Monday, August 22, 2011

Smile When You Eat That Broccoli!

Over the years, I've had parents say to me, "How do you get your kids to eat vegetables? Heaven knows I've tried, and my kids won't touch them." Most of the time, when I ask these parents if they eat veggies, their reaction is predictable: "Ew, no. Veggies are nasty!"

If that sounds familiar, I encourage you to reconsider your approach to veggies. Modeling--setting a good example--is a key parenting tool, and as it turns out, it's just as crucial in teaching children good eating habits as it is in other areas of parenting. A Reuters Health summary of a research study (which was originally published in the journal Obesity) noted that researchers found that the facial expressions of adults influenced children to eat more or less of foods. In other words, if you're all but holding your nose when you eat cooked cauliflower, it's very likely that your kids will turn up their noses.

If you don't have children, you may be thinking this doesn't apply to you. Maybe that's true, but consider this: Many adults try foods (very often vegetables) they remember hating as a child, and find that as an adult, the food is actually enjoyable. Perhaps future research will reveal that what children take away from childhood regarding food isn't as much their own reactions, as the reactions of the adults around them. So, if you've been avoiding green beans or beets for decades, perhaps that's because an adult in your childhood didn't like them. You may be surprised to discover that you feel very differently about those veggies now!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Are Packed School Lunches Unsafe?

I homeschool my kids, but back when they attended a private school, they went to school with lunch. I was just as surprised as the researchers who conducted this study, which was originally published in Pediatrics. The researchers found that almost all of the perishable items--over 90 percent--were at an unsafe temperature an hour and a half before lunch. Many of the lunches were packed with an ice pack, and some were even kept in a refrigerator. Even so, the lunches were well within what's called the danger zone--that is, a temperature at which harmful bacteria and viruses can grow and multiply.

The researchers observed that this study encourage parents to pack lunches with multiple ice packs. They also suggest children remove their lunch from the container and put it in the refrigerator.

In addition, I'd suggest refrigerating all of your child's lunch ingredients. In food service, all ingredients that go into a cold recipe are kept cold, even if the ingredients don't require refrigeration. That's because adding a room-temperature ingredient to a dish can bring up the temperature to the danger zone. So, consider refrigerating vacuum-packed applesauce, chips, cookies, and so on. That way, when you add them to your child's lunch, they won't warm up the container.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Potent New Antioxidant Discovered in Tomatoes!

At first glance, you may think the discovery of a potent new antioxidant in tomatoes isn't newsworthy...even if it is, according to this article on's Web site, "4.5 more potent than vitamin E and 10 times more potent than vitamin C."

However, this discovery beautifully illustrates one of the hazards of relying on dietary supplements. If you've been slacking on a healthy diet while popping a vitamin E capsule and chewing a few vitamin C tablets afterward, you may well have been missing out on the newly-discovered (and fearfully named) antioxidant feruloylnoradrenaline (FNA). In addition to being more potent than vitamins E and C, the researchers reported FNA's antioxidant power "is 14 times higher than that of resveratrol." (Resveratrol is the compound found in red wine that's been linked with a delay in cellular aging.) Talk about a potent substance!

Sure, researchers are already developing a way to get FNA into capsules. But if you choose to pop an FNA pill instead of eat tomatoes, who knows how many other healthy substances you're missing out on?

Gazpacho, anyone?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Big Boy BBQ Sauce

I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel! I'm nearing the end of the first round of edits on "Luscious." Over the weekend, I spent some time updating Lesson 10. One of the changes I wanted to make was to develop my own barbeque sauce for the Caribbean Chicken Pizza. I'm not usually a fan of prepared barbeque sauce, because it's typically too sweet--cloyingly sweet. It's high in sodium, too.

So, I did some research, then did some tinkering. I'm delighted to report that I've developed a barbeque sauce recipe that balances sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors. In fact, it got its name from my son, who tasted it and said, "This isn't as sweet as the stuff in the bottle, but it tastes better. This is big boy barbeque sauce!" (If you'd like it a little sweeter, you can add an extra tablespoon of molasses. If you're keeping an eye on carbs, add sugar substitute or agave nectar, a teaspoon at a time, to taste.)

For those of you who love barbeque sauce, but can live without the carbohydrates and sodium, you'll be delighted with the nutrition profile. Typical prepared barbeque sauce has about 15 grams of carbohydrate--about half of it from high-fructose corn syrup--and 300 milligrams sodium per 2 tablespoon serving. In comparison, my recipe has just 8 grams of carbohydrate and 15 milligrams sodium.

We've still got a month of summer left (here in the desert, we've got another two months of hot weather), so you've got plenty of time to break out the grill and give this recipe a go! Or, use it as the sauce for Caribbean Chicken Pizza, then top your pizza with chicken, pineapple chunks (use the pineapple juice for the sauce) and mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!

Big Boy BBQ Sauce


1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn mix
5 dashes ground cayenne


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.


This recipe makes enough for at least two (12-inch) pizzas. Leftover sauce can be kept up to 3 days in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator. Or, freeze any leftovers for later use.

Nutrition Information:

Makes 10 (2 tablespoon) servings. Per serving, 36 calories, 0 grams fat, 15 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate.