Study: Toddlers who try more veggies less picky years later

If you’re the parent of an infant or toddler, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to how you can raise a non-picky eater who enjoys a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and doesn’t overdo it on junk food. Diets rich in colorful fruits and vegetables and low in sugary and energy-dense foods and drinks can help kids (and parents) maintain a healthy weight, prevent cancer as adults and reduce their risk of other chronic diseases.

Raising kids that prefer healthy foods isn’t easy, but a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests strategies that parents can try with their young children that may affect what foods kids enjoy and eat more of as they get older. It joins a growing body of research pointing to the importance of introducing a wide variety of vegetables to children under the age of 2. It also provide new evidence that parents should avoid introducing foods low in nutrients, but high in saturated fat, added sugars, or salt to young children who haven’t yet tasted them.

This study used data from the NOURISH trial, a randomized control trial that began in Australia in 2008. The original study looked at whether providing new mothers with guidance on feeding and parenting practices affected outcomes as children got older. In this new study, researchers analyzed data from 340 mother-child pairs to see whether the amount of fruits, vegetables, and noncore (low-nutrient) foods tried by 14-month olds affected their preference for and intake of these foods, food fussiness, and weight about two and half years later. Continue reading

Sweet, crunchy and spicy, coleslaw made healthy

Coleslaw is a staple side with barbecue and Tex-Mex style dishes because of the cool, refreshing crunch it adds to a heavier meal. I’ve always been a fan of citrus or vinegar-based slaws rather than traditional mayonnaise-based ones. The acidity from this type of slaw pairs well with the sauces and flavors that are common in BBQ and Tex-Mex dishes. The lighter dressing also helps brings out the natural flavors of the veggies in the coleslaw.

For today’s Healthy Recipe, I made a modified version of AICR’s fiesta slaw featuring a variety of colorful bell peppers instead of traditional cabbage and carrots. Bell peppers are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C. Additionally, they contain numerous phytochemicals, which may help reduce your risk of cancer.

I love that this recipe includes a variety of naturally sweet, crunchy and spicy ingredients – the sweetness from the orange juice, mango and apple cut some of the heat from the jalapeño pepper.

It’s also one of the most vibrant veggie sides I’ve ever made. I always emphasize the importance of eating a rainbow to my patients and clients. The colors in foods represent different nutrients and phytochemicals, so the more (naturally) colorful your foods are the better! Veggiespic1_SG

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Easy, Make Your Own Winter Veggie Pizza

Just about everyone loves pizza, myself included. However, traditional restaurant pizza is generally made with refined (white) flour, and loaded with saturated fat and sodium – things that can quickly lead to weight gain and harm your health. To make pizza something I can feel good about eating regularly, I’ve found ways to make my own healthier versions. The key is using whole grains, less cheese and loading up on lots of cancer-protective veggies.

This weekend I wanted to make a quick, personal-sized pizza using seasonal, winter veggies.

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Eating produce that’s in season helps you save money and also ensures you are getting a good variety of foods and nutrients.

This pizza included some of my favorite veggies and herbs: Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and fresh sage. Pizza can be fairly labor intensive if you are making the dough, but the whole wheat pita pockets in this recipe made this dish incredibly easy and was perfect for a personal-sized pizza. Continue reading