How to Eat Better at Buffets

Buffet

Buffets are loaded with lots of food. Where to begin? Diners often feel they need to sample a little of everything. But this leads to heaping platefuls of food. And this adds to weight and health problems.

Being selective matters. But it’s not the easiest to accomplish, so here are some pointers:

Start with fresh green vegetables and juicy fruits. Make this your greatest portion of the meal. Find the different greens: spinach, romaine lettuce, leafy greens, and carrots, peas, and other. Top with only a small amount of a light olive oil dressing, or better yet, taco dressing or other less fatty dressing. Fruits are so colorful and tasty – add the apple, orange, strawberries, melon, berries, peaches, kiwi, and other fresh fruits. Use as a dessert, if desired. These are the food products where you’ll get your most plentiful and best vitamins and carbohydrates, as well as other nutrients.

Minimize animal-based products. Studies indicate that the lower the percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits. You will still be getting your protein through green plant foods.

Are there any cooked vegetables or brown rice or whole wheat pasta dishes? These can be good choices.

Is there a vegetable based soup? This makes a perfect accompaniment.

Nuts and seeds are good in moderation.

Pass on any deep-fried foods and sugar.

Are you feeling deprived with all the other food available? Just like in the grocery store or other restaurants, you can’t eat everything, so be selective. You will still be satisfied, but best of all, you will feel good about yourself and your healthy food choices.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson

Working toward healthy choices

http://www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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6 Tips for Shopping Smart at the Grocery Store

Going to the grocery store with a plan will save time and impact the health of your family. In order to eat healthier, spend less

veggies

veggies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time in the store, and possibly save more money, you need to have a market plan.

A good place to start your list is with vegetables and fruits. The emphasis here should be on green and yellow vegetables and citrus fruits. Five or more servings per day are the recommended amounts.

These are often the very foods we choose to skip while adding the snacks, soda pop, and sweets to our shopping carts. Not good. If we are to live healthier lives, the emphasis should be on real food.

Here are tips for shopping healthier when going to the grocery store:

1. Do most of your shopping along the outer perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find the fresh produce and other fresh foods.

2. First, stock up on plant-based foods such as yams, squash, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and garlic.

3. Choose a good variety of salad vegetables, such as raw spinach, romaine lettuce, radishes, peppers, green onions.

4. Select fruits that are in season. These will be the choicest and generally the least expensive. If you can preserve seasonal fruits through canning or freezing, this may be a good way to incorporate fruits into your family meals later in the year.

5. Add rice and beans unless they are already in your pantry or food storage area. You may want to even pick up prepackaged (not canned) bean soups. Choose brown rice over white. (Yes, here you may have to use an “inside aisle”).

6. If possible, buy local and organic. This is not always possible, but if this is available in your area, more power to you.

Before you go to the store you have checked your cupboard for needed items and have checked the ads to see if any of the specials are what you need. Armed with your list of healthy foods and suggestions, doing your grocery shopping should be a breeze.

Here’s to your health,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition Advocate
http://healthykidseatingtips.com

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Getting Kids in the Kitchen – Preparing and Eating Food

It’s important that children not only learn to appreciate food, but also learn to cook for themselves. Even preschool children can learn how to help with meals and prepare or help cook simple foods.

Teaching children to cook is probably the best way to get kids to eat right and respect food. The whole point of getting them in the kitchen and involved is to get them to feel and taste the food. Let them use their sense of smell, taste, and touch. Children need to be exposed to different foods several times before they will taste it. Preparing it themselves increases their interest and desire to try it.

Children love the experience of mixing, stirring, and chopping, depending on age. Let them discover the joy of creating delicious, healthy dishes by encouraging them to help you.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to get dinner going with your young help, is to work together preparing roasted vegetables. For this you and the children scrub the vegetables well and then cut them up into about same-size pieces. This can be foods such as potatoes (white or sweet), carrots, onion, garlic, green and red pepper, celery, mushrooms, squash, broccoli and others.

Then the children can dribble a little virgin olive oil over them, stir well to distribute the oil, and splash a little balsamic vinegar over them, along with a little salt and fresh ground pepper.

Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other large flat pan. Roast in 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Using a long handled spatula, you need to stir them periodically to keep them from sticking to the bottom.

They will come out with a nice dark color, perhaps more brown in places, but crispy, and oh, so good.

Even though you start with a large quantity of vegetables, the children will be amazed how much  smaller the portion is after roasting. Take time to explain here the reason for this.

Grilled vegetables

You may want to add a protein to the meal, such as cooked chicken, hamburger, or roast beef. Or you can just sprinkle shredded Parmesan or Cheddar cheese over the vegetables and you and your helpers have just prepared a one dish meal for your family.

Let’s stay healthy,

Lee Jackson
Child nutrition advocate, author
http://www.HealthyEatingTips.com
http://www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com

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Veggie Recipe for Kids

English: A pack of organic cherry tomatoes, fr...

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Vegetables have received a bad rap when it comes to being accepted by kids. But what other food is as colorful and as varied in taste and texture as vegetables? As parents we need to get across to kids that vegetables are really a most interesting and colorful food.

The way vegetables are presented and talked about in the family makes a real difference. If big brother or sister says that some food is yucky, then chances are, that is what the younger child believes. It’s amazing what lasting effect words can have on children. Then there are the positive words you can use as well: It will make you grow big and strong. It will make your hair shine. It will give you rosy cheeks. What a difference words can make!

Here is a recipe from the childrens cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun by Amy Houts, that shows kids just how good and juicy and fun vegetables can be – if you believe tomatoes are a vegetable, otherwise, go with the fruit definition. Botanically, a tomato is a fruit; however, it has a much lower sugar content than other fruits, and is therefore not as sweet. It is considered a vegetable for most culinary purposes.

Cherry Tomatoes with Dip

Cherry tomatoes

Dip:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon seasoning salt

Combine all ingredients for dip in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When ready to eat, wash tomatoes and cut in half. Stick a toothpick into the tomato. Give each child a small container of dip.

You can also use carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower or broccoli, or other vegetable with this dip. If children are very young, you will need to cook the vegetable a short time to soften them slightly.

Let’s keep them healthy,

Lee Jackson
Child nutrition advocate, author
http://www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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Helping Kids Eat Healthy

Fast food and other convenience foods are a big

Eat your vegetables!

part of modern life these days. This makes it harder
for families to instill healthy eating into their meal
plans.

The cheapest and easiest foods are those that
are normally the least healthy. If you give your child
the choice between healthy food and junk food, you
probably won’t like the results.

Even though it isn’t possible to get a child to like
all healthy foods, there are some ways to get your child to try them.
Hopefully, they will like at least a few of them.Getting kids to eat healthy
can be a daily challenge.

– Call fruits and vegetables by funny names. You
can refer to broccoli as “trees”, making them
more fun to eat. Spinach makes big and strong
muscles, according to Popeye. There are many
different names you can call fruits and vegetables,
even making up your own if you prefer. Most kids
prefer to eat foods that sound fun.

– Enhance the flavor of foods. Ranch dressing is
great for broccoli, while peanut butter is a great
topping for celery. There are several combinations
for vegetables that can make them taste more
acceptable. You can let your young child pick a
topping for a vegetable, even if it’s something
you wouldn’t normally like yourself.

– Dress the vegetables up. Just as much as calling
them names help kids eat healthy foods, making them
look funny also helps.You can do this by making
funny designs on the plate, or setting them up to
look like people, such as a stick person with little
carrots for a body. Although some parents don’t like
their kids playing with their food, sometimes it helps
to get them to eat healthier.

– You might even be able to include foods that
are not their favorites into different dishes. If
soups with ‘not so favorite’ vegetables are being
prepared, by pureeing the soup, who knows what
vegetables are there? Spinach can go on top of
pizza. Apples and bananas can go into muffins,
undetected.

There are several ways to help your kids eat
healthier, but to make them enjoy it also has to
be fun as well. This isn’t always an easy task.
It can however, be done with a bit of creativity.
Hopefully, doing this will help your child develop
a love of healthy foods for the rest of their lives.

To your health and that of your family’s,

Lee Jackson
Child Nutrition Advocate, author
http://www.HealthyKidsEatingTips.com

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10 Ways to Shop Healthier at the Grocery Store

When you go to the grocery store you are challenged to make food choices that have serious and often  life-threatening

Example of an American grocery store aisle.

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implications. You are bombarded by attempts to control your eating habits in unhealthy directions. Here are 10 health awareness actions you can take while at the grocery store.

1. Place the emphasis on buying vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose dark green and yellow vegetables, rich in beta-carotene and other health benefits. Select vegetables in the cabbage family, such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, Brussel sprouts, kale.

2. Avoid unhealthy products that provide only empty calories, even if they say sugar-free and fat-free, this includes sodas, pop, and other drinks.

3. Find out when the produce and bread is delivered to the store and buy at that time.

4. When you buy oils, buy only in small quantities you can use soon and keep them in a cold, dark place.

5. Always check labels and the expiration dates.

6. Ask the store manager to display the origins of all produce, as well as any pesticides, fumigants, and waxes used. The waxes on fruits and vegetables often contain fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides.

7. Buy organic foods if possible and buy locally when available.

8. Tell your grocery manager that you will not buy genetically altered foods.

9. If buying coffee, check to see whether organic coffee is sold. By buying organic you won’t be drinking coffee with high levels of pesticides and you will be helping the organic coffee growers in the Third World.

10. Just because you shop in a health food store doesn’t mean all products sold are healthy. They possibly will also carry candies high in saturated fat (palm, palm kernel, coconut, and chocolate), and loaded with refined sweeteners such as corn syrup and fructose. Again, read labels.

When you go to the store, be prepared and resolved to buy foods that are healthy for your family. Your health depends on it.

To your good health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition Advocate
www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Farmers market, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Did you know June was National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Isn’t that appropriate, with all the fresh produce you see at Farmers’ Markets and in stores? Have you had a chance to visit a Farmers’ Market this season? They are often open on Saturdays so hopefully you’ll have a chance to go this week-end and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

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Prevent Foodborne Illnesses – How to Handle Fruits and Vegetables Safely

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Image via Wikipedia

Foodborne diseases and threats to food safety constitute a growing public health problem. It is important to understand what can cause foodborne illnesses and how to help prevent them.

Fruits and vegetables can get contaminated when they come in contact with harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows. Fresh produce can also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during food preparation or storage, either commercially or in the home kitchen.

Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, which can cause serious – and sometimes fatal -illnesses. Protect yourself and your family from illness by following safe handling tips.

  • Buy produce that is not bruised or damaged. If produce is pre-cut, such as mixed salad greens, choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • It is best to avoid the free samples of cut produce often set out in store aisles.
  • Refrigerate fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) immediately and store perishables at temperatures of 40° F or below.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling produce.
  • Use a mixture of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water to wipe down and sanitize your sink and counter before and after handling produce.
  • Generally, if packages of pre-cut and packaged produces indicate the contents have been pre-washed and ready to eat, you can use the product without further washing. If you do choose to wash a product marked “pre-washed”, and “ready-to-eat,” be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross-contamination.
  • Wash produce just before preparing or eating. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or produce that is purchased from a grocery store or farmer’s market. It is not necessary to wash  fruits and vegetables with anything other than cold, clean water. You may need to use a small vegetable brush for some vegetables such as cucumbers and potatoes. Even though you will cut or peel melons or other produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first in clean water. Dry with a paper towel or clean towel. This may help to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Throw away produce that looks or smells bad.
  • Fruit juices and cider should be purchased pasteurized, a process that kills any bacteria. They will be labeled if they have been thus treated.
  • Sprouts carry a risk of food-borne illness. As seeds and beans need warm, humid conditions to sprout and grow, these are ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. Rinsing will not help remove bacteria. There is danger even from home grown sprouts if they are eaten raw or cooked only slightly.

Keeping these food safety tips in mind when buying and preparing produce will help keep you and your family safe from foodborne illnesses possibly associated with any fresh fruits, vegetables, and juices.

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food writer and author
Download your free report on healthy eating by visiting http://www.HealthyKidsEatingTips.com

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Vegetable Salad You and Your Kids Will Enjoy Making and Eating

Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia).

Image via Wikipedia

The importance of vegetables in our diets has been spotlighted in my previous post. Today I want to give you a recipe using vegetables in a crisp and delicious way. This salad is a wonderful lunch-time or anytime meal or meal-addition. It is a recipe from Amy Houts’s children’s cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar With Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, p. 11. You and your children will enjoy making and eating this salad.

Garden Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce, torn in small pieces
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 red pepper, cut in strips
1 small bunch broccoli, cut up

1 package Ramen noodles
1 cup English walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Dressing
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Prepare lettuce, onions, pepper, and broccoli. Children can mix all vegetables in a bowl. Place in refrigerator.

Children can slightly crush Ramen noodles by placing them in a plastic bag and lightly rolling over them with a rolling pin. Saute English walnuts in butter. Add noodles. Set aside.

In jar, place dressing ingredients and shake well to dissolve.

Drizzle dressing over lettuce and vegetable mixture just before serving. Gently mix. Then add the walnut-noodle mix. Serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

You will find this and other recipes for children in Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun.  Make cooking with kids a priority at your house – your children will thank you, especially when they are in college or out on their own.  Go here for more book information:  http://ImagesUnlimitePub.com

Time well spent – cooking with children,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
To get you started, sign up for the Free Report at the right

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Vegetable Garden Benefits

vegetable garden, detail

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Everyone would benefit from growing a vegetable garden. Vegetables, especially those grown above ground, should provide one of the main staples of our daily food pattern.

We are blessed and very fortunate to have such a wide variety of food available to us. Yet many people do not choose foods wisely. Too often the sweets and fats take center stage and too few plant based foods and healthy proteins are included in our diets.

Vegetables are excellent providers of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids, as well as the good carbohydrates everyone needs. Flavonoids are a class of antioxidants.

Vegetables also contain many other essental macronutrients that cannot be replicated in any pills or any other type of food. Their nutrients build and repair cells, organs and tissues and are rich in fiber, which aids in digestion.

The vegetables with the brightest colors are generally the ones richest in nutrients. For example, red onions, versus yellow or white onions. Bright green of spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce, versus the light green iceberg lettuce, which has almost no nutritional value. There are exceptions to this, too. Cauliflower, a generally white vegetable, as well as cabbage are very rich in nutrients, particularly vitamin C.

Those vegetables grown below the ground such as carrots, beets and potatoes are higher in carbohydrates and are called starchy foods. Potatoes can almost be considered a grain, as they are high in simple carbohydrates and act on the body the same as sugars and grains.

To gain the most nutrients from vegetables, eating them raw is the preferred way. Organic vegetables are usually much higher in nutrients and often taste better, too. It is good to buy vegetables locally from garden farmers or produce growers, if you can’t grow your own.

There is no doubt about it, vegetables are packed full of health-giving nutrients. Would that we could all grow vegetables in our very own vegetable garden.

To your health,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
For more information about healthy eating, sign up here on the right
for a Special Report for you and your kids

To find vegetable recipes, order Amy Houts’ latest children’s book,
Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities

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