PLAYguide: Healthy Living

9 Tips For Drama-Free Dentist Visit

Taking your child to the dentist shouldn’t be, well, like pulling teeth. Here are nine tips for drama-free dental appointments.

Words by Dr. Mandana Nabizadeh, DDS

You child’s first dental exam is an important first step in ensuring your child’s overall dental health. How parents frame that first exam makes all the difference when it comes to how much anxiety your child may have when it comes to future visits.

Parents should schedule that first dentist appointment by the time their child turns 1 year old. Creating that early relationship allows a dentist to grow with the child and allows parents to learn about the habits and diet essential for good oral hygiene.

Here are MY tips:

  1. Find a smile. Visit a few pediatric dental offices to find the best fit for your child. The office should be friendly and soothing to your child.
  2. Attitude matters. Parents, if you’re anxious about the visit, your children will be anxious too. Project confidence and a feeling that this is a positive event. Doing so is contagious and soothing to your children.
  3. Talk to the older siblings. Speak with older siblings about how to frame a visit to the dentist. Don’t allow them to offer unnecessary information to the younger ones.
  4. Keep chatter to a minimum. Many parents make the mistake of overselling the dentist. Don’t talk about it too much. Be casual about it. At the same time, prepare your child by telling them a few things that will happen, such as, “The dentist will count your teeth and show you how to brush.”
  5. Don’t make promises. Don’t make any promises about shots or pain. That sets children up for a lifetime of dental distrust and unrealistic expectations. A first visit should not be painful or require shots; however, what children find painful is subjective.
  6. Start early. Start daily dental hygiene early. Teach children the parts of the mouth when you’re teaching them about the body.
  7. Be comfortable. On the day of the appointment, dress children in comfortable clothing. One idea: have your child pick out a “going to the dentist” outfit that he or she is excited to wear.
  8. Schedule appropriately. One mistake I see happening all the time is that parents schedule dental appointments right before lunch or during nap time. If you can avoid that, I recommend it. Tired children equal cranky children, and the appointment will be more difficult for everyone.
  9. Read and play. There are several books you can read to your child before the appointment. Some good ones are “Just Going to the Dentist,” by Mercer Mayer; “Peppa Pig Dentist Trip,” Scholastic Readers; “Going to the Dentist” by Anne Civardi; and “Brush, Brush, Brush,” by Alicia Padron. Or, try the Monster Mouth DDS smartphone app that’s super funny (and a little yucky!) and offers comical lessons in dental hygiene.

Remember, children mirror your behavior. If you’re anxious, they’ll be anxious. If you just relax and make brushing a part of your children’s everyday schedule, your child’s first dental appointment will be a breeze — for both of you!

Dr. Mandana Nabizadeh, DDS, known to her patients as Dr. Nabi, attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her D.D.S. degree in general dentistry. Since then, she’s earned two certificates from the prestigious mini-residency programs at the University of Florida and the University of Indiana. She has also completed a two-year course in the orthodontics field and familiarized herself with the detailed aspects of early orthodontic treatment.

Working with children is her passion, and she loves putting smiles on their faces. She specializes in working with pediatric dental patients in the downtown Orlando-based pediatric practice Your Downtown Dentistry. Dr. Nabi is married to Dr. Ali Behzadi and has a young daughter, Melody.

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8 Ways to Raise Healthy, Active Kids

Words by Dr. Sharon DiChristafaro, First Choice Pediatrics

Hectic sports and school schedules, heavy use of electronics and perceived safety risks of allowing children to play outside unsupervised have created consequences to our children that are frightening and life-long.

One in three children and teens is obese, according to the American Heart Association. Even children who are considered normal weight are often not getting enough activity.

With sunny, year-round weather, there’s no excuse for kids to stay inside. Even a walk around Disney World or Lake Eola provides healthy activity for children—and what kid would say no to that? Here’s a list of eight ways to raise healthy and active kids.

Scroll through the pictures below to learn more:

Dr. Sharon DiCristofaro, mom to three children, is a graduate of Marshall University School of Medicine, where she also completed her residency. She brings 15 years of experience in private practice and a true love for children with her to First Choice Pediatrics. She is board-certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Speed and Agility Trainers for Kids In Orlando

Words by Tracey C. Velt

Want to improve your child’s speed and strength? Consider speed and agility training for children 10 years and older. Here are some places around town:

1. Atlas Speed

Former Olympian sprinter Ernest Wiggins works with kids from age 8 to college-age, offering training for speed, agility and explosiveness. His focus is on the total athlete, including leadership, character, strength training through body-weight exercises, plyometric training, core strength and flexibility.

2. Camp 9 Fitness

Sanford, Orlando
Run by Orlando Predators’ football player Marlon Moye-Moore, Camp 9 offers football-specific training along with camps.

3. D1 Sports

Lake Mary
D1 Sports offers customized athlete training for kids from age 7 to adults. Training includes core strength and flexibility, development of motor skills, strength training through body-weight exercises, plyometric training and conditioning.

4. Total Athlete Training

Total Athlete Training helps youth and adults reach their athletic potential through speed, strength and agility training.

5. Core Speed Training

Orlando (near Mall at Millenia)
At Core Speed Training, they believe that to produce a great athlete you must become faster and stronger than your competition.

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5 Secretly Healthy Recipes

Make a New Year’s Resolution to fill your family up with healthy fruits and veggies! Ready to get started? Try these five easy snack recipes from Produce for Kids and Power Your Lunchbox.

1. Flourless Rasberry Banana Pancakes

(Pictured above)
Packed with three kinds of fruit, these gluten-free pancakes are a sweet delight! Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make the perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast.
Read the recipe

Brown Bear Bento Box

2. Brown Bear Bento Box

It’ll be hard for your kids to decide whether to play with this fun bento box lunch, or gobble it up immediately! Make little graham cracker bears, and lay out a colorful array of fruit & veggie munchies!
Read the recipe

Butterfly Bento Box

3. Butterfly Bento Box

Fill your kid’s lunchbox with goodies so sweet, they’ll feel like they’re outside at recess. Cut peanut butter banana sandwiches into cute little butterflies, and pack the side compartments with more healthy goodies!
Read the recipe

Simple Fruit Yogurt Parfaits

4. Simple Fruit Yogurt Parfaits

Yes– dessert can be healthy, too! Simply stack fruit and yogurt in a cup or bowl to make this fancy-looking delight. Bonus: cut the fruit into heart shapes for a sweet Valentine’s Day treat!
Read the recipe

Healthy Apple Donuts

5. Healthy Apple Donuts

At first they’ll think they’re eating a coconut-covered caramel donut… but with one bite, they’ll realize it’s a yummy fruit snack! Sprinkle with chocolate chips for a hint of sweetness to balance out the apple.
Read the recipe

Recipes from and

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Fun St. Patrick’s Day Treats for Kids

As originally published on

Screenshot 2016-03-09 11.29.32

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! We all know this holiday is loaded up with lots of green and the dream of finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  We are excited to share two new St. Patrick’s Day themed creations straight from the Produce for Kids test kitchen.

  • Pot ‘O Gold Veggies & Dip: Green bell peppers make the perfect shamrock while yellow sweet peppers and hummus are ideal stand-ins for a pot of gold. Parents can slice while the kiddos put together this snack perfect for any little leprechaun.
  • Rainbow Parfait: Let the kids get creative by setting up an array of options (strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, oranges, apples, etc.) to build their own rainbow parfait. Here we used Greek vanilla yogurt and built our layers on top. We capped off with a sprinkle of granola for crunch and a star fruit for flair.

Be sure to check out Produce For Kids’ other St. Patrick’s Day worthy recipes:

Produce for Kids® encourages healthy eating among families by providing simple, healthy meal solutions and resources for parents, while raising funds for local children’s non-profit organizations. Since its creation in 2002 Produce for Kids has raised more than $5.7 million to benefit kids. To learn more about Produce for Kids and healthy eating, visit www.produceforkids.comFacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram.

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Sport & Social Kids

Orlando Sports and Social Club Kids
Sport and Social Kids offers flag football leagues for boys and girls ages 5-14. With over 15 years of league management experience here in Central Florida, our goal is simple: To provide organized and well run youth sports leagues so your child can develop both athletically and socially.

We want your child to develop a love for sports, so they can build a foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle. Competition is very important, however there is a way to compete that builds self esteem, teaches teamwork, builds confidence and develops respect for teammates and opponents alike. We believe that everyone should be encouraged and given the opportunity to make the most of their abilities.

We believe in SPORT:

  • Competition – Competition is healthy. We believe in building self esteem by learning the benefits of hard work and commitment.
  • Sportsmanship – Learning to play the game the right way is the only way to play the game. The value of teamwork, fair play and good sportsmanship helps develop positive character.
  • Teamwork – Every player is part of the team. No child will ever be excluded or made to feel like they aren’t good enough. Every child will play at least half of every game. Now is the time for us to build confidence in our children.

We believe in SOCIAL:

  • Confidence – Nothing is better than seeing a child’s face light up when they have applied a new skill they have learned. That smile is their confidence starting to shine!
  • Lifestyle – By experiencing sports and physical activity in a positive atmosphere we hope to build a foundation for a healthy active lifestyle.
  • FUN – Kids love to be social, make new friends, learn new skills and compete. This is the foundation of our league – not the outcome of the game.

You can reach us in the office at 407-896-9510 or email us at


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Free Flu Shots This Fall

Kids Urgent Care, Free Flu Shots, Orlando, Daytona, Sanford, Windermere, Florida Hospital

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Implant Surgery On Ten-Year-Old Boy


Cardiologists at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children performed Florida’s first pediatric implant of a new device to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

The device, called a subcutaneous defibrillator, protects patients from sudden cardiac arrest by providing an electrical impulse to muscles surrounding the heart. It is the world’s first device to provide protection from sudden cardiac arrest while not touching the heart or blood vessels.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. The condition usually causes death if not treated within minutes.

Cardiologists at the hospital implanted the subcutaneous defibrillator into Jose Ramos, a ten-year-old Kissimmee boy who went into sudden cardiac arrest in February 2014 and received cardiopulmonary resuscitation from his father to save his life.

“With the subcutaneous defibrillator, we now have a way to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in pediatric patients without having wires running through their veins and into the heart,” says Dr. Rodrigo Nehgme, electrophysiologist and cardiologist at Arnold Palmer Hospital. “It is a less invasive solution with fewer risks and will save the lives of young patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.”

The subcutaneous defibrillator is about the size of a deck of cards and is implanted just beneath the skin below the armpit. Cardiologists then run a wire, also beneath the skin, from the device to the front of the chest and up toward the neck. Whereas older technology monitored individual heart beats, this new device actually analyzes heart rhythm and provides an electrical impulse when the heart goes into a dangerous rhythm.

Approximately 2,000 of the subcutaneous defibrillators have been implanted in the United States, with Jose being only the fifth pediatric case.

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A Nutritional Guide For The Expecting Mother



By: Karen Cowan

In a typical mom-to-be, the news of a pregnancy is met with excitement, anxiety and a frantic desire to learn everything needed to ensure that her child is born healthy. Consuming a healthful, nutrient-dense diet throughout pregnancy and while nursing can help set the stage for an optimal birth and postnatal experience. With that said, all the recommendations and guidelines women are bombarded with can be overwhelming to moms-to-be. A healthy nutrition plan in pregnancy begins with eating small, frequent meals. Those traditional “three square meals a day” are best replaced by five small meals—breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner and a bedtime snack. Pregnant women should avoid fasting (>13 hours) and should never skip breakfast, as doing so can increase the risk of a dangerous condition called ketosis, which is an increased acidity of the blood that can increase the risk of preterm delivery. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high-calcium foods during the entire gestation period. Other nutrition recommendations are more specific to the exact stage of fetal growth and development, which by convention is divided into pregnancy trimesters and postpartum lactation. Remember to always consult your physician before changing your diet if you have specific medical requirements. The next time you feel tempted to indulge on those cravings during your pregnancy, try one of these healthier, tasty substitutions:

Ice cream- Frozen low-fat yogurt topped with granola, sliced berries and a few dark chocolate shreds

Potato chips- Baked potato chips or low-fat soy crisps or veggie chips

Chocolate- Trail mix with equal portions of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and a few chocolate-covered raisins

Cheeseburger- Low-fat turkey or veggie burger, topped with avocado, tomato, and lettuce on a thin whole-wheat bun

Karen is an AFPA Certified Nutritionist, Wellness Specialist, and Certified Pre & Post Natal Exercise Specialist, having received certification through the American Fitness Professional & Associates. Karen is currently studying towards her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is also a member of the American Nutrition Association, IDEA Health & Fitness Association, and the American Fitness Professional & Associates. Additional CEC’s in Adolescent Fitness, Weight Training for Women, Nutrition & Dining Out, Stress Resilience, Research & Senior Fitness, Kid’s Health. Visit or the Central Florida Nutrition facebook page, for more info.

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Kids Nutrition: Simple Changes = Big Rewards


By: Merilee Kern

A wise man – or woman – once said that “it’s the small things in life that matter.” This philosophy could not ring more true than when applied to the health and well-being of our nation’s children. There is no one thing that, no matter how consistently done, will assure good health. Rather, it’s the culmination of many single, relatively small behaviors that, altogether and over time, will help children foster a healthy body.

When asked what choices ‘my’ family makes relative to nutrition and fitness that keeps us all healthy and fit, a specific answer often varies, but it always simply conveys easy ways to make healthy options the norm in a family’s daily routine rather than the exception – and without the family feeling any sense of loss or deprivation.

With this in mind, here are a few sure-fire, yet simple, success strategies to help children eat more nutritiously:

  • First and foremost, require that your child finish his or her healthy meal before any “treat” type foods are made available. Simply put, the child can NOT have that even occasional cupcake if (s)he has not eaten those veggies! End of story.
  • We live in an age where food manufacturers are the most health-conscious in history. Take full advantage of these healthy alternatives. It’s simply not an option to choose those refined sugar-loaded gummy bears when dried fruit and trail mix snacks of every sort are a mere aisle or two away.
  • Make fresh fruit an exciting dessert. Yes, dessert. Low-fat and low-calorie whipped cream with just a touch of colorful sprinkles atop sliced strawberries or other berries can make children squeal with delight. Rainbow Jell-O jam packed with citrus fruit is always a crowd pleaser. When it comes to nature’s dessert, get creative, build the anticipation in advance, and offer it up with as much excitement and reverence as you would a chocolate cake.
  • Don’t expect utter perfection of yourself as you work toward your family’s collective health goal. Do what you can to make healthy changes, as dong “something” is better than doing nothing. No time to make homemade oatmeal? Go for those instant bags instead! Any oatmeal is better than no oatmeal, and it’s certainly better than skipping breakfast or opting for any of those sugary cereals. You can’t get all the way there if you never get out of the starting gate!
  • Don’t ask if your family wants a certain veggie or fruit with dinner. Make an executive [chef] decision and just serve it up! Knowing that such choices are not an option per se removes the possibility that your family may choose to eat a given healthy items or not. Praise the child who enthusiastically eats his or her healthy fare or at least tries it and does “well enough.” And, leverage your kid’s competitive spirit. Offer an eating challenge that he or she simply cannot resist, such as “I bet you can’t eat all of your peas in the next 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how far this will take you.
  • Be willing to concede for the greater good. My son will only eat a healthy tuna fish sandwich with low-fat mayonnaise in a wheat pita if it has about four potato chips placed inside the pocket, too. I figure 2 or 3 potato chips is a fair concession to make for a wheat pita full of Omega-3 fatty acid-packed tuna. With kids, all or nothing doesn’t work – be willing to find that middle ground!

Ensuring a child eats nutritiously is not about denial which, especially with the younger set, will surely prove self-defeating. Rather, it’s about strategy, systems, consistency and moderation to establish a balance of what is, and is not, health-promoting. It’s not rocket science…it just takes some forethought and some good old common sense.

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Children’s health advocate, health industry veteran, and two-time fitness champion Merilee Kern is the author of the award-winning, ground-breaking illustrated fictional children’s book, “Making Healthy Choices – A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids.” She may be reached online at


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Cook With Your Kids

The Importance of Family Dinners & KidsCookMonday Twitter Party

The Importance of Family Dinners & #KidsCookMonday Twitter Party

Written by Amanda Keefer
Originally posted on

Our friends at Produce for Kids have teamed up with The Kids Cook Monday and Oviedo mom Christine Pittman of Cook the Story to host the #KidsCookMonday Twitter party on January 27 at 9 p.m. EST. Parents can ask questions and get tips about cooking with kids and the importance of eating together as a family. Gearing up for the Twitter party, Diana K. Rice, registered dietitian at The Monday Campaigns, shared her take on family dinners:

1. Why is it important for families to cook together?

Life is so fast-paced these days, and cooking together provides a wonderful opportunity to slow down and spend quality time together as a family. It’s also a great opportunity for children to learn the basic cooking skills they’ll need later in life so they won’t have to rely on fast food, and of course, meals you cook from scratch are almost always more nutritious than anything pre-prepared.

2. What are a few easy way to get kids involved in cooking?

I always say to start at the grocery store. Head to the produce section and tell the kids they can pick out any item they want! Then, check out a site like Produce for Kids or The Kids Cook Monday for a simple dinner recipe featuring that item. Kids are so much more likely to enjoy cooking and trying healthy foods when they’re given some ownership over the meal. Once you’re in the kitchen, give your kids tasks according to their ages and motor skills. For little kids, tasks can be as simple as pushing the button on a food processor or tearing up some leafy greens with their hands. We have more information on tasks appropriate for different age groups on

3. Are there safety tips you can share that parents should keep in mind when cooking with kids?

Parents may be afraid to let their kids handle knives, but there are ways to make it perfectly safe. Plastic or metal butter knives can cut lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados…almost anything except tough squashes and root vegetables, really. But it’s important to teach kids how to properly hold the knife so they’ll be ready to use a real knife when they’re older. I like the “bear claw” method. Make a claw with the fingers of the hand you’re using to hold the food, which keeps little fingertips away from the blade. Then, hold the knife in your dominant hand, place the tip firmly on the cutting board above the food and “chomp” down in a lever-like motion. Repeat!

Cooking is also a great time to learn the importance of handwashing. I always have kids wash their hands well before beginning any recipe, and again whenever a little finger finds its way into a mouth or nose (which can be often!)

4. Why is it important for families to sit down to dinner together and how can busy families make this happen?

Sitting down to a meal together is true, quality family time. It’s a chance to check in with each other, laugh, and hear about everyone’s days. No screens allowed, of course! Parents who often eat with their kids report feeling more connected to their children’s lives, and kids report feeling less stressed. As for how to make it happen, I’m a big fan of the prep-in-advance concept. Use the weekend to map out your meals, go shopping, and get a lot of the washing and chopping out of the way so that it’s easy to toss a few ingredients together for a weeknight meal. Cook up a big batch of beans and use them for tacos one night and soup the next. There’s no rule that says home cooking has to be complicated or take a lot of time. In my opinion, the simpler, the better!

5. Obviously we love fruits and veggies. Do you have any tips on how to incorporate more fruits and veggies into meals?

If you buy them…they will be eaten! Parents are often reluctant to buy much produce out of fear that it will go bad before they get a chance to use it. I say use that fear to your advantage! If it’s in your fridge and threatening to go to waste, you will find a way to use it. Seeking out plant-based recipes and being flexible in your cooking are also important tips. Say a pasta recipe only calls for onions and tomatoes, but you also have mushrooms on hand. Throw them right on in there! And if you really don’t think you’ll use what you bought, you can almost always just chop it up and toss it in the freezer for later use in a soup or stew. Or just buy frozen items in the first place, they’re just as nutritious.

Don’t forget to RSVP for the #KidsCookMonday Twitter party here.

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PFK_final_logos About Produce for Kids
Produce for Kids® encourages healthy eating among families by providing simple, healthy meal solutions and resources for parents, while raising funds for local children’s non-profit organizations. Since its creation in 2002 by Shuman Produce Inc., Produce for Kids has raised more than $4.2 million to benefit kids. To learn more about Produce for Kids and healthy eating, visit, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

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Family-Friendly Hiking Trails



Enjoy the cool Fall weather by hitting the trails with the kiddos. With hundreds of local hikes to choose from, these are some of the best to enjoy with the family.

Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake
3401 S. Hiawassee Road, Orlando 32835
Walk as little or as much of the loop as you like, as the trail is part sand and part paved. Watch for gopher tortoises, ducks and turtles. Then, run around on the big playground by Turkey Lake.

  • GPS: 28.500772, -81.475042
  • Best for: Spotting wildlife
  • Bonus: There’s a children’s farm along the trail.

Lyonia Preserve
2150 Eustace Ave., Deltona 32725
The best place to see Florida scrub jays is right in your backyard. Pretend you’re Snow White in this teeny, tiny forest, where these colorful and curious birds often will come out to greet you.

  • GPS: 28.930217, -81.225438
  • Best for: Florida scrub jays
  • Bonus: There’s an interactive nature center and café at the trailhead.

Oakland Nature Preserve
747 Machete Trail, Oakland 34760
A stroller-friendly boardwalk leads through marshes to the shores of Lake Apopka. Visit the nature center, and walk the gentle trails on the hills behind it.

  • GPS: 28.554992, -81.639834
  • Best for: Swamp creatures
  • Bonus: Antelope graze next door.

Shingle Creek Regional Park’s Historic Babb Landing
2491 Babb Road, Kissimmee 34746
Paved trails lead past a historic homestead and playground to a landing along Shingle Creek. Wide-open spaces let the kids pedal fast while you keep an eye on them.

  • GPS: 28.318133, -81.457217
  • Best for: Biking
  • Bonus: Twistee Treat ice cream is less than a mile away.

Trimble Park
5802 Trimble Park Road, Mount Dora 32757
Broad boardwalks parallel two lakes on this breezy peninsula. With a big playground beneath ancient live oaks, this is also a great picnic spot.

  • GPS: 28.765659, -81.652135
  • Best for: Bird watching
  • Bonus: Families can camp in the shady campground.
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Gluten Free Lactation Cookies


Being a new mother means nine months of prepping for many challenges – from diaper duty to sleepless nights. But one often under-discussed trial is how difficult breast feeding can be. Kelapo Coconut partnered with Jennifer Saleem, Blogger of, to create a delicious gluten free lactation cookie recipe to give moms a little extra help. Using lactation cookies can not only help promote more breast milk but also increase the nutrients passed on to the baby.

Why coconut oil? The medium-chain triglyceride known as lauric acid is only found in two places. “The ratio of lauric acid to other medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in human milk is IDENTICAL to that in coconut oil,” explains Saleem. “The MCFAs in coconut oil improve the absorption of nutrients already existing in the mother’s diet. These nutrients are of course passed onto the nursing infant through the breast milk. For these reasons, it is important that a mother’s breast milk contain as much medium chain fatty acids as possible,” says Saleem.

Coconut oil, because of the lauric acid, is also anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, all of which may help support the baby’s immune system. Because of the moisturizing properties, coconut oil may also be used to soothe cracked nipples mothers can get from breast feeding.

Gluten Free Lactation Cookie
Created by Jennifer at


  • 1 tablespoons fenugreek to make 4 T brewed fenugreek tea
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup Kelapo Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter or other nut/seed butter (I really like sunflower seed butter in these)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted OR 2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Brew fenugreek in 8 ounces of hot water until grains are soft.
  3. Mix flaxseed and 4 tablespoons fenugreek tea and let sit for 3-5 minutes. DO NOT DISCARD THE GRAINS!
  4. Beat coconut oil and honey.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  6. Fold in the peanut butter/nut or seed butter until well combined.
  7. Add flaxseed mix and fenugreek grains and mix well.
  8. Add flour, nutritional yeast, baking powder, and salt. Mix and if using coconut flour see ingredient notes below.*
  9. Mix in oats until well combined.
  10. If using raisins or cranberries and/or chocolate chips, slowly fold these in.
  11. Round off a large tablespoon of dough and place on cookie sheet. Press it down slightly.
  12. Bake for 15 minutes then check cookies. Continue baking (checking every 3 minutes) until the outside is a bit brown with crispy edges. The inside should still be slightly moist and soft.
  13. Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Ingredient Notes:
1. Coconut flour has the tendency to soak up a ton of liquid. Every brand varies. If your batter seems dry at this point, add in a tablespoon at a time of coconut milk or your other favorite milk until the consistency is more doughy and moist. If you overdo it, add in sifted coconut flour in 2 teaspoon increments.

2. This batter is really sticky! Do not try to form dough balls with your hands. It will be a mess. A yummy mess at least! I like to grease my spoon with a little coconut oil. It helps the dough slide right off!

3. This recipe is not incredibly sweet although if you use the dried fruit or chocolate chips it does sweeten up! If you prefer a really sweet cookie, add some additional honey and/or vanilla. For every 1/4 cup of honey you add, you will need to increase the coconut flour by 2 tablespoons and the oats by 2 tablespoons.

4. The reason that honey is used and not sugar is because honey has tremendous health properties which a mother can pass on to her breastfeeding infant. Unless you are allergic to honey, please do not substitute the honey with sugar.

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Skin Cancer Awareness Infographic


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Breast Milk Depot


Florida Hospital officially opened the first Milk depot in Central Florida today.

In an effort to help women and babies in Central Florida, Florida Hospital officially opened the first Milk Depot in Central Florida. The Florida Hospital Milk Depot will serve as a convenient drop off location to moms who are looking to donate breast milk to help other babies, especially at-risk preemies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), receive crucial nutrition. The opening of the Milk Depot is part of Florida Hospital’s continued commitment to providing women and babies with the most comprehensive medical resources available.

“In the United States, there is a critical shortage of donor human milk,” said Kari Vargas, assistant vice president at Florida Hospital Orlando. “Donating breast milk is truly a labor of love, and the opening of the Milk Depot will hopefully remove some of the barriers from the donation process and make it more convenient for moms to donate this precious gift.”

Local moms throughout Central Florida have already been rallying around this cause.

“My daughter was born two and a half months early so I know how scary it can be to have a premature infant,” said Bethany Bergen, mom to daughter Piper, now 8 months old. “I knew I wanted to breastfeed and it was easy for me. I cannot imagine the stress that moms who are unable to breastfeed go through. I was able to donate my extra breast milk, and it was so rewarding to know there was something I could do to help other babies in need.”

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends pasteurized donor human milk to premature infants when a mother’s own milk is not available. Research shows that human milk is especially important for preterm and sick babies who are at a much greater risk of infections. Human milk helps babies build strong immune systems and is easier on the digestive system than formula. In 2012, Florida Hospital required the use of nearly 10,000 ounces of donor milk.
“In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Florida Hospital, we instituted a protocol several years ago to give breast milk to babies who were born at 29 weeks or less or weighing less than 1500 grams. As a result, we have seen a tremendous reduction in the number of infections and life-threatening diseases,” said Dr. Raj Wadhawan, medical director of the NICU at Florida Hospital for Children. “Donor human milk is a great option for moms who are unable to breastfeed since it provides critical nutrition for the baby and can truly be a lifesaving part of their treatment.”

All mothers who donate at the Milk Depot will be pre-screened and tested through an intensive process to ensure that they are healthy and their own child’s wellbeing is not being compromised. Since there are only 11 Milk Banks in the United States and none in Florida, Florida Hospital is affiliated with the Mother’s Milk Bank in Denver. Once a mom brings her donation to the Milk Depot, Florida Hospital will store the milk in a deep freeze and then package and ship the donation to Denver for processing. The donor milk is pasteurized and tested prior to bottling to ensure that it is safe for the baby and is also nutritionally sound. The Milk Bank then distributes the donor human milk based on need to the most at risk infants.

The opening of the Milk Depot is just one way Florida Hospital is continuing to provide comprehensive resources and medical care to women and babies. The Milk Depot will be located in the Lactation Center across the street from Florida Hospital Orlando. Florida Hospital Orlando is currently building a new 12-story Women’s Hospital that will provide comprehensive care for women of all ages. The hospital is expected to open in 2015.

To find out more information on becoming a donor, please call 407-303-2599.



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Mother Runners


These local moms have taken running to the “chi” level.

Nikki and Zak are moms (and sisters-in-law) who created a running blog that has bloomed into something very spiritual and inspirational. They have become certified ChiRunning instructors. ChiRunning comes from the tai chi concept of allowing your body to work with the forces in nature. Yes, there is a “right” way to run, and most of you are probably doing it wrong. Both Nikki and Zak went through a nine-month training program with Danny Dreyer (author of ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury‑Free Running) to bring ChiRunning workshops to Central Florida. Runners (and wanna-be runners) from all over the state come to their workshops throughout Central Florida. Their message is to LIVE REAL (real food, real conversation), to LOVE MORE (honor yourself, open your heart, serve others) and to MOVE YOUR BODY (walk, run, do yoga, connect with nature). We just can’t get enough of these girls. Check out their blog for recipes, a (free) 30-day Sole Survival program and a ChiRunning Workshop schedule.

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Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday Is vegetarianism or veganism too much to ask of your meat-loving family? Try Flexitarianism – a growing trend of people with a loose loyalty to meat-free eating. This semi-vegetarian diet focuses on a vegetarian diet while allowing for occasional meat eating too. It is this concept, along with the well-known health and environmental benefits that lead to Meatless Monday – a nonprofit with a mission to reduce meat consumption by 15% (one day a week) in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.

If you are interested in learning more about Meatless Monday, visit for recipe ideas and to join the movement.

Not into cooking Monday? Check out these local vegetarian and vegan restaurants:

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Breakfast Cookies

If your house is anything like mine, breakfast is very rushed and frenetic. Its hard enough to remember backpacks, tooth and hair brushing, what to bring for show and tell and field trip forms – who has time to make a healthy and fulfilling meal?

Written by Samantha Gotlib of Wholesome Tummies

Breakfast Cookie

I have been so tempted by things like Pop Tarts (yes, there are even organic ones now!) but it just doesn’t seem like a great way to send them off for the day.

We all know how important breakfast is for our kids.  It helps sustain them all the way thru lunchtime. They need protein and fiber to keep going and the right mix of carbs to keep their energy levels up. In a perfect world, we would make them an omelet, some whole grain toast and maybe a little yogurt smoothie – but we don’t live in a perfect world, do we? ☺

So, last year I started making these breakfast cookies that I found in the Sneaky Chef Cookbook. Over the last several months I have made changes and additions to get them “just right”. They are an overwhelming hit in our house and since they freeze so well, just as convenient as a Pop Tart (without the fat, sugar and chemicals).

You can easily double the batch for freezing. Once frozen, microwave the cookie for about 15-20 seconds before eating.  Your kids, (and the grownups too) will inhale these and you can exhale knowing you sent them off with a pretty good breakfast.

(Adapted from The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine)

Nutrition Highlights: whole grains, calcium, and protein. Rich in vitamins B and E, iron, potassium, folic acid, calcium, tryptophan protein, and fiber.

• 2 cups whole grain cereal flakes (such as Wheaties or Total)
• 3/4 cup Flour Blend (1/4 cup white flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup wheat germ)
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/8 cup canola oil
• 1/8 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
• 3 tbl Orange Juice
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
• Cinnamon sugar for dusting*

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with oil).
2. Using a rolling pin, gently crush the cereal (in a sealed plastic bag) into coarsely crushed flakes. Alternatively, you can quickly pulse the cereal in a food processor.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together Flour Blend, crushed cereal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, oil, applesauce, orange juice, vanilla, and ricotta cheese. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Drop single tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between cookies. Flatten cookies with the back of a fork and then sprinkle tops generously with cinnamon sugar (or just sugar if your kids don’t like the cinnamon flavor). Bake about 18 to 20 minutes, or until nicely browned and crispy around the edges.

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies.

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Anti-Aging Skin Care Regimen


by Dr. Dimitry Palceski of Reflections Dermatology

Psychologists have often said that women like to avoid conflict. Apparently they are unaware of the war that’s been waged against the visible signs of aging. Over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that women (and some men) are no longer willing to just sit back and let nature run its course. In fact, the question these days isn’t so much whether you’re going to act, but rather how and when.

As you age, your skin’s natural ability to keep itself looking radiant and youthful diminishes. Everything from the platform that the skin sits on to the collagen in your skin begins to decrease and the cumulative effects of sun exposure and other environmental factors are revealed in the form of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of facial volume, and uneven skin tone and texture. In a nutshell, your skin simply begins to lose its luster. Luckily, science has provided us with many powerful weapons designed to combat the unwelcome signs of aging.

As a Dermatologist, I work with patients every day to help them select which weapons will be most effective in their quest to win the battle with the clock. Although there are many highly effective non-surgical cosmetic procedures now available including Botox, fillers and laser treatments, the first line of defense should be a healthy lifestyle and a good skincare regimen.

A good skincare regimen is like food for your skin and can provide a visibly deteriorating complexion with the resources it needs to repair and rejuvenate itself. To get started “stopping the clock” you’ll need to incorporate four key components into your skincare routine 1) cleanse 2) exfoliate 3) hydrate and 4)protect. With this four point system, the use of high quality products, and a commitment to your new regimen, you can begin to turn back the hands of time by encouraging collagen production, neutralizing skin damaging free-radicals, and improving your skin’s overall moisture content and ability to protect itself. The result… simply beautiful skin at any age.

4 Key Components of an Anti-Aging Skin Care Regimen

1. Cleanse
Be sure to cleanse your skin at least twice a day to remove dirt and makeup and to help to keep blemishes at bay.

2. Exfoliate
Exfoliating your skin on a regular basis will help keep your skin looking radiant. Exfoliating is a process that can be accomplished in two ways – mechanically or chemically. Mechanical exfoliation includes micro-dermabrasion or the use of an exfoliating brush such as the Clarisonic. Chemical exfoliation is usually done through the use of chemical peels or by cleansing with products containing alpha or beta-hydroxy acids. Exfoliation works by eliminating the outermost layer of the skin thereby promoting the production of new skin cells.

3. Hydrate
Moisturizing not only hydrates the skin, but locks in your skin’s own natural moisture and helps diminish the appearance of fine lines. When selecting moisturizers, try to pick one with active anti-aging ingredients such as a retiniod or DNA repair for added benefit.

4. Protect
The success of your anti-aging regimen will largely rest on how well you protect your skin from this point forward. The best protection will be a combination that includes both antioxidants and sunscreens. Antioxidants such as vitamins C & E, coffeeberry and other plant extracts have been proven to be highly effective in protecting the skin, repairing damaged cells, and preventing further damage from free-radicals. Unfortunately, antioxidants can not protect your skin alone. They need the assistance of sunscreens that provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays with a sun-protection-factor (SPF) of at least 15.

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Tricks For Parents of Picky Eaters

Wholesome Tummies Anyone who has ever used the expression “parenting isn’t easy” probably had a child who was a picky eater.

As the owner of Wholesome Tummies a local kids’ lunch catering business, I get parents calling, e-mailing and stopping me on the street to tell me that THEIR child is the pickiest eater in the world. It’s a common problem, more common than one might think.

In our business, we serve hundreds of kids each day, many of whom are picky eaters. We are not dieticians, but our experience has taught us a few tricks, which might help.

  • If you do not want your child to eat a particular food (i.e. Chicken Fingers or Hot Dogs), stop buying it. “What!? But what will my child eat?” Perhaps nothing and that is Okay. Your child will not starve. By continuing to buy the foods that are unhealthy, you are allowing the behavior to continue. You are the CEO of your kitchen and you can decide what comes in and out of it.
  • Offer it, but don’t force it. Keep putting the green beans on his plate. Just the exposure to it is important. If you throw in the towel and give up, he learns that it is ok to not have vegetables in his diet. One day, he might surprise you and try a bite.
  • Limit snacks. Let their tummies get a little empty and hungry before a meal. Then do what my business partner does with her kids (genius), give them appetizers. Put out a plate of carrots and yummy ranch dressing for them to dip. How about some celery with PB and raisins to start with? The combination of hunger and available snacks might entice them to give it a try.
  • Do not be a short order cook.  Your child should eat what you are eating for dinner, when you are eating dinner. Family dinners are key. Kids that eat as a family are far more likely to try new foods than those kids that are isolated from the family unit.
  • Be a good example. It goes without saying that if you are eating burgers, fries and a Coke, how can you expect your child to eat healthily? Practicing what you preach goes a long way.
  • Make mealtime a relaxed and fun time for your picky eater. Forcing, bribing and pleading will only create more stress and a power struggle. Try putting healthy foods in a positive light. Try not to label foods as “good” and “bad.”
  • Exposure, Exposure, Exposure. It can take 10-15 times for a child to finally try something new. Don’t give up hope! Keep making those healthy meals and one day, your child might just surprise you.
  • If all else fails, take a tip from recent bestseller cookbooks and “sneak” those veggies in. Pureed veggies are practically unnoticeable in soups, casseroles, spaghetti sauces and even desserts.

Implementing these ideas takes patience. Fussy eaters will not be turned around over night, but in time with some hard work and creativity, your child can learn to like and even love more healthful foods.

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