Great Book for Adolescent and Teenage Girls

Anyone dealing with an adolescent girl knows how tricky it can be.  One minute they’re happy as can be, giving the impression life just can’t get any better.   The next minute they are in tears because they notice an imprint on their face from their pillow following a good night’s sleep.  If your daughter has any issues regarding her weight, this can add another complexity to the already stifling behavior they can exhibit.  Recently, I came across a book that I think could be a great resource for girls – best suited for the 11-15 age group.  It is called The Diet for Teenagers Only by Carrie Wiatt and Barbara Schroeder.  The book is written in a simple, practical manner that would appeal to young girls.  It has a great intro discussing whether or not you need to lose weight, what’s going on during puberty, health risks of being overweight, and some basics of good nutrition.  It includes some easy, healthy and tasty recipes.  There is also a good deal of information on label reading (lots of side by side comparisons) and what constitutes an appropriate portion size.

To give you a flavor of the book (no pun intended), I have included a yummy muffin recipe below.

Magic Low-Fat Strawberry-Cinnamon Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1/4 cup margarine, melted

3 tablespoons 1% milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup pure fruit strawberry jam, no sugar added

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Put a muffin liner in each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan.  Coat the liners with cooking spray.
  2. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, baking powder, 1 tsp. of cinnamon, and salt, whisking well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, margarine, milk, and egg, whisking well.
  4. Make a well in the center of  the flour mixture.  Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist (don’t over mix!)
  5. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each liner.  Top the batter with 1 teaspoon jam.  Top evenly with the remaining batter.
  6. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over the batter.   Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly brown on top.
  7. Remove the muffins from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
  8. Enjoy!

I really like this book because it is a resource for our daughters to refer to – not us telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing.   The only thing I don’t like about this book  is the title.  I’m afraid girls might think it sounds kind of corny.  However, it really is written well for its intended audience.  Quite frankly, this book might be appropriate for any young girl to read.  If your daughter seems unreceptive to the idea, just leave a copy on her pillow.  If nothing else, maybe she’ll sleep on it and avoid getting a pillow crease mark on her face…

“Daughter, I cannot give you anything so complete or perfect or pure.  But I can give you something better.  Your body…and the fierce love of it that no one can take away.”

Linda Nemec Foster, from the poem “History of the Body”

Pizza Power

 I am tired of pizza getting a bad rap.  There are lots of great things about pizza.  First of all, how many different kinds of   pizza are there?  There’s thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust, coal-fired, handtossed, deep dish, pan, thin n’ crispy – I could go on forever.  The different toppings – there’s not enough time in the day to list these.  Is there anything you can’t put on top of  pizza that won’t taste good?   It’s readily available.  You can get pizza anywhere, anytime or it’s pretty easy to make yourself.  Have you ever said to yourself  “I wish there were more pizza places around here?”   Me neither.  Kids love it – no explanation necessary.  It’s relatively inexpensive.  It encompasses at least three food groups – protein, dairy, vegetable.  Depending on what you put on it, maybe more!  You’re probably thinking, isn’t it a little unhealthy??  I won’t argue a chicken breast, broccoli and brown rice may be a better choice.  However, sometimes, especially on a Friday night, that’s just not going to happen.  Unhealthy compared to what – other pizza or other food?  If you get the triple meat italiano pizza at Pizza Hut, it’s going to have a whopping 420 calories and 23 grams of fat (basically almost 50% of the calories come from fat AND remember that is 1/8 of a pie).  If you compare that to a  thin n’ crispy slice from Pizza Hut the calories  drop to 190 with 8 grams of fat (38% fat calories – better especially in the calorie department).  How about a chicken caesar salad?  Want a real shocker?  Caesar salad at Outback Steakhouse – 1045 calories, 74 grams of fat.  Wow, that is 64% of the calories coming from fat!!  My point I’m trying to make is don’t discount pizza because you think it is so “bad for you.”    Listed below are some fat and calorie values for various pizzas, all 1/8 of a pie.

Anthony’s Coal-Fired  (Plain Cheese)

425 calories      15 grams fat       32% fat calories

Bertucci’s  (Plain Cheese)                      

330 calories      15 grams fat      43% fat calories



          230 calories            4.5 grams fat           18% fat calories

          Thin Crust                                       

          170 calories             7 grams fat               37% fat calories

          Deep Dish                                         

          210 calories              7 grams fat              30% fat calories

Homemade Pizza

239 calories              5.6 grams fat           21% fat calories

Pizza also packs a great nutritional punch.  Tomato sauce contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant thought to  help protect against cancer.  It is also high in vitamin C.  Cheese is an excellent source of protein and also contains vitamin B-12, calcium, and vitamin D.    Make a whole-wheat pizza crust and add some beneficial fiber.  Added lean meats such as ham and chicken can boost protein.  Vegetable toppings increase the nutritional value significantly by adding a variety of vitamins and minerals (and fiber). 

For takeout pizza, check out the fat and calorie content, if it’s available.  Try to pick venues where pizza is closer to authentic italian with thinner crust, more sauce and less cheese.  You probably know which pizza places have more greasy and/or breadier dough pizzas.  Avoid these.  Make homemade pizza with your child and let their imaginations run wild thinking of toppings!  Pizza on the grill is very popular now – there are a variety of cookbooks available with some great recipes.   Wegman’s makes it easy by having a section that includes sauce, cheese, and pizza dough all in the same place.   My daughter LOVES to make homemade pizza and thinks it tastes better than takeout.    It is a fun thing to make for kids of all ages.

Add to your to do list this week:  get pizza stone, pizza cutter, pizza cookbook.   Have fun!

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”  Jack Brooks

There’s Got to Be a Morning After

The holiday season is over (thank goodness).  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas.   Looking at (not so much hanging) the decorations and lights, getting together with family and friends, and enjoying all of the special things that are unique to this time of year.  Unfortunately, we know there is a price to pay for having  too much of  a good time.  Exhaustion, disorganization, financial ruin, and maybe an extra pound or two.  That’s why it’s so great that this time is followed by the start of a new year.  New year – new beginning.   That’s how I feel after the new year begins.  Our children may not feel exactly the same way we do.  They may be sad the holidays are over and it is time to go back to school.  It’s time to get back to some routine.  Listed below are some suggestions on how to get you and your child back on track.

  1. Take a few minutes to sit down with your child.  Better yet, take a walk with them and talk.  Let them know it’s time to refocus on their nutrition and exercise goals.  If they maintained their weight, praise them for a job well done.  If they gained a little, make sure they know they just need to get back to business.  It’s ok.  No matter what goals we make in life, there are usually ups and downs getting there.  It is important to emphasize this to your child. 
  2. Take a trip to the grocery store with your son or daughter.  Encourage them to do some label reading to help them pick out some appropriate food choices.  Try to make it fun and not seem like a chore.  Timing is everything so pick a time that works best for your child (and you, of course). 
  3. If they are not so eager to get to the store, see if they would rather make a recipe together.  Maybe they search online for a baked chicken tender recipe and you go to the store and get the ingredients.  The point is, get them involved in and thinking about good nutrition.
  4. Write down their reasons for wanting to lose weight.  Two at the most.  They need to keep in places where they will be visible several times a day – by their bed, in a drawer, screen saver on an iPod touch or computer (only if they are comfortable with that). 
  5.  Encourage them to be aware of what, why, where, how they are eating.  Am I hungry?   What mood am I in?  Does the food I am eating still taste good?  Is there a better snack choice that would be healthier?  Am I eating in front of the TV?  Have them write down for easy reference.
  6. Make a specific plan with your child for the upcoming week.  What meals and snacks will you be eating? What is the exercise routine?
  7. Part of the plan must  be increased intake of high protein foods.  They speed up metabolism while helping to keep you full.  Limit carbohydrate intake except for those high in fiber.
  8. Drink plenty of water.
  9. Activity and exercise!!  Whenever possible.  Encourage at least 30 minutes of structured exercise each day.   However, try to keep your child moving.  Playing interactive video games, shopping, shooting baskets, cooking, etc.  or whatever keeps them from spending too much time in front of the TV or computer.

The above ideas incorporate mentally and physically what needs to happen when your child falls off the wagon (notice the reference to TAP from my last blog – thinking, awareness, and planning).  Talk to your child about New Year’s resolutions and have them make one regarding nutrition that is realistic and attainable.  Remember you need to keep positive and consistent.  Your child needs to keep at it! 

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald