Top 10 Cancer-Fighting Foods

Help your body win the war against cancer by providing it with the ammunition needed to prevent and protect against the different carcinogens. What is the easiest and cheapest way to prevent cancer? Answer: Healthy eating focused on plant-based foods. Fuel your body with the tools it needs to protect against cancer by eating these top 10 cancer-fighting foods.

berries1. Berries
These little fruits are full of cancer-fighting potential. Blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are all antioxidant powerhouses, largely due to their multitude of phytochemicals. These powerful agents prevent cell damage that could lead to cancer of the skin, bladder, lung, breast and throat.

2. Tomatoes
Afraid that cooking will burn out all the beneficial nutrients? Don’t worry – heating up tomatoes will actually increase the amount of lycopene you’re able to absorb. Lycopene rich tomatoes will arm men with the potential to fight off prostate cancer.

3. Cruciferous vegetables
Why are all the healthy foods also the ones that you have to force your kids to eat? Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts are packed full of folate, potassium, fiber, and magnesium, but the main weapon against cancer is the phytochemical called glucosinolate. Glucosinolate helps defeat the cancer-causing carcinogens by inhibiting tumor formation, lessening inflammation and protecting cells from DNA damage.

green-tea4. Green Tea
Sipping green tea shows promising preventive effects against different forms cancer. Green tea battles with the help of almighty flavonoids. The main aggressor against cancer in tea is catechin. This polyphenol acts as a scavenger for cancerous cells and shows no mercy in destroying them. The cancer fighting effects of green tea can be enjoyed all year-round. Skip the hot chocolate and sit by the fire with a glass of hot tea, or in the sunny months enjoy the refreshing taste of iced green tea.

5. Whole Grains
What do whole grains have that the processed, white counterparts do not? Fiber! In addition to lowering cholesterol, fiber can also protect against several types of cancer. Whole grains attack cancer from all sides with a variety of compounds. Polyphenols, resistant starch, lignans and protease inhibitors all contribute to a good defense against cancer.

6. Grapes
These juicy balls gear up to fight cancer with the power of resveratol, a strong polyphenol that resides heavily in the skin of purple grapes. Resveratol protects against cell damage and may help shoot down those pesky colon cancer tumors. While grape juice is also high in resveratol, raisins and grape jam are very weak. Red wine is not necessarily recommended as a source of this fabulous phytochemical due to the increased risk of cancer associated with alcohol consumption.

7. Legumes
Beans do more than contribute to the natural bodily function of passing gas. They also help keep cancerous cells at bay by providing a variety of phytochemicals, including triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, and sterols. The resistant starch in beans provides food for the healthy bacteria in your gut to produce short chain fatty acids that act as a safeguard for colon cells. Dry beans, split peas, and lentils are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and anti-cancer compounds.

??????????????????????????????8. Garlic
There’s a common theme when looking for anti-cancer foods – color! The main exception is garlic. Despite its lack of color, garlic still tops the list as one of the best cancer preventing foods. Several studies have shown that people who eat more garlic are less likely to develop certain types of cancer. Add garlic to those boring cruciferous vegetables for a double boost of cancer prevention.

9. Dark Leafy Vegetables
It may not be easy being green but it’s very beneficial to eat foods that are green – and this is not referring to mint chocolate chip ice cream. Spinach, kale and collard greens provide an ample amount of folate to protect you from pancreatic cancer. Folate plays an important role in repairing damaged cells and promoting healthy cell division. These vegetables are extremely nutrient dense so start filling your plate with lots of leafy greens.

10. Walnuts
Walnuts are the top nut for protecting against cancer. They contain several potentially protective nutrients like melatonin, polyphenols, alpha-linolenic acid, and vitamin E. Thanks to the phytosterol content in walnuts, these tiny cancer-fighting bullets may help slow the growth of breast cancer. Enjoy a small handful of walnuts each day to stay in good cancer-free health.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Dinner On-the-Go: Drive-Thru a No-No

family-dinnerNew parents promise themselves that family meals will never be spent in the car going through a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. Yet, as busy families dash from work to school to soccer practice then to the dry cleaners, this promise is easily broken. Active families still need nutritious and delicious options even when there isn’t time to all sit around the dinner table enjoying a home-cooked meal. These simple tips can help save your family from relying on unhealthy fast food for nourishment:

1. Plan Ahead. While planning ahead is easier said than done, it is the best way to overcome poor meal decisions. Either pack meals the night before in insulated lunch containers or have easy dinner options on hand, like slow cooker meals or frozen home-cooked dishes that can simply be put in the oven.

2. Buy a cooler. This will save you money instantly as your fast food spending dwindles. Not too many items are safe to sit in a hot car for long periods of time. Pack a cooler with bottled water, yogurt, sandwiches, pasta salad, berries, string cheese and other healthy foods that are best kept chilled.

healthy-after-school-snacks13. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand. When you’re unable to be home by dinnertime, consider offering your kids tasty and healthy snacks to tie them over until dinner. Here are 10 kid friendly snack options to keep in your car when on-the-go:

  • Trail Mix (choose varieties that have mostly nuts and dried fruit, and skip the ones with chocolate and candy)
  • Turkey or beef jerky (low sodium)
  • Blue corn tortilla chips
  • Pre-washed produce like apples, grapes, clementines, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes
  • Rice cakes
  • Nut butters in single serving packets
  • Bottled water
  • Whole grain cereal
  • 100-calorie snack packs
  • Kale chips

fast-food-ban-300x2504. Make Informed Choices. It’s no secret that fast food options are loaded with empty calories, fat, sugar and sodium and very low in essential vitamins and minerals. Start by choosing places with healthier options – most fast food places offer these but the biggest hurdle is actually ordering them. Instead of the drive-thru, try grab-and-go options offered at most grocery stores. If fast food is inevitable then stick to these “rules of thumb” when ordering:

  • Make sure the meal includes whole grains, fruit and vegetables – ketchup doesn’t count!
  • Always choose grilled instead of fried.
  • Skip the mayo and ranch dressing and choose lighter options like mustard, pico de gallo and vinaigrette or light salad dressings.
  • Replace the cheeseburger with a chicken sandwich or pita.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Healthy Breakfasts for an A+ Student

healthy-breakfast-oatmealBreakfast really is the MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day. This statement is true for both adults and kids- so set a good example by always eating breakfast yourself. Parents need to eat breakfast daily in order to power through that long to-do list of errands and loads of laundry. Kids need breakfast even more to fuel their growing bodies and developing brains, especially after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during the night. Skipping breakfast can leave your kid feeling tired, agitated or irritable by mid-morning. Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, have lower blood cholesterol levels and fewer absences from school.

Breakfast = Brain Power

healthy breakfast rollIt’s important for kids to consume breakfast every day, but what they eat is equally important. Help your kid earn straight A’s by serving a nutritious breakfast to increase their attention span, concentration and memory. A breakfast for scholars includes an excellent fiber source and lean protein. Research shows that fueling your kids with complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber (like oatmeal and fruit) instead of simple, low fiber carbohydrates (like doughnuts) will help them stay more focused on their schoolwork throughout the morning.

What NOT To Eat for Breakfast

Abandon the toaster pastries, sugar-coated cereals and breakfast bars that have no more nutritional value than a candy bar. These options are high in empty calories and sugar with little to no nutrition. Fruit juices often try to disguise themselves as a healthy breakfast beverage by featuring “100% juice” or “no sugar added” but in reality, they are little more than a fortified soft drink. Soda isn’t considered healthy if you add in vitamin C, so neither is juice. Whole fruit provides more nutrition and fewer calories with the added benefit of fiber, so always stick with whole fruit instead of juice. A sugar-loaded breakfast will only lead to a sugar crash by mid-morning, leaving your kids feeling lethargic, hungry, and distracted. Read the nutrition facts label before placing any processed breakfast items in your shopping cart. These items might be tempting for your kids and your busy schedule, but the time spent finding healthier options will be worth it in the end, especially at report card time.

Try these quick and fast breakfast solutions so your kids eat a good breakfast before they rush out the door:

  • Hummus on whole wheat pita with 1% or fat-free milk
  • Lean turkey on a toasted English muffin
  • Reduced-fat cream cheese and fresh fruit on a whole grain bagel
  • Make mini breakfast pizzas on whole-wheat English muffins with marinara sauce, scrambled eggs, topped lightly with cheese
  • Yogurt-oatmeal parfait with fresh or frozen fruit
  • Use whole wheat flour and flaxseeds to add fiber to blueberry muffins; use canola oil or replace half the butter with applesauce to lessen the amount of saturated fat in muffins
  • Rice cakes stacked with bananas, blueberries and low-fat strawberry cream cheese
  • Apple slice sandwiches with peanut butter, dry oatmeal and raisins in the middle
  • Fresh fruit salad with yogurt dip
  • Ready-to-go smoothie made with low-fat milk, yogurt,or fortified soy milk and added fruits with a dash of bran. Tip: If your kids don’t mind the color green, you can often slip in some spinach without changing the taste.
  • Consider these toppings to make old-fashioned oatmeal more appealing: cinnamon or cocoa powder, dried fruit, toasted nuts, fresh or frozen fruit, jam, applesauce or flaxseeds
  • Breakfast burrito made with a whole-wheat tortilla, scrambled eggs and salsa

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Back-to-School

Back To School Healthy LunchesBack to school means back to packing lunches. While it might be exciting for kids to pick out their brand new lunch box before school starts, parents often dread the thought of figuring out what exactly to put in that lunch box for the next 9 months. Keep in mind that parents should not pack school lunches alone. Increase the odds of your kids actually eating the lunch you pack by getting them involved. Brainstorm ideas together and enlist their help the night before in packing lunch. Keep in mind that a healthy lunch box includes each of the following: a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, lean protein and a low-fat dairy option.

school lunch_smaller5 tips for a Yummy and Kid-Approved Lunch Box Meal:

  • Mix up the boring sandwich by trying whole wheat wraps, mini bagels, pita pockets, sandwich rounds or corn tortillas. It is very important to choose whole grain products that have more fiber to ensure that lunch will be digested slowly to reduce afternoon hunger cravings and keep blood sugar stable throughout the rest of the school day.
  • Keep sliced bananas, apples and pears from turning brown by mixing them with yogurt or dip them in one of the following juices: lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, grapefruit or apple juice.
  • Make veggies more appealing by adding a variety of color and including a low-fat dip. Think orange and purple cauliflower with a light raspberry dressing.
  • Replace salty chips with mandarin oranges, shelled edamame, bell-pepper strips, air-popped popcorn, cherry tomatoes or sugar snap peas.
  • If your kid isn’t a milk fan, try low-fat pudding, yogurt, or string cheese.

school lunch2_smallerNeed help getting started? Try these delicious lunch box recipes:

  • Peanut Butter Banana Burrito: Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat wrap, drizzle with honey and place a whole banana at the edge of the wrap to roll up.
  • Turkey Salad Hot Dog: Mix together diced smoked turkey, toasted almonds, halved seedless grapes, thinly chopped celery and light Greek yogurt or light mayo in an airtight container. Pack a whole wheat hot dog bun for your bright child to assemble at lunchtime (the bun will be soggy by lunchtime if assembled beforehand).
  • BBQ Chicken Sloppy Joes on a Whole Wheat Bun: Combine leftover cooked chicken with carrots and a few dashes of barbeque sauce. Pack chicken and bun separately.
  • Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sandwich: Slice up some strawberries and spread reduced-fat cream cheese on 100% whole wheat bread for a quick and healthy twist on the everyday peanut butter & jelly.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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What’s the Right Size?

Do you know what a recommended serving size is? Or, more importantly, do you portion your foods according to the serving size? Don’t worry you’re not alone – most people suffer from portion distortion, but luckily there’s a cure! Familiarize yourself with the correct serving sizes to beat the portion distortion mindset.

serving size_smallerLet take a look at the healthy serving sizes of common foods:

  • 3 oz cooked chicken (4 oz raw) = deck of cards
  • 3 oz fish = check book
  • 1 oz cheese = 2 dice
  • 1 tsp of butter = 1 dice
  • 1 small baked potato = computer mouse
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter = golf ball or tip of your thumb
  • Waffle or pancake = CD
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans = a light bulb
  • 1 cup of cereal = baseball
  • 1 cup of leafy vegetables = size of your fist
  • 1 serving of fruit = tennis ball
  • Piece of chocolate = dental floss package
  • 3 oz muffin or biscuit = hockey puck

Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? Trick yourself into slimming down your portions with these simple tips:

1. Drink a glass of water before each meal to curb your appetite. Water provides volume without any calories.

2. Eat VERY slowly. Make meals last 20 minutes or longer to give time for your stomach and brain to register that you’re full. Speed eaters choose larger portions since they continue to eat past their point of fullness. Take your time to leisurely eat your meal and enjoy the taste your food to the fullest.

3. Choose high fiber foods. One of the many functions of fiber is to provide fullness. Choosing fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods will make it easier to push away from the table and keep you fuller for longer.

4. Eat more veggies! Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories while high in fiber and nutrients. Carrots are not to blame for the obesity epidemic, so don’t worry about eating too many vegetables. Move your meat and starches over to the side and fill up half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Be sure to keep starchy vegetables, like potatoes, corn, and peas, to the recommended serving sizes.

5. Choose a smaller plate to make your portions look larger. Make sure to eat from your plate, not the package, so that you know how many servings you’re eating.

As you become more familiar with the recommended serving sizes, you’ll be able to compare them to the portions you eat and make adjustments to develop healthier eating habits.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Can Chocolate Every Day Keep the Doctor Away?

CHOCOLATE_small.jpgEveryone is always looking for excuses to choose chocolate. Multiple health claims about chocolate may have you thinking that a bowl full of chocolate ice cream will cure more than just a broken heart. Does chocolate really provide cardiovascular benefits? Before you head to the grocery store to load up on all things chocolate, let’s take an honest look at the proposed health benefits.

Studies published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” and others offer promising results to support the heart healthy benefits of chocolate. The disease-fighting ingredient for chocolate is the cacao (cocoa) bean. It is packed full of naturally occurring phytochemicals, known as flavanols, that provide the beans with antioxidant “super powers.” Research has shown that flavanols have the potential to produce positive effects on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart and reducing the rate of blood clots to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Before you indulge in the rich, chocolate deliciousness, keep in mind that not all forms of chocolate are created equal. Milk chocolate and chocolate syrup have the lowest amount of flavonoids while forms of dark chocolate, like natural cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate, top the list. White chocolate contains zero flavanols since it’s not actually chocolate but cocoa butter. The level of flavanols in dark chocolate can vary greatly depending on the type of cacao bean, the amount of cocoa solids and the amount of processing it undergoes.

cacao_smallEating more chocolate does not equal more health benefits. The cacao bean is healthy by itself but combine it with cream, butter and sugar mixes up a recipe for heart disease. Besides adding empty calories to fatten your waistline, these additions will thin out the benefits of cacao. As a general rule of thumb, choose the least processed and bitterer form of chocolate to find higher levels of flavanols. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao to help reap some of the cardiovascular benefits.

There is no reason to feel guilty for  treating yourself to 1 ounce of antioxidant rich chocolate a few times a week, but don’t give yourself flawed excuses to eat it every 10 minutes!

Written by Jordyn Forsyth, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Six Summer Power Foods

cherriesimageSummertime brings to mind picnics, barbecues, snow cones, ice cream and sweet tea – which can all wreak havoc on healthy eating intentions if you’re not careful. As it gets hotter, start thinking about fruits and vegetables as refreshing alternatives to sugary summer snacks. Try some of these power foods this summer to keep your waistline slimmer and your mood brighter.

1. Cherries

If you read the nutrition facts on cherries, you’ll learn that cherries are low in calories and good sources of fiber and potassium. But the real benefits of cherries won’t be listed in the label. Cherries are packed with anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, cancer-fighting compounds. The main cancer contenders in cherries are quercetin, ellagic acid and perillyl alcohol. Cherries are also packed with potassium, an important mineral that can help lower blood pressure. Due to the powerful anti- inflammatory effects of cherries, these small fruits may help reduce muscle soreness after workouts.

2. Berries

All berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberrie, and blackberries – are amazingly rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Summer is the perfect time to take a look at these powerful health promoters. The rich blue pigment in blueberries is thanks to the free radical fighting anthocyanins that contribute to several beneficial effects on the body. Raspberries are famous for their high fiber content. A measly 64 calories for one cup of raspberries provides a whopping 8g of fiber – you’ll need to eat more than 100 calories worth of black beans to get the same amount of fiber. Compounds in strawberries and blueberries map help protect your brain and memory while also reducing inflammation.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????3. Cucumbers

Keep cool as a cucumber with this thirst-quenching vegetable (botanically speaking it is actually considered a fruit). You don’t have to only drink water to stay hydrated during the summer, you can eat it too! Cucumbers are 95 percent water, low in calories and high in fiber. Research indicates that water-packed foods can help promote weight loss. Staying well hydrated in the scorching heat can help boost your memory, mood and energy levels. Plus, bad breath doesn’t stand a chance against cucumbers. Try holding a slice of cucumber to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds to let the phytochemicals kill the smelly bacteria. Don’t peel the skin on cucumbers or you’ll miss out on some vitamin C.

4. Tomatoes

tomatoes_smallerTomatoes are very popular – from famous condiments like ketchup, hot sauce and salsa to spaghetti sauce and tomato juice. These red powerhouses are mostly known for their abundant supply of lycopene that imparts their radiant red color. Diets rich in lycopene and tomatoes have been shown to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and certain types of cancers including prostate, pancreatic, breast, lung and stomach. Lycopene is known as a superior cancer fighter. This phytochemical is best absorbed with a healthy fat like olive oil. Fresh tomatoes are in season during the summer so look for these at local farmer’s markets. Keep in mind that most of the nutrients are in the skin, so smaller is often better for a nutritional boost (think cherry or grape tomatoes).

5. Iced Green Tea

Nothing hits the spot on a summer’s day quite like a tall glass of green tea. This antioxidant-rich Chinese tea may offer protection against cancer, inflammation and heart disease. Green tea may help in improving mood and relaxation based on the substance theanine. This compound helps release neurotransmitters to calm down the brain and triggers dopamine, the brain’s captain over pleasure.

watermelon_small6. Watermelon

While tomatoes are easily available year-round, watermelons are only freshly available in the summer months. The red hue of watermelon signifies that it is also a rich source for the wonderful phytonutrient lycopene. Try to eat watermelon after a meal with healthy fats to improve the absorption of lycopene. Consuming more lycopene during the summer will provide protection against the sun’s hot rays and possibly prevent sunburn. Watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name of the fruit) and will help contribute to daily fluid needs. The water content of this fruit makes it the perfect choice for those trying to lose weight since water bound to food helps slow down digestion making you feel satisfied for longer and on less calories (less than 50 calories per cup of diced watermelon). What’s not to love about this thirst-quenching, low calorie, high volume, nutrient-rich fruit? Plus it’s extremely delicious!

Healthy Summer Recipe Ideas

  • Toss up a watermelon salad with feta cheese, mint, and olives
  • Grill up some vegetables or even try grilling fruit, like pineapple and watermelon
  • Freeze dark sweet cherries for a refreshingly frozen treat
  • Fruit salsa: dice up some fruit then add cilantro, chopped onions and a touch of lime
  • Cool down with a bowl of gazpacho soup – a tomato-based chilled soup full of vegetables
  • Fruit Kebabs: skewer strawberries, kiwi, melon, bananas and mangoes
  • Lemon-Blueberry Ice Pops – freeze blueberries in lemon juice for a bite-sized popsicle snack
  • Caprese Bite: dab of mozzarella, pinch of fresh basil and drizzle of olive oil sandwiched between a cherry tomato
  • Sweeten up a glass of green iced tea with blueberries, nectarines or peaches
  • Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup: blend together cucumbers, Greek yogurt, few spoonfuls of an avocado and fresh mint with a few ice cubes
  • Peanut Butter Strawberry Sandwich with whole grain crackers
  • Watermelon Slushie – made with real watermelon
  • Green Tea and Blueberry Smoothie sweetened with a teaspoon of honey

Written by Jordyn Forsyth, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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Shannon’s Garden Dedication and Vine Cutting

Shannon's Garden vine cutting

A vision that began at a local Starbucks was realized as the Trotter Family YMCA officially dedicated Shannon’s Garden Friday, May 30 in front of a crowd of donors, supporters, and volunteers. The garden’s namesake, Shannon Wallace, was on hand for the ceremonial vine-cutting event that marked the official completion of the project.

“The dedication of the garden was one of the most thrilling and rewarding events of my life,” Shannon said. “The realization of the garden far exceeded my expectations! We are so happy to be a part of something that has the capacity to touch so many lives.”

Shannon has long had a love for the Y and it was her affection for the organization, along with her passion for gardening that prompted her husband Mark Wallace to fund the initial donation for the garden. The donation, gifted in honor of Shannon as a Christmas present, was Mark’s way of bringing two of his wife’s passions together for the betterment of the community this garden serves.

“The inspiration truly comes from Shannon telling me to get more involved with the YMCA,” Mark said. “After I approached (the Trotter Family YMCA) with my intention to honor Shannon they mentioned five ideas. The fifth was a holistic garden and I said ‘This is it!’”

Groundbreaking for Shannon’s Garden occurred in March 2013 and it wasn’t long before the Trotter Family YMCA began utilizing their new resource. In April 2013 the first seeds were planted and two months later the garden saw its first harvest.  In July 2013 June’s Cottage was dedicated in honor of long-time YMCA supporter June Tellepsen.

Last September the Y began running educational workshops, free of charge, to its members and Mayor Anise Parker awarded the Trotter Family YMCA a Proud Partner Award through the Keep Houston Beautiful organization in honor of the work done in Shannon’s Garden.

“We’ve been so blessed to see this garden become a reality,” said Dawn Dunn, Trotter Family YMCA Associate Center Executive. “I look forward to watching as this garden continues to serve the community for years to come.”

It’s been 14 months since the groundbreaking. This summer the Y will begin implementing Seed-to-Plate classes in the newly constructed children’s garden to go along with their ongoing workshops, seminars and active older adults programming.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Shannon’s Garden, stop by the Trotter Family YMCA Welcome Center or call 713-781-1061. Community gardens are also located at the D. Bradley McWilliams Family YMCA, T.W. Davis Family YMCA and Vic Coppinger Family YMCA.

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Celebrate Foster Dads with DePelchin Children’s Center

As Father’s Day approaches, it is important to remember one type of Dad that???????? may often get overlooked yet plays an invaluable role in the lives of a many children – Foster Dads.

Foster Dads are everyday people from every walk of life. They can be married or single, divorced or widowed. The one thing they all have in common is a genuine love for children and a commitment to providing a safe home. With more than 3,000 children in foster care in the Greater Houston area, there is a great need for Foster Dads to help children grow and heal from the abuse and neglect they may have encountered.

Entering foster care can be a scary time in a child’s life as they are removed from their family and immediately placed into a new home. Foster Dads play a vital role during this time, being there for children either temporarily so their birth parents can complete court-ordered plans or on a more permanent basis if parental rights are terminated.

There are many common myths surrounding foster care that are important to distinguish:

Myth: I need to be rich to be a foster parent.
Fact: Foster parents come from all income levels

Myth: I have to be married to be a foster parent.
Fact: Foster parents can be married, single, widowed or divorced.

Myth: I can’t be a foster parent if I work full time.
Fact: Foster parents can work full time, part time, be retired or stay at home.

Myth: I have to own a home to be a foster parent.
Fact: Foster parents can be renters or homeowners, live in an apartment or a home.

Myth: Each foster child needs a room of their own.
Fact: Foster children only require a bed of their own.

Myth: I have no control over which children I’m asked to foster.
Fact: While you cannot choose the specific children you foster, you can specify an age range and gender you prefer. Children over the age of 10 and sibling groups are the children most in need.

DePelchin Children’s Center is looking for more Foster Dads who are interested in experiencing the joys of parenting and want to make a difference in a child’s life. For more information on becoming a foster parent, attend a free informational orientation session. Visit to learn more.

Article and content provided by DePelchin Children’s Center.

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Fun in the Sun: Creating a Summer Safety Kit


Temperatures are rising and that only means one thing: summer is near!

Make sure your family is prepared for all kinds of fun in the sun by putting together a summer safety kit.

Some important items to include:

1.  Sunscreen: Make sure to buy sun block and not sun tan lotion for children. Sun tan lotion contains the lowest level SPF which won’t provide much protection. Instead, look for a product with “Broad Spectrum” coverage. This means it protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays from the sun. Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before going outside and reapplied every two hours when swimming/sweating.

2.   First aid essentials: Keep antibiotic ointment and adhesive bandages with you in case of nicks and scratches First-Aid-kit while children play outside.

3.  A children’s headache or pain medication: Be sure your kit has Children’s Tylenol, Children’s Motrin or a similar generic brand.

4.  Insect repellent: Buy a product with DEET as the active ingredient but with the lowest strength DEET possible. This is in preference to products that contain citronella which is marketed as “safe” but is not as effective. Avoid repellents that are marketed for “deep woods” use and go for something that is kid or family friendly.

5.   An anesthetic: When children get bug bites, an anesthetic can help with the itching. Look for products with pramoxine in it, as this is considered the “gold standard” in terms of providing relief from itching. If your child has a number of bites, use some type of antihistamine like Benadryl.

6.  Water bottle: It’s especially important to stay hydrated during the hot Texas summer. Carry an insulated water bottle with cold water to drink frequently.

7.   Food and snack items: Fruits and vegetables that are easily transportable are always a good idea for summer outings. Oranges are a great choice as they have extra fluid in them. Other options include bananas, grapes, carrots, celery or anything that can be grabbed quickly on the go and doesn’t need a lot of preparation.

8.  Individual health needs: Make sure you have all the necessary items for children with special health needs such as inhalers and medications.

Our more than 200 expert, board-certified physicians know all about keeping kids healthy and happy to reach their full potential. Visit for more information about any of our 48 convenient neighborhood locations.

Article and content provided by Texas Children’s Pediatrics


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