Posts in: Healthy Eating

Dr. O Knows

Posted in: Family, Fitness, Healthy Eating // 0 Comments

One of Jacksonville’s leading pediatricians shares her top ten tips on how to start the school year on the right track

As summer ends and families on the First Coast gear up for the next school year, there are some important things to keep in mind to be proactive about the shift from vacation mode to education overdrive. Success at school starts at home, and studies have shown that students perform at a higher level academically with good nutrition, healthy sleep habits, and a supportive learning environment. We sat down with Dr. Alyin Ozdemir of Pediatric Associates of Jacksonville, and she gave us her “Ten Commandments” designed to kick start your school year off in the right direction.

1. Enforce healthy habits of eating, sleeping, snacking and playing (computer games.)
2. Stick to a routine. Kids like consistency.
3. Create a “Launch Pad”- have a single place to put backpacks, jackets, etc.
4. Designate a quiet study space for homework, where you are on hand to assist.
5. Read, again and again. Read books to them, with them, and let them “catch” you reading to yourself. Children learn by example.
6. Learn always – There’s only so much teachers can do. Look for ways to teach your child throughout the day. For example, cooking combines elements of math and science. Use the time when you make dinner as an opportunity to read and follow directions, to discuss fractions, to make hypotheses (“What will happen when I beat the egg whites?”), and to examine results.
7. Take the lead – Children learn by example. Let your kids “catch” you reading. Take time to learn a new skill and discuss the experience with them. Sit down and pay bills or do other “homework” while your kids do their schoolwork. If you display a strong work ethic and continually seek out learning opportunities for yourself, your kids will begin to model that same behavior in their own lives.
8. Talk Often – Do you know how your child feels about her classroom, her teacher, and her classmates? Talk with her about what she likes and doesn’t like at school. Give her a chance to express her anxieties, excitements, or disappointments about each day, and continue to support and encourage her by praising her achievements and efforts.
9. Show interest – Meet the teachers and stay in regular contact by phone or e-mail so that you can discuss any concerns as they arise. Not only will it pave the way for you to ask questions, but it will also make the teachers more comfortable with calling you if they have concerns about your child.
10. Expect Success – Perhaps the most important way you can support your child’s efforts at school is to expect him or her to succeed. That doesn’t mean that you demand they be the best student or the best athlete or the best artist. Rather, let them know that you expect them to do “their best” so that they’ll be proud of what they can accomplish. If you make that expectation clear and provide a home environment that promotes learning, then your child will have a greater chance of becoming the best student they can be.

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Kid Tested, Mother Approved Snacks

Posted in: Family, Healthy Eating // 4 Comments


By Christi Elflein

Making sure our kids eat healthy foods (and us mom’s too) is one of our primary jobs as a mother. The easiest place to go astray in the healthy food department is with snacks. The key is to have plenty of healthy snack options that are easy to grab and within everyone’s reach. These are the six snacks I always have in stock:

Fruit – Piled high in a wicker basket on the kitchen table, fruit is the first food anyone sees when entering my kitchen. Apples, oranges, bananas or whatever is in season works. Mangos are dominating my basket today. If mom is coordinating the snack, slice up the apples and bananas and add peanut butter.

Nuts – A glass jar of pistachios sits on my countertop for easy handful grabs. Any kind of nut will do!

Granola – Sit a variety of granola bars on a low shelf in your pantry. You’ll be surprised at how fast they disappear. Or make your own granola trail mix with your kids. Start with a plain granola base and then let them add what they like such as dark chocolate pieces, dried fruit, nuts or even cereal.

Cheese – Cheese sticks are my five year old’s go-to-snack. Mozzarella string cheese, cheddar sticks, or a twisted combo can be found in the fridge drawer at her eye level. Blocks of gourmet cheese are tucked away in there too for me.

Yogurt – Yogurt is not just for the fridge. Try freezing the tube-shaped yogurts for a yogurt popsicle on a warm day.

Hummus – Homemade or store bought is up to you. I take the easy route and buy it from the grocery store. Hummus is perfect for dipping baby carrots, sliced cucumbers or crackers in.

A Taste of Spring

Posted in: Healthy Eating // 942 Comments

Here are three scrumptious meal ideas that will have your taste bites springing with delight.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
• 1/4 cup butter or margarine
• 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 9 slices pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained
• 9 maraschino cherries without stems, if desired
• 1 1/3 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup shortening
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1 egg
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch square pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.
2. In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Chinese Style Corn Salad
Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
• 3/4 cup melted butter
• 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
• 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
• 24 mini sandwich rolls
• 1 pound thinly sliced cooked deli ham
• 1 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. 2. In a bowl, mix together butter, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, and dried onion. Separate the tops from bottoms of the rolls, and place the bottom pieces into the prepared baking dish. Layer about half the ham onto the rolls. Arrange the Swiss cheese over the ham, and top with remaining ham slices in a layer. Place the tops of the rolls onto the sandwiches. Pour the mustard mixture evenly over the rolls. 3. Bake in the preheated oven until the rolls are lightly browned and the cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Slice into individual rolls through the ham and cheese layers to serve.
Chinese-Style Corn Salad
By Nina Simonds
• 3 cups fresh cooked corn kernels, cut from the cob while warm
• 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons clear rice vinegar
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons minced scallion greens
1. Toss kernels with sesame oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Season to taste, adding more vinegar or salt and pepper as necessary. Once corn is cool, add minced scallions. Toss lightly and chill briefly before serving.

Thai Chicken Curry Wraps
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed (I used a rotisserie chicken)
• 1/3 cup pineapple, dices
• 1/4 cup red onion, minced
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or cilantro)
• 1/4 cup slivered almonds
• 2 tablespoons minced ginger
• 1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
• 2 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
• 4 flavored burrito-size (10-12”) flour tortillas, such as tomato or spinach
• Cooking spray

• Combine mayo, yogurt, honey and lime juice in a bowl. Fold in the chicken, pineapple, onion, and parsley. Set aside.
• In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté almonds in 1 tablespoon of oil until golden, stirring often so they don’t burn, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and curry paste; cooking for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and fold into the chicken mixture.
• Wipe out skillet and return to the burner over low heat; warm tortillas until pliable. Place 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture on each tortilla, then roll to enclose, folding in the sides like a burrito.
• Coat skillet with cooking spray and toast wraps over medium-high heat until golden on both sides, about 30-45 seconds per side. Cut in half and serve warm.

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