Archive for ‘Food & Nutrition’

December 8, 2011

The Healthiest Foods for Toddlers…

The food pyramid divides foods into five distinct group and sets serving sizes for each food group. But it doesn’t list the very best foods from each of those groups. Below is a short list of some of foods that provide optimum nutrition per calorie.


  • Quinoa: Very high in protein. Cooks up light and fluffy and is a perfect grain for children.
  • Brown Rice: Minimal processing means it contains more naturally occurring B vitamins and fiber than white rice.
  • Whole Wheat: Whole wheat flour and products made with whole wheat are in fiber, magnesium and B vitamins. Use whole wheat bread for sandwiches and whole-wheat pasta when serving spaghetti, etc.The food pyramid does recommend consuming mostly whole grains. That’s because the whole grain contains more fiber and naturally occurring nutrients that promote good health.


  • Bell Peppers: An excellent source of vitamins C and A. Serve with a low fat ranch dip.
  • Winter Squash: Cooks up a smooth and sweet. Rich in beta-carotene, a powerful anti-oxidant, high in vitamin C, fiber, and multiple B vitamins.
  • Spinach: Spinach provides more nutrients than just about any other food. It is loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, folate, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Lower in calories than white potatoes, naturally sweet and loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and fiber.


  • Oranges: One of the fruits highest in vitamin C, rich in foliates, and helps prevent heart disease and birth defects.
  • Blueberries: Very high in nutrition and very low in calories. Highest of all the fruits in it’s anti-oxidant capability.
  • Kiwis: Loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Beautiful green color and sweet tart flavor are perfect for kids.
  • Strawberries: Not only do strawberries contain a lot of vitamin C and 12 other vitamins and minerals, and phyto-nutrients known as phenols, which are potent antioxidants.


  • Low Fat Plain Yogurt: High in calcium, digestive-friendly bacteria, smooth to eat, and a good source of protein.
  • Skim Milk: The most calcium for your calorie. Also a great source of vitamin D, necessary for depositing the calcium into bones and teeth.

Meats and Beans

  • Soybeans and Soy Products: Tofu, soy beans and other soy products are loaded with nutritional benefits including excellent protein, high levels of essential fatty acids, numerous vitamins, minerals, isoflavones, and fiber.
  • Lentils: These little beans are big on nutrition. They contain 5 important minerals, 2 B-vitamins, and protein–all with virtually no fat.
  • Lean, Organic Beef: Excellent source of high quality protein and one of the best sources of iron. It is also a good source of vitamin B-12, zinc and selenium.
  • Salmon: One of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, niacin, selenium, and vitamin B6.


November 4, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Sweetpea’s Special Aioli (for Toddlers)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C)

2 cups     Organic sweet potatoes, skin on, cut into finger size wedges  (2 sweet potatoes)

2 tbsp      Organic extra virgin olive oil     30 mL

2 cubes   Sweetpea Baby Food Lentils & Root Veggies, thawed

2 tbsp      Organic mayonnaise            30 mL

1             Basil leaf, finely chopped

1. Preheat a non-stick baking sheet until hot, about 5-7 minutes. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, place on the baking sheet and roast until golden brown and soft, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine Lentils & Root Veggies, mayonnaise and basil; mix well to incorporate.

3. Serve the wedges with the aioli on the side and enjoy.

This is an incredible way to use Sweetpea Baby Food! Infuse your mayonnaise creating a gourmet snack for your toddlers and you.

Chef Jordan’s tip:

Preheating the baking sheet helps to prevent the potatoes from sticking.

Chef Jordan Wagman

Executive Chef, Sweetpea Baby Food

Author, Easy Gourmet Baby Food


Reprinted with permission from Sweetpea Baby Food & Organic Snacks

September 1, 2011

When Does My Child Need Supplements or Vitamins?

by Dr. Natalie Geary, M.D.

If our children all ate as well as they should and exercised as much as they should, perhaps they wouldn’t need to take any supplements. The best advice I can give is to offer your kids foods from the different food groups each day and prepare meals with nutrients that complement each other. That means eating fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.

Unfortunately, children don’t always eat the way we would like them to eat. A picky eater might not get all the vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients he or she needs. Some kids eat healthy diets most of the time; most kids eat healthy foods some of the time; and a few children rarely eat anything healthy at all, gobbling down junk food instead (which most likely contains very little nutritional value—just unhealthy fats, sugar, and calories).

Imagine sitting in school all day when you have no energy, you can’t pay attention, and you’re having difficulty socializing with other kids. And all because your brain and body are starving for good nutrition.

That being said, we are fortunate in this day and age that many categories of supplements are available for enhancing and improving our bodies’ natural abilities. Kids who don’t get all the nutrition they need from their diets can take supplements as a good way to ensure that they get enough vitamins and minerals, as long as you keep in mind that taking supplements isn’t a cure-all or a substitute for a healthy diet.

  • 1. Probiotics:The most important thing to remember is that probiotics are essential as an everyday adjunct to good health, not just as a solution to health problems.
  • 2. BioGaia –BioGaia contains the probiotics L. reuteri, which produces the antimicrobial substance reuterin, which inhibits the growth of several kinds of unhealthy bacteria. BioGaia is available as chewable tablets, straws, and as Probiotic Drops designed to help infants who suffer from digestive discomfort including gas and bloating. You can even get BioGaia chewing gum for oral health. Just as there are bad bacteria in the gut, there are bad bacteria in the mouth. L. reuteri Prodentis has documented effect on balancing the oral flora and reducing the levels of bad bacteria associated with oral problems such as bleeding gum and tooth decay.* Culturelle for Kids–Use Culturelle for kids to help improve digestion, reduce upset stomach, and help maintain regular bowel movements. Culturelle is also commonly given to help healthy bacteria thrive when one is on antibiotics. To use, simply empty entire contents of 1 packet into cool food or drink. Culturelle is completely tasteless and odorless, and is 100 percent dairy and gluten-free.* Natren – Natren Life Start is specifically designed for infants and toddlers, especially those who are formula-fed or are born by cesarean section (and so do not have the benefit of acquiring beneficial bacteria as they pass through the birth canal).

[a] Omega-3 Fatty Acid

One common deficiency in children’s diets is omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA). EFAs are essential for proper nervous system and brain function, which is very important during those long school days. EFAs are critical for proper growth in children, especially for neural development and maturation of sensory systems. Recent studies have also suggested that supplementation with high-dose EPA/DHA concentrates may improve behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a normal component of breast milk especially important for the optimal brain and eye function. DHA is also important in the function and maintenance of the immune system, hormone regulation, and general health. Deficiency in DHA has been linked to dyslexia, aggressiveness, depression, reduced intelligence, manic depression, and more. We recommend that once a child is off breast milk or formula, you add a small amount of DHA (50 to 100 mg) to your child’s orange juice, oatmeal, or other food.

This essential fatty acid can be found in pumpkin seeds, cold oily ocean fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, and sardines, and in canola oil and flax oil. It can also be taken as a dietary supplement if kids don’t like the strong taste of oily fish or the other foods.

  • Dr. Ron’s Ultra Pure Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil – From ancient Rome to Scandinavia to the South Seas, traditional cultures considered fermented fish oils sacred foods essential to well-being. Blue Ice is available in capsules, unflavored liquid, or cinnamon flavored liquid. This product is additive free, and contains vitamins A and D as well as the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.
  • Dr. Fuhrman’s DHA Purity — This vegetable-derived formula was developed to maximize purity and freshness and is entirely vegan. That means there is no fishy taste or odor. This product comes in liquid form and you need take only a few drops a day, so it can be added to almost anything you drink or eat.
  • Carlson for Kids Chewable DHA — Carlson for Kids Chewable DHA is a fun and tasty way to provide your children with the nourishing benefits of DHA Omega-3 oil. Each orange-flavored chewable soft gel provides 100 mg of DHA. This product is regularly tested (using AOAC international protocols) for freshness, potency and purity by an independent, FDA-registered laboratory and has been determined to be fresh, fully potent and free of detectable levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, PCB’s and 28 other contaminants.
  • Neuromins DHA by Vitabase — Fish oil is the most common source of the essential fatty acid DHA for dietary supplements; however, Neuromins® DHA is a unique fish oil DHA supplement because of a special formulation process that extracts DHA from algae, the fish’s actual source for its DHA. This high quality brand of DHA supplements is chemical-, pollutant-, and toxin-free

Vitamin D

For decades, “experts” have told us to stay out of the sun and if we do go outside, to wear hats and immediately slather ourselves with sunscreen. Lately, though, a different story has emerged, especially where children are concerned. It turns out that they are not getting enough sun. In fact, a whopping 70 percent of American children are not getting enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because the human body only makes it when exposed to sunlight. No one is suggesting that you allow your kids to sunbathe on the beach for hours unprotected. But we are recommending that you and your children be exposed to sunlight every day.

Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous, which have various functions, especially the maintenance of healthy bones. It is an immune system regulator; it has a key role in maintaining cognitive function; it can help reduce the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms; and has been shown to help lower the risk of certain cancers.

Children with low levels of vitamin D tend to have higher blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol than their peers, and have an increased risk of developing heart disease later in life. Those most at risk for vitamin D deficiency are darker-skinned children, particularly blacks and Hispanics, because their skin contains more melanin than lighter-skinned children, and melanin may prevent the skin from absorbing the sunlight it needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that:

  • Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life
  • All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than one quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day
  • Adolescents who do not obtain 400 IU of vitamin D per day through foods should receive a supplement containing that amount

Foods that contain vitamin D include salmon, canned tuna, egg yolks, beef or calf liver, cheese, and fortified sources such as milk, yogurt, and cereals; however, it is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from diet. That’s why you need to give your children vitamin D supplements, such as:

  • Childlife Essentials Vitamin D3 Mixed Berry Flavor – ages 6 month & up — ChildLife Vitamin D3 is made especially for infants and children. Alcohol free, all natural ingredients, optimum absorption and natural berry flavor.
  • Carlson Labs Baby D Drops -ages newborn & up – This product is sugar-free, soy-free, corn-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, and preservative-free. For infants less than 2 years old, place one drop onto a pacifier or mother’s nipple and allow the baby to suck for at least 30 seconds. For children over 2 years of age, it may be put on food, put in a drink, or taken from a spoon.

Adjunct Supplements for Specific Purposes

When your child’s diet is not able to meet all the nutrient needs of his or her body, supplements may be helpful to help treat specific problems. These are not supplements that need be taken every day; rather they are to be used only when a specific problem arises. As long as your child is eating a relatively balanced diet, there is no need for her to be taking a dozen different pills or liquids. Should you decide (after consulting with your health professional) to give your child supplements, here are some suggestions.

Iron Deficiency

Iron is necessary for the body to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. It’s important for young children and teens to get enough iron in their daily diets. Infants who are breast-fed get enough iron from their mother; infants who are not breast-fed should get iron-fortified formula. After 6 months of age, babies should be fed iron-fortified cereal. Some children are at risk for iron deficiency. Toddlers who may not be eating enough iron-containing or iron-fortified foods are at risk. Teen girls are at risk if their diets don’t contain enough iron to counteract the loss of iron during menstrual bleeding. And teen athletes may lose iron through sweating during intense exercise.

There are a number of iron-rich foods that should be a part of your child’s diet so that iron deficiency does not occur, including:

  • Salmon
  • Dark poultry
  • Tuna
  • Red meat
  • Eggs
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Dried fruits
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Enriched grains
  • Iron-fortified breakfast cereals

If your child is in one of the risk categories previously mentioned or is not getting enough dietary iron, it may be necessary to give them iron supplements.

Healthy Immune System

When your child eats a balanced diet, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, she is literally feeding her immune system. Since many children go through phases when they don’t eat as well as they should, their immune systems are not always working at peak efficiency. In addition, they’re often exposed to more germs and illnesses than adults are because of their close proximity to other children at school. Every parent knows when a “bug” has hit the schoolyard—soon whole classrooms are sneezing and coughing and half the class is staying home. At these times it’s especially important to keep your child’s immune system well nourished and give it a boost with a few powerful supplements.

[b] Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that is essential to good health, as it is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions that take place in the body. It is an important contributor to a healthy immune system (it activates white blood cells to fight infection), and plays a critical role in growth and development. It’s particularly important for infants, children, and pregnant women to get enough zinc. Zinc also helps add calcium to bones and teeth, lowers blood sugar, and improves brain function.

Zinc deficiencies can lead to chronic fatigue, diarrhea, insulin resistance, and loss of taste or smell. It can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, and can cause night blindness, poor appetite, poor memory, and possibly attention deficit disorder.

If you eat a healthy diet, you probably get enough zinc already. The best food sources of zinc are red meat, crabs, lobster, wheat germ, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, and oysters (not exactly kid friendly). Cocoa powder is also a good source of zinc, so if your kids want a sweet snack, a small square of dark chocolate is a delicious, nutritious alternative. Vegetarians usually need more zinc supplementation than meat eaters, since meat is high in bioavailable zinc and may enhance zinc absorption. In addition, vegetarians typically eat high levels of legumes and whole grains, which contain inhibit zinc’s absorption. Poor dietary habits such as excessive consumption of sugar or carbohydrates are also known to reduce zinc absorption.

In the past several years, there have been a number of studies looking at the possible link between zinc and ADHD. Some studies suggest that children with ADHD might have lower levels of zinc in their body than children without this disorder. Researchers have reportedly seen improvement in children with ADHD who took zinc along with traditional ADHD treatment. Several studies have shown zinc supplements can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity. More research is needed in this area. Needless to say, if you’re thinking of adding zinc supplements to your child’s diet, this is something that must be discussed with your health professional.

Zinc, in the form of zinc gluconate glycine lozenges (which can be found in any drug store), can also be used to reduce the duration of the common cold. Of the 62 million common colds requiring medical attention in the United States each year, more than 80 percent affect school-aged children. Treatment with zinc gluconate glycine lozenges has been shown to significantly decrease cold duration and antibiotic use in school-aged subjects. So if your child comes down with a cold, zinc lozenges, which dissolve in the mouth, can shorten the number of days the cold will last.

The best way to give your children more zinc is to add zinc-rich foods to their diet. If you do go for zinc supplements, here are a few we recommend (check with your health care provider for use in children under the age of 12):

  • Cold-EEZE — Cold-EEZE reduces the duration and symptoms of the common cold including cough, stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, post-nasal drip and hoarseness. The Cold-EEZE proprietary (zinc gluconate glycine) formula is believed by researchers to interfere with the cold virus’ (rhinovirus) ability to reproduce. Cold-EEZE uses natural flavors and has no preservatives or colors.
  • Life Extension Zinc Lozenges – Zinc lozenges have become popular supplements to use when people feel a runny nose coming on. When zinc is sucked in the mouth in lozenge form, it binds to specific cell receptor sites in the nasal/oral cavity that inhibits the ability of undesirable entities to take hold. This product contains no milk, egg, fish, peanuts, crustacean shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp), tree nuts, wheat, yeast, gluten, or rice. Contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors.
August 1, 2011

Proteins and your child:

How to get them to eat really well?

by Dr. Natalie Geary, M.D.

Take a look at your child. What do you see? Underneath the sugar and spice cute-as-can-be exterior is an essential structure that enables your child to stand, walk, support herself, grow, breathe, circulate blood, and digest food. That structure is made of protein, one of three major classes of nutrients that provide calories to the body (the other two are carbohydrates and fats). Proteins are part of every cell in your body—they’re in your muscles, your bones, your blood, your organs, your skin, and your hair; they’re in your antibodies, enzymes, and hormones. They are used to build, repair, and replace every tissue in your body.

Proteins differ from carbohydrates and fats in one very important way: You don’t have to spend time worrying about proteins that are bad for you. There are no unhealthy proteins. When we warn against eating too much red meat, for instance, it’s not the protein portion we’re concerned about. It’s the carbohydrates (remember that most of the beef produced today is full of corn) and the fat (saturated), which is why we recommend choosing lean organic meat. You can’t really eat too much protein.

Why Do Your Kids Need Protein?
Proteins are fundamental components of all living cells. That pretty much says it all. Every part and system of our body needs proteins to function. Besides building, repairing, and replacing tissue, protein helps to stabilize blood sugar, enabling us to burn more sugar between meals. It also keeps us full longer (and more likely to stay away from the munchies).
Children who don’t get enough protein do not grow and develop as they should. Protein helps the body to produce a number of important chemicals use to create antibodies, enzymes, and hormones. Your body needs protein to regenerate hair and nails. All of the body’s responses require that your body makes protein, whether it’s protein to rebuild tissue, to heal wounds, or to fight infection.

Variety Is the Source of Life
Not too long ago, when nutritionists advised that complementary proteins needed to be eaten together, they meant together at the same meal. Current wisdom, however, has revised that theory. The good news is that you don’t have to provide your child with all nine essentials acids at every meal. As long as he eats a variety of proteins throughout the day, the amino acids will combine to give him what he needs. So if you want to serve him oatmeal at breakfast and black eyed peas with dinner, feel free. You’ve got your family covered as far as proteins are concerned.

Here are some sample combinations that form a complete protein:

  • Legumes (edible seeds or pods such as beans, lentils, and peas) with grains
  • Legumes with Nuts
  • Legumes with Seeds
  • Grains with Dairy
  • Nuts/Seeds with Dairy
  • Legumes with Dairy
  • Dairy with Nuts/Seeds and Legumes

Choosing Healthy Proteins
Parents are often worried because they think their children are not getting enough protein. That’s because they usually equate protein with chicken and beef. But many foods besides poultry and red meat are high in protein, which means that your kids are likely getting much more protein in their diet than you think. Proteins are in abundance around us. They are found in the following foods:

  • Meat (beef, pork, venison, and other game animals)
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Grains

We advocate for more animal protein for children, such as from fish, yogurt, eggs, lean cuts of meat, organic chicken, and organic turkey. Making things a little more complicated, protein requirements also depend on the ‘quality’ of protein your child eats and how easily digestible it is.

The best foods to eat for protein are not necessarily those that are highest in grams of protein, but those that are highest in quality. In general, animal proteins are considered highly digestible and higher quality than plant sources of protein, in part because plant sources also have a lot more fiber, which is indigestible. It’s not that plant protein is not as good, per se, it’s just that you’d have to eat so much of it. You’d have to consume humongous amounts of kale or broccoli, for instance, to get the same amount of protein as you’d find in a small serving of steak. You don’t have to worry about this though, as long as you vary the protein foods your child eats.

Here are some tips about choosing quality proteins:

  • Choose the leanest cuts of meat you can find. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in the name. The seven leanest cuts are: eye round, top round, round tip, top sirloin, bottom round, top loin, and tenderloin. If you’re buying ground beef, look for ground sirloin or ground round, and choose packages labeled lean or extra lean. Of course, these cuts of meat, especially if you’re buying organic, are the most expensive. So buy the best cut of meat you can afford.
    Packaged meat will also contain a grade on the label. The most common grades are prime, choice, and select. The highest grade is prime, which means that the meat has the most marbling, or streaks of fat, and is therefore very tender. Select has the least amount of marbling and is consequently less tender. A good way to tenderize a lean cut of meat is to marinate it for at least 6 hours in a blend of an acidic ingredient such as vinegar, wine, or citrus juice with a little bit of olive oil, herbs, and spices.
  • Chicken and turkey are always good choices. Cutting off the excess fat and removing the skin are the healthiest ways to go. But don’t forget that there are many ways to serve poultry. You can get lean ground chicken and ground turkey for healthy alternative-style burgers, meat loaf, or meat sauce. Chicken and turkey can also be used in chili, tacos, and most other dishes that are traditionally made with ground beef.
  • Fish is a naturally lean source of protein. Seafood is especially good because of the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish and seafood and the development of children’s brains and immune systems. However, children don’t usually gobble down a salmon fillet at first taste; they often have to be coaxed into eating fish at all. The easiest way to help them learn to enjoy fish is for them to watch you enjoying it, too. It’s best to start your kids on a mild tasting fish first. Although fish like salmon have the highest omega 3 fatty acids, they also have the strongest flavor. Start eating white fish like grouper or Vietnamese basa fillets and gradually work your way up to salmon.
    There are some caveats about feeding fish to children, however. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology puts fish on its list of most common food allergens, and recommends that you introduce fish only after your child’s first birthday, when his immune and digestive systems are more developed. And there’s always the question of mercury overload (see page XX), which is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you avoid feeding your child large predatory fish, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, which contain the highest levels of mercury. You should also stick to light tuna, and limit your child’s intake to about 1 ounce of tuna per week for kids weighing up to 20 pounds, and about 3 ounces (half a can of tuna) for kids weighing between 20 and 60 pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics also warns that children shouldn’t eat raw or undercooked fish, which may contain bacteria and viruses that can be tolerated by healthy adults but can make young children seriously ill.
  • Eggs are an almost perfect food. They are rich in nutrients, both in amino acids as well as key vitamins and minerals. Egg whites are almost pure protein. Your kids can eat as many egg whites per week as they like, but because egg yolks contain cholesterol, the standard recommendation is to limit whole eggs to three per week. Also remember that eggs should always be cooked thoroughly. Raw eggs are breeding places for salmonella. Federal researchers estimated that more than 130,000 people are sickened every year and 30 die as a result of contaminated eggs.
  • Lentils are a particularly good choice because 1 cup has 17 grams of protein with only .75 grams of fat. A two-ounce extra lean sirloin steak has the same amount of protein but six times the fat. Some other healthy beans include black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and legumes, to name a few. It’s best to soak dried beans overnight before preparing them in any dish because beans can cause your kids to have digestive problems. For children 12 years and older, you can also try products like Beano, a natural food enzyme dietary supplement that can help prevent gas before it starts.
  • Quinoa (kee-nwa), a South American grain, is one of the few complete plant proteins. Although it is usually categorized as a grain, technically it is a seed that is rich in essential fats, vitamins, and minerals and an excellent source of calcium, iron, and vitamins B and E.
    You cook quinoa much as you cook rice: Bring two cups of water to a boil with one cup of quinoa; cover at a low simmer and cook for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and can be a great breakfast treat for you and your kids, especially when you add some fresh berries, a small amount of rice or almond milk, and sweeten with honey. Delicious.

The whole idea is to eat as much of a variety of proteins as possible. If you eat only one protein source, you limit the number of amino acids you will consume. If you were to feed your child three meals a day made up entirely of convenient processed fast foods, they might get the full range of calories they should have for the day, but you would not be providing them with the essential proteins and other nutrients they require for healthy growth and development. If you want to get the most effective performance out of your child, she needs to be exposed to a complete pool of amino acids on a regular basis. Every organ and organ system, every hormone, every brain, muscle, and bone cell pivots on the introduction and rotation of all the different amino acids that are found in proteins.

July 7, 2011

Sweetpea Summertime Newsletter

By Dr. Joey Shulman DC, RNCP

There is really no other time like summer.  As Canadians, we enjoy every minute of summertime, soaking up the sun and all the fun that goes along with this cherished season.

The summer months also bring a world of fun for you and your baby. With new tastes, textures and fun things to discover, there are many activities that you can try together. Have fun.

Swim baby swim – If you do not have access to a pool, you can invest in a molded plastic pool that is PVC and phthalate free. This type of pool is generally inexpensive ($20) and can be found at most toy stores (i.e. Toys R Us). Your little one can have hours of fun playing in the pool with a variety of toys. And of course, never leave your baby unattended in the water.

Getting down and dirty – there is nothing wrong with putting your baby in some play clothes and letting him/her touch and feel dirt and sand outside. Babies love to feel a variety of textures which also helps to develop their finger dexterity and grip. The only tip to keep in mind is to watch that they do not try to rub their faces or eyes while they are playing, since the sand would hurt their eyes.

Eating healthy treatsOn your day out to the park, pack healthy snacks for your little one such as small pieces of fruit, cheese, avocados or whole grain cookies. Sweetpea Organic Cookies are the perfect healthy treat as they are made with 100% whole grain flour and are available in delicious banana pear, pumpkin spice and sweet apple varieties. Your children of all ages will love them… and so will you!

Covering upPrior to six months of age, it is not recommended to use a sunscreen on your baby. To protect your little ones, simply keep them in the shade, under an umbrella or covered up in their stroller. Past six months of age, it’s important to invest in a natural sunscreen that is free of harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reviewed over 500 sunscreens and listed the 21 best. For more information follow this link:

Swinging it up – Once your baby has head control and can sit up, he/she tends to love the sensation and freedom of being in a swing with the warm wind against their faces. They are also able to interact with others and are stimulated by all the action around them. If your baby loves the swing as much as my daughter does and you are lucky enough to have an extra tree available, invest in an “infant to toddler swing”.

Toxic free bubbles – Babies love to watch and pop bubbles. Non- toxic bubbles and a good bubble blower are good investments for hours of fun.

Wishing you and your entire family a healthy and joy filled summer season!

Dr. Joey Shulman

Did you know?

The Environmental Working Group released a new guide to pesticides in 2010. On their list, they included the fruits and vegetables that were most heavily sprayed and should be eaten only from organic sources. The “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated include:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

We are very proud that all 10 Sweetpea Baby food frozen recipes are made with 100% organic ingredients (blueberries included!) …and with love.

Do you have a question for Dr. Joey? If so, we would love to hear from you! Please e-mail Dr. Joey at

Glazed Pineapple and Sweetpea Blueberry Banana Parfait

The most elegant way to serve dessert for you, your toddler and yes…even baby will love it!

Yields about 4 parfaits


  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 25 mL
  • 2 ½ cups fresh diced pineapple 625 mL
  • 1 tbsp pure Maple Syrup 15 mL
  • 4 cubes Sweetpea Baby Food Blueberry Banana Puree 4 cubes
  • 1 cup crème fraiche or whole milk sour crea 250 mL
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest, split 5 mL
  • Fresh Mint, optional

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add pineapple and cook, without stirring, until all liquid has evaporated and the pineapple begins to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in syrup; reduce heat to low and cook until pineapple is fork tender, about 1 minute. Let cool to room temperature. * For baby or toddler, mash or cut to desired consistency.

In a mixing bowl, combine the Sweetpea Blueberry Banana, crème fraiche and lemon zest. Stir until incorporated; set aside.

To assemble the parfait, use a clear vessel, whether individual champagne glasses or a clear serving bowl — both will work well.  Alternate with layers of crème fraiche and glazed pineapple ending with the pineapple on the top layer. If serving adults, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint. ENJOY!

June 1, 2011

Foods to Avoid for Your Baby

By Dr. Joey Shulman DC, Registered Nutritionist

There are certain foods to avoid feeding your child in the early years to minimize the incidence of allergies. For starters, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you only feed your baby breast milk or formula for the first four to six months.

The foods to avoid for a minimum of one year include:

  • Citrus
  • Honey – Honey may contain spores called Clostridium botulinum (botulism) that can be life threatening to a baby.
  • Egg whites – The fat in egg yolks is terrific for optimal growth and development in your baby. However, the protein rich egg white may cause an allergic reaction.
  • Dairy – The protein in cow’s milk (specifically the protein called casein), is very difficult for a child’s immature digestive system to break down. Cow’s milk also does not contain all the nutrients your infant needs and contains traces of mineral in amounts that can damage a baby’s kidneys. While breast milk is best, if not breast feeding, stick to formula. Formula that is labeled “hydrolyzed” is easier for a baby’s digestive system to break down and absorb.
  • Shell fish
  • Peanut butter – peanut butter can be highly allergenic. If you or your spouse has an allergic reaction to peanuts, wait until your child is 3 years old before introducing peanut butter and jam.
  • Wheat – Although most babies can digest wheat fairly well (i.e. in cereal), if you are concerned about an allergic response, it is best to wait until after one year to introduce.
  • Tree nuts – walnuts and pecans
  • Soy – A large number of infants who show a sensitivity to dairy products may also have a reaction to soy (i.e. soy formula).

Infants who have a parent or sibling with food allergies are at risk for developing food allergies. If you have a strong history of allergies in the family, additional foods that can trigger an allergic response are corn and chocolate.


Signs of an allergic reaction may include: diarrhea, vomiting, skin rash, hives, swollen lips, tongue or face. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include gasping and difficulty breathing, and require immediate medical care.

Reprinted with permission from Sweetpea Baby Food & Organic Snacks

May 1, 2011

Food of the Month…

Avocado: One of nature’s Perfect Foods

Avocados’ high nutrient content and smooth texture make it the perfect food for baby.  In fact, Avocados are said to contain everything a person needs to survive and are an excellent source of the “good fat” required for baby’s brain and physical development.

Avocados are high in fat but only contain monounsaturated fats or “good fats” which are said to lower bad cholesterol and help maintain a healthy heart. Infants should not be on a low-fat diet so disregard any advice to not feed avocados because they are high in fats.  If you have any doubts, consult your pediatrician.

Avocados are high in fibre and therefore aid in reducing cancer and heart attacks.  Avocados make an excellent choice for babies first food and should be considered a healthy alternative to refined cereals.

When mashed into a soft creamy texture, this food can be introduced at 4-6 months.  Babies need fats, carbohydrates and proteins for their growth during the crucial first and second years of life.

Before peeling an avocado roll it around on the counter top to help separate the meat from the shell.  As you begin to introduce more foods into your babies diet try mixing avocados with soft peaches, pears, or yogurt for a tasty meal or snack


May 1, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Go Organic!

by Dr. Joey Shulman DC, Registered Nutritionist –

There are a multitude of reasons for you and your family to start eating organic foods. Organic farming and food is better for health, can prevent the onset of future disease and illness and reduces exposure to toxic elements in our environment. But… that’s not all. Read on to find out why you and your family should go organic!

1. Reduce your intake of harmful herbicides and pesticides

 According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of all herbicides (weed killers), 90% of all fungicides (mold killers), and 30% of all insecticides (insect killers) are potentially cancer causing. Unfortunately, the usage of herbicides and pesticides is on the rapid rise in our food sources. According to testing carried out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are:

  •  Three to more than four times more likely on average to contain residues than organic produce;
  • Eight to 11 times more likely to contain multiple pesticide residues than organic samples;
  • Shown to contain residues at levels three to 10 times higher, on average, than corresponding residues in organic samples.

2. Protect our children – Children are at higher risk to the effects of herbicides and pesticides due to their smaller body size and faster metabolism. In recent years, there has been a rise in childhood illnesses that have been linked to the increase use of herbicides and pesticides such as asthma and cancer. According to the Environmental Working Group, “More than 1 million children between the ages of 1 and 5 ingest at least 15 pesticides every day from fruits and vegetables. More than 600,000 of these children eat a dose of organophosphate insecticides that the federal government considers unsafe, and 61,000 eat doses that exceed benchmark levels by a factor of 10 or more.”

3. Protection against the onset of future illness or disease

 There are over 7,000 different herbicide and pesticide products currently available in Canada. Many of these were approved prior to 1960 when their long-term effects were unknown. Creating a causal link between the increase of various diseases and herbicide/pesticide usage is quite difficult due to the complexities involved such as age of person, combination of chemicals and genetic pre-disposition. However, there is a strong body of evidence linking various cancers (i.e. non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), asthma and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s to the increase in usage of herbicides and pesticides. In addition, childhood cancers are also on the rise.

 4. The quality of nutrition is improved

 According to a review of 41 studies designed to compare the nutritional value of conventional vs. organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains, organic produce was nutritionally superior. Specifically, organic crops contained 27% more vitamin C, 21.1% more iron, 29.3% more magnesium and 13% more phosphorus. This improvement in nutritional quality is largely due to the health and richness of the soil.

In another study, disease fighting chemicals called flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables were significantly higher in organic berries and corn. Flavonoids offer powerful protection against various cancers and allergies.

 5. The taste is better!

 When biting into an organic fruit or vegetable, you can instantly taste the difference. Whether it is an organic banana or sweet potato, organic food bursts with flavor. To accurately measure the improvement in taste, a study was conducted by Washington State University in Pullman, measuring the taste of organic food vs. conventionally grown crops. The results confirmed that organic produce was sweeter, firmer and more intact after 6 months of storage.

 6. Reduces the amount of antibiotic residue found in your meat

 The usage of antibiotics in cattle and livestock has now become a commonplace practice to prevent illness and disease from occurring. Organic livestock are provided with an environment that promotes good health and the ethical treatment of animals which eliminates the need for medications. According to the Organic Trade Association,Organic practices prohibit the use of hormones, antibiotics or other animal drugs in animal feed for the purpose of stimulating the growth or production of livestock. If an antibiotic is used to restore an animal to health, that animal cannot be used for organic production or be sold, labeled or represented as organic. Thus, organic practices avoid the abuse of antibiotics that could have profound consequences for treatment of disease in humans, including the serious dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

7. Decreases soil erosion

 Organic farmers act responsibly to protect the soil from future damage and depletion. In order to receive the designation of certified organic, the soil must be free of all herbicides and pesticides for a minimum of 3 years. In addition, organic farmers use various techniques to maintain the integrity of the soil such as crop rotation, composting and the elimination of any prohibited fertilizers.

 8. Organic certification is strictly monitored

 Organic food handlers, processors and retailers are held to the strictest of standards to maintain the quality assurances necessary to be labeled certified organic. Organic farmers are also audited 2-3 times yearly by the organic review board to ensure they are upholding the high standards.

 9. Protection of our waters

 Current conventional farming practices cause dangerous “spill offs” due to the usage of synthetic fertilizers. These fertilizers can cause an overabundance of nitrogen in the ground and have been linked to the development of various cancers. In contrast, organic agriculture uses natural materials in the soil that protects drinking water supplies and safeguards against water contamination.

 10. Protects the environment

 According to Health Canada, “Organic agriculture is a holistic system of production with a principle goal to develop productive enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment”.  In a nutshell, organic farming is much healthier for the planet by significantly reducing toxic exposure in our soil, water, air and for the prevention of illness and disease in future generations.

 Reprinted with permission from Sweetpea Baby Food & Organic Snacks


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