Cool & Fruity Treats for Sweet Summertime

What comes to mind when you think about summer? Barbecues, baseball, a break from school, longer days spent at the pool? Undoubtedly, you think about sizzling temperatures, too! As the temperatures continue to rise this summer, I’m sharing some fruity treats that are sure to help you cool down even as July continues to heat up.

Each one of these simple snacks highlights the natural sweetness summertime has to offer. Yes, these snacks are kid-friendly, but they’re adult-friendly too (because I don’t necessarily believe in “kid food”).


Make-Your-Own Banana Bites

IMG_1576What’s rich, creamy, and sweet AND loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants? Dark-chocolate dipped banana bites! You can find similar (and perhaps prettier, more uniform) versions of these cool treats in your grocery store. The catch? You’ll pay a higher price than you’d pay making them yourself. Plus, you’ll miss out on making them your own by adding peanut butter or Sunbutter between bite-sized pieces of banana, rolling them in chopped nuts or shredded coconut before the chocolate hardens, or dipping them in the darkest the chocolate you can find (for more health-promoting, disease fighting antioxidants). Here’s how you make them at home…

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Bananas
  • Dark Chocolate (I used a 16 oz. bag of dark chocolate morsels)
  • Optional: Assorted toppings such as Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Chopped Nuts, Shredded Coconut, Sea Salt, etc.

Instructions

  1. Peel ripe bananas and slice into bite-sized pieces or chunks…you can choose the size.
  2. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Cover and pop into the freezer until firm (at least 1 hour).
  3. If you plan to use toppings, place them in shallow bowls and keep them nearby.
  4. When bananas are frozen, melt dark chocolate over a double-boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl. The package should provide instructions for melting. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  5. Remove bananas from freezer. One-by-one, quickly spoon chocolate over banana bite until completely covered. The chocolate will harden quickly after touching the cold banana. Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
  6. Now is the time to add your toppings, dipping or sprinkling them over the banana. Place the banana bite back on the lined baking tray and repeat until each banana bite is covered in chocolate. Note: You’ll want to keep the bananas as cold as possible during this process.
  7. Place banana bites in airtight container, and pop them back into the freezer until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Chilled Watermelon Pops

July is National Watermelon Month, and what better way to celebrate the perfect sweetness of watermelons than with Chilled Watermelon Pops? Watermelon is such a refreshing snack, and you may be surprised to know it can help with hydration.

Ingredients

  • Watermelon
  • Popsicle Sticks

Instructions

  1. Quarter watermelon lengthwise.
  2. Take each quarter of the watermelon and slice into 1″ – 1.5″ slices. The slices should be shaped like triangles.
  3. Take a sharp knife and make a small slit in the center of the watermelon rind.
  4. Insert popsicle stick into slit.
  5. Enjoy immediately or place in the refrigerator or freezer for an extra cool snack to be enjoyed later.

Yogurt Bark

During fall and winter months, I love making peppermint and other types of candy barks with white chocolate. In a frozen, nutritious twist on this holiday favorite of mine, the yogurt stands in for white chocolate and colorful fruit takes center stage rather than candy. By combining the fruit which contains carbohydrates with protein-packed yogurt, this snack is sweet and more satisfying!

Ingredients

  • 1 large container of yogurt (Choose your favorite flavor.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional; best if using plain yogurt)
  • Assorted chopped fruits

Instructions

  1. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. If using plain yogurt, mix with vanilla extract.
  3. Spoon or pour yogurt onto baking sheet and spread to even thickness.
  4. Sprinkle chopped fruit onto yogurt, lightly pressing into the yogurt. Freeze 3-4 hours or until frozen solid.
  5. Break apart and enjoy! Store extra in the freezer in an airtight container or zip-loc bag.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy all the cool, fresh fruit summertime has to offer?

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Squeezing the Truth Out of Juicing

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement regarding juice consumption, stating juice should not be introduced to infants before 1 year unless clinically indicated and should be limited for toddlers, children, and teens.

In the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, the federal government allows juice to count as a serving of fruit yet urges Americans to consume primarily whole fruits for the benefits Juice, Juice Bar, Juicing
dietary fiber provides. Meanwhile, Instagram feeds are chock-full of “green juice” posts and business continues to boom at juice bars, leaving many people perplexed about whether or not juice fits into a healthy adult’s diet. It’s time to squeeze the truth out of the longstanding juicing trend.

Juice is simply the liquid extracted from fruits and vegetables, leaving the fibrous material behind. Fruits and vegetables are primarily sources of carbohydrates, containing natural sugars that provide their trademark sweetness. Carbohydrates tend to digest quickly in comparison to other macronutrients, but the presence of fiber as in whole fruit helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream leading to greater satiety and less of a spike in blood sugar levels.

Juice is often promoted as a health food, a substance to cleanse or detoxify the body, or a means to lose weight. To set the record straight: juice is not needed for health, nor does it cleanse the body. The body has vital organs responsible for detoxification, and no one food causes weight gain or loss.

Though labels on bottles of juice boast containing the juice of 2 apples, 2 cucumbers, a cup each of spinach and kale, blueberries, and strawberries, most people could not imagine sitting down to eat all of this produce in one sitting! Downing a glass of juice is not the same as eating several servings of fruit just as sipping chicken broth is not the same as eating a chicken breast.

Still, juice can be a valuable source of vitamins and minerals on days it’s difficult to consume adequate fruits and veggies. Since most of the fiber is left behind during processing, juice is ideal for those with medical conditions warranting a low fiber diet. Similarly, individuals who struggle to take in adequate energy or have high calorie needs may incorporate juice for additional nourishment without filling up on fiber. For these individuals, the inclusion of juice boosts variety and consumption of important nutrients their bodies need.

Medical conditions and energy needs aside, let’s not forget this most basic truth about juice: Sometimes a cold, sweet glass of juice is just plain delicious and refreshing, and it’s perfectly normal to select foods (and beverages) purely for enjoyment from time to time.

Still deciding whether to juice or not to juice? Keep these strategies in mind:

  • Use your God-given juicers (aka teeth) most of the time. With consumption of more whole fruits and vegetables comes greater satiety, more fiber, and a slower pace.
  • To minimize peaks and valleys in blood sugar and appetite, incorporate appropriately sized portions of juice (typically ~1/2 – 1 cup) as part of a meal or snack rather than sipping it throughout the day or drinking it alone.
  • Add juice into smoothies with Greek yogurt or whey protein for a satisfying, balanced snack or consider blending your fruit rather than juicing it for a higher fiber beverage.

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Define Your Diet

The word diet has 2 different meanings.

By one definition, seemingly most followed by today’s culture, diet is “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself.” When it comes to this definition of diet, the words on the street are endless: “Drink this!” “Take that!” “Don’t eat this!” “Complete this challenge!” The list goes on…

Here are the facts: 95% of diets fail, and most will regain their lost weight (or more) in 1-5 years. Dieting, A.K.A. the pursuit of weight loss, is ironically one of the top predictors of future weight gain. If you were given a prescription with a 95% failure rate, would you take that medication? Yet the diet industry tops $60 billion dollars per year, thriving from promising more than it can deliver in terms of weight loss or management. Instead, the diet industry thrives on doing just enough to keep people coming back again and again.

Sure, dieting may lead to temporary weight loss. It also leads to increased risk of poor body image, overeating, binging, and eating disorders. Dieting slows metabolism, causing the body to become more efficient with less food. Additionally, any form of restriction can have emotional and physical consequences not limited to depression, fatigue, weakness, social withdrawal, and irritability. As the Snickers commercials say, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” So why pay big bucks for temporary weight loss with awful side effects?

Many people feel completely overwhelmed and thoroughly confused by all of the mixed messages and misinformation about nutrition. Sadly, the diet industry tricks people into overriding their body’s internal regulation system leading to disconnect and distrust in their natural ability to eat nutritious food when hungry and stop when full. Feeling as though they’ve tried and failed at it all, they hit diet rock bottom.

Fortunately, there’s a pleasant alternative to that first definition of diet. Diet can also mean “the kinds of foods that a person habitually eats.” A diet doesn’t need to be something a person goes on and off of. There need not be a start and endpoint. Intuitive Eating, a process-based approach to developing a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body, aligns with this definition and has over 70 studies to date citing positive outcomes including greater sense of wellbeing, better glycemic control, decreased BMI, lower risk of chronic disease, and decreased overeating. Intuitive Eating allows people to make food choices that honor their health and taste buds. All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle provided individuals eat with attunement, noticing the various aspects of how one feels before, during, after eating.

We all have a diet. How is yours best defined? Does your definition require manipulation, elimination, deprivation, and rules or does it allow mindfulness, pleasure, variety, freedom, and attunement when eating? It’s never too late to abandon diets consisting of rigid rules about which foods to restrict and to begin viewing diet as a collection of healthy, whole, and satisfying foods.


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Nourish Your Noggin with These 5 Brain Foods

The human brain is one of our most powerful and valuable organs. Though it accounts for only 2% of our body’s total weight, the brain requires a lot of energy and several key nutrients to function at its best. Last month, I had the opportunity to talk about nutrition for brain health on Local Memphis Live, and of course, I didn’t want you to miss out, so here are 5 brain-boosting foods to help you ensure your noggin stays nourished…

berries, brain food, antioxidantsBerries

Berries contain flavonoids, a specific group of potent antioxidants that give berries their beautiful colors. They also play a role in numerous cognitive skills like learning and decision making all while protecting brain cells from oxidative damage.

Incorporating berries into yogurt, oatmeal, or salads not only adds fresh, natural sweetness. Berries also contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination, and memory.

Think you can only get a brain boost from berries during summer months? Think again…You can get your berry fix year round! Buy them fresh in the summer, frozen in the winter.

Eggs Brain Food

Eggs

If you’ve been avoiding eggs out of concern for the cholesterol and/or fat content, it’s time to add them back in. Research is now suggesting that eggs do not contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. In fact, our brains need cholesterol and fat to function at their best. With the brain being our fattiest organ, made up of 65% fat, including 25% of our body’s total cholesterol, you can be confident eggs are an egg-cellent choice and nutritional powerhouses.

Eggs contain choline, one of the superstar brain nutrients that many Americans are deficient in. Choline is necessary to produce acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in memory. For example, studies have linked acetylcholine deficiencies to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

Eggs also contain B vitamins, folate, and vitamin D…nutrients that play a crucial role in brain health.

Tempted to ditch the yolk? Don’t do it! Eat the whole egg as the yolk contains most of the nutrients your brain needs. Plus, the protein and fat is likely to keep you satisfied much longer than that morning bagel alone!

Salmon, Brain Food

Salmon

When you’re researching (or googling) “what to eat for brain health,” you’ll begin to notice that DHA or omega-3 fatty acid is one of the single most important elements required for optimal brain health. With the brain being made mostly of fat, our brains need those Omega-3’s!

Omega-3s are strongly anti-inflammatory which is great news as inflammation has been linked to multiple mental health concerns. For example, increased Omega-3 intake may help to alleviate a spectrum of mental health concerns, from anxiety and irritability to depression and even schizophrenia. In contrast, insufficient DHA is a potential factor in depression, bipolar disorder, premature brain aging, age-related cognitive decline, brain shrinkage, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Omega-3 fatty acids containing DHA can be found in oily fish like wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, and tuna. These types of fish are also excellent sources of protein which is needed to form mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine as well as B12, an essential vitamin for a healthy brain and nervous system. It’s ideal to include these types of fish twice per week.

Walnut, Brain Food

Walnuts

Well, if you hadn’t noticed yet, the low-fat diet trend has officially been a “big fat failure,” especially when it comes to brain health. So many “brain foods” are loaded with healthy fats, and walnuts are no exception…plus, they look like little brains!

Walnuts contain a number of compounds that protect our neurons from injury or degeneration, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. Bottom line: Research shows walnut consumption may support brain health.

Snack on walnuts, sprinkle them into your oatmeal, or even try out one of my favorite recipes: Walnut & Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken.

Steak, Vitamin B12, Brain Food

Beef

That’s right…BEEF is a brain food! Meat eaters can get a brain boost from beef, which provides plenty of energizing and balancing B vitamins, specifically B12 which is only found in animal foods.

Low B12 levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss. If your levels are lower than they should be, you may also experience symptoms like poor memory, depression and fatigue, so fire up the grill and enjoy this nutritious and delicious meat!


I recently came across a quote that said, “Essentially, fats build your brain, and proteins unite it. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, and micronutrients defend it.” Even though this post highlights only 5 specific foods, it’s clear that there are many more that give our brains a boost, so So if you want to keep your mind nourished and healthy, getting a variety and balance of nutrients is a no-brainer!

What’s your favorite brain food and how do you incorporate it into your meals or snacks?

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How do you “eat an elephant”, enjoy a burger, and achieve a healthy lifestyle?

National Nutrition Month, How to Eat an elephant, enjoy a burger, and achieve a healthy lifestyle Imagine looking at a juicy hamburger that is piled high with cheese, avocado, veggies, and all the fixin’s. While thinking about how delicious the burger looks, you approach it with one major reservation and ask yourself the tough question: “How in the world am I going to wrap my mouth around that first bite?” You may have a similar feeling when it comes to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

March is National Nutrition Month. I wrote an article last year for Good Health magazine to support the 2015 theme: “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” I thought I would repost the article here although this year’s theme is “Savor the flavor of eating right.”

When it comes to nutrition, it is difficult to know how to begin the journey toward healthier eating habits and it’s easy to “miss the forest for the trees” as the proverbial saying goes, especially when we are overwhelmed with mixed or distorted messages about nutrition and overall health.

You wouldn’t give up your hopes of eating that delicious burger just because it seemed too big, would you? Don’t give up on a healthier lifestyle either! While it’s easy to get bogged down wondering about all the details, take a step back and focus on the big picture in order to determine what’s most important and where to set your first goals when it comes to nutrition.

Focus on real food.

Memphis Nutrition Group defines real food as “anything that can be grown or killed.” You can’t get much more straightforward than that definition!  (Thanks, Leslie Schilling!) Are you eating primarily real food or processed food products? Sometimes a healthy lifestyle can be as simple as getting back to the basics when it comes to food selection.

Find a balance.

A healthy lifestyle does not mean thinking in terms of absolutes: all or nothing, good or bad, and “should” or “shouldn’t.” Rather than only having two options, there are many more choices that fall somewhere within the spectrum and provide balance. Finding balance means choosing nutrient-rich, real foods most of the time and sometimes selecting and savoring foods you enjoy regardless of nutrient quality too.

Foster progress, not perfection.

How do you define progress? Progress toward a healthy lifestyle is not always related to the number of pounds lost or the amount of willpower exhibited. No one’s diet or lifestyle will ever be perfect, so try not to judge or be too hard on yourself.

Remember: Habits take time to form and sometimes even longer to break; therefore, the journey to a healthy lifestyle requires patience and acceptance of where you are in the process. How do you “eat an elephant”, enjoy a burger, or achieve a healthy lifestyle? Take one bite at a time, setting realistic goals in order to yield satisfying, lasting results in the end.


 

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How to Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make Smart, Realistic New Year's Resolutions

There’s good news and bad news related to New Year’s resolutions…

The bad news: A Journal of Clinical Psychology study reported that 54% of people give up on their resolutions within 6 months, and only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolution by the end of the year.

The good news (if you’re still reading…): Another study published in the same journal stated that people who-despite the statistics-make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who don’t make resolutions at all.

It seems many people have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions, and in my professional opinion, I can see how certain types of resolutions can backfire…especially those centered around strict rules and all-or-nothing thinking.

On the bright side, New Year’s resolutions can be made in a “SMART” way, so based on the research…I’ll go out on a limb and say:  Don’t stop making New Year’s resolutions!

Author Terry Felber sums up a common problem associated with New Year’s resolutions in one sentence:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re not going to like where you end up.”

The absence of a clear plan for how to follow through with New Year’s resolutions ultimately leads to a feeling of failure days, weeks, or months after the new year. Although many people have an end result (the resolution itself), in mind, they don’t have a plan for how to get there, so…

How do you make a resolution that leads you toward your desired destination and defies the statistics?

  • Avoid diet resolutions and those that focus on a number on the scale. Since 95% of dieters regain their lost weight within 1-5 years, choose to shift your focus to resolutions that lead to long-term health instead.
  • First, decide where you want to end up. For example, many of my clients want to learn to “Eat healthier.” Notice how vague this is? From here, begin formulating a plan. I’ll help you with this…just keep reading…
  • Since eating healthier encompasses numerous actions, choose ONE behavior you’d like to change. If one behavior doesn’t seem like enough, remember this:

“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” -Tanzanian Proverb

  • Consider the following as you plan a “SMART” resolution:

SPECIFIC (Who, What, Where, When, Why?): Get specific about which behavior you’ll work on changing first. For example, “I will eat more balanced, home-cooked dinners each week to support my goal of eating healthier.”

MEASURABLE (How will you know you’ve accomplished your resolution?): Decide the number of dinners you’d like to eat at home per week. For example, “I will eat dinner at home 4 nights per week.”

ATTAINABLE (What are the steps to reaching your goal?): What will it take to serve a home-cooked dinner 4 nights per week? You’ll likely need to schedule time to plan meals, repurpose leftovers, make regular grocery store trips, and cook dinner. Having a plan is key!

REALISTIC (How motivated are you? What are the obstacles and how will you overcome them to stay on the path to reaching your goal?): Do you hate planning meals? Sign up for an online service like YourSupperSolution.com to get weekly nutritious dinner menus and recipes delivered to your inbox.

TANGIBLE (How will you experience your resolution or know you’ve reached your goal?): You will be cooking and eating dinner at home more often.

With any resolution, no matter how “SMART” it may be, it is normal to experience obstacles. Rather than giving up or criticizing yourself, remember that habits develop over time and will take time to change. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect a behavior to disappear or change just because the clock strikes midnight and a new year begins. Use each obstacle as a learning experience and an opportunity to re-evaluate and perhaps modify your plan. It may not be realistic to get 4 home-cooked dinner meals on the table 52 weeks out of the year, and THAT’S OK! Don’t let discouragement related to statistics or previous failures rob you of achieving your resolution to care for yourself in a healthy way this year.

Oh…and don’t forget: You can make a resolution any time of year, not just January 1st!


I’d love to hear about your SMART resolutions for the year…send me an e-mail or share in the comments below. If you know someone who may need some encouragement or guidance in goal-setting, share this post or this clip from http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/iframe?pf_id=1&show_title=0&va_id=6154181&windows=1“>ABC 24’s Local Memphis Live with them!

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Top 5 Tricks to Help Your Kids Manage Halloween Treats

Registered Dietitian Blair Mize's Top 5 Tricks for Helping Kids Manage Halloween Candy and Treats

Do you find the gobs of goodies that accumulate at Halloween a bit scary? You’re not alone! Check out my Top 5 Tricks for helping your kids manage their Halloween treats below:

Trick #1

One instance when it’s good for kids to be picky…

Don't be scared when your kids bring home piles of Halloween candy. Have them pick their favorites, and repurpose the leftovers.


Trick #2:

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Eat a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating. Plan a potluck with neighbors or friends.


Trick #3:

Helping your kids enjoy Halloween treats starts today with having a conversation and modeling a healthy, non-diet approach to food for your kids.

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Teach your children how to manage candy and sweets. Sweets can be enjoyed and planned into meals.


Trick #4:

Don’t be scared of this one…

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Deprivation often leads to overeating. Here's a strategy to prevent feelings of deprivation.

Check out Ellyn Satter’s Book, Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming for more information about raising your children to have a healthy relationship with food.


Trick #5:

If this sounds crazy, take a look at this website for a more detailed explanation:

Halloween Tip by Blair Mize, RD: Have a plan to help your kids manage their candy.

Happy Halloween! 

I’d love to hear how you manage Halloween treats at your house in the comments below!


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