Archive for February, 2012

“Dried Fruit: Just as Healthy as Eating Fresh”

Misconception: “Dried fruit: Just as healthy as eating fresh.”  Fresh fruit will win the health battle over dried.  Dried fruit becomes corrupted with added salt, sugar, additives and preservatives.  However, there is a place for dried fruits in your world.  Below I count the ways…

The main differences among dried vs fresh

Dried Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Tampered with prior to consumption

No tampering

Loss of nutrients

No loss of nutrients

Added sugar, salt, additives and preservatives

No added sugar, salt, additives or preservatives

High in calories

Low in calories

No water content

High water content

Spoil more slowly

Spoil faster

How does drying fruit work?

Manufacturers (or cool people who own dehydrators) will first pick a fruit (any old fruit – literally) and wait for it to ripen.  Ripened fruits have more sugar, which make the soon-to-be-dried fruit extra sweet.  To protect the fruit from rotting or losing its flavor and color, sulfur dioxide will be a key ingredient as part of the drying process.  Sometimes sulfur dioxide will protect the nutrients but it can also speed up their degradation.  Before drying, the fruit will be steamed to kill off microbes.  To dry, the fruit is placed into an oven or a dehydrator for all of the water to seep out.  Dried fruit will sit for a day before being packaged and sent off.

Dried fruit’s health benefits…

  • Dried fruit is high in fiber!
  • Dried fruit has no saturated or trans-fat, which are found in other snacks
  • Dried fruits do have antioxidants, and other compounds that are found in fruit
  • Dried fruits do have lots of vitamins and minerals, albeit less depending upon the additives used and heat/light processes

When to eat dried fruit

  • PRE-WORKOUT: Dried fruit is an amazing pre-workout snack for added energy from carbs (no protein and no fat), which is great for the stomach pre-exercise.  Beware of prunes, apricots and dried apples as those tend to be higher in fiber.  Focus on raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries/blueberries.
  • BREAKFAST: Dried fruit can add loads of sweetness to your morning yogurt or oatmeal
  • LUNCH: Dried fruit is a great way to add sweetness to a salad
  • DINNER: Add dried fruit to a starchy side-dish, like cous cous or orzo

Protect those teeth

Since there is (a lot of) added sugar to an already sugary food, a gooey residue will inhabit your molars, until you (hopefully) brush your teeth at night.


Winners: Healthy App Challenge

Picture yourself using a mobile health app.  Now pretend it works well — and that you like it.  The Healthy App Challenge, sponsored by, did the research for us and found four apps as the winners of the Surgeon General’s Healthy Apps Challenge (more about the challenge can be found in a previous post here).  The winners are …

Drum roll…

Lose it! 

What it does: This app helps you set a caloric limit appropriate for your goal.  It then asks you to record all fitness activity and foods/drinks for the day, measuring the results against goal.

Download now: Lose it! App


What it does: This app uses a bar code scanner to help reveal health information before acting on a purchase.  The app has info on food, drugstore and household products, with a green and sustainability focus.

Download now: GoodGuide App

Side note: My colleague and friend, Sheila Viswanathan, Ed.D., RD is the Nutrition Advisor for GoodGuide!


What it does: This app provides a bar code scanner (like GoodGuide) but the difference is that it helps you compare benefits from one food product to another, including specific ingredients or additives you might want to avoid.

Download now: Fooducate App

Healthy Habits

What it does: Just like Next Jump’s Daily Rituals, Healthy Habits tracks specific goals (daily, weekly and monthly).  You can customize the habits to amp up or minimize, such as quitting smoking or adding more veggies to your day.

Download now: Healthy Habits App

Runner Up…

Two other apps were recommended for fitness:

Fit Friendzy

What it does: Kids like challenges and they like competing against their friends.  This app incorporates both features, all while helping kids get into healthy daily active behaviors and focusing on fitness goals.

Download now: Fit Friendzy App


What it does: Map routes with the built-in GPS to record distance, pace, duration, etc.  Seems it would be perfect for runners and triathletes.

Download now: MapMyFitness App

Food App Winners (for children)

Max’s Plate

What it does: Max’s Plate is a game that helps kids learn all about the different food groups, while attempting to help them learn how to balance a healthy diet.

Download now: Max’s Plate App

Short Sequence: Kids’ Yoga Journey

What it does: Yoga Journey puts together a set of seven positions that helps kids relax.  The app proposes that they can help the modern-day kid (with over-stimulating schedules) to learned how to become more aware amidst their busy lives.

Download now: Yoga Journey App

Eating 5 a Day: Not Enough

After a long weekend of watching kids eat the majority of their calories coming from refined carbs and meat-derived proteins, I realized a simple lesson in “5-a-day” goes a long way.  But what about you?  Are you eating at least “5-a-day?”  Read on to learn how to maximize your fruit and veggie intake.

Is the majority of your diet full of carbs coming in the form of juice, caloric beverages, bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, grains and processed foods?  Is the other half of your diet a big mess of chicken, deli or grilled meat, cans of tuna, beans, and protein powder?  Even if you do eat fruits and veggies (two florets of broccoli here, an apple there, etc) are you actually getting in the bare minimum?

Bare minimum: 5 a day Better: 5-9 a day Best: 9-13 a day
If you think you’re pretty cool because you eat five servings of fruits and veggies (a combination thereof) per day as depicted in the graphic above, think again.  Kudos to you, you’re basically eating the daily bare minimum that human beings require to function with a decent quality of life. A body of evidence (American Medical, Heart, Cancer, USDA – MyPyramid and, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, etc) show that benefits start accumulating once you exceed five servings per day. Those who eat more than nine servings will have the greatest reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, and some types of cancers.

What is one serving?

One serving = 1 cup raw OR ½ cup cooked (this ½ cup does not include butters, sauces, and other artifact).  1 fruit without the peel (that fits into your palm) is considered one serving.

What are the health benefits?

Benefits include an increased amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy compounds in its natural form and antioxidants (compounds that help fight harmful bugs, bacteria, and species that like to destroy our immune systems).

Increased amounts of fruit and veggie intake is an excellent way to maintain and/or control weight since more calories are coming from nutrient-dense foods versus high-fat and high-sugary foods.

Best tip to choose fruits and veggies

Think bright colors (orange and red) and dark pigments (green leafy veggies).  When you think about fruits and veggies in this way, it is more likely that you will choose a spinach lettuce base over iceberg and a sweet (orange) potato over a white one.  The deeper the pigment, the more nutrient value a fruit or vegetable will contain (e.g., a faded light yellow pepper will have less nutrients from sitting on the shelf for days versus a deep orange pepper, which is fresh off the farm).

How can I apply all of this to my day?

Here are some ideas to add fruits and veggies throughout the day.


  • Add 1 small banana to oatmeal
  • Add ½ cup chopped cooked kale or spinach to your omelet


  • Add 1 cup of mixed vegetables to your salad
  • Add ½ cup cooked veggies to your chicken & rice dish
  • Add 1 cup carrots/celery to your sandwich


  • Add ½ cup cooked asparagus and/or broccoli to the plate
  • Add a scoop of mashed sweet potato to your meal


  • Eat a piece of fruit or a fruit cup
  • Dip 1 cup raw veggies into hummus or ranch
  • Mix 1 cup fruit in yogurt or cottage cheese

Print out this fruit and veggie tally card, leave it at your desk, and check off as the day progresses.


Eat five servings of (a combination of) fruits and vegetables per day.  That’s the minimum.  Better if you eat up to nine servings.  Optimal if you are eating between 9-13 servings.  Read above to find out what one serving equals, why you should have these “crops of the earth,” and how you can plan to get in a hefty load of roughage!

Better Me: Recovery

How do you know when you are physically recovered?

Before exercise…

Resting Heart Rate (RHR)

  1. Check RHR first thing in the morning (easy: count heart rate on wrist for 15 seconds, multiply by 4)
  2. Normal = 60-80 beats per minute (BPM)
  3. Well-trained athletes = 40-60 BPM
  4. If your normal RHR is above average by > 20 BPM you are not recovered physically (or had a poor night’s sleep)

From this data, taking RHR is a great strategy for athletes to figure out if today should be an off or training day.

During exercise…

Recovery Breathing Technique

  1. When out of breath and want to see if you are ready to perform the next exercise set, try breathing three full consecutive breaths in and out of your nose without opening your mouth.
  2. If you need to open your mouth before three breaths, you are not yet recovered and should take a little more time before starting up the next set.

After exercise …

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

  1. Leave about 2-3 days in between very intense training sessions — especially if weight training full body.  It takes two full days for the body to fully recuperate from muscle fiber damages occurred naturally with exercise.  The soreness you feel (DOMS) sets in around two days post exercise session.
  2. Recover the day after with a light training session of cardio.  If weight training, work areas not used the previous day.
  3. Active recovery can be helpful to maintain flexibility and fitness as the body rests up from a hard session.  Some ideas: (a) walking or jogging on the treadmill, (b) yoga or pilates session, (c) 20-30 minutes of bike or elliptical.

What about my mental(ness)?

If you want to see if you are mentally prepared, try this simple exercise.

Band of Tolerance (level of 1-10)

  1. At any point of the day, give yourself a score on a scale of 1-10 on the following emotions:
  • i.      Happy
  • ii.      Anger
  • iii.      Anxious
  • iv.      Excited
  • v.      Energetic
  • vi.      Lonely
  • vii.      Tired

Simply being aware of these emotions allow for (1) emotions not to interfere with tasks, (2) better self-efficacy to solve for a problem.

February WOM

New Workout of the Month (WOM) brought to you from the NYC Next Jump Fitness Center.  [This workout is the current ‘p3 by Nerijus: Performance, Power, Physique’ routine, updated monthly].  It is brutal (in a good way!)

p3 takes place one hour, once per week.  If attempting this workout on your own, remember these are intermediate to advanced exercises.  Proper form should be used at all times.  Proper warm up and cool down necessary.

Tempo: 45/10 (45 seconds on, 10 seconds between exercises)

Circuit length: Repeat circuit 3x

Exercises: If unilateral, change sides at 22.5 second marker during the exercise.  Use a stop-watch, or download the iphone app “Workout Muse.”

February 2012

#1 Inverted Push Up

  1. Start position: bend over and touch your toes with a slight bend in the knee.  Move your hands out in front of your toes so that your hand is resting comfortably on the floor.
  2. Movement: In this pike position, keep the legs straight as you bend your elbows and bring your head toward the group.  Press back up and repeat.

#2 Inverted Row

  1. Start position: lie on the floor inside a squat rack below a bar.  Grip the bar in a pronated position (palms facing away from you).  Tuck the elbows and lead with your chest.
  2. Movement: pull yourself up until the chest touches the bar.  Lower and repeat.

#3 Deck Squats (Add a jump at the end)

  1. Start position:  Get into a starting squat position.
  2. Movement: Bend knees all the way until the buttocks reach the floor.  Roll onto your back in a tuck position.  Roll back up into the starting position (advanced: jump high in the air).  Repeat. 

#4 Push-Up with Power Wheel

  1. Start position: stand strong on both knees and place the power wheel (image below) in front of your knees.  Grip the power wheel and keep the core as tight as possible.  The back should be curved.
  2. Movement: Allow the power wheel to roll in a straight line out in front of you.  The back should move from a curved to straight position.  Stop when the power wheel is right below your chest and shoulders.  Make sure you do not arch at the back.  Roll back to the start position using your abs.

#4 Chin Ups

  1. Start position: Grip a pull-up/chin-up bar slightly wider than shoulder width.  Keep your chin tucked and core activated.  Hands: you should have a “supinated” grip (palms are facing toward you, knuckled to the sky).
  2. Movement: Pull yourself up and let the chin come parallel to the bar.  Slowly lower yourself back to the start position and repeat.

#5 Chest Pass (or overhead “OH” Pass) with a Medicine Ball

  1. Start position: stand with a medicine ball, hands in front of chest and feet pointing straight ahead.
  2. Movement: Hold the ball close to the chest with elbows high.  Push the ball out in front of you, making sure it hits a cushioned wall.  If attempting the overhead pass, make sure to start with ball overhead.  Toss the ball onto the floor or against a wall.  Repeat.

#6 Rope (circles, in out)

  1. Start position: using a heavy rope, start with feet wide apart and bend at the knees.  Hold the rope’s ends in each hand.
  2. Movement: Start by shaking the rope back and forth or up and down while keeping the abs, legs and chest tight.  Only the arms should be in motion.  Repeat.

#7 T-Push-up

  1. Start position: get into a regular perfect push-up position.
  2. Movement: Lower the body to the ground, similar to a normal pushup.  As you push back up, roll your feet so your body is resting on the outside of your ankles.  At the same time raise your straight arm in the air.  Your hands should be stacked such that someone could draw a line from your right to your left hand.  Get back into the start position and change sides.

#8 Leg Curls (ball)

  1. Start position: Grab a physioball and place at the end of a mat.  Lie down on your back and place your feet on top of the physioball.  Bend your knees, such that the ball is close to your thighs.
  2. Movement: Extend your legs and let the physioball roll out.  This takes lots of balance – keep the legs straight and the glutes squeezed.  Roll the legs back to start (more advanced: you have the option of resting the glutes on the floor in between reps or continuing the next rep without lowering the glutes entirely back to the floor).

#9 Jump Rope

  1. Start position: grab a jump rope appropriate for your height.
  2. Movement: jump rope for the length of the exercise.

#10 Back Lunge with Hop

  1. Start position: Stand tall and get ready to perform a backward lunge with one leg.
  2. Movement: Perform the backward lunge such that the knee is almost touching the ground and the knee is not going over the toe.  Drive the moving leg back up to start in a bent position jumping on the working leg.  Repeat.  Switch legs at the half-way point of the exercise.

#11 Sprinter Sit-up

  1. Start position: Start on your back with your legs straight on in front and arms to the side.  Keep the arms bent at a 90 degree angle.
  2. Movement: bring up the torso and one arm with the opposite bent leg.  Twist the torso to have the elbow try to meet the bent knee.  Lowe the body back down and repeat to the opposite side.  One rep = when both sides are complete.

Cooking with Kids: Easy Recipes!

It’s lots of fun cooking with kids – they get into it and are more likely to eat the “masterpiece” they’ve produced (a sly way to help them consume more fruits and veggies).  They also learn how to measure.  Here are some recipes I’ve practiced at Harlem RBI with 2nd graders (excellent for Kindergarten – 5th grade).

Yogurt Parfaits

This recipe is fun and functional.  It is fun because parfaits are not a huge mess and kids love creating their own layering ideas.  It’s functional because this meal can serve as a breakfast or snack (if dividing below’s recipe by half).

Prep Time 15 Minutes
Serves 1
Serving size 1 bowl or cup
  • 1 cup Organic Low-fat Stonyfield Vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup strawberries and blueberries
  • 1 medium banana
  • Granola ingredients:
    • ¼ cup dry rolled oats
    • 1 miniature box raisins (0.5 oz)
    • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Knife for apple (provide help)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Serving bowls
  1. Wash berries.  Cut green tops off strawberries. Set berries aside.
  2. Peel and slice banana.  Set aside.
  3. Pour oats, raisins and sunflowers into a bowl.  Pour in the honey.  Mix!
  4. Parfait Layering: you can layer however you’d like (yogurt, granola, fruit or vice versa).  Here is a sample:
    1. Put yogurt into Parfait cup
    2. Next pour on the granola mix
    3. Lastly place fruit atop.
    4. Serve!
Nutritional analysis (per serving):
  • 478 calories
  • 10 g protein
  • 3.5 g fat
  • 102 g carbohydrate
  • 8 g fiber
  • 7 mg cholesterol
  • 108 mg sodium
  • 280 mg calcium
  • 1 mg iron

Original recipe from Marissa



Your first thought: my kids won’t eat it.  It’s true – they won’t eat something so bizarre and obscure and what?  Did you say it’s made from Garbanzo beans?

I was able to get all 25 students to try and enjoy this protein-fiber rich snack.  The key is NOT to mention its health profile and instead, explain how cool and fun it is to make hummus.  Focus on the process – not the result (kids are savvy and can tell when you’re just trying to get them to eat something).

First go into all of the ingredients you get to buy together.  You can even explain where the funny word, “hummus” came from – “hummus may sound like a funny word but it means something in Turkish.  It means: food dip.  Why would it be called a food dip?”  Have them guess that they get to dip all sorts of foods into hummus, like their favorite cracker or vegetable.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Serves 6
Serving size 3 Tbsp
  • 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, liquid reserved
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. black pepper


  • Measuring spoons
  • Food processor or blender (you’ll need to help out with this) or – mix by hand for a chunkier texture


  1. Combine garbanzo beans, garlic, cumin, salt, and olive oil in a food processor.  If mixing by hand, have one kid mix while another (or you) add in the next step.
  2. Blend on low speed, gradually adding reserved garbanzo bean liquid, until desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Serve with pita (warm) crackers or veggies


Nutritional analysis (per serving): 76 calories
4 g protein
3 g fat
0 g sat. fat
9 g carbohydrate
3 g fiber
0 mg cholesterol
213 mg sodium
29 mg calcium
1 mg iron

Recipe from kidshealth

Awesome Applesauce

All kids eat applesauce – it’s sort of in their “I’ll-readily-taste-this-DNA.”  Apples are a great source of Vitamin C and fiber, which all kids need more of.  It’s an easy recipe and loads of fun to prepare.  Plus you can save some for later by storing in mini-Tupperware’s and/or freezing.

Prep Time 10 Minutes
Serves 2 Kids
Serving size 1 bowl (half the recipe)
  • 2 small red apples
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon
  • Knife (provide help)
  • Blender or food processor
  • Measuring spoons
  • Serving bowls
  1. Peel the apples and cut them into small pieces. Throw out the core.
  2. Put the apple pieces and lemon juice into the blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is very smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into two small bowls and stir in the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Enjoy your awesome applesauce!
Nutritional analysis (per serving):
  • 84 calories
  • 0 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 22 g carbohydrate
  • 2 g fiber
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 3 mg sodium
  • 14 mg calcium
  • 0.3 mg iron

Recipe from kidshealth

Dark Chocolate for Love Day

Go dark for Love Day.  Dark chocolate has a hefty amount of antioxidants in the form of cocoa, which is a flavonol known to decrease blood pressure.  If you read yesterday’s post on sodium, you’ll want to consume this bittersweet magic – in moderation.  Read on to find out how much will benefit your heart (in every way!)

What percentage should I buy?

Go for a variety with 70% cacao or more.  Many brands will offer around 50% of dark chocolate.  The higher the percentage, the more benefit you’ll reap.  Some chocolate will have upwards of 80-90%.  I’ve tried the 90% and it takes the sweet out of bitter – if you’re into that sort of thing.  Wow your loved one with a 70-80% variety.

How much will offer the benefit?

According to a recent study in the European Heart Journal, researchers discovered that those who consumed six grams of dark chocolate per day (around ¼ oz or 1 square of a bar) offered subjects a 39 percent lower risk of a heart attack or stroke.(1)  Another study in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism discovered that dark chocolate can protect the body post stroke-event.(2)

Do you recommend specific brands?

Anything “Fair Trade” will do!  Fair trade means that the product has been produced in a sustainable manner for both the farmer and the environment.  As a result, the consumer will benefit from a healthier product and support the system allowing for it.  Some of my favorite Fair Trade chocolate includes “Equal Exchange,” “Green & Black’s Organic,” “Divine,” “Dagoba Organic,” and “Sweet riot.”  For other brands, visit, scroll down to the bottom right side of the page and review the products verified for fair trade.