One Easy Way to Prevent Childhood Obesity in your Family

child drink the fruit juice

With childhood obesity numbers soaring off the charts, many parents are more in tune with what their children are eating and drinking. French fries are being replaced with sweet potato fries and fruit cups, chicken tenders are getting the boot from their healthier grilled self, and sodas are being upgraded to real fruit juice. But, is this upgrade to juice really an upgrade at all?

Even though juice comes from fruit, it is still loaded with sugar and extra calories. Unfortunately, many parents think that this is a healthy option for their kids because of all of the vitamins and minerals juices offer. What they don’t take into consideration is that a single serving of fruit juice has far more calories from sugar than eating a piece of fruit (more than double, actually). And, while chewing an apple actually burns calories, swallowing a calorie-laden beverage like juice doesn’t give your mouth a workout.

Juice is absorbed quickly, and because it is full of liquid sugars, it creates a spike in insulin levels. If consumed in larger amounts regularly, it has the potential to cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, it lacks the filling fiber that a piece of fruit offers. So even after having consumed 180 calories of juice, your child will probably be hungry again fairly quickly.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics currently allows for a limited amount of juice (4-6 ounces per day for infants >6 months and 6 ounces twice daily for children) in a child’s daily diet, the recommendation to cut it out altogether may be on the horizon. So while skipping the daily candy bar and soda is a must, limiting the amount of juice your child drinks may be equally important in ensuring their health and preventing childhood obesity.



Watermelon Juice…Sipping on Tsamma!!!!!

Watermelon tends to be a summertime favorite. Slice it, dice it, cut it into chunks, drizzle it with honey, squirt it with lime juice, sprinkle it with mint…DELICIOUS! Not only is watermelon delicious, it’s a great treat alternative to popsicles, ice cream, and other sugary summertime snacks for your little ones. While I’ve tried just about every recipe with watermelon that you can imagine…I’ve never tried to make watermelon juice; and, now I don’t have to!0079

My watermelon growing friends at Frey Farms have created a new drink that is taking the juice market by storm! TSAMMA Watermelon Juice! While water and milk are my toddler’s main beverages, juice is an occasional treat. Instead of apple juice try this fun alternative. You can also use it to make your own homemade watermelon popsicles!!! Pour it into the molds, stick in the freezer…fun summertime treat! Or, if you’re a traditionalist, a watermelon slice is pretty delicious too! We like to think they grow in our backyard!!!photo 5 photo 1 photo 1

TSAMMA and Frey Farms didn’t ask me to give them a shout out…I just think they’re pretty awesome people with some great products! Available at Earth Fare, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and a ton of other local grocery stores. My little one likes to pick her own! For tips on how to pick the perfect watermelon check out this earlier blog…HOW TO PICK YOUR WATERMELONphoto 4 photo 1




Hazelnut S’mores…in the oven!!!!

A little sweet treat never hurt..especially not when it’s S’mores!!!! Don’t feel like starting a camp fire, firing up the grill, or even leaving the kitchen? Indoor S’mores it is!!! You can stick with the traditional Hershey Chocolate bar, but if you’re looking for a gourmet twist try switching things up with Nutella. Get your little ones involved. They can line up the crackers and pile on the 2

Hazelnut S’more Ingredients: 

1. graham crackers

2. Marshmallows

3. 1 jar of Nutella Hazelnut/Chocolate Spread

4. Cookie Sheet

5. Ovenphoto 1 photo 2 photo 4

How to Roast your S’mores in the oven: 

1. Break your graham crackers in half and place them on a cookie sheet

2. Place a marshmallow on half of the graham crackers

3. On the remaining Graham crackers spread a thick layer of Nutella

4. Place the cookie sheet in the oven on broil

5. Keep a very close eye on these goodies. They can burn in just a second. When you notice that the marshmallows are starting to turn a light brown on the top (literally less than 30 seconds) pull them from the oven and put your halves together!!!photo 1

Come rain or shine these indoor S’mores are tasty every time!




Juicy Baked Cranberry Chicken that Will Give Every Turkey a Run For the Oven:

What?? NO TURKEY!! You read it right. If you don’t have time to cook a big bird in the oven this year…I’ve got a tasty solution that will challenge this holiday tradition! It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s extra tasty! No, it isn’t Tofurky. I tried that. I spit that out. I never tried that again. Sorry, just being honest! This recipe is an all-time favorite in our house. Not sure where it originated from other than my mom’s kitchen. She’s always throwing something amazing together!Diptic

Juicy Baked Cranberry Chicken that Will Give Every Turkey a Run For the Oven: 

1- 1 1/2 packages of boneless skinless chicken breast (all natural. no hormones added. organic preferred). You can use about 4-6 chicken breasts.

2 cans of whole cranberry sauce

1 package of dry onion soup mix

1 bottle of either French, Creamy French, or Catalina or Creamy Catalina salad dressing

4 ingredients! Diptic

Let’s Make Supper! 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wash your chicken breasts. In a medium to large baking dish combine your cranberry sauce, your onion soup mix packet, and your full bottle of salad dressing. Mix until well combined. Next add your chicken breasts to the dish and cover them completely with your sauce. Cover your dish with either a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Delicious!!!Diptic

Serve with a green been casserole and stuffing. Thanksgiving is served!






Sushi Snacks For Toddlers: Fun Recipes To Get Your Little Ones Cooking

Moms are always asking me for healthy snack options for their toddlers. The “same old, same old” gets boring for moms and tots! So, if you’re looking for something fun to throw in your preschooler’s lunch box (aka bento box), or you’d like to get your little one cooking in the kitchen with you, here is a fun way to get started…sushi for toddlers (TOSHI???? Hmm, maybe not).

Throw on matching aprons, pull up the step stool, and get rolling! These are just a few (meatless) sushi recipes from our kitchen. We also love Frushi (fruit sushi) and Vegetarian sushi (especially mango and cucumber rolls)! Get creative with your little one’s favorite healthy foods. With enough chopping and dicing you can roll just about anything into toddler sushi!

Let’s Get Rolling with these 3 Easy Recipes:

1. Almond Butter Banana Rolls with Rice Crisps

This recipe only requires three simple ingredients! Organic Bananas, Organic Almond Butter, and Rice Crisps. Pull out a piece of parchment paper. Peel your banana. Cover your banana with the almond butter in a thick layer using a knife. Sprinkle generously with rice crisps and pat down. Simply lift the parchment paper to roll the banana to the other side. Continue to pat with rice crisps until completely covered. Using a sharp knife, cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Delicious!

2. Nutella Banana Sushi Rolls

This is more of a special treat or dessert sushi recipe:) Of course, this is Ayla’s favorite. Again, only three ingredients needed! Grab some whole wheat tortillas, like those made by Mission, a jar of Nutella, and some Organic Bananas. Spread a THICK layer of Nutella on your tortilla almost to the very edge of the tortilla. Don’t skimp or things won’t hold together-giving you a messy pancake instead of sushi rolls. Place one peeled banana at the edge of your tortilla and roll. Slice with a sharp knife into 1/2 inch thick pieces.

3. Cinnamon Apple and Peanut Butter Sushi Rolls

These rolls are one of my favorite. They take a little extra work but not much. You will need a Fuji or Gala apple, Organic Peanut Butter or Almond Butter, Ground Cinnamon, Honey, and either homemade or store-bought cinnamon raisin bread. Peel your apple. Quarter it and then cut into julienned strips. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Next, cut the edges off of a piece of your cinnamon raisin bread. Grab your rolling-pin and roll the bread just a few times to flatten it, making it a little more sticky. Spread a decently thick layer of peanut butter to cover the bread almost to the edges. Now, drizzle the peanut butter layer with a thin layer of honey. Place approximately six thin strips of apple in the center of the bread and roll up the sides. Pinch the edges together to secure. Cut with a sharp knife into 1/2-3/4 inch thick pieces. Yummy!!!



Hope your little one enjoys these tasty treats as much as we do! Next up…California rolls:) Let your toddler get involved. You may be surprised by how helpful they can be. Plus, cooking together is spending quality time together. That’s always extra yummy.



Healthy Meal Ideas for Toddlers: for moms who are tired of the same old thing

Happy Toddler Boy Eating StrawberriesI love the fact that my daughter can finally feed herself, but I often have mental blocks when it comes to creating new healthy foods that are toddler friendly. I want my daughter to eat more than the same four options listed on every kids’ menu. I want to entice her palate and help her appreciate the wide variety of flavors that healthy food has to offer. Starting this process at a young age is an imperative part of  preventing her from becoming a picky eater down the road. Before we get into the healthy meal ideas, I wanted to give you a few tips on how to introduce new foods and how to prevent a picky eater.

1. KEEP INTRODUCING THE SAME THINGS OVER, and Over, and Over again (times 12) and then Over again

Toddlers are actually willing to try new things if we will let them. They may act like they don’t like something on the first try, but it can often take up to 12 or more introductions of a food for a child to truly form an opinion. And, while some foods (such as ice cream and chicken tenders) will always get the finger licking sign of approval, you may be shocked by the vast amount of healthy and diverse foods your toddler will grow to love.cute toddler with finger in mouth


So, instead of giving your child a taste of a new food, seeing a wrinkled nose and a tongue thrust and saying, “Oh, you don’t like that,” try telling your child what they are experiencing. For example, if they taste a lemon let them know that it is sour. If they eat a pickle let them know that it is salty. If they try a new texture, identify the texture by saying that it is crunchy or slimy for example. If you tell your child what they are experiencing rather than assuming that they don’t like it, they will be much more likely to try it again in the future.Business Concept


If your child has tried something new and doesn’t want any more of it, save yourself the grief of a food war. Praise your child for at least trying the new food, and then let them know that they can try it again on another day. Forcing them to eat a new food that they haven’t yet acquired a taste for, may actually cause them to revolt and dislike the food in question. Force feeding is never a good idea…no matter what the age.


When introducing new foods to your toddler, make sure that you are also giving them foods that they know and like. In this way, they won’t feel like you are sabotaging their mealtime or taking away their favorites. Introducing the new food at the start of the meal when they are most hungry may also lead to a better outcome.

kid eating healthy foodNow, for the healthy meal ideas for toddlers…Instead of listing my favorite recipes I decided to direct you to some GREAT ONLINE RESOURCES for toddler recipe ideas. These websites are always coming up with new and exciting recipes for little ones. Don’t be afraid to try the ethnic foods! My daughter loves Thai, French, and Mediterranean foods. If you cook for your FAMILY with your toddler in mind, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy. It’s not a bad idea to have some back up options in the pantry, just in case your little one’s taste buds aren’t up for Thai quite yet. I always keep a supply of organic squeezies like the ones made by Ella’s Kitchen in my pantry. That way, if mealtime starts to be a battle over new foods, I have a healthy alternative. Your toddler will get there eventually; you just have to be patient. Check out these four recipe idea sources by clicking on the hyperlinks. Not only are the recipes delicious, they are healthy and fun!

1. Weelicious

2. Cooking Light for Toddlers

3. Super Healthy Kids

4. Wholesome Toddler Food

IMG_7672From The Mom in Me, MD

5 Tips for Putting the Perfect Watermelon in Your Grocery Cart

I love watermelon! The only person in my house who loves it more is my daughter. She would eat a whole watermelon daily if I would let her. A few days ago my girlfriends and I were talking about the tricks to picking the perfect watermelon. Some said it was a crapshoot, others said that they use the thumping trick, but none of us were sure if there was a way to pick the perfect melon every time. After a little self-education, I’ve found 5 tips to make sure that the watermelon in your grocery cart is ripe, juicy, and super sweet!IMG_7667IMG_7672

1. Make sure your watermelon is free from any cuts or deformities, FIRM, and BRIGHT green.

2. Choose the most SYMMETRIC watermelon. A melon that is smaller on one end than the other may have had irregular growth and won’t be as tasty.

3. Because watermelons are 90% water, the HEAVIER your melon…the better. Choose the melon that feels heavier than its size would indicate. Extra heavy means ripe and extra juicy!

4. Look for a large YELLOW or CREAMY SPOT on the bottom of the melon. This isn’t an imperfection. It’s the underside of the melon that sat on the ground. This yellow spot tells you that the watermelon had enough time to ripen on the ground before it was picked.

5. The THUMP TEST-hoist the watermelon a couple of inches from your ear, and give it a good thump or tap. You want it to sound HOLLOW. If it sounds solid it’s not ripe, and if it sounds thick it’s over ripe. Hollow is ripe perfection!Watermelon. Woman showing whole watermelon on isolated white bac

Hope this helps you pick the best watermelon ever…every time! And, thanks to the Food Channel, Wikihow, and The New York Times for helping me on my watermelon picking self-study.

From The Mom in Me, MD

Pizza on the Grill: even the Italians approve!

Pizza with grilled courgette, mushrooms and pine nutsLooking for something fun to grill this 4th of July weekend? What could be more fun than Pizza On The Grill! Last summer a friend of mine invited me over for pizza on the grill. My response, “Huh?” Not only did we have a blast making gourmet pizzas, our tummies were ecstatic. Since then, I’ve made several different pizza concoctions and all have been delicious. If you are planning on having people over, one time saver is to ask each guest to bring their favorite topping pre chopped up. You can provide the dough, sauces, and cheese. Let the party begin!

For the Dough: If you don’t want to make your own dough or don’t have the time, you can purchase pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store, local pizza shop, or at many local bakeries. If you have the time, making your own dough can be fun and pretty easy. I am including one dough option that I have used and which I have taken from The William and Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook, but you can substitute different types of flour if you would like something a little healthier.

1 tsp sugar

1 scant cup warm water

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) dry active yeast

2 4/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Start by dissolving your sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle your yeast on top and leave it for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Then add in your flour and salt, mixing in small amounts slowly with a wooden spoon (you can use a food processor on the pulse setting as well). Next, add your olive oil and the yeast mixture. Your dough should now be soft and sticky. Create a flowered work surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth. Add little bits of flour into the dough if it still seems too sticky. Roll it into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and set it aside for 45-60 minutes. When you uncover the bowl you should have twice the amount of dough! Take it out and give it a beating…literally punch it down with your fist and then let it stand for 5 minutes. Again, place it on your floured work surface kneading it for a few minutes. Grab your rolling-pin and get to work. You should be able to roll out a 12 inch wide circle. Brush the top of your dough with olive oil and place it on your hot pizza stone. You can also make individual sized pizzas by simply splitting the dough into four equal sections. 10308878_10152174251682572_2874243425992620293_nFor the Grill: Get your grill fired up! Make sure that you use a pizza stone directly on the grill for this dough. Follow the instructions on your pizza stone for pretreatment/prep before using. Once your pizza is loaded with toppings, cover the grill with the vents left open and then let the Pizza Grilling begin. It only takes about 8-10 minutes for the dough to cook. Make sure to turn it once half way through. Presto! Eat up!

For the Toppings: Get creative with your toppings. If you have a lot of veggies, you may want to cover these with olive oil, throw them into a grilling basket or even on the stove top to grill or sauté them a little before putting them on the pizza. Choose your sauce and cheese. Load everything on and then get the grilling going.10414570_10152174286507572_7579444340403216807_n Some of Ayla’s Favorite Topping Concoctions:

1. Pesto for the sauce, garlic stuffed olives, freshly sliced Roma tomatoes, feta cheese, rotisserie chicken breast, and spinach

2. Sauceless, prosciutto, pear slices, goat cheese, caramelized onions and Herbs de Province sprinkled on top

3. Figs, prosciutto, gorgonzola, arugula, with balsamic drizzle on top (add the arugula and balsamic after grilling)

4. traditional veggie with three cheese tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and every veggie under the sun 5. Any red tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, sliced carrots, cauliflower, apple slices, and italian sausage (make sure to brown the sausage before putting it on the pizza-it needs to be fully cooked ahead of time) with some rosemary sprinkled on top.

On a side note…I love to use Newman’s Own Tomato Sauces for pizza and pasta. Not only do they taste good, but this company gives ALL of its profit away to charities…over $400 million over the past 30 years! I’m okay with joining that charitable band wagon! Anyway, make grilling a fun family event or social get together excuse with Pizza on the Grill! Gone are the days of deep dish!Pizza with grilled courgette, mushrooms and pine nuts

From The Mom in Me, MD

Frozen Yogurt Bites for Babies: A healthy, fun, and easy summer treat!

I’m always trying to come up with fun, healthy treats for Ayla. But, because I’m a stickler for limiting her sweets, the neighborhood ice cream truck usually gets a thumbs down from this momma (Sorry, Mr. Ice-cream man! Nothing personal). Instead of ice cream, my mom used to freeze our yogurt cups in the summer. Although this tasted delicious on a hot day, it was a pain to dig out of the cup. Ayla is pretty good with a spoon these days, but working on a frozen block of yogurt would probably lead to a frustration melt-down! Solution…frozen yogurt bites! Great for little hands and little mouths. Frozen yogurt bites are easy to make, fun, and delicious! There are tons of great variations on how to make them. Don’t be afraid to get creative!Frozen strawberry yogurt on a stick with missing bite, isolated

Let’s Get This Frozen Yogurt Stand Up and Running!

1. Yogurt

I love using either organic Greek yogurt, but any yogurt will do. Choose an assortment of flavors and colors. This way you can make a rainbow out of your yogurt bites!

2. Mix In Options

You don’t have to mix anything into your yogurt, but if you want to make them just a little fancier consider these mix in options: Diced fruit such as fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or banana. If you want to use pureed fruit instead, purchase some of the organic fruit squeeze packs like the ones made by Plum. Mix these in with either plain or vanilla yogurt.Blueberries, summer, child - Lovely girl with fresh blueberriesBerries on Wooden Background. Summer or Spring Organic Berry ove

3. Cookie sheet (One that will fit in your freezer! Double check the size first. Hmm, wonder how I know to suggest this?)

Cover your cookie sheet with either plastic wrap or parchment paper

4. Small Plastic Ziplock Bags (choose the kind that fully seal-much less messy!)

Fill your ziplock bag with your yogurt. Seal the top. Then smoosh the yogurt into one of the corners. Cut the tip of the bag. Voila! You have a DIY piping bag. Now squeeze small dollops of yogurt from your bag in rows onto your cookie sheet. They shouldn’t spread too much so you can space them pretty close together

5. Freezer

Stick them in the freezer for about 2 hours. Then take them out and quickly pop them off of the cookie sheet. Place in another freezer safe container with a lid. Eat some now, and stash the rest in the freezer for later. Yum! Yum!

6. For All of You Fancy Moms Who Want to Take It Up a Notch

If dollops of yogurt don’t impress you…pull out your mini bundt pans, petite four molds, or chocolate molds. You can pour or pipe your yogurt mixture into any of these molds, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then pop out Martha Stewart worthy snacks!

Try them out and let me know what you think. Feel free to comment with other fun, healthy, summer snacks ideas that you love to make!

From The Mom in Me, MD


6 Tips for Shopping Organic…on a Budget

Blueberries, summer, child - Lovely girl with fresh blueberriesI wouldn’t consider myself a green activist. I try to make reasonable and responsible choices for my family and the environment. We recycle, and we reuse. We clean our house with organic solutions, and we try to eat organic produce, milk, and meat. Does every item in my house have a certified USDA Organic label? Honestly…no. Am I opposed to the idea of 100% organic? Absolutely not, I’m just haven’t become a purist quite yet.

Pregnancy and raising an infant has push me a little bit closer to the purist line. Although I always appreciated the idea of organic produce, it was just so expensive. For years, I lived on an incredibly limited budget funded solely by student loans. This made organic groceries seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. However, the more I learn about pesticides and processed foods, the more I am willing to spend on organic. Being pregnant impacted my diet significantly. I followed the pregnancy food restriction guidelines like they were the 10 Commandments. When I learned that my favorite fruits (berries) were on the non-organic “No, No list” due to their pesticide levels, I realized that I needed to make a change.Diet in pregnancy

If my growing fetus could be negatively impacted by these pesticides, I didn’t want to take a chance. After my daughter was born we decided to spend the money on organic baby food since the American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends that this may be a better option. Having a baby is expensive, and since I wasn’t pregnant, I reverted back to eating a lot of non-organic produce. Funny thing is…babies start eating table food eventually! The idea of cooking two separate meals was out of the question. Consequently, my concern for my daughter’s environmental exposure to pesticides has probably added a few years onto my life! Here are 6 tips for those of you trying to figure out the wonderful world of ORGANIC on a budget:

1. Buy What You Can Afford

My suggestion for all parents is to incorporate as much organic into your child’s diet as you can afford. We all have different grocery budgets, and the last thing you want to do is buy only organic and end up with a starving family. If you aren’t able to reasonably purchase only organic, then prioritize what you purchase. This leads me into point #2.

2. Ditch the “Dirty Dozen”

Start by replacing items from the “Dirty Dozen” list with their organic counterparts. If you aren’t familiar with the “Dirty Dozen,”  this is a list of produce items that contain the highest amounts of pesticide residues. The first steps of the kid

3. Beyond the “Dirty Dozen”

If you are able to do more than just the “Dirty Dozen,” then start working your way down the Environmental Working Groups 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. Here they list 48 fruits and vegetables high in pesticide residue. Start swapping these out as well. And, if you can go even further, consider exchanging your milk and meat for organic/antibiotic free/hormone free options.

4. The “Clean 15”

If you have maxed out your organic budget, take a look at the Clean 15 list. These are 15 foods with some of the lowest pesticide residues. If you need to put more produce in your basket at a lower ticket price (non-organic), then choose the items on this list.

5. Farmer’s Markets May Be Your Best Friend

In addition to supporting your local farmer, shopping at a Farmer’s Market my save you a lot of money. Many of the produce options in the Farmer’s Markets are organically grown. Because these items practically come from your back yard and don’t have to be shipped, you can get them at a fraction of the grocery store price. Besides, taking your kids to a Farmer’s Market is just plain fun!Berries on Wooden Background. Summer or Spring Organic Berry ove

6. Consider an Organic Produce Delivery Service

If your local grocery stores are lacking in organic options, or if you don’t want to have to shop at two different stores, consider signing up for an organic produce delivery service like The Green Bean Delivery service. These companies use local produce, they deliver to your front door, and they usually don’t cost any more than an organic market. You might just be able to purchase a little more produce with the gas money that you save.

Remember that even if you aren’t eating 100% organic, you can still make healthy food choices for your child (A non-organic apple is always preferable to Mc Donald’s french fries). Offer your child a variety of health food choices. Starting this at a young age may save you the grief of a picky eater later in life and will ensure that your child is getting the nutrients that he/she needs for growth and development. You don’t have to break the bank or starve your family to eat healthy. You may be surprised by how much organic produce you can fit into your cart and your budget. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

From The Mom in Me, MD