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The Ikea Effect of Cooking

August 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MDIKEA

You’re never too young — or too old — to start cooking; Standing on a stool my kids barely reached the faucet when they started. Our first kitchen adventure involved making a good green salad, and included the basics of how to wash and dry lettuce, and the simple principles of mixing a good salad dressing. The second lesson’s product was a nice bowl of lightly salted edamame in their shell, which my kids still think of as “addictive food.”

We didn’t get into brownies and cupcakes until much later. I figured that creating a dish makes its creator treasure it, and why waste a lesson of love on brownies, which any kid’s bound to fancy anyway.

In his book The Upside of Irrationality Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics, devotes a chapter to the well know phenomenon of falling in love with the things we make, and the irrational value we attribute to the objects we had a more intimate relationship with. Ariely titles the chapter “the IKEA effect”— the Swedish maker’s assemble-it-yourself shelf Ariely labored over for hours somehow has a special place in his heart, and Ariely investigates why it’s so.

Through a series of experiments, involving the creation of origami animals, Lego patterns, and real-life examples of successful and unsuccessful businesses, Ariely comes to several conclusions regarding the evident connection between labor and love:

  • Putting effort into an object changes how we feel about it — we value the things we labor over• The harder we work on something, the more we love it
  • We’re so invested in the things we labored over, and value them so much, that we assume others share our (biased) overvaluation of our creation
  • Although working hard on a task makes us love it more, not completing the task is a deal breaker. We have no attachment to tasks we failed at or failed to complete.

Interestingly, Ariely also shows that both people and animals would rather earn their keep and work for their food. Even mice seem not to value free meals, at least not on a regular basis.

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

The lessons above are valuable and applicable to many aspects of life: I think “the IKEA effect” chapter (the whole book in fact) has lessons for any employer or employee seeking greater work productivity and satisfaction, and for any parent contemplating showing photos of his kids to a stranger (no, he doesn’t think your kids are the cutest — he couldn’t care less).

But back to kids in the kitchen. Learning how to cook is a valuable life skill that will not only enable kids to eat healthier — no matter what you make at home it will usually be healthier than the bought version — but can also be a great tool in directing their preferences toward those foods you’d like them to eat more of, namely, fruits and veggies.

Ariely’s lesson also made me think of the importance of giving kids a task they can complete. Being responsible for just one small step in a complicated dish would result in much less creator’s pride than being able to claim the creation from start to finish as your work. So selecting recipes that are of just the right technical difficulty — challenging, but not too hard for a kid to complete — is the name of the game.

As time went by we moved to things like potato gnocchi from scratch. I wasn’t sure my kids would be able to create dumplings that hold up in the boiling water on their first try — I had many less than stellar attempts at this dish before I sort of mastered it — but beginners luck, or maybe I can take some credit as the instructor, theirs turned out incredible and light-as-a-clouds.

Ariely wrote nothing about clean-up — it doesn’t, unfortunately, reward one the way cooking and serving your handiwork does. For cleanup to be pleasurable the best tricks, I think, are joint effort and/or some good music.

I’d love to hear about your adventures in the kitchen —  as a kid or with them.

Dr. Ayala

“Learning how to cook is a valuable life skill that will enable kids to eat healthier”

The Downside of Gluten-freeing Your Kids

July 18, 2016 by  
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by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Gluten FreeThe gluten-free food industry has seen tremendous growth, and while celiac disease – which requires lifelong complete avoidance of gluten – is also on the rise, consumers who do not have celiac or any other medical reason to avoid gluten are the main engine propelling the gluten-free boom.

Why do they do this, and is this a healthy trend?

Norelle Reilly, gastroenterologist and director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, in a commentary in the Journal of Pediatrics, cites a 2015 survey of 1500 American adults. “No reason” is the most common reason for going gluten free – 35 percent of those surveyed explained their choice just so. 26 percent choose gluten-free food because they think it’s a healthier option, and 19 percent perceive it as better for digestive health.

If gluten-free foods are indeed a healthy trend, the fact that 20 percent of Americans are seeking them for no medical reason might be a good thing. If, on the other hand, gluten free carries risk, this fad might be an expensive gamble.

THE RISK OF GLUTEN FREE

For people who do not have celiac, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no data to support the notion that gluten free is healthy, states Dr. Reilly. In fact, packaged gluten-free food often contains more sugar and fat, and has higher caloric density. Contrary to what people believe, going gluten free without medical supervision can lead to packing extra weight, to insulin resistance, and to vitamin deficiencies, since gluten-free foods are not fortified the way wheat is.

And then there’s arsenic. Gluten-free diets often rely heavily on rice, and rice quite often, contains arsenic, which comes from the soil. The amounts are small, and probably not a problem if one eats a varied diet, but on a gluten-free diet rice becomes the predominant grain, and that can be especially problematic for babies and pregnant women.

A gluten-free diet, just like many other exclusion diets, comes with a quality of life price tag. And these specialty foods often cost more and are sold at a premium.

And since in kids there are only two indications for excluding gluten from the diet: celiac disease and wheat allergy (non-celiac gluten sensitivity has not been described in kids), putting kids on this diet carries risk with no apparent benefits. There is no support to the misconception that gluten is toxic, and no evidence that gluten-free diets treat a myriad of afflictions such as autism, arthritis or obesity.

Dr. Reilly concludes:

“Patients self-prescribing a GFD (gluten-free diet) should be counseled as to the possible financial, social, and nutritional consequences of unnecessary implementation.”

The food industry uses the health halo of the gluten-free health claim to better sell. It’s really important to emphasize that just like one knows that foods that are peanut free are not generally healthier, gluten-free foods are not a panacea; avoiding gluten isn’t a recipe for health for those of us who don’t have a sensitivity or autoimmunity that involves gluten.

Dr. Ayala

“There is no support to the misconception that gluten is toxic, and no evidence that gluten-free diets treat a myriad of afflictions such as autism, arthritis or obesity.”

 

5 Immunologist’s Tips for Building Your Child’s Immunity

October 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Girl blowing her nose --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbisby Mommy MD Guide Sonal R Patel, MD

I often get asked “How can I build my child’s Immunity?”  Here are some suggestions:

1. It starts with a great diet.

You are what you eat! There may be something to the old saying. Healthy things in everyday foods — from yogurt to walnuts — may help boost a kid’s natural defenses. So whether you’re arming your kid for cold and flu season or just aiming for good, year-round health, immune-boosting foods may help.

Foods that may Boost Immunity

  • Yogurt contains helpful germs called probiotics. You may already know that these organisms live in your gut and can improve the way your body uses food. But they’re also important in helping your body fight sickness. What type of yogurt should you get? Look for brands that say they contain live cultures. Just stay away from artificially added sugars, colors, etc.
  • Walnuts. Walnuts have healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for you in lots of ways. Experts believe that omega-3s help your body fight illness. Walnuts are easy to sprinkle into a snack mix or on cereal. This is an especially great way to get natural omegas for vegetarians.
  • Fruits and veggies. To help your immune system, some experts suggests aiming for ones that are high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Sugar has been shown in many clinical trials to actually suppress immunity. To keep kids well, limit their overall intake of additives, sugar, and find out which foods are allergens. Focus on plenty of fresh veggies, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and eggs.

2. Maintain your child’s microbiota!

Probiotics are the friendly helpful bacteria that naturally occur in our guts. They protect our digestive tracts, help us to digest food, and shield us from invading bacteria and viruses. When this bacterial balance becomes disrupted in children, we can see changes in a child’s ability to fend off infections. So eat food that have probiotics like yogurt and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. Urging your pediatrician to write a prescription for an antibiotic whenever your child has a cold, flu, or sore throat is a bad idea. Antibiotics treat only illnesses caused by bacteria, but the majority of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. Studies show, however, that many pediatricians prescribe antibiotics somewhat reluctantly at the urging of parents who mistakenly think it can’t hurt. In fact, it can. Strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have flourished as a result, and a simple ear infection is more difficult to cure if it’s caused by stubborn bacteria that don’t respond to standard treatment.

3. Help calm their stress and anxiety.

In today’s fast-paced world, parents are overstressed, children are over-scheduled, and everyone suffers. Children’s bodies have the same response to stress that adults’ do — their cortisol and adrenaline rises. When this elevation in stress hormones is sustained, their immune systems’ response is lowered. It’s important for children to have lots of down time, time for creative play, and simply times of rest.

4. Make sure they’re getting enough good sleep.

Most children are not getting the required amount of sleep. Depending on age, children need between 10 and 14 hours of sleep per night.

5. Remember that fever helps fight infection and infections develop your immunity

Although many parents panic at the first sign of a rise in temperature on the thermometer, it’s important to recognize that fever is only a sign of and not an illness itself. Fever is your child’s body’s natural response to an infection, and without it her body isn’t as effective at fighting the illness. Minor illnesses are part of life, and not every infection can be prevented or treated. When you do have an infection, your immune system builds immunity and memory to that particular virus or bacteria.

 

  • All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

 

 

 

 

 

Back-to-School Transitions

August 18, 2014 by  
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by Mommy MD Guide Deborah Gilboa, MDBook Get the Behavior  You Want

“Back to School!” is everywhere right now! Like it or not (and I know a lot of parents are torn about this), we do have to start thinking about a new set of issues. Here are some tips to ease the shift. I’m going to tackle these by topic and age group, the same way I’ve laid out my new book, Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate!

Schedules

  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Kids this age rarely struggle to get up in the morning – usually it’s us parents who struggle! All little ones need is a reminder of the morning routine, so have a few practice runs, when you aren’t time-stressed, so your kiddo can be in the zone before the first real drop-off.
  • Elementary schoolers: Head back to school wakeup time and bedtime, and use that early(ish) morning time to do some things your child actually wants to do. This will make motivating them out of bed easier.
  • Middle schoolers: Push wake up time an hour earlier than it has been during the summer, then an hour earlier. Do this until you are at least in the neighborhood of school wake up time. Go back to eating breakfast!
  • High schoolers: Make a plan this year for wake-ups. You should not be the human alarm clock. Be clear with your child about what you are and are not willing to do to help them get up in the morning and what the consequences will be if they don’t get up. (Remember, you want them to make their morning college classes someday without your help.)

Social Life

All the fun and relaxation of summer can disappear when a child contemplates the first day of school. And even when our kids aren’t nervous, we often are! Talking and strategizing can help, as long as we don’t project our anxiety onto our kids.

  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Most little ones have faith in their ability to make new friends, but first day of school is always easier with some familiar faces. So get a list of kids your child will be with this year and plan a couple of playground meet ups. If you can meet at the school’s playground, it will be even better!
  • Elementary schoolers: Don’t leave it all to chance. Encourage your kids to be pro-active about this. Often kids have no control over who will be in class together, but they can hang out with some friends (new or old) in the couple of weeks leading up to school so that first day doesn’t feel so much like jumping in.
  • Middle schoolers: Role play, by talking through the most common rough spots – such as finding a seat in math or that first encounter by the lockers. Not every tween or teen will do this, but it can be amazingly helpful to “know your lines” when confronted by someone who makes you really nervous.
  • High schoolers: Join a team or group. A unity of purpose or interest can help make new relationships a lot faster than standing with a lunch tray looking for somewhere to sit.

Homework

Cue the heavy music. Here are a few things that might help.

  • Toddlers and preschoolers: Rejoice, they don’t have any! Of course, if they have older sibs, they may ask for homework, but that is their teachers’ problem!
  • Elementary schoolers: Create the space. Where is your child going to do this homework? Get that space ready with a cubby, desk, bulletin board, wall calendar, whatever makes sense to him.
  • Middle schoolers: Plan ahead. Often the curriculum is available online, so suggest to your child that she get a head start by getting books a little early and reading a little ahead. That will mean more hanging out and a slightly less shocking work load the first week or so of school.
  • High schoolers: Write a contract. If you have patterns you want to avoid this year about homework, be clear now. Decide what is up to your child (timing of work, space, music, etc) and what is nonnegotiable (completion, grades, etc). Link your requirements to privileges your child wants (cell phone, friend time, extracurricular, whatever fits your philosophy). Write it down!

MMDG Debi Gilboa 2About the author: Parenting expert, Deborah Gilboa, M.D. aka “Doctor G” is a family physician, mom of 4, international speaker, author and TV personality. She developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids.Her book, Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate will be released September 10, 2014 and is available on Amazon.com. 

 

Summer Safety Tips

June 2, 2014 by  
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SUmmer Safety Tipsby Mommy MD Guides blogger Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD

Family safety is a priority regardless of the season, but the summer gives us more reason to emphasize simple measures to keep out of harm’s way.

  • Pool Safety: Be sure to swim only where there are lifeguards or adult supervision. Always use life jackets during water activities and when near open bodies of water such as the oceans, rivers, and lakes. Never leave your children unattended around water. Maintain barriers such as fences and locks to keep children away from unattended pool areas.
  • Food Safety: Summertime is often associated with outdoor barbecues and picnics. Mayonnaise, milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood should not be kept at room temperature for more than an hour or two (one hour max if it’s hotter than 90 degrees outside). Be sure to thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables. If you are traveling with food, be sure to use plenty of ice packs and ice to keep food cool.
  • Bug Safety: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend an insect repellent that contains 10 to 30 percent DEET for children two months old or older. The DEET percentage represents how long it’s effective: Ten percent will provide protection up to two hours, while 30 percent will cover you up to five hours. Do not apply DEET to face or hands. DEET is effective in preventing insect-related diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. For a greener approach to bug busting, organic mosquito repellents are available in most pharmacies.
  • Sun Safety: Make sure you apply sunscreen before leaving the house. The American Cancer Society recommends wearing SPF 15. Stay in the shade as much as possible during the sun’s peak hours between 10 am and 4 pm. Make sure to re-apply sunscreen every one to two hours when swimming or if you are excessively sweating. Wear protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Heat Safety: Limit time outdoors when the weather is extremely hot and humid. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to public places that do, such as shopping malls, libraries, and grocery stores. Avoid hot, enclosed places, such as cars. Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing, and drink plenty of water before and during your time outdoors. Heat stress in children and adults can lead to serious health issues very quickly. The very young and the very old are at most risk for heat exhaustion because of their inability to handle high temperatures. If you are taking the kids to the playground, check the temperature of the playground equipment because it can get very hot and could burn your child.

Eight Signs of Heat Overexposure

  1. Rapid heartbeat
  2. Headache
  3. Fatigue
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Excessive sweating (However, if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and may stop sweating.)
  6. Muscle cramps
  7. Dark-colored urine
  8. Fainting, confusion, dizziness, or disorientation

Six Tips for Overcoming Heat Stroke

  1. Move the person out of the sun and into a cool area. An air-conditioned area is ideal, but moving someone into the shade will also help.
  2. Remove any heavy or tight clothing.
  3. Give the person cool water to drink.
  4. Mist the skin to help keep him or her cool.
  5. Apply ice to his or her neck or armpits.
  6. Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.

If these measures do not cool the person off in 30 minutes, call 9-1-1 and go to your nearest emergency room.

Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD is a mom of two young children and a physician at eMedical Offices in Berkeley Heights and an attending emergency physician at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. She received a bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., and her medical degree from SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, NY. She completed the Jacobi/Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and served as chief resident.

Eat Slowly to Eat Less (and 7 Tips on How To)

March 8, 2014 by  
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by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

When I eat out (which isn’t very often), an appetizer and a few bites into the entrée are enough to make me full, and I am not one of these people with small appetites. They say it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register satiety, and the customary interlude between courses in restaurants and dining in company slows me down, which does the trick for me.

Unfortunately, I manage to eat slowly only when I’m with others.

Is this just my subjective feeling, or is there solid evidence to back the common weight-control advice to take your time with your meal?

Longer meal, fewer calories

A study reported in the British Medical Journal showed that the odds of being overweight were three times greater for people who reported eating quickly and until full than for people who ate slowly and stopped eating before they felt stuffed. There are several other studies that gather self-reported eating rates, which can be unreliable.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when volunteers took large bites, rather than smaller ones, they ate about 100 calories more of chocolate custard. This kind of interventional study actually puts people in a test-meal environment, and empirically tests the rate of eating and the quantities consumed. Studies such as this have shown mixed results.

A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also took the experimental approach. The researchers recruited 35 normal weight and 35 overweight and obese volunteers and fed them two meals of what most of the participants thought was delicious pasta with vegetables (many participants asked for the recipe). One of the meals was eaten quickly, while during the other, people were asked to take small bites, chew thoroughly, and put the spoon down between bites, with the slow meal lasting about 13 minutes longer.

Slow eating affected normal-weight people more than it did overweight participants: The normal-weight slow eaters shaved an average 88 calories compared with their fast-paced meal. For overweight volunteers, the difference was smaller: just 58 calories, which was not statistically significant. Everyone drank more water with the slow meal (water was offered freely at all occasions). An interesting finding was that overweight and obese participants ate less in both the slow and the fast meals compared with the normal-weight participants. This is not the first study that observes that overweight people consume less than expected when eating with peers—they might be self-conscious when eating in public, and that might affect the results of such studies.

Both groups reported they were less hungry an hour after the slow meal compared with the fast one.

7 tips for slow(er) eating

Most of the evidence suggests that the rate at which we eat affects how much we eat. So here are seven tips to help you eat more slowly and mindfully:

1. Eat with company: This is important on so many levels. My daughter is a super-slow eater; I try to pace myself to her rhythm (but just can’t manage it).

2. Small courses: You don’t have to prepare several courses. You can serve yourself a small amount of the one course you prepared, take a short break, and then decide if you’re going for seconds.

3. Sit at a table: When you eat on the go, in front of the computer (my vice), or over the sink (my husband’s favorite spot), you can hardly take your time. Eating on your feet definitely doesn’t make it go to your hips or thighs, but overeating deposits fat everywhere.

4. Chew: I don’t suggest you count to the 32 suggested by The Great Masticator. That would interfere with tip #1, but keeping the food in your mouth a bit longer, and not swallowing it whole, is a good idea.

5. Put down your fork between bites: or your spoon, or your chopsticks, or even your pizza, sandwich, or apple.

6. Solids are better: Food that’s ready to swallow goes down way too fast. Avoid liquid calories, and foods that are so processed that neither your hands nor your mouth have any work to do. The more fiber in your food, the more chewing it requires.

7. Drink: Sipping water with your meal forces you to slow down, and at the same time, distends your stomach, sending satiety signals to your brain.

Oh, there’s also an app for slow eating, and even a fork that vibrates in your mouth if your bites are too frequent. These, too, interfere with tip #1, which at least for me, is the most important of all.

Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA.

Battling the Bathing Suit Blues?

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under J.Reich

By Jennifer Bright Reich

As I sit in my home office, wearing comfy sweats and slippers, the thought of putting on—worse yet, trying on—bathing suits terrifies me. I’ve tried to maintain my weight this winter, but the fitting-room mirror is likely to tell a different story.

Here are some terrific weight-loss tips that doctors who are also mothers use themselves. These women are so super busy that if a tip works for them, it’s bound to be good. I discovered these tips—and hundreds more—while interviewing for the new book The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great.

“I recently created my own diet. I call it VEGLY. I eat as many servings of vegetables, eggs, grapefruit, lean meats or Lean Cuisines, and yogurt as I want. If I stick with that all day, I earn a treat: a glass of beer or wine or a small dessert. I’ve lost six pounds so far!” —Amy Baxter, MD, a mom of three, the CEO of Buzzy4Shots.com, and the director of emergency research, Scottish Rite, of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, in Georgia.

“After my son was born, I worked with a personal trainer. He gave me a simple piece of advice that has really helped: Don’t eat any carbs after 7 pm. I try not to eat at all after 7 pm, but if I do, I’ll have something high in protein, such as a piece of cheese or a hardboiled egg.” —Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD, a mom of two and an emergency physician and director of the recruiting team at Emergency Medical Associates in Livingston, NJ.

“I have a very long commute. Because of this, I ‘live’ in my truck several days a week, driving to and from some rather isolated areas in the Appalachian Mountains. Sometimes, after a hard day of working and driving, I’m almost tempted to pick up a slice of pizza and a bag of chips at a gas station on the way home. A trick I use to eat properly on the run is what I call my “cooler diet.” I put everything I want to eat for the day in a nice, roomy cooler. If it’s not in the cooler, I don’t get to eat it—no questions. So that means I don’t get to eat the chocolate that’s everywhere around me at work, or the yummy-looking cream-filled doughnuts that one of the nurses brings in from the doughnut shop for breakfast. I pack my cooler the night before work with lots and lots of whole and nutritious foods and beverages—apples, pears, oranges, and cut-up veggies with low-fat dip. A couple of bottles of water and some unsweetened tea. A container of yogurt, some string cheese, and a bag full of nutritious trail mix. A box of low-fat granola cereal. I pack as much food as I can fit into my cooler. The only rule I have is that the food I pack must contribute to my overall good health and support a healthy weight.” —Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three, a family physician, and the coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, in Lexington, Kentucky.

“Want to ‘lose’ 10 pounds in an instant? Sit up straight, pull your shoulders down and back, and arch your back to get ‘cheerleader butt.’ By pulling your shoulders down, your neck looks thinner, and with a C-curve in your lower back, your thighs and tummy look thinner. Voilà, you’ll look 10 pounds slimmer.” —Jennifer Hanes, DO, a mom of two, an emergency physician who’s board certified in integrative medicine, and the author of The Princess Plan: Shrink Your Waist, Expand Your Beauty, in Austin, TX.

About the author: Jennifer Bright Reich is a mom of two, cofounder of www.mommymdguides.com and coauthor of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great.

Maine Pumpkin Spice Bread

December 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

There are so many great versions of pumpkin bread, but this one is truly delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness and spice. This bread is actually moister and more delicious the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead recipe. This recipe will make 2 loaves, 4 mini-loaves, or 24 muffins, and freezes exceptionally well as loaves or individual slices.

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, which has added spices)

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup vegetable oil (such as Smart Balance or canola)

2/3 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼–½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease/flour two 9- x 5-inch loaf pans (glass pans work best).
  2. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla, and sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix!
  5. Bake on the center rack for approximately 60 minutes (it may take longer), until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean with no batter or crumbs. Watch that the top does not begin to burn (if it starts to brown, gently lay a piece of foil over the pan.)
  6. Place 2 large sheets of aluminum foil onto the counter. Allow the loaves to cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen, then invert onto a large dish or chopping board. Immediately invert onto the aluminum foil. After 10 minutes, wrap it in foil if you like moist bread, or wait until it’s cool to the touch if you prefer drier bread.
  • For a healthier, but still delicious bread: Replace up to half of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. Substitute ½ cup oil with ½ cup applesauce. Reduce the sugar to 2 cups.
  • If you like nuts, add ½ to 1 cup chopped nuts.
  • If you like raisins, add ½ cup (I like golden raisins in this recipe). Dried cranberries work well, too!
  • This recipe can be doubled by using the 29-ounce can of pumpkin puree and doubling all other ingredients.
  • If you don’t have all of the spices, you can substitute 2½ teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about Halloween safety tips.

Does It Matter Which Fruit You Eat?

December 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Every decent guide for healthy eating encourages us to eat more fruits and veggies. Why? An abundance of fruits and veggies has been associated with lower risk of a whole range of conditions, from hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Up-to-date guidelines don’t just encourage us to eat more plants; they suggest we eat a rainbow, they urge us to eat a variety of fruits and veggies. The latest superfruit trend has also hyped several supposedly high performers from the plant kingdom, touting their assumed powers above other humble, non-exotic varieties.

Does fruit choice matter? Should we eat what we like, what’s affordable and available, or should we carefully select specific, health-promoting fruit?

Two new studies, just published, address this question. Let’s take a look.

Quantity or Quality?

When it comes to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, some fruits are better than others, concludes a study in the British Medical Journal. The researchers pooled the findings of three large studies, following the diets and diseases of 185,000 people over 12 years. About 12,000 people developed diabetes during that time, and while people who ate more fruit also usually made other healthy lifestyle choices (such as exercise and eating fewer calories), after controlling for all these, the researchers found that specific whole fruits, especially blueberries, apples, and grapes, were associated with lower risk of diabetes, while other fruit, such as strawberries and cantaloupe, less so.

Fruit juice, though, didn’t confer the same protection. Greater fruit juice consumption was linked with greater risk of diabetes.

The other study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at fruit variety and coronary heart disease. This study followed a cohort of about 120,000 people for more than 20 years, during which about 6,000 developed heart disease. After controlling for other variables, this study found that the quantity of fruit was more important than the variety. The people who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 17 percent lower risk of ischemic heart disease. But quantity aside, some fruits and veggies, such as citrus fruit and green leafy veggies seemed to matter more—as long as quantity was maintained.

Superfoods and Miracle Foods and Plain Old Apples

A miracle, by definition, is something that happens very rarely (if at all). But nowadays, superfruits and miracle foods are ‘discovered’ weekly, and incorporated into processed foods and plastered with health claims promising eternal life.

Plants are very clever biochemical machines; it seems like there are many more mysteries within their cell walls that we have yet to discover, and the more research we do, the more benefits we find. (The opposite can be said of the Western, processed diet; the more we explore its effect, the more harm we find.) Not to take away from acai, blueberry, and chia, most fruits and veggies, once studied, become super. The love-of-my-kitchen tomato was thought to be poisonous and evil, but is now a superfood because we discovered its health-promoting lycopene.

It very well might be that certain fruits’ and veggies’ benefits are more targeted to certain conditions, but since our understanding of this is still limited, I’d stick to a simple plan: Eat more fruits and veggies and aim for variety, any variety. As long as you don’t confuse whole fruit with fruit juice, and don’t consider potatoes and corn a major veggie, I think you’ll be okay. Diet as a whole affects health—profoundly—but eating the latest fad miracle fruit, sensationalized by the media, is not likely to make much of a difference. Sorry, but shortcuts are improbable.

Bear in mind, superfruit is a marketing—not a scientific—term, invented by the food industry for the sole purpose of selling products.

Here’s my prediction: the fruits and veggies you like and eat anyway might have their moment of fame, and be rebranded as superfruit once studied, and you’ll be able to say you believed in them all along.

 

Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA. Dr. Ayala is known for her extensive knowledge of nutrition and food, as well as her practical approach to improving health and preventing obesity and disease.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD? Here’s her recent blog about salt.

Justification for a Family Vacation–and Great Disney Deals from Pixie Vacations!

October 25, 2013 by  
Filed under J.Reich

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Jennifer Bright Reich

This is the third and last blog in a series on Disney World travel. Yes, I’m in a Disney frame of mind! I’m always either planning a trip, on a trip, or scrapbooking a trip. My life is one big Walt Disney World Vacation! (And below you’ll find some great Disney deals from my friends at Pixie Vacations.)

Writing these blogs got me thinking: What’s my justification for a family vacation? I believe that happy memories are the glue that holds us together. I’ve seen firsthand how my sons made great leaps in maturity and also intellectually on our family trips. It was on a Disney trip when my older son really “got” the idea of reading. He went from barely reading to noticing words and language everywhere, thanks to Disney signs that are everywhere. As my kids get older, they express more and more that they don’t get to spend enough time with me. On a trip, I’m focused on them 24/7, and we all love that.

According to a study conducted by Kelton Research, quality family time increases while on vacation, and both parents and children say they’re more likely to learn something new about one another during this time. The study found that family vacations made people more excited (77 percent), relaxed (75 percent), silly (68 percent), calm (54 percent), and affectionate (54 percent). That sounds so great that I can hardly wait until our next family vacation!

And now about those deals!

Play, Stay & Dine at Disney World & Save Up To $600

Booking Dates:
October 8 – December 31, 2013

Travel Dates:
For Stays most nights January 5 – March 5, 2014

Walt Disney World vacation packages are here for 2014 travel.  You can save $600* on your family vacation by booking this offer.  Here are the details:

Purchase this Walt Disney World Vacation now through Dec. 31, 2013 for stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014 at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Save $600* (based on a family of four) on a 5-night, 6-day Plus Dining Disney Vacation Package at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts. Or, save $400* (based on a family of four) on a 5-night, 6-day Disney World Vacation Package Plus Quick Service Dining at select Disney Value Resorts.

Booking Window:
Oct. 8 – Dec. 31, 2013

Travel Window:
For stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014

Don’t delay! With savings this huge, rooms will fill up fast! If you are interested in this offer contact Pixie Vacations today.

Save Up To 35% – Select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

You can save up to 35%* at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels with this offer.

Booking Window:
Book Oct. 8 – Dec. 31, 2013

Travel Window:
For stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014 and March 14 – April, 12, 2014:

Save up to 35% at
Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts,
Disney’s Beach Club Resort Villas,
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas,
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard/pool view rooms),
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa,
Disney’s Polynesian Resort,
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa,
Disney’s Old Key West Resort,
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (standard/woods view)

Save up to 25% at
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort,
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort,
Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins

Save up to 20% at
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort,
Disney’s All-Star Music
Disney’s Pop Century Resort

How to Book:

Contact Pixie Vacations
Call 678-815-1584
Email: Info@PixieVacaitons.com
Get a Quick Disney World Quote

Disney World Christmas 2013 vacation packages from $118 per person

Spend the Holidays at Walt Disney World with this special vacation package offer from our friends at Pixie Vacations.

Booking Window:   10/10 – 11/18/2013
Travel Window: 12/18 – 12/25/2013
You must stay the night of the 18th, you can extend past the 25th based on availability.

Package for 5 nights / 6 days at select Disney Value, Moderate, or Deluxe Resorts
and get a FREE Disney Water Park or DisneyQuest Ticket for each person in your party.

This Exclusive Holiday Season Disney World Vacation Package Includes:

  • Accommodations
  • Magic Your Way Base Ticket
  • Disney’s Plus Dining**
  • A Free DisneyQuest or Disney Water Park Ticket

Spend Christmas at Walt Disney World.
Available Disney Resorts for this Disney Holiday Special Vacation Package are:

DISNEY’S ALL STAR MOVIES RESORT (Value Resort)
DISNEY’S PORT ORLEANS RESORT – RIVERSIDE (Moderate Resort)
DISNEY”S POLYNESIAN RESORT (Deluxe Resort)
DISNEY’S YACHT CLUB RESORT (Deluxe Resort)

To Book:

Click this link to get an online quote: Christmas at Disney World Vacation Quote
Ask about packages available in other resort categories and for other lengths of stay.

www.PixieVacations.com
Phone: 678-815-1584
Email: Info@PixieVacations.com

Get a Disney Vacation Quote Now For Your Travel Dates.

Note: I was compensated by Pixie Vacations with a Mickey Mouse Santa Hat and Minnie Holiday headband. However, I love talking about and planning Disney World vacations and feel passionate about helping families make magical memories and I would gladly have written it anyway!

Bio: Jennifer Bright Reich is a mom of two sons and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great. Next to her home in Allentown, PA, Walt Disney World is her favorite place on earth!

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