Posted by Sima Cohen
We all need food. Not because it tastes good or because it makes us feel good, but because it provides vital nutrients and energy for our bodies. Food has one true purpose: to keep us alive, healthy and functioning; to provide us with the fuel and body rebuilding nutrition we need to avoid illness and death. We believe things should be simple, and being smart means avoiding things that will lead us down that dangerous path.
The first and easiest way to do that is to avoid boxed foods, junk foods, fake foods, or foods that are altered during processing. Junk foods contain very little real food. They’re usually composed of hydrogenated fats, chemicals, preservatives, and white flour. Canned breakfast drinks, sugary cereals, donuts and soda are prime examples. Fake foods such as bacon bits, dehydrated soups and instant coffee are composed primarily of chemicals, and oftain contain gum and sugar fillers. Processed foods are made from real foods, but have been put through chemical processes and infused with preservatives. They are often cooked at very high temperatures, which destroys any vital nutrients, and are loaded with sugar, salt, stabilizers and color enhancers. Yuck. Processed foods are also altered and stripped of nutrients through a process called “refining”. White bread is a prime example. These foods fill you up with useless calories, but provide no vital nutrients. Instant oats, white sugar, and white rice are also refined foods.
As if that weren’t enough, these processed foods are also preserved, and salt is one of the top preservatives. You’ll notice this rampant in canned foods and bread, but also in beef jerky, canned teas, jam, and hot dogs, among other foods. Diets high in sodium are linked with heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and weight gain! The bottom line is that once a food is altered from its original state, it has lost all of its real value to the human body. So, to keep it simple, follow my #1 principle:
READ THE INGREDIENTS. I believe that if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. Stick to food with ingredients that you recognize.
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March 23, 2012 | 5:51 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Breakfast provides children with the energy they’ll need and the essential nutrients they need to concentrate on school work and studies. Research conducted as recently as 2011 shows that breakfast provides as much as 25% of the recommended daily allowance for key nutrients, such as protein, vitamin A and B6, calcium, iron and zinc.
Q: But really, why is it so important to give our kids breakfast?
A: Children who don’t skip breakfast have been shown to have higher achievement scores, increased focus and concentration in the classroom, and they are more likely to establish healthy eating habits that in the future will help them to prevent weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
Q: Okay. So what is a balanced breakfast?
A: One that consists of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fat. Translation: one that will stabilize their blood sugar and keep them satisfied until their next meal, which is the secret for sustaining energy, keeping hunger and cravings at bay, and preventing weight gain.
The bottom line is don’t let your kids skip breakfast! Eating something is always better than eating nothing at all.
My best advice is to set a healthy example. Your kids look up to you! If you don’t eat breakfast, than why should they? If they see you eat, chances are they will mimic you and do the same. Problem solved! I believe that establishing this important habit ensures that they will grow up with healthy eating habits, understanding that food is fuel and that it’s good for them. And that is absolutely invaluable.
Peace & Breakfast,
March 8, 2012 | 6:28 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Be honest: the first thing you hear when you pick up your kids is, “Mom, I’m hungry!” It’s too early for dinner, but you can still give them a fun snack that’s quick, easy to prepare, and that will hold them over until dinner. This fun, colorful dish is just as entertaining to eat as it is satisfying:
Fruit Kabob with Yogurt Dip
4 cubes watermelon
4 cubes honeydew melon
2 large skewers
16 oz. low fat or fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp. slivered almonds or pistachios
2 tbsp. honey or truvia
1. In a medium bowl, mix fruit with honey or truvia.
2. Assemble kebabs by alternating fruit on skewers.
3. Grill over medium heat for 2 minutes each side.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together Greek yogurt, almonds or pistachios, and chopped fresh mint. Serve as dip.
When dinner rolls around, they’ll come back to the kitchen with the same line. So, what now? Below are two dinner options that can be our little healthy secret! I gave them each a makeover and added a few secret ingredients to up their healthy quotient and reduce the fat, sugar, and salt. You can even have these yourself for lunch the next day! Bon Apetit!
Better Mac and Cheese
4 C macaroni noodles
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/3 C cooked, mashed yams
1/3 C low-fat milk
½ C low-fat Greek yogurt, whisked
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1. Cook macaroni noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.
2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add whole wheat flour and whisk, making a paste. Gradually add the milk and continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Add the yams and continue stirring.
3. Add cheese, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Add the noodles and coat with the cheese mixture.
4. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve.
Breaded Chicken Nuggets
8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 Cup Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes Cereal
1/2 Cup Kashi Honey Puffs Cereal
4 tbsp. raw honey
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet using nonstick spray.
2. Place cereals in a Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, crush until cereals have the consistency of bread crumbs. (You can also place them in a food processor.) Pour cereal into a bowl and add salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Coat chicken strips with honey and dip them in the cereal crumbs. Line strips on baking sheet so strips are not touching.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn and bake for 8-10 more minutes. Serve with your favorite low fat dipping sauce!
Peace and Happy Kids!
February 22, 2012 | 9:32 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
As you probably know, I am a proud mom myself. Working with other busy moms, I get asked all the time: What if I don’t want to cook, but I still want to give my kids healthy choices?
No problem! The following quick snacks are excellent choices that support an active and a healthy lifestyle.
And if you are looking for other healthy and satisfying pre-packaged snacks for your kids to enjoy between meals, here are a few guidelines to follow:
Peace and Snack Time!
February 14, 2012 | 2:27 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
After being approached by dozens of parents with questions about raising healthy children, I’m excited to share my some of my secrets and tricks of the trade, and provide some insight and answers.
Over the past 20 years childhood obesity has doubled and as of 2011 is at epidemic rates! Overweight children and teens are more likely to develop serious health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
As a parent myself, I know that making small changes every day can drastically effect the health of your growing child for the rest of his or her life. There are a lot of convenient, cheap products out there, but 99% of them are loaded with added sugar, salt, sodium, saturated fat and empty calories that will do more harm than good. Giving our kids healthy foods can stabilize their energy, sharpen their minds and even help to even out their moods. It will also help them develop healthier habits as they get older.
From my experience with my picky eater daughter, foods like wraps, dips, smoothies, and popsicles, plus fruit and vegetables for color, are always fun to eat. All of my kid-friendly recipes and snack ideas, like the ones below, take no more than 15 minutes to prepare and they’re all totally healthy and delicious.
Do the right thing for their health (and your peace of mind) by taking a few minutes in the morning to prepare their food. I promise, it’s an investment you won’t regret. Just follow my nutrition principles by combining lean proteins, high fiber complex carbohydrates and healthy fats with every meal when preparing their lunches and snacks for school. This will give them the energy they need to make it through the day with a delicious, healthy lunch that they’ll look forward to… and they won’t trade away!
That’s it! fruit bars
Low fat string cheese
Carrots and Celery
Packaged dry green beans
Snap Pea Crisps
Individually packaged organic Apple sauce (They come in a variety of flavors including plain, berry and cinnamon, and pear. Make sure they say “No Sugar Added”!)
Mini packages of hummus
Stay tuned next week when I discuss guidelines for pre-packaged snacks and how to read labels.
Peace and Healthy Kids!
January 24, 2012 | 10:01 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Processed foods are POISON. Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof:
1. Ever heard of castoreum? It’s used to enhance the flavor of puddings, candies, and some frozen dairy desserts. It’s also derived from beaver anal glands.
2. The food coloring known as “Carmine” that gives many processed foods their reddish hue is made of ground-up insect shells. It’s also been known to cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
3. Your risk of E. coli goes WAY up, the more cheap ground meat that’s in a single beef patty. Fast food burgers contain the miscellaneous parts of dozens of cows raised all over the world.
4. UCLA did a study on how processed foods affect the brain, and discovered that it only takes TWO months of eating a steady processed food diet to lower the levels of brain chemicals that are responsible for learning and memory. Maybe that’s why you forgot after only a week that McDonald’s doesn’t actually taste that good.
5. Last year, Kellogg’s recalled 28 million boxes of cereal because a compound in the box lining was giving off a foul smell and tainting the taste of the food. They refuse to release the name of the compound.
6. The company that makes airport metal detectors also sells them to food manufacturers… to test processed meats for stray wires, metal shards, and hypodermic needles.
7. Ever had strawberry fruit roll-ups or given them to your kids? Did you notice that the ingredients list doesn’t contain any strawberries?
8. The food that our factory-farmed cows eat contains roadkill, and euthanized cats and dogs. We, Americans, eat those cows to the tune of millions a year.
9. Oscar Meyer Breaded Chicken and Mozzarella sandwiches contain more than 80 ingredients. You could make the exact same meal at home with less than 10.
10. Our friends at the FDA allow 74 mites and 19 maggots in a single can of mushrooms.
Peace and REAL food,
January 11, 2012 | 2:52 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Last week I hammered home a concept that may seem foreign to most: losing weight is not about eating less and exercising more. (Quite a concept, I know.) Losing weight actually begins in the depths of our minds, and since my coaching is a process of a few months or more, I thought I should let you in on my second biggest secret: Meditation.
Meditation is a very powerful tool that can help you to open up your mind, clear your thoughts, and free you from unwanted stress and anxiety. It can help you to avoid costly mistakes and find peace within. It’s kind of like having a meeting with God where he reveals to you his freshest ideas and perspectives on your life. If there is anything plaguing you, the answers are there… in the quiet space, waiting on you to find them.
Meditation will also rest your mind the same way that sleep rests your body. Some Tibetan monks meditate for hours at a time while sleeping for less than 4 hours a night! You don’t need to go that far. Even five minutes in the morning is better than nothing. (Ten would be even better, but, you have to start somewhere.)
Think meditating is too zen or stupid? You just turned down a meeting with God, and a very important opportunity to free yourself from whatever demons are plaguing you. (Yes, abusing food and gaining weight, included.) Expect the anxiety, stress, mistakes, and chaos to continue. The best part of meditating is that it’s FREE! (Hey, I’m a Jew - I love free stuff!)
Meditating is also extremely easy. Start by finding a quiet place with no distractions. Sit your booty down, close your eyes, and breathe. Breathe in and out, and every time a distracting or negative thought comes in, power through and let it go. It may take some time to master “letting go”, but it’s really that simple! With time, you’ll be in charge of your thoughts, not the other way around! Your mind won’t play those silly games with you. Meditation will help you to take control; to be the master of your mind, the administrator of awareness. Real change starts “upstairs”, in YOU!
Peace and Om,
January 2, 2012 | 3:42 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
I know it isn’t exactly our traditional new year, but as a Jew living in America, one can’t quite help but sync in with the spirit and the newness of it. As a trainer, coach, nutritionist, and author, every year on the 1st my phone rings off the hook and my schedule is flooded with new clients that are ready to make this year the best year of their lives. They profess that they are ready to finally lose the last 10 pounds; to have the fabulous body they have always dreamed of, and the stellar health they crave.
Now, if you’re like most people the resolution doesn’t really change much from year to year. “I’m gonna make it to yoga more!” “I’m gonna make more money!” “I’m going to be a better person.” 30 days in, we’ve long forgotten what we planned, and the next year, the list stays virtually the same. So I think it’s time to break the cycle of insanity! It’s time to change the list, so you can have a different outcome.
As someone who has been witness to this every single year for the last 20 years, I know better than to simply put these people to work. No, I do something even better! Something that, to their surprise, has nothing to do with dumbbells or crazy calorie-cutting diets: I take them through soul-searching exercises to find out what they’re really hungry for. And it’s way harder than you think. Why? Because this type of soul-searching forces you to look deep inside yourself. Really, really deep. It forces you to stand completely naked before yourself and look as hard as you can at all the bruises, dents, bumps, cuts, stretch marks, scars, and to remember how and why they got there. Ouch!
Yes, it hurts for a few minutes to relive all of those ouchies. After you learn to deal with the pain and make a few changes, though, you can be rest assured those aches and pains, big or small, will disappear, never to be seen again! There really is no point in trying to heal the pain with external things like grueling workouts and yummy treats without doing the soul-searching first anyway. And once you handle the insides, the outside - in this case your new sexy body and stellar health - will be a piece of cake!
So how do I do that, you ask? Well, when things around us are crazy, our need is not to join in the chaos, but to find some peace within. The only way to rise above it and finally gain power in a world that’s moving 100 miles an hour is to learn how to slow down and be still; to hear our inner voice and get guidance from our higher self. We won’t achieve the life we crave so much for ourselves and our children from our iPhones, iPads or other mobile devices. It won’t come from updating our Facebook status or tweeting. For us to become who we were truly meant to be, we must begin by looking inside ourselves, at who we are now… even if it doesn’t look so pretty. The world we see reflects the people we have become and will continue to become and vice versa, so if we don’t like what we see, we must face what we don’t like within ourselves. With every change we make, the world will change with us.
So go… have yourself an amazing life-changing and miraculous year!
Peace and Resolutions,
P.S. Stay tuned next week for some practices that will help you achieve everything you desire and stick to your resolutions!