~2 cups fresh strawberries/10 medium strawberries, tops cut off
Juice from 3 lemons
1/4 cup sugar
3 leaves of basil (I couldn’t taste these except in the last popsicle, so I must not have blended it quite thoroughly
This made 4 popsicles
You can of course, adjust the proportions to taste if you decide to make them.
1 serving of fruit in each popsicle
Strawberries: excellent source of vitamin C, and a pretty good source of fiber
With the lemon juice, you’ll get even more vitamin C – this is classically known for being good for immunity, but it also is a vital part of how your body literally holds itself together (it regulates collagen synthesis)
The American Heart Association recommends that adults limit added sugars to less than 6 (for women) to 9 (for men) teaspoons a day – if you make 4 popsicles from the amounts above, each popsicle will only have 3 teaspoons added sugar
Naturally dairy and gluten-free. Vegan depending on the sweetener you use.
My personal rating
A great way to use summer strawberries, a delicious serving of fruit, sooo refreshing, exactly what I was wishing for.
This is the first popsicle I’ve tried that I would neither recommend or make again. But in the name of science, I’m sharing all of my results
Leftover champagne + peach + honey popsicles
I didn’t use a recipe for these (which may have been part of the problem), I just googled to see if it was feasible to use leftover champagne as a popsicle.
I added some sliced peaches, a drizzle of honey and filled the rest of the mold with champagne. Thankfully, I only had enough champagne for 2 popsicles so we weren’t stuck with meh leftovers.
Meh because 1) the champagne just got really icy and made the pop taste mostly like alcohol, 2) because they were icy they just fell apart while we ate them, 3) the peaches were in big chunks and you definitely had to bite into them – not good if you have sensitive teeth.
Many of those problems might be improved if I had blended everything up? But I probably won’t try it again.
As peaches make up the majority of this popsicle, you will get a good portion of fruit
Peaches themselves are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A
As alcohol is not classified as a “food” legally, it’s hard to look up any micronutrients present in champagne. It will provide some carbohydrates and calories for energy. Moderate intake of alcohol which has been shown to have some benefits, but enough drawbacks that most experts won’t recommend starting to drink for the health benefits. Anyway. Don’t drink champagne for the health benefits 🙂
Technically dairy-free and gluten-free
My personal rating:
It gets a 1 instead of a 0 because it was edible, and I did eat the whole thing, plus, got to use up extra champagne? However, taste was very alcohol-y, texture too icy, made a mess and hurt my teeth. Would not make again
Feel free to try, if you’re of age, of course and share your results!
This has been my favorite popsicle so far. Ok it’s only the second one, but it’s good. If you like fudgesicles or if you grew up eating homemade popsicles made from chocolate pudding, you’ll probably like this one:
Chocolate Avocado Pudding Popsicles
The recipe, from Chocolate Covered Katie, isn’t even a popsicle recipe. It’s just for a chocolate avocado mousse, which is also delicious in its non popsicle form. But as a popsicle? It’s even creamier and richer than I remember fudgesicles being.
The ingredients are avocado, cocoa powder, sweetener of choice, and milk of choice, vanilla, salt. Blend them up and put them in your popsicle molds and freeze them!
This recipe involves 2 avocados, and for me, it made about 4 and a half popsicles. That means each pop contains about 1/2 an avocado, which you can totally count as a serving of fruits/vegetables
Avocados are a good source of unsaturated fat, which is known as heart healthy fat. The fat is also what makes these popsicles so creamy and rich
From my estimates (depending on the size of the avocados and how many servings are made), each pop could provide around 20% of your daily fiber needs for the day
These are made with fresh or frozen raspberries, coconut milk, and chia seeds (and sweetener; I used maple syrup). You can visit Happy Kids Kitchen for the recipe.
These interesting-looking popsicles have a combination of creamy, mild sweetness from the coconut milk, bright tart-sweetness from the raspberry, and an different but not unpleasant texture from the chia seeds.
Some fruit towards your recommended 5-9 fruit and veggie servings/day (raspberries) that provides a decent amount of vitamin C
Fiber from: raspberries, chia seeds, and even a little from the coconut milk
ALA (the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids) from the chia seeds
A little bit of protein from the chia seeds
Because it’s homemade, you control how much added sugar (and the type) you would like to add
Creamy without dairy, in case you’re lactose or dairy intolerant
also gluten free and vegan if that’s your jam (haha jam)
My personal rating:
Packed with nutrients, pretty tasty, easy to make, would probably make them a little sweeter next time, raspberries and chia can get expensive so probably wouldn’t make them often.
(Also if you are looking for ways to get kids – even little kids – excited about cooking and food, spend some more time on Happy Kids Kitchen. Heather knows what she is talking about and has so many great ideas and tasty recipes! I will be probably trying several of her popsicle recipes which she has collected here)
Do you want to adventure into cooking from a different cuisine? Do you want to do some culinary traveling but don’t feel like flying yet? Are you just looking for inspiration for something different to eat?
I’ve been trying recipes from various places around the world. To get as close to the real thing as possible without going to the country or a restaurant serving that type of food, I’ve been trying to find the recipes written by people who are actually from those parts of the world. (Or in some cases, their parents are from that part of the world and they grew up cooking those recipes)
For my own future reference, I collected the websites,blogs, etc. on a Pinterest board, but I realized I could share them with you!
Some of them are recipe blogs and some are specific recipes. Enjoy! I hope you learn something new!
(Also it will continue to grow as I try new recipes and find new recipe authors, so don’t forget to follow it or check back periodically if you want to see updates!)
I originally wrote this post before a class I was scheduled to teach at The Thinkery. I’ve updated the post with my online Mini Kitchen Explorers class in mind.
I’m pretty excited because I’m going to be teaching a series of food and cooking classes for preschoolers and their parents. It’s called Mini Kitchen Explorers, and it will be online August 5 or 6 (two different times offered). Kids and their parents will use all their senses to explore different foods in many different ways in a fun, interactive, low-pressure environment.
If you’re reading this before this class takes place, and you’re interested, you can learn more or sign up here:
Now, the reason I’m excited to teach this class is that it will just be fun. I mean, it’s not going to be easy. Maintaining a semblance of order and keeping things interesting for 3-5 year olds is no easy task (even if their parents are there too).
However. Right now, I spend a lot of my time talking to people about changes they should be making, changes they want to be making, or changes they might experience as a result of their current health condition. This is often hard (because change is hard) and is not usually fun. As much as I really try to make it positive and empowering, it often feels like telling someone the rules.
This class will be preschoolers and their parents doing fun activities that involve food.
Talking about food.
Playing with food.
Looking at food.
Or not tasting it if they don’t want to. This is a low pressure, relaxed environment. The goal is to give kids and parents lots of different ways to experience food and cooking together with no pressure to EAT VEGETABLES or TRY HEALTHY FOODS.
Lots of experience with any skill increases comfort and ability with it. This is no different for eating and being around foods, including unfamiliar foods.
A kid who says broccoli is gross and yucky and won’t eat it or anything remotely like it is really different than a kid who knows they don’t really like the texture of broccoli and can express that politely and clearly and also knows that trying a food and not liking it is not that scary because they’ve done it before lots of times and it was fine.
A kid who’s messed around in the kitchen and tried some cooking techniques and recipes (even a little) is going to be more comfortable eventually cooking or preparing foods on their own.
A kid who has learned a lot of value-neutral ways to talk about food (salty, fresh, rich, crunchy, colorful, high in protein) may be better equipped to have a nuanced understanding of nutrition and avoid black and white, extreme diet mentality around food.
Being comfortable around food and cooking doesn’t mean guarantee a person will make “the healthiest” choice. It does mean making a healthy choice (if they want to) is going to be way less difficult because they already have a basic familiarity with food.
They know what they like and what they don’t and why. They know how to choose and procure food, and how to prepare it. And if they don’t, they probably feel fairly comfortable learning how. They know at least a little bit about how foods affect them and what food can do for them.
They have a foundation from which they can make choices, rather than being hindered by fear of the unknown.
So I mean, I guess that’s my hidden agenda – remove barriers for future patients and make my future job easier. Or you know, prevent that they even have to come see me, because they have a healthy relationship with food and don’t even need my help.
Plus, seeing kids learn and explore anything is SUPER fun. They have such honest questions and interesting observations.
Or if it sounds good to you but your kids aren’t in the 3-5 age group, or you have other questions – talk to me about how we can design a learning experience just for you, your family, or your group. Let’s find a solution that will work for you.
There’s a bunch of suggestions out there for ways to eat more vegetables. Today we’re focusing on the best way to eat more vegetables FOR YOU.
Not in general, not just how anyone can, but what about you?
What will help YOU eat more vegetables?
By the way, you can use this same process for any goal you want to work on, (doesn’t even have to be nutrition-related) so if you’ve got another goal that comes to mind, just read [your goal here] instead of [eat more vegetables].
1) Start with a question: Why do you want to eat more vegetables?
To get more fiber? To lower your blood sugar? To help you lose weight? Because you want to eat fewer animal products? Because you want to broaden your palate? To have beautiful Instagram salads? Because someone told you to?
Why you want to eat more vegetables may help you narrow down the best way to go about doing it.
If it’s to get more fiber, look up some high fiber vegetables to start with – or see how many of your favorite vegetables you need to eat to reach your fiber goal.
If it’s to lower blood sugar, make sure the vegetables you are choosing will actually help you lower your blood sugar.
If it’s to broaden your palate, you will want to choose a variety of vegetables – maybe quality over quantity is your goal.
If you’re not sure why, or you’re doing it just because someone told you to, take some time to figure out why you want to.
If you know why, it’s easier to maintain long term motivation.
2) Ask the next question: What keeps you from eating as many vegetables as you would like?
Really think about this.
Is it that you get bored of eating broccoli and carrots all the time?
Is it because you hate mushy-textured boiled vegetables?
Is it because you’re intimidated by cooking vegetables?
Is it because you hate washing your cutting board?
Is it because you don’t have a place to store fresh vegetables or they are difficult to afford and go bad too fast?
Is it because your family doesn’t eat veggies and you don’t want to be/are tired of being the only one eating them?
Make sure you know your barrier (or barriers). Only then you can move onto the next step.
Guess what, it’s another question:
3) How can you solve the problem?
Brainstorming any and all ideas can be helpful, but make sure that whatever solution you choose is something you can actually picture yourself doing. Something that’s realistic and might even seem easy or too simple. Successfully completing a goal (even a small one) can propel you toward the next one, so choose a step that you are as likely as possible to do
If you’re bored of the same veggies, can you pick one new vegetable to try each time you go to the store or sign up for a CSA near you?
If you hate mushy veggies, are you ok with eating crunchy raw veggies or crispy roasted ones? (Lots of different ways to eat veggies can be found at itsavegworldafterall.com)
If you’re intimidated by cooking vegetables, can you start with those microwave-in-bag vegetables? Can you buy pre-chopped vegetables if you really hate chopping or washing your cutting board?
If you can’t store much fresh produce, can you look up some recipes for ways to use canned or frozen vegetables? Are there resources you can connect with to help you afford some more vegetables? (In the U.S. you can always call 211 to find out what local services are available near you)
Very important note: Choosing a very achievable and realistic step may not bring you to your ideal yet- your ultimate goal. That’s ok. The important thing is that this steps brings you closer to your ultimate goal
4) Do it.
Do the thing (or things) that will make eating vegetables easier for you.
Then, hey look at that! Either you’re eating more vegetables now, or you’ve realized that there were barriers you didn’t initially think of that you can now figure out how to overcome because you know what they are. Either way, you’ve moved forward toward your goal.
If you are stuck on any of these steps, a dietitian (like me :D) should be able to help you figure them out 🙂
Also sometimes just talking through these steps with a good listener (even if that’s your dog, your toddler, or your favorite houseplant) can help you realize what you already know, if you know what I mean.
What goals are you working on? What goal setting strategies work for you? What are the barriers you’ve identified? And how are you overcoming them?
Hope you get to enjoy some festive and special foods today and tomorrow! (Or some tasty foods regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas)
Also on my heart this year are those who don’t have access to enough healthy and nourishing foods. Recently, I have been learning more about how complicated and widespread this problem is as well as how much it can impact people’s health. I’m also seeing it firsthand in my work. While there is a lot of big work to be done and nothing will be solved tomorrow, these are some organizations that are working hard to get more good food to more people who need it.
No Kid Hungry – they work in different channels, including school meals, nutrition education, and public policy to make sure kids get fed. (It’s a sister organization to Cooking Matters which provides free culinary and nutrition education to families to get the most out of their food budget. I have volunteered with them before and they are awesome, but in the current season limited in their ability to do cooking classes right now due to safety and health guidelines.)
Project Angel Heart or God’s Love We Deliver – both are organizations that provide free, medically-tailored meals to those who have life-changing diseases and can’t afford or have trouble preparing the type of foods they need. The meals they provide greatly improve the health of the recipients – if you like to see measurable results, both of these organizations have encouraging statistics about their work you can read on their website!
Samaritan’s Purse – provides international disaster relief, some of which includes providing food in various forms – supplies for refugees, hot meals to children, or farming or business assistance so poor families can more effectively provide for themselves and escape the cycle of poverty
These are just a few of the organizations working in this area. If you know of another one, feel free to share in the comments! If this is a cause that touches your heart, please consider donating your time, skills, or money.
If you need help with having enough food for yourself or your family, this page has a lot of great resources, and in the U.S., you can always call 2-1-1 to speak with someone who can help connect you with local community services!
Read about which foods are considered protein foods here. Read about protein and amino acids here.
As always, this post is meant to be informative and educational and is not a prescription or recommendation for you as I cannot know your individual situation and needs. If you have concerns about your protein intake and want a specific recommendation, speak with a dietitian!
My goal in writing these blogs is to give you practical, easy to understand, not overwhelming nutrition information. Breaking down how to eat protein has been more difficult than I expected because there are so many different opinions about what the best amount of protein to eat is.
While this can be confusing and overwhelming, my takeaway for you is this: there is a wide range of protein intake that can be healthy. The amount of protein you eat can be flexible and for the most part can be adjusted to your preferences. (It is harder to get it wrong than a lot of people would like you to think it is.)
Two fast and easy ways to know how much protein to eat:
MyPlate is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended eating pattern. It isn’t perfect, but if about 1/4 of what you eat is protein food, you will most likely get enough protein – pretty easy to visualize if most of your meals are eaten on a plate.
If you only eat plant protein (vegans, and maybe some vegetarians), this still applies, but it is especially important for you to make sure you eat plenty of whole grains and vegetables as well. Keep reading here, but check out this post next.
Another super quick and easy method is to aim for about a palm-sized serving of protein foods with each meal. I like this method because it scales to the size of each person. A large person (who will need more protein) generally has a larger hand size. A tiny toddler (who needs less protein) has a tiny palm.
These two illustrations are also helpful because there is some research showing that eating your protein throughout the day (with each meal) is more beneficial than eating it all at once. (As your body uses protein throughout the day for many many purposes)
Now, as I said above, the amount of protein in a healthy diet can be very flexible, so you can eat more protein than this and totally still be healthy, as long as you aren’t excluding other necessary foods.
Do you like to do math and want to calculate the amount of protein you need? This section is for you.
(If you don’t like math, just skip to the next section 🙂 )
The minimum amount of protein required to prevent loss of lean body mass (muscle) in adults with no physical activity is generally calculated by dietitians as 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. (0.8g protein x kg of body weight). Factoring in a minimal amount of physical activity raises needs to about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. In case you don’t feel like converting kilos to pounds, this works out to about 0.45g of protein per pound of body weight. If someone is critically ill, more active, or pregnant, this amount could increase, up to 2.0g/kg.
In terms of actual food, 1g per kg works out to about 1 oz of “meat equivalents” per 15 lbs of body weight. This is a rough estimate best suited to finding the base amount of protein you should eat. If you are concerned about your protein intake, or have questions, consult a dietitian! (I know I said it before – but it’s important! Also that’s what dietitians are here for!)
1 oz “meat equivalent =
1 oz meat, poultry or fish – about matchbox-sized
About 7g protein=
1 8-oz glass of cow milk or soy milk*
1 oz cheese – about thumb sized
1/2 cup beans or lentils
1/4 cup or 1 oz nuts or seeds
2 Tbsp peanut butter or other nut butter
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or 1 cup regular yogurt (check the label)
2 oz tofu
*almond milk, rice milk, and other alternative milks generally have less protein, check the label.
Whole grains and vegetables also contribute a small amount of protein (2-3g per serving)
There are some people who believe that everyone should eat more than this amount, and there are studies showing benefits of higher protein intake – such as improved muscle maintenance and function in older adults (1-1.2 g per kg body weight), improved satiety, and improved blood glucose control, among other things. Most people can eat up to 2g protein per kilogram of body weight without problems (those with chronic kidney disease would be an exception).
For some perspective, The Institute of Medicine recommends 10-35% of calories come from protein. For a 2000 calorie diet (which is the one used to calculate Nutrition Facts on labels), that is between 50 and 175 g of protein, or between 7 and 25 1-oz “meat equivalents”. Quite a large window. If 10-35% of your calories come from protein foods and you are above the 1g per kg minimum, you will probably be fine. Of course, (yes I’m going to say it again) if you have concerns, speak with a registered dietitian.
What happens if you don’t eat enough protein?
Too little protein intake results in a loss of lean body mass (muscle) because your body will break down the protein it is already carrying (muscle) to maintain its function. That’s why it is important that you are eating at least the minimum that your body needs. See this post for more information about how protein is used in your body.
Can you eat too much protein?
Yes. But if you don’t have a specific condition that would make it directly harmful, harm from eating too much protein is much more likely to be from two other causes:
1. Not eating enough from other food groups, like fruits, vegetables, and grains because of eating so much protein. This might mean missing out on important nutrients like vitamin C or fiber that come from those other food groups. This is especially likely when eating only animal protein foods.
2. Getting too much of the other nutrients that are often present in protein-rich foods. For example, cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, which can be harmful for blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Many processed meats are very high in sodium and saturated fat as well. Again, this is more likely to be a concern with animal protein foods.
Extremely high protein intake can be harmful to the kidneys, however this is usually only in extremely high intake (like more than 2.0g/kg) over a long period of time. If you are getting most of your protein from foods, incorporating your other food groups, not taking excessive protein supplements, and don’t have any medical conditions, you are unlikely to be harmed by eating too much protein. Again, if you are concerned that you may be eating too much protein, consult a dietitian.
If you eat a lot of protein, will it make your muscles grow automatically?. No
If you aren’t exercising (or growing, or using steroids) to stimulate muscle growth, that extra protein will just be used for energy or stored as fat. See this post if you want more information about how this works.
Can you eat as much protein as you want without gaining weight? No
If you eat more protein than your body needs for its building and energy needs, it will still be converted to fat, just like any other food. See this post if you have more questions.
However, diets that allow unlimited protein (and limit carbohydrates or fats) have been shown to be helpful for weight loss. So why is this?
Protein tends to be more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, so the thought is that eating more protein than other food groups makes you “full” faster and so limits the total amount you end up eating, resulting in weight loss.
So protein isn’t a magical weight loss food. But if it helps you eat less and still be satisfied, then it may help you lose weight (and as long as you are getting all the other nutrients you need, that’s fine).
What if I don’t eat meat? What about plant-based proteins?
Plant-based protein post coming next week! (I tried to fit it all in one post but it was too long!)
What other questions do you have about protein? Leave me a comment!