Wednesday, July 14, 2010

COCONUT WATER: Natural Nutrition!

Everybody needs to drink more water and less soda, and nutritional science provides boatloads of data as to why. We know water is so much healthier for us, but then, there is water, and then there is water.

So let's talk coconut water: I first discovered it when I was in Kenya, on the island of Lamu, visiting a small commercial farm. While resting in the shade of a tree (Baobab, I think), our host pounded a hole in a freshly plucked coconut, handed it to me and said "Enjoy!" The weather was hot and humid and a drink of anything seemed smart, so I drank. The liquid looked like water but the taste was a bit unusual--I liked it though. When I returned home from my trip I did some research on the benefits of coconut water, just out of curiosity. Here's something I found on a site that markets their own brand of coconut water (ZICO):

For more than 4,000 years, coconut water has been revered as a natural source of nutrition, wellness, beauty and hydration. In times of famine and war, coconut water has been used as an intravenous fluid and saved many lives. It's the only natural substance that can be safely injected into the human blood stream. Now modern science has validated its effectiveness, especially as a natural sports drink.

The more I searched, the more I found, and the praise for coconut water just goes on and on. So I decided to try the ZICO product. At the risk of sounding like a Consumer Reports article, I just have to tell you, this drink is amazing. Rather than attempt to blather about it in my own words, let's go back to what their website says:

ZICO contains the five essential electrolytes that gives your body everything it needs to stay hydrated and perform at your best. one ZICO has more potassium than a banana--15 times more than most sports drinks--to prevent cramping. Drink ZICO before or during a workout for the natural energy you need for optimal performance. After a workout, ZICO replenishes and re-hydrates you to speed recovery.

Packed with Potassium, > 1 banana = 15 regular sports drinks!

5 Essential Electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus!

LOTS of Zeros: ZERO fat, ZERO cholesterol and ZERO added sugar!

Low Acid: lower acidity than sports drinks and juices (5 ph)!

ALL natural!

This stuff is really good, and really good for us, which is a home run in my book. Next to my intense interest in premature aging is my deep interest in childhood obesity, so this drink takes on even greater implications. Just the lower acidity alone is a BIG deal--aging speeds up and disease thrives in an acid state, so whatever we can do to lower it, is really smart. And the idea of finding a healthy drink that kids may willingly choose over soda--well, say "good-by" to unwanted pounds. (I have a young friend that dropped 15 lbs in one year just by leaving soda alone.) It may be billed as a sports drink, but I'm billing it as a wellness drink!

So here's my point related to family dinner hour: Instead of serving soda, Kool Aid or other sugary drinks at our picnics, family gatherings, company parties, or dinner table, let's do something smart and healthy for those we care about--let's serve coconut water! Why not? What have we got to lose, besides a few extra pounds and a propensity to aging and disease, I mean?

And to get us started, here are a couple recipes I pulled off the ZICO site that you and your family may like. In the meantime, please share any experiences you've had with coconut water, and here's to serving up healthier drinks as we make family dinner hour possible!


  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 ZICO natural

Mix all ingredients together in a blender using fresh or frozen fruit. Yields approximately 16 oz. Enjoy!


  • 1 ZICO Mango or Passion Fruit
  • squeeze of lime
  • slice of orange

Pour ZICO into a tall glass over ice. Add lime juice and orange slice. Stir & Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When Your Kids Think They are Food Critics

Saying that feeding seven children on less than $20 a month was a challenge is an understatement. The stress I felt in trying to daily figure out what was for dinner was overwhelming, and the last thing I needed was a troop of food critics around the table. SO, unfair as it may seem, I didn’t indulge opinions on food.

“Yuck! I don’t like this!” was always answered with “That’s the beauty of living in America—you are entitled to your own opinion. We don’t have to like it—we just have to eat it.” Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t. When any of my children absolutely refused to eat what was being served for dinner, I was OK with it, because everyone knew Alice’s Restaurant closed at end of dinner. NO hunting and pecking for alternative answers to that night’s meal. It had to be that way because of the extremely tight budget I was working with. There just wasn’t any extra food laying around.

My response to the “I’m not eatin’ this stuff!” was “OK, see you at breakfast.” (We always had breakfast together and you can bet they came eager to eat whatever was served the next morning.) But my overall strategy for dealing with the food critics at my table was making sure (if possible), to include at least one of their favorite foods in the menu. “Just eat four bites of ________________ (whatever it was they didn’t like) and then enjoy _______________ (whatever it was they loved).”

With this background, I read with interest the Green Smoothie Girl’s blog comments on picky eaters. “I wonder how today’s young moms are handling this issue,” I said to myself.

Several moms and grandmas wrote that one thing they enforced was the NO HATE policy. One grandma said she asked her family to say “I don’t care for this” or “I prefer something else” etc. to maintain a kinder, more gentler tone at the table. I enforced the same rule.

One response was really cute. The reader said she allows her kids to say anything at all about what is served, as long as it is followed by, “And that’s just the way I like it!” So, imagine this: “Mom, this is a slimy, disgusting insult to the human palate and it makes my intestines revolt. And that’s just the way I like it!” Life needs more laughs, and this gal knows how to foster them at the table!

This was a popular topic for Green Smoothie Girl—she got tons of responses. Come to find out, the picky eater deal is a touchy subject and calls forth as many opinions as does potty training strategies or our current American President.

Now, with unemployment being so high, it seems my super-tight grocery budget of yesteryear is a common challenge today. And my guess is that the saga continues—food critics continue to gather around the family table. While we never want to create or foster contention during our meals, we do want folks to cooperate.

SO if you have any fun stories or clever one-liners you use to deal with this issue, please share—we’re all in this together, remember. So until next time, here’s to successfully handling our picky eaters as we make family dinner hour possible!