On October 6, 2011, the Prevention Institute--a national non-profit organization committed to preventing illness, fostering health and building momentum for community prevention--launched a new video called We're Not Buying It. It sheds light on the many negative health effects food marketing has on vulnerable children, and serves as a call to action for parents, families and health advocates to ask President Obama to support strong voluntary guidelines for food marketing that are currently be considered by the government. And just a few days ago I reviewed a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics for msnbc.com. The study suggested food commercials had more of an impact on young kids' food choices than parental input.

As stated on the Prevention Institute's web site,

"From soda companies using school marketing campaigns disguised as charities, to food package labeling that misleads parents, We’re Not Buying It takes just two minutes to debunk industry claims that they’re trying to be part of the solution in the fight for kids’ health. Parents alone simply can’t compete with the $2 billion a year the food and beverage industry spends selling kids foods that are laden in sugar, salt and fat, the video reveals."

The voluntary federal guidelines that are currently being considered were developed by the Interagency Working Group, a coalition of nutrition and media experts from federal agencies, ask companies not to advertise their most unhealthy foods to kids. And only time will tell if the voluntary guidelines will take hold or instead, be trumped by those opposed to such guidelines including Congressman Lee Terry. Stay tuned for results from congressional testimony on this topic set to take place on Wednesday, October 12th.

You can read more about the push to have government support voluntary marketing guidelines by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest and by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

What say you? Should food companies need to follow certain guidelines when marketing foods and beverages, or is it simply up to parents to help their kids ignore the ads, resist temptation, and make more healthful food decisions? Please Share your thoughts below.

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Cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness of pumpkin, so you don’t

need much added sugar.

Makes 1 serving.

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch ground cinnamon

2 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend. Pour into

a tall glass and drink immediately.

Per serving: 106 calories; 22 grams carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber; 0 grams

fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 5 grams protein; 59 milligrams sodium;

2 milligrams cholesterol; 190 milligrams calcium.

Source: MyPlate for Moms: How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.

What's your favorite smoothie? Do share!

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Pumpkin and raisins are brimming with good nutrition in this twist

on classic pancakes. Each serving provides two-thirds of the calcium

in a glass of milk.

Makes 6 servings (3 pancakes per serving).

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

12⁄3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup low-fat (1%) milk

2 tablespoons trans fat–free tub margarine, melted

1 large egg

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup California raisins

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl,

combine 1 tablespoon of sugar with the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, margarine, egg, pumpkin, raisins, and

yogurt-sugar mixture, stirring well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry

ingredients in the large bowl. Stir until batter is moist and free of lumps.

Lightly coat a griddle or a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat

to low to medium heat. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the batter onto

the hot griddle. Cook until the bubbles begin to burst, then flip and

cook until golden brown.

Per serving: 302 calories; 57 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber;

4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 11 grams protein; 305 milligrams

sodium; 42 milligrams

Source: MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.

Please share your favorite pancake recipe, or way to eat pancakes!

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Food. It's not only fuel, but some foods can also boost your immune system and help your body defend itself against the common cold and so much more. In the new book, The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods. you'll not only find delicious recipes, but you'll learn how to use food to optimize your health from the outside in. The book, divided up into 5 parts, teaches you:

*how your diet stacks up;

*how to evolve your eating;

*how to enjoy family meals and fight childhood obesity;

*all about vegetables, fruits, protein foods, grains, and fats;

*how to live with food allergies;

*how to spice up your health; and

*how to eat and drink to fight disease and achieve optimal health

The book packs in tons of science-based yet practical advice you can use to become a more mindful eater in a world where mindless eating runs rampant. It also includes recipes that highlight foods that may help you fight a cold or a headache, help you sleep, or even manage diabetes.

Who knew "health" food could taste so good? Here are two delicious, easy-to-prep recipes worth trying:

Berry Melon Yogurt Parfaits


Jammed with powerful immune boosting power, these parfaits make a delicious breakfast, brunch, or after-dinner dessert. Feel free to substitute any fresh berry or use a combination of berries for colorful treat.

Yield: 4 parfaits; Serving size: 1 parfait; Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 45 minutes

Each serving has:

366 calories

11 g total fat

1 g saturated fat

0 g trans fat

2 mg cholesterol

168 mg sodium

32 g carbohydrates

5 g Fiber

4 g sugars

9 g protein

14 percent iron


1 cup rolled oats

[1/4] cup raisins

2 TB. slivered almonds

1 TB. Flax seeds, ground

1 TB. vegetable oil

1 TB. agave nectar

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 cups low-fat yogurt, plain

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup watermelon, chopped


1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine oats, raisins, almonds, and flax seeds.

2.   In a small bowl mix together oil, agave nectar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Drizzle into the oat mixture and stir together.

3.   Spread oat mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven and let cool.

4.   For the parfaits, use long fluted dessert glasses. Layer a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of berries, watermelon, and granola. Repeat until filled to the top. Serve chilled.

Mozzarella Caprese Bites

These are a bite-size, tasty, and a healthful start to a party or simple dinner.

Yield: 12 toasts; Serving size: 3 toasts; Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: None

Each serving has:

200 calories

10 g total fat

5 g saturated fat

0 g trans fat

18 mg cholesterol

304 mg sodium

16 g carbohydrates

2 g fiber

2 g sugars

11 g protein

5 percent iron


1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, diced

2 TB. fresh basil, chopped

2 TB. balsamic vinegar

1 TB. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 whole grain toast rounds or pita chips


1.   In a large bowl gently toss together cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2.   Dollop a tablespoon of the mixture onto each of the toast rounds and serve.

Source: The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods (Alpha Books/Penguin, July 2011) by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN with Jovanka JoAnn Miloivojevic.

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Kale and Brussels sprouts share a link--they're both part of the cruciferous, or cabbage, vegetable family. These vegetables not only pack in a lot of flavor, water (to fill you up), and valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, but eating them may protect you against some cancers. Here are two delicious recipes with these nutritional darlings from No Whine With Dinner by the Meal Makeover Moms.


Crispy Kale Chips

Makes 4 Servings

1 big bunch kale

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon smoked paprika (or more)

½ teaspoon ginger powder (or more)

1 pinch chili powder, optional

Sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Remove the stems and woody ribbing from the tender leaves of the kale. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry.

2. Add the olive oil to a large bowl. Whisk in the paprika and ginger. Add the chili powder as desired. Add the kale leaves to the oil and toss with your hands, coating each leaf, front and back.

3. Lay the kale out on a parchment paper–covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle with the salt. Wash your hands so you don't rub chili powder into your eyes!

4. Working in batches, bake in the oven, until the chips are flat and crisp. (It took about 17 minutes for mine, although the recipe that inspired it online said 33 minutes.)

5. Remove with a spatula and let cool.  Serve them to someone who will try one and say, "Kale chips?!?" as they bite into one. In about a minute, they'll come back for 10 more.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  100 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated, 0.2g omega-3), 50mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 350% vitamin A, 230% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 10% iron



Sweeeeetest Brussels Sprouts

Makes 4 Servings

1 pound Brussels sprouts

2 slices nitrite-free bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide pieces

½ small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (½ cup)

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 generous pinch freshly ground black pepper

1.  Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts using a sharp knife. Peel off the loose leaves around the stems and slice each sprout in half lengthwise.

2.  Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts, bring the water back to a low boil, and cook, uncovered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

3.  While the sprouts are cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened, about 7 minutes.

4. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts, maple syrup, salt, and pepper and toss until the vegetables are coated.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 15 halves):  80 calories, 2g fat (0.5g saturated), 190mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g protein, 15% vitamin A, 150% vitamin C

Source: NO WHINE WITH DINNER: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011).

What are your favorite cruciferous vegetables, and how do you like to prepare them?

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Ahhh, exercise. Easier said than done, right? I personally love to do it. My favorite activities? Taking a long walk or hike outside solo (listening to music) or with a friend, taking a class like tap dancing or Zumba, or doing some sort of weight training (think lunges, squats, and abdominal exercises). I consider exercise and being active just as important to my daily routine as brushing my teeth, and definitely feel the effects when I skip a day.

I usually plan to do some sort of formal exercise first thing in the morning. But I also try to be mindful to keep active throughout the day and walk places instead of taking a cab or public transportation. And with the exception of when I write at my desk, I try to not sit for too long of a stretch.

When work or life get in the way of my exercise, I chalk it up to one of those days, and get back on track the next day.

There are countless studies that say exercise is oh so good for our hearts and our overall health. But for me, exercise is something that I do mainly because it helps me feel better both physically and mentally. My body feels and works better when I move it more, and I have a sense of accomplishment each and every time I set and achieve an exercise goal, even if it’s a relatively small one. And I’m in complete agreement with David Katz, MD, Director and founder of Yale University's Prevention Research Center. According to Katz, “We are animals, with a native animal vitality too many of us squander!” He says exercise enables us to unleash that vitality. That it does!

Unfortunately, not everyone loves to exercise--and it make sense that if you don't enjoy something, you don't make an effort to do it. Oprah admittedly doesn’t like to exercise, but she makes herself do it because she knows how important it is.

A few days ago, a blog I wrote about the Weekly Fitness Challenge was posted on caloriecount.com. That blog and the tips below are designed to inspire and motivate you--whether you're new to exercise or have had trouble in the past getting into a regular fitness routine--to take at least one small step towards living a more fit and active life.

  • Shuffle it up! Putting 20-30 motivating songs on your ipod or phone can make exercise feel easier and be more enjoyable. Knowing you’ll have good music to listen to when you exercise will also give you something to look forward to and may inspire you to stay on target.
  • Acknowledge improvement, even if it seems small. If you walk for 20 minutes every day or every other day during the first week, and bump it up to 22 minutes the second week, pat yourself on the back! Know that any improvement is a step in the right direction.

~Tammy Lakatos Shames & Lyssie Lakatos,The Nutrition Twins®, registered dietitians and personal trainers

  • Believe in yourself. It’s easy to skip workouts or begin to get impatient when you’re looking for results. Positivity is a great motivator. Always remind yourself why you’re exercising, and that may motivate you to stay on course.
  • Have fun! Start with something you'll enjoy and have fun with it--whether its ballroom dancing, walking, or doing yoga.

~ Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, DC-based registered dietitian and health & fitness specialist, and the "mother of me time."

  • Enlist the help of a friend. People have workout partners for a reason...they keep them company and they help them stay motivated!
  • Cross Train. Vary activities to keep yourself motivated and interested. Whether you take a group class like Zumba, spinning, or pilates, or use weight and/or cardio machines, it all counts as exercise.

~Larysa Didio, certified personal trainer and fitness author

Please share your own tip for staying motivated to exercise.

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We all love salsa, and this one is a real peach--and oh so sweet for summer! This delicious dipper or topper comes from the fabulous Big Green Cookbook. Says the author, registered dietitian and culinary expert Jackie Newgent, "The velvety skin of the peach is one its loveliest attributes and it adds character to this fresh salsa. The rest of the peach adds scrumptiousness. The best time to make this salsa is in summer when peaches are at their juiciest best. And the best time to eat it is . . . well, any time you make it!"

Makes 4 servings: 1/2 cup each


2 large or 3 medium peaches, pitted and diced

1 large vine-ripened tomato, diced

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Juice and zest of 1 lime, or to taste (about 2 tablespoons juice)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste


Gently stir together the peaches, tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium serving bowl. Add salt. Sprinkle with some of the zest. Serve with tortilla chips or grilled fish or organic chicken.

Nutrition Facts:

Per serving: 60 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 15g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 1g protein

Little Green Cooking Tip

It’s summer! It’s time for peach picking—even if from a local market, not a tree. Pick organic ones when you can—even though they’re not always as pretty as conventionally grown peaches. Then there’s virtually no need to peel off the fuzzy skins. Use them whenever you can in recipes. And even if organic, do scrub well first.

What's your favorite summer dipper or topper?

Source: Recipe reprinted with permission from Big Green Cookbook by Jackie Newgent, RD. Follow Jackie on Twitter: @jackienewgent.com

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We Can Cook, a great new book by Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN, and Maja Pitamic, is filled with recipes and food-related activities designed for young children and their parents or caregivers to do together. We all know that involving kids in the kitchen is a great way to introduce children to new foods and help them gain a positive understanding of food and cooking. The book's recipes are not only nutritious, but they're tasty as well--many are favorites like Mac 'n' Cheese and Chicken Fingers (and of course there are some sweet treats). Every recipe includes step-by-step instructions directed at parents and includes tasks that are appropriate for 3 to 6 year-olds (and of course, older children can also help create the culinary, child-friendly masterpieces). Overall, We Can Cook makes cooking and eating fun for both children and their parents.

Below you'll find a sweet, nutritious fruit-filled recipe that makes a great mid-day snack or dessert.

Grilled Plums with Yogurt Dip

4 Servings

Grilling fruit is a great way to make it more interesting. Plums are an excellent source of the antioxidants anthocyanins, which are commonly found in red and purple fruits and vegetables, and vitamin C.


4 plums

Olive oil

Nonstick cooking spray

1 cup nonfat Greek or plain yogurt

4 tsp honey


A knife

A grill or grill pan

A spatula

A small to medium bowl

A fork

4 plates

A spoon

1.     Cut the plums in half by cutting along the seam to the pit, then show your child how to twist each half in opposite directions to separate them. Remove the pits.

2.     Help him to lightly brush the plums with olive oil, using his fingers, and set them aside.

3.     Spray the grill with cooking spray and heat it to medium-high. When it is hot, add the plums to the grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip the plums and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.

4.     While the plums are grilling, ask your child to add the yogurt and honey to a bowl and mix them together using a fork until they are well combined.

5.     When the plums are finished cooking, remove them from the grill and set one plum on each plate. Help your child spoon approximately 1⁄4-cup of the yogurt-honey dip on each plate (next to or on top of the plums—he can decide).

Source: We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities.

What simple favorite sweet treat do you like to prepare with your kids?

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Is Michelle Obama really more like the Hamburgler in disguise? Or is she simply an American woman who, according to a Washington Post reporter, had a craving for, and subsequently ordered some of her favorite comfort foods—a burger and fries, a chocolate shake, and a diet coke®—at a Shake Shack location in Washington, D.C. this past Monday? Should we even care?

Many seem to care because Mrs. Obama is no simple American woman; she’s the face of Let’s Move!, a comprehensive anti-obesity initiative launched in February, 2010. This national effort aims to create a healthy start for children, empower parents and caregivers, provide healthy food in schools, improve access to healthy, affordable foods, and increase physical activity.

Just after this ‘news story’ went to print, several nutrition experts weighed in with their opinions on ABC news. Many defended (or at the very least, were not outright mortified by) Mrs. Obama’s lunch selection, saying we're not sure how much she actually ate and that fast food can be an occasional indulgence—not something to have often as many Americans unfortunately tend to do.

Personally, I can understand why some feel that Mrs. Obama’s reported behavior at Shake Shake was shaky--and flies in the face of what she stands for (and what she wants America to stand for) as we wage war against obesity and overweight. After all, doesn’t heavily advertised, highly palatable, high calorie, high fat fast food contribute to overeating and subsequent debilitating health problems like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes? We Americans know that we eat too much nutrient-poor food and not enough of the healthful foods recommended by MyPlate (which reflects current Dietary Guidelines for Americans). But does judging Mrs. Obama’s food choices and expecting her to eat and live perfectly really help the rest of us get healthy and fit? Wouldn’t that set the healthy eating bar too high for most Americans to achieve?

Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, a New York City-based registered dietitian in private practice, says "Having a burger, fries, a shake, and a soda all at once is not the best example to set when you’re encouraging Americans to be more healthy." One expert takes a different view. "It's like we live in the land of scooped out bagels and no fat allowed," says Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, D.C.-based dietitian and the founder of "The Me Movement." And while we don’t know if Mrs. Obama ate all that she ordered (or if she even ordered it all for herself), Scritchfield points out that "Let's Move! is about wellness—it's not about 'perfect' food rules." She adds "All or nothing doesn't work, and health should not be equated with perfection."

If you want my two cents, I think we should leave it up to Mrs. Obama herself to decide what and how to eat. Only she knows her usual eating habits and overall health status, and how occasional—or even daily—indulgences fit into her life. Only she can decide the messages (such as moderation and balance) she wants her daughters to learn about making food decisions and living a healthy lifestyle. And if that means fast food on occasion—or even more often (in small portions of course)—so be it.

And what about all of us healthy eating advocates and experts—including myself—should we, too, be subjected to scrutiny about what, how much, when and where we eat? At the moment (knock on wood), I’m in very good health, maintain a very active lifestyle, and have lost and kept off more than 30 pounds for years. Although some foodie friends and health experts may not condone my usuals—a hot dog with catsup and mustard at each Yankee game, bread and butter (or sometimes olive oil) at meals eaten out, or my daily chocolate indulgence (usually peanut M & Ms)—I have no problem being honest about my eating habits. I’m not a food cop and don’t expect others to eat exactly as I do, nor do I claim to be a perfect eater. And just like with Mrs. Obama, I don’t feel that I should be judged for having some of the less-than-healthful foods I have enjoyed since I was a child. (Perhaps those who feel this admission means I should have my registered dietitian license revoked should take it up with my mother.)

I take my own kids to fast food once in a while, much like my parents took me, and both of my boys are (knock on wood, again) healthy, active, and have a pretty healthful diet rich in fruits, veggies, low fat dairy, beans, and whole grains.

I truly hope Mrs. Obama will continue to promote healthy eating, do the best she can to eat healthfully and encourage that in her children, and at the same time not be shamed into eating indulgences only in secret. And as my colleague and friend, registered dietitian Constance Brown-Riggs, often says, life—and food choices—are about progress, not perfection. And to that I’ll take another bite of my own burger!

Your thoughts?

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The following review is written by the wonderful Erika Breitfeller who interned for me in late June, 2011.

The Slender Trap: A Food and Body Workbook is an interactive manual that addresses both eating disorders and body-image issues. Written by author Lauren Lazar Stern, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, a board-certified art therapist and a licensed professional counselor, the book is interactive and extremely well written. The format of the book and its layout are easy to follow and convey a strong sense of support for readers throughout each section.

The book is broken down into an introduction followed by chapters on different topics with titles such as “Why I think I’m Fat,” and “The Diet and Exercise Traps.” The introduction is informative and factual and gives the reader an idea of the purpose of the workbook, and the workings and defining elements of expressive arts used to help readers who suffer from an eating disorder. I appreciate the sequence of chapters and how they’re broken down; they start with some basics and slowly upgrade to more difficult topics readers can reflect on. Each chapter includes clever exercises that appropriately pertain to the topic being discussed. The author also includes a section after each exercise titled ‘Process with Me,’ which enables readers to reflect on how she feels while doing the exercise. The only criticism I have about this processing section was categorizing feelings using a thermometer analogy.  The author utilized a temperature scale to process readers’ moods after doing the exercise that to me could be misleading or confusing to some. I really enjoyed the personal testimonials from real women who were willing to share their experiences with eating disorders and body image issues. These testimonials make it that much more apparent that readers are not alone.

The author suggests The Slender Trap to those who are overwhelmed by what to eat or not to eat, or by how they look. I whole-heartedly agree with Ms. Stern that this book is a great read for any woman at any age who suffers from an eating disorder or some form of disordered eating or who has a distorted self-image. Reading this workbook can surely be an eye-opening experience, especially for those who may not have seen their eating habits and obsessions as a concern. The book reassures readers that many women feel the same way they do, and guides them towards confronting issues appropriately. At the very least, reading The Slender Trap can open doors for women and hopefully help them begin to tackle their issues and start the healing process.

Are you stuck in the slender trap? Or what has helped you get out of one?

About the author: Erika Breitfeller earned a Bachelors in Health Science –Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Delaware. She's also a recent  graduate of the North Shore Long Island Jewish Dietetic Internship Program. Her email is erikab@udel.edu.

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