Children on the Biggest Loser: Inspiration or Exploitation?

“The Biggest Loser” is back for another season of inspirational stories and remarkable body transformations coupled with the fiery coaching of none other than Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dolvett Quince. This edition provides us with an additional highlight: childhood obesity. Three children will be present in various episodes throughout the season, helping with challenges and performing workouts of their own.

It is no secret that childhood obesity is a serious problem. In fact, nearly 32% of children and adolescents in this country are overweight or obese. It makes sense, then, to tackle such an issue that is plaguing almost 1/3 of the American youth. “The Biggest Loser” claims to be doing just that: highlighting the issue and providing ideas and strategies to stimulate change. This sounds great, and could very well encourage positive gains in the health conditions of children nation-wide.

But hold the phone a moment. Is a reality television program really the best way to attack this problem? Sure, the kids will most likely receive excellent advice and have an awesome experience, but are they the ones who gain something? Adding children to a show that is already built around pulling the viewers’ heart strings must be good for ratings and increased viewership. The possibility exists that children will become normal participants on the program; what’s to stop NBC from exploiting their presence for an improved image and continued positive responses in viewer numbers? Those viewers undoubtedly include children, and what are they doing? Staring at that oh-so-captivating box, sedentary, instead of spending that time doing what they see those kids on TV doing: moving, discovering, LIVING.

My goal is not to be the ultimate cynic, nor do I loathe “The Biggest Loser”. However, if childhood obesity is to be truly overcome, it needs to happen through cultural change. The problem with advocating active and healthy lives via reality television is that we still end up sitting in front of a screen, inactive. Our children follow suit. I believe there is too much reliance on television as an educational source, and “The Biggest Loser” doesn’t help to move things in another direction.

As long as the television – whether in the traditional sense or from some other media device – is our main source of entertainment, children won’t be moving, and neither will their weight.

Top 12 Nutritious Recipe Sites for You and Your Family

As a busy mom of 2 young girls, I am always looking for new healthy recipes for our family. Last week, I was thinking that I needed to find some new recipes and while doing so, thought how great it would be to share those sites with you.

Also, I encourage those of you who do have little kids to start healthy eating habits now. That is one of the greatest gifts that my Mom gave to me, and that you can give to your children as well. People are often astonished at what my kids will eat, but I started exposing them to healthy eating as babies, and I’d like to believe that is why they eat so well now. When my kids were babies, I would get together weekly with my friend, who is Chinese, and her babies. When I would eat at her house, she would blend whatever we were eating in a blender for her baby, so I decided that is what I would do too. From 6 months of age, my kids were eating anything from mashed avocado to pureed brussel sprouts. Develop those taste buds early!! It’s never too late for you either!

Like anything in life, nutritious eating is a habit. The more your body gets use to eating healthy, the more your body will crave healthy, nutritious foods.

Many of my role models for healthy eating are my friends of other cultures. Asian and Mediterranean diets are some of the most healthy and tasty. My Greek neighbor is always enticing me with spanakopita and steamed dandelion greens that she picks from her yard (and yes, she does wash off the dog pee first!) Included in my list is a Greek recipe site (since I can’t provide you with my Greek church cookbook!)

I hope these recipe sites in one place are helpful. I encourage you to print out your favorites and put them in a binder so they are easily accessible. So, here they are:

1. (the mushroom kale lasagna rolls are one of my faves) this site provides weight watcher points.







8. (don’t let the word vegan scare you; you don’t have to be to try the recipes!)


10. (the red lentil hummus is tasty, for a change from the norm)

11. (search Giada DeLaurentiis, she has many nutritious, tasty recipes)

12. (Spanakorizo is delicious!)


by Lianne Lindner


Eat More. Lose Weight. Really.

By Coach Kendra

I’ve always had a hearty appetite, being the youngest of 3 and always active growing up. When I sit down to eat, I want a big plate of food that takes some time to get through, not a tiny portion that’s gulped down in a bite or two. Unfortunately, big appetites can lead to big thighs. Rather than restrict myself to a life of deprivation, I learned how to eat a lot and still lose weight.

Here are a few simple recipes that I make often to indulge my inner glutton without adding heft to my hips. They’re tasty, filling, and very versatile.

Build a better salad

Sure, salads are the best way to fill up on fewer calories. The key is to make them hearty, and not so low in calories that you’re starving an hour later.

    • Fill a large bowl with the greens of your choice. I prefer a combination, like romaine, spinach, and finely chopped kale. The romaine gives a satisfying crunch, while the spinach and kale are excellent sources of nutrition.
    • Look in your refrigerator and grab all the vegetables you can reach. If you think you don’t like raw vegetables, chop them very finely or even grate them on a cheese grater (this works well for things like broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower). Once the veggies are small enough, you won’t taste them. Throw them into your bowl.
    • Add protein, such as 5 ounces of grilled chicken or 1 cup of canned beans that you’ve rinsed and drained. My favorite beans are red kidney, black beans, and garbanzo (chickpeas).
    • Toss in a handful (or about 1/4 cup) of nuts or seeds. I like to roast shelled, raw pumpkin seeds in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they’re browned but not burned. Nuts and seeds are good sources of fat and protein, and a little goes a long way.
    • Make a quick dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or red-wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour half over your salad, toss, and see if that’s enough dressing. If not, add the rest.

Chomp on a yummy quinoa salad

Never tried quinoa? It’s a rich source of protein that’s delicious in salads like this.

    • Prepare 1/4 cup of quinoa according to package directions. (This is about 1 cup of cooked quinoa).
    • Roast whatever vegetables you have on hand. Typical choices are broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, carrots, and asparagus. Just chop into similar-size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
    • Chop a handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/4 cup).
    • Make a dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
    • Mix all ingredients together, and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend. Add more lemon juice if desired for a brighter flavor.

Warm up with “everything but the kitchen sink” soup

Brothy soups take a long time to eat, are perfect when you’re craving something warm, and are low in calories when you make them yourself. On weekends, I take whatever vegetables are left in my fridge from the previous week and turn them into a soup that feeds me for days. There’s no real recipe here, but this is how it usually goes:

    • Chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic, and dice a couple of carrots and celery stalks. (It’s ok if you don’t have all these things, it just helps to make a nice soup base.)
    • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables soften and the onions become translucent.
    • Pour in 4 cups of broth (any kind) and any dried herbs or seasonings you have in your pantry. I like Italian seasoning, or a combination of chile powder, cayenne, and cumin for a Latin-inspired flavor, enough to equal about a tablespoon total. If you’re feeling fancy, toss in a bay leaf (optional). Bring to a simmer.
    • While the broth is simmering, chop any vegetables you have left in your refrigerator and add them to the pot. Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are a texture you like. I like mine to have a little crunch.
    • For protein, add some cooked chicken or a can of beans to the pot.
    • Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning by adding more herbs or some salt. A squirt of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can brighten and intensify the flavor of your soup, too.

Want a thicker soup? Puree it in batches in a blender until it’s smooth. Then add your protein or beans. You can divide this into individual servings (my batches usually yield 4–5 portions) and refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to eat.