Dr. Deb on the Rhode Show – Baked whole grain chicken fingers

Baked whole grain chicken fingers over a tossed salad with choice of light dressing, along with sliced apples dipped in caramel and glass of milk. with Dr. Debbie Kennedy on The Rhode Show.


  • Chicken breast
  • Milk
  • Whole Grain Bread Crumbs
  • Salad Dressing
  • Apples
  • Lemon Juice
  • Caramel Dip


  • Make chicken fingers
  • Pound chicken breast to tenderize
  • Dip in milk
  • Dip in whole grain bread crumbs
  • Bake in the oven
  • Peel and slice the apples
  • Spritz with lemon juice, so they don’t brown
  • Dip in a caramel dip
  • Select dressing for salad

Baked whole grain chicken fingers : foxprovidence.com

What is Your Fridge Telling You?

Recently I went without power because of the hurricane and had to throw out all the food in my refrigerator. As I started to restock it I noticed something. It felt really good to look into my fridge and not see it over packed with food. It gave me a sense of calmness and a bit of a thrill to actually see what I had to work with for dinner.

I also noticed that my life in the past two years reflected what was in my refrigerator. When I was working and taking care of the kids and didn’t feel overwhelmed I was able to plan meals and by the end of the week I could actually see that most of the food in my fridge was used up. I didn’t have tons of produce left over which would eventually rot. Then I got super buy launching a business and I didn’t see the bottom of my fridge for several years.

Shopping for me when I am overwhelmed and too busy looks like this: “I need to stock up on sunflower seed butter and other items at Trader Joes because I don’t know when I’ll have the time to get back there”. When I would run to the local grocery store I would buy whatever I thought I could use to feed my family but with no specific menu plan and as a result I spent more than my budget allowed. Basically I was running on fear; fear I wouldn’t have time to get back to the store, fear 20 people might stop by and I needed to be prepared. Are you familiar with that syndrome? I am Irish Catholic and was brought up always to expect to feed an army at a moments notice and I have to say that they haven’t shown up yet.

Are you so busy and overwhelmed that you don’t have the time to plan meals? Take a look in your refrigerator. If you have tons of leftovers, rotting produce and over stocked shelves I bet your life is super busy; maybe too busy. Perhaps your fridge is telling you to take a moment and breath; to cut back on some of the craziness in life and get to a place where planning dinner and shopping is not riddled with anxiety and stress but joy. It is possible; well maybe not so much joy if you don’t like to cook but perhaps less stressful for you.

Perhaps fear of your finances is what drives you most. Most of us are concerned about money and cost is a leading factor in what we buy. If your fridge has limited or no fresh fruits and vegetables at all than it is saying something different; it is saying that you lack vibrancy in your family’s diet and perhaps there is limited energy in your lives. I was once told by an ancient Asian medicine man that “life gives life”. Food that comes out of the ground unprocessed like green leafy foods support life, food that only comes out of boxes and cans is dead food and can not sustain a healthy life.

I would like to challenge myself and you to stop shopping out of fear? Fear of not getting back to the store, fear of not having enough money to pay for groceries, fear of a hurricane, tornado, flood or other natural or man made (terrorist) disaster? We live in a fear based society and any time we turn on the news we are reminded of all there is to be afraid of. How about you join me in trusting; trusting that it will all get done, that you will have time to get back to the store and the resources to buy what you need. My goal is to see the bottom of my fridge at the end of each week and not to overstock and over-buy just because something might happen. Let me know how it goes.

September – Eat 2 Fruit a Day!

In September the focus is on fruit; the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit.  If you are a busy parent and have a hard time getting your child to eat fresh fruit everyday, you probably let them drink several juice boxes to make up for it.  In fact, you may even give them the new variety of juice that provides vegetables and fruit in a juice box.  Great, you think; you can kill two birds with one stone and have them drink the fruit/vegetable juice and avoid the battle you have with them when you try to get them to eat whole fruits and vegetables.

Is there something wrong with this approach?  Sadly there is.  I am all about giving you short cuts and easier ways to feed your child a healthy diet but when children drink too much juice, it is not healthy for them.  When your child drinks juice instead of eating the whole fruit it prevents their taste buds from developing a taste and a preference for the texture of whole produce. They set their taste buds up to want more and more sweet tasting food and drink instead.  If your child is the type that downs 3 or 4 juice boxes a day, chances are they also want cookies, candy and cake as well.

If your child drinks too much juice at one sitting they can get diarrhea and a tummy ache. If they continue to drink a lot of juice every day this can lead to cavities, becoming overweight as well as being malnourished if they substitute juice for other food that they should be eating.  It can also prevent your child from reaching their height potential. Did you hear that?  Your child can develop a short stature from consuming too much juice and avoiding a balanced diet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has set a limit on the amount of juice that your child should be drinking every day because they know the risks associated with drinking too much juice.  The recommendation is 4-6 oz of 100% juice for children 1 to 6 years, and 8-12oz of 100% juice for children 7 to 18 years of age. The AAP does not recommend juice for babies under 6 months of age and drinking juice from a bottle is not advised.

In summary, because it is so easy to over-consume calories by drinking too much juice and avoid eating a balanced diet, it is best to limit the amount of juice that your child drinks to the amount set by the AAP.  Make sure the juice that you do offer your child is 100% juice and not a juice cocktail, a juice-ade or juice drink. Your child should eat their fruit instead of drink it. Make sure they get at least two servings a day.

It is What You Choose Now That Matters Most

This July was my 18th anniversary of surviving non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Some may say it is a miracle seeing that I was given two weeks to live in my twenties but I think it was more than that.  I believe I survived because of the choices that I made after the diagnosis.  I never believed in the death sentence, instead I looked for the message that the cancer brought me.  So was my surviving a miracle? You bet, but if I didn’t step up to the plate as well and make different choices for myself, I don’t believe I would be here today.

That is the reason I have spent the last two decades teaching and coaching about making healthy choices.  I truly believe that the decisions that we make every day, the small and large ones, add up to us going down a path of health or disease.  It breaks my heart to see how this generation of kids is sprinting down the path of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and a shortened life span.

I spoke to a group of girl scouts last spring and there was an eight year old girl that caught my attention.  She was so afraid of getting cancer like her grandparent that she asked my exactly what she should and shouldn’t eat.  I didn’t want her to approach food fearfully so I called her mom and left a message. She never called back and I don’t think it was because she didn’t have her child’s best interest at heart. I came to find out that her mother has a very busy job and feeds her daughter pizza and baked chocolate chip cookies almost every night for dinner.  I don’t think the mom wanted to hear what I had to say.

In my experience, many busy parents think the junk and processed food that they feed their kids either won’t hurt their child’s health because they ate it growing up and they are fine, or else they really just don’t want to think about it too much because it adds up to one more thing to do and they already have an overloaded plate. I created the Build Healthy Kids program for exactly this type of busy parent. I spent three years researching and creating a plan that would not overwhelm parents or their children.  All a family has to do is to focus on making one change a month and by years end they will be living a healthy lifestyle; one that promotes health. All it takes is to make one choice at a time.

Dr. Deb on the Rhode Show!

I had such a good time on the Rhode Show today with Patrick, Danielle and the best sous chef ever: Courtney. Good luck with eating fruit! If you didnt catch it, click here to see me on the Rhode Show: http://www.foxprovidence.com/d​pp/rhode_show/rhode_show_cooki​ng/nut-butter-roll-ups-veggies​-and-fruit

Nut Butter Roll ups, veggies and fruit: foxprovidence.com

August – Involve Your Kids!

August seems to come and go so quickly. Many of us are enjoying the last moments of fun in the sun with our kids while others can’t wait for our little darlings to go back to school.  No matter what camp you are in, and I vacillate between the two, take some time this month to involve your children in all aspects of food.

Just like animals in the wild, we are our kids’ primary source of information when it comes to food. It is fascinating to watch a polar bear teaching her cubs how to hunt for themselves. She pounces on ice to hunt fish and seals underneath and then will tear it apart once she has caught it.  That mother polar bear is teaching her cubs what they need to eat, how to hunt for it and how to eat it. Our children need to learn how to plan, shop and prepare food too. It is never too early to start as long as you are careful.  As soon as my boys were able to stand at the kitchen counter I gave them a job to do; washing vegetables and biting into them were their favorite activities.  It helped them to learn by interacting with a new food in a playful and non-stressful manner.

I see lots of kids today that are so afraid to try new food that they start to shake just when you show them the new food. If your child is fearful of trying anything that they have not eaten before, make sure that you let them interact with the new food before you ask them to eat it.  Having your child help you to select a recipe, pick a new vegetable or fruit to try at the market, and/or wash the new vegetable at home, will help your child to familiarize themselves with that new food before they are asked to eat it. A sticker chart works wonders here for the younger child: place a finger, a nose and a mouth in one of three columns on a sheet of paper.  Your child gets to place a sticker under the column when they touch the new food, smell the new food and finally work their way up to taste the new food.

Children also benefit greatly from learning where food comes from so that they are able to see the difference between what food is supposed to look like and the highly processed stuff that passes for food a lot of the time.  Explain where foods comes from when you are both at the market or better yet, plant a small garden or shop at a farmers market. You don’t want your kids to grow up thinking chicken comes in nice neat packages, potatoes are always sliced into chips or fires, or it’s OK to eat food that glows in the dark or stains their mouths a neon green.

The more involved you children are in all aspects of food, the better chance you will have of bringing up a healthy eater. Even eating as a family has long lasting impact on children. When children leave the home in their twenties, they will eat a healthier diet away from home if they came from families that ate together as compared to families that did not. Wherever you are, start there. If you don’t eat together at all, try to eat together as a family just one night a week and work your way up to what works for your family.

Is your child’s lunch cold or hot enough? Startling facts you need to know!

unhealthy lunch box


Did you ever wonder if the lunches that you pack for your kids for school or daycare are keeping their food cold or hot enough?  Well researchers at the University of Texas did. They analyzed 705 lunches of preschoolers to make sure that they were kept in the safety zone: below 40° F for food and beverages that you want to keep cold or above 140° F degrees for hot items. When food is kept at a temperature between 40° F and 140° F bacteria can grow and your child can potentially develop a food borne illness which can be serious.

What did the study find? It was shocking: only 1.6% of the food items that they measured were in the safety zone and that was 1 ½ before lunch time even occurred. These findings bring to light the importance of not only eating food that is healthy in terms of it’s nutritional value but also in terms of how safe it is too.  Cooking meat thoroughly, reducing the chance of cross contamination and following practices that keep food cold or hot enough are all very important practices to follow. In this study almost 40% of the lunches had no ice packs in them.

You do not need to stop packing your child’s lunches as long as you follow some safe practices for handling and storing food. Below are some tips for packing healthy lunches:

1. Start with a clean working surface at home so that you don’t transfer bacteria on a cutting board or counter to your child’s food. Keep pets off your counters!
2. Begin with cold ingredients as they will keep food in the lunch box cooler for longer; refrigerate juice boxes, milk boxes and fruits and veggies before putting them in your child’s lunch box.
3. For hot items, add boiling water to your child thermos to get it very hot before adding heated soup or heated leftovers.
4. Make sure to include at least one ice pack in your child’s lunch that is thick enough to last the amount of time necessary between leaving the house and eating their lunch.
5. When you include food that is susceptible to bacterial growth, make extra sure that you put that ice pack right up against it or even sandwich the following susceptible items between two ice packs. These foods need to be kept cold (do not leave at room temperature for more than 2 hours):

    • Meat, poultry, fish, eggs
    • Anything with mayonnaise in or on it
    • Peeled or cut fruits and vegetables
    • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
    • Open container of applesauce or pudding

6. Use a top quality thermos, ice pack and lunch container to keep food hot or cold and don’t put hot and cold items in the same lunch box.

7. Pack non-perishable items for later use or if you are not sure how well your child’s lunch box holds up. The following foods do not need refrigeration

    • Prepackaged fruit cups
    • Dried fruit (raisins)
    • Dried cereal or crackers
    • Shelf stable, single serving milk or milk alternatives (soy or rice milk)
    • Nuts and seeds (if no allergies are present), nut butters and sunflower seed butter
    • Fruit in its original packaging: bananas, oranges, grapes, cherries, cherry tomatoes

8. Rinse and dry all fruits and vegetables before packing with water.

I am concerned that many families will take the results of this study and eliminate vegetables for non perishable items in their child’s diet.  This does not need to happen as long as you are careful when packing your child’s lunch and you use a quality lunchbox/bag and ice packs. Follow the safety tips above and pack several ice packs to make sure that you have all the essential elements to a healthy lunch: whole grain and protein, a fruit and a vegetable and a good source of calcium.

Lets Break the the fast!

The definition of fasting is not eating for a long period of time for religious or other reasons. When you sleep you are fasting for eight or more hours. In the morning you break the fast with breakfast. Breakfast is not only yummy, but the most important meal of the day.

Soda or Water

Tomorrow I have my first triathlon. I need to have long lasting energy all day, should I drink water or soda? Cast your vote and reasoning below

Personally, I don’t like soda but I love water! To be healthy, you should drink eight cups of water each day. Soda is very surgery and almost as bad as candy. You my feel like soda or other drinks such as Redbull are giving you energy, but there are really only making you feel that way for a small amount of time. After the sugars run out you crash and lose lots of energy, but if you had just eaten a filling meal and drank some water you would have real, healthy, and long lasting energy.


What’s Up With Dad?

It seems that everywhere I go nowadays I am pulled aside by frustrated moms who try their best to feed their children a healthy diet, only to have it ruined by …the school cafeteria meal? ; the grocery store with it many junk food options? ; Grandma who feeds candy and soda to her grandkids?   No, the culprit undermining mom’s healthy diet efforts is most often their spouse!  Many moms tell me about their efforts to cook healthy meals and buy healthy food for the family only to have their hard work ruined because their husbands either bring ‘forbidden’ food home or cook a separate meal if “junior” does not like what she has prepared.  These moms plead with me to help them by telling their significant other (who often is standing right beside them) to stop doing that!  Does this sound familiar to you? I bet it does.


In fact, only yesterday I helped a wonderful family with 5 boys! The youngest two are what most would call picky eaters; they both eat little to no fruits and vegetables. This mom reached out to me to help convince her husband to stop sabotaging her efforts when it comes to feeding their boys a healthy diet.  The youngest son would drink 5 chocolate milks a day if mom did not place any limits on him.  She recently stopped buying flavored milk at the store, but dad would come home with several cases if he found them on sale.   

I decided to look at what was really going on, because it was obvious to me from the beginning of our meeting that these were two great parents who loved their sons very much and would do anything for them.  The father was never given chocolate milk as a child. He came from a large family and had to eat what was served; quickly before his many brothers and sisters beat him to it too.  When I questioned why he brought the chocolate milk home he replied that he thought it was a better option than the soda or juice his child drank and since his son was a picky eater to begin with, the calories and calcium would be good for his child. These were all very valid points.


In my experience, most dads are not setting out to intentionally thwart their wife’s best efforts to provide a healthy diet, nor do they want to harm their child.  In many situations the dads don’t realize the impact of their actions, or they have fond memories of certain foods from their childhood and they want to share that with their children.  When I had this dad pull 50 pounds of sugar out of grocery bags and place them on his kitchen counter, and I told him that this is what his 50 pound five-year old son drinks in sugar each year from the chocolate milk he brings home, his face fell and he was overcome with guilt. At that moment, his wife saw the truth in his eyes and was secure in knowing that this was the end to the chocolate milk battle. 

I realize it is easy to blame; we all do it. Next time you feel as if your spouse is sabotaging your efforts to feed your children a healthy diet, try taking the time to ask him about his relationship with food. You may just find a clue that will help you both work together in bringing up healthy eaters.