Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marathon Pancakes!

I have been training for a marathon! I have always been a runner but never usually run for more than an hour at a time. I have had to adjust to the fact that I have to take food with me when I go on long training runs. I tried some of the more common carbohydrate snacks for athletes like the little gels and little gummi bites but I found them to be kind of gross and they also made my stomach feel weird. The best marathon food I have found for me is these oatmeal pancakes! I love these pancakes since they are not too sweet and are full of healthy oats but not a lot of fat (which you don't want when you are running long distances).

Even if you don't take them for a run, these pancakes are great for breakfast served with homemade blueberry sauce! (I use frozen blueberries, a little sugar, water and a little cornstarch to thicken it all up) YUM!

"Marathon" Pancakes (adapted from a Health magazine recipe)

1 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 cup enriched all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup skim milk

Soak the oats in the buttermilk in a small bowl for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk the eggs and egg whites together in a large bowl. Stir in the skim milk. Add the dry ingredients and oat mixture to the egg mixture and stir. Cook on a skillet coated with cooking spray.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vegetables For Breakfast

You probably know all about the value of feeding many servings of vegetables to children every day. Vegetables are so full of good nutrients, and populations of people who have a diet high in vegetables tend to be healthier. As a child care provider, you have a chance to help children get some of the vegetables that they need in their diet every day. Maybe you can even help them discover a vegetable that they never even knew they liked!

If you are a provider on the Child and Adult Care Food Program you are feeding the children in your care vegetables for lunch and supper at the very least. But what about those kids who just get to eat one of those meals at your child care home? Are they getting enough? Probably not, since most kiddos do not get enough servings of fruits and vegetables at home. You might want to try serving vegetables at breakfast on occasion to help children get what they need, and also because it can be a delicious change of pace!

I found a recipe for mini egg frittatas that I have adapted a bit. It is a very versatile because you can use any diced veggies that you have around (even leftovers)! The last time I made these I used onions, red bell pepper, zucchini and green chilies which gave them a really pretty mix of colors.

I have served these to my family for both breakfast and dinner and there are never any leftovers!

Mini Egg Frittatas
(makes 12 frittatas)

You will need:
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cups of diced veggies (for example: red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, green bell pepper, zucchini, onion, green chilies, etc.)
1 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
10 eggs, beaten together (I usually substitute 1 cup of egg substitute- such as Egg Beaters- for 4 of the eggs just to cut down on the saturated fat and cholesterol)
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large 10-inch skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the diced veggies for about 5 minutes or until they are slightly soft. Season with salt and pepper. Coat a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the veggies up among the muffin cups.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and add the chopped chives. Fill the remaining area in the muffin molds with the egg (about 1/4 cup per muffin cup). Sprinkle the top with cheese. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are completely set. Serve warm or cold.

Crediting information:
Makes 12 servings. Each serving is creditable for 1/4 cup of the vegetable requirement at breakfast, or 1 meat/meat alternate and 1/4 cup of the vegetable requirement at lunch or supper for 3-5 year old children.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Added Sugars May Increase Heart Disease Risk Factors

I have talked a lot about the importance of cutting down on the amount of sugar our children are eating. So, you probably know by now that eating a lot of added sugars adds calories to our diets and not much else! In the U.S., our consumption of added sugars has risen dramatically in the last twenty years. This is unfortunate because products containing a lot of added sugars are usually pretty nutrient-poor choices. I have talked about the risk of children not getting enough of the nutrients they need if they fill up on foods like this. Eating lots of processed, nutrient-poor foods can also contribute to weight gain which is a problem for more children every year.

If all of this was not enough to convince you to avoid feeding children these foods, maybe a new study will change your mind. The study in the April 21 issue of JAMA shows that eating a lot of foods containing added sugars can actually increase the risk of heart disease. In this study, they found that eating foods containing large amounts of added sugar was associated with lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) in the body, and led to higher levels of triglycerides (these are bad and we want these levels to be low). I always like to point out that you should never base your diet on the results of one study alone, but we already did know that eating a lot of simple sugars can raise your triglycerides. Also, there is no down side to eating less sugar!

With the rise in the number of obese and overweight children, we are seeing more risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) develop at an earlier age. This is just another good reason to serve children more nutrient-rich foods that are whole, fresh and not processed!

If you would like to read the study, click here:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Concerns about BPA

We have received some great information regarding BPA that I wanted to pass on to you. This is from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Concerns about BPA are especially relevant to child care providers since baby bottles can contain BPA. Please read this important information if you use plastic water bottles, or baby bottles:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Cancer

Have you heard the latest news about fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk? New results from the European Prospective and Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study show that eating fruits and vegetables can reduce your cancer risk. Unfortunately, a lot of news sources are printing headlines that the study has shown a "relatively weak" protective effect (2.5% lower risk) from eating fruits and vegetables. I am hoping that most people don't use this as an excuse to eat fewer servings of fruits and vegetables! The American Institute for Cancer Research recently responded to these headlines by warning that many of these news articles are not giving people enough information about the study to interpret the results in a meaningful way.

According to AICR, here are three key reasons why fruits and vegetables should (still) feature prominently in your diet:

1) AICR recently published a landmark study on cancer and cancer prevention and they point out that we already knew that diet is not protective for all types of cancer. Their report found probable evidence linking fruit and vegetable consumption to cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, stomach, esophagus and lung. The strength of protection from fruit and vegetable consumption for these diseases is probably much higher than 2.5%. Since there has not been a link shown between other types of cancer and produce consumption, this is probably why the overall numbers look lower.

2) Even if the 2.5% decrease is accurate, if everyone ate just 2 more portions of produce per day, we would have 2.5% fewer cancers (about 37,000 cases every year in the US). I am sure any of those 37,000 people would rather have eaten more fruits and vegetables instead of getting cancer.

3) There are many other benefits to eating lots of fruits and veggies. People who load up their plates with plant products are less likely to become overweight. Being overweight is a risk factor for cancer, as well as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases.

Are you interested in learning more about diet and cancer? AICR offers free brochures (up to six at a time) or downloads providing information on topics ranging from eating smart for cancer prevention, antioxidants, or even information for those with cancer. Many of their brochures are also available in Spanish. Go to to check out their materials.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Breastfeeding may save lives

Did you read the article about the benefits of breastfeeding published in many newspapers on April 5th?

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics are only an estimate, but the numbers are staggering! According to the journal, the lives of 900 babies could be saved each year along with billions of dollars if U.S. women breastfed their babies for the first six months of life. You are probably aware of the health benefits for babies when they receives breastmilk: fewer stomach viruses, ear infections, a lower rate of asthma, juvenile diabetes and SIDS. Preventing these illnesses can save both lives and money.

Do you have the resources to promote breastfeeding to the mothers of infants in your care? Breastfed babies in your care will be sick less often which is better for the baby, the mother, and you! Here at Wildwood we have many good publications available about storing and serving breastmilk, the benefits of breastfeeding, and success strategies for breastfeeding moms. Ask your Wildwood rep. for some of these resources at your next visit, or contact the Wildwood office.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Not All Fibers Are Created Equal

You are probably aware that fiber is a beneficial part of a healthy diet. In fact, food manufacturers are betting that most people know this. Fiber is a food "fad" right now, and you may have noticed it being added to everything from yogurt to energy bars. Food manufacturers are isolating specific types of fiber to add to their products so that they can boast about it on their labels. This might leave you wondering- do the benefits of these products really match up to all the hype?

Fiber used to be simply divided into two types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is the type that is best known for its ability to lower blood cholesterol (you may be familiar with the Quaker oat campaign touting its ability to lower blood cholesterol). Insoluble fiber is what my grandmom used to call "roughage", it helps move things along in the digestive tract. Today we know that the breakdown into two groups is too simplistic. We now know that different types of these fibers provide a variety of functions. For example, inulin (the type that is often added to yogurt) supports healthy gut bacteria. New research on the soluble fiber pectin (found in apples) has shown that it has the ability to improve intestinal health as well. Eating certain types of soluble fiber has also recently been linked with a stronger immune system.

So what about those added fibers? For the most part, adding fiber to processed foods that are lacking in nutrients really does not make them a better choice nutritionally. A good example of this is companies adding a undigestable fiber such as cellulose to nutritionally devoid white bread to increase its fiber content. They are betting that some consumers will simply look at the fiber content of the bread (or the label that shouts "high fiber") and be convinced to purchase it. In reality, you are better off buying the whole wheat bread that is naturally full of nutrients. (Tip-look for the first ingredient of the bread to be a whole grain flour instead of basing your decision on how much fiber is in the bread). Foods that are naturally high in fiber provide vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other beneficial nutrients not found in the "enriched" processed foods.

Bottom line: Don't really on these "supplemented" foods to get your daily fiber. Eat more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Take a (Tasty) Trip to the Tropics

Has our on-again, off-again warm weather made you crave somewhere where it STAYS warm? You might not be able to escape to the tropics right now, but you can enjoy a bit "tropical" flavor with your next meal. I have been delighted that fresh pineapple has been on sale quite a bit recently. I think my family and I have eaten more fresh pineapple in the last couple of months than we did for the entire year last year. And while my son will not eat canned pineapple, he loves the fresh stuff!

What's so great about pineapple?
1 cup of fresh pineapple contains 131% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. That is a pretty good deal considering it only contains 82 calories. You will also get about 2 grams of fiber in that cup of fruit. In addition, pineapple contains bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme. The bromelain in pineapple has been used for centuries in Central and South America to treat indigestion and decrease inflammation. (By the way, this enzyme is the reason that you cannot add fresh pineapple to gelatins and expect them to firm-up, the enzyme breaks down the protein).

My favorite way to eat fresh pineapple is to cut it up and chill it for about an hour, I think it is perfect just by itself. If your kids think that fresh pineapple is a little too acidic or sour, try freezing it and making a smoothie with it. Try frozen pineapple chunks mixed with frozen banana chunks and plain yogurt all whirred up in the blender-my kids love it!