Are you Having Dessert for Breakfast?

breakfast-cereal-sugary-truth_0

Why your healthy “whole grain” choice might be equivalent to dessert in a bowl.

Cereal is often the number one go-to breakfast choice for parents, considering it takes a mere 30 seconds to throw together and serve, and it is widely accepted by kids. After all, it’s crunchy, fun to eat, and often sweet. In fact, cereal is a lot sweeter than most people realize, especially those cereals that are marketed to kids. What may seem like a healthy “whole grain” choice, may actually be the equivalent to serving your kids dessert for breakfast.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently conducted an analysis on over 1500 breakfast cerealsincluding 181 cereals specifically marketed to childrenand figured out that a child who eats a bowl of cereal a day for a year would end up consuming about 10 pounds of sugar from that source alone. In the document, it states that the most popular children’s cereals average about two teaspoons of sugar per serving, which is similar to three “Chips Ahoy” cookies. Over one third of the calories in a serving of children’s cereal came from sugar alone, and most of these cereals contained over a third of the recommended daily amount of sugar.

Out of the 181 cereals that were specifically marketed to kids, very few were low in sugar and there wasn’t a single one that did not contain added sugar, which clearly indicates that the manufacturers are capitalizing on children’s biologically-driven affinity for sweet foods. Not surprisingly, the EWG found that the health claims plastered all over cereal boxes (“Good source of fibre” or “Excellent source of Vitamin D”) often distracts consumers from what actually matters—the ingredients

As mentioned in the MacLeans Magazine cover story, “Death By Sugar,”  that unveils the truths about the damaging health effects of sugar, Canadians eat, on average, about 88 lbs of sugar per year. What’s more shocking is that the average 9-year-old boy eats 126 lbs of sugar per year, and the average male teen, 138 lbs. As a Dietitian, this sadly doesn’t surprise me too muchI’ve seen some fairly shocking food journals in my counseling practice, many that absolutely ooze SUGAR. Sugar appears in everything from cereal to salad dressing, and from condiments to crackers. If it comes in a package or boxeven if it claims to be healthy in some wayit likely contains added sugar.

This is why my family and I decided to cut back significantly on processed, packaged foods. We didn’t make the now-popular resolution to go “sugar-free” (because I knew that was unrealistic for us), but rather to focus on whole foods that come in their natural formfruits, veggies, intact whole grains, eggs, hormone/antibiotic-free meats, beans and lentils, etc. In doing that, we naturally cut back on our sugar consumption by A LOT. 

What draws many families to boxed cereal (among other processed, packaged foods) is the convenience factor. As a Mom to a three-year-old and 10-month-old, I get it. But I also know that what we feed our kids now will affect them long-term. As parents, we set the stage for what our kids will view as “normal” when it comes to food. If we’re constantly feeding them food from a package, they will grow accustomed to the over-powering sugary, salty tastes and perhaps not appreciate the true flavors of real food. They will grow to think that eating means opening a package or box. Cooking from scratch not only benefits our kids (and ourselves) from a nutrition stand-point, but also opens up the opportunity for kids to learn how to cook and prepare food something that will benefit them for life.

It may seem impossible to trade your favorite breakfast cereal in for something healthier, but it’s not. There are plenty of healthy-but-still-easy options out there. 

Focus on the ingredients:

If you absolutely can’t kick your cereal habit, make sure that you’re reading the ingredients list first and foremost. If sugar (or any form of sweetener, such as brown rice syrup, agave syrup, glucose, honey etc.) is one of the first 3 ingredients, put it back. If there are more than 6 or 7 ingredients total (unless they are all natural ingredients that you recognize), put it back. When looking at the nutrition facts table, aim for at least 4 grams of fibre and less than 8 grams of sugar per 30 gram serving size. Read more here about why you should always read the ingredients list on food products  and the top five ingredients to avoid.

Expand your breakfast palate:

Cold cereal isn’t the only convenient option. Hot cereal is our favorite go-to breakfast, because it’s much more filling and satisfying and the kids love it. Our favorite is slow-cooker steel-cut oats . It’s great because I can prepare it the night before, but if I forget, I’ll throw 1/3 cup rolled oats into a bowl with 2/3 cup milk and a pinch of salt, microwave on high for 2 minutes, and then add berries and a bit of maple syrup or vanilla yogurt.

A fruit smoothie is another easy but healthy option. Use milk, yogurt, nut butters, and seeds to boost the protein content for a more filling smoothie, skip the fruit juice and go easy on added sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup. Protein-packed eggs are also an excellent breakfast option, perhaps paired with fruit and a homemade high-fibre muffin . A breakfast that includes protein has shown to help prevent unhealthy snacking later in the day.

Be realistic, but don’t be fooled:

Having cereal once in a while is not a huge deal, much the same as enjoying any treat or “fun” food. Making cereal your morning staple, however, is not healthy. Most cereals are not “health foods” as they claim, but more so sugar-ladened processed grains in a box that I consider to be “non-foods”.

Cereal is often the number one go-to breakfast choice for parents, considering it takes a mere 30 seconds to throw together and serve, and it is widely accepted by kids. After all, it’s crunchy, fun to eat, and often sweet. In fact, cereal is a lot sweeter than most people realize, especially those cereals that are marketed to kids. What may seem like a healthy “whole grain” choice, may actually be the equivalent to serving your kids dessert for breakfast.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently conducted an analysis on over 1500 breakfast cerealsincluding 181 cereals specifically marketed to childrenand figured out that a child who eats a bowl of cereal a day for a year would end up consuming about 10 pounds of sugar from that source alone. In the document, it states that the most popular children’s cereals average about two teaspoons of sugar per serving, which is similar to three “Chips Ahoy” cookies. Over one third of the calories in a serving of children’s cereal came from sugar alone, and most of these cereals contained over a third of the recommended daily amount of sugar.

Out of the 181 cereals that were specifically marketed to kids, very few were low in sugar and there wasn’t a single one that did not contain added sugar, which clearly indicates that the manufacturers are capitalizing on children’s biologically-driven affinity for sweet foods. Not surprisingly, the EWG found that the health claims plastered all over cereal boxes (“Good source of fibre” or “Excellent source of Vitamin D”) often distracts consumers from what actually matters—the ingredients

As mentioned in theMacLeans Magazine cover story, “Death By Sugar,” that unveils the truths about the damaging health effects of sugar, Canadians eat, on average, about 88 lbs of sugar per year. What’s more shocking is that the average 9-year-old boy eats 126 lbs of sugar per year, and the average male teen, 138 lbs. As a Dietitian, this sadly doesn’t surprise me too muchI’ve seen some fairly shocking food journals in my counseling practice, many that absolutely ooze SUGAR. Sugar appears in everything from cereal to salad dressing, and from condiments to crackers. If it comes in a package or boxeven if it claims to be healthy in some wayit likely contains added sugar.

This is why my family and I decided to cut back significantly on processed, packaged foods last Fall. We didn’t make the now-popular resolution to go “sugar-free” (because I knew that was unrealistic for us), but rather to focus on whole foods that come in their natural formfruits, veggies, intact whole grains, eggs, hormone/antibiotic-free meats, beans and lentils, etc. In doing that, we naturally cut back on our sugar consumption by A LOT. 

What draws many families to boxed cereal (among other processed, packaged foods) is the convenience factor. As a Mom to a three-year-old and 10-month-old, I get it. But I also know that what we feed our kids now will affect them long-term. As parents, we set the stage for what our kids will view as “normal” when it comes to food. If we’re constantly feeding them food from a package, they will grow accustomed to the over-powering sugary, salty tastes and perhaps not appreciate the true flavours of real food. They will grow to think that eating means opening a package or box. Cooking from scratch not only benefits our kids (and ourselves) from a nutrition stand-point, but also opens up the opportunity for kids to learn how to cook and prepare foodsomething that will benefit them for life.

It may seem impossible to trade your favourite breakfast cereal in for something healthier, but it’s not. There are plenty of healthy-but-still-easy options out there. 

Focus on the ingredients:

If you absolutely can’t kick your cereal habit, make sure that you’re reading the ingredients list first and foremost. If sugar (or any form of sweetener, such as brown rice syrup, agave syrup, glucose, honey etc.) is one of the first 3 ingredients, put it back. If there are more than 6 or 7 ingredients total (unless they are all natural ingredients that you recognize), put it back. When looking at the nutrition facts table, aim for at least 4 grams of fibre and less than 8 grams of sugar per 30 gram serving size. Read more here about why you should always read the ingredients list on food products and the top five ingredients to avoid. 

Expand your breakfast palate:

Cold cereal isn’t the only convenient option. Hot cereal is our favourite go-to breakfast, because it’s much more filling and satisfying and the kids love it. Our favourite is slow-cooker steel-cut oats. It’s great because I can prepare it the night before, but if I forget, I’ll throw 1/3 cup rolled oats into a bowl with 2/3 cup milk and a pinch of salt, microwave on high for 2 minutes, and then add berries and a bit of maple syrup or vanilla yogurt. I also made this delicious breakfast quinoa recipe the other day and it was a huge hit.

A fruit smoothie is another easy but healthy option. Use milk, yogurt, nut butters, and seeds to boost the protein content for a more filling smoothie, skip the fruit juice and go easy on added sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup. Protein-packed eggs are also an excellent breakfast option, perhaps paired with fruit and a homemade high-fibre muffin. A breakfast that includes protein has shown to help prevent unhealthy snacking later in the day. Here are a few more easy, healthy, kid-friendly breakfast options if you’re interested.

Be realistic, but don’t be fooled:

Having cereal once in a while is not a huge deal, much the same as enjoying any treat or “fun” food. Making cereal your morning staple, however, is not healthy. Most cereals are not “health foods” as they claim, but more so sugar-ladened processed grains in a box.

– See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/sarah-remmer-the-non-diet-dietitian/20140518/breakfast-cereal-exposed?s=Newsletter_May_24_2014&utm_source=YummyMummyClub.ca+List&utm_campaign=99956c558d-YMC_Food_May_24_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fd9e34c143-99956c558d-11307205#sthash.GfLQYuZI.d

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Why are Coffee & Tea Amazing For You?

Why Coffee & Tea Are Amazing for You

There’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee or tea to start the day. Some may go as far as to say they can’t function without their daily dose of caffeine! While some studies celebrate these beverages, others claim they’re bad for us. So should you toss your favorite drink or ignore the naysayers? Let’s find out.

Coffee vs. Tea

There are 80-185 milligrams of caffeine per cup of coffee versus 15-70 mg of caffeine per cup in tea. Coffee comes from the berries of an evergreen plant and tea comes from a variety of plant leaves. But how much do we actually drink? 52 percent (or 100 million) American adults drink coffee daily. The average coffee drinker has 3.1 cups per day, or 70 gallons a year, enough to fill a bathtub. 30 percent of coffee drinkers enjoy specialty drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. 274 million pounds of tea were imported in 2010, the same as a large cruise ship. The average American drinks 155 cups of tea annually, or 10 gallons a year. 78 percent of tea consumed globally is black, which is preferred by North Americans. 20 percent is green and 2 percent is oolong.

Health Benefits of Tea

There are so many different types of tea that you’ve probably heard some are good for you and some aren’t. Studies on rat fat cells shot that brewed tea of any kind increases insulin activity by up to 15 times. Green tea is full of antioxidants that may help prevent many forms of cancer, including breast, lunch, and stomach. Green tea may also help prevent arterial clogging and reduce the risk of stroke. Green tea might also reduce neurological damage due to oxidation, which in turn prevents Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It can burn fat and improve cholesterol levels. Ninety percent of tea consumed in the U.S. is black. It is made from fermented leaves and is the highest in caffeine. Due to the fermentation process, black tea is lowest in monomeric catechins, which have been linked to cancer prevention. This tea may protect you from have a stroke or developing heart disease by helping blood vessels dilate correctly. It has also been linked to preventing lung damage from smoking. White tea is unfermented and made from young buds and leaves. It offers the most powerful antioxidants of all the teas. Oolong tea has many different forms, which is fermented and may prevent weight gain and promote weight loss. It may also help to prevent tooth decay.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Chances are, you’ve heard ideas like coffee will stunt your growth or give you heart disease or stomach cancer, but fortunately, none of these are true. In fact, it can actually be good for you. Coffee has been linked to improved memory recall. It may also help prevent Alzheimer’s, heart disease, gout, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s. The caffeine in coffee can help ease asthma attacks. Coffee drinkers are 50 percent less likely to get liver cancer than those who avoid the beverage, though the exact reason has not been pinpointed. It may also lower the risk of breast, rectal, and colon cancers. Caffeine can increase energy expenditure (calorie burning). One study showed that those drinking caffeinated liquids burned 67 calories more than those who drank water, the equivalent of a medium-sized apple.

Too Much Caffeine?

While a little caffeine can be good for you and help keep you awake, too much isn’t a good idea. It may cause restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety. Experts recommend limiting your daily caffeine intake to 400 mg for men and 300 mg for women. That’s roughly 4 cups of coffee/6 cups of tea for men and 3 cups of coffee/4 cups of tea for women. Caffeine provides many healthy benefits, too. It helps increase endurance during workouts and may blunt pain and tiredness, letting you work out longer. It may enhance muscular contractions during exercise. As with any health advice, people should drink coffee and tea in moderation, as too much of a good thing can be…well, dangerous. While researchers have dispelled many common myths surrounding these beverages, it’s still a good idea to drink tea and coffee in small doses.

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

Low-Fat Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin Granola PicI absolutely love homemade granola.  It is incredibly easy to make and so nutritious!  The best part is that you are in control of the ingredients, it is completely customizable.   Add any combination of nuts and dried fruit, whatever you prefer.  You can even switch up the sweeteners, use honey or agave instead of maple syrup.  This recipe uses maple syrup to keep it vegan.  The possibilities are endless.  I love the fact that this recipe uses no butter or oils to hold the mixture together – the pumpkin does it all, making it low-fat with a lot less calories.  Added bonus, it makes the house smell heavenly!

It’s a great recipe to welcome in the fall season!

LOW-FAT PUMPKIN SPICE GRANOLA

Makes about 6 cups.

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

Add the oats, cranberries, raisins, pecans, coconut, and pumpkin seeds to the bowl. Stir to evenly coat with the pumpkin mixture.

Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring well at the 20 minute mark.  Note:  If you prefer your granola clumpy like I do, then spread the mixture in a thinner layer and do not stir during baking.  Do not stir until it has cooled completely on the baking sheet, then break apart into chunks.

It will not be crisp when you remove it from the oven, but it will crisp up as it cools.  Allow granola to cool for several hours before storing – so that it doesn’t get soggy!.

Source: Adapted from Pastry Affair