Probiotics and Clostridium Difficile

This post was borrowed from a good friend, Giulia Morelli, you can find her here on FB and here on her website.

I was compelled to share this, as the story she unfolds could happen to any of us and it will serve as helpful guidance when dealing with illness.

Health, probioticsMy husband got very very ill, from emergency room to being admitted to the hospital where he almost lost his life all because of an antibiotic he was previously prescribed because of bronchitis.

Many of us especially women know when taking antibiotics we must also be taking a pro biotic, yogurts etc… to prevent other infections to attack our body. Most of the time Doctors don’t tell you that, unfortunately you are your own advocate and that is very sad. The reason why I’m writing this is to get this message out to the MEN because the same goes for you too ! I really believe that most men think this does not apply to them, My husband found out the hard way.

In April, my husband was so sick with bronchitis, he was given an antibiotic for 5 days after 2 weeks he still was not doing well and was given a different antibiotic for 10 days and oh yes prior to the bronchitis he also had an abscess to a tooth and was also given an antibiotic in result to a root canal.

So I guess when it rains it pours huh? My husband was rushed to the hospital because he had lost 4 pints of blood nearly 50% of his body blood.

He developed Clostridium difficile (klos-TRID-e-uhm dif-uh-SEEL), often called C. difficile or C. diff, is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Illness from C. difficile most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long term care facilities and typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications.

In recent years, C. difficile infections have become more frequent, more severe and more difficult to treat. Each year, tens of thousands of people in the United States get sick from C. difficile, including some otherwise healthy people who aren’t hospitalized or taking antibiotics.

People in good health don’t usually get sick from C. difficile. Your intestines contain millions of bacteria, many of which help protect your body from infection. But when you take an antibiotic to treat an infection, the drug can destroy some of the normal, helpful bacteria as well as the bacteria causing the illness. Without enough healthy bacteria, C. difficile can quickly grow out of control. The antibiotics that most often lead to C. difficile infections include fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, clindamycin and penicillins.

Once established, C. difficile can produce toxins that attack the lining of the intestine. The toxins destroy cells and produce patches (plaques) of inflammatory cells and decaying cellular debris inside the colon.

Although people — including children — with no known risk factors have gotten sick from C. difficile, your risk is greatest if you:

  • Are now taking or have recently taken antibiotics. The risk goes up if you take broad-spectrum drugs that target a wide range of bacteria, use multiple antibiotics or take antibiotics for a prolonged period.

Complications of C. difficile infections include:

  • Dehydration. Severe diarrhea can lead to a significant loss of fluids and electrolytes. This makes it difficult for your body to function normally and can cause blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels.
  • Kidney failure. In some cases, dehydration can occur so quickly that kidney function rapidly deteriorates (kidney failure).
  • A hole in your large intestine (bowel perforation). This results from extensive damage to the lining of your large intestine. A perforated bowel can spill bacteria from the intestine into your abdominal cavity, leading to a life-threatening infection (peritonitis).
  • Toxic megacolon. In this condition, the colon becomes grossly distended when it’s unable to expel gas and stool. Left untreated, your colon can rupture, causing bacteria from the colon to enter your abdominal cavity. A ruptured colon requires emergency surgery and may be fatal.
  • Death. Even mild to moderate C. difficile infections can quickly progress to a fatal disease if not treated promptly.

health, probioticsFortunately my husband escaped Death but had surgery to repair the hole in the large intestine and now anemic for all the blood loss. This is how I spent the rest of the summer caring for him 24/7 away from everything and anything. There was a lot of pain and lot of tears but I would always whisper to myself this too shall pass. He is now back to work as of 2 weeks feeling better but still a bit anemic and working on getting him back to normal. But I thank God everyday for not taking him away from me.

So please understand that probiotics, yogurt is not just for women…. It’s extremely important that men & children follow the same rules… the results can be fatal…

Giulia Morelli

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The Power of Clean Drinking Water


The Power of  Clean Drinking Water

Clean Water

Did you know that water can lower your risk for many ailments?

Medical experts say getting enough water lowers your risk for a number of unpleasantries.

Here are 6 posing the biggest threat:

  • Blood Clots: Being properly hydrated makes clots less likely and offers some protection against strokes. Dehydration makes it easier for blood clots to form; hence drinking water prevents this process.
  • Heart Disease:  Drinking five glasses of water a day halved the risk of fatal heart disease for men in one large study. This study examined 8,280 male and 12,017 female participants, ages 38 to 100. The principle investigator, Dr. Jacqueline Chan, said, “Not drinking enough water can be as harmful to your heart as smoking.” The degree of benefit from drinking plain water reportedly surpasses drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, taking aspirin, and other preventive measures – with none of the adverse side effects.
  • Kidney Stones: Keeping things diluted helps prevent kidney stones and wards off urinary tract infections. When urine flow slows, acids and minerals are allowed to accumulate and crystallize in the kidney. Drinking enough water keeps your urine clear – which translates to roughly eight to ten glasses of water daily and this prevents the accumulation of minerals. This aqua regimen can also help shake loose existing kidney stones. The average stone takes 3-4 weeks to pass, but drinking plenty of fluids (not booze) can reduce your sentence.
  • Cancer: If you get plenty of water, it may help flush out cancer-causing compounds before they do any harm. In research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the risks of colon cancer were found to be lower when daily consumption of water was higher. The research found that women who drank 5 or more glasses of water daily had a 45% lower risk of colon cancer than women who only drank 2 or fewer glasses. For men, 4 or more glasses of water consumed each day reduced the risk by 32% over men who drank less than a glass per day. Another form of cancer prevention that benefits from additional water consumption is for bladder cancer. Research from Harvard University found that the risk of bladder cancer was reduced by roughly 50% when individuals consumed the equivalent of 6 glasses of water per day in comparison to those who only consumed 1 glass. One last form of cancer prevention that benefits from additional water consumption is for breast cancer. A small research study from the University of Sheffield found that the risk of breast cancer was reduced by almost 70% for women who reported drinking any amount of water as compared to women who only drank other beverages.
  • Mental fuzziness, crankiness and fatigue: Mild dehydration can affect your thinking and mood. In a study at the Jean Mayer USDA Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, researchers found that even mild dehydration can impair your thinking, leave you feeling fatigued and put you in a bad mood. Mild dehydration is defined as a loss of 1-2 percent of your body’s water and is similar to what you may experience in your daily eating habits. The next time you feel a bit tired; try drinking plain water instead of a caffeinated beverage.
  • Excess Weight: Down a couple of glasses before a meal and you’ll consume fewer calories. Brenda Davy, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech and senior author of a new study, says that drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helps people melt pounds away.

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How to Fight the Winter Blahs


Well, how tall is your snow bank?

If you are like many of us in the north you have just been hit with a hum dinger of a snow storm. Chicago got hit with over 20 inches of snow and some people were stranded in their cars for over 10+ hours. It’s no wonder with images like this floating in our minds that we succumb to the BLAAAHHHHS

I live in the Metro Detroit area and even though not as bad as Chicago we definitely hit the boiling point on the Blah thermometer, dark, dreary, cold and windy!

How to Beat the Blahs even when faced with record breaking cold and storms. Well the first step is to be ready for them, they WILL arrive and the best attack is to have a plan of action. So as the sunlight hours get shorter and the temperature descends start to think of ways to BEAT THE BLAHS!

I have compiled a list of activities that can be used both during and
pre-blah winter season.

  • Think HEAT, that’s right, anything hot can improve a dull moment, so spice it up, heat it up and warm it up. Soups, hot drinks, toasted sandwiches, chili’s. Experiment and try something new or different. Put a pot on the stove and throw in whatever is in the fridge, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, parsnips, tomatoes, onions, kidney beans, you name it, put it in! Leave it on medium heat for a couple hours, crank up the fire in the fireplace, put on a great comedy and enjoy
  • Nutritious is the ideal food choice this time of year. They provide more effective use of your bodies resources and don’t give you quick highs and lows like sugary treats can, thus leading to an eventual descent in the mood leading to the blahs.
  • Get moving, even though your first reaction when the blahs hit is to stay in those p.j.s and lay around, DON’T. Once you get up and start doing something, anything you’ll see an immediate change in your spirits. When the body starts, the brain can’t help but move also and often when it does it has forgotten the “blahs” and on to bigger and better things.
  • Plan a family project. The closet/drawers/room that has been asking for your attention would make a great way for all of you to connect and actually get something accomplished. Another item off the to-do list!
  • Get out of the house! Something simple outside, like a walk or a little snow shoveling?! If not how about sledding or ice skating or skiing. Naw, not the outdoorsy type. Try something completely different, a museum or library; how about a concert or play?
  • Go see a long lost friend, you know the college buddy that for the last year you have been promising to go see; how about your favorite aunt who makes great homemade bread; or just a next door neighbor that you have been looking forward to meeting
  • Seek out the sun. Whenever you can put yourself in the light of day, do so. Arrange your calendar so that during those warm, afternoon hours when the chances of the sun showing up are greatest you are in a position to absorb those rays. Even if it means repositioning an office chair, take a walk around the building or plan a later lunch. Try to maximize your skins availability to that bright light.
  • Do something completely new and different. Maybe something as simple as a new grocery store or more complicated like basket weaving. The process of learning and planning for this new behavior can dramatically shift your focus hence no more blahs and a new habit or hobby acquired
  • Exercise-I know when the blahs are in full force the last thing you want to do is exert any extra effort. But here again start small. Start with something simple like an extra up and down the stair case or parking the car far away from the building. Then increase the activity every 2-3 days not only will you feel better during the day but you’ll sleep better also!
  • Change your surroundings. Try moving furniture or buy a new brightly colored rug or throw pillows. Get your family involved in the process and maybe come up with something fun, like all the furniture in the middle or everything has to touch. You may find that some of these new configurations are actually conducive to better family time and more connecting.
  • Plan your outside yard for the winter creatures that may be lurking. Put out bird feeders or nuts for the squirrels. If you are in an area where deer are common try hay or a salt lick and see if you can develop your photographic hobby at the same time. If the indoors is where you prefer, plant some seedlings, water and tend them in preparation for warmer temperatures.
  • Keep those p.j.s on and crawl between the sheets. For the PG version grab a great book and read it out loud with your kids, let them participate and become actors if they have the desire. The R version… well hopefully I don’t need to explain how THAT will alleviate the BLAHS, (big-time!)

If all else fails and you can’t seem to fight those winter blahs
try the video below it will at least generate a smile.

Before you go tell me by liking this article that you enjoyed the read
and better yet share with me your remedy on how you fight the winter blahs!

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Fat Burning Diet Plan


An easy diet plan to help you in the New Year.

Ok, so we have all eaten and tasted the Christmas cookies, everyone’s creations and purchases of specialty cakes and chocolates. Remember it’s not polite to refuse a gift! New Years Eve we had to have the champagne toast to bring in the New Year and once started it’s hard to stop!

So now what, if you are like me this two week holiday period always represents at least 10 pounds of new belly bulge to stretch those jeans just a little further.

But all is not lost. There are a few simple steps that you can take to encourage fat loss without having to make celery your food of choice!

Here is a list of foods, which I will call the fabulous fat burners, primarily because they keep you fuller longer and require more energy to digest:

Fabulous Fat Burners:

  1. Oatmeal: It’s fiber-rich and provides that full feeling lasting long past the donuts lying on the table. Use berries to offer the necessary sweetness.
  2. Almonds and Nuts: Another tummy filler actually beats out rice cakes. Skip the salted ones and don’t overdue it so the calorie count stays low.
  3. Berries: Loads of fiber in these tiny packages
  4. Vegetables: Spinach and broccoli have high fiber content and very few calories. Start with a salad made with romaine, arugula or spinach and you will feel full thus allowing smaller portions for the rest of the meal. Avocados are another great source of fiber and make great additions in a salad.
  5. Beans: The best are: Lima, Kidney, White and Navy Beans. They are low in calorie count and contain plenty of protein and fiber. They help rid the fat, and assist in weight loss.
  6. Eggs: They have an important ingredient to metabolize fat, vitamin B12.  People who eat eggs lose more weight than bagel eaters!
  7. Whole Grains: Another high fiber item which keeps you fuller, longer!
  8. Lean Meats and Fish: More calories are burned when digesting protein, so opt for turkey or fish, especially tuna or salmon. These fish also contain omega-3s which reduce stress chemicals to keep you leaner.
  9. Peanut Butter: It’s packed with niacin which aids in digestion and prevents that bloated belly. 2 tablespoons a day and all natural without any added sugar is the best.
  10. Dairy: Yogurt is packed with calcium which breaks down fat and may even prevent its accumulation. Pick low fat or fat free. Parmigiana cheese another calcium rich dairy product which activates the fat-burning hormones. Additionally, it is high in protein which will keep you fuller longer. A great add on to salads.
  11. Tea: The green variety is rich in antioxidants which speed up metabolism. Those who drink tea can burn up to 266 more calories per day. Try four cups a day.
  12. Protein Powder: It contains amino acids which burn fat. Add two teaspoons to a fruit, yogurt or low-fat smoothie for a fat-busting drink.

Negative Calorie Foods:

What you say? Negative Calorie Foods?

This is a group of foods that actually require more energy to consume and digest than the calorie count actually in the foods themselves. So you can eat as much of these as you want.Some of them are also on the Fat Burning List so you will get both benefits in one food item. Many of these are great snack items.  You can leave them around in bowls and baskets for the whole family.

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Healthy Juices to Drink


Juice or Not to Juice that is the question?

How many of you are looking across your kitchen counter to a mob of motorized monsters disguised as kitchen appliances? In my kitchen we have the microwave, the coffee maker, the blender, the food processor, the toaster, the crock pot (yep, still got that one hanging around) and of course the alarm clock/CD player/TV all in one. But the three which are the largest, tallest and require the most counter space are the smoothie maker, the Jack Lalane juicer and
the Montel Williams Health Master, the latter two acquired as a result of the connivings of my children. “Oh, mom, this would be great, I can make healthy snacks not more junk food. I promise I will use it every day!”

So mom complied and made the necessary purchases. Maybe two weeks tops we tried new recipes ran to the store every two days to buy some new exotic ingredient to put it to the test, some concoctions were good others gathered new colors and mass while waiting in the fridge. Only to have the fun and curiosity vanish while the two healthy heathens continue to gather dust on my counter!

We all know that fruits and vegetables should be a consistent part of our daily diet but which ones are the best? Plus, how to get the biggest bang nutritionally once the container goes in the grocery cart. Since our attempts in my home to “juice” with fresh ingredients and make at home recipes are minimally successful. I thought I’d share some alternatives for others out there faced with some of the same challenges…can’t go shopping daily, freshly squeezed needs to be consumed quickly and only rare occasions when all consumers are in the same place at the same time for “juicing” jamborees!

Let’s start by exploring which fruits are the best for nutritional health… in other words the container (fruit of choice) with the biggest list of healthy ingredients. Now with all of the recent press for the acai and goji berries, you would think they’d top the list… NOT!

Believe it or not the most nutritious healthy juice is simple pink grapefruit. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, providing an entire day’s recommended amount in a single 8-ounce glass. It also provides potassium, folate, thiamin and magnesium, as well as certain carotenoids that are converted into Vitamin A once consumed. It also contains lycopene, another carotenoid and these compounds may be linked to cancer and other disease prevention. Ok, in my house no one will touch the pink stuff except mom…so what next?

Well the next most healthy juice, is (drum roll please), YEP, orange juice! Right there in front of us! Now there are other juices that have excellent nutritional value and they are healthy juices to drink for the growing crowd. Some of these are more popular than others but can also be combined to produce some interesting blended combinations.

These are some of the most healthy juices to drink…the best of the best:

Blueberriesone of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants and other so-called phytochemicals and for us adults it improves memory.

Strawberriescontain vitamin C, along with phytonutrients and antioxidants,
they also provide an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as
folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium,
and omega-3 fatty acids.

Kiwisrich with Vitamin C, boosts immune system, helps with iron absorption, 
reduces high blood pressure and regulates heart rate, contains antioxidants,
folates or folic acid; promotes respiratory health

Guava ­ contains vitamins A, B and C along with potassium,
one of the best anti-oxidants, helps to cure various diseases and aids in weight loss, skin maintenance; reduces wrinkles, and protects against ageing.

Cranberriesrich with Vitamin C, great dose of dietary fiber, antioxidants and phytochemical nutrients, protects against heart disease and cancer; highly effective in the treatment of urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections; can also prevent the formation of kidney stones and the formation of oral bacteria which lead to plaque and gum disease.

Pomegranatecontain polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins – which are
beneficial antioxidants, they may reduce cholesterol and blood pressure;
additionally slows down LDL cholesterol oxidation.

A great site with a lot of research data about foods, the most nutritious healthy juices and tons of other information can be found at Science Daily.

Now, remember when shopping for fruit juices in the grocery store, there are several important things to keep in mind, little or no added sugar, organic is usually better (although often more expensive) and look for packaging that says 100% fruit juice. Obviously it is better if you can keep the ingredients to natural elements only.

There are several companies that manufacture 100% juice products with more on the way and many of these can be found on most grocery store shelves. Juicy Juice is one of the best for kids as they have juice boxes and bottles. R.W. Knudsen has a wide variety of organic juices as well as 100% fruit juices. Another company which has added 100% fruit juices to its line is Old Orchard and of course there are the old familiar names of Welch’s and Ocean Spray with their individual product lines.

Click on the highlighted text to find some of the varieties available through Amazon. If you are interested in organic juices click here for those options at

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Sleep Deprivation Symptoms and Risks


Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

Or Less Sleep = Becoming A More Productive Person?

Have you had a big project on the table or been launching a new company/product/department and opted to create more workable hours by forgoing sleep? It seems a simple equation you need several focused hours a day to get “this” done and the best way to accomplish “this” is to start earlier or stay up later, Right? If you have made this decision in the past or are contemplating it in the future, all indicators say you will actually lose productivity rather than gain it!

There are many known risks now associated with sleep deprivation symptoms both short and long term. Have you considered these when setting the alarm two hours earlier in the morning or waiting until the house is quiet at night and dragging those files out of the briefcase?

Research studies have been conducted regarding sleep, the amount required for each individual and the side effects associated with either too much or too little sleep. Each person has their own internal clock and the amount of sleep required for optimal functioning is varied based on those needs. However, it has been established that most require between 7-9 hours a night. Are you designing your day to fulfill this need on a regular basis?

The risks with sleep deprivation can be surprising and if you are a chronic night owl or up at the crack of dawn you may already be struggling with some of these. Right at the top of the list is the increased chance of heart disease or diabetes. Some other potential results from sleep deprivation symptoms are:

  • Obesity – More waking hours set off hunger messages and hence the need to eat
  • Increased car accidents – Lack of sleep decreases focus and motor function
  • Depression – Without the necessary REM sleep the body is not allowed to rest properly; hence chemical and hormonal levels are not in balance creating emotional instability
  • Increased risk for substance abuse – When depression becomes chronic, the sleep deprived seek alternative methods for mood elevation
  • Decreased ability to pay attention or react to outside stimulus – the reactive nature of bodily functions are slowed; as a result response time is affected
  • Inability to remember new information – not having enough sleep affects short memory and many important details are forgotten.

You can find more details about the long range impact of sleep deprivation symptoms in this article:

These are some of the methods which can help you move toward a more restful sleep and reduce the symptoms of sleep deprivation to enable becoming a more productive person:

  • Avoid caffeine at least 10 hours before bedtime.
  • Try to nod off quickly, meditation can often be helpful in this process
  • Sleep in a darkened room it helps prepare your brain for sleep; that means no TV or computer!
  • A restful environment and good, comfortable mattress are paramount for conducive sleep
  • Exploit power naps but limit them to only 10 to 20 minutes otherwise they affect your ability to sleep at night

Additionally, research has shown that certain foods actually assist in curtailing sleep depravation symptoms. They include:

  • Tea; specifically Chamomile, its contents act as a sedative and produce a calming effect.
  • Warm Milk; Yep, grandma was right!, contains tryptophan, an amino acid which behaves as a sedative.
  • Honey; the glucose in honey instructs the brain to turn off orexin, a neurotransmitter which produces alertness
  • Potatoes; clears away acids that interfere with production of tryptophan, the yawn inducer
  • Bananas; which contain magnesium a muscle relaxant along with melatonin and serotonin; all of these effect the body like a sleeping pill
  • Oatmeal; melatonin is also found in this food and it induces sleep
  • Almonds; contain both tryptophan & magnesium; sleep inducing & muscle relaxing all in one
  • Flax seeds; contain omega-3 fatty acids and are a natural mood lifter; so while you are yawning away you will be feeling great!
  • Whole Wheat Bread; releases insulin; which assists the voyage of tryptophan to the brain where it’s converted to serotonin which sends the messages of sleepiness
  • Turkey; best known source of tryptophan which encourages sleep like any sleeping pill

For a great bedtime snack try this recipe:

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Mom, not again?


How many times has this been shouted across the dinner table with that face of complete and
utter torment? Some tried and true favorite that is out of vogue with the younger set and now
it will not cross the sealed lips of the tyrant tike in your home!

Well, most moms (and dads) can remember the time, unfortunately all too well. Therefore I would like to examine some of the easier, likable foods that we use (a little too regularly perhaps) to entice our difficult descendants to consume healthy choices with gusto and excitement.

My 3 tricks/tips in the game of fruit consumption.

1.     Camouflage It

Take some of the more solid fruits like apples and melons and disguise them. Either by cutting them in unusual shapes (cookie cutters work well here) or put them in dishes where they are not normally seen. Try a sauce for a meat or fish dish with diced apples or pineapple. Puree melons and use them as a whipped topping for sherbet. There are many ways you can use pureed fruits and this site has tons of examples on how to use them to add fresh, appealing choices for those clamped shut jaws. Another way to put camouflage to work for you is with a little food coloring. This doesn’t work for all kids but often boys go through this “gross” phase and green and brown are cool colors for food. So if you need to take the pink out of the strawberries you just smashed add a little green food coloring for the “gross” look.

2.     Dip It

Today, yogurt comes in all colors and flavors so try some experimenting. Take the favorite of the day yogurt and put it in a bowl along with the approved fruit list chopped and cubed to prepare a dipping party. Granola, raisins, even nuts can be added for a little extra crunch and fiber. My kids love fondue so I take this party to a new level with skewers and a fondue pot. Don’t have to heat anything but it sets the tone for a party atmosphere. Of course chocolate fondue ranks right up there with the best of them so try a healthier alternative with this coconut, chocolate dip: or this one which is non coconut: Have fun, experiment and even get those tikes to help invent the newest and greatest taste-a-thon!

3.     List It

As with vegetables you must declare a favorites list prior to shopping and preparing. My son went through a three year love/hate relationship with pineapple and I learned the hard way. Fresh pineapples when available and canned varieties stored were ignored and discarded in my household when the hate phase was in full bloom, so ask before you shop and frequently!

When tempers and dispositions are in good shape, take the kids along for an “exploration” in the fruit isle. In my household, we discovered pomegranates, star fruit and mangos by allowing their eyes to be the guide rather than the names. Kiwi was another fruit that magically made it in the grocery cart one day because it was fuzzy and felt good!

Often when they do the picking, their curiosity has been peeked and they will want to explore the options for their food item in the kitchen. Again, this must be managed as an attitude adjustment day is not when you want a kitchen helper. Put the fruit quietly in storage until the atmosphere improves and have fun!

We all want our kids to eat foods that are healthy and nutritious. Unfortunately with the onslaught of processed, boxed, bagged and sugared choices advertised and marketed to our kids this battle can become never ending. However when we make the process of preparation and consumption a game of exploration and invention often the younger set will join in to test their creative, artistic talents and once they put their fingers in the sauce normally they can’t help but taste their recipe!

Working to make nutritious eating a daily event for families!

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Mom, do I have to eat this?


How many of us have heard this sitting across the table from our children?

Now, if yours are like mine, that remark is used automatically before ANYTHING green actually hits the plate. In fact, in my kitchen we have two quality control inspectors who make it their official duty to lift lids and inquire as to composition and features of each dish.

Furthermore if you have been living with the squished up faces, sighs, exclamations and stomping feet over 13 years, as I have, the desire to cook one more meal is just shy of electro shock therapy. So you rummage around in the cupboards, check the freezer and ask yourself do I have to cook macaroni and cheese one more time? So in an attempt to put the joy back into cooking I have developed some quick tips to turn those frowns upside down and make mealtime an enjoyable family event. Plus you will be taking steps toward preventing childhood obesity.

My 3 tricks/tips in the game of vegetable culinary warfare.

1.     Camouflage It

My kids love the sauces, like ranch dressing and melted/nacho cheese. So when it comes to getting green vegetables down their throats without whining and complaints I use these “camouflagers” . Now, you are probably saying ok, you got them to eat the healthy vegetables but what about the stuff you’re putting on them.

Well, this is where the stealth shopper in all of us has to be deployed. Look at ingredients carefully as well as the serving sizes. There are numerous fat free ranch dressings on the market today. The Hidden Valley Original Ranch® Fat Free has 0 grams of fat and no cholesterol. Kraft has a Free Ranch Fat Free Dressing (but be careful make sure you grab the “fat free” version.) It has 50 calories for 2 tablespoons along with 0 grams of fat and 2 grams of sugar.

The cheese sauces are more difficult and may require a visit to a health food store but there are several available online which are decent. Sargento makes a line of low fat cheeses and the mild cheddar is a good choice. One slice has 60 calories and 4 grams of fat. They also have shredded low fat sharp cheddar which has 90 calories with 6 grams of fat.

2.     Dip It

There are times when you can sense the attitude amongst the younger set and you know its time to head for the trenches. When everyone is wound up, ready to explode; I choose to go the cold cut route. A plate of cut up, diced up, sliced up veggies (carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, peppers, radishes-whatever is in the fridge) and two or three fat free sauces/dips.

Here, fat free ranch is ideal (see above for options) but to change things up I will add a couple low fat varieties. These are easy to make with low fat cottage cheese or sour cream. Put in onions, dill, maybe a little ketchup for color and you have a dipping masterpiece. Additionally, Kraft has many low fat/no fat dressings but check the ingredients and pack away a couple family favorites for those days when you want a no hassle, vegetable consumption frenzy. What’s best about this “cooking” extravaganza is that I often gain a couple of helpers exploring their creative culinary talents in the kitchen.

3.      List It

Before any actual veggie cooking begins get a commitment and confirmation from the fussy eaters. “What cooked vegetables will you eat and agree to eat whenever I put them on your plate?” It’s a really good idea to check this list periodically. I’m sure you will remember the holiday meal of 20 relatives when you designed a menu based on these lists only to hear at the end of the table, UGGHHHH, mom I don’t like these anymore! So ask and ask again as tastes do change and maybe one day they may even surprise you with, “Mom, I had mushrooms at Jimmy’s house and they weren’t bad, maybe I’ll try them next time”.

Which brings me to my final point, when you are ready for guerilla warfare, put that artichoke or avocado on the table and tell them they can’t get up from the table until they try one bite. Oh, I know you’re probably asking yourselves has she gone crazy. Does she want a green beard? But hold on, there is a method to my madness. How will you ever expand their food choices, if they never put “one of those” in their mouths! My daughter didn’t like seafood, so I never bought it. As she approached the “wonderful” teen years and became a social creature, meals at friend’s houses were common. Lo and behold, wanting acceptance from a new acquaintance, she choose to eat the shrimp that was served at her friend’s house. You guessed it; arriving home she said “Mom, I like shrimp now, so when Suzy (the new friend) comes over can we have it for dinner?”

These tips/tricks have worked countless times in my battle with veggies plus they have expanded my kid’s palates to ensure they are healthy eaters. Try them and see if it improves your meal times and instead of whining you get compliance and an actual dinner conversation. Next, we’ll talk about an easier topic, fruits.

Bevin Wallace from Gaiam Life has what she calls gourmet eaters. Check it out

Subscribe to my blog and come back again to see
what practices have proven successful in my household.

Looking forward to your comments and ideas!

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3 Steps to Eradicating Childhood Obesity


How many of you were raised on Kool-aide, potato chips and marshmallow fluff? Was your lunch typically a fluffer nutter, a plate full of chips and some sugar laden, teeth reddening drink mix? Yes, I too was a baby boomer raised by parents who didn’t know the nutritional difference between a salad and a chocolate bar. Parents fed their kids what was easy, convenient, branded and well liked. Nutritional value and healthy diets were foreign ideas during this time period. However, now we have a choice and it’s up to all of us to change the landscape!

Why should we even care?

During the past four decades, obesity rates have soared, increasing more than four-fold among children ages 6 to 11. Today, nearly a third of children and adolescents are overweight. That’s more than 23 million kids and teenagers. Furthermore a study of more than 200 neighborhoods found 4 times as many supermarkets in white neighborhoods as in black neighborhoods. Communities with high levels of poverty are significantly less likely to have places where people can be physically active, such as parks, green spaces, and bike paths.

If we don’t act to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic,
we’re in danger of raising the first generation of American children who may
live sicker and die younger than the generation before them.

1. Speak out locally ~ Effect change

The latest research shows that the environment we live in and the policies our leaders enact impact the foods our children eat and the activity they get. Healthy foods and beverages in school cafeterias and vending machines mean that students eat better. Parks and bike trails in neighborhoods and vigorous physical education programs in schools, equate to more active children. Supermarkets and farmers’ markets that sell affordable healthy foods translate to families that eat more nutritiously. However when communities are dominated by fast food, with few places to play, our children eat worse and are less active, and their health suffers. And we all pay a price—in higher health care costs and lost economic productivity. Take the steps necessary to ensure healthy school cafeteria options as well as regular access to recess, play time and the gym.

2. Turn off the Telly!

Unhealthy products are heavily marketed to children, and research shows that exposure to food marketing messages increases children’s obesity risk. The Rudd Center at Yale University released one of the most comprehensive analyses ever of the marketing of cereal to children. The 2009 report found that the least-healthy cereals are the ones most aggressively and frequently marketed to children of all ages, often in ways parents are less likely to see. Therefore the best way to reduce this risk factor is to limit exposure to these advertising messages. Don’t let our kids be swayed toward unhealthy food choices.

3. Support Research Initiatives

Research adds to the evidence that gene variations may affect kids’ weight. A study on this topic found variations that were exclusive to obese children across 2 ethnicities – European American and African Americans. Detecting these same differences in both groups, solely in the obese, strengthens the probability that they play a role in the development of obesity. While the findings don’t help with diagnosis and treatment, they do add to evidence that genes contribute to childhood obesity. As a result it is necessary to support and fund these activities ensuring adequate detection and treatment when a child’s DNA code predetermines obesity.

Childhood obesity is not only an epidemic, it may be an infectious disease transmitted by a common cold virus. A study found a link between obesity and a virus, providing evidence that diet and exercise are not the only issues affecting the obese. Previous research has shown that adenovirus 36, or AD-36, can infect fat cells. So far, no other type of virus has been shown to affect fat cells. Lab studies show that the infects fat cells and makes them grow more quickly. Researchers conducted a study involving 124 children. About half of the children were obese and half non-obese. Children who tested positive for AD-36 weighed about 50 pounds more than those who tested negative. Therefore, if a cause and effect relationship can be established it would have considerable implications for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. And the timing is right for adenovirus-36 to be one factor stimulating the obesity epidemic. The virus was first isolated in the late 1970s about the same time obesity rates began to climb.

The new study may encourage people to look to viruses as a factor contributing to obesity, especially in the developing world where television and computers aren’t as prevalent but obesity rates are increasing as fast as in the United States. It gets hard to explain a population where more than 15 percent of children are obese, like Thailand, when fast food and inactivity are not the issues.

This is a subject that concerns us all and this blog will be dissecting the causes
and potential solutions to turn this epidemic around. Like minded individuals are sought to underline, highlight and advocate for eradicating obesity.

How do you think we should fight childhood obesity?

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5 Ways to Promote Positive Mental Health


Positive mental health is a great way to ensure you lead a long, happy and healthy life. Maintaining your mental health is easier than most people think and will have a significant impact on your everyday life.
Would you like to have more energy? What about a good night sleep? How you would like to go an entire year without catching the flu once? Achieving a positive mental health state will not guarantee these things, but it sure will help.

Here are the top 5 things you can do to help promote positive mental health in you and your children:

1. Eat Healthy. Eating fast food 3 times a week and downing a few cold ones before bed might be easier than making a home-cooked meal and more enjoyable than drinking a cold glass of water but it won’t do a whole lot for your health. Eating home-cooked foods (especially fruits and vegetables) and staying away from the fast food joints will help you achieve the healthy lifestyle you desire.

2. Drink Lots of Water. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, average individuals are expected to consume at least eight glasses of water a day. And while this seems like it may be a lot, it’s actually not. Eight glasses is almost equivalent to filling up your water bottle a few times between waking up and going to bed. Remember, if you work out, you will need to increase your water intake to compensate for the water you’re burning off while exercising. Drinking water will detoxify your body and restore it back to a healthy state – especially after drinking coffee or alcoholic beverages.

3. Kick the Bad Habits. We’ve already mentioned it a few times but eliminating significant alcohol intake will have positive results on your mental health. Likewise, kicking other bad habits like smoking and drinking considerable amounts of coffee will also help keep your mental health at its best.

4. De-Stress. Stress is one of the leading causes for poor mental health. When you’re stressed out, your body has to work harder to keep up and, overtime, it will take its toll on your body and your brain. Next time something stressful happens, try lighting some candles and taking a bath. If that doesn’t work for you, try letting off some steam by going to the gym or going for a run. Keeping a positive frame of mind will promote positive mental health and eliminate undue stress on your brain.

5. Book Regular Check-ups. Unfortunately, you can do all of the things listed above and still suffer from mental health problems. In fact, you might have a mental illness and not even know it. Make sure you’re mental health is in good condition by booking regular appointments with your doctor. He/she will be able to confirm whether you’re lifestyle is healthy or identify where you may need to make some changes.

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