This is the newsletter for six Tropical Smoothie Café
locations in Colorado and Nevada 
owned by Kriss & Michelle Shriver.

Our Nevada locations are in Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.
Our Colorado locations are in Greenwood Village and Centennial.
Addresses for Kriss & Michelle’s Cafes are listed to the left. Click on each location’s address to visit its microsite.

For the Tropical Smoothie website, please visit http://www.TropicalSmoothieCafe.com

August is ‘Kids Eat Right’ Month: Nutrition Tips for Families

With childhood obesity on the rise, making sure kids eat right and get plenty of exercise is vital.

Parents and caregivers can play a big role in children’s nutrition and health, teaching kids about healthy foods, being a good role model and making sure physical activity is incorporated into each day.

August, which is Kids Eat Right Month, is a great time for families to focus on the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging families to take the following steps:

• Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

• Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.

• Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.

• Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and make at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.

• Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day.

Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help.

“Talk to your children. Learn the foods they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” says Angela Lemond, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

It may help to consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area to ensure your family is getting the nutrients it needs with a meal plan tailored to your lifestyle and busy schedule.

For more healthful eating tips, recipes, videos and to learn more about Kids Eat Right Month, visit http://www.KidsEatRight.org.

This August, reevaluate your family’s eating and exercise habits, and take steps to make positive, healthful changes.

Article Link

15 Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated

Eat your water

by Amanda MacMillan

According to the old rule of thumb, you’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water per day (and some experts recommend even more). That can seem like a daunting task on some days, but here’s the catch: You don’t have to drink all that water. Roughly 20% of our daily H2O intake comes from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

It’s still important to drink plenty of water—especially in the summertime—but you can also quench your thirst with these 15 hugely hydrating foods, all of which are at least 90% water by weight.

Watermelon

Water content: 91.5% water

It’s fairly obvious that watermelon is full of, well, water, but this juicy melon is also among the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables. In fact, watermelon contains more lycopene than raw tomatoes—about 12 milligrams per wedge, versus 3 milligrams per medium-sized tomato.

Although this melon is plenty hydrating on its own, Gans loves to mix it with water in the summertime. “Keep a water pitcher in the fridge with watermelon cubes in the bottom,” she says. “It’s really refreshing, and great incentive to drink more water overall.”

Spinach

Water content: 91.4% water

Iceberg lettuce may have a higher water content, but spinach is usually a better bet overall. Piling raw spinach leaves on your sandwich or salad provides nearly as much built-in hydration, with an added nutritional punch.

Spinach is rich in lutein, potassium, fiber, and brain-boosting folate, and just one cup of raw leaves contains 15% of your daily intake of vitamin E—an important antioxidant for fighting off the damaging molecules known as free radicals.

Star fruit

Water content: 91.4% water

This tropical fruit, also known ascarambola, comes in sweet and tart varieties and has a juicy texture similar to pineapple. Its eye-catching shape looks great in a fruit salad or as an edible garnish on the rim of a summer cocktail, and as an added bonus it’s rich in antioxidants, especially epicatechin—a heart-healthy compound also found in red wine, dark chocolate, and green tea.

One note of caution: People with kidney problems should avoid star fruit because of its high levels of oxalic acid.

Strawberries

Water content: 91.0%

All berries are good foods for hydration, but juicy red strawberries are easily the best of the bunch. Raspberries and blueberries both hover around 85% water, while blackberries are only slightly better at 88.2%.

“I love strawberries blended in a smoothie or mixed with plain nonfat yogurt—another hydrating food,” Gans says. Strawberries add natural sweetness to the yogurt, she adds, and the combo of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein make a great post-workout recovery snack.

Broccoli

Water content: 90.7%

Like its cousin cauliflower, raw broccoli adds a satisfying crunch to a salad. But its nutritional profile—lots of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C—is slightly more impressive. What’s more, broccoli is the only cruciferous vegetable (a category that contains cabbageand kale, in addition to cauliflower) with a significant amount of sulforaphane, a potent compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals.

Grapefruit

Water content: 90.5%

This juicy, tangy citrus fruit can help lower cholesterol and shrink your waistline, research suggests. In one study, people who ate onegrapefruit a day lowered their bad (LDL) cholesterol by 15.5% and their triglycerides by 27%. In another, eating half a grapefruit—roughly 40 calories—before each meal helped dieters lose about three and a half pounds over 12 weeks. Researchers say that compounds in the fruit help fuel fat burn and stabilize blood sugar, therefore helping to reduce cravings.

Baby carrots

Water content: 90.4%

A carrot’s a carrot, right? Not when it comes to water content. As it turns out, the baby-sized carrots that have become a staple in supermarkets and lunchboxes contain more water than full-size carrots (which are merely 88.3% water).

The ready-to-eat convenience factor is hard to top, as well. Snack on them right out of the bag, dip them in hummus or guacamole, or—for a bit of added crunch and bright orange color—chop them up and add them to salads or salsas.

Cantaloupe

Water content: 90.2%

This succulent melon provides a big nutritional payoff for very few calories. One six-ounce serving—about one-quarter of a melon—contains just 50 calories but delivers a full 100% of your recommended daily intake of vitamins A and C.

“I love cantaloupe as a dessert,” Gans says. “If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it will definitely satisfy.” Tired of plain old raw fruit? Blend cantaloupe with yogurt and freeze it into sherbet, or puree it with orange juice and mint to make arefreshing soup.

Cauliflower

Water content: 92.1%

Don’t let cauliflower’s pale complexion fool you: In addition to having lots of water, these unassuming florets are packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that have been shown to help lower cholesterol and fight cancer, including breast cancer. (A 2012study of breast cancer patients by Vanderbilt University researchers found that eating cruciferous veggies like cauliflower was associated with a lower risk of dying from the disease or seeing a recurrence.)

“Break them up and add them to a salad for a satisfying crunch,” Gans suggests. “You can even skip the croutons!”

Green peppers

Water content: 93.9%

Bell peppers of all shades have a high water content, but green peppers lead the pack, just edging out the red and yellow varieties (which are about 92% water). And contrary to popular belief, green peppers contain just as many antioxidants as their slightly sweeter siblings.

Peppers are a great pre-dinner or late-night snack, Gans says. “We tell people to munch on veggies when they have a craving, but a lot of people get bored of carrots and celery pretty quickly,” she says. “Peppers are great to slice up when you get home from work, while you’re making or waiting for dinner.”

Tomatoes

Water content: 94.5%

Sliced and diced tomatoes will always be a mainstay of salads, sauces, and sandwiches, but don’t forget about sweet cherry and grape varieties, which make an excellent hydrating snack, Gans says. “They’re great to just pop in your mouth, maybe with some nuts or some low-sodium cheese,” she says. “You get this great explosion of flavor when you bite into them.”

Having friends over? Skewer grape tomatoes, basil leaves, and small chunks of mozzarella on toothpicks for a quick and easy appetizer.

Radishes

Water content: 95.3%

These refreshing root vegetables should be a fixture in your spring and summer salads. They provide a burst of spicy-sweet flavor—and color!—in a small package, and more importantly they’re filled with antioxidants such as catechin (also found in green tea).

A crunchy texture also makes radishes a perfect addition to healthy summer coleslaw—no mayo required. Slice them up with shredded cabbage and carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped hazelnuts and parsley, and toss with poppy seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Celery

Water content: 95.4%

That urban legend about celery having negative calories isn’t quite true, but it’s pretty close. Like all foods that are high in water, celery has very few calories—just 6 calories per stalk. And its one-two punch of fiber and water helps to fill you up and curb your appetite.

This lightweight veggie isn’t short on nutrition, however. Celery contains folate and vitamins A, C, and K. And thanks in part to its high water content, celery neutralizes stomach acid and is often recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.

Iceberg lettuce

Water content: 95.6%

Iceberg lettuce tends to get a bad rap, nutrition-wise. Health experts often recommend shunning it in favor of darker greens like spinach or romaine lettuce, which contain higher amounts of fiber and nutrients such as folate and vitamin K. It’s a different story when it comes to water content, though: Crispy iceberg has the highest of any lettuce, followed by butterhead, green leaf, and romaine varieties.

So when the temperature rises, pile iceberg onto sandwiches or use it as a bed for a healthy chicken salad. Even better: Ditch the tortillas and hamburger buns and use iceberg leaves as a wrap for tacos and burgers.

Cucumber

Water content: 96.7%

This summer veggie—which has the highest water content of any solid food—is perfect in salads, or sliced up and served with some hummus, says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner and Healthier You and a consultant to Mindbloom, a technology company that makes life-improvement apps.

Want to pump up cucumber’s hydrating power even more? Try blending it with nonfat yogurt, mint, and ice cubes to make cucumber soup. “Soup is always hydrating, but you may not want to eat something hot in the summertime,” Gans says. “Chilled cucumber soup, on the other hand, is so refreshing and delicious any time of year.”

Article Link

Allergies and the Foods You Eat

Minimize your asthma and allergy symptoms by learning which foods to choose, and which to avoid. You may be surprised by the choices.

Try a Cup of Tea
“Tea, especially green tea, with or without caffeine, is very good for people with allergies,” says Murray Grossan, MD, an ear, nose, and throat doctor in Los Angeles. Tea contains natural antihistamines, he says, which makes it a great addition to your diet to reduce allergy symptoms. Histamine is a chemical that your body releases during allergic reactions. He especially recommends a morning cup of hot tea just when you get up, which can help prevent morning sneezing.

Avoid Spicy Foods
Some people with seasonal allergies can enjoy a diet of spicy Thai and scorching Mexican foods during part of the year, but not when high pollen counts in the air are triggering their allergy symptoms, Dr. Grossan says. That’s because spicy foods create an “outpouring of histamine” that only bothers you when it’s added to the histamine produced by your seasonal allergies. When your allergy symptoms are acting up, skip the spicy stuff.

Consider a Mediterranean Diet
A recent study involving 174 people with asthma found that adhering to a Mediterranean diet increased a person’s chance of controlling their asthma. This diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, with a lesser amount of meat.

Switch to Cooked Foods
During the height of allergy season, when symptoms are really bothering you, cut the fresh foods out of your diet and stick with canned and cooked foods, Grossan suggests. Raw apples or pesticides on lettuce may bother your allergies. Cooking foods, however, lessens your chances of allergy symptoms. So switching from, say, fresh apples to applesauce may help.

Add Some Wasabi
Wasabi, the pungent green paste served with sushi in Japanese restaurants, might be helpful in opening up your nose and helping you breathe better when you have allergy symptoms, Grossan says. The next time your nose is plugged up, drop into a sushi restaurant for a bit of wasabi. It might do the trick if you can tolerate it. This method isn’t guaranteed, however, as wasabi also has potential to unleash more allergy-related histamine in your system.

Eat Yogurt and Probiotics
Grossan strongly recommends that people with allergy symptoms add yogurt and other sources of probiotics to their diet. Probiotics are known as “friendly bacteria,” according to the National Institutes of Health. Typically these are listed on labels as lactobacillus or bifidobacterium and are similar to those found in people’s digestive tract. You can get probiotics from yogurt, miso, fermented milk, and dietary supplements. These can help regulate your immune system so you’ll have fewer allergy symptoms.

Go the Low-Calorie Route
Research has found an association between obesity and asthma, and the results indicate that being obese may actually worsen asthma. A recent study compiling 15 earlier studies on weight loss and asthma found that all of them observed some type of asthma improvement after subjects lost weight. So if you weigh too much and your allergy symptoms include asthma, changing your diet to control your weight may be helpful.

Stick to a Low-Salt Diet
Studies have found that eating a diet higher in salt may be associated with more severe asthma, and small studies have found that eating a low-salt diet can improve lung function, decrease symptoms, and reduce the need for medications in people with asthma. Good ways to reduce salt in your diet include eating plenty of fresh vegetables and cutting down on processed foods like frozen dinners and canned soups.

Up Your Omega-3s
Some research indicates that eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful for reducing asthma symptoms. In one recent study, researchers had 23 adults with asthma take an omega-3 supplement or placebo for five weeks. Those taking the omega-3s had lower levels of a marker of airway inflammation. You can get more omega-3s in your diet by eating fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and albacore tuna.

Skip the Fast Food
Looking for yet another reason to limit your burgers and fries? A New Zealand study of more than 1,300 kids found that those who ate hamburgers occasionally or at least once a week were more likely to have asthma symptoms than kids who never ate burgers. The good news: A diet designed to reduce asthma and allergy symptoms with foods like fruits and vegetables and fish might not leave a lot of room for fast food.

[Article Link]

10 Superfoods for Spring

There’s a food movement afoot: Eating well to look, feel, and perform our very best is hot. And as Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama alike are showing us, this isn’t a matter of choking down foods because they’re good for you. It’s about filling your plate with delicious fare.

“Food, if it’s chosen well, can reshape our medical destinies for the better,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. It can also improve our mood, focus, energy, skin, and metabolism. Here’s how to graze your way to a supercharged you.

Walnuts

Good for: Mood

Walnuts are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid your body needs to create the feel-great chemical serotonin. (In fact, Spanish researchers found that walnut eaters have higher levels of this natural mood-regulator.) Another perk: “They’re digested slowly,” Dr. Katz says. “This contributes to mood stability and can help you tolerate stress.”

Asparagus

Good for: Mood

These spears are one of the best veggie sources of folate, a B vitamin that could help keep you out of a slump. “Folate is important for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine,” says David Mischoulon, MD, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. All of these are crucial for mood.

Spring garlic

Good for: Weight Loss

The slim-you benefit of this seasonal treat lies in a compound called allicin, which gives garlic its pungent smell. “Allicin may keep you from overeating by stimulating satiety in the brain,” says Tara Gidus, RD, a dietitian in Orlando, Florida.

Spring garlic has a milder, sweeter taste than the dried white bulbs you buy later in the season. Enjoy it diced on salad for a fat-fighting side or lunch.

Legumes

Good for: Weight Loss

Beans are one of your best bets if you’re trying to drop pounds, says Joseph Colella, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. “Your body has to work to break down the bean to get through the fiber,” he explains, “so you’re actually expending energy to digest it.”

Even better, Dr. Colella says, the protein in legumes activates an “I’m satisfied” message in the hunger center of your brain.

Spinach

Good for: Energy

These tasty leaves are a great source of iron (especially if you don’t eat meat), which is a key component in red blood cells that fuel our muscles with oxygen for energy.

Researchers in Sweden recently identified another way in which these greens might keep you charged: Compounds found in spinach actually increase the efficiency of our mitochondria, the energy-producing factories inside our cells. That means eating a cup of cooked spinach a day may give you more lasting power on the elliptical machine (or in your daily sprint to catch the bus).

Artichokes

Good for: Energy

If you’ve been huffing and puffing up the stairs, try these spiky-leafed vegetables. They’re loaded with magnesium, a mineral vital for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body—including generating energy, says Forrest Nielsen, PhD, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research nutritionist. “If you’re not getting enough magnesium, your muscles have to work harder to react and you tire more quickly.”

Salmon

Good for: Skin

There’s wrinkle prevention on your plate: “Salmon is rich in a fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 that naturally helps block the release of UV-induced enzymes that diminish collagen, causing lines and sagging skin,” says Ariel Ostad, MD, a dermatologist in New York City.

Bonus: Omega-3s also regulate oil production in the skin and boost hydration, which helps keep your complexion dewy and acne-free.

Strawberries

Good for: Skin

They may not have the smoothest complexion themselves, but strawberries can get you one. They’re loaded with antioxidants that help your skin repair damage caused by environmental factors like pollution and UV rays. Plus, they’re packed with vitamin C (less than a cup gets you your entire 75 mg RDA)—the vitamin associated with fewer wrinkles and less dryness, per research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Try them in a homemade facial, too. “Direct application of the antioxidants in strawberries—as well as the natural exfoliant they contain, alpha-hydroxy acid—will give you great results,” Dr. Ostad says.

Eggs

Good for: Memory

Have your over-easies before you hit the Easter egg hunt. The yolks are chock-full of choline, a key nutrient for recall. “Your body needs choline to make a brain chemical called acetylcholine, crucial for storing memories,” says Steven Zeisel, MD, director of the Nutrition Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for choline is 425 mg. There are 147 mg in a large egg; other good options are nuts and red meat.

Blueberries

Good for: Memory

Eat them regularly and you may reap big brain benefits. In a recent study, people with age-related memory decline who drank roughly two and a half cups of blueberry juice per day for 12 weeks (the equivalent of eating a cup of blueberries) made significant improvements on memory and learning tests compared with those who drank a placebo juice.

The secret component? A type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, says study co-author Robert Krikorian, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Cincinnati: “Anthocyanins have been shown in animal studies to increase signals among brain cells and improve their resilience, enhancing learning and memory.”

[Article Link]

Green Superfoods

Greens are good, Green Superfoods are even better! Green superfoods have the highest concentrations of easily digestible nutrients, fat burning compounds, vitamins and minerals to protect and heal the body. They contain a wide array of beneficial substances including proteins, protective photo-chemicals and healthy bacteria helping you to build cleaner muscles and tissues, aid your digestive system function and more effectively protect you against disease and illness.

Green superfoods are extremely rich in chlorophyllthe pigment that gives plants their green color. The molecular structure of chlorophyll is very similar to that of human blood and studies show that when this is consumed, the production of hemoglobin in blood is increased. Higher amounts of hemoglobin in the bloodstream means more oxygen-rich blood, the first and most important element that cells need to thrive.

Wheat grass
wheatgrass Wheat grass is the sprouted grass of a wheat seed. Unlike the whole grain, because it has been sprouted, it no longer contains gluten or other common allergic agents. Wheat grass is super alkalizing and is excellent for promoting healthy blood. It normalizes the thyroid gland to stimulate metabolism thus assisting digestion and promoting weight loss due also to its high enzyme content and cleansing effect.

Barley grass
Barley grass has 11 times more calcium than cows milk, 5 times more iron than spinach and 7 times more Vitamin C and bio-flavonoids than orange juice. It contains significant amounts of Vitamin B12 which is very important in a vegetarian diet. Barley grass juice has anti-viral activities and neutralizes heavy metals such as mercury in the blood.

Wild blue-green algae
Algae was the first form of life on Earth and its power is immense. Wild blue-green algae is a phyto-plankton and contains virtually every nutrient. With a 60% protein content and a more complete amino acid profile than beef or soy beans. It contains one of the best known food sources of beta carotene, B vitamins and chlorophyll. It has been shown to improve brain function and memory, strengthen the immune system and help with viruses, colds and flu.

Spirulina
Spirulina is a cultivated micro-algae which has been consumed for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples in Mexico and Africa. It is one of the highest known protein sources on Earth and contains 70% complete protein, towering over steak which consists of only 25% protein once cooked. Studies have shown that spirulina can help control blood sugar levels and cravings thus making it a key food for diabetics, and can be used to assist in weight loss and as a general nutritional supplement.

Chlorella
Chlorella is a fresh water algae and like its other algae cousins contains a complete protein profile, all the B vitamins, vitamin C and E and many minerals. It is amazing for the immune system and for reducing cholesterol and preventing the hardening of the arteries, a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.

Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables Green leafy vegetables are so readily available and so highly nutritious, however most people do not eat enough of them. Studies continuously confirm that populations that eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables run a far lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Fresh raw green leafy vegetables contain high doses of chlorophyll, easily digestible proteins, enzymes and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These particular vegetables act as mini-transfusions for the blood, a health tonic for the brain and immune system and a cleanser of the kidneys. Try any of the following: rocket, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, chicory, broccoli sprouts and mustard sprouts.

http://foodmatters.tv/health-resources/green-superfoods

9 Health Benefits of Chocolate

Why You Should Eat Chocolate

Superfoods don’t just come from your supermarket’s produce aisle. In fact those chocolate candy bars next to the gummy bears now qualify. Study after study proves that dark chocolate—sweet, rich, and delicious—is good for more than curing a broken heart.

The secret behind its powerful punch is cacao, also the source of the sweet’s distinct taste. Packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, this little bean is a disease-killing bullet. The only problem? Cacao on its own is bitter, chalky, nasty stuff.
Enter milk, sugar, and butter—good for your taste buds, not always good for your health. Besides adding calories, these can dilute the benefits of cacao. So snack smart: Stick to healthy chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form). As long as the content is that high, says Mary Engler, Ph.D., a professor of physiological nursing at the University of California at San Francisco, you can reap the benefits from eating only small amounts. Because of its high fat and sugar content, limit yourself to 7 ounces, or about four dark chocolate bars, a week.

A Healthier Heart

The latest research backs up claims that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits: In a 9-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for heart failure by as much as a third.

Wish that was a serving each day? Another big, long-term study in Germany this year found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Most of the credit goes to flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries.

But since those antioxidants come with a generous portion of sugar, milk, and butter, chowing down on chocolate isn’t an excuse to skip your workout. Chocolate and exercise actually work surprisingly well together: Another recent study, out of Australia this time, showed that eating chocolate high in healthy antioxidants reduced the blood pressure-raising effects of exercise on overweight individuals. So go ahead and reward yourself. A chocolate bar has five times the flavonoids of an apple, after all.

Weight Loss

If you’re wondering how you can add dark chocolate to your diet plan without putting on pounds, the good news is that it should be easier than you expect.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than its lighter-colored sibling. That is, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. So if indulging in a bit of healthy dark chocolate should not only make it easy for you to stick to the small portion recommended for optimal health, but it should make it easier for you to stick to your diet in general. Jackpot!

Happier Kids

Women who ate chocolate daily during their pregnancy reported that they were better able to handle stress than mothers-to-be who abstained. Also, a Finnish study found their babies were happier and smiled more. Hmm, so your options are popping a piece of premium chocolate or sticking a pacifier in your screaming baby’s mouth?

Diabetes Prevention

Candy as a diabetes foe? Sure enough. In a small Italian study, participants who ate a candy bar’s worth of dark chocolate once a day for 15 days saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by nearly half. “Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production,” says lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., a professor at the University of L’Aquila in Italy. “And that helps control insulin sensitivity.”

Reduced Stress

UC San Diego researchers recently confirmed what your fat pants could have told them back in college: When times get tough, people tend to dip into the chocolate stash more often than they might otherwise.

And as it turns out, that kind of emotional eating might not be such a bad thing. You know what kind of havoc stress and its sneaky sidekick cortisol can wreak on your body. Swiss scientists (who else?) found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated. After a breakup, break out a dark chocolate bar rather than a pint of ice cream.

Sun Protection

London researchers recently tested chocolate flavanols’ sun-protecting prowess. After 3 months eating chocolate with high levels of flavanols, their study subjects’ skin took twice as long to develop that reddening effect that indicates the beginning of a burn.

Subjects who ate conventional low-flavanol chocolate didn’t get the same sun protection. Watch for brands boasting high levels of the healthy compounds.

Higher Intelligence

Next time you’re under pressure on a work project, don’t feel so guilty about grabbing a dark chocolate bar from the vending machine. Not only will it help your body ward off the effects of stress, but it’ll boost your brain power when you really need it.

A University of Nottingham researcher found that drinking cocoa rich in flavanols boosts blood flow to key parts of the brain for 2 to 3 hours, which could improve performance and alertness in the short term.

Other researchers from Oxford University and Norway looked at chocolate’s long-term effects on the brain by studying the diets of more than 2,000 people over age 70. They found that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored significantly higher on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.

Cough Relief

One study found that chocolate quieted coughs almost as well as codeine, thanks to the theobromine it contains. This chemical, responsible for chocolate’s feel-good effect, may suppress activity in a part of the brain called the vagus nerve.

Maria Belvisi, a professor of respiratory pharmacology at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London, says, “It had none of the negative side effects.” Codeine makes most people feel sleepy and dull—and doesn’t taste anything like fine chocolate.

Diarrhea Relief

Both South American and European cultures have a history that dates back to the 16th century of treating diarrhea with cocoa. Modern-day science has shown they were onto something.

Scientists at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that cocoa flavonoids bind to a protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine, potentially stopping the trots in their tracks.

[Article Link]

New Year’s Resolutions for 2014: 6 Healthy Changes You Should Make This Year

With the new year just around the corner many people start thinking about their diet downfalls of this past year, and some start planning on being healthier and more diet conscious. Fitness and eating habit changes are common for many. The problem is that many people try and change everything all at once, which oftentime leads to failure, and more often than not, old eating habits are resumed by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around. “Gym managers say memberships increase about 30 percent this time of year. January is the busiest month, followed by February, which oddly enough is the slowest,” according to WJHG Channel 7 News. Before venturing into a full-on body makeover, try a few small changes and progress from there. Here are a few healthy tips to make 2014 your best year yet:

1. Drink More Water

The entire human body is mostly composed of water, unfortunately, many Americans do not consume as much as their body needs. According to a study conducted by Boston College, “at least two-thirds of Americans pull up a quart short according to survey data.” Making it a priority to drink water is important. By setting reminders for yourself or carrying your favorite water bottle with you might be the push you need in order to become more hydrated.

2. Walk At Least 30 Minutes A Day

Instead of spending a ton of money on a gym membership that will probably go to waste, doing a simple task like walking can improve your overall health substantially. “Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance,” according to the Better Health Channel, “It can [also] reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers.” Also, walking is free, and it doesn’t require any type of skill or training — so anyone can do it at his or her convenience.

3. Get To Bed A Little Earlier

Many health professionals emphasize sleeping and getting enough sleep as a means to being a more productive and happier human being. Sleep is a way for the body to self-heal and replenish lost energy for the next day. According to, Rafael Pelayo, M.D., an associate professor of Sleep Medicine at Stanford University, sleeping earlier leads to morning productiveness. “Even if you swear you’re the polar opposite of a morning person, no one is biologically programmed to stay up late,” Dr. Peyalo tells Glamour magazine.

4. Replace Your Other Oils With Coconut Oil

In recent years, coconut oil has made its way into the kitchens of many Americans. As a staple ingredient in many countries, this sweet-smelling oil has a number of health benefits, including improving heart health, boosting metabolism and supporting a healthy immune system. Baking, cooking, and even moisturizing with coconut oil can be beneficial.

5. Have A Daily Green Juice

Drinking a handful of greens a day allows the body to obtain a sufficient amount of chlorophyll. “Chlorophyll can help to increase the quality and quantity of your red blood cells, improving the efficiency of oxygen transport and, as a result, giving you more energy and improving your well-being,” the Daily Mail reports.

6. Don’t Forget The Sunscreen

No matter what your skin shade is everyone should slather on some sunscreen daily. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with two million people being diagnosed annually. And the myth that darker-skinned people do not need to wear sunscreen is debunked as Dr. Maria Peredo owner of the Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, N.Y., and clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said “everyone should wear sunscreen, no matter what your skin color is.”

[Article Credit Sabrina Bachai]
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5 of the Healthiest Winter Foods

Keep healthy this winter by including plenty of these 5 foods in your diet.

Although there are fewer foods that are in season in winter than in summer, winter boasts some surprising health superstars. Here are 5 of the healthiest winter foods you should be eating.

1. Pomegranates

Chances are you’ve tasted pomegranates in their newly popular juice form. And from a heart-health perspective, that’s probably a good thing. Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants (more so than other fruit juices)—just a cup daily might help to keep free radicals from oxidizing “bad” LDL cholesterol, according to a preliminary study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Oxidized LDL contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Another study showed that drinking pomegranate juice might improve blood flow to the heart in people with myocardial ischemia, a serious condition in which the heart’s oxygen supply is compromised because the arteries leading to it are blocked.

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens, such as kale, chard and collards, thrive in the chill of winter when the rest of the produce section looks bleak. In fact, a frost can take away the bitterness of kale. These greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K. Collards, mustard greens and escarole are also excellent sources of folate important for women of childbearing age.

3. Citrus

Citrus fruits, including lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit, are at their juiciest in the wintertime and can add sunshine to the dreary winter. Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C—one medium orange delivers more than 100 percent of your daily dose. As Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., writes in the January/February 2012 issue of EatingWell Magazine, citrus fruits are also rich source of flavonoids. The predominant flavonoid in these fruits—hesperidin—is credited with boosting “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

4. Potatoes

Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap for being a white starch, thrown into the same category as white rice or white bread. But unlike those other starches, which have indeed been stripped of healthful nutrients, potatoes are a whole food that contain several beneficial nutrients. They are an excellent source of two immunity boosters—vitamins C and B6, delivering 25% and 29% of your daily needs per medium potato, respectively. They are also a good source of folate, which is especially important for women of childbearing age, and they deliver fiber (4 grams in a medium potato; women need 25 grams daily and men need 38 grams). If you can find purple potatoes, you’ll get an added health boon—they are rich in anthocyanins—antioxidants that are linked to a host of health benefits, from lowering cancer and heart disease risk to quelling inflammation.

5. Winter Squash

There are many varieties of winter squash—including butternut, acorn, delicata and spaghetti squash—and they are all excellent choices in the winter. One cup of cooked winter squash has few calories (around 80) but is high in both vitamin A (214 percent of the recommended daily value) and vitamin C (33 percent), as well as being a good source of vitamins B6 and K, potassium and folate.

[Article Link]

[Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D., Associate Nutrition Editor of EatingWell Magazine]

Cranberries

Shorter days, crisp air, bundling up in sweaters, harvest fairs and simmering pots of mulled cider, all remind us of the joys of autumn. It is a time when we seem to have a minute. We make pies, start a fire and sit down as a family for a meal. As Americans one of the tastes we are sure to enjoy each fall is that of the cranberry. Like the rest of us, most farmers are slowing for the year and readying their land for winter. For cranberry farmers, fall is the height of their season.

While varieties of cranberries are harvested in Europe, Africa and Asia, the cranberry is a taste unique to American cuisine. The American cranberry grows wild on vines in sandy marshes and bogs throughout North America. Generally considered a cold weather crop, this fruit has been found as far south as the Appalachian mountains of Georgia and as far north as the Canadian Maritimes.

Cranberries were first harvested by American Indians who used them to make a cooked sauce with honey or maple sugar, which was then used as a condiment for meat. These tart ruby-colored berries quickly became an essential part of the Pilgrims’ diet. Cultivation of the cranberry began in the area of Massachusetts known as Cape Cod in the early 1800s. Success led to the industry spreading to New Jersey in the 1830s, Wisconsin in the 1850s, and by 1880 the Pacific Northwest.

Unlike any other crop known to agriculture, cranberries rely on water and sandy soil for their cultivation. A high watertable and coarsely textured sand provide an area where cranberries can thrive. In 1816, Henry Hall of Dennis, Massachusetts watched as high tide from a storm washed over his cranberry bog, bringing in sand. This caused the berries to grow much better and faster. Hall’s observations are the cornerstone of how cranberries have been farmed to this day.

While water is the crucial ingredient in a successful cranberry operation, cranberries are not grown in water. Dikes, ditches and tile drainage are used to control the water level in the bog. In the winter, bogs are very often flooded to protect the plants. In spring, cranberry plants blossom and water is essential in protecting the blossoms from frost. The berries are initially small and green, taking between 75 and 100 days from flowering for the fruit to mature and turn their dark red color. As the cranberries are maturing over the summer months, water is again used as a method of protection from heat.

During harvest there are two methods used to pick fruit. Cranberries which are going to be processed immediately are wet harvested. During wet harvesting the bogs are flooded. Ripe cranberries float to the surface of the water and are herded together in a ring. For fruit that is sold fresh, cranberries are dry harvested using a manually pushed machine that separates fruit from the plant by ‘combing.’ Only about 10% off all cranberries harvested each year are sold fresh. All cranberries are sorted by color and size according to government requirements.

Cranberries are first mentioned in the history and recipe books of the early 1700’s. Captains of the early sailing ships would supply sailors with cranberries as a method of preventing scurvy. A cousin of the blueberry, cranberries contain only 47 calories per cup. They are filled with vitamins A and C, potassium and dietary fiber. This fruit is reputed to be a great source of bioflavonoids, which are phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Current studies suggest they may offer protection against kidney disease, certain cancers and infections.

There are approximately 1,200 cranberry farms in North America today. Presently Wisconsin is largest producer. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington are also major cranberry producers. More than 100,000 tons of cranberries are harvested in the United States each year, with residents of the US and Canada consuming the majority of them. Record profits for farmers in the 80s and 90s led to the creation of new bogs and a surge in start-up operations. Increased production over the past two years has caused the price of cranberries to plummet.

Today the open market price of a bushel is 1/3 of the cost of production. Fiscal uncertainty has prompted many farmers to look to new ways for marketing their fruit.

The tart flavor gives it versatility far beyond the cranberry sauce and cranberry juice cocktail we are all so familiar with. Through products such as dried cranberries and fashionable drink recipes like the “Cosmopolitan,” the cranberry is gaining in year round popularity. With this in mind, Craig Canning, a second generation cranberry farmer, and his wife Martine, a gourmet cook, are dedicated to ensuring cranberries are not just for turkey and breakfast anymore.

A French Canadian, Martine notes, “preserving is part of my heritage.” She was brought up learning to make the fruits of her family’s garden last through the winter. After meeting her husband seven years ago and moving to Cape Cod, she found herself inventing new ways to conserve the bushels of cranberries Craig would bring home from his bogs each fall. During the holidays Martine and Craig would give friends and family baskets full of their cranberries in one form or another. With recipes like Cranberry Butter and Cranberry Garlic Pepper Jelly the receivers were often asking for more. As word got around, people Martine did not know were calling to find out where they could find some of her creations.

Eventually demand grew to such an extent that Craig and Martine decided to start “Old County Farms” as a venue for selling his fresh cranberries and her unique recipes. After not quite two years in business their cranberry products can be found throughout New England and New York and shortly in selected West Coast Locations. They have also been selected for a Thanksgiving promotion at Harrods department store in London.

Fresh cranberries can be found in most grocery stores during the fall and early winter. Fresh berries will be a bright scarlet color, with tight smooth skin. Occasionally you may find white berries; these have had little exposure to the sun and probably come from lower branches of the vine. Unless they are wrinkled, soft or leaking their juice they will have the same taste as the red berries. If you are still uncertain, an old wive’s tale suggests really fresh berries will bounce.

Refrigerated cranberries will last for up to two months. Frozen they’re good for at least a year. If you’re freezing cranberries to make use of them throughout the year, Martine suggests halving or chopping them in a food processor. By doing this they will take up less room and be ready for cooking when you need them. Another of her suggestions is to freeze them by the cup, which is how most recipes call for them. Fresh cranberries are usually sold in 12 ounce bags, which are equal to 3 cups of whole berries or 2 1/2 cups chopped. When needed, add cranberries to your recipes in their frozen state, rather than thawing them. Martine warns “thawed cranberries are more difficult to work with and like frozen strawberries, tend to leave red juice stains.”

While renowned for her harvest pie, which is made with apples, pears and cranberries, Martine makes use of the cranberry’s tart flavor in non-traditional ways too. “Adding chopped cranberries deliciously enhances meatballs and tomato sauce,” she says. When preparing a roast Martine often makes a marinade using crushed cranberries, rosemary and orange pulp which blends nicely with meats such as pork and beef. Cranberries also lend themselves well to salsas, chutneys, compotes, and ketchups.

Cranberry vinegar is easy to make and perfect for gift giving. To make it, simply find a pretty bottle and some good white wine vinegar. Take a 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries, poke holes in them with tooth picks and drop them into the bottle. Fill the bottle with hot white wine vinegar. The cranberries will float to the top and color the vinegar with their juice as they rise. Cap the bottle with a cork or plastic lined top and let sit for 2 weeks. This vinegar is great on salads and as a marinade for pork, chicken or white fish. If you’re cooking fruit, a drop of this vinegar will help to bring out the natural sweetness of the fruit. Try adding a teaspoon to your dough for chewier cookies and flakier pie crusts. Additionally a sprig of rosemary or a slice of orange rind work wonderfully to accent cranberries in this gift.

For those interested in decorating their holiday table, during the fall the Canning’s dining room table is often adorned with a simple yet elegant centerpiece made from fresh cranberries and autumn leaves. Martine also uses stringed cranberries as garland, which is “a great activity to keep children busy.”

One of the fruits of the land Indians shared with our forefathers on that first Thanksgiving, Cranberries are a viable part of American cuisine. For over 300 years we have structured our autumn menus to make the most of the cranberry. Regardless of today’s realization of their nutritional value and healing properties, or the number of new year-round uses we find for them, one certainty remains: As the hours from dawn to dusk grown shorter and we search for foods to comfort a chill, cranberries will always be the color, scent and flavor of harvest time.

Julie T Cecchini
[Article Credit Julie T Cecchini]
[Link to Article] http://www.epicurean.com/articles/cranberries.html

Superstitions Based in Foods

Ever wondered why you throw salt over your shoulder or why we put candles on a birthday cake? Superstitions are as old as the human race, and many of them revolve around food. Many of these beliefs make little sense because they were born out of a fear for the unknown or a belief in magic and chance. Whether or not you are superstitious, here’s a look at some food superstitions in honor of Friday the 13th. See how many you know.

Garlic: It has long been associated with warding off evil spirits and vampires. Supposedly, carrying garlic in your pocket will prevent anyone from bestowing bad luck with the “evil eye.” Garlic was often hung in a baby’s room to keep evil away.

Salt: Spilling salt is thought to bring bad luck. Alternately, throwing salt over your right shoulder is said to bring good luck. It’s believed that this blinds the devil and keeps him from sneaking up on you and taking your soul.

Onions: To get rid of a wart, rub the wart with the cut edge of an onion and then throw it over your right shoulder and don’t look back. If you carry an onion in your pocket, it is supposed to prevent heat stroke.

Eggs: Cracking an egg that has two yolks means that there will soon be a marriage. If the egg yolk has a black spot, that is an omen of bad things to come. Farmers would plant an egg in their field to ensure a good harvest.

Bread: It was often marked with the sign of the cross to chase away the devil. If you cut into a loaf of bread and find a hole, this is said to represent a coffin and someone will die soon. It is bad luck to store a loaf of bread upside down.

Tea: There are many superstitions involving tea. Two people pouring from the same pot is thought to be bad luck. Adding milk before sugar to tea is crossing the path of love and you will never get married. If the tag falls off the teabag, you will lose something within a week. If you spill tea while preparing it, you will have good luck. You should always stir your tea clockwise for luck. Undissolved sugar in tea means someone has a crush on you.

Bananas: Never take a banana on a boat if you are trying to catch fish. You should always break a banana, instead of cutting it, to ensure good luck. A careless discard of a banana peel means you will suffer a painful death.

Coffee: If you have bubbles in your coffee cup, try to scoop them up with a spoon and eat them before they burst — you just may receive money from an unexpected source.

Fruit: Oranges symbolize luck and love. Peaches give you wisdom and bring long life. Seed rich fruits promote fertility. Grapes symbolize abundance. Looking for your true love? Peel an apple in one long peel. When it breaks, toss it to see what letter it forms. That is the initial of your true love. A single apple left on a tree means there will be a death the following spring.

Rice is strong symbol of health, prosperity, and fertility. That’s why we throw it at the bride and groom. Noodles symbolize a long life and should never be cut.

Ever pull the wishbone of a turkey or chicken when you were a kid? Using pinky fingers, two people are to pull the wishbone and whoever gets the longest piece will get their wish granted.

Cake: Candles are placed on birthday cakes to keep away evil spirits that like to invade celebrations. If you blow out all the candles on your birthday cake, your wish will be granted. Just don’t eat the last piece of cake unless you never want to be married.

Peanuts: Some NASCAR drivers shun peanuts in the shell because they feel they bring bad luck. There are many origins for this superstition, but it probably relates to the fact that early races were often held at fairgrounds, and teams would work on the cars underneath the grandstands. As they worked, the fans in the stands would drop their peanut shells which would fall onto the cars and crew. Fatalities in auto racing were common in the early days, and because peanut shells were frequently found in the wrecked cars, the superstition that peanut shells equaled bad luck was born.

Whether you believe the superstitions, it might be worth trying a few if you are looking for a little good luck!

Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.
[Article Credit Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D.]
[Link to article] href=”http://www.lakenewsonline.com/article/20130914/LIFESTYLE/130919965″ target=”_blank”>

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