4 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruit

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Fruit is a very satisfying treat; not only does it provide nutrients but that dose of fructose calms a sweet tooth. But do you still struggle to get your kids to enjoy fruit? Getting them to fall in love with nature’s candy is a battle worth your effort: a new study found that fresh fruit-eating adults had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke than those who rarely ate fresh fruit. You can learn more about this study, which followed a cohort of 500,000 adults over 7 years. The study was conducted in China, where the consumption of fresh fruit on a daily basis is more uncommon. Investigators wonder if encouraging more people to eat fresh fruit every day would have an impact.

Fresh fruit offers many beneficial nutrients; it is a source of antioxidants, beneficial fibre and potassium along with various vitamins. Making it a part of your diet, and a mainstay in your kid’s daily consumption, helps stabilize blood sugars and keep cravings for processed sugar at bay. It can also fill up hungry tummies and paired with protein, it makes for a very well-rounded snack.

What fruits do your kids love? Some are an easier sell than others. I like encouraging my girls to choose new fruits to try, and make this same effort myself. When was the last time you ate a kumquat? Today’s the day!

We know that getting your kids to eat the fresh stuff that’s good for them is sometimes a challenge. So we have rounded up 4 creative ways to get more fruits into your kids. Try some of these ideas, and share some of your own!

4 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruit on Sprout Right

Fruit Kebabs

Fresh fruit on a stick is so much more exciting than fresh fruit in a bowl or still attached to the core! Slice a variety of fruits – pineapple, apple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, pear, grapes – and place on a skewer, one piece at a time. Create a beautiful array of colours by mixing up the chunks. A colourful fruit kebab is not only delicious, but fun and visually appealing.

Of course, kebabs are best for older children who know how to handle a potentially sharp object. Younger kids can still enjoy the playfulness of a kebab when mom or dad arranges the fruit pieces into fun little shapes and cut-outs.

Fruit with Yummy Yogurt Dip

Up the fun factor and include a healthy and delicious yogurt dip with an array of cut fruit. Try your own take on this basic recipe: mix plain full fat greek yogurt with fruit puree and enough honey to provide a little bit of sweet. Kids will love the opportunity to dip their fruit, and you are providing them with healthy calcium and fats.

A Fruit Surprise

One of my favourite tricks for getting my daughters to try new food was to hide it under a bowl, and play with the surprise of discovery to encourage them to try new things. You can do the same – place something yummy on top of the bowl and ask them to finish that and then turn over the bowl for their surprise. Or try a variation: at the grocery store ask your child to pick a new fruit they haven’t yet tried. You can give them a specific colour to find, or just leave it open. They may not love what they chose, but they will be encouraged to try it because they played a part in bringing it to the table.

Fruit Roll-Ups

Dried fruit is another way to get the nutrients into bellies. Our family loves this recipe for fruit roll-ups or fruit leather. Unlike the stuff you buy in the grocery store, which is processed and laden with sugar, these fruit roll-ups are 100% fruit (and nothing else) and 100% delicious.

Home Made Fruit Leather

Ingredients:

1 – 2 lbs dried fruit; mango, pineapple, raisins, dates, apricots, blueberry and cherry

Directions:

1. Pulse and process in a food processor until it’s a smooth(ish) puree or collects together in a ball.

2. Place onto parchment paper and put another piece on top. With a rolling pin, start to flatten it and roll it out until it’s about 3-4 mm thick. Use a metal spreading knife if needed to get it going.

3. Bake in the oven at 150 C (my oven only goes down to 170 C) for four to five hours or until it has dried out but is still bendy.

4. Cool and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes or squares and store in an air tight container.

Remember to get that toothbrush out after chowing down on these tasty treats!

Encourage your kids to try new fruits but also to re-visit ones that they may have previously turned down. Their taste buds and interests are constantly changing. And if they want to stick with a few solid favourites, that’s ok too. Aim for balance in their diet when you can but know that when you are offering healthy options, you are doing a very good job.

Enjoy!

 

Can Probiotics Help You Lose Weight?

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The human body is a complex machine, isn’t it? I find the more I learn about it, as science advances, the more and more the picture of it’s functioning (and dysfunction) seems complex. For example, we are told that weight management is an equation: eat an equal number of calories to those your burn to stay around the same weight. But this is only true if all the parts that help to convert your food into fuel that burns are working correctly.

Can Probiotics Help You Lose Weight? on Sprout Right

In looking at research that supports probiotic use, in particular for pregnant and postpartum women, I have found a lot of interesting links between obesity and gut flora. Because weight gain during pregnancy, and loss postpartum, is a big concern for women, this is one more very important reason for probiotic use before and after baby arrives. As one study pointed out, it is also of importance for the health of the baby – probiotics pass through the placenta and breast milk (and good bacteria transfers in the birth canal). A child who receives probiotics via mama shows a pattern of restrained excessive weight gain during the first years of life. Source.

It is also great evidence that a good quality probiotic belongs in any weight loss plan. One weight loss study compared the loss results of a group of women receiving a probiotic vs a placebo during a 12-week program to lose weight. The women who received the probiotic lost, on average, 9.7lbs in 12 weeks, and during a 12-week maintenance program went on to lose an average of 1.8lbs more. Women who received the placebo lost an average of 5.7lbs in the same loss period, and maintained but did not lose weight in the maintenance program. Interestingly, there was not a significant result for men; that is, men who took or did not take the probiotic showed similar weight loss. Source.

Studies have shown that probiotic use beginning in pregnancy and continuing postpartum, along with exclusive breastfeeding, supports women in losing weight postpartum. Source.

Why might gut flora have an impact on weight gain, loss and maintenance? One study reported that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people. When obese people lost weight, their microflora became similar to that observed in lean people. Researchers have also suggested that probiotics make your intestinal walls less permeable, preventing molecules that have been linked to obesity from entering the bloodstream (this study only saw a difference for women). Source.

Whatever the whole picture is — we simply don’t know yet — enough research supports my belief all along: probiotics are important for a healthy life. They are, in particular, important in supporting the health of both mother and baby in the prenatal and postpartum period. A good probiotic is part of the advice I offer in my book (and all the time on the blog!). We offer many in the Sprout Right online shop (only the best). If you aren’t sure which one is right for you, please don’t hesitate to ask!

 

Eat This, Not That Simple Swaps Plus Zucchini Noodles Two Ways

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Sometimes it’s hard to give up the foods we love; can I live a life without dark chocolate? I don’t want to!

But living a healthier life, by choosing healthier foods, rarely requires a complete transformation. Many of the families I work with are already making smart choices. What they need are a few tweaks (and strategies for staying committed even when time in the kitchen is scarce).

This post is all about those few tweaks! We’ve created an easy swap this for that reference guide. Start implementing some of these painless “upgrades” in your diet and see your health, and the health of your children, improve. And yes, you can have a piece of dark chocolate too.

Instead of ….

White, whole wheat or gluten free flour

Try ….

Exciting alternatives like baking with almond flour, oat flour or coconut flour

Instead of ….

Store-bought condiments 

Try ….

Spice blends that allow the flavour of the meat or tofu to shine (watch the sodium on store bought varieties and make your own instead)

Instead of ….

Potato french fries 

Try ….

Parsnip or carrot french fries

Instead of ….

Vegetable oil

Try ….

Coconut oil, avocado oil or Camelina oil

Instead of ….

Butter

Try ….

Coconut butter or Nut butter spreads

Instead of ….

Cow’s milk

Try ….

Goat’s milk, Hemp milk or Almond milk

Instead of ….

White, whole wheat or gluten free pasta noodles

Try ….

Zucchini noodles

Zucchini Noodles Two Ways

Move over wheat pasta, zucchini noodles are hot right now. And I couldn’t be happier to see this wonderful vegetable enjoy a little bit of the spotlight. Zucchini, or courgette, is a summer squash that grows as either the green or yellow variety. Both types of zucchini are low in calories and rich in anti-oxidants, as well as vitamin C and vitamin A.

Compared with wheat pasta, you are going to get more nutritional value and less calories from a hearty bowl of “zoodles.” There is no need to cook zucchini noodles, making it fast and light for spring or summer meals.

It’s easy to create these delicious noodles, but you will need to buy yourself a spiralizer. The good news, they are becoming easier to find and are very economical (you can find some for under $20). Try your local kitchen store, grocery store (Canadian readers – your local Real Canadian Superstore does carry them) or find one online.

Create your noodles and then top with your favourite vegetables. Try one of these two sauces, or create your own (such as a thai-inspired one).

Zucchini Noodles Two Ways

Meat Sauce (from Flawless Family Meals)

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 lb. ground chicken or turkey

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup white wine

1 jar (793 ml) tomato sauce

Heat oil in large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add in carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the ground turkey, chicken or beef and season with salt and pepper. Break up meat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until meat is just cooked and still a little pink, about 5 minutes more. To keep meat tender, dont fry or brown.

Stir in wine and cook until it evaporates completely, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and a little water swooshed in the jar so sauce isnt too thick while cooking (it will thicken). Bring to the boil and reduce heat, gently simmering for about an hour.

Pesto (from Sprout Right Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler book)

2 cups Packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup Packed fresh cilantro leaves

2 tbsp Sunflower seeds

2 tsp Capers

4 Kalamata olives, pitted

4 Sundried tomatoes

2 Garlic cloves

⅓ cup Extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch Sea Salt

In a food processor, combine basil, cilantro, sunflower seeds, capers, olives, sundried tomatoes, and garlic.

Pulse a few times. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is running. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add a pinch of salt to taste.

Enjoy your bowl of fun zoodles!

What are your favourite healthy swaps? Tell us on our Facebook page!

Photo Copyright: alein / 123RF Stock Photo

A Better Breakfast Cereal

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The truth is out: breakfast cereal from a box isn’t the healthiest way to start your day. But this article says you might have already moved on from this one-time staple for families (Canadians spent 22% less on boxed cereal in 2014 than 2010). And if that’s the case, I agree with you: “good riddance.” But what should you eat instead? Can’t skip breakfast.  You’ve heard it all your life and I concur, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

A Better Breakfast Cereal - Recipe from Sprout Right

These are my favourite breakfast options, with recipes.

 

And now for a new recipe: what if you could have the convenience of a boxed cereal, but a much healthier option you make yourself? We’re remaking the breakfast cereal with three delicious recipes! You can make these the night before, or on the weekend; they will keep well (if you can stop yourself from snacking on them!).

Granola

Note: this recipe keeps well, so save time and make a double batch.  Be sure to spread the granola out well on your baking tray and move around half way through its cooking time if you cook longer than 10 minutes.   

2 cups rolled oats (whole oat flakes)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut or sunflower oil

¼ cup maple syrup (or agave)

¼ cup sunflower seeds, chopped

¼ cup walnuts (or other favourite nuts), chopped

¼ cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apples, apricots, dates)

1 tbsp sesame seeds

Soak dried fruit in hot water for 10 minutes, drain.  Combine all ingredients together and spread over one or two baking trays.  Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. If you prefer crunchier, cook for longer.  Cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container. 

Top with homemade yogurt (recipe below) and/or some homemade almond milk (recipe below).

Homemade Yogurt

Take 2 tbsp of another brand of plain yogurt, like Astro

Add it to 1L or 4 cups of baby bottle temperature milk

Place in the oven for 12 – 24 hours with the light on

Store in the fridge in a glass jar or strain through a fine mesh drip bag and hang it for easy greek yogurt.

Homemade Almond Milk

Almond Milk

1 cup raw almonds, preferably organic
4 cups filtered water
¼ cup sesame seeds (optional)
¼ cup full-fat coconut milk (shake the cane before opening)
2 tsp agave syrup

Soak almonds in a bowl of water overnight, or for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse several times (skip soaking if you’re in a rush).

In a blender, combine almonds, water, sesame seeds (if using, coconut milk and agave syrup. Blend for 4 to 5 minutes. Strain with a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, a bag for making jelly or a cloth milk bag (used for nut milks).

Keep refrigerated in a sealed glass container for up to 2 or 3 days. It can also be frozen.

Makes approximately 4 cups.

Enjoy!

 

Photo Copyright: ingridhs / 123RF Stock Photo

Sugar is the New Drug: Why and How to Go Sugar-Free

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I was on NEWSTALK 1010 talking with Jerry Agar about the sugar in some of your favourite hot drinks.  You may think you are just grabbing a hot coffee on your way to the office; you might be surprised to learn you are topping out your daily sugar allowance. For example, a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream has 18 teaspoons of sugar. (Find out more about sugar and your favourite drinks).

Our affinity for the sweet stuff is biological, to some degree. Sweet foods weren’t rotten foods, giving us the signal that it was okay to eat. But in our day of processed foods, sugar is sneaking its way into everything, and food providers capitalize on our love of all things sweet. But, it may be affecting your health.

How to go sugar free - with lots of info on why you should. Love this article from Sprout Right

Sugar and the Body

Too much sugar in your diet can cause your liver to store fat more efficiently, including around the liver itself. This can make you susceptible to fatty liver disease.

When you consume too much sugar, you cause excess insulin in your bloodstream. As it impacts the cells of your body, too much insulin can lead to health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Years of overproducing insulin can lead to diabetes. Consuming just one can of pop a day can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes by 22%. Source.

Consuming too much sugar also leads to weight gain: fructose turns off your body’s appetite-control centre. Fructose consumption means insulin is not triggered, which leads to a cascade effect on other hormones that tell your body you are full, and not to eat more. This is why consuming sugar actually leads to more sugar cravings. Other studies have noted that consuming sugar-filled high-fat food causes a surge of dopamine in the brain (a feel-good hormone, causing us to want to repeat the experience). The way in which sugar effects the brain, and causes the effect of craving more and more sugar, has led some to draw the parallel between sugar and cocaine: sugar, according to a study in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, can cause behavioral and neurochemical changes similar to the effects of a “substance of abuse.”

And now imagine all of these effects on little bodies! Limiting sugar should be a family affair, to protect your health and theirs.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t consume too much sugar?

How to Kick the Sugar Habit

I outline my step-by-step guide for how to kick the sugar habit in this post. The key is to stabilize your blood sugar by eating healthy, whole foods regularly so you don’t crash into sugar cravings (and of course removing all temptations helps). Meal planning is a huge component of this strategy. Plan your own eating, or grab one of our meal plans for ideas (the 21 Days to Balance is perfect for quitting sugar). Be careful to read food labels for anything you do buy processed, sugar hides in a lot of food. According to the American Heart Association, men should limit sugar intake to 37.5 grams a day, women 25 grams and children 12 grams.

Once you go sugar-free, your interest and craving for sugar will drop. You crave what you eat; start craving whole, fresh foods not refined sugar.

Read: The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners 

All Hail Kale – The Salad that Has More Calories than a Big Mac

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A kale salad with more calories than a Big Mac - a shocking look at health washing my nutritionist from Sprout Right

Look what McDonald’s has done to kale! This nutritious superfood chock full of vitamin B6, dietary fibre, calcium and more has been blended with lettuce and drenched in Asiago Caesar dressing tossed with “crispy chicken” and parmesan. A long way from the 49 calories in a 100grams of kale, the “Keep Calm, Caesar On” chicken salad contains 730 calories, 53 grams of fat and 1,400 milligrams of salt.

If that’s not enough to shock you, consider this: this is more calories and fat than a Double Big Mac. (A Double Big Mac does contain more saturated fat).

Why has this superfood undergone such a stunning transformation?! Adding kale to the menu might be a cloaked attempt at increasing sales by appealing to the healthy minded who believe they are getting a far better option at the fast food counter. The unfortunate part is that it convinces many people that they are making a good choice, when in fact they are making one very damaging to their health. The truth is, and it’s hard to hear for those who like fast food or find it convenient, fast food is not healthy food.

Consider the oatmeal at McDonald’s, also dubbed as nutritious and convincing many that it is a lighter option. The Maple Oatmeal at McDonald’s offers 33 grams of sugar. Some of that sugar may come from apples and dried cranberries but the rest blows your daily sugar allotment way out of the water. The World Health Organization suggests that you shouldn’t be consuming more than 25g of sugar in a day. That’s all of it and then some, even before breakfast is through.

And I’m not just beating up on McDonald’s the truth is not-so-healthy food is disguised as healthy food everywhere, at the grocery store, at our favourite restaurant, though fast food restaurants are likely targets. Foods that we think are ideal for our children are actually the brainchild of a marketing guru who has convinced us that yoghurt in a tube is full of calcium and therefore great for after-school re-fuelling. What is skimmed over is that it contains added sugar and sodium. That’s why kids find them so delicious! You may remember when I took a look at what’s really in probiotic yogurt and why you should get your probiotics elsewhere.

We find “breakfast cookies” at the grocery store, and think we are giving ourselves and our kids a fiber-rich boost. Granola bars? Don’t get me started. The kids like the ones with the chocolate on top and no wonder, they really are just chocolate bars disguised as something that might be healthy, with oats and nuts. I always recommend you make your own. They are far more delicious, contain no processed sugar and you control the sodium.

The truth is health-washing is everywhere and it is misleading consumers.

Don’t be tricked into eating kale at McDonald’s. Make your own kale salad at home, in just a few minutes with just a few ingredients. Here’s how.

Simple Kale Salad 

1 head of kale

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Approx. 3 tbsp or as you like

Sprinkle of salt

Remove the kale leaves from the stem. Drizzle olive oil over top and massage to coat the leaves. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand for at least an hour, or ideally overnight.

Top with your favourite fruits or vegetables (try roasted beets, diced chicken, toasted pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts and diced apple) and serve with a sprinkle of your favourite vinegar, a squeeze of a lemon or both. You might also like to try our simple salad dressing.  

So much delicious, and good for you.

 

2016 New Year Food Trends

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2016 Food Trends - Nutritionist from SproutRight.com shares the new superfoods!

I’ve consulted with experts from across the country and teamed up with the Canadian Health Food Association (www.chfa.ca) to get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest natural health trends for the new year. The top five health food trends to watch out for in 2016 include the following:

1) Sea vegetables

Is kelp the new kale? We think so! Sea vegetables can help reduce sodium intake while supporting thyroid health, as these unique vegetables are rich in naturally occurring iodine. This 2016 everyone will be looking at the nutritional and environmental benefits of sea greens. So what makes sea veggies so trendy?

– Sea vegetables are virtually fat-free, low in calories but rich in minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, enzymes and trace minerals which are low in land vegetables due to soil demineralization.

– Sea vegetables can help us skip the salt. They add a natural seasoning to foods which comes from a balanced combination of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and many other trace minerals naturally found in the ocean.

– They are rich in iodine an important part of our thyroid health. Our thyroid gland plays so many important roles in our body from regulating our metabolism to enhancing our growth and development, weight control and energy.

– They can be grown sustainably. Sea vegetables have minimal impact on the environment. When choosing a sea green that is right for you we encourage you to look for those that have been grown sustainably.

2) Fibre
Fibre is primed to be the new protein. We all know fibre is good for digestive and intestinal health, but it can do so much more, from heart health to weight maintenance!  Check out our top three reasons why fibre is bound to be a big deal in 2016:

– Weight maintenance: Increasing fibre intake could have even more beneficial effects than a “restrictive” diet plan that reduces saturated fat. Whether you enjoy fibre as a supplement or in whole foods, it helps keep us feeling fuller for longer.

– Heart health: Soluble fibre has been proven to lower cholesterol, help digestion and regulate blood sugar. It works by absorbing water in the gut, forming a gel-like substance that can bind to cholesterol and bile acids, helping eliminate them from the body.

– Gut health: A recent scientific meta-analysis found that fibre intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohns Disease).

– A diverse diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables provides good nutrients for us, while keeping our good gut bugs healthy and happy with plenty of fibre.*

3) Sweets and savouries with a health kick

Everyone loves to indulge, but what if you could satisfy those sweet and salty cravings with food that also includes a nutritional kick? In 2016 these options are almost limitless!  Watch out for all kinds of traditional treats on the market that include a little something extra to enhance your health. Below are some new, trendy, natural ideas to satisfy your sweet tooth and get that crunch we all crave.

– New ways to crunch: In 2016 look out for chips made from beans, root veggies and even lentils. These snacks give us a great fibre kick and all the crunch we crave.

– Sweets to satisfy:  One of the exciting new products out there merges last year’s superstar, coconut, with chocolate. Cocoa boasts blood pressure-lowering effects, and recent research is pointing to additional heart-healthy benefits.

4) Vitamin C and D

These old favourites are finding new applications. Vitamin C-rich creams have the ability to protect the skin during the harsh winter months and, luckily, lesser known winter veggies like squash and Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin D is also incredibly versatile, with applications for boosting bone to heart health. Check out our three favourite findings below:

1)     We know that we should wear sunscreen every day, but did you know adding a little vitamin C serum to your daily skin-care routine can enhance your protection and give your face a little treat?

2)     Everyone always talks about Vitamin D, but not many of us actually understand why we need it. Vitamin D is crucial for the optimal performance of all our body systems. It plays many important roles in the body ranging from bone health to aiding the absorption of calcium. In 2015, new research pointed to a connection between low vitamin D and artery disease showing vitamin D may even play a role in heart health.

3)     When thinking about vitamin C in 2016 we encourage you to think beyond the lemon tree. There are all kinds of winter veggies that are rich in vitamin C including: bell peppers (red & green), kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

5) Hemp

This 2016 it will be easy to add hemp into your healthy, balanced diet. Canadians can find hemp as a raw seed, ground into flour, sprouted, as hemp milk or juice, in lip balm, as a protein or fibre supplement, and in other products including clothing and paper! Best of all, Canada has a thriving hemp industry; so many products available in your local store are Canadian grown and made! Below are three reasons everyone is going to be excited about hemp in 2016.

1)     Perfect for herbivores and carnivores alike, hemp boasts an ideal omega three-to-six ratio to help maintain heart health.

2)     Hemp is also an excellent source of protein and a great vegan protein alternative for people who are allergic to nuts.

3)     Hemp also is rich in vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Hemp seed is one of the 2016 food trends to keep you healthy. See more on SproutRight.com

If you aren’t sure where to get any of the above, check out www.chfa.ca to find your local health food store with the Find A Retailer tool by putting in your postcode.

So many to choose from and add into your daily diet! What will you add in first?

 

Kick Off 2016 Right: Take Our 10 a Day Free Challenge

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Happy New Year!

 

Well, it’s the New Year. Again. Where did 2015 go? I think I just blinked and there it went.
If you’re like most, you are feeling motivated to do something different: change your mindset or habits, take up something new that you think will help you feel better. I feel motivated after a very stressful December and then a few down days to collect my thoughts. I am ready to get back on track with a bunch of things. One of them is of course, food. After letting loose this December, I remember how crappy one can feel eating foods in larger quantities, and those with sugar, wheat and dairy, while neglecting fruits and vegetables.

I think that 2016 is your year.

 

Take the Sprout Right challenge and learn how to eat 10 servings of fruits and veg a day! Gotta do this one

Your year to make positive changes that stick. No flash in the pan or “resolution” that sticks for the first week. And because we think that, we’ve decided to support and challenge you. Who doesn’t love a challenge?!

We at Sprout Right challenge you to eat more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Not so hard, right? To be clear about what’s good, it’s simple. Start with piles, heaps and handfuls of fruits and vegetables in every colour of the rainbow.

Did you know it’s recommended that we eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day?

 

From what I’ve seen over the holidays, there may be one to three going in–and one of those is a white potato.

Not good enough.

You can do better. Your family can do better.

So are you ready? Amp Up Your Plants: 10 a Day Challenge to Start 2016 Right! THIS CHALLENGE is closed. But you can now purchase the same program for $49. Click here to learn more.

 

This is a WHOLE family challenge: each one of you is challenged to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Now don’t freak out. We are going to guide you through this each and every step of the way. This is a 21-day challenge with new information and support, along with recipes, each day (sent via email). And because everything is easier with a community, we are also inviting all challenge participants to a private Facebook group. This will create accountability and give you a few virtual shoulders to lean on.

You know you want to, and don’t be scared of failing. Even if you eat one more serving a day, you’ve won. It’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain, including new ways to enjoy fruits, vegetables and all that extra energy you’ll have.

Join us for three weeks, yes it takes 21 days to create new habits, and you’ll have a fantastic kick start to 2016 that’ll last way beyond what you thought.

Amp Up Your Plants!

 

5 Reasons You Need to Eat Snacks! (Yes, I’m Giving You Permission to Eat)

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Eat Snacks! Why Snacking is Good for You - Plus 50 Snack Ideas to Download

I think snacks often get a bad rap. Kids love them – does it seem like they are eating all the time? – and yet somewhere into adulthood we think it’s a good idea to see how long we can go with our bellies grumbling, our energy banks on low. Or when it gets busy with the kids, running errands or at the office, our snacks are the first thing to go! Do they seem like an indulgence? Some of my clients think they should be able to get through the day or skip a meal and keep going. Then they are also crabby, irritable and end up with cravings, especially at night when anything that’s not nailed down in the kitchen is fair game.

I learned the value of snacks when I first became a mother, when nursing required extra calories and when sitting down to have something to eat meant I was taking care of myself. I found it easier to eat frequent smaller meals through the day to keep my energy levels up, when the lack of sleep was dragging me down. I keep that principle with me even now, though thankfully I’m sleeping through the night again! Here are 5 reasons you NEED to eat snacks, and then we’ve got a gift for you – download 50 healthy snack ideas to get you going.

Reason 1: Eating every few hours is the key to keeping your blood sugar stable.

When we don’t eat regularly, our blood sugars dip. There is a cascade of activities in the body that happen in response to low blood sugar. One is the release of adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. That can lead to a host of problems from increased heart rate to a disturbance in your body’s stress response, alongside fat accumulating around the middle – aka belly fat.

Reason 2: Snacks are an opportunity to fuel the body with important and essential nutrients.

Every time you snack or eat a meal it’s an opportunity to fuel your body with what it needs to keep it running and consistently feeling great. This includes supporting your immune system to fight off all the bugs coming at you during the winter season. Think of snacks, and those good nutrients you take in, as fortifying your body so you can fight off those bugs and viruses stay healthy.

Reason 3: A healthy snack actually keeps your weight down.

When you skip or go too long between meals without a snack, cravings set in. You know, needing the 3pm coffee IV, chocolate, sugar or carb-filled snacks, which give you the energy boost you feel you need. If you want to keep cravings at bay, snacks are your new BFF.

Not eating much during the day, and then snacking (in an unhealthy way) at night is such a common thing. When you finally sit down after a long day, no surprise but you are starving! We often make bad food choices (myself included) when we are just too hungry to think!

Reason 4: Hangry… Need I say more?

We’ve all experienced the hangrys and with little kids around, witnessed what happens when someone goes too long without eating (tantrum in line at the grocery store, yes we’ve been there)! Hunger and low blood sugar affects your mood: it makes you more irritable and less able to deal with frustrations and stress. If you want to be ready for everything life throws at you, including tantrums at the grocery store, you need to eat!

Reason 5: It’s a stress-free time to take for yourself.

And finally, just as I learned when I first became a mom, taking time to have a snack is actually a great piece of self-care. You have to do nothing else but slow down and eat. So take that as an opportunity to de-stress, unwind and feel grateful for how wonderful your body is to process delicious nourishing food – and fuel you through that next errand, long meeting or load of laundry.

Now, this isn’t a call to eat anything and everything! Because we know how hard it is to think healthy on the fly, or prep something healthy in advance, we’ve created a great list for you. Just click here to access a free list of 50 Healthy Snack Ideas, and join our email list (for weekly goodies) too.

Why You Can Become Nutrient-Deficient After the Holidays: How Stress is Affecting Your Digestion

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Avoid Stress for Better Digestion - Great Tips from a Nutritionist

Tips for Dealing so You Don’t Deplete

It’s the holiday season, which means stress for most. Whether it’s the shopping, or entertaining, spending time with your least favourite family members or running between holiday gatherings, it’s a new level of busy and stress usually follows.

Stress has a knock-on effect throughout our bodies. Adrenaline, our fight or flight hormone, is released at the onset of a stressful situation: an argument, a snotty sales clerk, being yelled at in the parking lot over nabbing a parking space, you know. It’s purpose is to send extra energy to muscles for power, to the brain for focus, and it increases heart rate so oxygenated blood is available to power the body away from the perceived stress. In the old days this threat was a lion or bear, not your latest credit card statement.

Adrenaline also shuts off non-essential systems like the digestive system; this means your last meal is going to sit in your stomach undigested for hours or even days as you come down off that stress high. Not good.

Most holiday parties that I go to involve getting myself and the kids out the door by a particular time, cleaned up, dressed, with two matching socks on. Already my adrenaline rush has shut of my digestive system. I’m heading to a party with a buffet of delicious food and I’m not going to digest most of it. More importantly, I’m not going to benefit from the nutrients that food has to offer. This may not seem so important, as it’s just one meal, but as the holiday season, and stress, continues I could end up deficient in minerals and vitamins by the time the cork pops on New Years.

What can you do to weather this, to reduce your stress and improve your absorption of important nutrients?

Take a deep breath.
Whatever is thrown at you will pass. You get to choose how you respond to what’s going on, sotake a deep breath and let it go.

Don’t overbook.
You don’t have to say yes to every social gathering and obligation. Saying no is good for yourhealth. Choose the priorities and let the rest go. You really don’t have to do it all (and yes I’mstill working on this one too).

Start with raw fruit or veggies.
When you sit down to eat, chose raw fruit or veggies to start. They contain their own enzymesand will aid digestion. This will help your body to absorb more nutrients. It’s always faster to grab a banana or apple to munch on when you can anyway.

Try digestive enzymes.
Support your body’s digestive system and give it a bit of a break from breaking down all thatfood (which can get heavy at holiday parties). Take these at the beginning of a meal as theycontain what your digestive system should be producing, have have been lessened or shutdown. We can order these for you; email us for more details.

Don’t neglect your workout routine.
Exercise is known as a powerful fighter of holiday weight gain, but it is also an importantstress-buster. When things get busy, it is even more important that you stick with your workoutroutine. Don’t wait for the New Year! Mix cardio with weight training or try a yoga class. Aim to work out first thing in the morning. it’ll give you more energy, balance those stress hormones and release feel-good endorphins. And you can’t bail on it because it’s done!

Get plenty of sleep.
Let’s face it; sleep is the foundation of our health and it supports every part of our body, including the digestive system. Nothing works well when you are surviving on a lack of sleep. I feel crabby, lose patience, and don’t cope when I’m getting 5 hours a night. It messes up my hormones and digestion. Take one or two nights and get your head down on that pillow two or three hours earlier than usual. A 20 minute power nap also does wonders. Set your timer for 25 minutes – few of minutes to fall asleep and one or two to wake. You’ll be amazed at your productivity afterwards. And no groggy feeling afterwards.

Acknowledge the emotions.
I’m just as guilty as the next person to grab chips or something sweet to keep me going. Somehow it seems it will fit the bill better than a banana or apple, that are just as fast to grab. Momentary relief with eating low energy foods (refined or sweet anything) leads the body perceiving the crash that follows as yet another stress (cue abdominal fat). If you’re stressed, say it. Speak it. Write it. Somehow get it out. Call a friend or your partner and say I need you to listen and vent away. Once you’ve let it out, the mountain of stress becomes less momentous.  

Set better conditions for eating.
Grabbing something and eating in the car, by your computer (as I’m doing right now) or making a meal of the party canapes isn’t ideal. Remember that when you are under stress, your digestive system shuts off. Sit when you can. Think about eating and take a few deep breaths before you tuck in. Limit multitasking and don’t eat on the run. If you find holiday gatherings really stressful, eat alone in a quiet place a few hours before leaving.  

There may not be a way to completely avoid the stress of the holidays. I hope the above tips might help both you and your digestive system to cope better so you aren’t missing out on important nutrients. Looking for a powerful snack to fuel you through the rush? Take a look at our best snacks post.

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Do you have a question about stress and digestion, stress in general or digestion in general? Drop us a line! We’re always here to help and you might inspire our next post.