7 Tips for Happy and Healthy Dining Out with the Whole Family

Kids yelling, tossing chicken tenders, and begging for dessert; we’ve all seen this nightmarish scene in our local restaurant. In fact, many people completely avoid dining out with young children because it feels like too much work. Plus, kids don’t typically request the healthiest restaurant options so you have to wonder – is it even worth bringing the kids 12949909_salong?

The truth is, much of our food dollar is being spent at restaurants today. Eating out is a cultural reality that can and should be a pleasant experience for everyone. Instead of fearing the dreaded tantrum or unhealthy food, view dining out as a great opportunity to teach kids good manners and good nutrition.

With these seven simple tips and ideas, bringing the family out to eat can be a healthy, relaxing, and memorable experience.

  1. Set boundaries first. With young kids who are new to dining out, explain that restaurants are a place where they need to use indoor voices and be polite. Get them excited about the delicious food they’ll be trying, and remind them that eating at adult restaurants is a privilege.
  2. Keep kids occupied. If kids are restless before dinner, don’t feel guilty about giving them a game to keep them busy, just make it educational! Check out the new Super Crew FoodLeap app, featuring healthy colorful foods from the National Restaurant Association and SuperKids Nutrition Inc.! It’s a great way to teach kids that healthy eating is fun and delicious – and might make them more likely to eat their veggies during the meal. You can download the free app on iPhones and iPads through the Apple app store.
  3. Give them healthful restaurant options. There are many restaurants serving up better-for-you menu items. Expose your children to the right influences from an early age so that they know what types of restaurants to look out for when they’re on their own. By giving them options, you’re still empowering them with their choice while teaching them how to identify nutritious options. Check out a list of restaurants with healthier menus for kids by downloading the free Kids LiveWell app.
  4. Go for the doggie bag. Don’t be afraid to take home a doggie bag! Ask for a take home box at the beginning or end of the meal. Some people find that portioning out half to take home at the beginning of the meal helps with their self-control. Either way, it shows the family that it’s OK not to finish your meal and save it for a tasty lunch tomorrow.
  5. Celebrate Healthy Fare. More and more restaurants are placing healthy food at the center of the plate. Find a spot in your area that prides itself on serving fresh, seasonal, plant-based, healthy, or farm-to-table cuisine. Encourage your kids to try a meatless meal when dining out, and aim for 2-3 meatless meals a week. Use the healthy protein tracker to meet your family’s goal. The whole family will enjoy the nourishing and beautifully plated options.
  6. Split the banana split. If you’re craving something sweet, have the family split a dessert, instead of everyone ordering their own.
  7. Side with Salad. Even the most indulgent options can be made lighter with a side of salad or veggies. Going out for pizza? Just get one pie and order a big Italian salad to share with dressing on the side. Is chicken lo mein the family favorite? Order it with extra veggies or with steamed veggies on the side. This will help you fill up without the extra calories, fat, sodium, and sugar. See these healthy dining out tips.

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Alarming increases of colorectal cancer rates among young adults

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet it remains the third most common cancer among US men and women.

The good news is that rates have declined 30 percent among people 50 years of age and older, however incidence and mortality among individuals under 50 are on the rise and expected to climb. Among 20-34 year olds, rates of colorectal cancer have increased 51% since 1994 and in the period from 2010-2030, colorectal cancer in this age group is expected to increase by 90 percent.

At the Early Age Colorectal Cancer Onset Summit last week, I was one of the speakers talking about the concerning increase in this cancer among adults in their 20s through 40s.


Among 20-34 year olds, rates of colorectal cancer have increased 51% since 1994 – and in the period from 2010-2030, colorectal cancer in this age group is expected to increase by 90%.


Alarmingly, cancers in the under 50 population are diagnosed at later stages (most often due to delays in diagnosis) and appear to be more aggressive tumor types, both of which have implications for prognosis and survival.

What’s unknown is the cause of young onset colorectal cancer.

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How Home-made Cornmeal Crackers Can Help You Burn Calories

“With all the cooking you do, how do you stay thin?” I am not thin but being on my feet in the kitchen, moving constantly, does benefit my weight. Writing is when I tend to gain weight. To help minimize this, my laptop is set up so I work on it standing up. Still, I start every piece and write the first draft for recipes while sitting down, pen in hand, facing a yellow pad.

Like most writers, I feel anxious looking at the empty page. To get past this anxiety, munching on something savory with crunch works best. Yes, it is a bad habit. I wish celery sticks worked but they do not. Limiting my choices to foods with some health benefits, I rely on nuts, baked corn chips, and lightly salted crackers to comfort me until words start flowing.

Recently, I found a whole-grain cracker recipe that I have adapted here; munching on them helped me get this post going.

Cornmeal Crackers_06Making these herb-flavored crackers takes some concentrated, calorie-burning work: after you cook stone-ground cornmeal to make a thick, gritty polenta and mix in all the other ingredients to make a dough, you must roll it out by hand until it is very thin, almost thin enough to see through. Like making pasta, this takes effort. It produces crackers that snap nicely.

While making the dough, handle it as little as possible or your crackers will be tough. Rolling the dough out on baking parchment is fantastic. The non-stick paper lets you lift and release the dough easily so you can roll until it is even thinner than 1/16th-inch. The dough is forgiving—simply press tears together. For the final rectangle, this means you can cut pieces off where the sheet of dough bulges out and press them to fill in where it is narrow. After cutting the dough into neat, two-bite-size crackers, toss out any trimmings; rerolled, they make a sticky dough and tough crackers.

Using a light colored baking sheet is important. If you do not have one, line a dark sheet with baking parchment and allow a longer baking time. The crackers color unevenly, giving them a rustic look. They get crisper as they cool, so it is ok to take the colored crackers from the oven when they are still a bit soft.

These crackers are excellent with cheese, dips, or soup as well as for snacking.

Here’s the recipe: Cornmeal Herb Crisp Crackers.