New Blog!

Hello everyone…WE’VE MOVED!!! Please like us on facebook or go to blog.yourfoodstory.com and select “follow” to make sure you dont miss any of our future posts! Lots of great shareable information on whole foods eating for you and your little ones! We’ve got a great one today all about eggplant and look next week for some veggie thanksgiving posts! 

Easy Vegan Swaps

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Thinking about going vegan? The switch is easier than you think! And if the thought has never crossed your mind, maybe it should. Becoming a vegan is not only one of the best things you can do for the environment (20% of pollution comes from the meat industry!), but also for your health. Going vegan, even part-time, has been shown to reduce the risks of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even arthritis! While going vegan isn’t for everyone, it clearly has its benefits!

Read on for some super easy (and still tasty!) swaps to make in your kitchen to make your lifestyle transition smooth sailing!

  • Replace an egg (in baking) with:
    • 1/4 cup of applesauce
    • 2 tbs ground flaxseed + 1 tbs water
    • Mashed banana
    • 1 tbs chia seeds + 3 tbs water
  • Replace milk with:
    • Almond or Coconut milk
    • Applesauce
  • Replace your meat burgers with:
    • Black bean or quinoa burgers
  • Swap out mayonnaise with:
    • Avocado
  • Use (firm) TOFU in place of meats
  • Replace ground beef in tacos with….. Lentils!
  • Instead of butter, use:
    • Olive oil
    • Coconut oil
    • Avocado
    • Applesauce

Try swapping out some ingredients in the next non-vegan recipe you try and tell us how it goes!

Written by: Leana Varvella

Nutrition Spotlight: Omega-3’s and DHA

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Image source: india.com

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient in the body. They are used by the body in the brain and eyes and are thought to have many disease-preventing benefits. It’s important that everyone consumes enough of them, but it is even more so for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their toddlers as they develop – especially if they are eating a vegetarian diet.

There are three main omega-3 fatty acids:

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

All three of these play crucial roles in the body and can only be obtained from food. DHA is considered to be one of the most important fatty acids in the brain development of infants and toddlers. In fact, DHA is the most abundant building blocks of brain and retina tissue and adequate DHA levels have been associated with intelligence and happiness later in life. Because of this, breast milk is extremely high in DHA. But what about after breastfeeding?

The most plentiful sources of DHA are cold water fatty fish, like salmon and tuna. This can leave those wanting to raise their child on a vegetarian diet (or those who have a toddler who just doesn’t like fish!) in a tough place. Fortunately for vegetarian families, there are plenty of ways to ensure your toddler’s brain health if you prefer not to eat fish or use fish oil supplements.

While there are no common vegetarian sources of DHA, it is made in the body in small amounts during the breakdown of ALA, along with EPA. Many oils and seeds are plentiful in ALA – chia seed, flax, hempseed, walnuts, pecans, olive oil, and more. Because of this, most adult vegetarians and vegans have a low but steady level of DHA in their body.

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Image source: flickr user

For infants and toddlers with growing brains, they may need a little more. There is no established dietary reference intake for DHA specifically, but the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids suggests a total intake of 15 milligrams of DHA per pound of body weight in children over the age of 1. Many pediatricians recommend a DHA supplement for omnivorous and vegetarian children alike, as well as their pregnant and nursing mothers.

Vegetarians can take comfort in knowing that there are kid-friendly supplement options. Since fish get their DHA from algae, it is only natural that DHA supplements derived from algae have hit the market. Algal oil DHA has been found to be as effective as DHA from fish and is available in liquid and capsule form for kids of all ages.

All in all, for a healthy growing brain, make sure your toddler is getting at least one serving a day of oil or seeds high in omega-3s along with an appropriate algal oil supplement. Vegetarian moms-to-be and breastfeeding moms should also supplement with DHA for baby’s best start!

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Omega 3 Banana Avacado “Ice Cream” Recipe (Vegan)

Ingredients:

2 ripe frozen bananas
½ avocado
¼ cup pistachios
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Chop bananas into pieces a day or two ahead of time and place into freezer
2. If pistachios are still in shells, remove them
3. Place ingredients into a blender or food processor; blend until thick and creamy
4. Spoon mixture into bowl! If you would like it thicker, place it into the freezer for a couple hours after making
5. Top with well-ground up pistachios or flax seed for an extra boost of omega-3

Tip: This recipe can be modified to create a puree for little ones transitioning to solid foods, using just half a banana and half an avocado!

Written by: Amanda Dunham

Sources:
Omega-3 fatty acids: considering microalgae as a vegetarian source of EPA and DHA
Harvard Ask-the-Expert
Divine Glowing Health blog

A Wholesome Start: Vegetarian Toddler Nutrition

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A vegetarian diet can support the healthy growth of toddlers and preschoolers – if it is done right. Since these years are key when establishing eating habits for life, it’s important to give your toddler a solid foundation, especially if you choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Kids who can learn to appreciate and enjoy greens, fruit, and grains at a young age are going to be set up for a lifetime of solid eating choices.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,

Children raised on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes grow up to be slimmer and healthier and even live longer than their meat-eating friends. It is much easier to build a nutritious diet from plant foods than from animal products […] As for essential nutrients, plant foods are preferred sources because they provide sufficient energy and protein packaged with other health-promoting nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Below are some helpful tips and information of key nutrients that are important to remember when feeding your budding vegetarian.

image02Image credit – babble

Key Nutrients in a Vegetarian Diet:

Protein – found in beans and legumes, grains, tofu, tempeh and other fermented soy products, nuts and nut butters, dairy, eggs

As long as he is eating a good mix of greens, beans, and veggies, your toddler’s protein intake should be sufficient.

Vitamin D – fifteen minutes of playtime in the sun every day; also found in milk and fortified milk replacements

Calcium – found in green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, almonds and almond butter, milk and yogurt, calcium-set tofu, fortified milk substitutes (soy, coconut, almond), fortified orange juice

Iron – found in whole grains and cereals, dried fruits, beans and legumes, green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals

Try to pair plant-based foods containing iron with foods containing vitamin C (citrus, tomatoes, fruit, and more) as it promotes iron absorption!

Zinc – found in whole grains, nuts, beans, hard cheeses, tofu, fermented soy products

Vitamin B12 – eggs, dairy products, B12-fortified nutritional yeast, fortified milk replacements, fortified cereals

B12 is one of the few nutrients that isn’t easily found in a varied, wholesome plant-based diet, but is crucial for growth and development. If your toddler loves dairy, her B12 intake should be fine – if not, consider fortified foods or a supplement.

Fiber – found in whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, fruit, vegetables

We all know a diet high in fiber is good for adults, but it fills up small toddler tummies quickly and may cause children to feel full before eating enough. High fiber foods should also be high in calories, or try lower fiber foods like fruit.

Fats – found in nuts and nut butters, avocados, tofu, hummus, oils

Healthy fats are important for growth and brain development. Aim to provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (avocado, nut butters, tofu) and linoleic oil (canola, flaxseed, soy products).

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Helpful Tips:

The key to success with a vegetarian diet is mindfulness and planning!

Make every bite count – pack in plenty of protein, vitamins, and good fats.

Keep things fun by offering a variety of foods and introducing new ones frequently.

Toddlers are experts at mimicking. Make sure you’re eating your greens, too!

A well-balanced vegetarian diet contains things like nuts and fruit. Be sure to limit choking risk for toddlers by grinding nuts, halving or quartering grapes small fruits, and finely cutting vegetables and fruits – and of course, always supervise consumption of these foods!

Be sure to maintain regular checkups with your pediatrician, and listen to their recommendations.

Written by: Amanda Dunham

Sources:

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Vegan Society

Vegetarian Nutrition

Modern Mom

Grain Spotlight…Millet!

ImagePhoto credit: Michael Newman

If you’re from the United States, there’s a good chance you may not know what millet is–or if you do, maybe it’s because you’re familiar with its use as birdseed. However, even though it may be underrated in the US, millet is a nutritious cereal grain that actually serves as a staple in many other cultures around the world, and is gaining traction in health food stores and even some conventional grocery stores here.

There are many different types of millet that grow throughout Asia and Africa, with India and Nigeria serving as the biggest producers in the world. The crop does well in dry, hot regions, even in infertile soil, making it valuable in areas where other crops may be suffering from drought. Millet grains have even been found in Asian archaeological sites, with some dating back to 8300 BC!

The most common type of millet today is pearl millet, and many people with gluten sensitivities enjoy it as another gluten-free, alternative grain. The cooked texture is fluffy like rice with a similar flavor that adapts well to any other ingredients it may be cooked with. One cup of the cooked grains provides 23% of the daily value for manganese, 19% for magnesium, 17% for phosphorus, 2.3 grams of fiber, and 6.1 grams of protein!

Millet porridge is a common way to enjoy the grain, made by boiling one part millet grain to about three parts water, then letting the mixture simmer for about 25 minutes. Honey, vanilla, cinnamon, or fruit can then be added as well. To make a millet cereal for babies, use ground millet powder: mix 1/4 cup of ground millet with 1-2 cups of water and whisk thoroughly while heating to avoid clumps. For more flavor, add puréed fruits or veggies!

For older toddlers and the rest of the family, try this recipe for Slow Cooker Millet Cereal!

Ingredients (about 8 servings):

1 cup millet
1 quart water
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium apple, peeled and diced (or 1 cup applesauce)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Put all ingredients into the slow cooker/crock pot and stir. Cover, set the slow cooker on low heat, and cook overnight or for 8-9 hours.

Have you ever tried millet before? What are some of your favorite recipes?

Written by: Lauren Mesaros

Sources:
Recipe adapted from Mosher Products
Wholesome Baby Food
Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
Progress with Proso, Pearl and Other Millets
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of Americ

Eight Reasons to Bring Your Kids to the Farmers Market!

Image credit – Natalie Maynor

If you are looking for a fun family activity this weekend, what better place to go than your local farmers market? A trip to the farmers market is a great way to expose your children to new fruits and veggies while introducing them to the idea of eating locally grown seasonal ingredients. Each stand at the market is a hands-on classroom on new textures and tastes with farmers just waiting for inquisitive minds to talk to. Plus, kids are much more likely to try that winter squash if they learned about it and helped pick it out!

Here is a list of eight great reasons to bring your kids to the farmers market this fall:

1. Connecting with “real food”

We have a huge disconnect with our food in America. Break the cycle of processed, packaged food by reconnecting with whole foods at the farmers market. Show your child what a carrot really looks like, or where the corn in that can comes from!

 

2. Talking with farmers

A lot of people don’t know much about where their food comes from or how it is grown, especially if it is done using sustainable or organic methods. As mentioned above, most farmers are happy to field questions about their work and their produce! Farming is pretty amazing, so encourage your kids to ask questions. If you get a chance to discuss growing food with your child beforehand, have them make a list of questions they want to ask the farmer.

 

3. Teaching them how to be a good consumer

If your kids are old enough, give them a small sum to make their own purchases. This allows them to explore the decision process involved behind shopping wisely and will make them excited to try out their very own veggies later for dinner. If you have a toddler, let her give the money to the farmer!

 

4. Introducing new foods

Farmers markets are full of foods your child (or you!) has never seen before. Having such an interactive experience with these new foods makes kids more eager to try them. Combining the new foods with happy memories at the market is a great way to positively reinforce trying different foods. Create a farmers market hunt for your kids – try to find a purple vegetable or foods of different shapes.

 

5. Cooking at home

Cooking with toddlers or young kids can be a messy adventure. But it also cultivates awareness and skills that will help them later in life, as well as bring them closer to their food. If they get to help cook the food they just picked out, it’s even more exciting!

 

6. Learning about nutrition

A day at the farmers market is a great way to talk about nutrition concepts, even basic things like how nutrients can help you see or why it’s healthy to eat a variety of foods. Kids can begin to understand how whole foods are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as being tasty!

 

7. Family bonding time

Weekends are often busy and filled with errands and other obligations as well as family time. An afternoon trip to the farmers market is a great way to get in some quality time enjoying family and food! It may end up being a weekly tradition.

 

8. Experiencing the importance of community

 People from all over your community, no matter how big or small that is, visit the farmers market. Having your child interact with new faces and feel the connections between people is fantastic, no matter how old they are. Eating food grown in their community can also allow older kids to start thinking about the impacts their choices make on those in the area.

 

Ultimately, shopping at the farmers market is an opportunity to connect with your food and the people who grow it. The more you can expose your children to the idea of buying, preparing, and eating real, sustainably grown food, the better they are prepared to make great decisions about their meals and health in the future!


Image credit – Kyle Woollet/Brooks Institute

Farmers markets flourish most during summer and fall, but many are open throughout the winter and spring, offering great cool-weather veggies. To find your local farmers market, click here!

 

Written by Amanda Dunham

 

Sources: EatLocalGrown, Raising Kids With Love blog

Squash Spotlight: Butternut Squash!

Butternut squash soup
Photo credit: Veronique

Last week we featured a post about different kinds of fall and winter squash. This week we would like to highlight one in particular from that list, one of the most popular and versatile varieties mentioned: butternut squash!

Butternut squash, with its bright orange flesh full of carotenoids (a group of antioxidants), is an excellent source of Vitamin A–about 148% of your daily recommended intake for only half a cup! It’s also high in Vitamin C, fiber, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Plus its sweet, smooth, slightly nutty flavor makes it a winner for the tastebuds!

The tastiest butternut squash will feel heavy for its size and have a matte skin rather than a glossy skin. (A glossy skin is a sign of having been picked too early, and the flesh likely won’t be as sweet as a full-grown squash.) The squash can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to three months, while cut squash can stay fresh for about a week in the refrigerator if well wrapped. For a gourd with the most flesh, choose one with a long, thick neck. For slightly more beta-carotene content, pick one with skin more orange-colored than the rest.

Butternut squash can be prepared in many ways through roasting, toasting, puréeing, grilling, stuffing, or adding to casseroles or baked goods. In South African cuisine, butternut squash is commonly used in soups or grilled whole and seasoned with spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Another common method is roasting, simply by cutting the squash in half lengthwise, lightly brushing with oil, and placing cut side down onto a baking sheet to bake for about 45 minutes. The seeds can also even be roasted like pumpkin seeds.

Here’s a favorite way to enjoy butternut squash that even the littlest members of the family can eat! Smooth, creamy, easy Butternut Squash Soup!

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1-2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 (32 fl oz) container vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and squash for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. Pour in just enough vegetable stock to fully cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 40 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.

3. Pour soup from pot into a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot, then add as much of the leftover vegetable stock as needed to reach the desired consistency and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

What’s your favorite way to cook butternut squash? Share your tips in the comments below!

Written by: Lauren Mesaros

Sources:
Recipe adapted from Butternut Squash Soup II