Intuitive Eating


By Malu Trehan, RDN, MPH

When my daughter was about 5 years old, I would urge her to eat a little more before leaving the table. After all, how could she be full when there was so much left on her plate? “Five more bites please,” I said. She looked at me and I’ll never forget what she said. “I’ll eat ‘til it hurts if you want me to Mama.” My eyes welled up. I knew right then that I was going about this the wrong way.

“Clean your plate,” “eat just one more bite,” “people are starving in Burundi,” or whatever else we say to our kids to nudge them to eat more (even the healthy stuff), just doesn’t go hand-in-hand with helping them identify real hunger cues. Intuitive Eating, a term coined by Dietitian Evelyn Tribole,  is our natural way of eating. It means we eat when we’re hungry and stop when we are full; not the stuffed kind of full, but comfortable-full. We don’t eat because we are feeling sad, bored, or anxious. We don’t eat because it’s social. We don’t eat because the clock says it’s lunch time. We eat because we are genuinely hungry and in need of nourishment.

I know for some of us, this might be a difficult concept to swallow (pun intended), especially if we were raised differently. It also may not be convenient given our hectic lives. Intuitive Eating however is a healthy way to relate to food. Studies have shown that Intuitive Eating is linked to a lower BMI and better psychological health.(1)

To raise an intuitive eater, we need to remind our children to trust their bodies and “attune” or listen to the signals it’s giving them. Sure, the nutritionist in me is still going to teach my child which foods are better for the body. I’ll also continue to serve mostly nutrient dense foods, but I’ve stopped labeling food as “bad.” This neutral approach allows room for the occasional french fries or slice of chocolate cake without surrounding it with guilt or making it a coveted reward. If you’re looking for a place to get started, Evelyn Tribole’s 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating are a worthy read. I’ve never forgotten the lesson my daughter taught me that day, to trust our bodies. It has something to say, if we’re willing to listen.

A commitment to intuitive eating is a great start, but I also realize that it may not solve all the food challenges that you may have going on in your family, such as fussiness around the the table. I know it can be frustrating to have a child reject a meal you painstakingly took time to prepare; perhaps even a little discouraging. My previous post Exercising Patience and Creativity for the Picky Eater could address some of those concerns. If you think you or your child need more one-on-one support, feel free to contact me.

Have you tried practicing intuitive eating yourself or with your child? If so, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what has worked for you.


Ten Benefits of Pomegranate


By Maggi Kaur

It is said that one Pomegranate can cure one hundred maladies. The fruit is packed with antioxidants, minerals and nutrients. To name a few, it contains ellagic acid, punicic acid and omega 5 polyunsaturated fatty acid, vitamin A, C and E, minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, folic acid, niacin, thiamin, folate and riboflavin.

While Pomegranate is still available in the farmer’s markets, it is time to put the fruit to the test.

Here are ten benefits of the fruit:

  1. Acne - Boil the peel of one pomegranate in 4 cups of water down to 1 cup. Allow it to cool, drain and store the liquid and use a cotton ball to generously dab it on as an astringent.
  2. Glowing Skin - Drinking pomegranate juice on a regular basis contributes to glowing skin and slows down the ageing process, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
  3. Wound Healing - The astringent solution for Acne can also be used for healing minor wounds, cuts, bruises and scrapes.
  4. Reduces Cholesterol - Pomegranate is a heart friendly fruit and can be consumed by all ages. Two tablespoons of Pomegranate, while it is in season, clears the arteries, lowers cholesterol, and reduces the risk of strokes and heart disease.
  5.  Digestive - Consuming a tablespoon or two of fresh pomegranate seeds cures indigestion, flatulence, bloating, acidity, diarrhea, and dysentery.
  6. Anemia - Pomegranate is a natural source of iron, folic acid, folate and riboflavin and boosts RBC health.
  7. Feeling Depleted after a workout or long day? - A glass of fresh pomegranate juice or a bowl of fresh pomegranate seeds will immediately refresh, restore and rejuvenate.
  8. Arthritis - Pomegranate reduces the inflammation caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis and builds cartilage reducing the risk of osteoarthritis.
  9. Menstrual Problems - Regular consumption of pomegranate juice or seeds alleviates menstrual problems.
  10. Oral Hygiene - Pomegranate seeds and juice contribute to good oral hygiene and fresh breath. They also reduce dental plaque and build up.

So, go ahead, add pomegranate seeds and juice to your diet. Use the seeds as a garnish or put some in your tea. Just be sure, not to miss out on the benefits of this wonderful fruit while it is still in season.

Maggi Kaur is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and a registered Yoga Alliance Yoga Instructor.


Mexican Quinoa



1 clove garlic, minced

½ onion, diced

½ bell pepper, diced

1 tomato, chopped

½ cup frozen corn

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped (stems removed)

1 avocado, diced

1 lime

2 cup water or vegetable broth

1 cup quinoa

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic and stir for about a minute more.

  2. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, paprika and cumin and salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

  3. Fluff with fork, stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup


Here's a recipe of a classic soup with an Indian twist!


3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala (you can find this at most Indian grocery stores or Whole Foods)
½ a roasted butternut squash, skin peeled and cubed
1 carton vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
½ lime


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot and add onions, bell pepper, and salt. Stir over medium-low heat until they begin to soften, about 5 min.
  2. Add ginger, tumeric, and garam masala. Cook for another minute.
  3. Stir in butternut squash and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 12 minutes.
  4. Add coconut milk and take off the heat.
  5. Transfer to a blender and blend in batches. Puree until smooth.
  6. Transfer back to stock pot and reheat gently for a minute. Serve in bowls with a squeeze of lime.

Healthy Eating On the Go


by Malu Trehan, RDN, MPH

I was super excited when my husband squared away tickets to Europe this summer, and well within our budget. To get the reduced fare, however, we needed to travel on a “no frills” airline. I didn’t realize until much later just how “no frills” it was; no food, no snacks, no water, and no pillow.

Needless to say, packing healthy meals and snacks was a must. Delayed flights and long layovers can make for cranky kids (and adults). Food choices at the airport are often limited and pricey. Here are a few options that are packed with protein, fat (yes, we need it), and are low in sugar.

Snack Ideas

Mary’s Gone Crackers - seed-based and gluten-free (careful with the jalapeño flavor… it made my eyes water)

Justin’s Nut Butter - these come in travel-friendly packets and can be found at our local Safeway and Costco

Wild Garden single-serve hummus - squeeze it onto crackers or pita chips (available on Amazon)

Fresh fruit - it’ll give you an immune boost - fresh strawberries, sliced apples, organic Sungold kiwi (available at Costco), and Pom Poms pomegranate seed cups (also available at Costco in packs of four) are great for travel

Vegetables - sliced peppers, baby carrots, and celery for munching on or dipping in hummus

Organic almonds

Pumpkin seeds

Dates or prunes

A snack bar with minimal ingredients. LÄRABAR is a good one.

Laughing Cow cheese

Turkey jerky - Krave has a good product

Salmon jerky by Vital Choice

Epic brand bars - seen these at Safeway

Got food that needs to stay chilled? Pack a sealable plastic bag and once you get through security, fill with ice from a soda dispenser. Don’t forget the reusable water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the flight. Skip the dehydrating cocktails or coffee and opt for seltzer drinks or herbal tea. Bring  some of your favorite tea bags and ask the flight attendant for hot water.  If you’re heading on a road trip, take a look at my previous post on snacks for road trips. With a little planning ahead of time, you can eat healthy on the go.

Three Tips For Handling Holiday Stress


By Judy Brennan

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - or is it?

Holidays are supposed to be a time to gather family together to connect and enjoy each other’s company, but they can also be very stressful. It was only up until three years ago, I was able to host the family holiday meal calmly and with grace. It has taken me many years of practicing the tools I have learned as a Health and Wellness Educator, to truly be happy and live a more meaningful life, even throughout stressful times.

Here are three of my favorite tools, I use on a daily basis to help relieve stress and to navigate positively through the
1. A technique called STOP
S: Stop. Stop whatever you are doing.
T: Take three deep breaths. Take a few deep, belly-filling breaths with long inhales and exhales.
O: Observe. Tune into your physical sensations, surroundings, and emotions. Notice what you see, hear, feel,
and taste.
Label your emotions (without judging them) and identify your thoughts.
P: Proceed. Then carry on with more awareness (and I like to add with kindness and gratitude).
2. Live more in the moment
According to Psychology today, living in the moment makes people happier because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future.
As Mark Twain said, "I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."
The hallmark of depression and anxiety is worrying about something that hasn't happened yet and might not happen at all. Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future—and if you hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away.
The flip side of worrying is ruminating, thinking bleakly about events in the past.
And again, if you press your focus into the now, rumination ceases.
Try practice being in the moment while driving, shopping, or talking with loved ones and notice how much more effective meaningful your moment will be. To me, this quote sums up living in the moment beautifully, "Forget yesterday - it has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow - you haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift - today.”
3. Lift the corners of your mouth
Yes, smile! You would be surprised how just putting a smile on your face can change not only how you feel but how those around you feel too. Make it a game and see how many people you can encourage to smile by sharing your own. I once tried this technique at a grocery store in my neighborhood and a woman on the receiving end came up and hugged me!

So, give it a try - STOP and take a breath, live more in the moment, and smile!
Wishing you peace and love during this holiday season,
Judy Brennan

Building a healthy plate


Teaching 180 5th graders about health and wellness in under three hours is no small feat but that’s exactly what Arpita Doshi pulled off at Hidden Hills Elementary School on October 24. Arpita is Hidden Hills PTA Health and Wellness Chair, a mom, and a physician. She has a passion for helping kids make healthy choices. She’s hoping that by educating kids early, it’ll reduce their chances of  getting the chronic conditions she is seeing in her patients.

During the health fair, small groups of kids travelled from table to table learning about nutrition, healthy cooking, exercise, vision and dental care, mindfulness, and more.

At the nutrition table I hosted, we discussed how to build a healthy plate, emphasizing the importance of eating more plants. While few kids reported eating the USDA’s recommended serving of fruits and vegetables, some eagerly listed their favorite produce. According to these children, their parents prioritized fruits and vegetables in their families.

Tips to increase more fruits and vegetables for your child:

  • Keep fruit washed and ready to eat in plain sight

  • Serve salads often. You’re busy. I know! Buy the pre-washed bagged salad or triple-washed spinach and make the prep easy.

  • Serve a vitamin A rich food everyday- e.g. squash, carrots, mangoes, tomatoes, broccoli, or spinach

  • Serve a vitamin C rich food daily - e.g. citrus fruit, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, or kiwi.

  • Model it! Eats fruits and vegetables yourself.

Visit Super Healthy Kids for ideas on how to bump up the fruits and vegetables on your child’s plate.

Harvest of the Month


Last week, I volunteered in my daughter's 4th grade classroom presenting the health benefits of kiwi as part of Harvest of the Month. For those of you who aren't familiar with Harvest of the Month, it's a public health nutrition initiative designed to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption among children. The produce of the month is introduced to children in a variety of ways and accompanied by a historical and nutritional overview. It's educational, tasty, and fun!

At Montair Elementary, Harvest of the Month was started in 2014 by Robin Clark, a mom, physician's assistant and child health advocate extraordinaire. In the early days, it began with just a few classrooms participating. Fast forward to today and the whole school participates.

When we introduce the fruit or vegetable of the month, we offer it to children both fresh and cooked. For example, this month I made kiwi muffins, kiwi salsa, and strawberry kiwi smoothies.  The latter was wildly popular with the kids (see recipe below)! While these recipes make kiwi highly palatable, Robin feels it's important to have kids taste the produce in it's natural state. Ultimately, they're more likely to encounter kiwi in a fruit salad than in a muffin!

Are you interested in bringing the Harvest of the Month program to your school? Robin has graciously created a website for Montair that can get you started. You can also download lesson plans from the California Department of Public Health's Harvest of the Month site. Harvest of the month requires a few dedicated parent volunteers willing to commit to a monthly lesson.

I'd like to think that the day ended with a few more kiwi fans than it started with, but ultimately, it is the exposure that matters. According to dietitian and family therapist Ellyn Satter, it could take 15-20 times of introducing a food before a child tries it, and that's ok.

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie


  • 1 bananas, frozen

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries

  • 2 whole kiwis, peeled

  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt (plain, full-fat)


  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.