Grilling is the most delicious time of year!

Who doesn’t love the smell of grilling in the summer? Grilling foods can be a great alternative to heating up the house with the oven this time of year. And you don’t have to save the grill for Memorial Day through Labor Day. It makes our long winters go faster, too.

Grilling also can be a healthier way to prepare food. After the usual brats, burgers and hot dogs, think about grilling different types of meats or even fruits and vegetables.

Kabobs are my personal favorite. You can individualize kabobs to suit any palette. Try …Continue reading →

All about whole grains

Eating whole grains can reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation and colorectal cancer. Whole grains are rich in antioxidants that help prevent damage to the body. The fiber in whole grain foods helps you feel full faster and regulates bowel functions.

Whole grains have fiber, vitamins, minerals and more. Good examples of whole grain foods include:

  • Whole-grain pasta.
  • Whole-grain bread.
  • Whole-grain crackers.
  • Brown or wild rice.
  • Barley.
  • Low-fat popcorn.
  • Oatmeal.

A good way to see if food contains whole grains is to look for a whole grain stamp. This stamp means the food has at least half a serving of whole grains.

If you can’t find a stamp, check the product’s ingredient list. Food with whole grain listed as the first or second ingredient can be good for you. Don’t be fooled by products that include enriched flour at the beginning of the ingredient list – these are not whole grain!

According to the Whole Grains Council, an average person eats less than one serving of whole grains per day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s choosemyplate.gov recommends at least three servings or more of whole grains each day. Encourage your family to eat healthier by gradually introducing more whole-grain products. The benefits will do you a whole lot of good.

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, clinical dietitian specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin with Stacy Brand, RD, CD, manager, Patient Services, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Packing goodness into lunch

Many schools are taking steps to improve the quality of student lunches. They are limiting fats and sugars, including fruits and vegetables and avoiding highly processed foods. Here are some tips on how you can do the same for your child:

  1. Always include a serving of fruit. Ideas include any fresh fruit, canned fruit packed in its own juice or dried fruit.
  2. Always include at least one vegetable serving. Fresh vegetables cut into fun shapes makes them more appealing. Include a small container of ranch dressing or salsa for dipping.
  3. Include a source of calcium. The best and easiest option is to have the child purchase white milk at school. This will include calcium and vitamin D, avoid the added sugar of flavored milks, and the school will keep it cold. If your child will not drink white milk, pack low-fat yogurt or string cheese.
  4. Variety in the entrée. Get creative with the sandwich. Cut it into different shapes. Use different breads such as tortilla wraps, pita bread, English muffins or mini bagels. Substitute a salad topped with cooked chicken, tuna or a hard-boiled egg for the traditional sandwich.
  5. Lunch does not need dessert or chips. Kids occasionally may enjoy those items but should not expect them every day. Parents should ask, “Is the food I am placing in my child’s lunch going to help their health or make them happy?” To help brighten a child’s day, include a personal note, sticker or pencil instead.

Keeping these tips in mind will help keep lunches healthy and fun to eat.

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, clinical dietitian specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

4 Ways to Tailgate to Health

April may bring showers, but it also brings the smell of charcoal grills and tailgating for the boys (and girls) of summer. This baseball season, be sure to balance your kids’ favorite tailgate classics with some healthy options.

Explore new options. Your local grocery story has lots of tailgating alternatives to plain hamburgers, brats and hot dogs. Try introducing your kids to turkey or chicken brats. Or, scour your freezer section for great meat alternatives like black bean burgers. I personally enjoy the Gardenburger® Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger. Even hot dogs have gone healthier. Now, there are many brands with less fat and fewer calories than the dogs we grew up with. If you do choose hamburger, make sure you choose a leaner variety. 

Be sure you pair your meat with a bun that contains at least 3 grams of fiber. I like to use Healthy Life® Original Wheat Sandwich Buns. They have more fiber, fewer calories and can be cheaper than other buns.

Don’t skimp on the sides. While your meats are sizzling on the grill, offer your guests fiber-packed fruits and veggies with dip. In need of a healthy potato salad? Try Chef Wayne’s spicy summer potato salad. Chef Wayne’s healthy baked beans also is a great way to fill up on fiber. Chips can add a nice crunch, but look for baked chips or offer corn chips with salsa. Whole-wheat crackers with hummus can also be a hit, even a home run!

Watch out for liquid calories. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s NEW (Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management) Kids™ Program recommends water instead of sweetened beverages. Because kids get dehydrated in the hot summer sun even faster than adults, water always is the best option. If your kids want something with more flavor, choose beverages that have 3 grams or less of sugar per serving.

Practice portion control. Watching the game isn’t as much fun with an overly full belly. Make sure your kids fill up on fruits and veggies while going easy on the meats, cheeses and crackers. Peanuts and popcorn are ballpark favorites, but watch the portions. Eating a whole bag of peanuts and popcorn simply is too much for anyone, especially kids.

Now, let’s play ball. Go Brewers!

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, is a dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Wayne Roe is the executive chef and manager of Nutrition Services at Children’s Hospital.