Kids love to create things and work with their hands. Cooking with your kids is a great way to use their imagination and spend some quality time together. It’s also a great way to teach kids about food, where it comes from and how to prepare healthy meals. Teaching your kids to make healthy meals and eating together as a family has been shown to reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Some benefits of cooking with your kids:
  • Builds self-esteem
  • Promotes eye-hand coordination
  • Teaches valuable lifelong skills
  • Fosters independence
  • Practice with numbers and math 
  • Provides an opportunity to talk about food and important nutrients for growth
  • It’s fun!
It’s also true that kids are more likely want to eat with the family and try new foods if they’re involved in the cooking. When cooking with your kids, let them be involved in the entire process from deciding what to make, to setting the table. This will help build their decision-making skills and gives you a chance to guide them to make good choices, without doing it all for them.

Can start anytime

Kids can start being a part of the kitchen at almost any age. Young kids under age 5 can start with safe, simple duties such as washing veggies, snapping peas, mixing batters and dipping bread in egg for french toast. Older children can do more advanced jobs like cracking eggs, reading recipes, grating cheese and progress to cutting vegetables (with supervision).

If your kids aren’t too keen on the idea of cooking initially, start small with something that they like and that doesn’t take too long (such as fruit smoothie popsicles) and build up to bigger snacks and meals. Baking cookies is a fun thing to do, but be sure to add variety and involve your kids in making healthy balanced meals as well. 

A great recipe to start with is low fat, whole grain pita pizza

Janine Bolton

Maybe yours is the kind of family that just can’t get on board with a meal that doesn’t involve meat. Or maybe you can’t get going without a hot morning bite. Or maybe anything but coffee settles in your stomach like a lead brick. Whatever your breakfast dilemma, one of these make-ahead meals is sure to be perfect for you and your family. 

Quite often, I prepare the entire week’s (non-smoothie) breakfasts in advance, so there is always something on hand that can be popped in the microwave. 

For mornings when time is even tighter, keep some hard-boiled eggs, organic string cheese and bananas on hand. That way, if you find yourself in a more serious time crunch, there is always something healthy to grab and go!


Kristy Harvey

If you’re like most parents, you’re concerned with what habits your children are picking up, including those related to food and eating. You, as the parent, have a tremendous influence on your child’s attitudes about food and their eating habits, starting at a very early age. It’s not enough to simply encourage your children to take on healthy eating. The best thing you can do to foster healthy eating habits for you kids is to be a good role model. Children are like little sponges and are paying attention to and absorbing everything you do. They will pick up likes and dislikes, as well as your attitudes about food. Have you asked yourself what messages you are sending? 

We all have bad habits, and sometimes we do them without even realizing. Becoming aware of them is the first step in making positive changes. Some common habits that you don’t want to pass on to your children are: 
  • Snacking all day long
  • Eating in front of the Tv
  • Eating when bored/stressed/upset
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Consuming a lot of fast food or convenience foods
  • Drinking a lot of juice or pop
  • High intake of sugary snacks
  • Frequent dieting or preoccupation with weight or food
  • Negative comments about weight or self image
  • Eating dessert regularly
These habits can not only start your child on poor nutritional habits, but can encourage an unhealthy feeding relationship as well (link to healthy feeding relationship). It’s very important that your children see you practicing healthy habits in order for them to adopt healthy habits themselves. What you do is more important than what you say. 

Tips for being a healthy eating role model:
  • Eat and prepare foods with your children
  • Eat at the table as a family with no distractions
  • Provide and eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Avoid skipping meals
  • Moderate portion sizes
  • Try new foods, offer them to your children but don’t force them to try it
  • Limit high fat and high sugar foods in the home
  • Drink water and milk, limit juice and sodas
  • Focus on and talk about why healthy foods are good for you, rather than why “bad” foods are bad
  • Make an effort to make home-cooked meals
  • Be physically active
Making positive changes and adopting these habits is good for everyone in the family and will set your child up for lifelong healthy habits.

Janine Bolton


“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth – for your love is more delightful than wine…”  
(Solomon’s Song of Songs)

OK, so, you thought that would say chocolate.  It is funny how we associate some foods with passion… wine, chocolate, strawberries and champagne.  Sex is a workout in all areas of the body.  Work requires fuel and what we fuel our bodies with has a direct impact on sexual drive.  We associate food and sex as both pleasurable, but how often do we consider that what we eat affects our sexual performance?  While a perfect evening could begin with a succulent steak aside a billowing baked potato, swished away with a few glasses of wine before a mound of chocolate ecstasy for dessert, it could all end with nothing but the lights out.  Food affects every aspect of our lives – mentally, spiritually emotionally and physically.  The synergistic flow of all of these systems sets the mood for sexual relations, and the stage for sexual health.

Throughout life, the appetite for sex will rise and plummet, like the stock market – peaks and bounds.  The nutritional and chemical component of foods has a direct impact on our sexual health.  Women often suffer from extremes in hormonal fluctuations.  Men equally can experience dips and dives in hormones, making him migrate to the TV rather than the bedroom.  Sigh.  

Hormones – Not Just A Female Thing

Increased estrogen in men can lead to andropause – which actually sounds boring even before we realize that it represents a condition in men when testosterone has declined.  Its’ this decline that ultimately leads to the “pause” of andropause, or as I like to call it “Men on Pause” - strikingly close to menopause… only, in him!  Next time your lover’s not in the mood, blame it on his hormones.

Men have to feed the machine. However, a 12 oz. porterhouse washed down with half a dozen cold ones will not really achieve an amorous night. Fresh, unprocessed, natural foods promote a healthy sexuality.  Men benefit from lean meats, whole grains and plant-based proteins, as well as foods high in zinc, selenium and lycopene.  Keeping a moderate exercise program that includes weight-bearing exercise also helps men retain testosterone – the essential sex hormone for men, and reduce harmfully high estrogen.  A good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement should accompany a well-balanced diet to enhance his performance.

Sex or Chocolate?

Women, on the other hand require a little more effort to balance the delicate nature of their hormonal system.  Women will go through phases of sexual appetite more remarkable than that of men. Childbirth, motherhood, work obligations, and homemaking can interfere and interrupt a woman’s sexual desire.  Then, you can add in the hormones and the seemingly impossible ability to relax.  Hormones are chemical messengers, continually signaling our bodies to perform and regulate certain functions of our daily lives.  If hormones are out of balance, so are we.  Surges and dives in estrogens, progesterone and a handful of other hormones can often leave a poor girl opting for the chocolate instead of the sex.  A diet rich in fresh green and brightly colored vegetables and fruits, modest amounts of meat, dairy, nuts and seeds and whole grains will bring a remarkable balance to a woman’s hormones and revive a dwindled libido.  Adding a regular form of exercise will also increase metabolism and act as a natural aphrodisiac for women.  

Quality is more often better than quantity.  Maximize your relationship potential by fueling your body with natural foods that will support healthy sexuality and reproductive health.  Bon appetite!

Erin Bell

Between making sure the kids have their homework finished, feeding the pets, answering the phone and sliding a few last-minute bills into the mailbox, some mornings it can feel like a miracle that you even made it to work with your shoes on. For those of you who (like me) sleep until the absolute last possible minute, it can feel next to impossible to squeeze breakfast into the equation. 

As you read last week, however, squeezing it in is essential, especially if you don’t want your child to have to repeat the 1st grade! So how do you make sure the entire family gets fed without having to set the alarm clock back an hour? Make smoothies!

Pre-measure the frozen fruit the night before and store it overnight in the freezer by itself, so it’s ready to go in the morning. Pour the other ingredients into the blender the night before, cover, and store in the fridge. In the morning, put the blender on its base, pour in the fruit, blend until smooth, and you have a healthy, delicious breakfast in 2 minutes flat.

                                                                                                            Read More.....

Kristy Harvey

Lactose intolerance is extremely common among adults in our culture. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), about 70% of the world’s population has a lactase deficiency. Lactose intolerance in more common among some ethnic groups. According to the AAP, about 20% of hispanic, asian and black children younger than the age of 5 show some evidence of lactose intolerance, whereas caucasian children typically do not develop symptoms until after 4 - 5 years of age. 

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is a naturally-occurring sugar in all mammalian milk. Lactose intolerance is a deficiency in the enzyme (lactase) that breaks down lactose in the gut. Common symptoms are: abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, and bloating after eating lactose-containing foods. 

*It’s important to note that lactose intolerance differs from a cow’s milk allergy, which is more severe and involves a reaction of the immune system. Lactose intolerance does not cause vomiting or eczema, and these symptoms may indicate a more serious condition.

When feeding infants it’s common for them to be fussy, spit up, and have occasional wet poops. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if these are normal activities, or if baby is having a reaction to something they ate. Since milk is the primary component of a baby’s diet, it’s easy to assume lactose intolerance may be the cause. 

In actuality, mother nature is quite resourceful, and as lactose is the primary sugar in breast milk and often the sole source of nutrition for the first 6 months, she is pretty good at making sure infants are able to digest that sugar properly. For this reason it is extremely rare for infants to be lactose intolerant, and is uncommon before the ages of 2-3 in all populations for healthy, term infants. However, it is sometimes seen more often in pre-term infants.

Best food? Mom's milk

Although it’s very rare for infants to have an intolerance to lactose, it’s not impossible. Nevertheless, because lactose intolerance will not harm your baby (as long as s/he is growing normally) and the benefits of breast milk are unmatched by formula, the AAP recommends that breastfed infants with a lactose intolerance should be continued on human milk. 

Breast milk always contains lactose and is not influenced by mom’s diet, so there’s no need for mom to stop drinking milk while breastfeeding. For formula-fed infants, lactose-free formulas are available but have not been shown to have any clinical  advantages (growth, development, etc.).  Lactose-free formulas may reduce some symptoms for your baby, but this is not always the case. 

Should kids avoid dairy?

For older children, complete avoidance of lactose-containing foods will resolve symptoms, however, avoidance of all dairy foods is not entirely necessary and has been linked with suboptimal bone development in children. There are different severities of lactose intolerance, depending on the amount of enzyme you produce. 

Some people are able to eat yogurts and aged cheese because the lactose content isn’t quite as high in these dairy foods. As calcium is very important for bones and teeth for growing children, if dairy is completely eliminated it is important to provide a calcium supplement and/or ensure adequate calcium intake from non-dairy sources. 

Talk to your doctor or dietitian if this is the case. Other options include using an oral lactase supplement, or lactose-free milk. Soy, rice and other non-mammalian milks are available as lactose-free substitutes, but their nutritional quality is not quite equal to that of cow’s milk. 

Janine Bolton

You’ve probably heard on television or read in the newspaper that whole grains are making a comeback. While white bread was king for a while, people are beginning to buy into the fact that whole grains, packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, are worth fitting into their diets. And what better place to experiment with whole grains than breakfast?

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard that oatmeal is a great, healthy choice for breakfast. Conveniently, there are innumerable companies that make pre-packaged oatmeal where you can simply add hot water, stir and go. 

Unfortunately, a lot of these packets contain significant amounts of added sugar, and, if you caught my last blog, you have probably realized that this isn’t a great thing. While the steel-cut, slow cook oats might be a bit more of a time commitment, they are totally worth the effort. Boasting B-vitamins and a good deal of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which has been shown to do everything from lower cholesterol and diabetes risk to stabilize blood sugar, this grain has been hailed for decades as a health champion.

Fiber also gives these grains the staying power to keep you full all morning. And the great thing is, even though it can take longer to cook them, you don’t have to make them every morning. Whip up a big batch on Sunday afternoon and it will keep in the refrigerator for the entire week!

But who wants to eat plain old boring oatmeal? I know I don’t, and your kids certainly won’t! Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided us unlimited healthy, delicious choices to spice up our oatmeal. 

Here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Pumpkin: Stir in 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin (or sweet potato), a dash of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of walnut pieces and just enough brown sugar to suit your tastes. You’ll get a Vitamin A punch from the pumpkin, Omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts and studies are beginning to show that cinnamon might help regulate blood sugar.
  • Dried Cranberries: Dried cranberries are another favorite oatmeal mix in, especially when combined with a couple tablespoons of chopped pecans. The dried cranberries are sweet enough that many people find they don’t even need to add any extra sweetness, but if you find yourself longing for something sweeter, don’t hesitate to stir in a teaspoon or two of agave nectar. Those cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections and even strengthen the immune system and pecans are packed with Vitamin E.
  • Flaxseed: Want to boost the benefits of your oatmeal? Try adding a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 fatty acids which can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and lignans, which are especially important for fending of female-specific diseases such as breast cancer. Plus, its subtle crunch and nutty flavor complements the oatmeal perfectly.
Experiment with your own oatmeal recipes, and you’re sure to find a flavor that everyone in the family loves!

Kristy Harvey

With all the allergies popping up these days, parents who are already facing picky eating difficulties with their children are now also faced with the added obstacle of finding healthy, kid-friendly snack foods that are nut-free. There are quite a few products coming out now with the “peanut-free label”, which make it easy to identify a safe snack choice. Unfortunately, these snacks not always the healthiest and can be loaded with sugar.

Here are some ideas for quick, healthy, kid-friendly snacks (nut-free, of course) to help with this challenge. Print them out and stick them on your fridge for a quick reference when packing lunches.
  • Fruit or fruit cups (packed in water or juice)
  • Fruit sauces (such as apple) with no sugar added
  • Cut-up vegetables (baby carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, etc.) with low-fat yogurt dip or hummus
  • Cheese strings
  • Yogurt cups
  • Dry cereal (nut-free, of course)
  • Air-popped Popcorn
  • Unsweetened dried fruit (raisins, dates, cranberries, etc.)
  • Crackers (with cheese)
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Low-fat, homemade oatmeal raisin cookie
  • Guacamole or hummus with baked pita chips
  • Homemade low-fat muffin, such as carrot, oatmeal, blueberry or banana
  • Bread with pea or sunflower butter (only if label says it’s nut-free) & jam

When dealing with nut-free restrictions, it’s important to prevent cross-contamination. A good idea is to keep your “nut-free” snack products in a different cupboard than nut-containing products in your home. Cross-contamination can occur any time a nut product has come in contact with another food, a surface or your skin. If the area isn’t properly cleaned, residue can be transferred easily to a “safe” food. 

What to do when grocery shopping

When purchasing packaged foods, such as cereals and granola bars, it’s always important to read the label every time, as manufacturers can change their products at any time. 

Below are some ingredients that indicate traces of nuts in a product:
  • peanuts
  • vegetable oil (may be peanut oil)
  • mixed nuts
  • ground nuts
  • mandelonas
  • peanut butter
  • beer nuts
  • peanut oil
  • goober nuts
  • goober peas
  • peanut flour
  • artificial nuts
  • hydrolyzed peanut protein
Also, watch for labels which say: "May contain traces of nuts or peanut" and treat these products as if they contain nuts. When shopping, avoid foods that do not have a label, are in bulk bins, or are unpackaged (such as baked goods) and placed near other goods that may have nut ingredients. 

Some other potential sources of peanut are: 
  • cereals (especially granola mix)
  • granola bars
  • cookie and cake mixes
  • rice cakes
  • crackers
  • ice cream
  • and candies. 

Janine Bolton

We have all heard it said so many times that it has become a cliché: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If we know this, why is it that so many people are still not taking the time to eat breakfast? More importantly, why are we not making it a top priority to send our children off to school with full tummies?

Some people extremely incorrectly believe that forgoing breakfast for both themselves and their families is a way to cut calories and keep weight under control. Those people are, in a word, wrong. People who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to have cravings and control the hunger that can cause them to overeat later in the day.

Breakfast makes us smarter

And eating breakfast doesn’t just prevent a rumbling tummy. It helps a healthy, active brain function and develop, which is important for you as you head off to work but is even more important for you little ones as they try to memorize multiplication tables and recall the date of the War of 1812. 

Terrill Bravender, Duke University professor of pediatrics, told NPR.org: “Without glucose, our brain simply doesn't operate as well. People have difficulty understanding new information, [they have a] problem with visual and spatial understanding, and they don't remember things as well.”

If your child doesn’t have a healthy breakfast to provide that glucose before heading off to school, how on earth is he or she going to remember the words for that spelling test?

What's being done 

Canadians have bought into this idea that breakfast = learning big time. In fact, they are so on board with the idea that Daniel Germain started Breakfast Clubs of Canada to make sure that children whose parents weren’t feeding them a healthy and nutritious breakfast because they simply couldn’t afford to didn’t get left behind, both nutritionally and in the classroom. 

To date, they have served almost 30,000,000 breakfasts, and teachers are reporting that they have seen not only more energy and concentration out of children who eat breakfast but also better behavior.

If you want to help a child in need eat breakfast while you are feeding your own child, check out www.breakfastclubscanada.org to find out how you can help.

Now that you know why to feed your children breakfast, you need to know how. And, no, as you might have guessed, spilling some Froot Loops out of the box isn’t going to cut it. For more on healthy and nutritious breakfasts for busy families, stay tuned… 

Kristy Harvey

Since becoming a nutritionist, I have a habit of scanning people’s shopping carts when they are in the grocery stores - particularly if they have children with them.  I am often shocked at what I see in the carts… actually - frightened is more the term.  Sugar laden, pre-packaged foods, rolls of salty, nitrate soaked luncheon meats, neon-colored fruit drinks packed into tiny plastic bottles, and cookies, cakes and all sorts of sticky snacks, all designed to look “fun”.  But when did we decide that eating had to look “fun”?  What used to happen when food just looked like… food?

A sandwich is no longer fun unless it’s shaped like a dinosaur, and macaroni and cheese went from creamy comfort to traffic-cone orange!  What is in those rolled up “fruit things” is not only scary, but apparently, they smell bad when left in lockers and lunchboxes.  Yuck!

Are your kids sluggish in the afternoon? 

If the teacher tells you that your kid is falling asleep by mid-morning, or they are sluggish at 2 PM, check the lunchbox – as this may be where the problem started.  See, kids need stabilized blood sugar levels throughout the day in order to maintain focus and be active.  Low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, is very common in children and this is also frequently linked to the child’s behavior patterns.  Out come the clipboards and diagnoses… and we are all too aware what that may lead to – a diagnosis and medication.  What is quite often the problem, is food – the wrong amounts and the wrong kinds.

What's in your kids lunch box?

Packing a lunch that delivers high quality protein (no, that is not bologna!), quality fats (like those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, lean REAL meats (not processed luncheon meats), beans, natural cheese and yogurt) allow blood sugar to remain stable as these proteins are digested slowly and provide for long-term energy needs.  A variety of complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, as well as colored veggies and fruits will sustain optimum energy levels as well as sharpen attention levels. Lunch is no fun without a treat of some kind, but keeping it to something homemade or natural is better than something electric blue or laced with sugars.

Nutritious lunches do take a little more time and planning, but the payoffs are the foundation of a lifetime.  Learning is hard work and to make it to the top of the class, you need to provide quality fuel for growing little brains.  

Scrumptious ideas:
  • homemade soup/pastas in a heat-safe storage container 
  • oatmeal cookie, 
  • veggie sticks and hummus 
  • fruit salads 
  • pitas stuffed with natural, lean meats and cheeses, or egg salad 
  • yogurt 
  • sandwiches made with whole grains topped with veggies and avocados
  • homemade muffins chock full of raisins, apples, fruits and honey
Adding a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, as well as supplementing with a good quality fish oil that contains both DHA and EPA (long words that are usually abbreviated to mean “really good for brain development”) are essential to learning and development.  

If you want your kids at the top of the class, feed their brains what it really wants – good, wholesome food.

Erin Bell