Wellness Blog

Each month, I.L. Creations' registered dietitians create our Wellness Newsletter discussing a different nutrition or wellness topic. You may subscribe to this at the registered dietitian's table during your cafe's monthly wellness visit or by clicking the link below to our Home page.  Here on the blog, we continue the conversation by posting relevant, entertaining, and useful food and nutrition information. 

Please look through our previous posts below to see what topics you may have missed. If you would like to see a topic in the future, let us know!

Check out the Home page to subscribe for free to our monthly Wellness Newsletter.
Check out the Recipes page to see recipes from previous newsletters, registered dietitian cafe visits, and our registered dietitian's family favorites.

Table of Contents

Vegetarian or Vegan?

posted Oct 6, 2017, 1:54 PM by Tracy Ducker

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month and with more and more people choosing vegetarian or vegan way of eating, it is worth discussing what each entails.

Many people group veganism under vegetarianism as a sub category. However it is different from vegetarian diets. Those following a vegan diet consume no animal meat, animal products or use anything tested on animals (makeup, skin care products) or anything make from an animal (leather clothes). Their diets consist of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Vegetarians on the other hand may consume anything ranging from dairy, eggs, fish and some meat. There are categories that describe each of these types of vegetarian diets. These are a few of the more common ones.

·         Lacto-ovo vegetarians – do not eat animals or animal by-products (any food that involves slaughtering the animal, like chicken broth) but do eat eggs and dairy foods.

·         Lacto vegetarians – Do not eat animals or any animal by-products, or eggs, but do consume dairy foods

·         Ovo vegetarians – Do not eat animals or any animal by-products, or dairy, but do consume eggs.

·         Flexitarians – Eat dairy, eggs and fish and poultry occasionally, but no beef or pork.

·         Pescatarians – Eat dairy, eggs and fish, but no poultry, beef or pork or any of these animal by-products

There are many options to choose from so why not give it go and try for Meatless Mondays. It is really up to you and these categories don’t mean you need to label yourself as one or another but decide what you are willing to eat and willing to cut out or cut back on. We have some great vegetarian and vegan recipes on our website that the whole family is sure to love.

For more information on vegetarian and vegan diets click here.

Making Time for Family Meals

posted Sep 22, 2017, 1:51 PM by Tracy Ducker

In our last blog we talked about the benefits of family meals and this week we will talk about how to make family meals happen. Obviously, the biggest hurdle for most families is time. With working parents and kid’s sports and activities, preparing dinner and finding the time everyone is home is difficult. But not impossible, with a little planning and some quick, healthy, and tasty recipes you and your family can eat together most nights.

During the weekend (or whenever you have some extra time) plan your meals for the week, I have included some recipe links to help you get started. Then make your grocery list this will help eliminate any weeknight last minute shopping, saving you time. Have your kids help you in kitchen so dinner won’t take as long and you can spend some extra time together. If you can, prepare some meals ahead of time on the weekend and freeze for later in the week. Even if the entire family can’t sit down together all of the time, try to plan so everyone has someone to eat with each night.

So, make a commitment to eat just one more meal together as family each week.

Here are some family friendly recipes that are easy to make.

Mini Bow Ties with Bacon and Peas: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/mini-bow-ties-bacon-peas

Linguine with Easy Meat Sauce:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/linguine-easy-meat-sauce

Chicken Fingers and Green Beans with Tahini Sauce:  http://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/chicken-fingers-green-beans-tahini-sauce

Farmer's Market Vegetarian Quesadillas:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/165783/farmers-market-vegetarian-quesadillas/?internalSource=staff%20pick&referringId=17204&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&clickId=cardslot%207

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/50644/broiled-tilapia-parmesan/?internalSource=staff%20pick&referringId=16065&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&clickId=cardslot%203

For more information on family meals check out FMI.

Family Meals: Are they really that important?

posted Sep 11, 2017, 9:56 AM by Tracy Ducker

We live such busy lives, that finding time to sit down and eat together is challenging. But, research has shown that eating together as a family has lifelong benefits. In fact, children who are part of regular family meals are less likely to use drugs and alcohol at an early age and they benefit from:

·       Better grades

·       Improved nutrition

·       Stronger family relationships

·       Higher self-esteem

Family meals do not have to be a big affair, make time for everyone to eat a quick breakfast together, enlist in everyone's help for dinner (from helping in food prep to setting the table.) When everyone pitches in, meals are prepared quicker. Try making some meals ahead of time so you can heat and serve during the week. Be sure all electronics (phones, t.v., etc.) are off so everyone can focus on the conversation. For conversation starters click here. We all want what is best for our children and having family dinners where everyone can share in the conversation is a great way to find out what your children are doing in and out of school. For more on the importance of Family Meals visit  here.

Vegetables and Kids: They Can Go Together

posted Aug 28, 2017, 11:49 AM by Tracy Ducker

Are french fries the only vegetable your child will eat? You’re not alone, vegetables tend to be a least favorite food for kids. So what’s a parent to do? You can always sneak the veggies into other foods, which is also a good way for everyone to get more vegetables. But your child isn’t actually learning to like vegetables. It is important for kids to learn to like and eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, but it takes time. Children need to be offered foods they don’t like up to 15 times or more, according to some experts, before they will accept it. Even then, sometimes they will eat it one day but the next time not even touch it. It’s what kids do. The best way to help kids learn to like vegetables and other foods is to not force it. As parents our job is to prepare and provide the food and the child’s job is decide whether or not eat it. The more times they see it on their plate, the more likely they are to try it.

Here are a few tips on getting your kids to eat more vegetables; offer a very small portion, try preparing it different ways (cooked, raw, in a sauce), and let them help pick vegetables out at the supermarket and help prepare it. Studies have shown that the more involved children are with the foods they eat the more likely they are to try new foods. So go ahead and make pumpkin pancakes or add vegetables to spaghetti sauce, just let them help you so they know how to make delicious foods that are healthy.

For more information check out Ellen Satter’s website at http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/htf/howchildrenlearntolikenewfood.php

Kid Friendly Kitchen Tasks

posted Aug 18, 2017, 12:35 PM by Tracy Ducker   [ updated Aug 28, 2017, 9:21 AM ]

Did you know kids can be great helpers in the kitchen? Studies have shown that when kids help you in the kitchen they are more likely to try new foods. Children like to touch and feel things so letting them ‘play’ with food may actually help them eat better. There are many age appropriate tasks that children can do in the kitchen. So grab your aprons.


2 year olds can:

·         Wipe tables

·         Tear lettuce or greens

·         Place things in the trash

·         Snap green beans

·         Rinse vegetables or fruits

·         Make ‘faces’ out of fruit and vegetable pieces

·         Help turn the pages of cookbook

3 year olds can:

·         Do everything a 2 year old can, plus

·         Add ingredients

·         Talk about cooking

·         Scoop or mash potatoes

·         Stir batter

·         Knead and shape dough

·         Help assemble pizza

·         Name and count foods

·         Squeeze citrus fruits

 4 year olds can:

·         Do everything a 3 year old can, plus

·         Peel eggs and some fruits

·         Set the table

·         Crack eggs

·         Help measure dry ingredients

·         Help make sandwiches and tossed salads

 5 year olds can:

·         Do everything a 4 year old can, plus

·         Measure liquids

·         Cut soft fruit with a dull knife

·         Use and egg beater


For more information go to choosemyplate.gov

Sports Fueling for Kids

posted Aug 10, 2017, 11:38 AM by Sunamita Da Silva

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends children and teens get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. One way children can reach this goal, is by getting involved in school or other competitive sports. But in order for children to perform at their best, they’ll need to eat the right foods to keep them fueled, strong, and growing. Here are some tips:

Pre-Game Three hours before the game, think nutrient dense, but easy to digest foods like a breakfast of lightly grilled potatoes with scrambled eggs and nutrient dense carbohydrates such as berries and orange juice or fat-free milk.

During the Game Hydration is key! Make sure your child is well hydrated throughout the game with small amounts of water. Also be sure to replace fluid losses after exercise by having your child drink lots of water. Foods such as bananas, potatoes and fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk contain potassium and carbohydrates, which are important to help replenish after exercise.

Post-Game Having healthy snacks ready to go when kids get home from school is most important here as it ensures they fuel up with healthy options. Think cut-up fresh fruit with peanut butter, low-fat yogurt and smoothies.

Post-Game Family Dinner Carbohydrates are important to replenish lost energy and protein is important for muscle building. Be sure to include lean protein as part of dinner – think baked, grilled, or broiled cuts of lean meats such as chicken breast, salmon or tuna or steamed or stewed legumes. Add in whole grains and tossed vegetables and finish it off with juicy fruit desserts like baked apples or pears for a dose of healthy carbohydrates.

A balanced meal is the best way to make sure your little athletes keep growing strong and performing at their best. And with just a little planning, you are sure to keep them fueled throughout the day! For energy-boosting snack recipes click here.

August is Kids Eat Right Month™

posted Aug 4, 2017, 9:21 AM by Sunamita Da Silva

August is Kids Eat Right Month and to celebrate we'll be posting fresh ideas on healthy eating for kids. But before we get things started, here's a crash course into Kids Eat Right Month.

What is Kids Eat Right Month?

“Kids Eat Right Month™ is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' and the Academy Foundation's chance to highlight the fight for our children's healthy future. Kids Eat Right Month™ emphasizes what makes Kids Eat Right such an important program, focusing on smart shopping, healthy eating and active lifestyles for every age group from infant to teens.”

How can I help celebrate Kids Eat Right Month™?

You can help celebrate by setting an example for the whole family and creating a healthy environment at home. Get active as a family by enjoying 60 minutes of active play each day. Enjoy family meals together and get children involved in planning and cooking healthy meals together.

Remember, any little bit helps, so start small and build your way up until your whole family is enjoying a healthy lifestyle which will carry on into adulthood.

For more on Kids Eat Right Month™ visit kidseatright.org.

Grilling Safely

posted Jul 27, 2017, 1:18 PM by Tracy Ducker

Summer is in full swing and so is outdoor grilling. While grilled foods taste great and keep the kitchen cool grilling can pose risks. Here are some safe grilling tips.

  •          Be sure the grill is clean
  •          Keep the grill a safe distance from the house, trees and other flammable objects.
  •          Use lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill not as an accelerant.
  •          Keep pets and children away from the grill and never leave the grill unattended.
  •          Close the lid of a charcoal grill to put out the fire
  •          For gas grills: check for leaks, and always turn propane tank off when not in use.
  •          Always light gas grills with the lid shut

To keep your foods safe follow these tips:

  •          Keep foods refrigerated until ready to grill
  •          Cook foods to the proper temperature (see below)
  •          Avoid cross contamination by putting cooked food on a clean plate, discarding marinades that came into contact with raw meat.
  •          Clean the meat thermometer between uses and between different foods – keep hot soapy water and paper towels/sponge/or rag outside with you to clean the thermometer.
  •          Keep perishables refrigerated or in a cooler with ice or keep grilled item warm on the grill away from the flame (so it doesn’t continue to cook but stays warm until ready to eat.

For more information on grilling safely check out this USDA video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2Xs1qIcrbA

Staying Hydrated This Summer

posted Jul 21, 2017, 9:08 AM by Sunamita Da Silva

We know it’s important to stay hydrated, but do we really know how important it really is? The answer is, very. Our bodies are 60% water by weight and the water we drink helps to keep our blood pressure and body temperature in check. Not to mention, water also helps to keep our joints lubricated, it helps in moving out waste from our bodies and helps in regulating digestion.

The Heat is On!

The warmer temperatures of summer mean that we lose more water through sweating and evaporation. This is how our bodies stay cool after all, as we discussed in last week’s blog post. If we lose too much water we become dehydrated, which can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and extreme thirst.

But did you know that dehydration also affects our brains? That’s right! Our brain is more than 70% water, which means that when we don’t drink enough water, our thinking and cognition can suffer. In fact, a 2% loss in body water weight (which is about 3 pounds for a 150 pound person) can lead to short-term memory, attention, and visual-motor issues.

Other signs of dehydration include loss of appetite, dry mouth, mild constipation and temporary lightheadedness, so be on the lookout for those.

Getting Plenty of Fluids

  1. Make sure to drink enough. The average person needs about 8 to 10 cups of water each day.
  2. Always have it on hand. Invest in a reusable water bottle to make sure you always have your fluids on hand.
  3. Infuse with flavor. If you’re not a big fan of water on its own, consider infusing it with fresh fruit for some flavor.
  4. Eat your water. That’s right! Juicy vegetables and fruits like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, strawberries, broccoli and grapefruit are all made up of at least 90% water.

Here are some more tips, if you are staying extra active this summer.

Staying Cool with Food

posted Jul 14, 2017, 11:20 AM by Tracy Ducker


              Can certain foods really cool you down? Surprisingly, yes, some can. You may think that it is obvious, hot foods make you warmer and cool foods make you cooler, but it isn’t that simple. Our bodies are constantly working to keep our core body temperature at 98.6 degrees F. If the air outside is hot then we sweat to cool down, if the air is cold then we shiver to increase body temperature. But some studies have shown that food and drink can actually play a role in maintaining body temperature. For example, in some parts of the world (i.e. warm climates) they believe that drinking hot beverages or eating spicy food actually makes you cooler. In India and sub-Sahara Africa they drink hot tea to cool off, and in Mexico they eat spicy food to cool down.

So what is the science behind hot foods and beverages and staying cool? When you drink a hot beverage or eat a spicy food you sweat which cools you off, if it can evaporate. This means drinking a hot beverage in July in Washington D.C. probably won’t cool you off. But drinking that hot tea in Phoenix, Arizona will actually make you feel cooler because the sweat evaporates in the dry climate, making you feel cooler.

So what can we Mid-Atlantic folks do to stay cool? Try some of these foods that have a high water content. Cucumbers, dark green leafy vegetables and watermelon are not only refreshing but high in vitamins and minerals.  Plain, cool water is also great for hydrating your body and staying cool, infuse with some berries or lemon for flavor and added cooling. It is best to avoid ice cold drinks because studies have shown that they can actually make you feel hotter because it cools your core temperature too quickly causing your body to produce more heat in order to maintain a body temperature of 98.6 degrees F. For more information on cooling foods click here.

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