Archive for January 11, 2012

6 Ways to Get Your Kids (or reluctant husband) to Eat Their Veggies from Mesa de Vida!

Start early! 

Start allowing them to try vegetables and fruits before they have the ability to tell you “No”! It may be a little late for this, but if you have any new little’s in your future, you can start at the beginning with them! Of course follow pediatrician guidelines for introducing foods but once you get past that point, load them up with every fruit and veggie you can get into them! Let them experience a multitude of vegetables of varying textures, NOT just the ones you like, or think they will like. My kids loved steamed parsnips, beets, kale steamed and smashed into potatoes, all of them. I am proud to say I have almost no issue getting my kids to eat their fruits and vegetables now! My daughter requested green beans for breakfast from her grandparents when she was 3. :)  When they got a bit older and could chew they loved going to the garden and munching fresh rutabaga, snap peas and tomatoes. If they are familiar with many fruits and vegetables from the beginning, are used to seeing them appear on their dinner plate every day and see everyone else enjoying them they will be more likely to enjoy them as well! 


A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Link to the MSNBC News article: showed that for preschoolers, offering a sticker reward worked better than positive praise to get the kids to eat and eventually enjoy their veggies! They suggest doing this for about a 10 day span. Worth a shot! Great article, I suggest you try it!

Practice what you preach!

We all know someone…or maybe we are that someone…that says “Ew”! in front of their children when faced with certain foods. This gives them permission to balk at foods also before at least giving them a try. Keep your reactions to yourself. If I dislike a food I have tried and genuinely don’t enjoy – for me, this list is very, very short, fortunately/unfortunately  – I keep it to myself. I just choose to not take it, or in a way that is obvious, set it to the side. Is still prepare these foods for the kids if they enjoy them and they are nutritious and keep my opinion on the matter to myself. I also always had a rule for my kids that they have to at least try something before they can form an opinion on it. I bring up other foods that don’t look so great but they love the taste of as an example.

Teach them!

Fill them in about the benefits of the foods they are eating! “Those sweet potatoes have a ton of vitamin E & C! They can help your eyesight stay strong and help your cells fight off flu and cold bugs like super hero’s”! Arm yourself with information about the vitamins and minerals many fruits and vegetables have and the benefits of those, get your kids excited to be able to make healthy choices for themselves!

Make it taste good!

We have all probably had some nasty vegetables at some point growing up. I remember canned green peas and Brussels sprouts cooked until they were grey. I would say for younger kids, just make them soft enough to eat safely but just serve them straight up. They don’t have a taste for salty/sweet yet so if you can get them to enjoy them as is they will LOVE them with some clarified butter or parmesan later on! For older kids, try roasting vegetables then adding some parmesan. This does amazing things for almost every vegetable: it brings out the sweet nutty quality most vegetables have when cooked this way. Keep them al dente and not mushy, I find most people prefer the flavor that way.

Hide it!

Hey, it’s not hurting them! If you have someone who is reluctant to eat their vegetables, even using all of these other tips, you may have to resort to this.  Most of my recipes have a ton of vegetables in them and I get people who don’t like vegetables, or onions, or mushrooms, etc. to eat it and love it. When I let them know the dish had their despised vegetable in it they don’t even realize it! Chop it very small, for things like onions and mushrooms, cook them well and they blend in. There are some great books about sneaky ways to hide vegetables and fruits in your kids’ favorite meals (sneaking cauliflower into their mac and cheese, squash into a gratin or sauce, pureed spinach into spaghetti sauce, avocado puree in a chocolate mousse, etc.)  Many vegetables are naturally sweet and add a great flavor to sauces or casseroles and you can’t tell they’re in there. I don’t have to sneak it in, but I add applesauce, pureed pumpkin, mashed bananas and plum puree to many of my baked goods. They keep them moist and add great flavor, along with health benefits!

I hope this has given you a few tips to get your family to love fruits and vegetables. I have some great recipes on my site that are FULL of vegetables and fruit and I will continue to bring more to your table! Enjoy!

Have a good tip that works for you to get your kids to eat their veggies? Please share!

Please visit Chef Kirsten @

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Do You Have a Sweet Tooth?

I certainly have a sweet tooth. I hadn’t had a Golden Oreo in 2 months as I was doing a No Junk Food Challenge. I had successfully replaced the cookies with fresh fruits and mixed nuts. I’ve been so happy that I was able to do it that I decided to buy a pack of cookies so that I could put them away and have them sparingly. I thought since it had been 2 months and I had replaced the cravings with healthy alternatives, I would have complete control… Wow, was I wrong. Here I sit typing this sentence and all I can think about are the last 10 cookies left. This is exactly why in my article, Beat the Sugar Cravings with These 8 Tips, I wrote, “Don’t Buy It.” I know we should allow ourselves cheat days but here are some better ways to get your fix if you are going to buy it.

  • Buy only what you want to have on that given day (a serving, a scoop, or a cup)
  • Eat before going out to buy the snack
  • Think about it before you do it… Is it really worth it?

I have learned a lot from this experience and I hope you have as well. What are some other ways you beat your cravings?

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Healthified Macaroni and Cheese

This takes processed white pasta and powdered “cheese” and puts that baby to bed! I swapped out whole grain pasta, use a bit of real cheese and make a quick and easy creamy sauce with whole wheat flour, a bit of butter, olive oil and milk. This comes together almost as fast as the blue box kind, but it is much better for you and your family! Turn it into a different meal by adding chopped broccoli or cauliflower, adding chopped chicken or tuna, it is one of my family favorites! Enjoy!

Healthified Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 6-8 servings

1 box (12-13 oz)

1 Tb butter

1 Tb olive oil

3 Tb whole grain flour

3 cups milk

1/2 tsp dry mustard

Kosher/sea salt to taste (I recommend for best flavor 2 big pinches)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup grated cheese

Boil your pasta, cook according to package instructions, drain 1-2 minutes before the recommended time, just under al dente. While your pasta cooks make the sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat melt your butter, add the oil. Whisk in the flour, let this cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, add the mustard, salt and pepper. Keep stirring and bring the milk to a boil, turn off the heat. Mix in the cheese. Add the drained pasta. If you are not baking this, turn the heat back on and cook the sauce and pasta for 2 minutes over medium heat, then serve. Or you can pour the pasta and sauce into a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees to get the casserole browned and bubbly. Enjoy!

Please visit Chef Kirsten at

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Jumpstart 2012 By Working On Ourselves “WEEK 1 CHECK IN”

All you need to do is comment, “still in” so that we can check you off! Make sure your first and last name are in the comment as well. Having trouble with sugar craving? This article might help: Beat The Sugar Cravings! We are so happy that you made it through Week 1! Let’s roll right into week 2! Don’t lose your Motivation!

Remember to comment, “still in!” My example is there!

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Chef Kirsten with Mesa de Vida

Hi there! I’m Chef Kirsten, a personal chef and nutrition consultant. I am the owner of Mesa de Vida (Table of Life) Personal Chef Service and also share my recipes and other information about living a vibrant, healthy life on my website, . You can connect with me on Facebook (, Twitter ( and on Youtube (

I lost 100 pounds several years ago by taking what I learned through studying nutrition and combined it with my love for cooking! I had been on crash diets that didn’t work, had been overweight most of my life (I’m smaller now than I was in the 5th grade) and stopped looking at it as “losing weight”. I wanted to GET HEALTHY! I wanted to live as long as I can, do as much as is in my control to prevent chronic disease and live a long, healthy, vibrant life. I want the same for my children and those I love as well. I started exercising as well and not having been an active child at all, or come from a family that was active, this was new to me and honestly, I hated it to begin with. But I knew it was good for me, I knew it was essential to a long life that I move my body, so I forced myself.

It didn’t take long for me to learn to LOVE exercise, now my body craves it. Finding the time to fit it in isn’t always easy but if I get too busy one day I make up for it the next and try to be as active as I can. Eating right, giving our bodies what they need is top priority. We have treats from time to time, but we don’t have junk food in the house most of the time and splurges and indulgences are met with extra exercise and eating REALLY well for a few days before/after.

I love creating recipes my kids love and sharing them with family and friends also. My goal is to help people know that it is possible to get healthy and still eat delicious food!  I want people to know that I have been there, I have struggled with excessive weight also but I think I found the “magic pill”…Stop looking at it as just losing weight, eat the proper portions of food, cut out processed food and move your body.

I am looking forward to sharing my recipes with Healthy Fit Families! I love this site and what it is all about. I started following HFF on Facebook and loved the information! I am so happy to collaborate and would LOVE to hear about recipes your family loves that you would like “Healthified”!

Looking forward to bringing more life to your table…Enjoy!

Chef Kirsten, Mesa de Vida

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What’s a Serving of Fruits and Vegetables?

First let’s talk about the importance of fruits and veggies. A diet high in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and cancer. People who eat more of these nutrient dense foods are also sick less than those who don’t. Obesity levels are also much lower among those who eat diets high in essential vitamins and minerals. Many people trying to lose belly fat will increase their vegetable intake and reduce their intake of high calorie starchy foods. So what’s a serving? Here’s our compiled list of fruits and veggies servings:


  • 1/2 cup, 4 fluid oz of 100% fruit juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1 medium fruit
  • apple (1)
  • banana (1)
  • cherries (14)
  • grapefruit (1/2 of 1)
  • grapes (12)
  • kiwi (2)
  • mango (2 slices)
  • melon (1 large slice)
  • pear (1 medium)
  • pineapple (1 large slice)
  • plums (2)
  • prunes (6)
  • raisins (1 tbsp)
  • strawberries (7)


  • 1/2 cup or 4 fluid oz of juice (low sodium)
  • 1 cup raw or 1/2 a cup cooked
  • asparagus spears (5)
  • avocado (1/2)
  • baby carrots (1 small bag)
  • brussels sprouts (8)
  • carrot (1)
  • celery (3 sticks)
  • onion (1)
  • peas (3 heaping teaspoons)
  • salad (1 cup or about half a cereal bowl)
  • spinach (2 heaping 2 spoons)
  • tomato (1 medium)
  • zucchini (1/2 a large one)

So… Are you increasing your fruits and vegetables intake?

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HFF’s “Jump Start 2012 By Working on Ourselves” Challenge

 (Click Here To Print The Challenge Check-List)

We strongly advise everyone to weigh and measure themselves and take before and after pictures to refer to throughout the challenge. The goal of this challenge is to improve your lifestyle.

Please print the calendar checklist so that you know that you are completing each task. NO EXCUSES!

Duration: 10-12 weeks. We will know by week 6 if we are going 10 or 12 weeks.

How do I join the Challenge: In order to be considered for the challenge prospective participants must post the vice that they are giving up in the comments section of the blog post to the official rules. See 2012 Challenge Tab! Be sure to tell us your first and last name. We will allow postings until Wednesday 8pm Pacific Standard Time. After this time, participation is closed. In order to move forward each week, contestants must successfully complete ALL of the following tasks each week:

Exercise 210 minutes per week (30 min per day).

Consume 49 servings of fruits and vegetables per week (7 per day)

Complete 140 pushups and sit ups per week (20 per day of each)

Consume 56 servings of water (8 per day)

Give up one vice for the entire 10-12week duration

Post “still in” on the designated blog post at each week

Disqualification: Participants are disqualified if they fail to complete a task during the week or  fail to their listed vice. Participants will also be disqualified if they fail to report that they are “still in” the competition each week on the blog post at A link to the blog post will be posted 3 times per day on Friday at Participants will have until Saturday 9pm Pacific Standard Time to report themselves “still in” the challenge. Obviously this will be on the honor system but we trust that everyone will play fair. We will periodically post the names of contestants who are “still in.”

Prizes: Of all the contestants still participating at the end of 10 weeks, 5 names will be drawn and those participants will receive a free t-shirt. The 5 participants must post a picture of themselves wearing the t-shirt in order to be placed in an additional drawing where the 3 names drawn will all receive a $50.00 gift certificate. We reserve the right to increase the value of the gift certificates as well as the number of winners as more sponsors and donors are expected in the upcoming weeks.

Win This Shirt!


Waiver of Liability: All prospective participants should be cleared by a Doctor before trying this or any health and wellness program. accepts no responsibility and excludes all liabilities in connection with trying this challenge. It is the sole responsibility of the individual in the challenge to be in good health and except all liabilities associated with this challenge. hereby excludes liability for any claims, losses, demands, or damages of any kind whatsoever with regard to any information, content, or services provided at our Web site, including but not limited to direct, indirect, incidental, or consequential loss or damages, compensatory damages, loss of profits, or data, or otherwise. By signing up for this challenge you accept responsibility for anything that might happen while being a part of the challenge and anytime after the challenge concludes. We reserve the right to change rules and prizes for this challenge.

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The Results of my December “No Meats” Challenge

For the month of December I challenged myself to a “No Meat, No Dairy” diet. You can see the original post here. Let me tell you….it wasn’t easy but I’m glad I followed through with it.

The first week was challenging. I had become accustomed to having some sort of dairy product or meat product with every meal. I was a carnivore who allotted only a certain amount of space on my plate for the “other stuff.”  Cutting meat, dairy, and eggs cold turkey made me want it even more.  That first week of the challenge I probably told my wife 100 times, “I can’t wait until this is over so I can have a big steak….pork chop….rack of lamb….whole rotisserie pig…..rhinoceros thigh….etc.”

However, after that first week things became easier. I started looking forward to preparing new and creative “Vegan” meals. I took pride in knowing that I had set a goal for myself and I was sticking to it. If you read my intro to this challenge you know that for the past few years I have been struggling with high cholesterol. Every meal started feeling like a step closer to victory rather than a step closer to heart disease.

This past Friday (December 30th) I went and had my blood drawn for updated lab work. I will receive the results this upcoming Tuesday. (January 2nd)

I will update this post with those results.

There is no doubt in my mind that the number will have come down. I feel better than I have felt in a long time. I am optimistic about my future. Having a family and dealing with high cholesterol problems always left me with thoughts of feeling that I would leave them sooner than I wanted to. I want to live a long life and be here for them in my later years.

This challenge has given me an appreciation for the “Vegan” diet and has made me realize that I can cut down or completely cut out what was a major staple in my diet. Will I remain a Vegan? Possibly. There are some things that I miss. Like Salmon!

If I do go back to eating meat I can assure you that it will be because I am treating myself or because I am having a cheat day. I do not want to go back to making it a necessity. I love life and my family more than I love food. I will miss them more and they will miss me more than I will miss meat. My body synthesizes cholesterol different than others so this is my solution to the issue. It may not be an issue for you. However, for those of you looking to lose a little weight, I can assure you that by cutting out or cutting down on foods high in saturated (which a lot of cuts of meat are) you will benefit from doing so. If you pair this with a “No Sweets” challenge you will be well on your way to your weight loss goals.

During the month of December I was relentless in sticking to both my “No Meats” challenge and Coach Demitrius’  “No Sweets” challenge.

I lost 11 pounds in 1 month.  I feel leaner and have more energy.

Here are my before and after pictures:

December 1st (Left) ---- December 31st (Right)

The month of December has now given me the inspiration to work hard towards obtaining my ideal physique. I have some substantial goals for myself now in 2012. There are subtle changes in my photos above that are separated by 31 days. Over the next few months I will hold myself accountable to my 2012 expectations by keeping you guys updated with photos.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you my personal journey, and as always, me and Demetrius will be here for you along yours!

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Succeed at Your 2012 Goals!

Did you know 85% of New Year’s Resolutions fail? That means if you were in aroom of 100 people who resolved to quit smoking only 15 will actually do it. Would you like to be one of the 15? Keep reading for Specifics on how to succeed at your 2012 goals!

Specific Goals!

“I’m going to lose weight this year,” isn’t a specific goal. I’m going to lose 2 pounds each week is specific, attainable and measurable in a short period of time. When goals are Specific benchmarks are easy to make and achieve. Don’t make goals that aren’t well thought out!

Specific Plan!

How will you lose the weight? I’m going to start going to the gym isn’t a specific plan. Being vague allows room for putting it off and completely failing. Remember when you said this last year? You went and paid for the membership but never actually went after the first week. You must be Specific and the first step must be taken TODAY! If you write a goal and don’t make a step toward accomplishing that goal immediately after, you probably don’t mean it. If this means going for a walk or run right now, you need to do it. You have to prove to yourself that you are serious about your goal.

Specific Records!

Do not lie to yourself, your friends, or your family! Keep a very specific food and exercise journal. Your journal will serve a few purposes. It will be a record of your successes and failures. It will be a reference that will help you make adjustments after weigh ins. It will also be another source of accountability. Be sure to revisit past entries in your journal and make necessary improvements to your diet and exercise regimen!

What are your 2012 goals and what are your plans to succeed?


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