Archive for January, 2012

Dear Readers,

Here’s a continuation of the list of “Super Snacks” suggested by Dr. Bill Sears.

A handful of raw nuts or trail mix

Pita bread spread with hummus

Rice cake with peanut butter and banana

Parmesan cheese melted on a slice of whole-grain bread

Blueberries in yogurt

Popcorn (homemade air-popped)

Celery sticks with peanut butter

Cherry tomatoes with cheese cubes

Fruit-and-yogurt smoothie

Hard-boiled egg

Bean dip and veggie sticks

Any fruit

Whole-grain muffins, preferably homemade

Homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies

Cut-up vegetables with salsa and corn chips

Here’s a list of “Grow Foods” which are nutrient-dense and they “offer more bang for your nutritional buck”.

Vegetables, steamed or raw

Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)


Whole grains

Nuts and nut butters

Seafood, especially Alaskan salmon

Lean meats and poultry

Greek-style yogurt



Hope you find this info helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Dr. Bill Sears, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and co-author of The Baby Book, wrote a very informative article entitled “Graze Anatomy”, in which he fully explains the benefits of grazing for toddlers.  It appeared in the June, 2011 edition of the “Costco Connection”.  Let me quote directly from the article.

“Children are born grazers.  One of the eating tips I give my patients of all ages is what I call Dr. Bill’s Rule of Two’s:  Eat twice as often – Eat half as much – Chew twice as long.

Grazing benefits the brain.  The buzzwords for feeding the brain are slow and steady.  Grazers have steadier blood sugar and therefore a steadier supply of brain fuel.  Parents often tell me that once they start encouraging their children to graze throughout the day, their children have fewer behavior and learning problems at school.

Grazing is good for staying lean.  When you graze on frequent mini meals throughout the day, your body enjoys stable insulin levels.  Insulin is a fat-storage hormone.  When it spikes high throughout the day, such as when you gorge, you store that extra food as extra fat.  When you graze, insulin is not so high, which helps keep you lean.  Remember, lean does not mean being skinny, but rather having the right body weight for your body type.”

Dr. Sears goes on to describe what is a healthy snack for toddlers and children.  They should contain at least 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber; contain 100 to 200 calories and be crunchy so that a lot of chewing is required to digest them.  He gave a list of “Super Snacks” that are good for grazing.  Here are some of the snacks listed:

Baby carrots dipped in hummus

Apple slices dipped in peanut butter

Whole-grain cereal with yogurt

Edamame (fresh, cooked soybeans)

String cheese and a piece of fruit

Cottage cheese and fruit

To Be Continued.

Keep smilin’!


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Dear Readers,

I know this is a wild name for macaroni and cheese but throw caution to the wind and give this dish a try!  The recipe for “Cheese Thing” originated with Wendy A. Parker and was published in Sue Rappaport’s column in the Desert Sun newspaper.  Prepared this casserole for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and everyone loved it.

Cheese Thing

1 pound penne rigate or similar tubular pasta

1/2 pound EACH:  sharp cheddar cheese, mild cheddar cheese

1 can (28 ounces) whole, peeled tomatoes with juice

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:  Heat a large pot of salted water (at least 5 quarts) to boil.  Add penne and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.  Don’t worry if the pasta is a little undercooked, it will be finished in the oven.  Meanwhile cut the cheeses into 1/2 inch cubes.  Leave tomatoes in their juice and cut them into bite size pieces with with a knife or for fun, squeeze them with your hands.

When the pasta is done, drain and return to pot.  Add butter and stir until almost melted.  Add cheese, tomatoes, sugar and salt; stir well.  Pour mixture into 2 quart or 9 x 13-inch baking dish – glass or ceramic is best.  For optimal results, the Cheese Thing should sit for 12 to 24 hours, covered and refrigerated before baking, although it can be baked right away.  It can be frozen at this point for up to a month.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Set the Cheese Thing on a rack in the middle of oven; bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly and noodles poking out of the top have browned considerably.  Serve hot as an entree with a salad or as a side dish for meat or serve cold for breakfast the next morning.

Enjoy and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

We had a grand time visiting with family in Raleigh at Christmas.  Since the granddaughters have arrived, we are creating some Christmas traditions most of which center around food and familly meals.

This is the third Christmas that Seth, our son-in-law, prepared posole and tamales.  The entire clan helped to fill and wrap the tamales under the watchful eyes of Seth.  Our granddaughter enjoyed the traditional reading of her favorite book, entited “Too Many Tamales”.  She helped Uncle Seth mix the masa for the outside of the tamales, delighted that sticky fingers in the dough was part of the process.  Seth spent hours cooking chicken, pork and even pig’s feet for the dinner.  Different mole sauces were concocted, cilantro and radishes were chopped and pumpkin seeds were toasted and ground.  Needless to say, quite a few dishes and utensils needed to be washed and dried during the cooking marathon.

Mimi hosted the Christmas Eve dinner which consisted of brown sugar ham, mac and cheese, green beans and homemade applesauce.  Finally on Christmas Day our son, Andrew, baked the holiday turkey along with PopPop Gibson’s stuffing and broccoli casserole.  The kitchen was a beehive of activity all day.

Quite a bit of energy was exerted for all three of these meals.  But I witnessed something very heartwarming during the holidays.  Anytime the cook needed a break, some member of the family came into the kitchen and lent a hand.  There were always a couple of people washing and drying dishes before the meal, while someone else set the table.  We took turns watching the little ones while the final touches were made to the food.  The scraping of dishes and the loading of the dishwasher were performed by someone who wasn’t in the kitchen earlier.

In other words, we worked in teams helping each other out when fatigue set in.  Then I realized that is just what families do.  They lift each other up and take up the slack when a member is tired.  This help is extended not only during the holidays but throughout life.  It is a comforting feeling to be a member of a family and know that the love, support and encouragment of the members is truly a blessing from God!

Keep smilin’!

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