March 1, 2012

Should We Be Concerned About The Candy Our Kids Eat On Easter?
Absolutely not. I’m not concerned about sugar at Easter. This is a wonderful, whimsical day for kids. Most of us have fond memories of the candy haul in those Easter baskets. If we limited our sugar binges to just Easter, we’d be fine. But we don’t. Our children are eating the Easter equivalent of sugar all year around.

Kids between the ages of 12 and 19 consume an average of 29 teaspoons, children from 6 to 11 consume an average more than 21 teaspoons of added refined sugars every day. While at the turn of the century, most people consumed about 4 teaspoons of sugar daily and all of that was added in the kitchen when mom made jams or pie, today adults average up to 40 teaspoons a day and most of that sugar is added for us by industry before the food ever makes it into our kitchens. Children are eating sugar in not only candy and desserts, but in baked beans, catsup, fruited yogurts, granola bars, frozen entrees, and cereals, to name only a few.

Is that much sugar bad for our kids? The only proven link between this excessive sugar intake and health is with tooth decay. A few studies have suggested that sugar intake might be linked to heart disease and colon cancer, but there really isn’t enough evidence to make these accusations stick. The belief that sugar causes hyperactivity hasn’t been proven in scientific studies. (While sugar is not a proven culprit in hyperactivity, the caffeine in colas and chocolate could be revving a child, since the caffeine content of cola for a child is equivalent to a cup of coffee for an adult. ) What many parents don’t realize is that many sweet foods are actually even higher in fat. A cookie is considered sweet, but can have more than 50% of its calories from fat. Sugar makes fat taste good.

The biggest concern is that every time a child reaches for candy, that child is missing the opportunity to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nonfat milk, and other foods that reduce his/her risk for developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and obesity later in life. Children who eat lots of sugar consume significantly lower amounts of protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. A study from the American Association of Pediatrics reports that 99 out of 100 children in this country do not get enough of the fruits and vegetables. So, even if sugar isn’t directly linked to disease, consuming too much could be undermining your children’s health today and in the future.

Just Do This Today

What can you do to curb excessive sugar intake? Follow these simple rules every day, and then let Easter be a special day in an otherwise healthful year.

  • Avoid sticky, sweet foods, such as processed fruit bars, candy, and caramel, since they are the worst offenders of tooth decay.
  • Limit soft drinks to special occasions, such as at a baseball game. Never bring soda into the house.
  • Cut back on sweets, such as doughnuts, pies, cakes, cookies and ice cream.
  • Read labels. A food is too sweet if sugar is one of the first three ingredients or if the list includes several sources of sugar. Also, keep in mind that sugar comes in a variety of names, such as glucose, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, and fructose, turbinado, and honey.
  • Use more spices. Cinnamon, vanilla, spearmint and anise provide a sweet taste to foods without adding sugar or calories.


Hot Off the Diet Press

Salty Dogs: Despite vigorous educational campaigns to encourage lower salt intakes, Americans still consume far too much sodium, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. While most Americans would lower their risk for high blood pressure and heart disease by keeping sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams a day, 98.6% of those people consume far above those amounts. Most of the excess sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant fare, only about 25% occurs naturally or is added at the table and during cooking, according to the report.

Speaking of Folic Acid: Women who supplement with folic acid before and during pregnancy give birth to babies with a significantly lower risk for severe language delays by age three-years-old, state researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo. Results showed that children whose mothers took no supplements during pregnancy had more than a two-fold risk of several language delays – defined as only using one word or unintelligible utterances at age 3-years-old – compared to children whose mothers had supplemented with folic acid at least four weeks prior to pregnancy and for at least the first eight weeks after conception.

Another Reason to Eat Chocolate!: Just to prove there is a God, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm conclude that women need chocolate to lower their risk for stroke! More than 33,000 women between the ages of 49- and 83-years-old who were free of any history of stroke, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, were asked to complete a questionnaire that included questions about their diets and lifestyles. In the following years, 1,549 of the women suffered strokes. Results showed that women with the highest consumption of chocolate (averaging 2.3 ounces/week) had a 20% lower risk of stroke compared to women who never or rarely consumed chocolate.

Food & Mood Tip

Weight gain, even obesity, is strongly linked to chronic stress. In fact, nibbling, gnawing, and eating is common in all animals under stress and may be a way to release pent-up tension. Studies have found that stressed animals chew and gnaw more than calm animals, while studies on up-tight people show they are more likely to chew their nails, smoke cigarettes, dive into the cookie jar, and drink more alcohol than are care-free people. The need to nosh is a strong predictor of substantial weight gain in people. The trick is to nibble on healthful, low-fat snacks, like baby carrots, pea pods, red pepper slices, apples, orange sections, low-fat yogurt, nuts and dried fruit, or soy nuts. These healthy foods will protect you from stress, not add insult to injury

Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week

Eat Your Way to Sexy, By Elizabeth SomerAn all-carb mini-meal can raise serotonin, the feel-good nerve chemical. This is not permission to throw a one-person Cheeto’s party! You only need about 30 grams of carbs to get the serotonin boost and you must make sure there is little or no protein in the snack, since that would block the building block for serotonin, tryptophan, from getting into the brain. Those carbs also should come from whole grains, since they enter the bloodstream slowly to provide a slow, steady release of energy. About an ounce of whole grain supplies those 30 grams, such as 8 whole wheat saltine crackers with 1 tablespoon fat-free cream cheese and 2 tablespoons mango chutney; 6 ounces of tabbouleh; or 1 small whole-grain tortilla with 1 /2 sliced banana and 1 teaspoon honey.

Click here to learn more about Eat Your Way to Sexy!

Mood-Boosting Recipe of The Week

Ricotta Tart With Strawberry Coulis

2 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled, coarsely chopped (may use frozen strawberries)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons Splenda
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Cooking spray
1 Pillsbury pie crust (unfold, fill, and bake)
1 15-ounce container nonfat ricotta cheese, drained
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Splenda
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute (equivalent to one whole egg)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 1 small orange
zest of 1 small lemon
Powdered sugar

1) Prepare coulis: Combine strawberries, water, Splenda, and lemon juice in blender. Puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10″ tart pan with cooking spray.

3) Unfold pie crust and position in tart pan. Gently press dough to cover bottom and sides of pan. Set aside.

4) In a medium bowl, combine drained ricotta cheese and remaining ingredients, except for powdered sugar. Mix well. Pour into prepared tart pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling is set in center.

5) When ready to serve, remove side of tart pan and cut tart into 12 servings. Place each slice on a dessert plate. Spoon strawberry coulis over top, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 12 servings.

Nutritional Analysis per serving: 216 Calories; 31 percent fat (7.4 grams); 3 grams saturated fat; 16 percent protein; 53 percent carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber.

Answers to “Do You Know?” from the last issue:

What has more sugar an 8-ounce tub of fruited yogurt or a Snickers bar?

They both could have the same amount, with some fruited or flavored yogurts containing up to 32 grams of sugar. There are 4 grams in a teaspoon, which means that yogurt could have up to 8 teaspoons of sugar! Solution? Buy, plain, nonfat yogurt and sweeten it with a little jam or fresh fruit. You never will add as much sugar as food companies do.

What is better for you, honey or table sugar?

They are both about the same. Oh sure, honey has a few nutrients in it, but not enough to make any difference. For example, it takes 11 cups of honey to supply a woman’s daily need for iron; it would take 19 cups of honey, for a total of 76,800 calories, to supply the calcium in one cup of nonfat milk.

Do You Know?

How much whole grain a slice of bread has that is made with “wheat flour?”

Which is better, Tang or 100% juice made with concentrated pear, apple, or white grape juice?

Check the next issue for the answers….

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the morning and afternoon snacks if you want to cut an additional 250+ calories.

1 cup shredded wheat cereal topped with 1 cup light fortified soymilk
4 apricot halves, canned in light syrup and drained
Tea or coffee (sweetened with artificial sweetener, if desired)

4 whole grain crackers
4 ounces fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 orange
Sparkling water with a twist of lemon

A Pita Sandwich made with:
1 whole wheat pita bread filled with: 1/3 cup canned and drained black beans, 4 avocado slices, 2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tomato, sliced and topped with fresh basil leaves and 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar dressing
Ice water

1 cup bottled 3-bean salad
1/2 whole wheat bagel topped with 1 tablespoon fat-free cream cheese
Ice water

4 ounces roasted salmon topped with hoisin sauce and fresh ginger
1 cup steamed asparagus
1 cup carrot slices, peeled and steamed
Green Mashed Potatoes made with
1 small baker potato, peeled, boiled and mashed with 1 /2 cup steamed chopped chard, 2 teaspoons butter, salt and pepper to taste, and enough nonfat milk to form a creamy consistency (approximately 1/3 cup)
1 serving Ricotta Tart With Strawberry Coulis
1 cup 1 percent low-fat milk, warmed and flavored with almond extract

Nutritional Analysis for the day: 1,998 Calories; 23% fat (51 grams); 15 gram saturated fat; 1.5 grams omega-3 fats; 19% protein; 58% carbohydrate; 43 grams fiber.