National Nutrition Month ® 2017 theme “Put your best fork forward” remind us that each bite counts and invites us to cook more at home. Considering that home cooked meals are usually healthier, teaching kids how to cook becomes a life saving skill we can help develop. The benefits of involving kids in the kitchen are short and long term: it helps broaden their palate, cultivates an appreciation for real ingredients, builds math skills and develops confidence. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I have great memories of my mom and I cooking together and I’m now passing down the tradition to my 4-year old daughter. Parents may be afraid that cooking with kids will just mean more mess and more time. So, here are some tips to help parents get started:
1. Plan ahead and start small. You may need more time when cooking with kids, especially at the beginning and with younger kids. Choose one meal per week for which a child can be kitchen helper. Invite kids to be part of the recipe and ingredient selection. You may want to start with an easy side dish or dessert.
2. Find doable, age-appropriate tasks. It varies from child to child, but the following are some of the tasks they might be able to do at different stages:
2-to 3-years old: mixing and pouring ingredients, stirring and mashing, washing and drying produce, picking fresh herb leaves off stems and ripping them into small pieces, tearing up lettuce, peeling fruit with hands (tangerines, bananas), kneading dough, brushing oil with a pastry brush.
4- to 5-years old: all of the above plus cracking eggs, using a pepper grinder, measuring dry and wet ingredients, decorating cookies.
6- to 7-years old: all of the above plus whisking, grating, peeling, dicing and mincing fruits and vegetables (with supervision), greasing pans, shape patties and meatballs, plating.
8- to 9- years old: continue with the above tasks or decide if they are ready to take on more sophisticated tasks to follow an entire recipe and cook on a stove with supervision.
10- to 12- years old and up: after assessing how careful they are with heat, sharp tools and food safety, they might be able to work independently in the kitchen with an adult in the house.
3. Accept that not all children like to cook. In this case, they can help grabbing ingredients, washing produce, setting and clearing up the table, tasting dishes for seasoning. Their curiosity and interest in the kitchen may change over time.
4. Safety is a priority. An adult should always supervise cooking until you are certain that your child is old enough to handle the responsibility. Part of cooking with kids is teaching them kitchen and food safety.
5. Consider this experience as an investment! These mini chefs are more likely to eat what they made and become more audacious in trying new foods. Plus, by the age of 12 they can help prepare dinner before you get home. And by the time they leave home, you’ll feel good knowing they don’t need to rely on delivered or frozen dinners.
From South America: 4 facts you need to know about Peruvian Maca
A friend of mine asked me: “Is it good to take maca? ..the vendor at the healthy food store said it has a lot of benefits”. Even though I practice in South America, I just said the truth: “I don´t know!” and started to look for some evidence. If you -just like me- didn´t know about maca, here you have the facts:
Every May and in many countries, celiac disease associations gather efforts to increase awareness about celiac disease and to educate the public about early diagnosis and the gluten free diet, its only treatment (that has to be planned by an expert dietitian)
In Argentina, Celiac Disease Day is celebrated on May 5th
In Uruguay and Chile, Celiac Disease Day in on May 6th
In Europe is on May 16th (in Spain is on May 20th), while in the United Kindom Coeliac Disease Week is on May 11-14th.
In the US, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, puts together lots of free resources from e-cooking books to live webinars.
A recent article, “Applying the Precautionary Principle to Nutrition and Cancer” (Gonzales, 2014), was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition with guidelines for eating and cancer prevention. What is new about the report is the recommendation to limit or avoid milk and dairy products as part of a more plant based diet to prevent cancer. The evidence comes from the 2007 report of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) and other evidence sources published after the WCRF/AICR report. The authors say that people cannot wait for evidence based consensus and that families have to act now on the best available evidence. So, they developed 6 dietary principles (see box) in which evidence of dietary influence in cancer risk is substantial, even if not conclusive. The report lists 6 guidelines that recommend eating more vegetables and fruits, more soy products, little or no alcohol, little or no dairy and red meats and avoidance of meat that has been fried, grilled or broiled.
SUGGESTED DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR CANCER PREVENTION*:
1. Limiting or avoiding dairy products may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
2. Limiting or avoiding alcohol may reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, and breast.
3. Avoiding red and processed meat may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
4. Avoiding grilled, fried, and broiled meats may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas. In this context, meat refers to red meat, poultry, and fish.
5. Consumption of soy products during adolescence may reduce the risk of breast cancer arising in adulthood. Soy products may also reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer.
6. Emphasizing fruits and vegetables in your diet will likely reduce the risk of several common forms of cancer.
* Note that this review specifies suggested dietary guidance in which evidence of a dietary influence on cancer risk is substantial, but not necessarily conclusive
It is not new that there are many advocates for a diet that totally excludes dairy products –milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter- arguing that this helps to stop cancer cells from growing, especially hormone-related cancers such as prostate, testicle and ovarian cancer (see the Milk article in the latest FNM). But, what says the evidence? Studies that investigate a link between dairy and cancer are inconclusive. Some research shows an increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer (Li-Qiang Qin 2009), while others show possible protective role of dairy products on colorectal cancer risk (Murphy, 2013). And, consumption of dairy products has not been identified as a risk factor for breast or other types of cancer (Pala, 2009).
Despite evidence limitations, when it comes to milk and dairy, the article published in the JACN suggest: “Limiting or avoiding dairy products may reduce the risk of prostate cancer”. It was found that eating 35 grams of dairy protein (more than 4 cups of milk) increases the risk of prostate cancer by 32%. It´s believed that the mechanism to increase prostate cancer risk is the ability of a large oral calcium dose to suppress vitamin D activation and the tendency of milk to increase serum insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) concentrations.
The authors acknowledge disadvantages of this recommendation and suggest eating other sources of calcium (leafy vegetables, legumes, and calcium-fortified foods). As a food and nutrition professional, I believe that the recommendation of limiting dairy for cancer prevention can be risky and confusing for the press and for the public, specially, because dairy products are the main dietary source of calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health and may even prevent colon cancer. I think that, for now, we should focus on a total diet approach and recommend a healthy, well balanced diet (with more than 5 serving of fruits and vegetables daily). Calcium should be part of that diet, and milk is an important source of calcium.
This August is going to be the first ever Kids Eat Right month, a national educational and action campaign promoted by Kids Eat Right (KER) from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Coincidence or not, in some countries of the world like Argentina, Uruguay, Perú and Paraguay, Children´s Day is recognized the second Sunday of August to honor children. What a great idea to celebrate this month with healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for children and families, offering simple steps to help families cook healthy, eat right and shop smart. The Academy has developed information resources to share with family, schools, community leaders and dietitians. We all have a role in ensuring a healthy future for our children. Find out all of these resources
· Parents and Kids
· Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
· Community Leaders and Groups
You can also volunteer in many ways for this campaign and don´t forget to follow KER on social media!
Soccer teams are now in Brazil playing the 2014 FIFA World Cup, one of the most important sport events worldwide. Here in Argentina, it means more than a sportive event. The whole country paralyzes, people literally stop working to watch the games (while eating not very healthy snacks…) The most exciting part of the World cup starts today with the best 16 teams (Argentina, Argelia, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, USA, Suiza, Honduras, Brazil, France, Mexico, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Costa Rica, Nigeria). Now, elite players prepare to play each game at maximum pace with not much time between games to recover. Diet may have its biggest impact in this phase.
Getting the right amount of energy to perform well is key, says FIFA on a nice nutrition segment of its website. Each team has people that carefully choose the right foods and fluids for players to eat during training, pre and post game and for recovery. A good diet can help support consistent intensive training while limiting the risks of illness or injury. That’s why many teams have dietitians or nutritionists on their delegations. For instance, USA´s team coach Jürgen Klinsmann has Danielle LaFata, MS, RD, balancing the high calorie needs of athletes with healthy eating. Klinsmann himself models healthy eating by emphasizing organic and local varieties of whole foods in his own diet. “He’s very involved,” team dietitian Danielle LaFata said to the Associated Press. “I think he’s more nutrition conscious than myself sometimes.” The US soccer team is urged to eat more fruits and vegetables and goes through a case of avocado each day! Meanwhile, Italy´s team nutritionist Elisabetta Orsi, emphazises a tricolor diet: “Pasta is our preferred fuel, and before matches we play with the tricolore: pasta with parmesano (white), prosciutto (red) and extra virgin olive oil (green), our natural medicine brought from Italy”, said Elisabetta to the Corriere dello Sport. But, unfortunately Italy couldn´t do it to this round of the Cup and were sent home. Lastly, according to the AFA website, Argentina´s delegation in Brazil does not have a dietitian in the team. They have chef and a kitchen assistant. They are not fueling on alfajores anymore... The New York Times reported that, Lio Messi used to be rewarded alfajores for scoring goals when was a kid. Now, Argentine players’ diet is based on carbs (pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice), proteins (grilled meats like chicken, fish and beef) and vegetables (like broccoli, asparagus, spinach and green beans). For dessert, seasonal fruits and queso y dulce (an Argentinean dessert made of cheese and dulce de batata which is a sweet potato hard jam). All foods are local (Brazil) except from dulce de leche and dulce de batata that were brought from Argentina. What about the Argentinean asado? They eat this typical Argentinean barbecue while in Brazil but without organ meats. And, I suppose mate is present too!
At this stage of the Cup, the margin between victory and defeat is small. Attention to detail can make that vital difference. Maybe we can learn from players to chose foods (our fueling) more wisely to “perform” better in our life. See the FIFA nutrition booklet here and:
From the Academy Website: U.S. Men’s National Team Dietitian Fuels Performance:
Proper hydration. Even the slightest dehydration will impact performance. Playing soccer in Brazil's hot and humid weather increases fluid needs, and players may require as much as 10 liters per day. Electrolyte beverages, fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies contribute to a player's hydration needs. All contain vital nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, which are lost in sweating.
Food first. In a sports world of heavy supplementing, Team USA's goal is to get their primary fuel from nutrient-rich foods. If needed, supplementing is customized for the individual, but food always comes first. An example of a meal three to four hours prior to a game would include whole grain pasta with Bolognese sauce, chicken breast, grilled asparagus, watermelon and pineapple.
Post workout eating. In order to minimize muscle soreness and maximize muscle recovery, post workout smoothies with the right amount of protein and carbohydrates are given after workouts within 30 to 45 minutes. One post-workout snack LaFata makes for the team includes 25 grams of whey protein mixed with water and 1½ bananas.
80/20 principle. Athletes should eat highly nutritious foods including lean proteins, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent can be other foods that might be higher in fat and sugar. Team USA has their "20-percent meal" 24 to 48 hours after a game. After that, it's back to fit eating.
High nutrition with healthy fats. Players achieve high calorie needs by blasting their diet with a variety of plant-based foods while also adding healthy fats through nuts, seeds and olive or canola oils. The higher the calorie needs, the more generous you can be with healthy fats.
Healing foods for injuries. Team USA has dealt with their share of injuries at the World Cup. For injury recovery, LaFata recommends emphasizing whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, quinoa and wild rice. Other injury recovery foods include fatty fish, green leafy vegetables and legumes.
To culminate this NNM, themed Enjoy the taste of healthy eating, I´d like to share two aspects of Argentina´s food culture: family meals and simplicity:
In Argentina, we usually take the time to sit and have a meal. In the big cities, many people have lunch at work but they do share the other mealtimes with family. It has been shown that shared mealtimes makes family members feel loved, confident and happy. Also, homemade food in Argentina includes many preparations from scratch with few processed ingredients. Sharing mealtimes with your kids and involve them in the cooking process will make them have better eating habits since childhood.
Enjoying food prepared with fresh and minimally processed real ingredients is a national tradition. When you visit the supermarket you will see that there is not much variety of frozen meals or processed food boxes. Supermarkets aisles are not that overwhelming like in other parts of the world. Another example of simplicity: in Argentina the typical salad dressing is oil and vinegar (commonly olive oil and balsamic vinegar). That’s what the waiter will bring you to season your salad if you are eating out. And, don’t look for salad dressings in the supermarket, you won’t find much. Some of the typical condiments are mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and salsa golf (an Argentinean creation that resembles Thousand Island dressing). Just make your own dressings and toppings with real ingredients and bring in simplicity to your dinner table!
Meats are also lightly seasoned with just a pinch of salt and pepper (and sometimes chimichurri). No one puts butter or other toppings on a grilled steak, there is no need. And, recently, the province of Buenos Aires banned the salt shaker from restaurant tables in an effort to combat high blood pressure. It will be available upon request, but only after the guest have tasted the food. The new restaurant trend in Argentina is to get back to basics, value regional meals and natural ingredients.
Healthy eating doesn´t have to be boring. This year´s NNM theme remind us to enjoy food. What I like to do is to experience food ingredients from other cultures and take healthy and tasty ideas from each one. For example, it is known that many Americans don´t eat very well...but not all is wrong. For example, in the US I´ve learn to have dinner earlier (usual dinner time in Argentina is 9pm) and have a better digestion before going to bed. Also, I´ve seen that many Americans respect seasonality of fresh fruits and vegetables, making certain dishes at certain times of the year. Seasonal produce is less expensive, more nutritious, taste better and is more natural. When I was in Brazil, I took from them the idea of having fresh fruits at all meals. From Mexico, I took the idea of adding onions and peppers (even the spicy ones) to many recipes reducing the amount of salt when cooking, as well as adding avocado to many dishes. There are many other examples. Like Japanese, one of the healthiest cuisine, with sushi (most sushi is low in fat and has lots of fresh ingredients). Another pretty healthy cuisine is Greek, with its dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, yogurt, olive oil, and omega-3-rich fish.
As an Italian (my dad was born in Calabria), I´ve learn to eat lots of vegetables and mainly the pleasure of food. Because of the Italian immigration, this was an influence in the Argentinean food culture too. Meal times are moments without any rush, where you can share with family and friends while enjoying food.
I use to take one day of the week (Fridays work for me) to enjoy a different ethnic meal. Sometimes I have to tweek ingredients that are not available here, but it´s fine and FUN!
March is the National Nutrition Month ® in the United States, where Registered Dietitian Nutritionist day is celebrated on March 12th. It was 2008 (while I was working in the US as a DTR) when the Academy (back then the American Dietetic Association) created this tradition (2008) to commemorate the dedication of RDs and DTRs as well. Then moved back to Argentina where I work as a dietitian. The nutritionist/dietitian day here in Argentina is celebrated every August 11th.
It doesn´t matter that March is not nutrition month here. But because I love to share what dietitians are doing around the world to advance the profession, I will be blogging each week of March about NNM. Thank you Academy for inspiring us bloggers! So, don´t miss upcoming post in Global Dietitians:
- Dietitian/Nutritionist´s Day in other countries: how colleagues from around the world celebrate
- Enjoying the taste of eating: take the best of ethnic foods.
- Keep it simple: real food, real taste.
I really like this year theme “Enjoy the taste of healthy eating”. I believe that it´s essential to let people know that healthy eating doesn´t have to be boring or tasteless. If you don´t enjoy doing something it´s probably that sooner or later you quit. We, as food and nutrition experts, are specially positioned to educate people on how to make food enjoyable and eat well all life long!
Find NNM catalog, handouts and other resources at www.eatright.org/nnm.
Happy Nutrition Month!
This week is the RAWFEST in Buenos Aires, an event dedicated to promote the philosophy of “raw food”. It will be located in the Faena Hotel from February 18th to 22th and is organized by the Hippocrates Health Institute from Florida, USA. The event will have conferences with international speakers, workshops, free samples and live music. This event inspired me to write this post and to get the raw food diet naked.
· What is raw food diet? Also called "live food diet" or vegan raw, people that follow this diet eat fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and algae, all cultivated without agrochemical processes and without heating them to more that 107ºF, to supposedly preserve their nutrients and boost energy and vitality production and to promote mental and physical health. Raw food diet followers believe that heat “kills” foods reducing their nutrients, making them toxic and less digestible. Foods are consumed raw, dried with low temperatures or fermented.
· Mith: heat destroys nutrients. It is true that fresh fruits and vegetables are very nutritive. But, heat destroys cells walls and fibers increasing the disponibility and digestibility of several nutrients. For example, cooked tomate has more lycopene available or cooked carrots have more beta-carotene available than raw. We should eat both raw and cooked vegetables to get the best of both groups.
· Mith: cooking destroys food enzymes. This is true. Heat destroys enzymes, but is doesn´t matter because the body produces their own enzymes to digest food. Even more, raw food enzymes are destroyed by stomach acid. And, if raw food had their own enzymes to help digestion they would autodigest before we can eat them!
· Another crash diet? Raw food is a tendency that growths globally and we as food experts must be well aware of it. Celebrities like Natalie Portman, Demi Moore y Robbie Williams are raw food diet followers. Now, I wonder whether in Argentina this is a culinary trend or another crash diet that we will forget about in the next few months. Some have already seen the business aspect and several restaurants in Buenos Aires started to commercialize raw foods like Kensho y Buenos Aires Verde, Buenos Aires Raw Club. Others restaurants like Experimental Raw Bar y Verde Llama went out of business.
· Raw vs. Asado. It´s kind of difficult to follow this diet 100% (adherents try to consume 50-100% of all foods raw) , specially in Argentina....First, our food culture is way different from a algae and pea´s sprouts salad (Argentina is the country with the highest beef consumption in the world). Second, some raw recipes are time consuming even with no “cooking”. And, some food are really costly here in Argentina (if you can get them). On the other hand, this diet has to be well designed with professional help to prevent nutrition deficiencies. It is not recommended for kids because inadequacy of some nutrients. Depending on personal preferences some people include raw milk and raw meats like in ceviche, carpacchio or sushi.
What is good about this diet is that promote the consumption of healthy vegetables and fruits. But their rational seems to be more philosophic than scientific. I truly respect their followers, but as a nutritionist I think that it has some risks and has to be well planned. What do you think?
Global dietitians is a fun place to share and network between for food and nutrition professionals from around the world. Made for dietitians by dietitians.