Soy is good for everyone, not just vegetarians

Soy is Good for Everyone, Not Just Vegetarians

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A VEGETARIAN TO BENEFIT FROM INCLUDING MORE SOY IN YOUR DIET

Being a vegetarian isn’t the only reason to eat soy-based products. There are benefits for all of us – young or old, vegan or omnivore – to incorporating more soyfoods into our meals. The one I promote the most is that it increases the variety in our diets. That is also the tagline for National Soyfoods Month, which is celebrated in April each year.

I like to focus on variety because it’s the best way to make room on “your plate” for everything you enjoy while keeping any food from taking up more space than it should. And that helps you deal with the hard-to-grasp concept of moderation. Simply put, it means you must control the amount and frequency of everything you eat to have a balanced diet.

Yet with all the news you hear about “super foods,” it’s easy to believe you can eat all you want of some foods (you can’t), or you’d be better off limiting your diet to some top ten list (you won’t). Eating a greater variety of foods is the best bet for optimal nutrition.

So in honor of National Soyfoods Month, here are some reasons why you might want to expand the variety of your family’s diet with the addition of more soyfoods:

12 Reasons to Add Soy to Your Diet

  • Lower dietary cholesterol
  • Enjoy more meatless meals
  • Decrease risk of breast cancer in later life
  • Use instead of peanuts for those with peanut allergy
  • Replace cow’s milk for those with lactose intolerance
  • Provide choice for those with milk protein allergy
  • Reduce saturated fat in diet
  • Increase fiber in the diet
  • Ease constipation
  • Incorporate another vegetable (yes, soybeans are vegetables!)
  • Provide an alternate protein source to a vegetarian or finicky eater
  • Get another source of calcium using fortified soy milk

You can find soy-based products in every section of the grocery store, so why not add a few of these to your shopping list?

Where to Find Soyfoods in the Supermarket

Produce – fresh soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso

Freezer – edamame, soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy crumbles

Dairy – soymilk, soy yogurt, soy cheese

Snack – soy nuts, soy chips, soy bars

Staples – canned soybeans, soy pasta, soy flour

How many different soy foods do you eat each week?

Parents can play a major role in preventing childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity: 5 Things Every Parent Should Know

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

PARENTS CAN PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN PREVENTING CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States over the past 30 years. It affects children in every state and from every socioeconomic group. As of 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. were overweight or obese.

When a problem becomes that prevalent there is a danger of not taking it as seriously as we should. But the risks of obesity are too great to ignore. Preventing excess weight gain in children may be the most important way we can protect their health and quality of life.

With more than 30 years of experience helping families deal with childhood obesity, I know there is no simple solution to this problem. But there are some things every parent should know as they consider their options.

5 Things You Need to Know About Childhood Obesity

1. Your child’s relationship with food is established in the first five years of life

When solid foods are first introduced to a child between the ages of 4 and 6 months, they begin their relationship with food. For the next year parents must learn to interpret the subtle signals their children use to express how hungry they are and what they like until they can tell you themselves. The goal is to allow the child’s internal sensation of hunger to govern how often and how much they eat. Their evolving taste preferences should allow them to accept and refuse different foods without threat of punishment or reward. If this is done consistently, in an eating environment where no bias or judgment is expressed about any food, children will grow to trust their feelings of hunger and appetite by the time they start school.

2. What is eaten at home is more important than what is served at school

Children spend far more time eating at home or out with their parents than they do in school. What children experience during meals with their family is far more important than the institutional feeding that goes on in schools. If parents don’t like the selections available on school menus, they can pack a lunch for their child to eat instead. But if a child is being exposed to new foods in the cafeteria that are not available at home, they have no choice but to eat what is served at home.

3. Weight loss in parents is the biggest predictor of children’s weight loss

A recent study looked at 80 parent-child sets with an overweight or obese 8-12 year old in each. The participants were assigned to one of three different programs to help their child lose weight. Features of the three programs included having the parents change the home food environment, limit what the child ate, and lose weight themselves. The researchers found parents’ weight loss was the only significant predictor of children’s weight loss. These results are consistent with other research showing how important the example set by parents is to successful weight loss in their children.

4. Genetics are a factor in obesity, but age of onset is more important

There is no test we can take at birth to tell us who will become overweight or obese as an adult. If one or both parents are obese, that does increase a child’s risk of also becoming obese, but it is not inevitable. Research from the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center of Cincinnati found that being obese during the teen years is a stronger indicator of who will be obese in adulthood than being obese in early childhood, regardless of whether the parents were obese. Preventing obesity in adolescents is one of the best ways to prevent obesity in adults.

5. Treat overweight and obesity in your child as a health concern, not an image problem

All children need to learn how the food they eat and their level of activity can affect their health. The conversation should be the same for an overweight child and one who is not, just like talking about the importance of wearing seatbelts and getting immunized. When the focus is on staying healthy, not appearance, your child is less likely to develop emotional issues about their weight.

One of the best values in the frozen food section of your grocery store is the vegetables.

It’s Frozen Food Month: Got Vegetables?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

ONE OF THE BEST VALUES IN THE FROZEN FOOD SECTION OF YOUR GROCERY STORE IS THE VEGETABLES.

What’s the one frozen food I always have on hand? Frozen vegetables! They are my go-to staple that allow me to prepare nutritious and varied meals no matter how sparse the rest of my pantry. Right now I have cubed butternut squash, petite peas, broccoli florets, edamame in the pod, and baby lima beans.

I was first introduced to frozen vegetables as a child when my parents bought a chest freezer. Every three months a delivery of frozen food arrived on our back porch. The carefully labeled brown corrugated boxes packed in dry ice were filled with every cut of beef imaginable, cylinders of frozen orange juice concentrate, and tidy square boxes of frozen vegetables.

My sisters and I had the privilege of taking turns to pick out what vegetable our family would have for dinner each night. Thus began my exposure to an international assortment of frozen vegetables that included everything from French cut green beans Brussels sprouts!

What’s new in the frozen food aisle?

If you think Americans don’t like frozen vegetables, think again. The freezer cases in grocery stores now devote as much space to vegetables as they do ice cream!

Frozen vegetables are now available in single-serving containers and family-sized bags as well as those same tidy 10 ounce boxes. As if it weren’t convenient enough not having to clean, peel, or chop frozen vegetables, you can now also steam them right in the bag or box in your microwave oven.

The assortment of individual vegetables has expanded beyond the classic green beans, carrots, peas, and corn, and so have the medleys. They come with embellishments, too, to win over the fussiest eaters. You can find frozen vegetables with butter, cheese, or teriyaki sauce, and creamed. Some are combined with rice, potatoes, or pasta while others just need the addition of chicken, beef or shrimp to make a complete meal.

Why pick a frozen food over fresh?

When it comes to vegetables, buying them frozen insures you are getting the best quality at the best price all year round. The varieties grown are selected for their flavor, not their durability, and can be harvested at their nutritional peak since they don’t have to withstand the long shipping and storage times necessary for fresh vegetables. And remember, the longer a fresh vegetable spends in your refrigerator, the less nutritious it is by the time you eat it.

What frozen vegetables do you have in your freezer?

Follow these rules to avoid overeating when ordering off restaurant menus.

Save Calories When Ordering Off Restaurant Menus

FOLLOW THESE RULES TO SAVE CALORIES AND AVOID OVEREATING WHEN ORDERING OFF RESTAURANT MENUS

Who doesn’t enjoy the convenience of sitting down in a restaurant and ordering whatever we want off the menu? Apparently most of us do since one third of our meals are eaten away from home.

I covered the downside of splurging over the holidays in a previous blog, but dining out provides an opportunity to over eat all year round. The price we pay is not just rung up at the register. We give up a significant measure of control over the source of the food, how it’s prepared and how much is served to us. And that’s not good.

The only recourse is to follow some rules when you place your order to regain control over what arrives on your plate. It takes a lot more self-control to avoid eating half your meal once it’s served than to simply order wisely so the excess food is not in front of you.

These rules do not replace the need for you to order the foods that fit best into your day of eating. And they don’t ask you to give up all of the foods you love! Instead they give you some additional ways to reduce the chance of splurging when eating out, and that’s a good thing.

CALORIE-SAVING RULES FOR ORDERING OFF RESTAURANT MENUS

BREAKFAST

  • Custom Omelet Rule – Order only 2 eggs, not the customary 3, and only with vegetable add-ins.
  • Breakfast Meats or Eggs Rule – Since side orders of breakfast meats are large, skip the eggs if you really want bacon, sausage or ham.
  • Buttered Toast or Fried Potatoes Rule – Request one or the other with that omelet, egg or breakfast meat order, not both.
  • Pancakes or Toast Rule – No contest, if you’re not ordering pancakes as your breakfast, don’t add them to an egg order.

LUNCH

  • Cheese or Meat Rule – Think Kosher and try not to combine cheese with meat on sandwiches, pizza or burgers. Let sliced tomatoes, onions or mushrooms take its place.
  • 50% Burger or Fries Rule – Split one or the other, but don’t eat a full order of both.
  • No More Than One Fried Food Rule – If you must order something fried, don’t have anything else in your meal fried. That means the traditional “fish and chips” is out.
  • Wet or Dry Salad Rule – The bigger the salad, the more dressing it takes to wet it down. If you’re having an entree salad, be prepared to use just lemon juice, no calorie dressing or wet vegetables to partially moisten it.

DINNER

  • Cocktail or Carbs Rule – For each alcoholic drink you order, be prepared to eliminate a serving of carbohydrate in the form of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes or dessert.
  • Appetizer or Dessert Rule – If your add something to the beginning of your meal, don’t also add something at the end. Sharing is the only other option.
  • Bread & Butter or Dessert Rule – Like an appetizer or a cocktail, you can’t afford to add the extra calories from a basket of bread to the front end of a meal then order dessert on the tail end, too. Check the quality of the bread and the dessert menu to guide your decision.
  • Double Green Vegetable, No White Starch Rule – A double order of any sautéed vegetable will contain fewer calories than a dressed baked potato, creamy mashed potato, rice pilaf, risotto or pasta in sauce.
  • Vegetable-Only Salad Rule – A first course salad picks up a lot of extra calories for every non-vegetable item tossed into it, like dried fruit, nuts, cheese, croutons and bacon. Make sure your salads are made from garden vegetables only.

Find more helpful hints here:

Is Overeating at Christmas Just one More Way to Splurge?

Stress can be removed from holiday traditions so original intent can be enjoyed

Don’t Let Stress Become a Tradition at Holiday Meals

SUGGESTIONS TO REDUCE HOLIDAY STRESS AND ENJOY THE MEANINGFUL TRADITIONS

The biggest family meal of the year is just a week away, and that can trigger a big jump in the stress levels of everyone at the table. Traditions are supposed to provide a reassuring foothold in otherwise uncertain times. But that can only happen when everyone shares a common memory of how and why the tradition started. Once the memory of those origins fades and expectations change, anxiety sets in.

Of course, any six year old can tell you the story of the first Thanksgiving meal shared by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Or at least the version taught in schools. Yet somewhere along the way the tradition that evolved from that event got side tracked into debates over who bakes the best pie and disputes about how the kids are being raised.

Family and friends who don’t get together often may indeed have different expectations about a lot of things. But Thanksgiving is not the day to express our differences. It’s about a tradition of giving thanks, no matter what is on the menu or who is winning the football game.

Here are some suggestions to help make your day less stressful and a whole lot more enjoyable for generations to come.

  1. Smile – It’s the quickest way to relieve tension. The change in countenance on your face does wonders for you and anyone around you. Try it, you’ll be amazed!
  2. Breathe – Take a deep breath, hold it a few seconds, then exhale fully. It’s called a “sigh of relief” because it has the power to relieve what worries you.
  3. Refocus – Stop fretting about the crumbs in the carpet and look at the faces of those in the room and what each person means to you. When you stay focused on the big picture, the little stuff won’t matter.
  4. Love – Give and get it as often as you can. Find a small child to hug or a furry pet to pet. Look into the eyes of someone dear to you and tell them how much you really love them. The expression of unconditional love is powerful antidote to all that ails you.
  5. Forgive – First be prepared to forgive yourself if everything is not perfect. Then be willing to forgive others who have been thoughtless so you don’t have to feel the burden of that resentment.
  6. Simplify – Take some short-cuts, scale back, do less. Remember why you’re together.
  7. Help – As in “I need help!” No one knows you need it until you ask.
  8. Stretch – Give yourself a mini-massage by tightening and relaxing individual muscle groups, working from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Close your eyes while doing it and visualize a peaceful place.
  9. Listen – Find someone in the group you haven’t seen in a while and ask them to tell you what they’ve been up to. Offer praise for their accomplishments and they will be immediately uplifted, and take you along on their high.
  10. Smile Again J – If this can lead to a good belly laugh, all the better!

Wishing You All A Traditional Thanksgiving Day Without Any the Stress!

Buying seasonal foods and storing properly lets you enjoy them all year

Stock Up On These 5 Food Values in Stores Now!

Find the best prices on fall foods while in season

The last two months of year are filled with holidays that feature food. Traditional dishes and favorite family recipes dominate the menu. For many that means stretching the budget to cover all the extra ingredients needed to prepare those special meals. But it also provides an opportunity to stock up on seasonal foods that aren’t as plentiful any other time of year while they are at their lowest price. Take advantage of these bargains to reap their nutritional benefits all year long.

  1. Apples. Buy them in baskets at farms stands and start making applesauce! It’s easy to do and freezes beautifully. Skip the sugar and season with your own signature spice blends using cinnamon, clove and allspice. Freeze it in individual and meal sized plastic containers or zip-top freezer bags. If you have a fruit dehydrator, make dried apple slices to snack on or to add to baked goods, oatmeal and pilafs. Visit the New York State Apple Association or the Washington Apple Commission for the best recipes and information about different varieties.
  2. Fresh Cranberries. Get them in bulk or bags to load up your freezer after rinsing and placing in freezer-grade storage bags to preserve their quality. Use some to make a big batch of homemade cranberry sauce that you can put into little jars and give away as holiday favors to go with all that leftover turkey. They’re also good to have on hand for decorating, garnishing cocktails and dehydrating to make your own “Craisins.” The Cranberry Institute has answers to all your questions about their nutritional content and emerging health research.
  3. Pomegranates. Like apples, the fruit can be stored at refrigerator temperatures (32⁰ – 41⁰ F) for up to seven months. The whole fruit can also be frozen for over a year in heavy zip-top bags. Just defrost completely before using. The arils found inside the fruit are the edible part. To freeze, remove the arils from the fruit and place them in single layer on a sheet pan until frozen, then transfer to a freezer bag for up to 6 months. Get more health and nutrition information plus ways to use them from the Pomegranate Council.
  4. Walnuts. They can be stored in their shells for 8 months at room temperature or shelled and frozen for a year or more. Walnuts are ideal on their own as a snack or can be added to everything from appetizers to desserts. You can find all you need to know about these nutritious nuts, including recipes, from the California Walnut Board.
  5. Canned Pumpkin. Storage is no problem, but if you don’t load your pantry now you may not find this powerhouse of good nutrition so easily the rest of the year. A ½ cup serving of canned pumpkin provides more than 100% of your daily allowance for Vitamin A and 20% of the Daily Value for fiber– that’s 5 grams, and has only 40 calories. There are recipes galore on the Libby’s Pumpkin site, and they’re not all pie!
Eating regular meals provides a way to slow down a busy day.

Being Busy Interferes with Eating Regular Meals

Eating regular meals provides better nutrition and an antidote to busyness

When I was growing up, no one I knew had an appointment book. The families in my neighborhood all got a free calendar from the bank at Christmas time and it hung inside a kitchen cupboard. The boxes for each day of the week weren’t that big, but it didn’t matter since people didn’t have much to keep track of then.

Today people have calendars on their walls, desks, computers and phones to stay on schedule, and get electronic reminders to tell them what to do next. When people say “time flies,” I think what they really mean is they are too busy being busy.

One of the most dangerous effects of being so busy is its impact on our meal patterns. You remember meals, don’t you? When you were a child they probably involved daily rituals like washing your hands before coming to the table, saying grace before eating, not talking with your mouth full, being excused when you finished what was on your plate, and taking turns washing and drying the dishes.

In addition to feeding us and providing a means to transfer family values, regular meal times serve as the anchors in our day. A time to regroup, while we refuel. Meals provide the perfect antidote to busyness.

When not eating meals people tend to snack and graze their way through the day. No rituals, no table manners and certainly little attention to nutritional needs. Just one more gulp and go day in an eat and run world.

Diet plans and nutrition information may change over time, but meals remain the same. Here’s all you need to know:

  • Sit down to eat
  • Share the meal with others
  • Eat foods from at least three different food groups
  • Use eating utensil, not your hands
  • Disconnect from the outside world – no television or texting at the table

Think about it, is that really too much to ask? And what have you got to lose but another appointment in your PDA?

Bon appetit!