Balancing Food Within A Family

I’m really excited about my 2 classes that start September 1st: Digestion & Detox, and Lifecycles & Healthy Aging. For the Lifecycles class, we go through each stage of life starting with pregnancy and ending in old age, and learn about how nutrition can benefit health every step of the way.

One of the books we will be reading is called Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health, by S. Roberts, Ph.D. & M. Heyman, M.D. I’ve been browsing through each of my books (I have about 10 books per class, literally) as they arrive from Amazon.com shipping, and this one seemed particularly interesting.

I think something many families struggle with is how to balance “adult” meals and nutrition with the wants and needs of the kids. Most of you know where I stand on this – kids should eat what the adults eat to whatever extent possible, especially as they get old enough to chew and digest most things. (Note: I realize I have no right to even have a stance on this because I don’t have kids, but I am putting it out there anyway).

This book provides some tips for balancing food within the whole family. The authors claim that if you follow their guidelines on most days, you can rest assured that your family is getting the proper nutrients from their diet. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Vary the balance of different foods for different family members. For example, kids and adults need about the same levels of calcium, but kids only need about half the fruits and veggies and less than half of the grains that adults do.

  • Shop for everyone’s fat and fiber needs. Since kids need more fat, whole milk or 2% is appropriate for them. If you are watching your fat intake, you may prefer skim milk. Some adults need more fiber in their diet to assist with proper health, so they may eat cereals and breads that are extremely high in fiber. Kids, however, generally have lower fiber needs than adults.

  • If recipes you like have ingredients that are not suitable for your child, simply leave them out and put them on the table as condiments. The two biggies here are added salt and alcohol, which are found in many recipes. Strong spices would also fall into this category.

  • Focus on cooking methods that enhance nutrition for everyone. Maximize the family’s vitamin intake by eating raw salads and/or steaming veggies to retain water-soluble vitamins. Try to use fresh veggies, rather than canned or frozen, whenever possible.

  • Unless you have a family medical history that dictates a special diet, you don’t need to avoid red meat entirely. Red meat is high in iron and zinc, which are crucial for growth and development of the child. Eggs are also a great source of iron and zinc.

  • Give your child a multivitamin/mineral supplement. This is something your doctor can advise you on.

I thought these were some great tips, and a good reminder of how important it is to focus on nutrition and healthy meals containing REAL food (vs “kid” foods) from an early age. If you start your kid off eating convenience foods, and show them that it’s okay for them to eat a separate meal from mom and dad, they may never want to graduate to the adult table.


State Fairs

It’s Friday. And I don’t know about you, but I've had an extremely long (but good!) week. Anyway, I wanted to keep it light today, and I think I have the perfect post to send you into your weekend with.

It’s state fair season everywhere. My hometown state fair, the Minnesota State Fair, happens to be the greatest one. As kids, my siblings and I used to go to the MN State Fair with my grandfather, Pops. He’d fly out to St. Paul from St. Louis, and take all of us for food, animals and rides. Pops now lives in St. Paul, and last year my dad and I had the pleasure of taking him up in the space needle! It was really cool – he was definitely the only 88-year old in the space needle.

But the real issue I want to talk about is the food at state fairs. I understand they’re not going for “health,” or even “fresh” or “organic,” and that's fine! But at times they get out of hand. My brother sent me an e-mail last night with a link to an article and the words, “The Wisconsin State Fair needs PWN.” The link? It was to the WI State Fair’s newest food: the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger. I mean, it’s just kind of ridiculous, right? Things like fried Snickers bars and now Krispy Kreme Cheeseburgers don’t even sound tasty to me. If I go to the state fair, I want to get the state’s best French fries, or corn, or a fresh vanilla shake from the dairy barn. But it almost seems like it’s become a novelty to eat the most absurd, unhealthy food possible at the state fair.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that they have bacon on them too...

If you are headed to the fair this weekend, eat foods that you know you’ll truly enjoy, and eat them guilt-free! But I would advise you not to eat something just because “it’s only available once a year” or you really want to tell your brother that you drank a fried Coke (yes, that exists too).

Not that you asked for my advice, but if you had, that’s what I’d say.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Recipe: No-Mayo Coleslaw

Back in July, I blogged about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar. Many of you then told me that you went out and bought some, but now what?

One of the main things I use ACV for is salad dressings, especially when I make coleslaw. My mom always made her coleslaw with a vinegar-based dressing, rather than using mayo. I never thought much of it until I left home and realized that most coleslaw is all thick and mayonnaise-y and not nearly as yummy as my mom’s. The first time Ed met my parents, he even asked my mom for her coleslaw recipe!

I’m not sure what exactly she puts into her slaw, but I’ve been able to come up with my own version that tastes pretty good. So, for those of you that are waiting for some ACV recipes, this one’s for you!


For the coleslaw, I just use whatever veggies I have on hand. This time I used 1 head of cabbage, 4 turnips, 1 bunch of green onions, 3 cloves garlic, and ½ cup parsley from the garden. Other veggies you can add include beets, kale, radishes, carrots or cilantro.

Shred all veggies in a food processor and combine.


¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

juice from ½ lemon

sea salt


Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, and shake well. (My dressing looks kind of black because my sea salt is black). Add more olive oil if it’s too strong. Pour lightly over coleslaw, mix, and taste. Add more dressing as needed.

The ACV gives this a nice fresh taste. The dressing can also be used on regular salads! Enjoy.


Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Yesterday I talked about GMOs and why there is some controversy surrounding them. I also provided some tips for avoiding GMOs in the food you purchase and consume. Today, I will go into more detail around which foods are safe, and which ones may contain GMOs.

According to one source, most fruits and vegetables that are grown in the United States are NOT genetically modified. Even products such as seedless watermelon are considered non-GMO. Some zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet corn may be GM, as well as about half of the papaya that comes from Hawaii.

However, I find it difficult to believe that most fruits and veggies are non-GMO. I know at one point tomatoes were often GM and could be altered to stay fresh about 6 weeks from when they were picked, which is about a month longer than regular tomatoes. And sometimes you see fruits or vegetables in the grocery store that just look too enormous to NOT be GM – or at least that’s what I think. But, my source says most fruits and veggies are safe, so let's stick with that!

In the meat, fish and eggs department, it gets kind of complicated. There are no genetically modified meat, fish or eggs that are approved for human consumption, so in theory they are all safe. However, many of the foods we consume come from animals who were raised on genetically modified grains. Therefore, the negative affects of eating GMOs are passed through to the meat, fish or eggs. Some tips for avoiding animal products that were fed GM grains include the following: consume wild – not farmed – fish, because farmed fish are often raised on GM feed; and consume animals and animal products that are 100% grass-fed. Some non-GMO meat and fish brands include Organic Prairie, Tropical Traditions, and Vital Choice. Some non-GMO egg brands include Egg Innovations Organic, Eggland’s Best Organic, Horizon Organic, Land O’Lakes Organic, Nest Fresh Organic and Organic Valley.

Since soy is one of the biggest ingredients to watch out for in terms of GMOs, “alternative” meat products made from soy often contain GMOs. Brands like Boca (owned by Kraft), Gardenburger, and Morningstar Farms (owned by Kellogg) may contain GMO ingredients, unless you purchase the organic line. Non-GMO alternative meat product brands that are safe include Whole Foods’ 365 brand, Amy’s, EcoVegan, Small Planet Tofu, and Vitasoy.

In the dairy department, basically anything that is certified organic is considered safe. Even if the label says that the product was produced without rbGH or rbST, the cows could still have been fed GM feed, so look for that certified organic label.

I think the baby foods and infant formulas are particularly important to watch out for, because we want to be extra careful about what we put into those growing little bodies! Milk or soy protein is the basis of most infant formulas, and some brands even contain GMO-derived corn syrup, corn syrup solids or soy lecithin. Non-GMO baby brands include: Baby’s Only Organic, Bella Baby, Earth’s Best, Gerber, HAPPYBABY, Mom Made Meals, Organic Baby, PediaSmart, Plum Organics, and Tastybaby. The baby brands that may include GMO ingredients include Beech-Nut, Enfamil, Good Start, Nestle, and Similac/Isomil. Stay away from these if possible.

For those of you that have an iphone, there is now an app that helps you shop GMO-free. It’s called ShopNoGMO, and it’s FREE! I just downloaded it and it seems like they have a lot of brands in their database, so it will be helpful. There is also a website you can utilize: www.nongmoshoppingguide.com. Good luck!


Genetically Modified Organisms

Since we’ve all been hearing so much about genetically modified foods recently (also called GMOs), I wanted to give you guys some basic information and tips for avoiding foods made with GMOs.

To genetically modify a food means to artificially insert genes into the DNA of food crops or of animals. Genes used to modify these foods come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or humans. GMOs are used in biological and medical research, for the production of pharmaceutical drugs, and in agriculture. Certain crops are modified to become resistant to specific herbicides or to enhance nutritional content of the food. The US company Monsanto owns the largest share of GMO crops.

Many people are concerned about the potential dangers of consuming too many modified foods. Therefore, there has been a recent push amongst certain people to buy only non-GMO foods and avoid any unknown consequences of GMOs. Many worry that GMOs will introduce new allergens into our food, or possibly contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance that we are seeing so frequently now.

I recently was sent a “Non-GMO Shopping Guide” and I think it provides some really valuable information. There are 3 tips for avoiding GM crops:

  • Buy Organic: Certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GMOs. Anything labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients” should not contain any GMOs. Foods labeled "made with organic ingredients" are only required to contain 70% organic ingredients, however they are also required to be completely GMO-free.

  • Look for “Non-GMO” Labels: Some food companies may decide to label their products this way. When buying dairy products, look for labels such as “no rBGH or rBST” and “artificial hormone-free”.

  • Avoid At-Risk Ingredients: Try to minimize or avoid any products that are made with crops that are genetically modified. The most frequently genetically modified crops include corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed. All of these are highly used in processed foods. Remember, there are certain ingredients that may not appear genetically modified, but they can be. For example, sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose and glucose are all made from GM corn.

Tomorrow I’ll go into more detail on which foods are considered “safe” and free from GMOs.