• Archives

  • Jan's Profile

  • Advertisements

Let them eat cake!

Let them eat cake!

Steelcut oatmeal cake with dates, vanilla, and dark chocolate icing.

Oatmeal Cake
Make every day feel like your birthday!

2 cups steel-cut oats
3 cups almond milk (make sure the milk covers the oats by ½ -1 inch)
2-3 tsp vanilla
½ cup raisins
½ cup crushed walnuts
honey* or real maple syrup to taste
2-3 tsp cinnamon

Place the oats, milk, vanilla, raisins, and walnuts into a non-greased medium saucepan. Do not stir. Swirl the honey or maple syrup on the top. Sprinkle cinnamon on top along with topping(s) of your choice. Do not stir.

Cover and cook for one hour over low heat without stirring. Sides of cake will be firm and slightly browned. When the cake is done, let it cool. Loosen the edges with a butter knife. Place a plate on top of the saucepan and turn it upside down. The cake should come out easily. Turn the cake over unless you prefer an upside-down cake.

Serves 8

Topping Ideas

Apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, pineapple, dark chocolate pieces, dried cranberries, pumpkin, dates, pecans or any nut of your choice. When using dark chocolate pieces allow cake to cool in the refrigerator before taking out of the saucepan.

This cake is so rich and delicious. You can eat it plain with a bit of butter or serve it with apple butter, nut or seed butter, honey or real maple syrup.

*Honey is not recommended for children under 18 months of age.

Oatmeal Cake Icing
Great for special occasions, school and birthday parties.


8 ounce container of whipped cream cheese
2 tbles extra virgin olive oil
2 tbles real maple syrup or honey
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.
Ice the cake.

Dark Chocolate Icing

Melt 2 ½ ounces 73% super dark chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Add to the vanilla icing ingredients before refrigerating.

Cake for breakfast? Yes! Serve the cake plain with a bit of Kerrygold butter and a drop or two of real maple syrup. Add a small side scrambled eggs, bacon or cheese and brains & bodies have premium slow burning fuel!


Essential Daily Nutrients for Learning Class


Essential Daily Nutrients for Learning Class

Module 1: Feeding the Brain Cell 101 – Discover how the components in the foods we eat nourish and protect the membrane, mitochondria, and nucleus of the brain cell (neuron). Daily essential (must come from diet) nutrients will be discussed along with cutting edge data on deficiencies in utero and during development resulting in neurodevelopmental difficulties in school-aged children.

Module 2: Foods and additives that short circuit and disrupt brain function – Science correlates chemicalized foods (anti-nutrients), nutrient deficiencies, and wandering blood sugar levels with hyperactivity, inattention, mood and behavior problems, even in the healthiest of children. Learn how the smallest nutritional change can make a world of difference in a child’s day.

Module3: Meal Mapping – A highly individualized, hands-on practicum to empower participants to identify meal composition and timing patterns that are supportive to learning and others that have an adverse affect. Meal Mapping forms are provided for detailed observational notes. You will be assigned a delicious, nutrient replete recipe to prepare and share for next week’s module on food preparation.

Module 4: Snack and food preparation ideas to provide “bang for the buck” meal/snacks throughout the day to maximize brainpower in home/classroom environments. Bring your tastiest, nutrient replete recipes for sharing. Learn why common snacks do not nourish busy bodies and brains.

Bonus Module – Nutritional education project for children: Humdrum Hannah is an endearing story about a young girl who discovers how much better she feels after by passing junk food and making healthier food choices. This endearing children’s book is perfect for circle time and includes an audio book, educational glossary, health tips and a coloring book. Warning – contains graphic children’s humor!

Essential Daily Brain Nutrients for Learning classes are available for educators, parents, health professionals and interested students of all ages. Participants will complete 4 weekly modules, approximately 1 1/2 hours long via Skype or video/audio web conferencing. Individualized trainings are available to meet your school’s needs. Members of school/ parent organizations are encouraged to attend. Class size is limited to 6 to provide one on one interaction with participants. Skype presentations to larger groups as an adjunct to the individualized modules are available.

Instructional materials and parent educational hand-outs will be provided. The class is an extension course of The Montessori Foundation and certified for Continuing Education Units.

Call 602.595.2027 or email Jan@nutritionforlearning.com to arrange a phone consultation for pricing and class availability.

Essential Daily Nutrients for Attachment

DSC00399Oxytocin, the love, cuddly, attachment hormone is produced by magnocells which are located in the hypothalamus. Magnocells are reliant on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), magnesium, and cholesterol for positive regulation.

Many children I assess for behavioral and mood issues are not consuming foods high in these nutrients. In fact, some have been DHA, magnesium, and cholesterol deficient from conception, throughout gestation, and into childhood.

Magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia) is an electrolyte disturbance that affects oxytocin levels. Nutritional deficiencies are prevelant in adopted and attachment disordered children suffering from trauma and physical neglect.

Spices, nuts, unprocessed whole grains (germ and bran in-tact), dark cocoa, and vegetables are rich sources of magnesium. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach are especially rich in magnesium as they contain chlorophyll (plants have a special use for magnesium).

Children adopted from Asia are usually magnesium deficient. Steamed, polished, white, long-grain rice is the preferred grain of Asia containing a tenth of the magnesium found in brown rice. The traditional Kazakhstan diet is low on leafy greens which can influence the infant’s magnesium status in utero.

Children living in orphanages/baby houses may have inadequate intake of meat and meat products, milk, fruits, and vegetables. Protein malnourishment is a problem as it retards tissue growth and affects the structure of the developing brain. Grass-fed meat and byproducts contain high vitamin cholesterol which is vital to oxytocin production.

The Chinese diet is low in fat, so the infant’s cholesterol levels might be low. The orphaned infant might not be receiving the proper formula designed with the crucial balance of fatty acids needed to build structures responsible for receiving and transmitting oxytocin.

Compared to other mammals, human breast milk contains the highest concentration of DHA, the essential fatty acid found in algae and cold water fish. During pregnancy a well-nourished mother delivers over 2 grams of essential fatty acids daily to the fetus. 70 % of all nutrients that pass through the placenta including the EFAs are devoted to brain development, growth and function.

This reminds us that the brain is truly the province of child development and attachment.

Please refer to the following articles for further study:

Mothers’ and Children’s Concentrations of Oxytocin Following Close, Physical Interactions with Biological and Non-biological Children.


NY Times: Oxytocin levels and the mother child bond.



“Essential” Daily Brain Nutrients for Learning

Image“Essential” Daily Brain Nutrients for Learning

Many children are starting their day with full bellies and starving brains. As a nutritionist and former Montessori educator whose experience with children’s eating habits inspired me to change careers, I can attest to the fact that specific styles of eating are supportive to learning and others, detrimental to attention, mood, and behavior.  In fact, certain foods and additives can actually short circuit brain function even in the healthiest of brains! 

Why do some children focus intently on subjects that are of interest and struggle to finish others? Perhaps they are lacking the necessary sustained brain fuel to finish the required yet unappealing task at hand. Is the child really hyperactive, unable to concentrate, and a behavioral problem or is he grumpy, hungry and on the down side of a blood sugar spike (even from cereal, milk, and juice!)? We owe it to our children to find out – especially when young children are developing lifelong learning styles.

I’ve yet to meet a brain that has not responded favorably to proper nourishment.

A snapshot of the essentials

The working mechanisms in the brain are protein and lipid (fat) dependent. The amino acids found in protein make the chemicals in the brain responsible for attention, memory, learning, sense of well being, sleep, calmness, and even attachment (the love, cuddling hormone, oxytocin has synaptic receptors). Nine of these amino acids are essential; they must come from a dietary source daily. The body cannot produce these amino acids from other nutrients.

It is important for optimal brain function that school-aged children eat high ratio amino acid proteins throughout the day. Peanut butter is not one of them. Even though peanut butter is considered a complete protein it is short on tryptophan. Tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin, the sense of well being, calming neurotransmitter. Chicken, eggs, and beef are a few examples of high ratio proteins that contain all of the amino acids, essential and non-essential in the highest ratios possible!

Children need 20% more essential amino acids than adults because their brains are still growing.

Essential fatty acids, particularly docosahexanoic acid (DHA), are critical for brain health. The finer working mechanisms of the brain responsible for transmitting and receiving chemical messengers and myelin, the fatty sheath covering the nerve communicating messages between two neurons depend on daily dietary DHA. Myelin is also made up of oleic acid (olive oil, avocados), and cholesterol. High vitamin fats from grass-fed animals and their by products are the best source of cholesterol.

 Many children are lacking essential daily brain nutrients. As parents, caregivers, educators,and health professionals we have an obligation to assess if we are feeding our children foods that will nourish and enhance brain performance or foods that will provoke hyperactivity, inattention, aggressiveness, and disrupt vital neuronal signaling networks.

It’s worth repeating…: )  

I’ve yet to meet a brain that has not responded favorably to proper nourishment.

Are food dyes safe and can they affect brain function?

“Color additives are very safe when used properly,” says Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Office of Cosmetics and Colors in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). “There is no such thing as absolute safety of any substance… FDA website 2011

I sit here in awe reading this admonition from a top official speaking on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug administration. Perhaps in her last sentence Ms. Katz is referring to the research scaffolding the regulation or ban in European countries of artificial food coloring in foods. Synthetic food dyes are made from coal tar and petrochemicals. Blue 1, for example, is banned in Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Norway and Switzerland, and Green 3 was banned across Europe after it was linked to the development of bladder tumors.

In September 2007, the results of a British study from the University of Southampton was published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. The researchers concluded that artificial food colors and additives exacerbate hyperactive behavior in children at least up to middle childhood. The colors affected are Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, and Red 3.

Maryland is considering legislation requiring food manufacturers to add a warning label prior to an outright ban in 2012, and another that would prohibit the use of the colors in school foods.

Food Colorings and Additives May “Color Your Child’s World” Hyperactive

In the 1960’s, Ben F. Feingold, MD, was Chief of Allergy at Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, CA.  He was also a pediatrician and taught pediatrics at Northwestern University Medical School.

Dr. Feingold devoted his life to the study of food additives in the human diet including artificial colorings. Initially, he developed a diet for children suffering from allergic reactions to such food additives but then parents of allergic children reported that not only did their child’s allergy symptoms improve (hives, eczema, etc.) but their hyperactive child calmed down and was doing better in school.

Young children are physiologically immature. Incomplete function of excretory organs including low levels of plasma protein capable of binding toxic chemicals makes detoxification of environmental contaminants insufficient. The developing nervous system is especially vulnerable, particularly the under-developed blood-brain barrier. A good example is lead.  A child absorbs 50% of digested lead while an adult absorbs 5-10%.

Additional associated symptoms of artificial food coloring:

Aggressiveness, irritability, violence, sleep disturbances, poor coordination, poor speech, impairment of visual motor tracking and balance, blurred vision, inattention, easily distracted, fidgetiness, immune suppression, development of asthma and/or skin conditions i.e., eczema, hives, metabolic and physiological changes i.e., thyroid, EEG, heart rate, chromosomal damage (carcinogenic). (The aforementioned are referenced in animal and human studies.)

Infants: extreme restlessness, poor and irregular sleep patterns, excessive crying or screaming, rejected affection, poor feeders.

Food makers use harmful dyes to get you to buy:

Companies use these brightly colored toxic food dyes to entice our collective brains that are programmed for survival. Back in the hunter-gatherer days the ability to recognize foods was built-in for survival. Our brains are programmed to spot foods that contain protective phytonutrients – bright colored fruits and vegetables.

So of course, we are attracted to foods with bright colors and this is why food-manufacturing companies are exploiting children when they enhance colors artificially.

Artificial food dyes can be found in the weirdest, never-would- have- thought-of places like farmed salmon.  It may contain coloring to make the fish look a deeper pink or red. If the salmon is not eating its indigenous krill and algae its color will reflect its diet. And it could very well be gray from eating corn. Imitation crab and meat could also contain dyes to make part of the meat look red.

So what’s the consumer to do?

Look for products with natural food coloring ingredients like beet juice, annatto, or turmeric. Most importantly, grab the aprons and the kids and reclaim your kitchen. This way you will be in full control of ALL the ingredients and your family’s health.  Start with the freshest, best food you can afford!

During my initial consultation with a new child, I noticed how fidgety, moody, and whiney he was. He repeatedly reached into his mother’s purse to get a piece of day glow orange chewing gum. During our consultation this pattern repeated until the boy became so hyperactive and out of control he required physical removal from my office.

My first recommendation was to cut down on the artificial colorings this child was consuming. I subsequently saw the family and the child was markedly calmer. Coincidence? Maybe. But isn’t un-chemicalizing your child worth a try?

What Dads and Moms Should Eat BEFORE Pregnancy


In today’s toxic world, the best offense is a good defense. If every couple planning for pregnancy ate as if they were both pregnant – when the child-to-be is tucked away nicely in two sets of chromosomes; 23 from Mom and 23 from Dad – the fertilized egg would certainly be healthier and scrappier. The zygote, embryo, placenta and fetus grow from the egg and sperm cells. This gives Dads-to-be the same physiological commitment in reproduction.

We hear about the importance for women of child-bearing age to get enough folate and be diligent about their preconception diet but men’s nutritional status and contribution to pregnancy often goes unnoticed.

What’s folate’s role in pregnancy, anyway?

Folate and B12, in a process known as neural protein synthesis build the neural tube – one tiny cell at a time. Zinc protects the developing cells and transcribes the DNA code. If there are shortages of folate or its accessory nutrients (folate is the nutrient trumpeted loudest by the World Health Organizations) it retards DNA growth. This is where we have the evidence and heartache of infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects

What other nutrients should we be aware of and what should we eat?

Nutrients do not work in isolation or without collaboration. Once we understand where the nutrients in foods go to nourish and protect the cell (sperm and ovum are cells), we make smarter, intentional food choices.

First, it’s important to understand some basic biology. There are three major constituents of the cell; the membrane, mitochondria, and nucleus. Omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources and the monounsaturated fats in olive oil and avocados make a fluid, flexible, cell membrane that absorbs nutrients readily, allows waste products to exit freely, and helps the cell move about the body cooperatively – good for all body systems; neurological, vascular, metabolic, and reproductive.

The mitochondria, the energy and communication center of the cell rely on all nutrients; especially B-vitamins and trace elements abundant in the following foods:

1. Fresh protein from wild seafood and healthy animals and their by-products

Healthy animals are grass-fed, eating their indigenous diets and not penned up, force-fed grains and eating bakery waste still wrapped in cellophane. (Yes it’s true!) Grass-fed animals have a higher nutrient content, more B12 and zinc (there is more zinc in grass than in corn) which is critical to building the neural tube. Grass-fed animals also have a higher omega-3 fatty acid content because there is ALA (alpha linolenic acid) in the grass and also more fat soluble vitamins; A,D,E, and K.   Wild fish and seafood are brimming with the best nutrients and fats found in sea vegetables and fish swimming in natural waters.

There is beta carotene in the grass, four times the vitamin E, and since the animal is out in the sun, there is more Vitamin D in the meat and the animal’s by-products. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are critical to tissue formation which is of major importance during organogenesis. One of the next body systems to form after the neural tube from the endoderm is the primitive gut. It is so important to the developing fetus, infant and child that the small intestines and the lining (villi) be properly formed to absorb nutrients. Another benefit of these fat soluble vitamins – other nutrients piggy-back with them into the cell membrane.

2. Legumes

Lentils, black, pinto, garbanzo, kidney, borlotti, and navy beans, peanuts

3. Whole grains – germ and bran in-tact

Hulled barley, couscous, quinoa, brown rice, steel-cut oats, bulgur wheat, buckwheat, brown rice

4. Seeds and Nuts

 Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds

5. An abundance of brightly colored fresh fruit and vegetables

12 servings a day of fruits and vegetables (plenty of leafy greens) from a variety of botanical families provides a constellation of antioxidants and phytonutrients that scaffold the cell’s ability to replicate healthfully.

All of these foods contain nutrients that are critical to the nourishment and protection of the cell. They promote glycemic stability and are paramount to early cell division and genetic expression which begins during the formation of sperm and ovum.

So Moms AND Dads, if your child-to-be is but a twinkle in your eye, it makes sense to live healthier, eat healthier, and seek out a qualified preconception nutritionist to make sure your nutrient status will create and sustain a healthy new life.

This article was written for the Healthy Child Healthy World Website.

54 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health

54 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health

 In addition to throwing off the body’s homeostasis, excess sugar may result in a number of other significant consequences. The following is a listing of some of sugar’s metabolic consequences from a variety of medical journals and other scientific publications.

 Sugar can suppress the immune system

Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body

 Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children

 Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides (fat in the blood)

 Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases)

 Sugar reduces high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol)

 Sugar leads to chromium deficiency

 Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose

 Sugar causes copper deficiency

 Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium

 Sugar can weaken eyesight

 Sugar raises the level of neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine

 Sugar can cause hypoglycemia (rapid drop in blood sugar)

 Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children (the fight or flight hormone)

 Sugar can cause tooth decay and gum disease

 Sugar contributes to obesity

 High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis

 Sugar can cause asthma

 Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)

 Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity

 Sugar can lower the amount of Vitamin E in the blood

 Sugar can decrease growth hormone

 Sugar can increase cholesterol

 Sugar can increase the systolic blood pressure

 Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children

 Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein

 Sugar can contribute to diabetes

 Sugar can contribute to eczema in children

 Sugar can promote an elevation of low density lipoproteins ( bad cholesterol)

 Sugar is enemy #1 of the bowel movement

 Sugar can cause myopia (nearsightedness)

Sugar can cause headaches, including migraine

 Sugar can adversely affect school children’s grades and cause learning disorders

 Sugar can cause depression

 Sugar and cause dyspepsia (indigestion)

Sugar can increase the insulin responses in humans consuming high-sugar diets compared to low sugar diets

 High refined sugar diet reduces learning capacity

 Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance; some hormones become underactive and others become overactive

 Sugar can lead to dizziness

 Diets high in sugar can cause free radicals and oxidative stress

 Sugar feeds cancer

 High sugar consumption can lead to substantial decrease in gestation duration among adolescents

 Sugar slows food’s travel time through the gastrointestinal tract

 Sugar combines and destroys phosphatase, an enzyme, which makes the process of digestion more difficult

 Sugar is an addictive substance

 Sugar can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol

 Sugar can exacerbate PMS

 Decrease in sugar intake can increase emotional stability

 The body changes sugar into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch

 The rapid absorption of sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese subjects

 Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

 High sugar intake can cause epileptic seizures

 In juvenile rehabilitation camps, when children were put on a low sugar diet, there was a 44% drop in antisocial behavior

Sugar can cause low birth weight babies