Friday, April 30, 2010

Quinoa and Amaranth- Super foods

Quinoa  and Amaranth are wonderful grains that can be used for even the littlest babies! Rice cereal is an option, but it does not have the protein and vitamins that these two grains have. So, why not mix it up and try something new? You can find these at your local Whole Foods or other health/organic store and there are tons of ways to use this not only as a food for your baby- but in recipes for the entire family!

A Bit of History and Their Origins

Quinoa grain dates back over 5000 years especially in Andean areas in South America, which are now territories of Peru and Bolivia. The people considered it sacred and used in religious rituals.

It grows wild in the Andes at high elevations between 3000 and 4000 meters (10000 to 13000ft approx).
The Incas even called it the "mother grain" (not for less) for its importance of growing up in extreme conditions - a true gift from the gods!

Amaranth (Amaranto in Spanish) they're a generic world type of plants but I'll refer only to amaranth grain. They're very old, thousands of years and were used by the Aztecs for their rituals. The grains were crushed, mixed with honey and shaped to a form of gods, for use in religious ceremonies. Today is mainly found in small quantity in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru.

Super Cereals and Benefits

Actually, they're considered technically (pseudocereals) but isn't the case...

What is Quinoa or the Amaranth nutritionally?

  • The main feature is their high proportion of protein up to 18% against 10-14% of classic cereals.
  • Their proteins have high proportions of essential amino acids that the body does not produce, such as cysteine, lysine and methionine.
  • Both wheat and rice are low in essential amino acids…the contrary to the quinoa or the amaranth oops!
  • According to FAO and WHO these grains are almost perfect and balanced for its protein value (leaving behind to cow's milk, soy, beef, wheat and maize).
  • They're richer in iron, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin E (and several more of the alphabet) than the conventional grains. An idea, a cup of quinoa has 51 mg in calcium to 28 mg of the classic cereals.
  • 400 calories per 0,1 kg (0.2 lbs) - totally useful for kids, pregnant women and athletes.
  • For cases of gluten-free diets (celiac disease) are absolutely perfect, hence the huge amount of gluten free food recipes available include them! Vegans delight as well and they're wonderful in healthy eating plans.

Read more:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sugar substitutes

In trying to make recipes healthier and with little refined sugar, I have been looking up different substitutes to put into my baking for my toddler.

Of course, not all sugar is bad- it is found naturally in many foods. I am talking about the refined white sugar in foods like store bought cakes and other baked and packaged goods that should not be consumed by little ones if possible. 

Here is some of what I have found:

Sugars come in many forms, and all have different Glycemic Indexes (GI).
"When carbohydrates are digested, glucose is released into the bloodstream. The glycemic index is a comparative measurement of the amount of glucose released by a particular food over a two to three-hour period.
Foods that rapidly release glucose rate high on the glycemic index (GI). Foods that slowly release glucose are low on the glycemic index. Mixing high and low GI foods can result in a moderate glucose release" (

A food/sugar with a low GI means that you won't get the sugar rush then crash. A higher ranked GI means you will get that spike then low energy.

Some great alternatives to regular sugar include: natural stevia, agave nectar, date sugar, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, organic bootstrap molasses or organic raw honey.

Click here to read a lot more- VERY interesting! This link also includes a full chart of sugars and their respective GI rankings.

For each cup of white sugar replaced, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. 

For each cup of brown sugar replaced, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup. Because the moisture content of Brown Sugar is higher than that of white sugar, liquids may not have to be reduced as much when substituting agave nectar. 

(Agave syrup may cause baked items to brown more quickly, so reduce oven temperatures by 25°F is and increase baking time slightly.)

To replace sugar with honey use 2/3 to 1 cup honey for every cup of sugar, and add 1/4 tsp baking soda per cup of honey.

Brown Rice Syrup
For brown rice syrup try replacing 1 cup of white sugar with 1 + 1/3 cups of brown rice syrup, and add 1/4 tsp baking soda per cup of syrup.

For molasses use 1/3 cup molasses for every cup of sugar, and reduce liquids by 1/4 cup per cup of molasses. It may take some trial and error but many baked goods can be altered to include healthy ingredients.

Click here for more nutritional information on sugar substitutes

Do you have more information on this subject? Leave a comment and share your knowledge!

(Image courtesy of

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let's Move!

Let's Move is a program started to get kids physically active and eating healthy. First Lady, Michelle Obama, has made this program a main focus since her husband took office. Politics aside- everyone can agree that helping parents make healthy decisions for their children is super important. 

Childhood obesity is a huge problem, and it is sad because kids do not get their own food. Parents are 100% in charge from day one of providing meals, so basically, parents are poisoning their children and making them heavy and causing lifelong health issues. THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN! 

Now, no one is perfect and we all get busy, so finding websites with helpful information and SHARING that information with our families and friends is paramount in combating this problem. 

From the Let's Move website:

"Parents play a key role in making healthy choices for their children because the earliest decisions regarding food and physical activity occur in the home.  But in today’s busy world, it isn’t always easy.  Parents and other caregivers need a community of support.  So Let’s Move to offer parents the simple tools, support and information they need to make healthier choices for their family. Children learn from the choices they see adults make.  If children see parents enjoying nutritious foods and physical activity, they’re more likely to do the same.
Let’s Move is building communities by bringing together families, schools, private industry and government to make healthy living easier.  With greater understanding and opportunities for good nutrition and physical activity, parents can take simple steps so busy families can live healthier lives."

This website has different pages about health and nutrition along with MANY links for every topic on how to help you feed your kids the best foods.  They have information on breastfeeding, pre-schoolers, different calorie requirements by age, recipes, where to find healthy and cheaper food, grocery lists, and SO much more! 

Spend some time on Let's Move and help your entire family become healthier and set up your kids for a lifetime of health and happiness.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Arizona Midday

Today, I am lucky enough to be a guest on the Coffee Talk segment on Arizona Midday!

I will be on with the wonderful host Destry and other local women talking about current events. The segment is one of the first things on the show- so tune in to channel 12 at 1pm to check it out!

This will be my 6th time on the show and I just LOVE going! Everyone is so friendly and it is so much fun!

Click here to visit the Arizona Midday website

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Love to eat out?? Try Pizza Picazzo's!

There are so many great restaurants that are offering healthier options and organic menus. It really makes eating out with your children more enjoyable knowing you are doing what is best for them and having someone else do the dishes for a change!

Now, one of my favorite places has a new organic menu- Pizza Picazzo's!

From their website:

Welcome to Our New Kitchen

And welcome to a healthier dining experience where we serve organic, natural, preservative-free and Gluten-free entrees. Our Organic Italian Kitchen uses local, natural and organic ingredients to create gourmet pizzas, pastas, soups and salads – all without price increases. We think you’ll agree, it’s a smart choice to dine with us.
Here’s why: 90% of our menu is organic, with the remainder all natural. This means no hormones or additives of any kind, as we serve nitrate-free meats and free-range, Smart Chicken. We offer a fantastic selection of vegetarian gourmet pizzas, and an organic menu just for kids. We’ve also brought our organic and natural theme to our menus of desserts, cocktails, wines, and sodas. Finally, just about every one of our menu items are available Gluten-free.
Besides our great selection of organic and natural food and drinks you love our creative, art-themed environment. It is open and friendly, and provides patio dining and a separate bar area – great for single or couples dining as well as for our popular “Organic Happy Hour”.

Click here to visit their website and look at their new menu!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Save money making baby food!

I loved making my own baby food. I could introduce different flavors, textures and spices that I would not get with using jar food. I also believe it has made my son the FANTASTIC eater that he is today.

He eats foods that adults are shocked by- I hear "Oh my goodness, how did you get him to eat that?" or "I could never get my child to eat that",  all of the time! PLUS- it also SAVES YOU MONEY!!!

A website I LOVE that helped me with questions and gave me great recipes is

On their blog- they have listed the savings of making your own baby food versus buying jar food.

(If you click on the picture- it should bring up a bigger image)

Thanks to for doing this research!

CLICK HERE to read the article and to download your copy today!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kellymom on Facebook is the most amazing website for breastfeeding information. It offers advice about every issue that comes with breastfeeding, gives support and provides many articles and research about breastfeeding.

Now- the best website is on Facebook and you NEED to become a fan. Not only are you in touch with so many moms who are choosing to nurse, but they post amazingly interesting articles several times each day about everything nursing!!

Including this one on exclusive pumping

and this one from a mom blogger: "When It Comes to Breastfeeding- We Can't Handle the Truth"

There is so much great information out there for breastfeeding moms- spread the word and encourage each other to stick with it!!

Click here to become a fan of kellymom on Facebook!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time to buy Annie's!

In an effort to eat organic food with no preservatives or artificial ingredients, I have come across a great brand of food items called Annie's Homegrown.

From their website:

Our Core Values

  • Annie's is real, authentic, and trusted by consumers.  As a company we strive to build upon this legacy with every decision we make.

  • Annie's only makes products that taste great; they delight our consumers.

  • Annie's uses only simple natural and organic ingredients, no icky additives or pesky preservatives.

  • Annie's sources only from places and people we trust, with high emphasis on quality, as well as agricultural and environmental sustainability.  We believe in transparency.

  • Annie's is a socially responsible company, and through our actions and programs, we spread awareness and act as a positive role model for consumers and other businesses to do the same.

  • Annie's and its valued employees treat consumers, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and each other, with the same high degree of respect, fairness, & honesty that we expect of others.

The best part is the cute little mascot- the bunny! My son loves every product and knows that cute little bunny means yum!! His favorites include the cheddar bunnies and the mac and cheese. They make so many wonderful products and you can even get them for a great price! This week, Fry's has the mac and cheese on sale 10 for $10!

Click here to visit the website and learn more about the organic and natural products.