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Back to School Roundup

25 Aug

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was paid to represent the brands featured in the blog post and the associated TV segments.

Back to school season is in full swing! Evidence suggests that a well fed kid is more academically successful than a hungry one. Makes sense: it’s hard to concentrate if you’re hungry!

This year, set your kids on the path to better learning with these tips on building a better lunchbox:

Way Better Snacks

  • I love chips – but they have to taste great. That’s why this BTS season I’m into Way Better Snacks – a revolutionary line of chips and crackers that feature 100% whole grain, premium ingredients like sprouted flax, chia and quinoa.
  • In addition to being nutrient dense, they also taste amazing and have no artificial ingredients and are GMO free.
  • Personally, the 2 flavors I can’t get enough of right now are Sweet Potato and Simply So Sweet Chili – each have 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber to help keep you fueled throughout the day – on top of a killer taste profile!
  • Way Better Snacks are available at Whole Foods, or you can learn more at www.gowaybetter.com.

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BODYARMOR

  • Healthy hydration is important at mealtime – but if you’re like me, and not a straight water person, you need to spice it up, and so BODYARMOR is a nice alternative.
  • BODYARMOR is a new, natural sports drink that is packed with potassium, electrolytes and coconut water, along with no artificial ingredients that comes in 7 great tasting flavors.
  • It’s a great option for younger athletes who don’t need all of the extra sodium and artificial ingredients found in other sports drinks – so one of those things kids love because of the taste, but parents love because of the quality.
  • Learn more at www.drinkbodyarmor.com.

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Cranberries

  • CDC data suggests that 60 percent of children do not eat the recommended amount of fruit per day (1-2 cups/day depending on age).
  • Cranberries are a great way to get more fruit in your kids’ diet and to keep back to school lunches exciting while helping them get the nutrition they need to succeed.
  • Cranberries are naturally low in sugar and high in acid, so they require some sweetening to make them palatable – but they have no more sugar than other dried fruits.
  • Check out this easy Cranberry Chicken Salad Sandwich on Flatbread recipe for a healthy and convenient lunch option.

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Peanuts

  • Protein is clutch for keeping you full – and we all know we should be eating more plant protein. Enter peanuts. With 7 grams of protein per serving, peanuts have more protein than any other nut; not to mention over 30 other vitamins and nutrients that make them truly a superb superfood!
  • I love peanuts for school lunch because they’re an affordable and convenient source of protein. You can pack a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a packet to dip apple slices into, or even add peanut butter to your smoothies for a meal on the move.
  • Peanuts also like to party. Try incorporating peanuts into your next gathering with this awesome Edamame Hummus with Peanut recipe.

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BarkTHINS

  • When I was a kid, lunch wasn’t lunch unless there was dessert. Even as an adult I still have a sweet tooth – but as a dietitian, I know the importance of calorie control. Which is why I love BarkTHINS. Oh my word, these are amazing – especially the pretzel flavor!
  • BarkTHINS – whose tag line is “Break up with boring” – is a snackable chocolate made with real, simple ingredients like dark chocolate, pretzels, pumpkin seeds and coconut.
  • I love that all of their products are Fair Trade US Certified and non-GMO. They even come in resealable pouches – so you don’t have to eat the whole bag at once!

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Three Bridges Pasta

  • If sandwich fatigue is getting you down, swap that sammie for some pasta! I love Three Bridges‘ line of refrigerated pastas and sauces. They’re convenient, delicious and super fresh for a healthy lunch in a jiffy.
  • I recently sampled the Organic Spinach & Cheese Tortellini. It’s a great option for families on the go who care about premium ingredients. Whereas a lot of frozen pasta products taste rubbery and are heavy on the pasta, light on the cheese – the Three Bridges tortellini are plump and fresh because they’re right out of your refrigerator!
  • There’s nothing artificial in any of the Three Bridges products, and I love that they even have “superfood” sauces that include ingredients like kale and porcini mushrooms.

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good2grow Organic Juicy Waters

  • Despite my distaste for plain old water, I’m still a huge hydration fan. But I feel it when parents say that most kids drinks are laden with extra sugars..because they are! That’s why I love good2grow Organic Juicy Waters.
  • These guys are just 30 calories per bottle with no added sugar. Kids love the adorable character sipper-toppers and parents love that they don’t spill, are BPA free and also reusable.
  • I found Organic Juicy Waters at 7-11 but they’re also available at Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies.

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Biena Chickpea Snacks

  • 3 meals a day doesn’t cut it for kids (or adults for that matter). You gotta have some in between meal snacks to meet your needs and prevent overeating at the next meal. And those snacks should of course feature fiber.
  • I recently had the chance to sample the whole line of Biena chickpea snacks, and let me tell you – these are A+ on the snacking report card. They’re crunchy but not fried and each serving has 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.
  • If you like spicy, you’ll love the Habanero flavor. All of the Biena products are non-GMO and gluten free. You can find these at Target or online at www.bienafoods.com.

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For more info on Building a Better Back to School Lunchbox – check out these 3 BTS segments I did last week:

All Things Avocado: Peak Season Produce

3 Jun

All Things Avocado: Peak Season Produce

California Avocado season is in full swing! California produces more than 90% of the US avocado crop, and more than half of that is grown right here in sunny San Diego.

As a nutrition spokesperson for the California Avocado Commission, I love talking about (and eating) the delicious and nutritious fruit that is the avocado.

Here’s a few of my favorite avo tips:

How to Pick the Perfect Avocado

  • The best way to tell if a California avocado is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand
  • Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm but still yield to gentle pressure
  • To expedite ripening, place the avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana; the ethylene gas from the fruits speeds up the ripening process

 Avocado Nutrition Knowhow

  • Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients and act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients in foods that eaten with the fruit
  • Use the nick & peel method as the safest and most effective way to cut an avocado
  • Be sure to peel your avocado carefully as the greatest concentration of beneficial phytonutrients is found in the flesh closest to the peel

Going Beyond Guacamole

  • Avocados make a great addition to any meal or snack and you can also use avocado as a 1:1 fat replacer in baking
  • For breakfast, add avocados to egg dishes, bake into bran muffins, or power up your morning meal with a healthy dose of avocado’s good fat in your smoothie
  • Find some really unique ways to use avocados in meals, snacks, and desserts at http://www.californiaavocado.com/recipes

For more info about California Avocados, check out my segment on San Diego Living for All Things Avocado.

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2 Ingredients: Is That It?!

1 Jun

2 Ingredients: Is That It?!

When it comes to ingredient lists: less is more. And turns out, you can find short, real food ingredient lists in packaged foods.

Wait, packaged foods?!

Yep, that’s right, it’s ok to occasionally break out of your real food cocoon and eat a bar or two. (And while you’re at it – check out “Why We Need to Stop Calling All Unhealthy Foods ‘Processed‘” with great input from Registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner).

But back to the bars.

I recently sampled That’s It fruit bars. That’s right: a bar called That’s It. Why? Because all it contains is fruit. And that’s it.

I happened upon That’s It at Starbucks, not a place known for simple, wholesome snacks. Regardless, I was fiending for some fiber and the flavor I found was Apple Blueberry.

The ingredient list says it all: Apples & Blueberries (or, if you want to get specific: it’s 1 apple and 20 blueberries. But really, that’s it).

To be fair, the bar is small – but it packs 4 grams of fiber in 100 calories, a significant fiber find that more than easily fits Harvard’s 10:1 ratio recommendation for 10 grams of carbohydrate for at least every 1 gram of fiber (which works for whole grains but also fruit foods).

Now, don’t go freaking out about 19 grams of sugar per bar, because if you’re eating real fruit, guess what? It’s pure, good old fashioned carbohydrate, aka fructose, the naturally occurring sugar in fruit that also brings with it valuable vitamins and phytochemicals.

I think it’s a fiber faux pas that some other mainstream bars are foregoing fruit because consumers don’t understand natural vs. added sugars. But I also think a 2 ingredient snack is a great addition to the overly saturated barrage of bars on market shelves these days.

Although it’s pretty perfect and a dietitian’s dream snack, if I had to pick a bone with That’s It, it would be because of some of the bunk nutrition information on their blog.

Alkalizing fruits and flat belly foods? Come on! A product with a pure ingredient list should be touting its benefits rather than hiding behind sham science.

At the end of the day, you get a nutrition expert to clean up that feed and this high fiber snack is good as gold! You can procure this product at Starbucks, the That’s It online store, or in your local area by using their store finder.

 

 

PMA 2014: Fresh Summit Recap

7 Nov

PMA 2014: Fresh Summit Recap

As a guest and exhibitor with the California Avocado Commission, I recently had the opportunity to attend the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2014 tradeshow in Anaheim, CA.

With over 20,000 attendees and 900 exhibitors from 60+ countries, this was the place to BE if you love produce!

I was fortunate enough to spend my time in the CAC booth hosting Supermarket Registered Dietitians and educating them on the benefits of premium California avocados. I had an opportunity to demo one of the recipes I created for California Avocados this year – my 100-Calorie California Avocado Cucumber Cups – to the retail RDs and highlight the nutritional benefits of this versatile fruit.