.  This makes my goal getting the oldest to eat. He has become what we refer to as “the most restrictive vegan” in the world.  He will only eat pasta plain, with a little salt. If he eats tofu – it has to be cold with a little bit of salt.  Rice – has to be white with a little salt. He does eat wheat pasta and wheat bread but will only eat soynut butter (my husband has a peanut allergy and as a youngster my son convinced himself he had the same allergy refusing to eat other nut butters). What he does enjoy is cooking and when in a good mood (he’s a tween and a little angsty) will help me with new creations which I find he is more receptive to eating.  His favorite creations are recipes from Gino D’campo that we convert to vegan friendly.

This afternoon we all woke up very late, since school is on break our “schedule” is even looser. I decided to make brunch.

Green Brunch Noodles

  • avocado oil
  • wheat soba noodles
  • 1 package firm tofu – lightly mashed
  • 1 large Zucchini diced
  • 1 large yellow pepper diced
  • medium bunch cilantro chopped
  • 1 lb bag spinach
  • Arizona dreaming spice mix from Penzey’s

I sautéed the tofu, added the veggies and sprinkled with seasoning, once the veggies started cooking and there was some juice I added the noodles. I purchase the Annie Chung pouch noodles which are precooked and only need a few minutes to loosen up.

I also served a large mixed greens, broccoli sprout, orange pepper, radish and carrot salad and a bowl of chopped cantaloupe and pineapple.

Needless to say the older son refused to eat almost anything and claimed to feel ill after finding out the “Carrot” he thought he was eating was actually an orange pepper. That translated into the younger son refusing to eat – all of this while my daughter sat happily on my lap, sucking up soba noodles from my plate.  Children are definitely a trip. I hope we fare better at dinner tonight.