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Monday, April 11, 2016

Defeating Your Kid's Snack Attack

There are 2 basic categories when it comes to kids and snack time – on the go or portable snacks for the kids with sports or other busy activity schedules, and the routine, at-home or after-school snack.

Here are some things to consider for the on-the-go-sportster kiddos:

Hydration.  I’m always pushing water to keep kids hydrated, but there are going to be times (track, cross country, extended practices, etc.) when a bit more is required to keep them hydrated.  So when choosing a sports drink, it’s a good idea to make a natural choice and Bodyarmor fits that bill.  It is a natural sports drink with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.  It is coconut water based, full of vitamins, potassium and electrolytes without all the excess sodium you sometimes find in sports drinks.  

To round out the sporty-snack, go with a half sandwich and a piece of quick fruit – grapes, apple slices or a banana.  Using some whole grain bread, some cheese or nut butter on the sandwich adds a touch of protein and the fruit will provide great nutrition along with some readily available energy. 

For the at-home snack, you’ve got a bit more creative leeway.  As always, the goal is that every time you eat, half should be plants – fruits and veggies.  Here are some examples of healthful snack combos:
·           cheese and crackers plus a carrot or clementine 
·           yogurt parfait with some berries or drained, canned fruit and a little granola for crunch
·           bowl of cereal (the ultimate simple snack) –just be sure to add some sliced banana or an apple.
·           homemade smoothies made of yogurt or tofu, a banana and some frozen fruit
·           chips and salsa with some frozen grapes
·          popcorn with apple slices dipped in peanut butter

Keeping it varied and keeping your kids involved in choosing and selecting their favorite fruits and veggies will be the key to not only a happy, but a healthful snack time.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sprouting Safely: Enjoy Sprouts Without the Risk

With at least 30 reported outbreaks of food borne illness during the past 20 years coming from sprouts, it's understandable that we are wary about enjoying those delicious little nutrient packed spouts.  Since most contamination comes from the seed itself, rinsing will not be enough to eliminate the risk.  And since most sprouts are meant to be eaten raw, cooking them isn't always a palatable option either.

So what is a sprout-lover to do?  Consider growing your own sprouts, but please do so safely.  And remember that individuals with compromised immune systems are better off avoiding sprouts.

Here's the easy how-to for growing delicious, pathogen-free sprouts at home:

Sprouting in a Jar

Equipment for Growing Sprouts in a Jar
  • Wide mouth jar canning-type jar with a screw on ring. Sanitize well in dishwasher.Path
  • Sprouting seeds (more on this below.)
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide Solution for cleaning seeds
  • Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • Bowl with lid or plastic storage bag for storing sprouts
Seeds and Varieties
The important thing to note about buying seeds for sprouting is that you should look for seeds specifically labeled as "sprouting seeds" or "for sprouting." The reason behind this is that they have been cleaned well and are pathogen-free. Sometimes you can find packets of sprouting seeds in garden centers, but if not, check your favorite seed catalog or health food store – most now sell sprouting seeds.
As far as varieties go, you may be surprised at how many types of veggies you can eat as sprouts. Most of us are familiar with alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts, but consider radish sprouts, beet sprouts, pea sprouts, and sunflower. In general, any plant from which you might eat the stems and leaves is a good option for sprouting. Plants from which you only eat the fruits (such as tomatoes and peppers) won't work.

How to Grow Sprouts in a Jar
Growing sprouts in a jar is easy. Here's how to do it:
1.     To ensure pathogen-free sprouts, heat some 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to 140° F and allow the seeds to soak for 5 minutes.  Then remove, drain and rinse under running water for 1 minute.
2.    Place one to two tablespoons of seeds in your jar, and cover with approximately two inches of warm water. Skim off any floaters – they often can be the source of potential contamination.  Change the water and let soak overnight.
3.    Drain the water, by placing a couple layers of cheesecloth over the jar opening and screwing the ring on.  Lay jar on its side and cover with a dishtowel (germination likes darkness)
4.    Twice daily, rinse the seeds by adding water the jar (pour water in and out of jar through cheesecloth – no need to remove the ring), swishing the seeds around, and draining.
5.    Once your sprouts are the desired size - this takes anywhere from 3-7 days - depending on the variety of sprout you're growing,  place them in a bowl and cover with water.  The seed coats will float to the top. Skim them off, and drain the remaining sprouts.  Place in a clear plastic bag in the sunlight for them to “green up”.
6.    Store your sprouts in the refrigerator in a covered bowl or food storage bag with a paper towel inside to absorb excess moisture. Use the sprouts within a week.