Saturday, March 5, 2011

Healthy Snacks For Kids

These days it is so easy to hand our kids a pre-packaged convenience item to munch while we race to get to the next meeting or practice that we are already 10 minutes late for. Parents, we are not doing our kids, or ourselves, any favors by letting them suck down sugary drinks and nutritionally void snacks in the backseat of our cars. Taking just a little time, when we have the time, to prepare healthy snacks for kids will have them feeling and performing better throughout the day’s long schedule.

Good quality cheese sticks are just as easy to reach for as those neon colored "fruit" snacks. Delicious and full of protein, your kid will be satisfied and energized until dinner. Peanut butter is another high protein, kid friendly snack. Spread atop a rice cake or used as a dip for apple slices, peanut butter can be a versatile and tasty mini-meal-on-the-go. Choose a sugar free, natural peanut butter to alleviate any worries about unnecessary additives.

Mix up a batch of “sneaky” muffins to have ready during the week. Throwing a few extra fruits or veggies into a batter for banana or zucchini bread will make a nutritional difference, but nobody but you will be the wiser. Whole grain cereals are also a great, convenient choice. In a pinch, fill up a ziploc bag with dry cereal for munching on in the car. At home, try mixing it with yogurt and fruit to create an easy parfait. Tubes of yogurt can also be frozen into healthy snacks for kids and used to replace those syrupy popsicles and chemical laden ice-cream treats.

Hummus may not sound like a kid-friendly food, but it is a fun and excellent dip for chips (try making your own sweet potato chips with olive oil and sea salt) or veggie sticks. Hummus is also a great source of vitamins and iron and can serve as a sandwich spread in place of mayonnaise.

Include your children while making new snacks. Let them use their imaginations and get creative! If things get messy in the kitchen, don't worry! Kids can have as much fun cleaning up as they have cooking. Kids are more likely to try a new food when they are proud of preparing it with you. Equipped with healthy snacks for kids, we are better prepared to lead our children towards healthy habits for life.

To Your Health,

John Hall

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Research Continues To Show Fat Fighting Potential With Whey Protein

New research is showing that supplementation with whey protein may improve your blood lipid profiles and reduce your levels of liver fat by 20%.

A study published in the journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that four weeks of supplementation with whey protein may significantly reduce the markers of fatty liver disease in obese women. This is accomplished by reducing the amount of fat inside liver cells. It also showed that key markers of blood lipid profiles which measure risk for heart disease were also improved.

Fatty liver disease is more frequent in obese patients and is also the hepatic component of metabolic syndrome. It is associated with health issues such as insulin resistance, poor glucose tolerance and high levels of blood lipids.

Other studies similar to this have indicated that higher whey protein intakes may have beneficial effects for fatty liver disease.

Bortolotti and colleagues wanted to test this hypothesis so they studied the effects of 4 weeks of supplementation with 60 grams per day of whey protein in obese non-diabetic females. They consumed 3 shakes per day with 20 grams of whey protein each time.

All the obese participants had BMIs between 20.9 and 52.4 and fat concentrations in their liver was between 1.9 and 20.5 percent of liver volume.

After four weeks of whey protein supplementation the participants liver fat concentrations decreased by 21 percent and their fasting plasma triglyceride levels decreased by 15 percent. Their total cholesterol concentration also decreased by over 7 percent.

According to this study it was concluded that whey protein supplementation improved the markers of fatty liver disease and plasma lipid profiles in obese non-diabetic patients.

To Your Health,

John Hall

PS to purchase the best whey protein go to

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Carrots Raise Nutritional Benefits

All our lives we've been told to eat our carrots, they help improve your eyesight. Maybe you've wondered - what exactly is it about the carrot that is good for my eyes? That would be the beta-carotene. In addition to giving the carrot its name and orange color, it also converts to vitamin A in the body which helps improve vision. The vitamin A forms a purple pigment called rhodopsin the eye needs to see in dim light. Rhodopsin production is spurred by vitamin A, raising the effectiveness of the light-sensitive area of the retina.

But that's not all that carrots can do for you. The beta-carotene in carrots is an antioxidant combating the free radicals that contribute to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. Medical studies conducted in Texas and Chicago indicates that men with the high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C had a 37% lower risk of cancer than the men with lower levels. Carrots also contain another antioxidant called alpha-carotene. A study conducted in Bethesda , MD concluded that men who consume high amounts of alpha carotene have a lower incidence of lung cancer.

Cooking carrots actually raises the nutritional benefits. The fiber in carrots can trap the beta carotene, making it difficult for your body to extract. By cooking them slightly, you free the beta-carotene, from the fiber, which allows your body to absorb it better. Eating only a half-cup serving per day will give you more than the recommended dosage of beta-carotene. Remember, when you buy carrots raw at the store, you should cut off the leafy tops before storing for maximum vitamin retention. Getting your carrot-a-day is easy, considering the vegetable's versatility and “blendability”. Carrots can subtlety enhance but don't overwhelm. Here are a few ways to put more carrot power on your table.

Cook grated carrots with beans, split peas, lentils, rice, or pastas. Carrots are great in stuffing. Try them roasted - split large carrots lengthways and brush with a little olive oil then put on a roasting tray in a 400 degree (F) oven for about 45 minutes until tender and browned. Try roasted carrots, potato, sweet potato and pumpkin served with steamed green vegetables and a nice sauce.

Toss grated carrot with potatoes for hash browns. (Toss in grated zucchini and minced onion, too.)

Add to sauces, white or red. Grated carrots give body and impart subtle flavor, and they fit any tomato or creamy soup, sauce, or casserole.

Mix finely-ground carrots into peanut butter for a new kind of healthy crunch. (If you want to make a really GOOD Peanut Butter & carrot sandwich, add a few slices of banana.)

Hot & Cold Salads: Sauté onions, green peppers, and grated or finely sliced carrots. Remove from heat and pour your preferred salad vinegar over hot veggies. (It will hiss and steam.) While hot, add to chilled salad greens. Toss and serve.

Herb and Vegetable Bread or Biscuits: To your regular dough, add finely grated carrots; minced onion (dried flakes or fresh green); parsley; garlic powder; sprinkle of basil and pinch of oregano or sage. Top it all off with some dried or pesto tomatoes and a few hearty shakes of parmesan cheese.

To Your Health,

John Hall