Autumn harvest offers a myriad of fresh juicy fruits including peaches, pears, apples and plums. With all the sweetness that Mother Nature provides, why in the world would we worry about substituting good healthy treats for the artificial ones that are about to find their way into our little goblin’s treat bag?
We worry because of manufacturer’s clever marketing techniques that are aimed at little minds. We know the brightly colored plastic wrap is most likely going to pull some attention.
It’s not only health conscious parents reaching for alternatives this year. Flu season is among us and research shows that excess sugars lower the immune system. If teaching your child to cover her coughs and wash her hands and while handing over some candy and a soda doesn’t strike you as hypocritical, you may want to review what pediatrician Dr. Sears has to say about its effects on the immune system.
“Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system,” excerpt form Dr. Sears’ website.
Right now, our society is also overwhelmed by high rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sears’ website also states that, “Sugar sours behavior, attention, and learning. Studies on the effects of sugar on children’s behavior are as wildly contradictory as a sugar-crazed four-year-old after a birthday party, but the general consensus is that some children and adults are sugar-sensitive, meaning their behavior, attention span, and learning ability deteriorates in proportion to the amount of junk sugar they consume..”
“Sugar promotes sugar highs,” the site continues. “Some persons are more sugar sensitive than others, and children may be more sensitive than adults. A study comparing the sugar response in children and adults showed that the adrenaline levels in children remained ten times higher than normal for up to five hours after a test dose of sugar. Studies have also shown that some children with ADHD react to glucose intolerance tests with a dip to low blood sugar levels. High adrenaline levels or low blood sugar levels produce abnormal behavior.”
Knowing this, however, does shed some light on the behavior link that might encourage parents and teachers to back off on the amount of candy given – especially during times when appropriate behavior and focus is important. Also, one must consider whether or not it is fair to punish a child for behavior that immediately follows a high sugary treat given by the adult in charge.
The site also shows research that suggests that “children are more sugar sensitive than adults, and the effects are more pronounced in younger children,” according to Dr. Keith Conners, author of Feeding the Brain. The site states, “This could be related to the fact that the brain grows rapidly in the preschool years, exaggerating the effects of sugar on behavior and learning.”
The site also references an interesting study, “researchers fed normal preschoolers a high-sugar drink, containing the amount of sugar in the average can of soda, and compared them with children who received a non-sugar drink. The sugar group experienced decreased learning performance and more hyperactivity than the non-sugar group.”
Another reason parents are searching out alternative treats are food allergies and intolerances. If it’s a cheap staple product, you better believe it’ll end up in just about everything on the market. Food manufactures are here for the almighty dollar. Labels are getting easier to read these days but many allergens fall under different names and are not so easy to spot.
Autism rates have soared. The current rate was recently reported at 1 in 91 children. Typically children with Autism are prone to having more food allergies. Although a double blind study is not available, many parents, doctors, clinics and autism research centers will tell you the benefit of a gluten free and casein free diet.
The list goes on from childhood diabetes to childhood obesity and yet with all the research, parents still struggle with childcare providers, teachers, babysitters, grandparents, etc. The facts support that children do better with the proper nutrition their bodies were designed to have — just as our cars run better with gasoline, not some cheap alternative.
It’s important to educate those involved with your child on a daily basis. As far as the little goblins that come out for Halloween – well, just be glad it’s only once a year!
Pumpkin Spice Mylk
Makes 2 cups
This is a wonderful drink to enjoy as we begin to enter into the fall. It’s satisfying, comforting, and so yummy!
• 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds – soaked for 6 hours if you have time; otherwise just use as is
• 3 cups ionized or spring water
• ¼ cup honey or 3 dates
• 1/8 tsp Himalayan salt
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ tsp pumpkin spice
Directions: Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes to really break down the seeds. Strain mylk by placing strainer over a pitcher and then pouring mylk into strainer. Do this slowly as it takes a little time for the mylk to drain through the small holes. Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy. Store in the fridge and consume within for 3-5 days.
By: Katy Joy Freeman, Raw Food Chef
Raw Fruity Fun Leather
4 cups fruit
1-2 Tablespoons agave nectar or liquid sweetener of your choice
All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
1. Thoroughly wash your fruit.
2. Remove the stem and seeds. Do not peel the fruit. Including the peel will not greatly affect the texture of the leather and adds fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
3. Puree the fruit in a blender.
4. Pour the fruit mixture onto a dehydrator sheet that has been lined with a teflex sheet or wax paper. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly onto the sheet so that it is approximately 1/4 inch thick.
5. Dehydrate at 100 degrees for 8-12 hours, or until the leather can be peeled away from the teflex sheet.
6. Cut into any shape you would like. You can cut your leather into squares and roll it up like the fruit roll-ups that are available in your grocery store. Raw fruit leather can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 months, or in the refrigerator or freezer for up to a year.
It is simple to turn ordinary fruit leather into festive holiday fruit leather. Place a cookie cutter onto the dehydrator tray prior to pouring your fruit mixture onto it. Carefully pour a small amount of the pureed fruit mixture into the cookie cutter. Take care to make sure that it is not too thick, as this will delay the drying process. Carefully remove the cookie cutter and repeat until the tray is full of fun shapes.
Written by Angela Coate-Hermes
A Healthy Albany, written by Kristen Taylor.