Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Eye Color Will Your Baby Have?

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP
Have you ever wondered what eye color your child will have? Many parents, seeing their newborn’s blue eyes, hope they retain that deep blue hue forever. But they might be in for a surprise!

Eye color is determined by the brown pigment, melanin. Depending on the concentration of melanin in the iris, your child ends up with blue, green, or brown eyes. All newborns have blue eyes because at the time of birth, their irises have not started producing melanin. The real eye color settles in between 6-9 months of age and is mainly determined by genetics.

Research has identified many genes that are responsible for our permanent eye color, but there are two that are best understood. I'll call them gene A and gene B. Each of these genes has 2 variants: A-brown and A-blue, and B-green and B-blue. Our eye color depends on which combination we inherit from our parents. This model provides the best understanding of how eye color is inherited, but it does not provide an explanation for the occurrence of gray eyes, or shades of blue, green, or brown. So these eye colors still remain a mystery.

Brown is the most common eye color in the world. In many populations, brown is the only eye color present. Brown eyes contain the most amount of melanin, and they are common in Africa, Americas, and Asia. Brown eye color is rare in countries such as Germany, Poland, Finland, or Sweden.

Green eyes are among the rarest eye color, and they are common in Northern and Eastern Europe. A study published in Preventive Medicine reports that almost 90% of the Icelandic population has either green or blue eyes. Another study of Icelander and Dutch adults found that green eyes are much more prevalent in women than in men.

A geneticist wrote a program, called the eye color calculator, founded on the principle of probability. This program allows you to predict your child’s eye color based on the closest approximation of the eye color of people in your family tree. You can check it out here: Eye Color Calculator. Since we don't yet know how eye color is exactly determined, use this eye color calculator only for fun.

Whether your child ends up with blue or brown eyes, remember to love them for who they are. Eye color does not determine personality or inner beauty!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can Diet Prevent Cancer?

Dr. Hillary

Upon review of scientific evidence, an international panel of cancer experts suggested that cancer might be prevented in many cases by staying lean through diet and exercise.

The summary of the report (issued jointly by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research) outlined an evidence-based scientific statement about the role of nutrition regarding cancer prevention. The document entitled, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective includes information on how nutrition and physical activity affect our cancer risk.

One of the strongest conclusions drawn by the cancer team, in light of scientific evidence, was that being overweight or obese contributes to cancer risk. The risk is related to chronic inflammation that is present in overweight and obese people as a result of elevated levels of C-reactive protein and leptin. The team recommended that cancer prevention should start in early childhood.

The report made six major recommendations for cancer prevention:

1. Be as lean as possible within a normal range of body weight.
Ideally, body weight should be maintained at the lower end of the BMI range until age 21 years, and than stay within the normal range after that.

2. Be physically active daily.
Engage in moderate physical activity daily for one hour. Moderate physical activity means that you should breathe faster than normal and you might work up a sweat.

3. Limit high-caloric foods in your diet and avoid sugary drinks.
They provide too many calories and too little nutrients. Avoid fast food if possible! Substitute Starbuck’s coffee with a homemade brew. That way you’ll be in control of how much sugar goes into you beverage.

4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
Evidence shows that diets based on plants provide protection against cancer.

5. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.
The report says that unprocessed animal foods consumed in moderation are nutritious and healthy. Intake of red meat should be limited to less than 18 ounces or 500 grams weekly. There is convincing evidence that processed meat and large consumption of red meat are causes of colorectal cancer. Processed meat is that which is preserved by smoking, curing, or salting. The panel cautioned against grilling and barbecuing meat or fish over a direct flame, as this process produces carcinogenic compounds in the food.

6. Limit salt intake.
The panel concluded that salt-preserved foods and foods containing large amount of salt (sodium chloride) are probably a cause of stomach cancer. Daily intake should be limited to less than 6 grams of salt (2.4 g sodium). This can be achieved by decreasing consumption of processed foods.

Dr. Hillary is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree in health promotion and risk reduction. She has worked with children for well over a decade, and answers online pediatric questions at www.AskDoctorHillary.com. Before she became a pediatric clinician, Dr. Hillary taught high school. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, and traveling.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Secret To Helping Your Child Abide By Your Rules

Adina Soclof

When we make rules for our children, we should not expect that they can or want to listen to us. Children don’t always like the limits we set.
Kids, just like adults, do not like being told what to do, even if we have their best interests at heart. Children get frustrated by their parent’s constant requests and demands. It is only natural that children will try to find way around our rules.

Back Talk Can Be Used To Distract Us From Enforcing Our Rules
There is one tactic that children use that drives parents crazy: talking back in order to wiggle out of doing what we say. If our kids are rude and disrespectful, it usually leads us straight into some sort of power struggle and conflict.
Parents forget about the limits they are trying to set and focus on trying to improve poor behavior. We use up a lot of energy when we fight with our kids. There usually isn’t a lot left over to enforce our rules. We may not realize it, but when children do this, we get distracted from the real issues at hand.
To explain this concept fully, here is an example of a dialogue where a child uses back talk to avoid following rules:

Mom: "Honey, I said you cannot go to the mall with friends at your age."
Daughter: "But all my friends do it!"
Mom: "So what?"
Daughter: "Well, that is the dumbest rule I ever heard. It’s just because you don’t know the first thing about shopping, and you never wear anything nice!"
Mom: "How dare you say that to me!"
Daughter: "I can say whatever I want! I hate your rules. You are so mean!"
Mom: "You are so fresh!"
The battle can just get worse from there. Tensions can escalate with no end in sight.

A Better Way
Wendy Mogel, author of "The Blessing of a B Minus," suggests that parents ignore the rude behavior and concentrate on the mission of getting children to observe the rules. She proposes that parents stay calm when children attack, and recommends using the following phrases to help us keep our cool and maintain the limits we set:
That is not the issue.
My decision is final.
I am not going to change my mind about this.

Mom: "Honey, I told you you cannot go to the mall with your friends until you are 12 years old."
Daughter: "But all my friends do it!"
Mom: "Nevertheless, this is the rule."
Daughter: "Well, that is the dumbest rule I ever heard. It’s just because you don’t know the first thing about clothing and you never wear anything nice!"
Mom: "My decision about the mall is final."
Daughter: "I hate your rules. You are so mean!"
Mom: "That is not the issue."
Daughter: "Fine. But I'm going to let my own daughter do whatever she wants!"
Mom: "I am not going to change my mind about this."

No More Power Struggles
As you can see, these phrases help us avoid getting pulled into an argument with our kids. It helps us keep the peace even in our most difficult interactions. In the long run, it also teaches our children that bad manners and rudeness will not work in getting us to back down and rethink our rules.

Adina Soclof is a certified speech pathologist and parent educator. Her website www.ParentingSimply.com offers informative and inspirational parenting workshops designed to help parents create a calm, happy home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Teaching Courtesy

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

Toddlers provide a plethora of embarrassing moments for parents. It is not uncommon for them to say a bad word or announce that they've farted in front of your friends, or throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.

Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block suggested that it is the parents’ job to make their toddlers more civilized. Babies start to learn manners from the first day of their lives. Since the learning process is long and gradual, they typically start to exhibit courtesy by the age of 5 years.

The most important thing in teaching your child manners is to be a good role model. Your child listens to everything you say--and I mean everything. Even as early as 12 months of age, children become extremely observant and start to understand the context of what you say. So make sure to frequently use words such as “thank you” and “please."

Daily tantrums and embarrassing behaviors present a challenging dilemma to many parents. Unruly, dangerous, or destructive behaviors must be stopped right away. You can use the following techniques to deal with embarrassing tantrums:

Distraction works extremely well for smaller children. For example, when your child persistently bothers a family pet, bring out a book and read a story together.

This technique might seem rather silly to you, but it will most likely stop your child’s whining and make her think. If she whines because she does not want to go to bed, respond in a similar voice: “I know! I know! You don’t want to! Bedtime is no fun!” Add some pouting to it, and it might be very effective!

Did your child throw a toy across the room? Take it away for the day.

The rule of thumb is that a child serves one minute of time out for each year of life. (A three year old would receive 3 minutes of time out.) This technique is very effective with toddlers who can’t stop themselves. Removing them from play or being with parents is a powerful punishment.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sewing for Kids

Patty Young

Books by fabric designers are in demand, sewing with knits is on the rise, and children's clothing and accessories are the most popular projects in the category.  Combining all  three of these with her fresh, signature style, Patty Young offers up a compelling collection of children's wear for her eager audience of blog followers and fans of patters and fabric designs.

In Sewing Modkit Style, you get 20 patterns sized from toddlers (sized 2T-5T) to girls (sizes 6-10).  Patterns can be mixed and matched to create an entire wardrobe, including accessories, bottoms, tops, and dresses.  Patty's specialty of sewing with knits means that each finished piece allows children to run, stretch, and play comfortably.

In addition,  the book offers:

  • Extensive sewing and finishing techniques for knit fabrics including double knits, jersey, and lycra
  • Styling tips are are included throughout such as how to combine different fabric types within one piece for an unexpected look, or how to mix and match pieces in the book to create a unique ensamble
  • Patty's colorful and wearable designs are center stage; this collection is perfect for moms, grandmothers, gift givers, and knit fabric enthusiasts.
 These projects dress your girl with flair and style, and this book teaches you how to sew modern and stylish clothes that you will love to make and your children will love to wear even more. If you are beginning to intermediate sewer with a young girl in your life, you will love the projects in Sewing Modkit Style.

About Author
Patty Young is a top fabric designer and a beloved sewing blogger.  Patty is a signature designer for Michael Miller fabrics and has seen eight extremely popular fabric collections released just in the past four years.  Patty's popular blog http://modkitboutique.blogspot.com reaches 900-1,200 readers per day and is growing.  Her readers love her fresh, colorful designs and fabrics and her warm, personable writing style.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Allergen-Free Lunch Ideas for Kids

Elizabeth Barbone
Growing up with severe food allergies meant my lunch never, ever looked like what the other kids were eating. While they munched on peanut butter sandwiches and oreo cookies, I ate soup, fruit, and yogurt. Nowadays, a peanut-free lunch is the norm in many schools.

As the school year draws to a close, here are some allergen-free lunch ideas to help you end the school year on a high note.

Soup for lunch is near and dear to my heart. It’s what my mom often sent in my lunches. Today there are several gluten-free canned soups available, but if you prefer to make soup from scratch like my mom did, here’s how:
Make a batch of soup and allow it to cool. Once cool, divide it into single portions and freeze*.  The morning before you plan on sending soup for lunch, remove the soup from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. The next day, heat the soup and put it into a warm thermos.

*Soups thickened with cornstarch don’t freeze well.

Rice or Quinoa Salads
Whenever I make rice or quinoa, I usually make extra, about one cup. With the “planned leftovers” at hand, I can easily make a simple cold salad for lunch. Here’s a basic recipe:

Toss about one cup of leftover rice or quinoa with a basic vinaigrette. The amount of vinaigrette you’ll need varies based on the rice and quinoa (they tend to absorb different amounts each time). It’s a good idea to start with one tablespoon of vinaigrette and go from there. You want the rice and quinoa moist, not dry.

Then have fun! Add some beans and lots of vegetables. Black beans are fabulous; cucumbers, red pepper, and tomatoes are great, but the best? Whatever your child enjoys and will eat. Rice and quinoa are great blank canvass. It’s hard to go wrong.

Like a sandwich, you can fill a wrap with almost anything. A friend of mine sends her middle school-aged daughter to school with the ingredients for lettuce wraps. In one container, she puts crunchy iceberg lettuce leaves and in another, the roasted vegetables and grilled chicken. At lunch, her daughter has fun assembling the wraps.

If your children are a little too young for “make your own wraps,” do the work for them. Since premade lettuce wraps would get soggy by lunch, use soft gluten-free corn tortilla wraps instead. Fill them with fresh or roasted vegetables and grilled chicken or tofu. Or you could make a wrap using “traditional” sandwich fillings: ham and cheese, egg-salad, or tuna.

Bento Boxes
Bento boxes are common in Japanese cuisine, usually containing small portions of rice, protein, and vegetables. For kids that love to nibble, moms and dads have made this traditional Japanese meal a common sight in the lunchroom.

To make a bento-style box, grab a divided container. Fill a compartment or two with fresh fruit, vegetables, and a healthy yogurt dip. In the other spots, you could add a hard-boiled egg, some leftover chicken, or a small portion of rice or quinoa salad.

Bento boxes are a great way to introduce new foods to picky eaters. They allow kids to try “just a little” of something while still enjoying their other favorite foods packed into the bento.

Peanut Butter-Free Peanut Butter Sandwich
And, if your child still just wants a peanut butter-like sandwich? There’s hope! Lots of companies now make peanut and tree nut-free spreads such as peabutter, sunbutter, and soy butter. While they are all similar to peanut butter, each has a unique flavor, so you might need to try a few before deciding on a favorite brand. 

To get you started, here’s an easy wrap recipe from my new cookbook How to Cook Gluten-Free: Over 150 Recipes That Really Work.  I filled the book with lots of family-friendly recipes that kids of all ages enjoy! This chicken wrap is great cold and makes a perfect school lunch. If your child doesn't love spicy food, reduce or omit the chipotle powder in the mayonnaise.

Recipe Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Wraps

These chicken wraps had me at the first bite. When I make them, I usually use zucchini,
yellow squash, onion, and red pepper. Changing the vegetables, however, changes the flavor
of these wraps. Use whatever vegetables you like. Roasted asparagus and tomatoes are also
especially good.

1 large zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
1 large yellow squash, diced (about 2 cups)
1 large onion, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
11/2 pounds chicken tenders
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (more or less
depending on how spicy you like it)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
8 slices provolone cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and
preheat the oven to 400ºF.

2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the
zucchini, squash, onion, and red pepper with
about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. You just
want the vegetables lightly coated with oil. You
don’t need much. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes,
stirring about halfway through, until the
vegetables are golden brown and soft.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a
grill pan or large (12-inch) nonstick frying pan
until shimmering. Season the chicken lightly
with salt and pepper. Cook undisturbed for
5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken
and cook until brown, 4 to 6 more minutes.
(Remember not to crowd your pan. If you need
to cook the chicken in two batches, that’s fine!)
Remove the cooked chicken from the pan
and place on a clean plate. (For a how-to on
cooking chicken, see page 45.)

4. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise
and chipotle with a spoon.

5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven.
Leave the oven on. Place the tortillas on a clean
baking sheet. Warm them in the oven for 3 to
5 minutes, until they are soft and starting to

6. Spread a thin layer of chipotle mayonnaise on
each tortilla and top with 1 slice of provolone.
Divide the vegetables and chicken among the
tortillas, wrap, and serve.
Makes 8 wraps

About the Author

Despite being born with life-threatening food allergies, Elizabeth Barbone graduated from the Culinary Institute of America where she learned how to cook delicious meals for herself and other people with food allergies.  Today, Elizabeth develops delicious recipes for the food allergic and gluten-free communities through her site GlutenFreeBaking, a weekly column on SeriousEats, and regular television appearances.  She is also the author of "How to Cook Gluten-free" and "Easy Gluten-free Baking". She lives in Troy, NY.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nutrition and Your Toddler

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

Toddlers may seem picky, but the main reason they eat so little is because their stomachs are so small. In addition, they may be too busy exploring their surroundings to sit through an entire meal. To make sure your child satisfies her need to explore and gets the nutrients necessary for a healthy development, serve small, but frequent meals and nutritious snacks.

A good meal/snack routine calls for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in-between, and a bedtime snack. Always include three servings of dairy a day in your toddler’s diet. Calcium from milk, cheese, and yogurt helps your child build healthy, strong bones and teeth. However, serve no more than 16-24 ounces of milk daily, as too much milk may cause constipation and anemia.

If your child does not tolerate dairy, substitute it with calcium fortified 100% fruit juice, soymilk, or lactose-free milk. Always serve fruits and vegetables with meals--they are rich in vitamins and high in fiber, which are necessary for normal bowel movements.

Forcing a child to sit at the table until their plate is clean will never stimulate a healthy appetite. Instead, introduce new foods gradually and in a pleasant way to teach your child to be more accepting of new tastes and foods.