5 Healthy Kid Trends to Try in 2016

Feeding your kids is always a challenge. Feeding them healthy food that’s easy for you to make and fun for them to eat is the Holy Grail of parenting. Luckily, the top five food trends for kids this year fit all of those criteria. “These foods are fun, but not because they have tons of sugar or artificial fluorescent colors,” says Kate Geagan, M.S., RDN, author of Go Green, Get Lean.

1. Spiralized Vegetables (pictured at top)
Whether you use them as a snack or serve them as a pasta substitute, it’s a great way to get your kids more excited about eating their veggies. Zucchini, yellow squash and sweet potato all make great pasta alternatives served with tomato sauce. Try spiralizing other vegetables — like beets, carrots or cucumbers — as a snack or side dish.

2. Mason-Jar Meals
These multilevel concoctions hold a lot of visual appeal for kids. “They love that they can see all the layers and help build their meal,” says Geagan. “Literally any meal can be made more fun if you put it in a Mason jar!” She suggests trying breakfast parfaits or salads (add a lid and let your child shake all the ingredients together before eating). One caveat: Look for mini Mason jars to create the right-size portions for little tummies.

3. Breakfast for Dinner
The trick to making this meal swap work is to come up with creative ways to work in veggies. “Vegetables are often lacking at breakfast, but if you eat breakfast for dinner they should comprise about half the plate,” says Geagan. Think about mixing shredded or bite-size pieces of peppers, broccoli, carrots or zucchini into omelets or frittatas, topping eggs with a vegetable-rich salsa and avocado slices, or making savory pancakes that include shredded or even pureed veggies.

4. Muffin-Pan Entrees
Anything you can make in a casserole dish can also be made into fun, individual-sized muffins. Good options include frittatas, meatloaf and lasagna. They can even be made ahead and sent to school for lunches all week long.

5. Energy Balls
Energy bars can be too big — and pack too many calories, and too much fat and added sugar — to make a good kid’s snack. But raw energy balls — packed with nutrient-dense ingredients like dates, cocoa powder, coconut and almond flour — are the perfect grab-and-go size for small hands.

Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.

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Should You Eat Bugs?

Insects like crickets, mealworms, ants and caterpillars are being touted as one of the hottest culinary trends. Should these crawly critters be part of your diet?

Nutrition Facts
Many insects contain a plentiful dose of protein, plus some healthy carbs and fat. Two tablespoons of cricket flour (available online and in some health food stores) contains 55 calories and more than 7 grams of protein; it also contains vitamin B12 and minerals like iron and zinc.

The Hype
While insect consumption is more common in some countries, it’s a relatively new phenomenon in the U.S. But here in the States, bugs are finding their way into everything from granola bars to candy to tortilla chips.

Some of the pros surrounding this trend are the nutrient profile and the sustainable cultivation of insects. When compared to more mainstream protein sources like beef and chicken, insect farming has a much less significant environmental impact, making insects an even more appealing food source to those with the environment in mind. A 200-page paper published in 2013 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identified insects as a possible answer to food insecurity worldwide.

On the other hand, Americans might not be ready to dive into bug munching. There are an increasing number of products entering the marketplace, but due to the low supply, the price tag is still pretty high compared to insect-free versions. There’s also the unavoidable “ick” factor of embracing the concept of eating something most of us are only accustomed to swatting with a newspaper.

Bottom Line
Edible insects and foodstuffs containing them are becoming more widely available. If you’re interested in giving them a try, they do have some nutrition to offer. There’s no need to bug out if bugs aren’t your thing — there are plenty of other nutritious high-protein foods to choose from.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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Foodie New Year “Cleanse”

If you want to give your eating habits a good kick in the pants, now’s a good time to begin. After a season of excess, it’s nice to start January on a healthy note. But if you expect that to mean pallid plates of baked chicken and steamed vegetables, you’ve come to the wrong place. Instead, we have a weekly plan that includes suggestions for healthy, flavorful meals you can cook each week.

We’re going to emphasize vegetables (half your plate should have veggies or some fruit), whole grains (oats, brown rice, millet, etc.) and a variety of lean proteins (fish twice a week, one vegetarian dinner a week). Also, you might want to consider limiting alcohol and caffeine, and drinking more water (64 ounces or more a day). Here’s a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners to get you started.

Breakfast
Berry-Oatmeal Bake (pictured above)
Whole-Grain Breakfast Porridge
Banana and Walnut Smoothie
Kale and Tomato Eggs Benedict
Skillet Eggs with Squash
Whole-Wheat Apple Pancakes
Avocado Toasts

Lunch
Asian Chicken and Quinoa Salad (pictured above)
Lentil Vegetable Soup
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Veggie-Stack Pita Pockets
Crab and Avocado Salad
Spicy Chard Soup
Protein Lunch Box

Dinner
Lighter Shrimp Scampi (pictured above)
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos
Pan-Seared Salmon with Kale and Apple Salad
Sirloin with Teriyaki Broth
Healthy Farro Fried “Rice”
Stuffed Chicken Divan
Sweet and Sour Chicken

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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Produce Picks: Cauliflower

A popular substitute for starchy and gluten-heavy foods, cauliflower is an unsung superfood! As a member of the cruciferous-vegetable family (think kale, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli), cauliflower has significant levels of glucosinolates, which break down to form chemicals that may ward off cancer. Mom may have been onto something when she reminded you to eat your broccoli.

Nutrients:

One cup of raw cauliflower contains 27 kilocalories, 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein, and is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and potassium. It is also a good source of riboflavin, thiamin, magnesium, niacin and phosphorous.

Textures and Flavors:

Cauliflower is versatile in both its raw and cooked forms. Its nutty flavor is strongest in its raw state, which means it pairs well with savory dishes, as well as with fruits and spices like dates and cinnamon. Once it’s cooked, its texture is smooth, buttery and rich. Blanched and pickled with other vegetables, it makes a light, crunchy and tangy relish called giardiniera that is used as a spread on beef sandwiches. Substituting cooked cauliflower for potatoes in creamy soups cuts carbs and adds flavor, while pizza crusts and breadstick doughs have been successfully substituted with a cauliflower-and-egg mixture to create a crunchy, nutty, gluten-free option.

Food Pairings:

Cauliflower + mixed vegetables (carrots, onions, cabbage, peppers) + red pepper flakes + vinegar

Cauliflower + cream + nutmeg + Gruyère cheese

Cauliflower + turmeric + Sriracha + lime

Cauliflower + other root veggies (e.g., carrots, parsnips, winter squash) + roasted with olive oil and garlic or rosemary

Cauliflower + dates/raisins + cinnamon

Cauliflower + cream + lemon juice + celery + bacon + Parmesan

Cauliflower + red peppers + tomatoes + capers + roasted with olive oil

Recipes:

Cauliflower Roasted Steaks with Raisin Relish
Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower Couscous
Roasted Cauliflower Lasagna
Roasted Italian Cauliflower
Spicy Cauliflower Stir-Fry
Sicilian-Style Cauliflower with Whole-Wheat Pasta
Baked Cauliflower Tots
Healthy Cauliflower Rice
Buffalo Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Sauce

Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.

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7 Ways to Jump-Start Your New Year’s Resolutions

Losing weight and getting healthy isn’t something that happens once a year — it’s something that should last a lifetime. Instead of waiting until January 1 to start planning your healthy eating resolutions, start doing these seven things today.

1. Jot Down Your List of Goals
Most long-term goals are to lose a certain number of pounds. However, how you’ll achieve your goal is by setting short-term goals. It’s very important to establish these short-term benchmarks and achieve different ones every few weeks. Short-term goals should be realistic. For example, if you think you’ll never eat chocolate again, you may want to rethink that goal, especially if chocolate is your weakness. Goals should also be positive. Instead of telling yourself what you won’t eat, focus on what you will eat. For example, “I will eat a fruit during at least one snack time each day.”

2. Do Your Research
Don’t start your New Year’s resolutions with a blind eye. Take the time to research foods, recipes, diet plans and any tool you may want to purchase. All the wacky weight-loss miracle cures start coming out of the woodwork after January 1, so be sure you don’t fall for ones that are dangerous or just don’t work.

3. Enlist a Friend
It’s much easier to stay accountable if you do it along with someone else. Whether it’s a spouse or a friend, you can help motivate each other and pick each other up when you fall off the wagon. You can also hit the gym together and cook together — it just makes things more fun.

4. Create a Motivational Mantra
You’re going to have a bad day. Most people do, and it’s OK. When you’re down about your weight or the way you’ve been eating, it’s important to pick yourself up. Having a motivational saying that you repeat to yourself can help inspire you and put you back on track again. Hang the mantra on your fridge or on your bathroom mirror — anywhere you can see it every day or when you need a pick-me-up.

5. Determine How to Measure Success
There are many ways you can determine if you’re losing weight and meeting your short-term goals. Many apps are now available to help you, including My Fitness Pal, Fooducate, FitBit and LoseIt.

6. Purchase Your Tools
If your goal is to drink 8 cups of water daily, you may want to purchase a reusable water bottle to tote with you. Perhaps your goal is to take a daily walk after dinner; then you may need to purchase a new pair of sneakers. Now is the time to purchase whatever you will need to follow through with your goals. It’s also right around Christmas, so you’ll find many items on sale.

7. Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Perhaps you need a little help from a professional to help jump-start your healthy eating or weight-loss plan. You can find a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) in your area on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website (www.eatright.org). Scroll down on the home screen and you’ll see a red arrow that says “Find an expert” and click on “search now.” Many even take health insurance, so be sure to ask.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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8 Healthy Food Trends to Look for in 2016

Food trends come and go. While many are fabulous, others make you scratch your head in disbelief. The healthy food trends forecast for 2016 were created to help fit into your hectic lifestyle and also enjoy indulgences (in moderation, of course). Here’s what you’ll be seeing in the upcoming year.

1. Finer Fast Food
Fast-food fare will be getting a makeover. Some new quick-service joints will be serving up delicious food with good-for-you ingredients at a reasonable cost. Better sandwiches, healthier burgers, falafel, grain bowls and tacos are all on the menu. Think places like BareBurger, Freshii and B. Good.

2. Front-Door Delivery
You will now be able to get pretty much anything delivered to your front door by using new apps. With a touch of a button, you can have groceries, meal prep, prepared meals and takeout delivered. Even food trucks will make house calls to deliver fresh food right to you. Many will also cater to healthy-eating preferences like paleo, vegan and local fare.

3. #Plantstrong
It’s forecast to be the year of plant protein and vegetarianism. You’ll see all types of foods made from beans, peas, lentils and nuts. There already has been a huge explosion of bean and lentil chips, but more are on the way! Chia is another ingredient you’ll be finding in your snack foods.

4. Decreasing Food Waste
About one-third of the American food supply goes into the trash. Restaurants, chefs and home cooks are looking for ways to minimize food waste. “Ugly” fruit and veggies will even make it to a prominent spot on your table — those are the fruits and veggies that are not pretty enough to show up in your grocery store’s produce aisle.

5. Kids in the Kitchen
Cooking is part of everyday life for youngsters (not something that only Mom does), and there will be more cooking shows geared toward the entire family. You’ll be seeing kids cooking side-by-side with adult chefs, as well as pint-sized food critics doing reviews and kids attending cooking camp.

6. Visual Recipes
Recipes are getting made over into pictures, Vine recipes and Instagram video recipes. You’ll also start seeing books combining recipes with essays, music or even comics.

7. Hawaiian and Tropical Food
Mai tais and pina coladas are making a comeback, along with other rum-based cocktails. Dishes with pineapples, plantains, guava and lots of coconut will be on restaurant menus. You’ll see some of the retro dishes, but also lots of creative spins.

8. Puckery Foods
The bold flavors of astringent and puckery foods will be front and center. Think greener coffees, pomegranate, unripe fruit, walnuts and Sichuan peppercorns. Sour beer will also be popular, especially since fermentation and wild yeast were very popular last year.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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9 New Year’s Resolution Diet Mistakes You’re Already Making

Don’t be duped by bad diet advice. To achieve optimum health in the new year, steer clear of these diet don’ts, and stick with our advice on what to do.

Going on a Diet
This implies you’ll sometime go off the diet. Diets don’t work because of this on/off mentality. Many people actually gain back the weight they lost — and then some — after they stop their diet. Instead, find a diet — i.e., a way of eating — that you can live with.

Cutting Out Food Groups
The healthiest “diets” are ones with a variety of whole foods. When you nix entire groups of food (dairy, grains, fruit, etc.) you can potentially set yourself up for nutritional deficiencies as well as an unhealthy way of thinking about food.

Eating Too Few Calories
If cutting calories helps you lose weight, cutting a lot of calories must help you lose more weight, right? Wrong. When your calorie intake goes too low, your weight loss can actually slow. That’s because your body’s “starvation mode” kicks in — slowing your metabolism and hanging on to energy (ahem, fat) for dear life.

Eating Fake Foods
The healthiest way to eat (and lose weight), bar none, is going to be to retrain your palate to eat good, whole, “real” foods. “Lite” diet foods are often loaded with fake sugars and filler ingredients that won’t leave you feeling satisfied in the way “real” fiber- and protein-rich food will.

Letting Someone Else Be the Expert on Your Body
I get it; if you feel like you have weight to lose, it’s hard to trust yourself … because you’re the one who put the weight on in the first place. But by putting your trust in diet books, you’re ignoring the person who knows your body the best: you. Chances are if you eat when you’re bored, stressed or sad, or you feel uncomfortably full after eating, or you eat vegetables as an afterthought (if at all), you’re not really paying attention to you, the expert.

Putting Food Into “Good” and “Bad” Categories
For a sustainable “diet” (a way of eating long-term), all foods need to be on the table. The key is to make the bulk of your diet healthy — lots of vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and smaller amounts of healthy carbs (fruit, whole grains, starchy vegetables) — so that when you want to have a doughnut or a whole-milk latte or a piece of really good cheese, there’s room for it.

Setting Overly Broad Goals
“Lose weight” is not the best goal. How much do you want to lose, by when, and, most importantly, what are the sub-goals, i.e. actionable, measurable steps? One example: “Eat five servings of vegetables each day this week.”

Getting Swayed by Healthy-Sounding Foods
Salads are not always the healthiest options. Likewise, foods with virtuous-sounding labels, like “vegetarian,” “organic” and “local” are not always the healthiest or lowest-calorie choices. Be a smart consumer by looking up nutrition facts for the chains you go to frequently, and get some basic nutrition education so you can get a better idea of what’s in your food.

Skipping Meals
Eat every three to four hours to keep your metabolism revved. When you skip meals, that slows your metabolism down and also makes you extra hungry when you do eat, priming you to overeat.

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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