Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Michelle Dudash is an Arizona-based Registered Dietitian and Cordon Bleu-certified chef. She’s also a busy mom who wants to feed her sometimes-picky 4-year-old a healthy, balanced diet. Over the years she’s created appealing family dishes and helpful strategies for getting a home-cooked meal on the table quickly. She shares her recipes and advice in her cookbook Clean Eating for Busy Families.
Q: What do you mean by “clean eating?”
A: At its foundation, clean eating means consuming foods in their most natural and least processed state. (Also, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label, you probably shouldn’t eat it.) Clean eating to me also means opting for in-season foods whenever possible. Finally, enjoy every bite. I’m a food lover and believe that food is something to be savored and celebrated. Enjoy food intentionally while seated at the table, and avoid mindless snacking.
Q: What ingredients are important to you to buy organic? Why?
A: Organic expeller-pressed canola oil, since most conventional canola contains GMOs.
Sometimes, depending on availability, I buy organic meats, eggs, and poultry because that guarantees that these animals aren’t given drugs, antibiotics, or growth hormones.
Q: What are some tips for getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly?
A: Properly stock your kitchen early in the week. That way in the time that you would call in and pick up your takeout order, you could have prepared a fresh meal at home. My book offers weekly, monthly and quarterly shopping lists, breaking down grocery shopping into manageable pieces to provide healthy meals. Try to plan meals ahead and have a go-to recipe arsenal. Your best bet: prepare one-dish or make-ahead meals whenever possible.
Q: Healthy is all well and good. What if a mom has picky kids who won’t eat any veggies, for example?
A: That makes two of us! My daughter loves hummus, edamame, and spaghetti sauce. Beyond that I need to incorporate vegetables into other things like in my Turkey, Vegetable, and Oat Mini-Meatloaves—with mushrooms! I bake them in muffin tins and call them “meatloaf cupcakes,” dicing them and serving over whole-grain spaghetti. My daughter, Scarlet, also loves fruit so I make sure to offer fresh options at every meal.
Children are more likely to try the foods that they help prepare so get them in the kitchen with you. If your child still turns up her nose, don’t give up. Continue to offer—not force—a variety of foods, namely vegetables, with most meals. It can take eight to ten exposures before a child decides whether she likes a new food or will even try it. Eventually, your child will probably surprise you. Scarlet continues to surprise me every day!
Q: How do you feel about “hiding” vegetables in foods so kids eat more vegetables?
A: “Hiding” vegetables should be your last line of defense and used only when necessary. You don’t want to add sweet potatoes to brownies and tell your kids, “Yay, eat up, now they’re healthy!” But even I succumb to hiding vegetables to add more nutrients to my 4-year-old’s diet. It’s still important to continue to offer vegetables in plain sight regularly.
Q: How else can moms encourage their kids to eat healthfully?
A: Lead by positive example. Kids become curious when they see other people, including you, eating—and hopefully it is healthy. Come up with cute names for food that resonate with your kids, like my “meatloaf cupcakes” (or anything-cupcake, for that matter).
Q: What are your daughter’s favorite dishes in the book?
A: Scarlet’s favorite recipe is Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Dill Dip, which tastes even better than deep-fried versions. She also loves the Scarlet-Approved Lemon Cilantro Edamame Hummus. When I gave her a taste, she said, “I want more” and ate it by the spoonful. Her favorite desserts are Four Seasons Fruit Pizza, Dark Chocolate Whole-Grain Brownies, and Almond Butter Oatmeal & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Q: What are some simple changes someone could make to improve her family’s diet quickly?
A: Purge your pantry of the junk snacks made of refined flour, added sugars, and lots of sodium. Replace with whole foods, like fruits and vegetables for snacking.
Switch everything in your kitchen to whole-grain, preferably 100% whole-grain, including pastas, breads, crackers, tortillas, waffles and pancakes. If you face some pushback, stick to your guns and only keep whole-grain versions in stock. Your family can take it or leave it. They might not even notice, or eventually they will take it.
Q: What is a typical weekday breakfast in your house?
A: During the week, my husband, daughter and I all eat something different, which is easy to do because I keep plenty of quick-fix items on hand. One of my favorites is oatmeal and a cup of coffee with raw sugar and a splash of milk.
Q: What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Right now I am really into Coconut Bliss Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s so creamy and delicious, especially with dark chocolate sauce. I eat dark chocolate regularly, though I don’t consider that a guilty pleasure since I have just a few bites and it contains some beneficial nutrients.
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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Test of Anthrax Vaccine in Children Gets Tentative OK
A presidential ethics panel has opened the door to testing an anthrax vaccine on children as young as infants, bringing an angry response from critics who say the children would be guinea pigs in a study that would never help them and might harm them. (via Reuters)
Most Parents Don’t Follow Doctor’s Orders
Two-thirds of parents say they don’t always follow the advice they get from their child’s doctor, according to a new poll. The findings showed that 56 percent of parents said they follow the advice they’re given most of the time, while 13 percent said they follow it only occasionally, according to the findings from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. (via NBC News)
Student Suspended for Pop-Tart Gun, Josh Welch, Files Appeal with Maryland School System
An attorney for an Anne Arundel County 7-year-old suspended from school for nibbling a pastry into the shape of a pistol has filed an appeal with the county school system to have the suspension overturned and the student’s record expunged, saying he will “go all the way to the Maryland Court of Appeals” if needed to pursue the case. (via Huffington Post)
New Guidelines for Athletes with Concussions
A major medical group is updating its guidelines for handling amateur or professional athletes suspected of having a concussion. The American Academy of Neurology says the athletes should be taken out of action immediately and kept out until they’ve been cleared by a health care provider with training about concussions. (via FOX News)
Organic Baby Food: It’s More Expensive, but it May Not Be More Nutritious
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Parents go organic for a variety of reasons, including environmental concerns and a desire to avoid pesticide residue. And in some cases, they just want a status symbol. According to the consumer market research firm Mintel, organic baby food made up about 10 percent of the $1.4 billion U.S. baby food and snacks market in 2011. But studies show that parents who are aiming to buy the best food for their infants may not need to spring for the expensive organics. (via The Washington Post)
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Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
On the heels of the Stanford University study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a similar report stating organic foods do not provide any nutritional benefits that children cannot get from conventionally grown foods.
What does this mean for those of us who have been spending more for organic food with the perception that it’s better for us? Well in some ways it still might be. Even though organic food is nutritionally no better than conventionally grown, organic produce contains less pesticide residue. Author Debbie Koenig outlined her reasons for continuing to buy organic, and we think she makes a strong case for shelling out the extra dough. First on her list: protecting her son from unnecessary exposure to pesticides.
For more information on what to buy organic, check out our Organic Food Shopping Guide, then take our quiz to see if you know your stuff!
Image: Different fresh vegetables on the table, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
Asthma Drug May Stunt Growth Permanently
An inhaled drug commonly used to treat children with asthma cuts about half an inch off their height permanently, researchers reported. (via NBC)
Organic Food No More Nutritious Than Non-Organic, Study Finds
Organic produce and meat typically isn’t any better for you than conventional varieties when it comes to vitamin and nutrient content, according to a new review of the evidence. (via Reuters)
Students Who Skip School Don’t Get the Consequences, Study Says
Teens who skip school are less likely to graduate and attend college, but they don’t see it that way. (via Time)
Harvard Students in Cheating Scandal Say Collaboration Was Accepted
Harvard students suspected in a major cheating scandal said on Friday that many of the accusations are based on innocent — or at least tolerated — collaboration among students, and with help from graduate-student teachers who sometimes gave them answers to test questions. (via New York Times)
Preventing Pain from Heavy Backpacks
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Dr. Jeff Goldstein, director of The Spine Service Division at New York University Medical Center, said parents would be surprised by the average weight of backpacks. (via Fox News)
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Thursday, February 16th, 2012
Arsenic Found in Organic Baby Food, Cereal Bars
You may think you’re being extra-healthy when you chose foods labeled “organic,” but some of these products contain arsenic, a compound that may increase the risk of cancer, a new study says.
Pregnant at Work? Why Your Job Could Be at Risk
Not all employers wish their pregnant employees well: the number of pregnancy-related discrimination charges have jumped by 35% in the past decade.
Day Care: Good Care Benefits Kids 30 Years Later — And Moms Too
Research has shown that high-quality early child care can have a significant impact on children’s well-being, and now a new study in the journal Child Development finds that it’s important for Mom too.
US Doctors ‘Firing’ Parents Who Refuse to Vaccinate Children
US pediatricians fed up with parents who refuse to vaccinate their children out of concern it can cause autism or other problems increasingly are “firing” such families from their practices, raising questions about a doctor’s responsibility to these patients.
How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness
Now, in the largest study yet to use brain scans to show the effects of child abuse, researchers have found specific changes in key regions in and around the hippocampus in the brains of young adults who were maltreated or neglected in childhood. These changes may leave victims more vulnerable to depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the study suggests.
15-Minute-Old Newborn Gets Pacemaker for the Heart
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The name Jaya in Hindi means victorious. And little Jaya Maharaj was just that, when she became one of the smallest recipients of a pacemaker when she was just 15 minutes old.
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Who says you can’t afford designer kids clothes? Dress your child in a colorful, detailed, and eco-friendly wardrobe from the Stella McCartney Kids collection. A year after McCartney created a successful capsule collection for Gap Kids, she launched her own collection today to dress babies through 12-year-olds. Like her own clothing designs for adults, the kids clothes are completely vegan and organic.
Prices for babies’s clothes range from $20-$78 while prices for older kids’ clothes range from $30-$145. Most of the clothes are also unisex, with older girls and boys sharing the same plaid shirts, sweaters, and jackets (including a fantastic military jacket, the most expensive piece at $145). Not only will your child become a snappy dresser, but your purchase of a “Leo Sweatshirt” also ensures a donation to an environmental charity.
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