Sunday, June 16, 2013

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Make Easy Recipe for Homemade Granola

Top of the morning to you!  My wife, Cassie, is an anesthesiologist, so she has to wake up at an ungodly hour.  I on the other hand, get to sleep in until a quarter after six!  Then, I am treated to a dazzling sequence of morning festivities.  I typically take care of washing myself up and eating my breakfast first before I tackle the delightful task of waking up the kids and getting them ready for their day.

Cailya is still a heavy sleeper so she is typically an easy transfer into the car seat.  Colin on the other hand, is not a morning kind of guy.  I let him sleep in as much as I can, then I sneak my way into his room and gently call out his name.  I know he hears me but he responds by snoring louder.   Eventually, I get him up, put him on the potty, get him changed for the day, brush his teeth, and coax him down to breakfast.  Guess what the rate-limiting step of this morning routine is?  You guessed it!  Colin's breakfast!

Like most busy parents, I strive to serve my kids a daily breakfast that is nutritious, quick, and tasty.  Most traditional American breakfasts consist of highly refined and processed carbohydrates like bagels, breads, or cereals.  The problem with these starchy staples is that they are examples of food processing gone bad.

Most of the grains people eat for breakfast either have had sugars added to them or have had significant changes to their original whole form.  On top of that, grains are a particularly starchy form of carbohydrate.  The combination of a densely laden carbohydrate with processing that increases the absorption of that carbohydrate translates into a very high glycemic load.  Meals that are high in glycemic load cause significant elevations in blood sugar levels.  In fact, high dietary glycemic load has been associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

That's why breakfast is so important.  It's a daily routine that either starts your child's day off right or starts them out on a carbohydrate roller coaster.  Yogurt is a great alternative to the traditional American breakfast.  Yogurt is high in calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and B12.  In contrast to a breakfast that is high in glycemic load, yogurt has been found to be negatively associated with weight gain and diabetes.

Some of the benefits of yogurt derive from the fermentation process that converts milk into yogurt.  Bacterial cultures such as lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus are added to milk and these bacteria ferment the milk sugar, lactose.  This has at least three consequences: 
  1. Lactose content is lowered, making yogurt easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant.  
  2. Lactic acid is produced, which gives yogurt its tangy taste and creamy texture. 
  3. The final mixture of sugars results in lower blood sugar elevations when eaten.
Yogurts that contain live or active cultures may have probiotic properties that confer additional health benefits.  It turns out that our bodies are filled with friendly bacteria that we coexist with in a symbiotic relationship.  For instance, the ecology of the flora in our intestine dynamically changes based on fluctuations in what we eat and what our body weighs.  It is possible that eating yogurt with live cultures promotes the beneficial ecology in our intestine.

On top of it all, kids love to eat yogurt!  I find that they really seem to gravitate toward the creamy consistency of yogurt and eagerly shovel down spoonfuls of the stuff.  Yogurt is a fast and functional breakfast, a great snack, and a healthy recipe substitution for salad dressing, coleslaw, mayonnaise, cream sauces, and desserts.

The processed food industry, sensing the enthusiasm for yogurt, has jumped on board and come up with a dizzying array of yogurts.  And while yogurt can be a healthy staple, you have to know how to choose the right kind of yogurt.  Yogurt is another example of the importance of avoiding processed foods with added sugars, a concept that I first introduced in the following post:
I go over this further and introduce you to a simple homemade granola recipe that goes great with yogurt in the following clip:   

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Homemade Granola Recipe


  • 2 cups whole oats 
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix above ingredients together except for raisins.
  3. Spread mixture out on baking pan lined with aluminum foil. 
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown. 
  5. Remove pan from oven and add raisins.  


Liu S et al.  A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women.  Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:1455-61.

Salmeron J et al.  Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women.  JAMA 1997;277(6):472-477.

Barclay AW et al.  Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk-a meta-analysis of observational studies.  Am J clin Nutr 2008;87:627-37. 

Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB.  Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 23;364(25):2392-404.

Huth PJ & Park KM.  Influence of dairy product and milk fat consumption on cardiovascular disease risk: a review of the evidence.  Adv Nutr. 2012;3:266-285.

Sanz Y et al.  Insights into the roles of gut microbes in obesity.   Interdiscip Perspect.  2008;1-9.

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