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Healthy Kids Archives | Elizabeth Borelli

Archive for the ‘Healthy Kids’ Category

How to Turn Your Summer Fitness Goals Into a Game


Summer is in full swing!  Pool parties, family vacations and long beach-y days are the stuff memories are made of.  The last thing anyone wants to do in the midst of all this fun is put feet to scale and get a chilly dose of reality.  So don’t!  Fun and health are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be.  Summer is the perfect time to keep your fitness goals alive and well by turning them into a season-themed game.

Gamifying your fitness goals is easy.  And if you can get some family members and friends on board, all the better.   Check out the 7 simple steps below to learn how.

How to Turn Your Summer Fitness Goals Into a Game

1. Choose your goal.  Do you want to get more exercise, or lose a few pounds by improving your diet?  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Take advantage of the warmer weather and focus on goals unique to the season.
  • Early morning walks, afternoon swims or evening bike rides are wonderful this time of year; and easy to track progress using wearable devices or mobile fitness apps.
  • Or focus on nutrition, committing to keep sugar consumption down by swearing off sugar-sweetened drinks or replacing calorie laden desserts with healthier choices.

2. Invite some friendly competitors.  Is there a colleague, neighbor or family member you can enlist to join your challenge?  The more the merrier, and if you have more than 3 people, create some teams.

3. Decide on a start and end date.  Once you have your plan in place, get it going asap, before people change their minds or go on vacation.  A 30 day challenge is a good timeframe;  long enough to see some results but not intimidating enough to keep people from playing.

4. Schedule your plans into your daily calendar and increase your chances of meeting your goals significantly.  Use little cues like leaving your running shoes near the door or stocking healthier foods to keep prominently positioned in the kitchen to help you stay on track too.

5. Stay connected.  Either meet in person on a regular basis, or stay in touch via social media to track progress depending on the nature of your game.  Everyone will benefit from the social support.  If you’re meeting to exercise, it’s a non-issue, but if you’re doing a morning green juice cleanse, stay connected to keep each other on track.

6. Recognize small wins along the way.   Celebrate weekly progress via social media or email if you’re not meeting in person.

7. Keep score and create a compelling incentive for the winner.  Whether you’re competing with just one person, or a whole group, decide at the beginning what the prize will be.  Maybe the winner is treated to a movie, a pedicure or even an Amazon Gift Card by the other players.

Finally, and I won’t list this in the steps since it’s fairly obvious, have fun!  Use the camaraderie and support of your game to outweigh the challenge of learning a new habit.  Go team!!

6 Simple Tips for Managing Junk Food Cravings


Do you ever have days where you can’t seem to stop thinking about something you’re trying to learn to live without, or even just live with less of?  Maybe it’s the fudge brownie you’ve gotten into the habit of sneaking in after work, or the double mocha latte that’s become a daily habit instead of an occasional treat, and it’s placing a strain on both your waistline and your wallet.

A change in routine rarely comes without these urges to return to status quo, the habits we’ve acquired to feed a need, but now we’ve decided to try choose new habits which will serve us in a more positive way.  It can be challenging to get through this rough patch.  It takes more than willpower to successfully navigate, but don’t worry, there are ways to make it better without resorting to shock treatment.

Here are 6 simple tips to help you control cravings when they stand to come between you and your goals.

  1. Stay ahead of the hunger curve. Cravings are often triggered by plain old hunger, a biological signal that simply requires calories to stave.  When it’s not immediately addressed however, that signal reaches the thought center of the brain, which superimposes its own notion of what you need, which is not necessarily in your body’s best interest.  By the time you get to the stage where you’re pretty hungry, you’re not in a place where you’ll make your best decisions health-wise, it’s more about finding food, any food…now!  So stop that feeling before it starts with smart snacks* you have readily available for times like these.  You’ve planned ahead and are well stocked with good choices, don’t wait until you’re overly hungry and not using your best judgment, instead stay one step ahead of the curve.
  1. Identify options:  If you hate raw carrots, or find raw almonds completely uninspiring, no wonder you can’t stop thinking about the nacho Cheezits you’ve stashed in the back of the cabinet.   Deprivation never works, so you need to find the sweet spot between refined carbs or sugary treats, and a perfect healthy alternative.  You need a good enough happy medium, like apples and peanut butter, or whole grain crackers and avocado.  Satisfying in terms of protein and fiber content, and delicious tasting too.  See the list below more favorites.
  1. Change your scene.  Cravings pass, and you’ll get through the rough spots more easily is with some good old fashioned distraction.  New studies show that tapping:  your ear, your forehead or your toes can significantly reduce food cravings.  Alternatively, imaging a blank wall can also do the trick.  Worth a try!
  1. Listen to your body. Cravings can indicate a nutritional imbalance, especially if you’re on a restrictive diet.  A craving for ice cream may simply be your body’s way of telling you you’re deficient in healthy fats, in which case some avocado, almonds or Greek yogurt would be a smart and satisfying fix.
  1. Sugar cravings are typically more emotional than physical, and sometimes attempting to stave them only leads to wanting more. Certain dietary supplements may help stop your sugar cravings, or try some stevia-sweetened licorice tea, or a piece of fresh fruit to see if the cravings subside.
  1. Stay strong! Cravings often come with change, as the body and brain adjust, but hand in there!  After the new habit takes hold they generally subside, often for good.  This is the hardest time in the process of creating new habits, but so worth the effort to achieve your long term health goals and enjoy all of the benefits they bring.

Ten Smart Snacks to Have on Hand*

Looking for snack inspiration?  Experts suggest that two snacks a day, kept to about 200 calories each, will go a long way toward helping you to avoid overeating.  Look for snacks that combine fiber and protein, without added sugar.  Here are some good options to choose from:

  • Carrots dipped in 2 tablespoons of your favorite hummus
  • 2 pear halves, topped with 1 rounded tablespoon of cottage cheese, sprinkled with 1 tsp. of nuts
  • 2 crisp bread crackers spread with 1 tablespoon of almond butter. Top with 1 sliced small banana
  • 1 whole grain tortilla cut into chip sized wedges and baked at 350 for 5 minutes to crisp,  dipped in fresh salsa
  • Edamame from the grocer’s freezer section, thawed and sprinkled with salt.
  • 1 whole grain rice cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter, topped with thinly sliced apple
  • 4 cups sesame popcorn; air popped popcorn topped with ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil and ½ teaspoon sesame seeds and lightly salted.
  • 2 large celery sticks filled with 2 tablespoons of hummus and 1 tablespoon of sliced olives
  • Banana, Kale, and Almond Milk Smoothie; 1 medium banana, 1 cup chopped kale, and 1 cup almond milk until pureed in the blender or food processor until smooth.
  • A handful of raw almonds and a chai latte

Shop Smart, Eat Healthy; Free Resources are Here to Help!


The words healthy and inexpensive often occupy opposite ends of the thought spectrum, but maybe it’s time to put that myth to rest.  You may have experienced “Whole Paycheck” sticker shock at some point, or seriously questioned why anyone would shell out twice as much for blueberries labeled “organic”, when they look just like the non-organic option one shelf over.  The good news is, healthy food doesn’t need to be fancy (or pricey) as a smart new shopping guide published by Environmental Working Group (EWG) clearly demonstrates.

If you’re not familiar with EWG, it’s the organization that creates the annual Dirty Dozen list, identifying the top 12 fresh fruits and veggies you’re better off buying organic if you want to avoid the heavy pesticide residue they retain.  This short list reminds us that not everything has to be organic to be healthy, while helping consumers to make smart choices about when paying more for the organic label most makes sense.

EWG offers lots of free, expert-research-based guides for consumers, including their cool new Food Scores app, a free online database which lets you plug in your favorite food products to and see how they score in terms of nutrition, unhealthy additives and processing concerns.  It’s a great way to check what you think you know, and identify new options in the process.

But back to Good Food on a Tight Budget, which is a big concern for many of us these days.  This handy new booklet arrived in my mailbox last week after I donated a nominal amount to help EWG to continue their important work.   I flipped through the pages, which outlined the benefits of planning ahead, shopping the bulk bins, cooking at home with foods in season, and yes, even adding more beans to your diet as a healthy, inexpensive source of protein.

I love that the healthy food shopping basics were laid out in an inviting, illustrated format that doesn’t overwhelm.  The booklet even includes a sample shopping list, easy to use meal planner and food tracker (or diary). Good Food on a Tight Budget is a great reminder that when we plan in advance and keep it simple, we can enjoy all of the benefits of a healthy, delicious diet without having to shell out a whole paycheck, or even shop at a fancy health store.

In the meantime, I invite and encourage you to check out EWG’s super-helpful web site, download some of the free guides offered, and perhaps even enjoy this engaging interview I did with EWG spokesperson Robyn O’Brien, as she shares more about why this work is so important, and what you can do to make healthy eating manageable, even when time and money are at a premium.

Interview with EWG Spokesperson Robyn O’Brien. A former food industry analyst, Robyn O’Brien is an author, strategist and mother of four, dedicated to exposing the impact that the global food system is having on our health. Click here to listen.

Shop Smart, Eat Healthy, beginning today!

Think Gluten Free is Good for You?  Think Again!


With the gluten-free trend still in full swing, it’s hard to know where to stand on the wheat issue.  Wheat has been red-flagged, and most of us still aren’t sure why.  If you’re among the 1% of the population with celiac disease, of course avoiding wheat, rye and barley makes excellent sense, but for every one American diagnosed with celiac disease, 20 others are eating gluten-free foods just because they think they should.

A new study shows that most people who believe themselves sensitive to gluten, actually are not.  Gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber and a host of other vitamins and minerals, and are not advisable without an expert recommendation.

Whole grains on the other hand, fall cleanly into the good health category.  And eating a variety of grains is the best way to get you to the 25 grams of fiber recommended for adults per day, a number rarely seen by most of us.  While you would need to up your produce intake dramatically to get there, you can simply opt for a dish made from bulgur or wheat berries, and meet 25-30% worth of your daily  fiber recommendation in one satisfying sitting.

Grains deliver more fiber than any other food, contain protein in amounts that vary from modest to substantial, and are loaded with micronutrients as well.

Of course refined wheat products are a different case entirely.  White flour, the main ingredient in most packaged foods, has had all of the vital nutrients removed during processing.  While this makes for a much longer shelf life, combined with preservatives we’re talking years here, the resulting product is so broken down it affects your system the same way as sugar does, in that it digests quickly and causes blood sugar to fluctuate disruptively.  Think carb crash, headache and hunger pangs just an hour after you filled up on that 500 calorie cinnamon raisin bagel with low fat cream cheese, shheesh.

A diet rich in fiber is also shown to be more satiating than a refined carb version (white flour, white rice and white sugar favoring), all else being equal.  Whole grains can even make you happier.  In fact, Researchers at the University of Melbourne found that women who ate a diet rich in whole grains and plant-based proteins were 30% less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as opposed to those eating a Western diet.

So don’t assume all wheat products fall into the empty carbs, or dietary devil incarnate category.  Refined wheat products, or white flour based empty carbs, are definitely on rank low on the list, but whole grains, those without the fibrous outer layers removed, are a delicious addition to your dietary repertoire.

Since most women consume only about half the 25–35 grams of fiber most experts recommend, you may want to think about making the switch to whole grains, the more intact the better.   Look for bread that lists whole wheat, whole rye, or some other whole grain as the first ingredient. Or, even better, buy bread that’s made with only 100% whole grains, like 100% whole-wheat bread.

The less widely used grains offer an entire new experience in flavor and texture.  It’s easy to substitute healthy and delicious whole wheat berries, hulled barley, farro, spelt and quinoa for refined processed grains in breads, cereals or other packaged foods.  Whole grains cook much the same way as a pot of rice, it just takes a little longer depending on the variety.   The more you experiment with these new (to you) alternatives, the easier they become even easier to prepare as you discover countless ways to enjoy them.

Start simply, with recipes like Minted Quinoa Tabouli, Super Energy Breakfast Bars or Orange Fennel and Kamut Salad, and you’ll discover whole new favorites to replace those refined wheat products and fiber you up right!

Think Gluten Free is Good for You?  Think Again!  Sources:

Get Your Bake On!


Another summer officially comes to a close, can you believe it?   East Coast roots and all, the weather in my hometown Santa Cruz keeps me a bit askew – Spring, Summer and Fall all kind of blend together into one long fog and sun-filled haze.

For most of the country though, the onset of Autumn means chilly air, crispy apples and the smoky scent of hearth fires burning.   Fall is the time for baking.   If you either rolled your eyes after reading this, or immediately envisioned the Pillsbury logo, here’s a quick reframe:  baking does not need to time-consuming or complicated.  Here is a short list of negative adjectives often associated with baking from scratch:

  • Time consuming
  • Messy
  • Fattening
  • Sugar-laden
  • Complicated

And it’s true, most baking recipes can be categorized as some or all of those things.  But this is the stuff that gets me going in the morning – it doesn’t have to be.  So I’m asking you to revisit the idea of baking with some new descriptors:

  • Short prep time
  • Requires few dishes
  • Requires few ingredients
  • Sugar free
  • Nutrient dense

And then there’s the one attribute shared by both types of baking:  delicious, which is undoubtedly the best reason of all to get your bake on!

So check out 2 yummy new recipes:  Breakfast Bread Pudding and Savory Harvest Veggie Bake (gluten free), and discover for yourself how easy, healthy and delicious baking from scratch can be!

Mama Bear’s Top Ten Tips for Happy Healthy Eaters


Most of us moms are familiar with the scary stats on rising rates of obesity in the US, it’s true.  Yet in between the constant stream of homework, play dates and little league, it’s not something we generally worry about day-to-day.

But here’s the troubling thing; certain influential entities are lurking and we parents need to stay on our toes. Now that might appear accusatory and even sinister coming from a cheery gal like myself, but I’m talking about corporations that are actively targeting their junk food ads to kids.

Sound crazy?  Think again; food industry CEOs aren’t forking out their billions (yes that’s billions with a b) in annual advertising strategies aimed at our children for nothing.  And they’re lobbying Congress like crazy to make sure nobody stands in their way. (more…)

3 Quick Tips for Reducing Sugar without Feeling Deprived


Did you know that on average 40% of calories consumed come from a cup or a bottle?  From healthy-sounding fruit drinks to refreshing iced teas and fun flavored coffees, excess sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are usually lurking behind the scenes.   The problem is, these devilish drinks, however delicious, have no nutritional value and don’t fill you up, so those excess calories don’t give you a whole lot of value for your sip.

Even the vitamin-enriched versions provide little to no more benefit than regular water, often adding calories and even sodium where it’s not really necessary, especially when you have other options.  In fact, the sugar and nutrition profile of many popular beverages is shockingly similar to that of your favorite dessert, especially if it’s ice cream.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are also the largest source of added sugars in the diets of kids in the US.  With new studies showing among kids, even toddlers and preschoolers, children who drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day , as most do, have a 55% increase in odds of being overweight or obese.

Fruit juice also has a high concentration of sugar and calories while it lacks some of the nutrients and other benefits of whole fruit.  When one cup of apple juice contains 27 grams (almost 7 teaspoons) of sugar, it’s a good idea to limit quantities to no more than one serving per day and substitute fresh, whole fruit as often as possible.

On average, we’re over-consuming more than three times the daily recommended amount, which  for a normal weight adult is about 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, per day.  Of course making the switch from your favorite beverage to something a little less sticky sounds hard to start.  But habits are best changed through favorable alternatives than cold-turkey, so trust this former junkie when I say it really is doable.

And kids are malleable too.  I gradually weaned mine off of fruit juice many years ago and we’ve never looked back.  High sugar consumption is associated with weight gain, heart disease and behavior issues, especially in kids, so managing intake makes sense.

Here are 3 Simple Tips for Reducing Sugar without Feeling Deprived:

  • You can start by simply diluting juices with water, a trick that also works well with kids, especially when done on the sly.  Gradually you’re sensitivity to the sweet stuff will increase to the point where you want and need less of it.  Eventually you may decide fruit is best enjoyed as a whole, when it contains half of the sugar and calories as the liquid stuff.
  • Naturally sweet stevia is one of the few sugar substitutes that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels the way most other sweeteners do, including honey and agave.  Although it does have a bit of an aftertaste, you might try using to sweeten lemon water, since it’s best enjoyed with citrus.  A little goes a long way.
  • Or trade your regular pre-sweetened or diet beverages for sugar-free tea, preferably the kind you brew yourself.  You’ll gain health benefits without the risk associated with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.  Try green tea for extra antioxidants, ginger tea to sooth the stomach or mint to add a skip to your step.  Or check out Any way you steep it, tea tops those premade packaged beverages every time.


Unbottled!  4 Delicious DIY Sugarfree Tea Recipes


On these hot summer days, you deserve some sweet refreshment without the sugary side-effects, so why not give these healthy, invigorating and delicious drinks a try?  And if you’re short on time, you’ll love my overnight tea trick. Be sure to have a stainless steel tea strainer or infuser and some large mason jars on hand to make this so simple that bottled beverages will no longer have the edge on ease of use in your house.

4 Delicious DIY Sugarfree Tea Recipes your body will love:

Hibiscus Sun Tea

The beautiful hibiscus plant makes a wonderfully tart and delicious tea, especially when sweetened with stevia.  The health benefits of this vibrant plant have been celebrated for centuries in cultures all around the world.

With studies linking the acids contained in hibiscus to lower blood pressure, this healing plant also contains phytochemicals like quercetin, shown to reduce inflammation and support kidney health, and antioxidants known to reduce the effects of aging*.

This simple recipe is perfect for steeping, no heat required.  It’s a beautiful thing to wake up to, with plenty more for all day enjoyment.


  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/3 cup hibiscus tea leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1-3 tablespoons of stevia (to taste)

For stovetop or microwave:  heat water until it reaches the point of simmering.  Remove from the heat and using your tea strainer, steep the tea for about 20 minutes while it cools.  Remove tea bags and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.

Overnight or sun tea method:  Pour the water into a mason jar or pitcher, depending on what type of strainer you’re using.  One that fits inside the mouth of the mason jar is perfect for this, see below.

For either option:  Add remaining ingredients and serve iced or hot. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

*While hibiscus tea is completely safe for most people, if you’re currently using prescription medications, be sure to check with your doctor before enjoying too much of this potent tea. 1-July Food Pix 023

Spicy Ginger Ade Ginger tea is as flavorful as it is invigorating; enjoy it either hot or cold.  Either freshly grated or loose dried ginger pieces are perfect for this simple brew, but pre-bagged plain ginger tea is nice too.

Ginger also offers some great health benefits;  helps with digestion and reduces inflammation, and this zippy lemon flavor combination is a delicious way to enjoy it.


  • 8 cups of water
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated fresh or dried ginger, or 5 or 6 bags of ginger tea
  • Juice of 2 large lemons (about ¼ cup)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of stevia (to taste), optional

For stovetop or microwave (best for fresh ginger):  heat water until it reaches the point of simmering.  Remove from the heat and using your tea strainer, steep the tea for about 10-15 minutes while it cools.  Remove tea bags and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.

Overnight or sun tea method:  Pour the water into a mason jar or pitcher, depending on what type of strainer you’re using.  The type that fits over the mouth of the mason jar is a good choice.

For either method:  add remaining ingredients and serve iced or hot. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Minty-Lime Cooler While not forgoing the bottle entirely, this fizzy summer drink is sugar-free and perfect for kids craving something bubbly.  The tea may be brewed overnight, then topped with the sparkling water right before serving over ice for a refreshing summer beverage.


  • 5 cups of water
  • ¼  cup fresh, chopped mint leaves or 2 tablespoons looseleaf mint tea (2 tea bags may be used here too)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons of stevia (to taste)
  • 1 42.3 oz. bottle of sparkling water, unflavored or lime
  • Ice cubes

For stovetop or microwave:  heat water until it reaches the point of simmering.  Remove from the heat and using your tea strainer, steep the tea or leaves for about 5 minutes while it cools.  Remove tea bags and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.

Overnight or sun tea method (not recommended for fresh mint):  Pour the water into a mason jar or pitcher, depending on what type of strainer you’re using.  The type that rests on the mouth of the mason jar is perfect for this.

For either method, add remaining ingredients except for the sparkling water, and let the tea chill to room temperature (it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week).  Serve ½ and ½ quantities of tea and sparkling water over ice and enjoy! 1-RI Visit 2014 038

Iced Chai Latte Chai is one of my favorite beverages.  It’s so spicy and satisfying, I look forward to it every morning, especially because I steep it overnight so it’s ready to simply heat and serve, no brew-time required.

Prepare it from scratch using a 1 quart mason jar and this delicious recipe, or use your favorite loose leaf chai (preferred) or pre-bagged if you find some you like.  I generally find home made or loose leaf chai to be much more flavorful than the kind that comes in a box. Combine it with your favorite plant or dairy milk, for a rich, delicious way to satisfy your thirst any time.


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup  homemade or loose leaf chai, or 4 pre-packed tea bags
  • 3 cups oat, almond, soy or dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon stevia (optional)

Overnight or sun tea method for steeping (using a 1 quart mason jar:  Fill your stainer with chai, or place your tea bags into a your mason jar.  Pour room-temperature water into a 1 quart mason jar fitted with a stainless steel strainer  that rests on the mouth of the mason jar or use your favorite infuser.  Let sit overnight or for at least 8 hours, until fully steeped.

Pour equal amounts of chai and milk into a glass.  Mix in 1/4 teaspoon stevia, add a few cubes of ice and enjoy!

Guest Blog by Evie Borchard- Children and healthy eating: take away the chemicals, not the calories


We’re talking about growing kids here; kids whose metabolisms are likely going at record speeds (perhaps to our envy).  Unfortunately, it’s almost common belief that they should be able to eat all the fast food they want while they can “afford” to. After all, why should we parents deprive our children of the Poptarts, Chicken McNuggets, soda pops, and cheesy fries that all the kids at school enjoy regularly? Don’t they have the rest of their lives to worry about illnesses like type II diabetes, obesity,  and heart disease?

However, the connection between children and healthy eating is huge. It used to be unheard of for kids to be at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease at their young age, but when living on a western diet packed with trans-fat, high fructose corn syrup and other artificially calorie-dense foods, our children are ballooning to abnormal weights and becoming susceptible to health problems associated with the adult population. Indeed, healthy eating isn’t only for grown-ups. 

And although childhood obesity is on the rise,  overweight children aren’t the only ones at risk:  all young’ns who are eating  Mickey D’s and Ho-Hos regularly are increasing their chances of encountering future health problems.  Yup, this means the “skinny kids”.  Parents of these kids tend to receive conflicting messages regarding what their kids should be eating.  Despite common belief-and even certain doctors’ orders- you don’t need to be feeding your kids Happy Meals to fatten them up (like my parents did).  These pseudo-foods will leave your children prone to developing diet-related illnesses and could cause them to develop a taste for junk food, making fast-food-eating a habit manifesting through adulthood.  Surely there must be a method for safe and healthy weight gain in children.

Basically, the salty, mouth-watering, artificially-spiced fast food a young child is consuming actually has addictive properties, which causes healthier alternatives such as fruits and vegetables to taste blander.  For example, the overconsumption of high fructose corn syrup-filled candies may cause fruits to taste strange and less sweet, while regular Happy Meal consumption might make vegetables and beans seem yucky in comparison.  It is pretty self explanatory why this may cause problems down the road. A lack of fruits and vegetables in a child’s diet can cause deficiencies in both macro and micronutrients, and whether or not your child is overweight, the weakened immune system caused by poor nutrition leaves him or her susceptible to various infections and health problems.  For this reason, it’s important for parents to guide children towards developing a taste for healthy and wholesome foods without depriving them.

Instead of looking at healthy eating as deprivation, try to think of it as “crowding out”; you are “crowding out” your children’s typical junk food diet with more wholesome alternatives so there is no longer room for them! Now you might wonder,  “but how in the world will my kids get the calories they need for growth without eating at least some junk food?!” Fortunately, you can try these more calorie-dense healthy options:

1.  Saute and cook vegetables in olive or coconut oil

2.  Add some dried fruits to your kid’s granola or whole-grain cereal to make it more calorie-dense

3. Serve whole-grain crackers with nut butter as a snack: a good source of healthy fats

4. Make vitamin-packed fruit smoothies with nut butters and agave nectar, a low-glycemic sweetener

5. Starchy vegetables are more calorie dense: try making sweet potato fries to replace regular French fries

6.  Bananas and dates are more calorie-dense than most fruits and contain many antioxidants

7. Hemp or soy milk is more calorie-dense than most other types of milk

8. Create your own healthy trail mix with a variety of nuts, dried fruits, and even some organic chocolate chips

9. Here’s a recipe for some super-energy breakfast bars

10. A healthy alternative to Poptarts: Fruit and Nutty Breakfast Bars



3 Quick and Nourishing Weekday Breakfasts


IMG_3399AI know, I get it, you don’t have time for breakfast.  You feed your cat, your kids or your goldfish first, then before you know it, it’s time to go, and feeding yourself fails to happen, again.  So by 10 o’clock you’re starving and off to the nearest Starbucks for a not-so-good-for–you morning fix.  Well guess what, Sugar?  You have to plan ahead to stay ahead, so read on to empower yourself to get started.

As you may already know, the average adult only consumes an average of ½ the recommended daily allowance of dietary fiber they need each day.  And eating breakfast within 60 minutes of getting up correlates to lower caloric intake throughout the rest of the day.

So here’s your chance to start the day in the right direction.  A low-sugar breakfast rich in fiber and protein is linked to mental acuity, stable blood sugar for sustained energy, and long-term weight loss.  And believe it or not you can get it together in less time than it takes to score a bowl of cereal: with more fiber, protein and nutrients to keep you going all morning long.

Check out these three 3 quick and nourishing weekday breakfast options to pump up the protein and fiber without the sugar or saturated fats usually found in breakfast foods.  Yes, you’ll have to set aside a few minutes to prep them the night before, but you’ll find it’s time well spend after discovering the difference a consistently healthy morning start can make. Here are some of my go-to food staples:

These Super Energy Breakfast Bars really are all good; high in nutrients, fiber and protein with very low sugar and no saturated fat.

chia puddingChia Berry Breakfast Pudding is a luscious and nourishing choice for breakfast.  I blend mine smooth using frozen fruit, banana and/or avocado for the creamy texture and good monounsaturated fats that round off this brain food powerhouse.

This amazingly easy Overnight Oatmeal recipe takes the cooking time out of steel-cut oats on a busy morning.  You’ll love the less mushy texture too, almost like oatmeal is supposed to be made.1-Sprout Kit 033

Nourish yourself every morning because you deserve it.  What better way to begin a day?

Sprout Your Own Superfoods in 7 Simple Steps


We’re celebrating our exciting Food52 Green Sprout Kit launch this week with a quick review of all the reasons we love these superfoods.  Sprouts are just your everyday seeds, beans or grains taken to the next level in term s of nutrition and deliciousness just by soaking, rinsing and allowing a few days to germinate (sprout) before eating.   While you can find many sprout varieties at most health food stores, growing them yourself is fun, easy and much less expensive.

Sprouts abound with antioxidants; they’re full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. And talk about good for you:  ounce for ounce they provide more nutrients than any other whole food known.  Sprouts also contain beneficial enzymes, requiring less digestive energy so they actually invigorate you while your body processes them.

Your home grown sprouts are up to the minute fresh (they grow until ready to eat) and delicious.  Grow them right in your kitchen using just seeds, jars and screens, here’s how!

Getting Started

Beginner Varieties

Any seed, bean or grain is sproutable, but some take a bit more know-how.  Easy and tasty seed choices are alfalfa, mustard, radish and clover.  Or start with legumes!  Lentils, mung beans, garbanzos and green peas are all good choices to start with.

Sprouting Seed and Bean Selection

Choose your seeds base on taste preference.  If you like the small spouts like alfalfa, which are often used in salads, sandwiches and spring rolls, start with seeds.  If you prefer legumes (beans, lentils, peas), which make a killer stir fry, hearty salad or wonderful soup, start there.  Sprouted legumes require much less cooking time than dried and are also more tender.

The legumes you use should be “seed quality”, which are generally recommended for sprouting, as compared to “food quality”, which are intended for cooking.  Seed quality legumes are cultivated for sprouting, while food quality are meant for cooking in their dry, unsprouted state, and tend to have a lower germination rate.

Fortunately it’s becoming easier to find seeds, beans, and grains specifically grown for sprouting. These can be found in most health-food stores, often right in the bulk bins or specialty shops, and are also available online.  Once you have your seeds in hand, store them in airtight containers until you’re ready to use them, glass jars work well for this purpose

Setting Up

Growing Supplies

  • Wide mouthed mason 1 – 1.5 quart mason jar with 2 part lid.
  • Stainless steel screen or fiberglass mesh to cover the mouth of the jar
  • Sprouting bag or towel to cover your sprouting jar
  • Dish rack or flat shallow containers for the jars to drain into.

Finding Space

During the germination process sprouts, like most seeds, prefer a dark, temperate (60-85°) location away from drafts and direct heat.   You can sprout right on your kitchen counter by just covering your jar with a sprouting bar or towel to keep the light out.

Sprout Your Own Superfoods in 7 Simple Steps

1. Measure out your seeds or beans.  In general 1 oz. of seed yields about 1 cup of spouts, so ¼ cup (for a 2 cup yield), seems to be a good starting point for small seed sprouts since they have a short shelf life.  Soaked beans and legumes expand to 3-4 times when sprouted, so plan accordingly.

2. Place seeds in a mesh strainer or in your spouting jar and rinse tap water water, then drain.

If you used a strainer for rinsing, pour seeds or legumes into your mason jar.  Fill the jar ¾ with water, cap with mesh screen and lid and let soak overnight (if prepared in the evening) or for the following times:

  • Small seeds 3-8 hours
  • Larger seeds or legumes 8-16 hours
  • Grains 8-16 hours

3. After soaking, drain the water and rinse the seeds thoroughly.  The soaking water is said to contain natural toxins released from the seeds during germination, so a 2-3 time daily rinse is recommended.

4. After each rinse, place the jar upside down and tilted at a 45° angle in the spot you’ve selected and cover with a sprouting bag or towel.  The goal is to keep them damp but not soaking in water until they sprout.  The warmer and darker the location, the faster they’ll sprout.

5. Let the spouts germinate for the suggested number of days (see chart below). Sprout most seeds 1-2’, grains up to 4’, and beans ¼ to 1”.  You may want to very growth time depending on plans for use.  Shorter sprouts are great for eating whole, you’ll want then longer if you plan to juice.

6. Small seed optional (skip this step for legumes).  Once seeds have sprouted, place the jar in strong, indirect sunlight for the 2 – 3 days after to develop some nutrient-rich chlorophyll.

7. When the jar is full and the sprouts or legumes are ready to use, store in with the sprouting cap intact in the refrigerator for use within 3-5 days.  Be sure the sprouts are not stored in airtight containers and  have drained for at least 5 hours before storing, too much moisture can cause spoilage.

  • Small seeds 4-6 days
  • Larger seeds or legumes 3-5 days
  • Grains 3-5 days

It is recommended that small seeds be hulled, as in shells of the seeds removed, before placing in the refrigerator.  It’s easy to do by soaking in a large bowl of water where hulls will float to the top for easy removal.

Once you get the hang of it, sprouting can be rather addictive.  It’s amazing to watch a tiny volume of seeds grow into a jar full of fresh, antioxidant-packed sprouts in a few days.   You’ll find new ways to enjoy sprouts just so you have an excuse to keep them growing.   Sign up to receive delicious recipe ideas at

10 Savvy Shortcuts for Streamlining Your Cooking Projects


Whether you want to lose weight, stabilize your energy or improve your health, Your kitchen is the best place to start.  One primary factor in transforming your diet is relying less on restaurants and take out in favor of doing more cooking at home.  For many of us, that mere idea can be scary, but with strategies for success in place, you’ll enjoy the benefits of home cooking without the aggravation.  And believe it or not, when done right, meal preparation can be fun and creative as well as healthy and delicious. 

Whether you’re a stranger to your kitchen or simply wish you were, try these helpful tips to streamline the process.  You won’t believe the difference you’ll experience when you can focus on getting your creative juices ready to whip up something fabulous, minus the headache.  Here’s how:

  1. Keep it simple.  Maintain a 1 dish breakfast and lunch, and a 2-3 dish dinner.  Cooking from scratch gives you the opportunity to whip up delicious recipes using less than 5 ingredients, but that combine important food groups.  Overnight Oatmeal with fruit and walnuts for breakfast, a Quickie Quesadilla for lunch followed by a Snappy Veggie Stir Fry with Miso Goddess Sauce sauce over brown rice for dinner.  All of these give you a huge nutritional hit in one satisfying dish, perfect for maintaining balanced energy all day long.
  2. Strive for satisfaction on 5 ingredients or less.  Look for a cookbook or website that features simple, whole foods cooking and find 2-3 recipes that sound good.  Mark your pages or print the recipes, highlighting what you need to purchase so you don’t have to reread anything to remember.
  3. Get organized! A pre-written grocery list, whether compiled by a healthy foods expert or one you create for yourself, is key to cooking success.  Keep your list near the fridge or on your mobile device so you can keep it current.
  4. Label bulk foods or even bagged rice and beans by listing cooking times and water-to-grain ratio so you don’t need to consult a cookbook ever time you want to prepare them.  Black self-adhesive mailing labels work well, but I like to print out these crafty pre-designed labels and keep them in the kitchen for when I need them.
  5. Group complementary objects.  If there are ingredients you always use together, store them together for easy access.  For example if you only use oatmeal with raisins, group them side by side even if they’re not your traditional “like-objects”.
  6. Set up to streamline.  Whether you’re working to a recipe or making a favorite you know by heart, take out everything you’ll need to use before you start to streamline the process and save time.   Place foods where they’ll be used, like on the cutting board, next to a bowl or pan.
  7. Grouping tasks saves time.  Wash your produce all together, then take a moment to check out your recipe or think through your plan.   Make sure all of the chopping, peeling and cooking happens simultaneously.  Store your prepped food on dinner plates if you need the work space, you can simply wipe them down and reuse them at mealtime to avoid more cleanup.  You’ll be amazed by the time difference this can make.
  8. Prepare ahead.   Washing your lettuce or bulk greens as soon as you get them home, then store in a covered glass bowl or green produce bag.  Cook bulk beans or grains (except for rice) that you plan to use within 3-4 days over the weekend or after dinner.  Most need to cook for an hour or more, but require little to no maintenance during cooking, so when you have a stretch of time, take advantage of it.
  9. Skip unnecessary steps.  Carrots, apples and parsnips don’t need to be peeled, not does garlic that will be used in a press.  Use your kitchen scissors to chop fresh herbs directly into your dish, no cutting board required.  Serve cooked foods in attractive glass storage bowls to avoid unnecessary transfers and dishes.
  10. Enlist a friend.  Take turns bringing lunch to work, set up a weekly pot luck night or trade favorite recipes and cooking tips.  This helps you save to time, but the real benefits are shared experience, camaraderie and good, healthy food.

This may sound like a long list of instructions, but the idea is to adopt the ones that feel right for you, and practice them until they become routine.  Then add on from there.

Maximizing your time in the kitchen makes it more enjoyable, and you’ll find yourself less overwhelmed by the idea of preparing meals at home.  Taking control of your health is empowering, and the kitchen is the best place to start.   So choose your favorite tips, plug them into your calendar and take the first step towards healthier eating today!

Mindful Eating, 5 Tips to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick


If you’re riding the wellness resolution trend this year, you may want to take note.   While the New Year may harken the best of intentions, they’re usually short-lived.  When it comes to health and mindful eating, less than 10% of resolutions survive the test of time, and I’m talking months, not years.  The fact is, Americans make over 200 food-related decisions per day according to a recent study, yet when asked to estimate that number, participants’ guess an average of 15.  Yes it’s true, the vast majority of our eating is done mindlessly.

But there is good news too!  You have the power to change your mindless eating default and bring these decisions to the forefront (frontal lobes in this case), where they belong.   So IF you’re serious about a New Year’s resolution that involves improving your energy level, losing weight and feeling happier all around, listen up.   Here are some common-sense strategies for making it happen for real this time.

1. Discover your most compelling motive for making change.  Motivation plays the biggest role when it comes to enacting long term, positive behavior change.  But identifying your true motive may not be as obvious as it seems at first glance.  Ask yourself, “Why do I want to lose weight, really?  What will the outcome look or feel like?”  Dig deep and envision clearly.

Leading neuro-science expert Dr. Daniel Amen keeps a picture of his grandson where he’ll see it every day, as a reminder of his real motive for keeping his health a priority.  The mocha fudge becomes less tempting when you connect it to a bigger picture, as in avoiding options that move you further away from your goals.  The same rationale has been effectively used by former smokers to kick the habit, it works!

Another great way to do this is to create a vision board, complete with images, as in pictures of loved ones you’d like to have the energy to spend more time with, or people who inspire you through their achievements that you know are not outside your realm of possibility too.

2. Then choose one habit that you know isn’t serving you.  Do you hit the drive-through every morning only to end up so hungry you’re wondering how you’ll possibly make it all the way until lunch?  Nosh on packaged snacks when you get home from work and regret all the empty calories later?  Instead of resolving to diet away the extra ten pounds, start with one simple behavior change directed toward achieving that goal.  Give yourself time to get comfortable with that change, whether it’s days, weeks or months until this becomes your new normal.  Now you’re ready to take another step, and repeat until your diet brings you all of the benefits excellent health has to offer.

3. State your personal credo, write it down and memorize it.  Sticking to a healthy routine that’s working feels great, but you still need to prepare for the unexpected.  The homemade cheesecake muffins your well-meaning co-worker shares with the group, the Philly Cheesesteak your partner wants to share, the small vs. jumbo-sized anything.  If these offers cross your path, decide in advance on your default, then remember your credo when temptation strikes.  The treat will be gone in a moment, but the self-empowerment of establishing new resolve keeps on growing, long after the dazzle has fizzled and the New Year has passed.

So now you’ve made a mindful decision to prioritize health and wellness this year.  You know your motives, you’re prepared with healthy alternatives and you know your credo.   The question then becomes, in times of stress or temptation, how do we stay aligned with our best intentions?

4. Avoid your triggers, and pack alternatives  If you know you’re tremendously tempted by your mom’s homemade lasagna, with it layers of cheese and rich, meaty sauce, instead of hoping you’ll have the willpower to resist, which after a glass of wine and a little convincing, you won’t, plan ahead.  Eat some raw veggies or fruit and drink a big glass of water before you’re in any situation where you’re inclined to be hungry and lots of food you know you’ll regret later is imminent.   Decide in advance how much you’ll try, and stick to it.  Have a ¼ piece of lasagna and fill the rest of your plate with veggies.   Don’t break the code:  once you start snacking on empty carbs it’s much harder to stop, so make your snacks healthy, even if you have to bring them yourself.  The key again is to plan ahead.

5. Make your health a top priority!  You may have noticed that sometimes your willpower seems stronger than others.  Ever wonder why when you’re calm and well-rested, you seem less inclined to succumb to temptation?  One reason is pure physiology.  It takes energy to exercise willpower, and if we’re out of fuel, we’ll have less of it. If it’s way past lunchtime, you’re beyond hungry and the only opportunity to appease that need is the big Mickey D’s, you may stop, and once you’re there at that drive though and your willpower is weak, all bets are off.  So avoid these pitfalls!

  • Get enough rest (a huge factor in harnessing willpower)
  • Exercise even a little bit every day, even 15 minutes of brisk walking counts!
  • Prepare ahead to avoid the pitfalls

Yes this takes intention and even a bit of time, but you already have the tools you need to succeed, including the willpower.  When you prioritize your health, you’ll bring your best self to the table, making smart choices easier and happy outcomes more likely every time.

A Smarter Start: Ignore the front cover, focus on the ingredients list!



I was reading one of my favorite new books, Pandora’s Lunchbox, and getting a serious education on the synthetics contained in most breakfast cereals, when the author mentioned Kellogg’s Smart Start.  It sounds so healthy, and who wouldn’t want a smart start when the box looks so appealing?   Really, what’s not to like?  To find out, I turned to my old friend, Wikipedia, which very conveniently lists ingredients for many common packaged foods.  In fact, if you hate the idea of standing in the grocery store aisle trying to make out the fine print, try Wiki first and save yourself some shopping time later.


Ten Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas for Kids (and grown-ups)


healthy-snacks-for-kidsIt’s the bane of parents of school-aged children everywhere. Ask any mom her biggest challenges with raising school aged children, and somewhere among them, almost cringingly whispered, come those two dreaded words: making lunch.  The daily grind of making sure you have enough variety in stock is challenging.

It’s hard to find healthy foods your kids will eat. Yet with popular faves like Turkey + Cheddar Lunchables packing in at least half a days’ worth of saturated fat, most ready-made snacks are no good solution.


Unbelievably Easy Rice Paper Wraps



I love fresh spring rolls, or salad wraps as they’re sometimes called.   The Thai-inspired kind prepared with raw, julienned vegetables snugly encased in a rice paper wrapper, made even more delicious with a savory dipping sauce served on the side.  It’s a simple concept, yet one of those recipes I hesitated to try at home.

My problem was with the rice paper wrappers.  I would buy them periodically, but my good intentions were always cut short by the lack of directions on the package.  Eventually, as in a long time later, I would feel compelled to toss them, unopened, they were so old.  Why it took me to long to simply look up the directions, I’ll never know,  but I tell you now that I’ve got a handle on it, making healthy, delicious spring rolls is embarrassingly easy and very kid-friendly.


Top Ten Reasons to Eat Your Beans


Did you know, thousands of new processed food products are introduced each year, with billions of industry dollars spent encouraging us to eat them?  The US is now the most overweight industrial nation in history.  Do they really think we need more food?

Newsflash industrial ag!  You’re heading in the wrong direction.  We don’t need more additives, chemicals or GMOs, it’s time we turned back to the basics, where natural nutrition and good taste meet.  In other words, back to the beans.

Beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week  If nutritional punch and sheer deliciousness don’t grab you, how about the biggest bang for your buck as another great reason to get those beans boiling?