Saturday, October 25, 2008

Exploding Eggplant!

I'm sure if you spend any time in the kitchen, you've had at least one major mess up or accident that made you laugh--if not at the moment, then later!

Well, recently I had such an event happen to me as I was grilling some eggplant. (It's been a common pastime for me lately as we've got a bumper crop of it in our garden and I grill it to make Baba Ganoush for my husband.) Anyway, I was grilling whole eggplants on one side of the grill and steak on the other. After using the fork to turn the steak, I nudged the eggplant over to it's other side.

And powey--it exploded on me! I am not making this up! It would have been worse had I been closer to the grill, but I did have pieces of cooked eggplant on my shirt, on my arm (ouch!) and in my hair! I screamed but only my dog Ginger appeared to notice, as she looked out the sliding glass door at me. So let this be a lesson to all you who grill eggplant (which by the way is a really tasty way to eat it!) Please use tongs and not a fork to move it around on the grill!

Monday, October 13, 2008

AAP says More Vitamin D for Babies and Children: YES!!

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new recommendation for vitamin D for children; increasing it to 400 IU per day, from the previous 200 IU. The details are in "Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents," at which recommends all children receive 400 IU a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life.

The recommendations include breastfed and non breastfed infants, older children and even some guidance for pregnant women:

  • Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life.

  • All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than one quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day.

  • Adolescents who do not obtain 400 IU of vitamin D per day through foods should receive a supplement containing that amount.

  • Children with increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those taking certain medications, may need higher doses of vitamin D.

"We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have life-long health benefits," said Frank Greer, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and co-author of the report. “Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone.”

My Take on Vitamin D:

There has been a buzz about Vitamin D among health professionals in the last few years. Research implies there is a serious epidemic of vitamin D deficiency--and according to, (a nonprofit dedicated to the mission of ending worldwide vitamin D deficiency) is implicated as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

The best source of vitamin D is sunshine--for adults and older children, that is. To give you an idea, 20-30 minutes of summer sun exposure causes your skin to produce 20,000 IU of vitamin D--comparatively, the most reliable food source--milk, contains 100 IU per cup. In our busy lives, many people hardly see the sun--and when they do, they are slathered with sunscreen, hats and shirts. Don't get my wrong--I've been just as afraid of skin cancer as the rest of us. But there's a big difference in spending hours in the sun unprotected and spending a few minutes.

In the past year, I've been foregoing sunscreen on my arms during my walks, 2-3 times per week. I live in a very sunny place--over 300 sun-filled days a year--and when I had my Vitamin D tested earlier this year, it was normal--but not in the super high range. People who live in higher latitudes, those who are overweight and those with dark skin need much more amount of time without sunscreen to yield the same amount of vitamin D. Those north of Atlanta, don't see much UV light in the winter, so even if they were to brave the elements bare-armed, their vitamin D production is basically zip.

The current RDI of 400 IU is seriously low, according to researchers, who recommend up to 5,000 IU for those who never see the sun. Those who are clinically deficient, as shown by blood testing, might be given a prescription for even more.

The AAP recommendation is a strong step in the right direction, but now we need new recommendations on the needs of adults. Until then, take your work break outside if it's sunny--especially if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant! And if you have any health problems and don't see much sun, are dark skinned or overweight, ask your Dr. to test your Vitamin D3 levels.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall in the Air? Try this Creamy Healthy Soup

Fall is in the air, at least here in Texas! Fall brings out the "cooking" side of me--I especially want to put on a pot of chili or soup, or make a batch of cookies. (Yes, dietitians really do eat cookies!)

My husband taught me a great and healthy way to make a creamy vegetable soup--it's a French blended soup. They tend to eat a lot more pureed soups and veggies in Europe than we do here.

Below you'll find a recipe for Basic Creamy Veggie soup from my book Baby Bites. The beauty of it is that you can use virtually any veggie or combo of veggies you feel like--including the bits of leftover veggies in your fridge that you're wondering what to do with!! The colors of the soup vary--from orange to bright green to brown, depending on what you put in them. (I love spinach-carrot or butternut squash-apple) For a nice presentation, swirl a little plain yogurt or sour cream on the top, and float a few croutons.

Basic Creamy Veggie Soup

Yield: about 8 cups (2 liters)

2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) any raw vegetable,
chopped into 1-inch pieces
(smaller for faster cooking) Some vegetables
that work well are asparagus,
broccoli and carrots, spinach and
carrots, and spinach, broccoli, and

1 pound (500 grams) new potatoes,
peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 to 3 cups (500 to 750 milliliters) liquid
such as cooking liquid, soymilk, rice
milk, breast milk, or formula (If your
baby is one year or older, you can use
whole milk.)

1 to 2 ounces soft pasteurized cheese,
such as cream cheese or Laughing
Cow (optional)

1. Time the cooking of the vegetables
and potatoes according to the vegetables
you use. (For example,
spinach cooks quicker than the
potatoes, so you’d need to start
cooking the potatoes first, then add
the spinach.) Cook in a minimal
amount of liquid until vegetables
and potatoes are tender.

2. Purée in batches in a blender,
adding liquid as needed. If you like,
add cheese while puréeing.

3. Pour soup back in pan and stir to
mix all batches. Reheat if needed.

Excerpted from Baby Bites: Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Babies and Toddlers in One Handy Book


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Toddler Teeth: Keeping Those Pearly Whites Cavity Free!

Tooth decay has been increasing in toddler teeth--a trend that has dentists worry that they may also have a likelihood of more lifelong tooth decay.

Until 2004, the prevalence of tooth decay in toddlers aged 2-5 had dropped, but a study released in 2007 showed that it's now increasing. Experts suspect the increase in tooth decay is from too much sugar in the diet. Some toddlers have a steady stream of juice, juice drinks and milk flowing over the teeth during the day--in essence creating a "sugar bath" that is prime plaque making material. Below are some tips to keep toddler teeth healthy and cavity free:

  • Brush after every meal and snack. Getting kids into this healthy habit can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth.
  • Limit sweet drinks--like juice as well as juice drinks, etc. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests toddlers limit their juice drinking to 4-6 ounces per day.
  • Don't put baby into bed with a bottle of milk, formula, breast milk or juice.
  • Especially watch out for drinks that have a combination of added sugar and citric acid--like sports drinks, enhanced waters and lemonade, for example.
  • Toddlers should visit their dentist regularly--starting at one year.
  • When teeth start touching, start flossing!

Give Your Child These Tooth Friendly Snacks:

  • Crunchy raw fruit and vegetables, like carrots and celery (if they are too hard to chew, steam slightly to avoid a choking hazard.)
  • Cheese
  • Nuts and nut butters (again a choking hazard for kids under 5)
  • Make water the drink of choice at snack time-or make a juice spritzer by adding plain club soda to juice.
  • Always brush teeth after eating and drinking caloric drinks.