Archive for the ‘ Diet ’ Category

Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi Wants You to #VegAllegiance

Friday, May 1st, 2015

How many meatless meals a week does your family eat?

Padma Lakshmi, the host of Bravo’s Top Chef, a mom, and cookbook author, wants that number to go up. She’s working with MorningStar Farms to help inspire families to eat less meat.

Recently, MorningStar Farms began asking people to take the Veg of Allegiance. This initiative sets out to encourage anyone who wants to lead a more meatless lifestyle, no matter what the reason may be. By pledging, I #VegAllegiance to go meatless for (any number of) meals per week, participants can join the discussion about the perks of consuming more veggies and less meat.

Parents recently spoke with Lakshmi about her own choice to go meatless and how you can do the same. What are some of the benefits to going meatless?
PL: I feel lighter, healthier, more energetic, and it’s good for your body… but it’s also good for the planet. The amount of carbon footprints you leave by eating a steak or lamb-chop is so much more than if you were to eat tofu. What tips do you have for families who want to go meatless?
PL: Start with five meals a week, and make three of those meals during the weekends… and preplan! Rather than reading a gossip magazine during a pedicure or while you’re lying in bed, think about what you will make. And get your children involved in cooking—they’ll feel a sense of pride and they will be more likely to eat better for the rest of their lives. What about families who feel they’re too busy to eat at home?
PL: Make meals ahead of time—I find myself taking a cutting board to the coffee table to prepare whatever I can while watching TV. As we all know children can be picky, and might resist making the change to being meatless. Do you have suggestions for parents who are struggling to get their children on board?
PL: It’s important to be strict with yourself and set a good example—make one meal for the whole house rather than catering to everyone’s preferences. My daughter is a vegetarian, so I will substitute certain things for her, but if she refuses to eat altogether then she’s out of luck. Children will eventually get hungry and come around.

Related: 5 Myths About “Going Vegetarian”

Padma also stresses the importance of talking to your children about food. Rather than exposing them only to bright-packaged candy in the grocery store, bring them to the butcher, farm, or fish market, where they will have the opportunity to talk to the people that produce their food. “We used to be educated about the food we eat, but we’ve become so removed from that. We need to get back to the basics,” she said.

By eating “clean”, and focusing less on meat-based meals, we can improve the planet. According to MorningStar, having more plant-based meals can reduce the emissions of carbon and greenhouse gases as well as save water—and you might just feel better too.

I don’t know about you, but I say bring on the veggies! I #VegAllegiance to go meatless for three meals a week… what do you say!?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Healthy Snacks: Veggie Pancakes
Healthy Snacks: Veggie Pancakes
Healthy Snacks: Veggie Pancakes

Image: John Minchillo/AP Images for MorningStar Farms

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Haylie Duff On Being Pregnant and Hungry

Monday, April 20th, 2015

You might recognize Haylie Duff from her established acting career in both films and TV (and maybe from her famous younger sis, too)—but she’s pretty talented in the kitchen, as well. And now she’s cooking for two!

Haylie has amassed a following as the author of her popular blog The Real Girl’s Kitchen, and hosts a show of the same name on Cooking Channel (which will premiere a new season Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. ET!). Her Texas background melds with her California lifestyle to serve up a mix of cozy, homestyle meals and lighter, fresher fare. On her show, Haylie documents her adventures around New York and LA. Plus, she showcases her culinary chops with easy recipe tutorials.

In true millennial mom fashion, Haylie announced her pregnancy in early December via Instagram and a blog post. With the arrival of her little girl quickly approaching, we chatted with the mom-to-be about her pregnancy, her recent baby shower, and how she deals with unpredictable cravings.

P: How did you start cooking?

HD: I grew up in a Texas family that loved to cook. Then, as a young adult I decided it was time I learn to whip up a couple dishes, and I fell in love with my kitchen!

P: Do you find that it’s tougher to find motivation to cook during pregnancy?

HD: Motivation, no, because you are always hungry! But sometimes being on your feet too long in the kitchen is a bummer. I was very lucky to not get hit with morning sickness so I still got to enjoy my favorite meals while I was pregnant.

P: Are there certain foods you just can’t get enough of right now?

HD: Fruit! I have craved tangerines my whole pregnancy. And pizza…

P: Your recent blog about Green Enchiladas mentioned that you’ve been craving Mexican food lately. What are some of your favorite healthy dishes?

HD: I love to make quinoa salads and keep them in the fridge. Then you always have something healthy to snack on. I do the same with turkey chili!

P: Is season 2 of Real Girl’s Kitchen going to incorporate pregnancy wellness or preparing for baby? What can viewers expect for the new season?

HD: We didn’t really highlight my pregnancy because the episodes sometimes air out of order and I didn’t look pregnant in the beginning. I just finished shooting a summer special for Cooking Channel that is all about baby!

P: Have you been getting any pregnancy advice from your sister Hilary?

HD: Not really pregnancy advice as much as the world’s cutest wardrobe! She is so excited to be an aunt to a little girl. It was so cute, when I first found out I was pregnant I asked my nephew what he hoped the baby was and he said “a girl!” So everyone is pretty pumped.

P: You focus a lot on healthy, whole foods. How has that been a priority for you during pregnancy?

In the beginning of my pregnancy I just wanted lighter food. I craved green smoothies, fruit and salads. As I got more pregnant I wanted naughtier foods!

P: What is the weirdest thing you’ve craved during pregnancy?

I ate tacos for breakfast one day—that is a bit out of character for me!

Related: Celebrity Moms’ Top Pregnancy Cravings

P: How have you readers helped you through the pregnancy process? Do you find yourself asking them for any tips?

It has been really fun to go through pregnancy with the readers of Real Girls Kitchen. We commiserate, share tips or simply share excitement! It is nice to feel everyone’s love and support!

The Real Girl’s Kitchen will be premiering for season two on Saturday, April 25th at 1pm on Cooking Channel.

Photo by Yoni Goldberg.

Brooke Bunce is an editorial assistant at Parents and loves to binge-watch cooking shows when she has access to cable television. You can follow her on Twitter.

How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Snack
How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Snack
How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Snack

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Paleo Is Only the Latest Baby Food Trend

Monday, April 6th, 2015

You may have seen the news a few weeks ago that publisher of a new baby food cookbook in Australia cancelled the book due to fears that the recipes might actually be harmful to infants. As one would guess from the title, the book, Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way promises to instruct parents how to feed their babies within the confines of the paleo diet, the healthy eating plan du jour. Written by Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans, the book features a recipe for a chicken liver and bone broth, which the Public Health Association of Australia fears parents may substitute for formula or breast milk. Heather Yeatman, president of the group said, “In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead.”

Yikes! While it’s hard to talk about anything once the specter of infant death has been raised, another potential problem with Bubba Yum Yum is the paleo practice of omitting entire food groups such as grains, dairy, beans and lentils from a child’s diet. Research has shown that the more flavors babies are exposed to, the more likely they are to eat a variety of foods when they are older children. Depriving a baby of whole swaths of cuisine—and healthful ones at that—may be setting a child (and parents) up for years of frustration at the dinner table.

(Evans has decided to publish the book independently; it should be out this month. Be wary.)

Most of my friends have been shocked that anyone would consider feeding their baby based on the diet trends of the day. But after reading Amy Bentley’s fascinating book Inventing Baby Food, I realized we’ve been doing that for decades, ever since the late 1920s when Gerber became the first mass-produced brand of commercial baby food sold in grocery stores.

According to Bentley, Gerber found a public ready to accept commercial food, thanks to the growing understanding of the importance of fruits and vegetables in a baby’s diet, an acceptance of canned goods, and a general uptick in “progress” including more refrigerators and washing machines. The company turned to women’s magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal (R.I.P.) to make its pitch, convincing moms that Gerber’s “scientific, wholesome” product was actually superior to anything made at home. The persuasion worked. In 1930 Gerber produced 842,000 cans of baby food. Just two years later, the company made 2,259,818 cans, and this was despite the Great Depression.

Store-bought baby food reached its peak in the 1950s, when feeding babies from cans often began at just two to three months of age and the use of formula became common. This was the decade that famously saw entire meals made out of (often ill-suited) combinations of jarred and packaged foods for dinner parties. Commercial baby food rode the packaged foods wave, and like much homemade food, homemade baby food was considered hopelessly old-fashioned. In 1957 it was estimated that 90 percent of mothers fed their infants processed baby food. Bentley says that “Solids, particularly commercially prepared baby food, were modern, life-giving, and efficient, the latter an especially valued quality in postwar America.”

Baby food in the ’50s may have been efficient, but it also frequently contained sugar, salt, and MSG. In the 1970s a growing environmental awareness and suspicion of processed foods opened the door for a small resurgence in homemade baby food. And, congressional inquiries into the safety and wholesomeness of commercial baby food prompted most manufacturers to remove salt and sugar from their products. Baby food was changing with the times.

Today, baby food continues to evolve. Manufacturers are losing market share to good old-fashioned homemade baby food, a trend that reflects our society’s growing enthusiasm for less-processed, “clean”, and “real” foods that have made websites like 100 Days of Real Food and, yes, even the paleo diet, such juggernauts. According to a 2014 New York Times article the sale of processed baby food has been declining since 2005.

Today’s parents have so many options when it comes to feeding their babies – from traditional purees in jars to organic blends in pouches to forgoing the puree stage altogether, a practice known as baby-led weaning. How we feed our children reflects our values, so it’s no surprise we want our babies to eat like us, whether that’s thumbing our nose at the trendy clean food movement in favor of convenient store-bought jars or blending organic ingredients we pick up at the farmer’s market. Chances are, babies will turn out just fine whichever route parents take – just skip the bone broth in the baby’s bottle.

Would you consider feeding your baby or toddler the paleo way?

Jenna Helwig is the food editor at Parents and the author of Real Baby Food: Easy, All-Natural Recipes for Your Baby and Toddler. Follow her on Twitter.

Choose a Baby Food Maker
Choose a Baby Food Maker
Choose a Baby Food Maker

Image: Baby food puree via Shutterstock

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When Should You Introduce Gluten to Your Baby? Well, It Depends.

Friday, March 27th, 2015

One of my baby’s favorite first foods, alongside steamed broccoli and fruit puree, was bread. The toasted sandwich variety or sourdough ciabatta, she seemed to love it all. Armed by the research findings linking a lower risk for Celiac disease to early introduction to gluten while still breastfeeding, I felt comfortable feeding my baby gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and barley. But was it a good decision?

Since the prevalence of Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting about 1 percent of the population, has quadrupled in the last few decades, it is not surprising that parents are looking for ways to reduce their babies’s chances of developing it in the future.

Until recently, all we had was data from some observational (not experiment-based) research suggesting that there was a window of opportunity somewhere between four and seven months when babies were more likely to develop tolerance to gluten.

But in October 2014 two respectable journals published intriguing results of two experimental, randomized controlled studies. The studies were performed independently in different parts of the world and reached very similar conclusions.

One of them looked at 700 infants in Italy who were at risk for Celiac disease due to family history. The infants were randomized into two groups, one of which received gluten-containing foods at six months and the other at 12 months. The groups were followed up periodically over a period of 10 years. Children who were introduced to gluten at six months were more likely to have Celiac disease at two years of age but there was no difference between the groups at the five-year check up. At 10 years, those children who had higher genetic risk for Celiac disease were more likely to have it, regardless of when gluten was introduced. Breastfeeding while introducing gluten did not play any role in reducing the risk.

For the other randomized study, Dutch researchers enrolled just under 950 infants at high risk for Celiac disease from seven countries and divided them into two groups. Parents from both groups were instructed to start gradually introducing gluten at six months of age. Infants from one of the groups were also receiving 100mg of gluten every day from four months while the other group was getting placebo. By the three-year follow up, about same number of children from both groups developed Celiac disease and researches found that breast-feeding was not protective.

So it looks like neither introducing gluten between four and six months nor breastfeeding seems to be protective from Celiac disease for babies at high-risk. And while delaying gluten till 12 months does not help to prevent Celiac disease it may delay its onset for a few years.

If you are feeling a little confused, you are not alone. It does not look like we will be getting definitive answers to this question very soon, at least not until more randomized controlled studies are conducted. But the good news is that nutritional research is moving forward and we are now learning more about Celiac disease prevention than ever before.

To summarize, here are some points to consider when deciding when to introduce gluten to your baby’s diet:

  • There is no conclusive research on the best time to introduce gluten in order to reduce risk for Celiac disease in the future.
  • If your baby is at high risk and you can wait until she is 12 months before introducing gluten, you may delay the potential onset of celiac disease. Talk to your doctor to determine your baby’s genetic predisposition for this disorder.
  • No solids including those containing gluten should be introduced before four months.
  • Allow 2-3 days before introducing a new food to allow time to spot signs of a possible allergic reaction.
  • In the case of a strong history of Celiac disease in family, consult with your doctor before giving your baby gluten containing foods
  • If you are breast-feeding, continue as long as you can, preferably until your baby is at least one year old. Even though breastfeeding does not seem to help reduce risk for Celiac disease, it has many other benefits to mother and baby.

Know though that if your baby isn’t at high risk for celiac disease there’s no evidence at this point that delaying the introduction of gluten will be beneficial in any way.

To answer my own question whether or not I should have waited to introduce gluten to my baby until she was older, I think I made the decision that worked for me.

Our family has no history of Celiac disease so her risk of developing it was pretty low to begin with. Also, we like the baby to share meals with us and since we are a family of bread lovers, trying to come up with alternatives would have been more work for me. And finally, seeing her happy face gnawing with gusto on a piece of toast first thing in the morning was too precious to miss!

Natalia Stasenko MS, RDN is a registered dietitian and recognized pediatric nutrition expert. A mother of three, she uses evidence-based and always practical strategies to foster parents’ confidence and skills in feeding their children right. To read more of Natalia’s articles, visit her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

When to Worry: Food Allergies
When to Worry: Food Allergies
When to Worry: Food Allergies

Image: Homemade bread via Shutterstock

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The Great Kraft Singles Debate

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

American cheeseThe Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has approved Kraft Singles as the first product to incorporate its new “Kids Eat Right” label on its packaging. The label displays the logo of the “Kids Eat Right” nutritional education program run by the Academy’s foundation.

The announcement of this approval has raised some concerns with consumers who believe processed food should not bear a label that appears to be a nutritional stamp of approval. “Kraft is a frequent target of advocates for better children’s nutrition, who contend that many of its products are over-processed, with too much fat, sodium, sugar, artificial dyes and preservatives,” reports to the New York Times. One registered dietitian even created an online petition in protest of the nutritional seal appearing on Kraft Singles.

On the other side of the debate, the ADA denies that the label is an endorsement of Kraft Singles’ nutritional value. “The Kids Eat Right” logo on Kraft Singles packaging identifies the brand as a proud supporter of Kids Eat Right,” said Mary Beth Whalen, the academy’s executive director. “It also serves to drive broader visibility to, a trusted educational resource for consumers.”

The label, which will appear on packaging for both the regular and 2 percent milk versions of Kraft Singles, is only the beginning of a three-year collaboration between the ADA and Kraft.

This news also comes after Kraft voluntarily recalled millions of boxes of mac and cheese earlier this week.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Cheese During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Cheese During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Cheese During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

Image: American cheese slices via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Diet, Nutrition, The Scoop on Food