Qn of the Month: Do Different Brands of Baby Cereal Provide the Same Nutrition?

A: No! Although there are some similarities, there appears to be more differences between different brands of baby cereal products, even between different brand products of the same type of cereal.  How so? Read on.

Generally all infant cereals are fortified in certain nutrients such as iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Baby cereal products also contain (per serving) similar amounts of macronutrients such as calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein. However, major differences exist. For example, in Canada, Nestle Gerber’s® baby oat infant cereal provides in a (5 tablespoons or 28 grams) serving the following: 15% Daily Value (DV) of calcium, 60% DV of vitamin B12, 100% DV of iron and 0 grams of fiber. But a comparable (1/3 cup or 30 grams) serving of Heinz’s baby oat cereal provides more iron (110% of DV iron), 4 times the amount of calcium (60% DV of calcium), 2 grams of fiber but absolutely no vitamin B12! Not only that, Nestle Gerber’s® baby oat infant cereal contains in a serving 30% DV of biotin, 15% DV of iodide, 15 % DV of zinc and 30% DV of magnesium. However, a similar serving size of Heinz’s baby oat cereal contains no biotin or iodide, only 6% DV of zinc and halfthe quantity of magnesium (15% DV)! It appears that Heinz’sbaby oat cereal is a really good source of iron and calcium per serving, but not so much of the other nutrients.

So the next time you go shopping, make sure to check the nutrition facts panel of the infant baby cereal you are planning to buy, to see what nutrition your baby will really be getting from consuming that particular product!

Transitioning to a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet – Step 3

Getting hungry? -Dietitianmom.com


Hello there! Previously, I had provided an overview of a whole foods plant-based diet and discussed the first 2 steps of transitioning to such a diet. These were “Step 1: Halve the Meat & Double the Veggies” and “Step 2: Switch to Whole-Grain Options” (see posts Transitioning to a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet – Introduction, Transitioning to a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet – Step 1, and Transitioning to a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet – Step 2). In this post, I would like to touch on Step 3: Choosing Smart Snacks.

Tahini Raisin & Flaxmeal Crackers – Dietitianmom.com

STEP #3: CHOOSE SMART SNACKS
Need something to tide you over until lunch or dinner? Children tend to need to eat more frequently than adults, so would often benefit from snacks between meals. There are a few key reasons why. Children, especially younger children, tend to have high energy levels and smaller stomach capacities. In general, a whole foods plant-based diet tends to consist of foods that have a higher fiber but lower caloric content. Hence, due to the higher fiber content of these foods consumed, it is possible that in some cases a child could feel full easily at meals with their smaller stomachs, but receive inadequate calories for overall optimal growth.

 

 

Fruit Wedges with Seed Butter & Walnut Dotted Banana Coins – Dietitianmom.com

For adults, you may also feel the need to have snacks in between meals, especially if you find you are becoming more active, and if your metabolism revs up with the switch to a whole foods plant-based diet. That’s the best part of a whole foods plant-based diet – on such a ‘diet’, you actually don’t need to watch your caloric intake or restrict yourself unnecessarily in terms of how many times a day you eat, AS LONG as the foods you choose to consume are ALL whole foods plant-based foods. So this does not mean you can snack endlessly on cookies, candies, cakes, biscuits and other processed high refined sugar and high fat commercial foods since they are ‘vegetarian’. As mentioned before, being a ‘junk food vegetarian’ will negatively impact your health and reduce your intake of phytochemical nutrient-rich health boosting foods which you could be eating instead.

So it’s alright to have snacks frequently on a whole foods plant-based diet, but choose your snacks wisely! Try these tasty more nutrient dense options:

*A handful of nuts and/or seeds (e.g., pumpkin seeds, sunflower, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts)
* A piece of whole fresh fruit (kiwi, apples, grapes, melon slices, oranges, grapefruit, pears…you name it! These also work great as dessert after meals!)
* Dried fruit (e.g., dried apricots, figs, dates, raisins)
* Vegetable or fresh fruit slices with spreads or dips (e.g., bell pepper slices, carrot sticks, celery sticks)
* Soy spreads, seed butters  (such as tahini, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed butters) and nut butters (examples include almond,  cashew nut, and peanut butters)
*Vegetable and/or bean based dips such as hummus and guacamole
*Fruit/vegetable combination smoothies
*Fruit salads
*Vegetable salads
*Whole-wheat bread/pitas/tortillas for dipping into hummus or spread with nut butters for quick easy sandwiches or burritos
*High calcium and/or high iron cereal
*Bean-based or vegetable soups with whole-wheat pasta
*Soy-based or other vegan cheese slices and whole wheat crackers

 

Banana Sunflower Seed Butter Sandwiches – Yum! Dietitianmom.com

You can mix and match the above to create lots of tasty combinations! My current favorite is a sunflower seed butter sandwich with sliced banana wedges! Other ideas are a bowl of a bean-based vegetable soup with whole-wheat pasta, or some soy-based/vegan cheese slices with whole wheat crackers. Or you could have a quick bowl of calcium and iron fortified cereal with fortified almond/soy/coconut milk (and sprinkled with nuts or dried/fresh fruit on top!). Don’t forget about home-made vegetarian baked and no-bake treats which also make great snack options! Many such easy recipe ideas can be found on the internet, which don’t require fancy ingredients or a lot of time. The possibilities are really endless!

 

Qn of the Month: Are Legumes & Pulses Just Different Terms for the Same Thing?

 

A: What exactly are legumes and are they the same as pulses? The terms ‘legumes’, ‘pulses’ and ‘beans’ can certainly all be very confusing. A helpful way to keep these straight is to remember that ‘legumes’ is the overall umbrella name, just like ‘fruits’ is the umbrella name for a huge category of different types and varieties of fruits. Legumes simply refer to all plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. However, pulses only refer to the dried seed itself. So under legumes are 3 main subcategories: soybeans and peanuts, pulses and fresh beans/peas. I like this graphic from Pulse Canada which illustrates these categories aptly (see source citation for more details):

 

Pulses include dried beans, dried peas, lentils and chickpeas. Pulses are cheap, nutrient dense, low in fat, available throughout the year, and are high in protein and fiber. Soybeans and peanuts are separated out into their own separate subcategory due to their higher fat content. Legumes are also super versatile, as they can be cooked to the age appropriate texture in a variety of forms (e.g., pureed, mashed, or whole/halved but in soft cooked forms) for infants, toddlers and children of varying ages depending on their stage of oral motor development.

 

(Source: Pulse Canada. http://www.pulsecanada.com/about-us/what-is-a-pulse. Accessed March 15, 2017.)

Fresh Cranberry & Pear Crisp

I initially created this recipe below to use up some fresh cranberries I had on hand from the winter holidays. But my husband and child loved it so much that I’ve made it a few times since, including taking it to potluck meals. Enjoy!

Fresh Cranberry & Pear Crisp

Recipe by: DietitianMom
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 pears (ripened pears work best)
1 cup fresh cranberries, pierced
4 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼-1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on sweetness desired)
1 cup old fashioned/rolled/large flake oats

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Peel and cut pear into slices. Layer the pear slices, covering the bottom of a baking dish.
  • Rinse and wash the fresh cranberries, then pierce each with a toothpick. Then throw the cranberries into the baking dish, evenly dotting the pear slices.
  • In a bowl, mix the oats, brown sugar (add the amount you desire), cinnamon, nutmeg and oil together.
  • Sprinkle this oats combo mixture over the pear slices and cranberries in the baking dish.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly then serve!

Feel free to double or triple the recipe if you like. This is a great recipe to involve your preschooler or older child in, as it’s easy to make and is ready to eat in no time! My preschooler had lots of fun helping me pierce each fresh cranberry with a toothpick. The best part? Since the ripened pears are already sweet, you don’t really need to add too much additional sugar to sweeten the dish. So adjust the sweetness level to what you prefer by the amount of brown sugar you add. This crisp keeps for a few days in the refrigerator and tastes delicious cold too!

Qn of the Month: What Are Key Infant & Toddler Feeding Transitions?

A: Have you ever wondered whether your baby or child is meeting or progressing well in terms of his or her oral motor development? For new mothers, it can be especially daunting knowing when to introduce a different texture or when to start teaching your baby how to drink from a cup. The following are key infant and toddler feeding transitions that are important for a child’s optimal growth and physical as well as oral motor development:

Feeding Transition Age of Occurrence
Establishing breastfeeding Birth to 1 month
Introduction of solid foods 4 – 7 months
Finger foods 6 – 8 months
Introduction to the cup 6 – 12 months
Introduction to table foods (texture) 9 – 12 months
Weaning from breast or bottle 12 – 18 months
Rotary chewing 2 -3 years

Even though it is true that every healthy baby develops differently and often at their own pace, it is still good to keep these general key infant and toddler feeding transitions in mind as you watch and help your baby progress.

[Source: Milano K. How Infant Feeding Transitions Relate to Feeding Difficulties in Young Children. PNPG Building Block for Life. Spring 2016, 39(2): 1-6]

 

 

Transitioning to a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet – Step 2

 

Choose Whole-Grain Options! Dietitianmom.com

In this post, let’s look at the second step of transitioning to a whole foods, plant-based diet.

STEP #2: SWITCH TO WHOLE-GRAIN OPTIONS

This is an easy 2nd step. Right here, you can immediately make a big difference to your diet by choosing whole-grain options the next time you go grocery shopping. Examples are brown rice, whole wheat flour, bran, whole wheat tortillas, whole-grain pasta and whole-wheat breads or bread products. The increase in nutrient and fiber content in these alternatives will help to keep you fuller after meals and cause your blood glucose levels to rise less dramatically post-meals. For instance, 1 cup (85 grams in weight) of whole grain pasta contains as much as 3 times the fiber content and slightly more protein and iron than an equivalent cup of white refined pasta! Another example are bagels. A regular bagel will provide approximately 2 grams of fiber but a whole wheat bagel can provide as much as 7 grams of fiber so more than three times the amount!  If you are worried about the cost factor, there are a few ways to get around this. Buy and store up larger packages of whole grain pasta if brands carry a larger more economical packaged option, or purchase the regular sized packages at larger grocery stores where the prices tend to be lower. Another idea is to keep your eye out for discounts and sales at your local grocery store and stock up when the prices drop (but take note of expiry dates!).

A note about rice: when purchasing rice, be careful to note the country and place of origin due to the varying levels of arsenic found in rice grown in different parts of the world. To reduce one’s intake of arsenic, rice from California in the United States and India are generally among the safer options to purchase, but it is best to avoid rice grown in the southern part of the United States. There are also ways to cook the rice to reduce the arsenic content within it. A recent news article brought attention again to the arsenic content within rice and the importance of being careful of your method of cooking to reduce arsenic levels. See also my previous posts on this important subject [Arsenic & Rice (Part 1): Why this Affects You and Your Family, Arsenic & Rice (Part 2): Action Steps You Can Take Right NOW, Arsenic & Rice (Part 3): What Are Others Saying About It?, Qn of the Month: How Can I Reduce the Arsenic Content of Rice Through Cooking?].

(Source:
Common method of cooking rice can leave traces of arsenic in food, Queen’s University Belfast scientist warns. Belfast Telegraph. Published February 8, 2017. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/health/common-method-of-cooking-rice-can-leave-traces-of-arsenic-in-food-queens-university-belfast-scientist-warns-35434905.html. Accessed February 22, 2017.)

 

Qn of the Month: Do Kids Have Stress?

A: Apparently! This as an issue that never crossed my radar until I recently received some resources from a community liaison on this topic. One of the sentences on the website I was pointed to was this “The signs and symptoms of stress can often be seen in challenging behaviours. Children may be reprimanded for actions that are really stress reactions, rather than intentional misbehavior or poor cognitive ability. Lantieri, L. 2008.”  Suddenly it clicked. Sure my child has had a pretty vivid “terrible 3s” phase, so much so I was happy to celebrate her fourth birthday and leave the “3’s” year behind. But reflecting on my child’s behavior made me realize there were many times when she would stop cooperating and start fussing when she got frustrated at something, or when we were stressed ourselves as parents.

In the Kids Have Stress Too! Booklet targeted for parents of preschoolers, it was stated that “Children can experience stress at home, in child care settings, or even in play with

others. In the course of an average day, preschool children experience stress when they have to wait, when they want something they can’t have, or when they lose or break one of their toys.” The following were listed in the booklet as examples of common sources of preschool stress:

  • Early or rushed mornings, being hurried
  • Exposure to new situations
  • Too many expectations or demands
  • Separation from parents
  • Difficulties with peer friendships
  • Fights or disagreements with siblings
  • Transitioning from one activity or place to another
  • New beginnings such as starting kindergarten or child care
  • Frequent change of caregivers

Hmm, rushed mornings, feeling hurried, too many expectations? Sounds a lot like our household. This information has caused me to re-evaluate the way our household is run, and whether my child is expressing some unneeded stress with having a busy daily schedule – something that may not be totally necessary for a 4 year old.

And what can be done if a child is stressed? Apparently one simply measure is just to allow the child to have some more down time. According to one resource handout “Kids also need time to themselves – just to relax and do nothing! Sometimes the best cure for stress is just to have some quiet time. Kids need some time on their own. Listening to music, reading or playing quietly may help them feel better. Doing nothing is fine too!” Hmm, sounds like this advice is applicable to adults too. Don’t we all wish we had more down time to relax and unwind in the midst of our busy and hectic schedules? I know I do!

For this and other great resources on how to help preschoolers and kindergarteners cope and deal with stress, see this link: KHST Preschool and Kindergarten

(Sources:

  1. Kids Have Stress Too! KHST! The Psychology Foundation of Canada. https://psychologyfoundation.org/Public/Public/Programs/Kids_Have_Stress_Too/Kids_Have_Stress_Too_.aspx. Accessed February 22, 2017.
  1. Kids Have Stress Too! KHST Preschool and Kindergarten. Psychology Foundation of Canada. https://www.psychologyfoundation.org/Public/Resources/KHST_Download_Resources/Copy_of_Download_Resources.aspx?WebsiteKey=7ec8b7ce-729b-4aff-acd8-2f6b59cd21ab&hkey=0e18b555-9114-49b4-9838-084fab967f0e. Accessed February 22, 2017.)