Popsicle Season

May brings the beginning of popsicle season in Chicago, a great, healthy treat when homemade. You can use something as simple as paper cups as a mold or buy them at many stores or on Amazon.


Tropical Pops

  • 6 oz orange juice or skim milk
  • 3-4 pineapple chunks or ¼ cup
  • ¼ cup mango
  • ¼ cup strawberry
  • ½ cup ice


Green Tropical Pops

  • 6 oz orange juice or skim milk
  • ¼ cup pineapple chunks
  • ¼ cup mango
  • ¼ cup spinach
  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ cup ice


Berry Pops

  • 6 oz orange juice or skim milk
  • ¼ cup strawberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ½ cup ice

You can blend these all together to make popsicles, or you can make blueberry popsicles and strawberry or raspberry popsicles separately and layer the colors.


Power Fudgesicles

  • 1 cup iced coffee
  • ½ banana
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
  • ½ cup ice

Food Giants Adjust to Foodie Culture

With so many big name food companies in the media trying to appeal to more health-conscious consumers, it’s been a busy few weeks for nutrition news. Kraft, Chipotle, Tyson and McDonald’s are all making headlines as they try to adjust to a culture of raised health awareness.

Here’s the news and here’s our view:

Chipotle: Chipotle this week announced plans to be the first fast food chain to stop serving GMO foods, with the exception of soft drinks. The company since 2013 was already labeling any GMO foods (genetically modified organisms), but now the company is banning them altogether.

Our view: This comes as no surprise, as it is aligned with the overall image of Chipotle. What we think is positive about the move is that it brings the GMO food labeling debate outside of the realm of “foodies” and to the masses. Scientific research all show that GMO foods are safe for consumption, however, there remains a lot of debate over consumers’ right to know when food is GMO. This will bring the labeling debate to the forefront.

Kraft: Kraft Foods grabbed its media space over the last few weeks, first with its stamp of approval from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), which was later rescinded. More recently, Kraft announced it will no longer use food coloring in Mac n’ Cheese and instead will use turmeric.

Our view: The AND endorsement of Kraft Singles cheese slices was a bit of a debacle that we wrote about in an earlier post. But the turmeric for coloring? That’s just fabulous. It’s not that Kraft Mac n’ Cheese is now healthy (sorry!), but it signifies a greater societal-wide health trend. Americans are more concerned about eating healthy now than they have been in decades, and food companies are listening. Let’s hope this leads to more positive changes among American’s favorite foods.

McDonald’s and Tyson: In March, McDonald’s announced that it would work with suppliers to stop using antibiotics important to humans in its chicken. Tyson Foods, a top supplier to McDonald’s, followed suit this week by announcing plans to stop feeding chickens antibiotics used in human medicine by September 2017.

Our view: This is a direct response to news that antibiotics used for decades in animals to make them grow large quickly is causing bacteria to evolve to resist the antibiotics. Awareness is spreading that the practice that’s been harsh on animals for years is becoming detrimental to humans as well. Again, this move by both giant companies will raise awareness among the masses of an issue that used to only be known among animal rights activists.

As always, we can’t emphasize enough that the best food for you is the food that rarely makes the news: simple, whole foods that you prepare at home and enjoy together with friends and family.


Sugar Sweetened Beverages

By Gia Diakakis, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC

As a pediatric dietitian, discussing sugary drinks makes me feel like I am on my soapbox. As a child who was only allowed to consume sugar-sweetened beverages for celebrations, my frustration with my parents has now turned into gratitude. I admit I often am too “preachy” when it comes to sugar sweetened beverages, but I can’t help myself. There are absolutely NO health or nutritional benefits in allowing your children (or yourself!) to regularly consume sugar sweetened beverages.

According to an article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, sugar sweetened beverages is a fancy name for “calorie-containing carbonated drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and vitamin water drinks, but exclude 100% fruit juices.” These are beverages,such as Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Vitamin Water, Capri-Sun, Red-Bull, Arizona Iced Tea, lemonade and Gatorade, just to name a few (seriously, that’s just a few!).

Because they are so prevalent, it is difficult to “get away” from sugar-sweetened beverages. That is why it is important to understand why they are so bad for you and your children. Just to put it into perspective, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently released an article that explained “Excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has become an intractable public health concern worldwide, making investigation of healthy beverage alternatives for SSBs imperative2.

These beverages are not recommended because they provide non-nutritive calories (and added sugar!), or calories without any nutritional benefit. On top of that, your body does not receive any satiety signals from these liquid calories, or “full signals” from your stomach. This means you basically consume these calories, but your body doesn’t recognize them as nourishment, leaving you with the same hunger level as you had before you consumed it. This hunger leads to consumption of a meal or snack, consuming calories once again. It’s no wonder sugar sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to the overweight and obesity epidemic.

Substituting water, unsweetened ice teas and occasionally artificially sweetened beverage (such as diet sprite), can and has been proven to positively impact children’s health. These beverages play an important role in reducing caloric intake, thus obesity prevention. Need more convincing? In adults, replacement/elimination of sugar sweetened beverages led to 17% risk reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, reduction in blood pressure, and reductions in fasting blood sugar levels.

As for my soapbox message? Skip sugar sweetened beverage for both you and your children and replace them with calorie free beverages water (preferably!), unsweetened tea or low-calorie beverages like skim milk.

5 Healthy Fuel Ideas for Active Kids

With the arrival of spring sports comes a renewed fury for the so-called “soccer snack moms.” For the one hour that kids run loose on the field, whole committees of moms are organized around the snacks. There are even families with whole coolers ready with grub for the game.

Now, let’s be honest. While there are plenty of youth athletes that need serious fuel for elite sports, most of our kids would be fine on the field with a small, healthy snack (or no snack at all!). And none of our kids are better off eating more calories than they burn during practice or games.

Here are 5 healthy ideas to keep everyone energized and happy.

  1. Stick to water. Sports drinks and juices are rarely necessary for kids’ sports and add unnecessary calories. All that hype about electrolytes? Your kids will be fine without it. Water quenches thirst just as well.
  2. Team snacks are great, when they’re healthy. No doubt one of the challenges of packing healthy snacks for kids is when yours is the only one eating healthy. Coordinate with like-minded moms to pack healthy food for the whole group. Some teams are even able to work with a local produce store to deliver a box of fruit at games for a very reasonable price. When it’s your turn, pack fruit. It’s hydrating, has natural sugars and electrolytes (quick energy) and is low calorie. You won’t be the most popular, but guess what? If they’re hungry, they’ll eat it!
  3. Pack popcorn. Healthy varieties of popcorn are a great sports’ snack that nearly all kids enjoy.
  4. Eat well before the game. Sports nutrition, especially for serious athletes, starts the day before the big game or race. Coming to game day well nourished means less room and need for junky snacks.
  5. If all else fails, get creative. While you don’t have to be a food artist to get your kids to eat healthy food, a little ingenuity can’t hurt. Pinterest is chock full of healthy snack ideas that are not time consuming.



Staying in Control at the Big Meal

Big family meals and over eating are inevitable, with Easter and Passover approaching. We all know the discomfort of eating way too much and feeling bloated. Avoiding this feeling may be easier than you think. These tips may help you prevent overeating, and you may even end up enjoying your celebrations that much more this year.

  1. Do not skip breakfast! I have heard people say, “I’m saving my appetite for tonight!” That is the opposite of what your game plan should be. If you skip breakfast, you will absolutely starving by the time your celebratory meal roles around. This will lead to over eating or “stuffing your face” in a short period of time. Before you know it (about 20 minutes later), you’ll be uncomfortable and bloated!
  2. Graze the appetizers! Preferably the fruit or vegetable-based appetizers! Having a few appetizers will continue to help off set hunger, just like your breakfast. Make sure to have just a few appetizers – don’t over do it!
  3. Drink Water! Choose beverages that provide no calories, or low calories beverages. Staying hydrated will help you avoiding misjudging thirst for hunger.
  4. Eat slowly! Holiday meals are delicious! Fill your plate with all your favorites and enjoy them slowly. Try to take about 20 minutes to finish your meal. It takes your stomach around 20 minutes to signal to your brain that you are full. By the time you’re done eating your meal, your urge for second helpings will have disappeared! This may be the biggest key to avoiding overeating!
  5. Fruit, Fruit, Fruit! The dessert spread may be so appealing! Pick small or bite size portions of the decadent desserts and fill the remainder of your small plate with fruit, fruit and more fruit. The fiber and liquid in the fruit will satisfy your appetite and help you avoid too much sugary dessert.

By Gia Diakakis, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC