A Little Soda With That Cereal?

Mountain Dew, WHICH is manufactured by PepsiCo has come out with this great (?) idea.

Can’t say I blame them.  With a higher level of awareness to the importance of breakfast, turn to your mom (dad) and tell them “you were right”; disposable income that teen, tweens and in-betweens appear to have and WHO doesn’t start their day with a shake or “raw” or some sort of quick liquid breakfast.

ImageWould you consume it?  Would you feed it to your kids?                                              Image

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School Wellness May – Spring, renewal……change

As I sit here, inside, I hear noises outside.                

Life is happening, the day, another one is unfolding. The sun has yet to come up yet the birds are making such a noise.  Even my cat Ali knows that “somethings” up.   Although having gone outside for a treat while being carried on and occasion or two or even snuck, in typical cat way, through the door to be quickly snatched up from the deck and brought back inside, she knows there is something exciting happening.

Spring is unfolding and yes it is exciting.  Renewal.   Growth.  Freshness.  Even change.  With little resistance we anticipate, invite and welcome this time of the year.  My first thought to share with you is to invite you apply this same thought to changes in life.

In following the 80/20 principal we don’t have to be perfect.  As parents (of children of any age), teachers, lifelong educators and learners remember that how we speak, act and manage our life is being observed.  Our family is in the process of creating a list, perhaps one or two from each family member, of values.  Values, those that are most important to each family member, than actively creating our lives and day to day living around those values.

With healthy living being a priority for us and my personal knowledge and experience that echo Hippocrates, “let food by thy medicine” I would like to recap the purpose of food.

THE PURPOSE OF FOOD…….The body uses food to perform one or more of four main functions: to supply energy, for growth and repair, for regulation and for protection.

Energy      Food supplies the fuel or energy needed to perform the many tasks of everyday living. We need energy to think, breathe, walk, sit, speak and even sleep. We get energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is important that we eat enough food to supply all our needs. If we don’t, we will feel tired and listless. Having no energy can be compared to a car that has run out of petrol. On the other hand, if we eat more energy food than our body needs, this energy will be stored in the body as fat. Too much stored energy will result in the body becoming overweight or obese.

Growth and repair     Food provides the materials needed to build, repair and maintain body tissues. Proteins, fats and minerals are the best nutrients for growth. Growing bodies need extra amounts of these nutrients. Every person, whether growing or not, is going through a continual repair process of replacing injured or dead cells. It is food that supplies the nutrients necessary for this process.

 Regulation     Food supplies the substances that help regulate the body’s processes. Water, vitamins and minerals help regulate breathing, the nervous system, digestion, blood circulation and the elimination of waste products from the body. They help keep all the systems in the body working properly.

Protection     Vitamins, minerals and protein keep the body’s tissues and organs healthy. Healthy organs are less likely to be attacked by disease.

With that in mind, it’s very exciting to see many families getting involved in home gardens.  Getting food into our bodies as close to “from the source” as possible ensures that our energy, growth and repair, regulation, protection needs are being met.

As with a garden that you start to tend to, dis-ease and un-wellness in plants is so very easy to see, or when a child is not progressing along well in math.  It’s clear that a piece of the puzzle is missing. The same can be said with our bodies.  The signs maybe subtle, but they’re there.  A quick read to identify the 5 Signs of Vitamin Deficiency in Children

With many of you gathering seeds to grow healthy nutritious food for your family I invite you think about and embrace a concept in raising a child (and yourself) to be, rather than THE BEST, the best you can possibly be.  Just as your garden will need sunlight, water, weeding; recognize the seeds for your (and your families) wellness:

Sleep    Emotions   Exercise    Diet   Supplements

Getting that healthy fresh nutrition into our bodies is fun, easy and family time bonding.  The ideas and recipes are continually “growing”.  Be sure to check them out here and feel free to share your ideas.

Now is the time to live fresh, live well.

School Wellness April – Killer Sugar

My “food for thought” to you may be a bit puzzling as to why I would even consider sharing such a thought.

“It’s illegal to give a child cigarettes, it’s illegal to give a child alcohol, but it’s not illegal to give a child white refined sugar or refined fat.  Food kills more people then all drugs on earth COMBINED!” – Hungry for Change.  There are studies now that claim sugar to be as addictive as heroine and cocaine.

Now for the biggie…….sugar is a carcinogen.  Cancer likes sugar.  “A patient is injected with a solution of sugar and mild radioactive isotopes. Cancer cells are attracted to the sugar, so they eat it up. This increased activity lights up under the SPECT scan.”  I heard this news several years ago and I still find it disturbing.  (Read more: http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/02/07/new-sugar-solution-may-detect-cancer-sooner/#ixzz1qwHcrcYG)  .

I know you’ve been doing really well in the “candy” area and the frequency that your children have access to consuming it.  The bag of sugar you bought months ago and still have it in your pantry may also be a good indicator of your low level of sugar consumption.  You may have even switched your sources of sweetener to Agave, Stevia or even pure maple syrup; all very good action steps.  But considering that with even these limits set and changes made, the rates in childhood diabetes continue to rise. Something’s not right here.

What’s not right is that sugar is everywhere.  It hides under aliases.  There are at least 50 different names of sugar.  No wonder we don’t see it.  OR perhaps you’re not looking for it.  Gosh, who would think there would be sugar in breads, added sugar to milk, yoghurt, salad dressings.  WHY? WHY? WHY? ; because as I stated above, sugar is addictive.  The manufacturing of prepared/processed foods is a business.  The more you consume, the more you want/need it, the more you purchase, the more $$$$$ for the manufacturer.  There is little, I would go as far as saying no, concern for health.  It is a business.

I love this kid friendly video about sugar and the health dangers.  If your a facebook user connect with Sugar Is Killing Us.

Your business is to keep yourself and your family healthy.  Be informed.  Recognize the hidden names and avoid them.

Dr. Louis Aronne, (director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center) says;  “If people eat starch and sugar in the morning, it’s very difficult to get their behavior in control and they’ll be craving sweets all day,” “So we have people start out their day by eating protein and vegetables in the morning.”

Imagine THAT in a classroom of 25 kids.  Do your child’s teacher a favor, start their day right!  I have many good ideas and recipes on my blog.  Be sure to check often for them.  (www.highvoltagehealth.com)

Time to take the family participation outdoors…….get connected with a community planting plot or through research and planning, get ready for planting in your own yard……..More on this in May.

School Health March……Breakfast-Healthy Start

Image     We have said it and our parents before us did as well, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.  But do we really know why?  Whether it is from more specialized testing, recognition of busy lifestyles or seeing the results more and more information is becoming available about the importance of this first meal of the day.

Let’s go over just some of the benefits into starting your day with the “break” from a “fast” meal:

*if you’re trying to watch your weight, breakfast-skippers tend to eat more at lunch and throughout the day.
*breakfast allows you to start your day by calmly sitting down to a meal allowing you to organize your thoughts and spend some time with family
*as far as children are concerned; research shows that children who eat breakfast have higher achievement scores, lower rates of absence and tardiness, and increased concentration in the classroom
*another important benefit of breakfast for children is that establishing the healthy habit of eating breakfast early in life could stave off many adulthood health problems associated with poor diet, such as diabetes and obesity.
*think of it as if your car “fuel” light is on.  You wouldn’t continually drive it in that state, same for your body.  When you get up in the morning, your fuel tank is empty and your blood sugar is at its lowest for the day.

The lists go on and on.

As a Holistic Health Coach we look at several other factors that can play a role in WHY breakfast is skipped.  In Canada alone, that’s forty per cent of Canadians who do not eat breakfast and an alarming one half of them are women.  Lifestyle and stress play big factors in appetite squelchers.

So let’s say you’re REALLY going to try to start your day (and encourage or set an example for your children) with a nutritious breaky.  With the weather still bordering on winter we like comfort foods.  My pantry is filled with a variety of hot cereals; Teff, Steel Cut Oats, Classic Oatmeal, Red River, Cream of Wheat.   In doing a label to label comparison of all of them, I am please to say they are pretty much equal in nutrition, give or take a few grams here and there.

I would like to offer a couple of tips that have helped us with ease to be certain to have a bowl of this comforting and nutritious “fuel for our tanks”:

*In following my “cook once eat twice” principle, double or even triple the recipe.  Cook it so it’s just ever so slightly undercooked.  This can be stored in the fridge for a week thus cutting the prep time in the morning.  Depending on the age of your children, they can either reheat on stove top or in microwave independently.
*STAY AWAY from instant!  Instant anything!  The nutritional content changes drastically.  Not only are they scant in nutrition but also “extra stuff” has been added.  Chemicals that we need to keep out of our bodies.
*get some protein in the form of nuts to top it off.  Protein blunts your hunger the most, and is the most satiating.  From a coffee grinder (or similar kitchen appliance) keep a small jar of finely ground nuts.  It again is easily accessible for everyone and cuts the morning prep time in half.  Kids love doing this job.

In closing, I thrills me with the big names that are stepping up to realize the power of nutrition and influencing our kids to make good choices.

Michelle Obama stands up and speaks up on this topic.  Be sure to check out as well,

Dr.Oz recently held an Iron Chef sort of event to help teen chefs fight for a healthier tomorrow.

As we inch closer to Spring, longer days are the prefect reason to plan for a healthy start…..….

School Wellness……Perfection

In being honest with you all, from month to month I struggle with what to share.  Simply, because being on the “front lines” of health and wellness, I as well live your life.  I am well aware of the challenges facing many families; time management, health choices and keeping our families healthy, carving out quality time for our immediate and extended families.   Our desire for balance and making the right choice can be overwhelming with the information that comes at us.  We seek perfection.

Ahh, perfection;   “the state or quality of being or becoming perfect”.  The buzz word here is “becoming”.  I have noticed over the last couple of weeks how someone else’s interpretation of perfect has affected my world.   Caused stress within myself which needless to say overflows to my interactions with those around me, my family.

Do you remember holding your newborn and thinking “perfect”.  Perfect in every way.  Fingers, toes……perfect.  I’d like to encourage everyone to just slow down a bit and look into the eyes of your family with the same admiration, wonder and glory of them “becoming” perfect.

One of the best ways to slow down your world in a carefree way is to spend the time in kitchen.  The many jobs in preparation can be delegated age appropriately.  We’re talking about team work, planning, start to finish creation, sense of contributing to a family, opportunity to talk about the foods we eat and how they do (or don’t) support our health.

This month I would like to share a recipe that got everyone involved.  It celebrates the harvest of this time of the year well past the seeds, the pumpkin.  It is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E. Vitamin A alone is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for vision.

The other powerhouse is the staple; chick pea.  Chickpeas are quite low on the glycemic index, mineral rich, containing calcium levels comparable to dairy products, high manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and zinc and the very important component of protein called tryptophan, needed for the happy hormone serotonin and the sleep hormone melatonin, is found in abundance in chickpeas. Who doesn’t need or have a child that could just a little more sleep.

Although the canned versions are called for in these recipes, I highly encourage the use of dried beans and the use of a fresh pumpkin which gives a higher level of the nutrients mentioned above.  Besides, it just gives another layer of involvement for our “tribe”.  Information on how to prepare dried beans and fresh pumpkin can be easily found on the web.

This recipe (from the Food and Drink Autumn 2011) is great for a lunch, afterschool/on the way to the game/or late night studying or entertaining snack.

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp tahini
1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Place chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, water and tahini in food processor. Whirl until smooth. Add pumpkin and seasonings. Whirl. With motor running drizzle in olive oil until blended. Taste and add more lemon juice or cayenne pepper if needed.


Rather than store bought crackers, serve with:
Tortillias OR separated pitas brushed with olive oil and your favourite customized seasonings.  Bake until crispy, 7-12 minutes.

****One more thing……lemons……use fresh rather than the bottled.  Their rich in dietary fiber, yet more vit A and antioxidants and they contain healthy amounts of minerals like iron, copper, potassium, and calcium.

Make one change this month in “becoming”