Category Archives: Healthy Habits

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

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Can you believe it?  The hol­i­days are here! And while it’s a sea­son of shar­ing and giv­ing, much of the time, it’s also the sea­son for indulging.  Candy, cook­ies, cakes…and lots of BIG meals. With­out totally deny­ing our kids (and our­selves), there are a few things we advise par­ents to do so you can keep your family’s eat­ing habits in check dur­ing the season.

  1. Stay Active Together
    Time off of school and work means you’ll have a few days to fill. Walk to the park, make an obsta­cle course in the back­yard, play in the snow, rake leaves into piles per­fect for jumping…make time for out­door activ­i­ties every day.
  2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
    It’s tough, with all of the won­der­ful sea­sonal treats…but if you don’t keep sweets in your house, you won’t have to deny your­self or your kids every time you see something.
  3. Snack Healthy
    With every­one off of a reg­u­lar rou­tine, it’s easy to want to nib­ble all day. So stock up with healthy snacks—mandarin oranges, part-skim string cheese, whole-wheat crack­ers, and gra­nola bars are favorites for kids and adults alike.
  4. Bake Healthy Treats
    Cook­ies and can­dies are fun to make (and eat), but this year, do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent by bak­ing up some health­ier treats. Gra­nola is a sim­ple, fun, and deli­cious treat that’s fun to give as gifts, too. Add your favorite mix-ins (dried fruits, seeds, nuts, or even a few choco­late chips!) to make it your own. Scoop into mason jars and tie with fes­tive rib­bon for a pretty and tasty home­made gift.

 

healthyholidays

Healthy Holiday Eating and Family Cooking Tips

healthyholidays

Just because the hol­i­days are here again doesn’t mean the days of healthy eat­ing have tem­porar­ily come to an end. While this time of year is full of delec­table treats, there are always healthy eat­ing options avail­able to you and your fam­ily.  You just have to look harder for them, or cre­ate them yourself!

For a start, you can try incen­tiviz­ing your child to snack on healthy good­ies like whole grain crack­ers, fruit, or raw veg­eta­bles before the big feast.  Try plac­ing these health­ier choices in front of your kids when they are first hun­gry, as that increases the like­li­hood that they will eat them!  Make a big deal out of these yummy “appe­tiz­ers” so your child is excited to try them. Din­ing on hol­i­day favorites such as fudge, cook­ies, and other baked goods is ok, but try to mon­i­tor con­sump­tion and encour­age your kids to eat them in small portions.

The hol­i­days are the per­fect time to bring out those vin­tage fam­ily favorite recipes, and whip up some­thing extra spe­cial for a large fam­ily feast or even a late night snack by the fire. While cook­ing with kids in the kitchen can some­times be a dif­fi­cult task, there are some dishes the lit­tle ones can help with and make it fun for the whole fam­ily. Some recipes chil­dren should be able to help with in the kitchen include: appe­tiz­ers, side dishes, hol­i­day cook­ies, and baked breads. Help­ing to cre­ate their favorite hol­i­day sweets while spend­ing time together in the kitchen with mom and dad is won­der­ful way for fam­i­lies to make the hol­i­day sea­son extra special…and extra wholesome!

Fol­low the link to learn about some kid-friendly recipes you and your lit­tle ones can make together dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son: http://bit.ly/1u9zmAo.  Bon appetit!

blog-halloweensafety

Halloween Food Safety

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There isn’t a kid in the world whose eyes don’t light up at the thought of the trick or treat­ing frenzy on Hal­loween night. Par­ents, how­ever, have the great task of mon­i­tor­ing every treat that their child brings home and liv­ing with the inevitable sugar rush. Hal­loween trick or treat­ing can pose many threats for chil­dren; chok­ing haz­ards, unwrapped candy, home­made treats, and food aller­gies are amongst the top food safety con­cerns.  Not to men­tion an excess of empty and nutrient-void calo­ries.  But, as a rite of pas­sage in Amer­i­can child­hood, who are we to pooh-pooh all the fun?

 

Fol­low these safety con­cerns to enjoy a safe and fun Hal­loween holiday:

 

  • Feed your chil­dren a power din­ner before they ven­ture out in their cos­tumes.  Lots of pro­tein and fiber to fill them up, and plenty of veg­gies to coun­ter­act the inevitable choco­late over­dose at the end of the night.  Make it early enough so they can con­tain their excite­ment and the fam­ily din­ner isn’t inter­rupted by con­tinue door bell ring­ing of other trick or treaters!  What­ever you do, don’t send them out on an empty stom­ach or you know exactly what they’ll be eat­ing for dinner!
  • Chil­dren shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating.  Urge your chil­dren to wait until they get home and you have had a chance to inspect the con­tents of their “goody bags.”
  • Tell chil­dren not to accept – and espe­cially not to eat – any­thing that isn’t com­mer­cially wrapped.
  • Par­ents of very young chil­dren should remove any chok­ing haz­ards such as gum, peanuts, hard can­dies or small toys.
  • Inspect com­mer­cially wrapped treats for signs of tam­per­ing, such as an unusual appear­ance or dis­col­oration, tiny pin­holes, or tears in wrap­pers.  Throw away any­thing that looks suspicious.
  • Con­sider toss­ing all candy the next day or at the end of the week.  There are many places that gladly accept dona­tions …. Hal­loween Candy Buy Back where den­tists “pay” for returned candy and then donate it to Amer­i­can troops over­seas (http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/), Oper­a­tion Shoe­box (https://operationshoebox.com), and Oper­a­tion Grat­i­tude (https://www.operationgratitude.com) offer sim­i­lar options.  A great way to help your child feel good about giv­ing their Hal­loween treats away!
blog-wtcountry

Join the Movement

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We cre­ated our con­cept in 2007 because we were frus­trated with the sad state of school lunches avail­able to our own chil­dren. We soon learned we were not alone.  With the sup­port of par­ents and teach­ers like you, we started a food rev­o­lu­tion that is now a national move­ment. Today, we have over 20 WT Café loca­tions through­out the United States and we are grow­ing!  Each loca­tion is inde­pen­dently owned and oper­ated by a pas­sion­ate local leader striv­ing to change the way their own com­mu­nity eats and inter­acts with food. Are you ready to bring change to your com­mu­nity?  Visit wtcafe.com and Join the Move­ment today!

 Do you know some­one who would be a great WT Café owner?  Just sub­mit our WT Café Refer­ral Form. You could earn $3000!

 To learn more about our story, click here to read our most recent fea­tured arti­cle in the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Organized Freezer

Sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions: Month 2

Accord­ing to Forbes, only 8% of peo­ple achieve their New Year’s res­o­lu­tions! We won­dered, what hap­pens to the other 92% of peo­ple? How many of those set out to have a health­ier year and what does it mean for the health of the nation when only a frac­tion of those who set health goals can reach them by the time Dec 31st rolls around?

 

When asked what the biggest chal­lenges were when it came to stick­ing to New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, most peo­ple cited time as the great­est obsta­cle. Mike, a father from South Florida, explained that his tod­dler is a very picky eater with a dairy sen­si­tiv­ity. His family’s New Year res­o­lu­tion was to take processed foods out of their diets and switch to more raw or fresh fruits and veg­gies – which we think is a fan­tas­tic goal! The prob­lem is that he and his wife are employed full-time, which makes it extremely dif­fi­cult to make meals from scratch.

 

Mike is not alone in his plight to pro­vide his fam­ily a healthy meal. Most par­ents have to deal with picky eaters who resist eat­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles and who would much rather eat junk food they see adver­tised on TV! Avid read­ers of our newslet­ter have already learned sneaky ways to add veg­gies into their children’s meals. Puree­ing veg­gies into sauces, mak­ing healthy fruit smooth­ies, and adding oats to increase the nutri­tional con­tent with­out mak­ing it too obvi­ous are some of our past sug­ges­tions. Often times, these are quick addi­tions that can make a big dif­fer­ence in the health con­tent of a meal.

 

Organized Freezer

Through­out the years we have com­piled many time sav­ing tips from our chefs. Below are our favorite tips for your kitchen. You can find many more on our blog!

 

  1. Prep ahead. Make Sun­days a kitchen day with the fam­ily! Chop, dice, and cook off as much food as pos­si­ble so that you wont have to do it dur­ing the week.
  2. Buy col­or­ful food stor­age con­tain­ers and fun sil­i­cone spat­u­las for more kitchen fun times!
  3. Use your slow cooker! A slow cooker is a great invest­ment that could be used to cook beans and hearty cuts of meat overnight or while you do other things around the house.
  4. Buy frozen fruits and veg­eta­bles. If time is just not on your side, buy frozen instead of canned. Frozen veg­eta­bles are often fresher than even those veg­eta­bles in the super­mar­ket pro­duce sec­tion because they are frozen imme­di­ately after har­vest. They do not con­tain the high amounts of sodium that canned counter-parts often have.
  5. Make chicken, veg­gie, and beef stocks ahead of time and then freeze in ice cube trays for easy use through­out the week.
  6. Cook in batches, then freeze. This is per­fect for soups! Make a large batch of soup and freeze it in Ziploc bags so that a sim­ple reheat can give you a great week­day dinner.



Whole­some Tum­mies also has a lot of great tips for feed­ing your fam­ily healthy meals.  Take a look through our blog for ideas and sug­ges­tions for your family!

 

Commitments

Our Wholesome Tummies Core Commitments

Commitments

It’s becom­ing increas­ingly dif­fi­cult to know exactly what is in food today. Recently, a med­ical researcher in Mis­sis­sippi tested the ingre­di­ents in two major brands of chicken nuggets only to find that nei­ther con­tains even 50% chicken! He pub­lished his find­ings, The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads “Chicken Lit­tle” in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Med­i­cine. He uncov­ered that these restau­rant nuggets con­tain chicken parts (ground bones, ten­dons, lig­a­ments, etc) that would typ­i­cally go to ani­mal feed.

 

Chil­dren in the Vir­ginia school sys­tem have now started eat­ing ham­burg­ers with 26 addi­tives – again! After a food advo­cacy group called Real Food for Kids suc­cess­fully replaced these highly processed burg­ers for 100% beef pat­ties, school offi­cials requested that the 26 + ingre­di­ent pat­ties be brought back because kids do not like the taste of the 100% beef patties.

 

In a world where the food land­scape is con­stantly chang­ing, how do we make sure that our chil­dren stay away from the “bad stuff”? Bet­ter yet, how do we teach the young gen­er­a­tions to enjoy food and stay healthy at the same time?

 

The answer may be found in the foods chil­dren eat in school. The eat­ing habits they build in the school cafe­te­ria stick with them for the rest of their lives. This is why Whole­some Tum­mies is adamant about our core com­mit­ments: NO High Fruc­tose Corn Syrup (HFCs), NO Hydro­genated Fats (trans fats), and NO Arti­fi­cial Mono-Sodium Glu­ta­mates (MSG) and why you won’t see any of these offend­ers on your child’s WT Café menu.

 

High fruc­tose corn syrup, also known most recently as corn sugar, is a sweet­ener made by refin­ing corn into glu­cose and adding enzymes that con­vert it to fruc­tose. It is very cheap to pro­duce and there­fore found in abun­dance in many processed foods and sweet­ened beverages.

 

We strongly reject any HFCs in our foods because it harms the body, specif­i­cally the liver, which car­ries the bur­den of metab­o­liz­ing fruc­tose. When too much fruc­tose reaches the liver, it turns it into fat and can cre­ate fatty liver dis­ease. The impacts of a high sugar diet in young bod­ies can be detri­men­tal later on in life. That is why we empha­size the use of nat­ural sug­ars only and only in small amounts when our food absolutely calls for it.

 

Another dan­ger­ous ingre­di­ent lurk­ing in the food sup­ply is par­tially hydro­genated oil. Amer­ica was intro­duced to par­tially hydro­genated oil in 1911 when Crisco began mak­ing an appear­ance on super­mar­ket shelves. This was the first man made fat intro­duced into the food sup­ply and became extremely pop­u­lar in baked goods because it cre­ated a prod­uct with a very long shelf life. Dur­ing World War II, this fat grew in pop­u­lar­ity with the use of mar­garine (which is a hydro­genated oil) because but­ter was being rationed at the time. Hydro­gena­tion is the process of adding hydro­gen to an oil in order to make it a solid at room tem­per­a­ture. They are excep­tion­ally bad for the human body because they increase bad cho­les­terol lev­els and can­not be bro­ken down by the body.  Unfor­tu­nately, it was not until 2006 that a manda­tory label­ing law for trans fats became effec­tive in the United States. Nonethe­less, it is still very impor­tant to read your labels because a food man­u­fac­turer may still label their food as “0 Trans fats” if the amount present in the prod­uct is less than 0.5g per serv­ing. Next time you reach for the pre-packaged break­fast bars in the super­mar­ket, make sure they don’t con­tain any hydro­genated or partially-hydrogenated oils.

 

We avoid arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents in our foods because we believe in mak­ing our meals from scratch. This is why arti­fi­cial MSGs, arti­fi­cial col­ors, and arti­fi­cial fla­vors will never enter a WT kitchen. Tra­di­tion­ally, MSG has been used in Asian cui­sine for many gen­er­a­tions. This type of MSG was used by prepar­ing a sea­weed broth that added a savory fla­vor when added to many dishes.

 

In the 1900’s a Japan­ese sci­en­tist named Kiku­nae Ikeda cre­ated arti­fi­cial MSG by extract­ing glu­ta­mate (a non-essential amino acid respon­si­ble for the umami fla­vor) from sea­weed and adding salt. He com­mer­cial­ized the result­ing prod­uct as a food addi­tive used to enhance savory flavors.

 

Is MSG bad for you? There is much con­tro­versy sur­round­ing this food addi­tive.  Accord­ing to the FDA, MSG is safe to eat. In fact, their research has not been able to link reports of nau­sea, headaches, and stom­ach issues with the con­sump­tion of MSG when quan­ti­ties do not exceed half a gram. How­ever, they did find that con­sum­ing more than three grams of the addi­tive will cause numb­ness, tin­gling, and pal­pi­ta­tions in sen­si­tive peo­ple. These symp­toms are most com­monly referred to as “Chi­nese Food Syndrome”.

 

Arti­fi­cial MSG is found in many snacks, chips, and pre­cooked frozen foods, there­fore, con­sum­ing more than half a gram is very easy in today’s food land­scape. MSG is called an “Exci­to­toxin” by neu­rol­o­gist Rus­sell Blay­lock, who wrote a book explain­ing that long term MSG expo­sure could lead to neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems later on in life because the food addi­tive over-stimulates cells.

 

Because arti­fi­cial MSG is obvi­ously not nat­ural, we chose to keep it away from our kitchens. We do not believe our chil­dren should be guinea pigs to arti­fi­cial addi­tives while more con­clu­sive evi­dence is found.  Instead we rely on whole­some and nat­ural foods to nour­ish their bod­ies and help them grow strong.

 

Whole­some Tum­mies is at the fore­front of ensur­ing that our chil­dren learn to care about what they eat so that they can live longer, health­ier lives – while still eat­ing the kinds of food they love. This is more than just school lunch. It’s a move­ment! Join today!

popcorn

Chocolate Drizzled Honey Popcorn

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(Makes approx­i­mately twelve 3-inch balls.)

Easy to make and fun to eat, this is guar­an­teed to become a fall-time favorite! In this recipe, you avoid all of the hydro­genated fats and sodium found in microwave pop­corn by pop­ping it over the stove­top in a deep cast iron skil­let or a Dutch oven with a lid.

 

Pop­corn is a whole grain snack that is loaded with fiber and antiox­i­dants. While most movie the­ater pop­corn is loaded with salt and but­ter, giv­ing pop­corn a bad name, when it’s cooked with a heart healthy oil such as canola, pop­corn becomes a health­ful blank can­vas ready to fla­vor with spices, herbs, and even honey with chocolate!

For this recipe, you will need the following:

  •     10 cups stove-top popped pop­corn (Use ker­nels sold by PopSe­cret, or Eden Organic, or Orville Redenbacher’s)
  •     3/4 cup honey
  •     1/2 tea­spoon sea salt
  •     1 tea­spoon cin­na­mon, cayenne and/or chili pow­der (optional)
  •     3 ounces dark choco­late, melted over a dou­ble boiler

 

 

Method:

 

  1. Fol­low pack­age pop­ping instructions
  2.  Add the pop­corn to large bowl and set aside.
  3.  In a small saucepan over a medium-low heat, heat the honey and salt, add in any other spices you would like at this time. Heat the honey to just barely sim­mer­ing, then imme­di­ately remove it from the heat. Care­fully pour it over the pop­corn. Pour a lit­tle at a time then toss, ensur­ing all pop­corn gets evenly coated with honey.
  4. One the mix­ture is cool enough to han­dle, press into 2 or 3-inch balls, with lightly greased hands.
  5. Cool com­pletely on a parch­ment paper lined pan in the refrigerator.
  6. In the mean­time, melt the dark choco­late over a dou­ble boiler. Once melted driz­zle it over the pop­corn balls. Add as much as you’d like. Store the pop­corn balls in the refrig­er­a­tor until you are ready to eat.

 

You can also wrap the indi­vid­ual pop­corn balls in plas­tic bag­gies and give them out as fun and deli­cious hol­i­day treats!

 

Enjoy!

pumpkincupcake

Fall in Love With Our Fall Menu

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As the chilly gust of autumn wind scat­ters a rain­bow of leaves across the lawn, one can’t help but crave all things warm – and with a dash of fall spice! In antic­i­pa­tion of the sea­son, WT Café is proud to intro­duce our deli­cious and heart-warming fall-inspired menu. We are excited to debut the subtly-sweet taste of pump­kin in our new Pump­kin Snicker-Doodle Cook­ies and the Inside-Out (ISO) Pump­kin Cream Cup­cakes filled with our vel­vety pump­kin cream cheese fill­ing.  We are also adding a hearty Quinoa Salad, abun­dant in pro­tein and root veg­eta­bles and sure to sat­isfy hun­gry tum­mies everywhere!

 

As the hol­i­days approach, WT Café brings a fes­tive mood to the lunch­room with a home­made hol­i­day din­ner com­plete with slow roasted pork paired with roasted sweet plan­tains and a tra­di­tional accom­pa­ni­ment of rice and black beans with a tangy orange-garlic mojo sauce. This dish is our way of cel­e­brat­ing a won­der­ful year gone by!

 

Be sure to check your local WT Café menu for all of our deli­cious new fall creations.

Students

New USDA Snack Regulations for Schools

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It’s no sur­prise that the state of health of our nation’s youth is in dis­ar­ray. After all, this is the dri­ving rea­son why WT Café exists. Just like we’ve started a move­ment to feed our chil­dren the fresh­est and health­i­est food pos­si­ble, many oth­ers are also fight­ing to give chil­dren access to the healthy food they deserve.

A good exam­ple is the CSPI (The Cen­ter for Sci­ence in the Pub­lic Inter­est), an orga­ni­za­tion that has been advo­cat­ing for more strin­gent dietary guide­lines inside schools for over a decade. Last month they released an offi­cial thank you let­ter to all activists thank­ing them for their tena­cious push for a school lunch over­haul. There is good news for us to celebrate.

The USDA announced just last month that there would be a new set of nutri­tional stan­dards that will deter­mine which snacks are allowed in schools. This new reg­u­la­tion is required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The new stan­dards apply to food sold in vend­ing machines and in school din­ing areas inside schools that par­tic­i­pate in the National Lunch Pro­gram and the National Break­fast Pro­gram. Here are the guide­lines for what con­sti­tutes a “healthy” snack in these schools:

  • The snack must con­sist of whole grains or the first ingre­di­ent must con­sist of a fruit, veg­etable, or protein.
  • If it’s a com­bi­na­tion food, it must con­sist of ¼ cup of fruits and/or vegetables.
  • Snack items must have at least 10% of the daily value of one of the nutri­ents that were listed of pub­lic con­cern by the 2010 Dietary Guide­lines for Amer­i­cans such as: Vit­a­min D, Dietary Fiber, Cal­cium, Potassium.
  • Addi­tion­ally, there are fat, sodium, and sugar restric­tions that should increase the qual­ity of food served in cafe­te­rias nation­wide, decreas­ing the obe­sity epi­demic that has put our health in dan­ger. In the case of sugar, one of the biggest cul­prits for the rise of type II dia­betes in chil­dren as young as ten years of age, the new reg­u­la­tions make a direct attack by effec­tively ban­ning any food item with more than 35% of total weight from sugar.

    Although we are excited about these higher nutri­tional stan­dards, the bar is still not high enough. Fundrais­ers and birth­day cel­e­bra­tions are just two exam­ples of areas where the gov­ern­ment falls short of true trans­for­ma­tion in our schools.

    At WT Café, we know how impor­tant it is to address all aspects of the food envi­ron­ment in order to effect real change. That’s why our Healthy School Solu­tion includes pro­grams not only for ele­vat­ing the qual­ity of school lunch and vend­ing, but also fundrais­ing and birth­days. Fresh, nutri­tious, and excit­ing foods should be acces­si­ble to our kids in school, not just at lunchtime but all the time. We know chil­dren are impres­sion­able and it is up to us to lead them to healthy habits by demon­strat­ing con­sis­tent behav­iors every­where that food is served in school.

    With WT Café, your school is part of the solu­tion, not the prob­lem. We pledge to serve fresh food that is made from scratch and adheres to our strict nutri­tional guide­lines. Food that is nour­ish­ing and excit­ing for every child!

Recipe of the Month Easy No-Bake Granola Bars

granola

Sum­mer may be over, but it’s still awfully hot out there! The last thing any­body wants to do it to crank up those ovens and turn their kitchen into a caul­dron. Why not keep the kids happy with healthy and deli­cious gra­nola bars that are ready in no time at all – all with­out using your oven? What’s more, they are packed with pro­tein and all nat­ural sug­ars that are per­fect for an after­noon snack!

Toss out those prepack­aged bars with 20 some­thing ingre­di­ents, preser­v­a­tives and arti­fi­cial junk because these no-bake bars only have 7 sim­ple ingre­di­ents and are packed with 6.7g of protein!

Ingre­di­ents

  • 1 ½ cup toasted oats
  • ½ toasted pump­kin seeds (optional)
  • ¼ cup crunchy sunbutter
  • 2 TBS honey (or brown rice syrup)
  • ½ cup dates
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Method

  1. Using a large stove top pan, toast the oats until a rich, nutty aroma begins to emit from them. Place in a medium mix­ing bowl, set aside. Do the same for the pump­kin seeds. Toss salt into these two dry ingredients.
  2. Place dates, warm water, sun­but­ter, and honey into a blender and blend until the mix­ture turns into a chunky puree.
  3. Pour wet mix­ture into dry mix­ture and using clean hands or a spat­ula; begin mix­ing until all dry ingre­di­ents become moist­ened with wet mixture.
  4. Pour gra­nola mix­ture into a square 8x8 bak­ing dish or Tup­per­ware con­tainer that has been lined with parch­ment paper.
  5. Here is the fun part: using hands, press down on mix­ture until it gets tightly com­pacted into 8x8 dish.
  6. Put dish inside the refrig­er­a­tor and chill for about 30 min­utes. Once chilled, turn gra­nola over onto a cut­ting board, you should now have a square bar that can be cut into 8 1-inch portions.
  7. This recipe is gluten-free and nut-free.

    Nutri­tion Information

    Calo­ries per serv­ing: 198

    Total fat: 8.2g

    Carbs: 27.1g

    Sodium: 109.7

    Sugar: 11g

    Fiber: 4.2g

    Pro­tein: 6.7g