I had the pleasure of making these delicious and healthy wicked witches with over 70 1st grade students at my daughter’s school today. Ingredients were avocado, lime, carrots pepper black bean and blue corn chips. No junk, pure plant based nutrition that they gobbled up. Each child had a chance to help make the guacamole for the witch face, which included squeezing in some lime, sprinkling some sea salt and also mashing it up. They then assembled their festive witches with the remaining ingredients. “Cooking” as simple as this drives up a child’s interest in sampling new foods as this makes them feel more empowered and involved in the process. It is wonderful to see the impact this has on their likelihood to try and ultimately embrace fruits and vegetables.
According to the following Washington Post article by Ariana Cha published on 10/28/15, cutting sugar from kids’ diets appears to have a beneficial effect in just 10 days.
American kids consume an insane amount of sugar — often double or triple the federal recommended dietary guidelines — and these empty calories are often blamed for everything from obesity to hyperactivity in the schools. What happens when we take it away?
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco and Touro University decided to find out by recruiting 43 volunteers, ages 9 to 18, and putting them on low-sugar diets and measuring all kinds of things about how their bodies changed as a result. All of the study participants — 27 of whom identified as Latino and 16 as African American — were obese and had at least one other metabolic health issue, such as high blood pressure or a marker of fatty liver.
The study participants underwent extensive testing that included everything from basic blood pressure measures and cholesterol counts to oral glucose tolerance tests and sophisticated bone density scans.
The children (or their parents) filled out a food questionnaire and were interviewed by a dietitian to come up with a baseline diet. The scientists then designed a new diet that included a similar amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates as their normal diet but cut out 10 percent to 28 percent of the sugar and replaced it with starch calorie-for-calorie.
The transformation in the kids was almost immediate.
“All of the surrogate measures of metabolic health got better, just by substituting starch for sugar in their processed food — all without changing calories or weight or exercise,” study author Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, said in a statement.
After 10 days, the researchers saw a reduction in diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Glucose tolerance and the amount of excess insulin circulating in the blood improved.
Even though they were still eating roughly the same amount of calories, the participants lost weight — an average of nearly two pounds in that short period of time. Several of the children lost so much weight so quickly that the researchers had to increase the number of calories they were feeding them.
Previous epidemiological studies had linked sugar consumption with metabolic syndrome, but it had been impossible to prove causation from that research. While this study, published in the journal Obesity on Monday, also does not prove causation, it provides a revealing look at the details of what changes in the body and what appears to remain stable with less sugar.
The average participant’s blood pressure went down by 5 mmHg. The researchers noted that this would “normally trigger a compensatory increase in [heart rate to maintain cardiac output], but it did not.” They also found that uric acid, which is created with the breakdown of certain foods like anchovies, increased unexpectedly, and they weren’t able to explain why this happened.
One of the key questions the researchers were interested in answering was whether restricting dietary sugars in children with metabolic syndrome would lead to the metabolic dysfunction resolving. The study seems to have answered yes to a certain extent.
While the study is very preliminary because of its small size, it has important implications for how we think about the ills of sugars. The researchers argue that instead of thinking about sugar as empty calories that cause weight gain they should be seen as having a more threatening effect on the body’s whole metabolic system.
The study “demonstrates that a calorie is not a calorie,” Lustig explained.
“Where those calories come from determines where in the body they go. Sugar calories are the worst, because they turn to fat in the liver, driving insulin resistance, and driving risk for diabetes, heart and liver disease,” he added. “This has enormous implications for the food industry, chronic disease and health care costs.”
The researchers noted that further study is needed to figure out whether these short-term gains in health with low-sugar diets will hold out in the longer term.
Calling the study “flawed,” the Sugar Industry Association said that the fact that so many of the participants lost weight during the study “makes it impossible to separate the effects of weight loss from dietary changes on the health variables measured.” The group, which represents major sugar companies, such as Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar, also questioned the study’s short duration and the fact that the baseline diet data was self-reported which can make it unreliable.
In addition, the industry group said the lack of information that the authors provided about what the children actually ate “raises serious concerns about the legitimacy of the study’s hypothesis.”
We had a wonderful healthy treat making class at the Kitchen at the Boston Public market! Witches made from avocado, carrot and peppers, “boo”nana ghosts and clementine pumpkins were among the favored healthy treats. Fun, Plant based and delicious! Join us next month for healthy thanksgiving inspired treats!!
A recent article on PBS.org speaks to the damaging effects that junk food has on your child’s immune system. Tooth decay, obesity, behavioral issues aside, here is just one more reason to skip the junk snack aisle at the supermarket:
Desserts don’t have to come from a box, and they certainly don’t have to be made with ingredients that make us feel guilty for eating them. Next time you are craving something sweet to serve after dinner – skip the recipes made with cancer causing GMOs, blood sugar spiking white flour and artery clogging butter – and opt for this nutrient dense recipe chock full of vegan plant power…try these delicious black bean brownies from chocolate covered Katie. My daughter shown to the left, this is one of her favorite desserts.
- 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well) (250g after draining)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder (10g)
- 1/2 cup quick oats (40g) (See nutrition link below for substitutions)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave (or honey, but not for strict vegans.) (75g)
- pinch uncut stevia OR 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil (40g) (See nutrition link for substitution notes)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)
- optional: more chips, for presentation
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth.
- Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.)
- Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan.
- Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top.
- Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut.
- 3 ripe avocados
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
- Remove pits from avocado, and measure all ingredients.
- Add all contents to blender and puree - best if consumed within 24 hours. Garnish with sliced avocado and raspberries if desired.
- Hard to believe something so delicous and decadent could be raw, vegan, gluten free, and so good for you. I definitely did not mind giving my girls this for dessert tonight. Avocados are high in oleic acid, (known to protect against breast cancer) folate (which helps prevent heart disease) as well as vitamin E- great for overall health. Dark chocolate and vanilla are both rich in anti oxidants, which helpt to defend against cancer. For a variation, layer with fresh berries and slivered almonds or add in peppermint or almond extract. Guilt free and delicious – need I say more!
As Schools Buy More Local Food, Kids Throw Less Food In The Trash by Dan Charles
NPR – October 20, 2015
More and more schools are trying to serve meals with food that was grown nearby. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just released some statistics documenting the trend….
Encouraging children to eat more fruit is certainly not the same as the vegetable struggle. Full of natural sweetness, fruit is a healthy and delicious treat anytime of the day that children tend to gobble right up. Try to stick with produce that is in season whenever possible. Eating with the seasons is better for the environment, is more affordable, and is generally fresher/higher in nutrient density making it better for our health. Try these colorful, fun fruit skewers at your child’s next playdate or party. They are easy and always a crowd pleaser.
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup orange segments, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup kiwi, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup grapefruit, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup pineapple cut into 1 inch pieces
6-10 wooden skewers
Wash and dry all fruit thoroughly. For each skewer, thread fruit pieces in a rainbow pattern starting first with 1 raspberry, followed by a piece of grapefruit, orange, pineapple, kiwi and finally ending with 2 blueberries.
Rainbow Fruit Skewers
Having good tools at home is key to getting little ones to “Eat the Rainbow.” Remember, it can take 10-20 exposures for a child to try a new food so don’t give up! Try this one by “Today I ate a Rainbow” and give your child a chance to be part of the process. http://www.todayiatearainbow.com/resources/free-downloads/
Join us Wednesday October 21 for a fun, festive edible art class for kids! We will use fresh produce to make a variety of treats that are delicious and healthy! Classes are offered to 3-5 year olds along with a caregiver from 9-10am and also 10:30-11:30. Hope to see you there! Click here for more info.