Friday, August 26, 2011

Foodie Friday: Blackberry Sorbet

Blackberry Sorbet
I'm a sucker for a homemade dessert because I love knowing exactly what goes into it.  So when I saw a recipe for a simple homemade blackberry sorbet from Nourished Kitchen, I could not refuse to try it.  Blackberries are still in season, so this is a great use for them.  I think this quick and easy dessert is sure to cool you down during these dog days of summer.  It's also going to please the taste buds with its perfectly tart berry flavor.  Blackberries are a fantastic source of fiber, vitamins C, K, and manganese, so this one is also nourishing.  My kids even love eating plain frozen blackberries as a snack, so you may even give that a try, too.  Enjoy!

Blackberry Sorbet

{Print this recipe}
4 cups blackberries, frozen
2-3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup honey (optional)

1.  Thaw the blackberries for about 15-20 minutes.

Thaw the frozen blackberries for 15-20 minutes.

2.  Place the blackberries, water, and honey, if using, into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to break up the berries a bit.  Then process until smooth.
Place all ingredients into the food processor.
3.  Serve immediately.  (Note:  Nourished Kitchen suggests that this may be frozen for a few hours, if soft, stirring periodically to prevent ice crystals from forming.  However, I haven't tried this.)

The finished blackberry sorbet
Serves:  8
Nutritional Information, including honey:
Calories:  80   Carbohydrate:  20.5 g   Protein:  1 g   Fat:  0.3 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg   Fiber:  4 g   Sugar:  17 g  (6 g added)  Sodium:  1 mg

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to school: Why breakfast is essential

Breakfast -- a back-to-school essential
Backpack? Check!  Pencils?  Check!  Loose-leaf paper? Check!  Breakfast?  If you're a parent getting your student ready to go back to school soon, then you may want to consider adding breakfast to the checklist of back-to-school necessities.  A daily breakfast will help prepare your child for school in many ways that books, pencils, and papers cannot.  So before shuttling your children out the door and onto the classroom, check out these 5 reasons that breakfast is essential to your student's health and well-being.

Reason #1:  Better academic performance
Without breakfast, some children may go for up to 18 hours before their next meal.  A nutritious breakfast will provide the fuel and nutrients that your child's brain needs for better memory and focus during school.  Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better academically than their breakfast-skipping peers.  It appears that consuming breakfast may help with numerous skills, such as math, reading, and memory.  Not only has breakfast consumption been tied to enhanced test scores, but it has also been associated with better attendance and punctuality.

Reason #2:  Better nutritional intake
Breakfast contributes significantly to the overall energy, vitamins and minerals that children need to sustain their scholastic activities, especially in the morning.  Studies link student breakfast consumers with more nutritionally adequate diets that are higher in nutrients, such as protein, calcium, iron, fiber, and vitamins A and C.  On the other hand, breakfast skippers tend to have lower intakes of nutritious foods, like vegetables and fruits.

Reason #3:  Better psychosocial health and behavior
Breakfast consumption among students has been associated with improvements in psychosocial health, which involves the way a child thinks, feels, or interacts with others.  The affect seems to be most apparent among those students with poorer nutritional status or with low nutrient intakes.  Progress with behavior, such as hyperactivity, has also been observed.

Reason #4:  Healthier weight
Most, but not all, studies have reported that children who are overweight tend to skip breakfast more frequently than children who are at healthy weights.  In fact, adolescents who regularly consumed breakfast or who increased their consumption of breakfast maintained better weight control in long-term studies.  Researchers propose several theories about how regular breakfast consumption promotes healthier body weights, including improved appetite regulation, enhanced diet quality, and reduced calorie intake.

Reason #5:  Development and maintenance of a lifelong health habit
Studies have shown that children who skip breakfast are more likely to become adults who skip breakfast.  In fact, breakfast skipping appears to increase with age, so it's important to help children establish the habit while they're young.  Routine breakfast intake during adulthood has been associated with positive benefits, such as improved weight control, fewer cardiovascular risk factors, and improved memory.

You now may be asking whether or not the types of foods included in breakfast matter when it comes to child health and performance, and the answer is a resounding YES!  Stay tuned for a follow-up post answering this question.  Thank you for reading!

What benefits have you noticed about breakfast consumption for your children?

Photo credit:  qwrrty via Flickr

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

8 fresh and refreshing ways to hydrate

I've worked with many clients who find meeting their fluid needs challenging because they just don't like plain water.  While I don't have a problem drinking plain water myself, I get it.  Food and beverage companies get this.  That's why you see an entire aisle in the grocery store solely dedicated to selling a variety of flavored waters or water flavor enhancers.  In fact, research suggests that palatable water actually stimulates more fluid intake.  While these products could get you drinking water, they may be loaded with liquid calories or unnecessary additives, not to mention they can be costly.  While it might be easier just to throw that whole water thing out the window, we just can't.  The body needs it since most of it is made up of water. Plus, water has so many valuable functions in the body from transporting oxygen and nutrients to the cells to temperature regulation.  Sometimes our bodies actually need more water, like when it's hot or humid out or when we're active or sick.  So, when I'm working with someone who dislikes plain water, we definitely spend some time coming up with ideas on how to meet fluid needs in spite of their distaste for water. We ultimately end up with some inexpensive and fun ideas like those below that will boost fluid intake without busting the calorie or financial budget.

Have you tried any of these?  Would you?  What would you add to the list?

Citrus:  Citrus is a great way to add a little tart, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor to your water.  You'll also get a little dose of immune-supporting vitamin C and fiber, if you actually eat the sliced fruit.  Here's a Spa Water recipe that incorporates several kinds of citrus fruits.

Cucumber:  Often served in water in Asian restaurants, cucumber adds a light and fresh taste to water.  Those cool cucumber slices could be used afterward to manage eye puffiness.  Check out this Refreshing Lemon-Cucumber Water recipe.

Mint:  Mint adds a soothing, cool flair to water.  Peppermint, in particular, has been used for easing tummy troubles, like bloating.  The oils in mint have also exhibited antimicrobial and antifungal properties, too.  Infuse this into your water, and you'll definitely feel like you've gotten the spa treatment.  Try this Cool Cucumber and Mint Water.  

Melon:  Watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe add the perfect lightly sweet flavor to water.  Eat what you don't use, and you'll load up on more water since melons are very high in water content.  Try this Cucumber Melon Spa Water.

Berries:  Try raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries or mix and match your favorites.  With a hint of sweetness, berry-infused waters are sure to please the taste buds.  Berries pair well with citrus fruits and/or herbs, like mint or basil.

Apples:  Apples work in sangria, so why not in water, too?  With so many varieties of apples, not only will your water taste good, but it will look amazing, too!  Sample this Orange and Green Apple Spa Water.  

Rosemary:  This aromatic herb will definitely beautify your water and your body with its immune stimulating and anti-inflammatory properties.  Give this Herb-infused Spa Water a shot. 

Ginger:  Added to many Asian dishes, fragrant and spicy ginger will definitely spruce up your water.  Ginger is well known for its ability to comfort a distressed gastrointestinal tract.  It also exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Try out this Cucumber-Ginger Water.      

Photo credits: skippyjon, JaredFrazer, xavi talleda,, sushiina, delphaber, ndrwfgg, Crystl via Flickr 

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