The 5 Seeds of a Healthy Diet

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:44 PM comments (0)

sunflower seedsSometimes the best gifts come in small packages and sometimes the best foods do too. They might not look like much but seeds can pack a hefty nutritional punch. Tiny titans of a healthy diet, seeds contain nutrients like protein, fiber, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Jennifer Panicko, Registered Dietitian at NorthShore, discusses the big benefits of adding any of these five seeds to your already healthy diet:

Chia seeds. Packed with fiber, chia seeds are filling and nutrient-rich, adding omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium and iron to the mix too. Their pleasant nutty flavor means they can be consumed raw or added to yogurts, oatmeal and sprinkled on top of favorite whole grain snacks.
Recipe: Banana almond overnight oatmeal with chia seeds

Sunflower seeds. With lots of B vitamins, especially folate, sunflower seeds are a great snack for pregnant women and those looking to boost the strength of their immune systems. They also have lots of vitamin E, and, even better, are packed with protein and heart-healthy fats. Go natural and skip the salted variety.
Recipe: Shaved squash, sunflower seed and feta salad 

Flax seeds. Small but mighty, flax seeds are brimming with nutritional value. They contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lignans—which are plant-based phytoestrogen that have been shown to lower one’s risk for some types of cancer—and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Make sure to grind the seeds before consuming to ensure you get their full benefits.
Recipe: Date and oat muffins with flax seeds 

Sesame seeds. The health benefits of sesame seeds go on and on. They are high in antioxidants, which help boost the immune system, and have been shown to lower hypertension and bad cholesterol, and reduce stress levels. With a delicate nutty flavor, they can be added to just about anything.
Recipe: Salmon with sesame and orange relish  

Pumpkin seeds.  A delicious source of B vitamins and iron, pumpkin seeds are also high in a particular amino acid that has been shown to reduce anxiety: tryptophan.  They’re also a fantastic source for omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Serve them raw or roasted, either will make a healthy snack. 
Recipe: Corn and quinoa summer salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

What is your favorite seeded recipe?


Small Changes in Snacks Make for Big Changes in Kids’ Health

Friday, April 19, 2013 2:31 PM comments (0)

healthy snacksOver the last 30 years, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the United States, with nearly 1 in 3 children considered overweight or obese. Left unchecked, childhood obesity can lead to serious health issues in children, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and sleep apnea.

The good news is that small changes in snacks, like swapping those high in fat, sodium and calories for healthier, more filling options, can make a big impact. Felissa Kreindler, MD, pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some healthy snack options that won’t send the kids running … unless, that is, they always follow a healthy snack with some equally healthy exercise.

  • Vegetables. Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C and also fiber, which both help kids feel fuller faster and longer. Make veggies more palatable to the younger set with a high-protein dip like hummus. Or, give them the ranch dressing they want but without the fat by serving a low fat yogurt-based version [recipe provided].
  • Cheese. It might be a surprise to see cheese on a list of healthy, kid-friendly snacks.  Yet in moderation, cheese is a great way to fill kids up and keep them from snacking later in the day. High in calories, yes, but cheese is also high in protein and calcium. When paired with vegetables and fruit, it can round out a well-balanced snack.
  • Fruit. It’s an obvious choice but not all fruits are created equal. Consider fruit high in fiber, like apples, avocado, bananas and berries. Dried figs, apricots and dates are a sweet replacement for the empty calories in candy. Transform avocados into guacamole and replace high-fat tortilla chips with whole grain crackers.
  • Peanut, sunflower, and almond butters and nuts. Great with fruit or on whole grain crackers, these nut butters are high in protein and heart-healthy fat. You can get the same benefits from whole nuts as well. When it comes to nut butters and nuts, stick with the natural options that limit added oils and sugar.

 What healthy snacks do your kids love?

Try this low fat, kid-friendly recipe for ranch dressing:

8 teaspoons dried minced onion

1 tablespoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

1 cup nonfat yogurt

1 cup fat-free sour cream



Snack Time – Giving your Kids a Healthy, Energy-packed snack

Thursday, April 12, 2012 8:32 AM comments (0)

Healthy Snacks

Walk down the snack food aisle at a grocery store and you’ll find the aisle packed full of chips, cookies, crackers and candies. With all the snack options available, it’s often too easy to overlook nutritional facts and the healthiest choice. Despite this, it’s important to know what foods will best restore energy without spoiling appetite and off-setting a diet.

Michael Rakotz, MD, gives some quick, healthy snack alternatives for kids (and adults too!)

  • Skinny Pop Popcorn. At 35 calories per cup, you can’t beat this delicious snack for kids.
  • Sliced vegetables. Use either a pureed vegetable (such as peas or carrots) for a dip. You can also use a yogurt dressing, as they often have half the fat and calories of other brands.
  • Hummus is packed with protein and makes for a great snack. Serve it with veggies instead of bread or crackers.
  • Mixed nuts are high in protein and require no preparation. When eaten in moderation, they contain the fat that is good for a balanced diet.
  • Sweet potatoes are very nutrition dense, making for a great alternative to white potatoes.

 What are some of your favorite snack choices? What is your go-to healthy snack?

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