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Ask the Expert Archive

Ask the Expert

The following recipes are perfect for busy, and growing, teenagers:

Tropical Fruit Snacking Cup

Very Veggie Snack Pizza

Fruity Peanut Butter Dip

Bean and Cheese Quesadilla


Q: I recently watched a documentary about healthy living by the BBC. They said that fasting for about four days at a time is a good way to lose weight and lower the production of IGF-1 hormone that contributes to aging. Is this fasting good for someone trying to slim down safely?

A: Fasting is not a safe or effective weight loss tool.  It is appealing to some because it appears to be a quick and simple solution to unwanted weight gain.  However, fasting decreases your metabolic rate.  Metabolism (or metabolic rate) is the process by which our bodies breakdown the foods we eat, and then transform those nutrients into energy that our body uses to survive.  Fasting for four days would result in loss of muscle, which will also reduce your metabolism after you start eating again.  Also if your body is “starving” for four days, it learns to store the food that you eat after the fast more efficiently.  It’s not uncommon to have weight gain after a person has finished fasting which defeats the initial purpose of the fast.

Here are a few tips to help you lead a healthy lifestyle:

  • It’s better to eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than only one or two meals a day.
  • Try incorporating an exercise regimen into your schedule. See your physician before beginning.
  • Add a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet.  They are full of vital nutrients and fiber, which keep you feeling satisfied longer.
  • Remember to stay hydrated.  Thirst can often be confused for hunger.

When I was growing up we usually ate at home.  If we went out if was for a special occasion, because we did well on our report card or during the summer we’d stop somewhere each Friday night on our way to the beach for dinner.  Eating out always felt like a special treat to me.  These days so many people make going out to eat such a regular occurrence it’s lost the same meaning it had for me as a kid.  What’s more concerning is while many establishments have added healthy options to their menus, how does frequent dining out impact one’s health overall?

Don’t get me wrong–there are plenty of ways to maneuver around the nutrition landmines on almost any menu.  In fact, a while back I dedicated one of my blogs to selecting healthy options when dining out.  The problem is that it gets more difficult the more often you’re faced with those fattening and unhealthy choices, especially if your healthy options are limited.

Another thing I always keep in mind is that even when I order something that sounds healthy (and I do my very best to order things steamed, keep sauces on the side, etc.), you’re not actually in the kitchen to see what’s being added to your food.  That’s the great thing about home cooking–you’re the cook!  You know exactly how much fat, what kind of fat, how much sodium, etc. is going into your meal because you’re adding it.  There’s no guesswork involved.

What about your kids?  If it’s difficult for you to healthy out night after night, it’s almost impossible to figure out how to get kids to eat healthy at a restaurant when dining out frequently.  Good luck with that one.  They’re faced with all the typical menu items kids want and love–French fries, ice cream, hot dogs and soda.  The healthy options are extremely limited and you’re going to have a tough time getting them to pick the same things over and over.

Let’s also talk finances.  For what you’d pay at a restaurant, you can spend half the amount and feed your family a nutritious meal at home.  Think about what you’d save in a month and it’s a no-brainer.

I love to go out to eat–I just limit how much I do it.  This way I can easily find healthy options on the menu (or cheat a little without feeling guilty since it’s only once in a while!), keep my finances in check and it still feels like a special treat every time I go.  Check out our recipe and healthy meal planning sections for ideas the next time you’re thinking about heading out to a restaurant.  You might surprise yourself at how much you like eating in!

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Yes, ginger root can be frozen, which is an excellent way to keep fresh ginger.  If you purchase a large root, cut it into small pieces then place the pieces into Ziploc freezer bags.  When ready to use, simply take out of the bag and grate.  There is no need to thaw the root before using.  Make sure to use the ginger root within 6 months. Try it in our Tropical Fruit Snacking Cup!


Q: individual facts for: nectarines,bell pepper, banana, 30 grapes, apple, 6 radishes, carrots. Thanks

A: Our website has the nutritional information for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  Each fruit and vegetable has its own page with the following information:  a food label detailing serving size and nutritional information, nutrition benefits, and how to store and select it.  Be sure to note the serving sizes for each. Visit our fruit and vegetable nutrition database for detailed lists.  Here is the information for nectarines to get you started.


Q: My child will only eat certain colored foods at a time. Example 1 week only orange foods, next week only reds ect. I can’t get he to eat anything but the color she wants. Why? and what do I do?

A: Many children go through periods of “picky eating” where they will only eat certain foods based on color, texture, taste etc. These food jags are common among children, and are often resolved on their own.  They are sometimes caused by a food allergy, or a sensory processing disorder. Some children will fixate on foods of a certain texture, or color, that is acceptable to them at that time.  It is important to encourage variety, and be a good role model for your child.  Try some of the following tips, and consult your pediatrician for further information:

  • Prepare meals that include foods in the child’s current “color,” but think variety. Mixing in foods of different colors may trigger your child to try something new.
  • Encourage your child to help prepare the meal.  Have her/him help with the foods that are not currently an acceptable “color.”  This is a great way to introduce new foods into your child’s diet.
  • Make eating a variety of foods fun with our tips and games featuring fruits and vegetables!

Q: How to make your child eat more veggies?

A: Encouraging your child to eat more fruits and vegetables can be a challenge.  One way to ease into the process is for you to be a healthy role model for your children. If they see you eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, they will soon follow suit.  Here are a few other suggestions for adding fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet:

  • Invite your kids to cook with you.  Involving kids in the preparation and cooking for new fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to make them comfortable around new foods. It also instills a sense of accomplishment.
  • Get kids involved in growing, harvesting, and selecting fruits & veggies at the supermarket.
  • Check out our kids’ website for fun games that educate children about healthy eating and fruits and vegetables.
  • Pack more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet.  Pack Assorted Colors for Kids (P.A.C.K.) is an  educational program that encourages kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.
Read her full bio123 >>

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