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Baked kale chips

baked kale chips

Cropped image. T. Tseng, Flickr. CC license.


  • 2 cups cut and washed kale (can purchase bags of kale already cut and cleaned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste (less than an 1/8 teaspoon suggested)


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. If using prewashed cut and cleaned kale, go to step 3. Otherwise, remove kale leaves from the thick stems using a knife or kitchen shears. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry by using a salad spinner or blotting with a paper towel.
  3. Place kale in bowl. Gently toss with olive oil and sea salt.
  4. Spread kale out on the cookie sheet, separate leaves slightly so as not to overlap.
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges brown but are not burnt. Serve immediately.


Makes 1 serving.  (Each serving counts as low-starch vegetables.)

Nutrition analysis per serving:

Calories:  60
Fat:  2 g
Saturated Fat:  0 g
Trans Fat:  0 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium:  235 mg
Carbohydrates:  8 g
Fiber:  2 g
Sugar:  0 g
Protein:  3 g

 Recipe adapted from

Go green with all kinds of lettuce

heads of various types of lettuce

Lettuce is one of the most common vegetables eaten in the United States today. Although many people are most familiar with iceberg and romaine, there are several types of lettuce. Lettuce is almost always green, but it can come in many different shades and colors.

Dark, leafy greens are nutrient-rich and provide antioxidants, including beta carotene. This  specific antioxidant is essential in forming vitamin A which lowers the risk of disease. Romaine lettuce has 17 times more vitamin A than iceberg! Lettuce also provides many nutrients to our bodies including folate, potassium, lutein and dietary fiber. Spinach is a good source of iron.

Adding a small amount of fat to these lettuces can help with the absorption of nutrients. It is important to choose salad dressings made with oil, like olive or canola, because they provide unsaturated fat, which is a healthier option than most cream-based dressings.

For those who prefer a cream-based dressing, choose a healthier option made with yogurt like Bolthouse Farms. These are typically found in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store. They are lower in fat and calories, providing about 35–45 calories per serving (2 tablespoons).

Since spring is upon us, try to perk up your salad with more flavor and variety. Don’t be afraid to try different types of lettuce you find in the grocery store or at your local farmers market. Use the guide below to help pick the right flavor and texture you are looking for.

  • For a peppery flavor: arugula or watercress
  • For leaves that aren’t green: red-and-white radicchio
  • For flavor with a “bite”: chicory or escarole
  • For a mild flavor and delicate green color: mâche, Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • For a deep-green color: spinach
  • For a crisp texture: Romaine

If not using these in salads, try to incorporate more of these powerful greens in your cooking. For example, spinach, kale and collard greens all sauté well with a little oil, spices or garlic. Greens will usually shrink down in size by half, so keep this is mind when planning meals. Add greens to soups, stews, casseroles or even try spinach folded in an omelet. If looking for crunch, try baking kale chips with some oil and salt.

When preparing greens, wash and dry the leaves thoroughly before using and keep them refrigerated. Enjoy within a few days, as the leaves are likely to wilt or spoil if stored beyond that time frame. Make sure to try different varieties and have fun going green!

 – Jessica Helmick, R.D., is a clinical dietitian at the Beaumont Weight Control Center Canton. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Information adapted from:

Developing speech and language through routines

While all children develop language at different rates, parents can help stimulate their child’s language long before they even speak their first words. Social routines can be used to target language development in children of all ages.

Daily routines including bath time, dressing, reading books, and singing songs provide opportunities to build upon a child’s language skills. These repetitive routines provide children a structured way to develop language skills within their natural environment.

Below are a few examples of how to target language skills through routine activities.

Singing songs

Hand motions can be incorporated with many children’s songs such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Wheels on the Bus.” While singing these songs with your child, pair the hand motions with the words. Pause throughout the song and allow your child the opportunity to fill in the missing word or complete the gesture. When singing “Old McDonald,” try slowing down the words “E-I-E-I-O” and see if your child can imitate you. Or try singing “E-I-E-I” and pause to allow your child to fill in “O.”

Getting dressed

Dressing your child provides opportunities to work on a variety of new vocabulary words, including clothing items and body parts, as well as teaching concepts such as “on/off.” While getting your child dressed, describe what you are doing using simple language and short phrases such as “pajamas off” or “shirt on.” Use the opportunity to talk about where each clothing item goes, for example “Hat goes on our head.” Try pausing to see if your child can complete the statement, “Shoes go on our_____.”

Reading books

Reading with your child allows endless opportunities for language stimulation. While reading together, it is important to read the words, but it is equally important to look at and talk about the illustrations. Label objects in pictures or talk about what the characters are doing (e.g., “boy eating apple”). Books with repetitive story lines such as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” are a great way to target early language development. When reading these types of books, pause to allow your child to fill in the missing word. For example, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you__________?” “I see a yellow duck looking at _____.” Books can also be used to target “wh” questions with older children (e.g., “What are they doing?” “Where is the boy?” “Who is swimming?”).

Delayed responses

During play routines such as racing cars or playing with dolls, use familiar phrases with delayed, emphasized responses such as “Ready. Set. GO!” or “I love……YOU.” After practicing these phrases, pause and allow your child to finish the phrase.

Routine “sabotage”

Throwing off a familiar routine can also be beneficial in promoting language. What would happen if you gave your child an empty cup or placed a favorite bath toy out of reach? These forms of “routine sabotage” allow your child opportunities to correct you or ask for assistance. Encourage your child to use their words to tell you what’s wrong. During snack time, try giving your child only one piece of snack and wait for them to point or request “more” on their own. Screw the lid on a container extra tight before giving it to your child and wait for them to request assistance.

If you have concerns about your child’s language development, discuss them with your pediatrician or contact a speech-language pathologist.

– Candice Smale, M.A. CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech and Language Pathology Department, Beaumont Health

Mother’s Day in the NICU

adult hand with NICU infant

Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day of pampering; a day the family goes to brunch. Or your children make you breakfast in bed decorated with flowers they picked themselves. Or maybe you simply spend all day in your pajamas cuddling your little one.

But for moms who have a baby in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), none of these are an option.

Instead, a NICU mother wakes up in a home without her baby. She quickly gets herself together and hurries through congested streets to the hospital. She checks in at the front desk before entering the guarded door. She diligently scrubs in and shuffles her way down the hall carrying bags of freshly cleaned blankets, onesies and bottles. She passes bed after bed of babies with varying levels of illness, until she finally drops her bags on the well-worn chair she sits in day after day, next to one special crib.

“Good morning, sweetheart!”

There is no sugar coating this. Mother’s Day in the NICU completely and irrevocably stinks.

This year will be my first Mother’s Day, and while I am dreading spending the day in a hospital, I am over-the-moon excited to celebrate.

A few months ago I never imagined I would have anything to celebrate this May because my baby was not expected to survive. But thanks to the wonder of modern medicine, and a few miracles, my baby girl is still with us.

And no one can relate to this grateful feeling better than my fellow NICU moms.

This Mother’s Day, I am guaranteed to be surrounded by an incredible sisterhood. It’s a sisterhood no one wants to be a part of, but when you are, it’s a bond you can never break.

We can talk about blood transfusions, CPAP, RetCam eye exams or the litany of other NICU services with complete understanding and empathy—a feat that is nearly impossible for those who haven’t experienced the Unit.

I can also take comfort in the fact that my daughter is surrounded by top-notch medical professionals. So in case something does go wrong, I know she is in the absolute safest place in the world.

I am going to spend my first Mother’s Day cuddle with my baby while also watching her heart and oxygen monitor to ensure she keeps breathing, and that is OK.

Do I wish I was going out to brunch with my baby? Absolutely.

But, no matter where my child may be, I am a mom.

If you know a mom who will be celebrating Mother’s Day in the NICU, tell them “Happy Mother’s Day” and give them a big hug. Because a NICU mom is also a “NICU warrior.”

– A NICU mom

Ellie’s “Hummingbird Fun Bag” project

girl holding crayons and coloring book

Ellie with a sample Hummingbird Fun Bag

Everyone knows the phrase “The best things come in small packages.” That is most definitely true when it comes to Ellie Walsh-Sahutske and her Hummingbird Fun Bag project. Ellie is a nine-year-old (“Almost 10!” she reminds us) student in Grosse Pointe. When she was in third grade, her teacher assigned a Genius Hour project, which allows the children to work on something they are passionate about. Ellie is passionate about helping others, particularly pediatric hospital patients. She previously raised money through neighborhood chores and lemonade stands to donate to help kids in the local hospital. When the Genius Hour project came up, it gave Ellie a chance to explore and expand on her efforts.

Ellie is motivated by her cousin Clare, who passed away before Ellie was born. Even though they never met, Clare inspires Ellie and her efforts on behalf of hospitalized kids and their families. Ellie shares, “Clare is my cousin who was born very sick. She couldn’t do much, but she always made people smile. She was in the hospital a lot because she was really, really sick. If you have ever been in the hospital you know there is really not much to do. The reason that I started this was I was thinking how she was in the hospital a lot and she and her sister must have been really, really bored. And I don’t want other people to be really bored because that’s not happy. Everyone should be happy.”

When Ellie started thinking about what she could do to help kids who were in the hospital, she first thought of giving them a bucket of toys. She soon realized that this would be pretty expensive, and wouldn’t allow her to help very many people. So Ellie and her mom did some research and found that coloring books and crayons were a great option — less expensive and lots of fun — that would allow her to reach many more people. Ellie set up a Facebook page, a GoFundMe page, and collection bins at her school and her parents’ workplaces. She contacted Beaumont, Grosse Pointe about her project and was referred to Beaumont, Royal Oak because of its large pediatric unit. A date was set to meet with then Parenting Program Director, Deanna Robb.

woman standing with young girl

Ellie and her mom were very excited when they saw hummingbirds on the furniture!

When Ellie and her mom, Beth, walked into the room to meet with Deanna, they noticed hummingbirds carved into the furniture in the room. This was incredibly special as the family considers hummingbirds Clare’s spirit animal because of a couple of occasions when the tiny birds landed on her and made her smile. In that moment, Beth and Ellie knew they were on the right track, with Clare smiling down on Ellie’s efforts. Between Clare’s blessing, donations coming in, and support from the hospital, Ellie was off and running!

Ellie named her efforts the Hummingbird Fun Project but didn’t know just how big her “little” project would be. In the end, she made and delivered 1,016 Hummingbird Fun Bags to kids and their families at Beaumont, Royal Oak! She got support from her parents, her school, and even Grosse Pointe North’s National Honor Society who donated coloring books and crayons. Her favorite parts of the process were when donations came in and when she got to make deliveries and see the people she was helping. And now, Ellie is hard at work on her next project – laboring with her mom to make hand puppets to donate as well. When asked if she had any advice for other kids who would like to volunteer and help others, she said, “No matter what you think, you aren’t too small to do a project like this because a lot of people like to help and people will encourage you.” Of course you’re not too small, Ellie – the very best things come in small packages!

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program staff

A look at “The Giving Tree”

cover of The Giving Tree book

image credit: wikipedia, by source, fair use.

A half century ago—yes, 50 years ago—Shel Silverstein wrote and illustrated one of my all-time favorite children’s book, “The Giving Tree.” First published in 1964 by Harper & Row, this classic is now printed in several languages with over 10 million copies sold internationally. Scholastic Co., a national publishing company known for educational books and materials, rated this book with an interest level for students in kindergarten through second grade. Personally, however, I feel this book can be read at all ages and can garnish lively conversations of the relationship and various interpretations. It is considered a picture book because the illustrations are as (or even more) important as than the words.

If you don’t know this story, it about the relationship between a boy and a tree. The tree was always there for the boy and gave everything he could to make him happy. As the boy grew into a teenager, a young man then an elderly man, he took what he needed from the tree and the tree continued to give him all he could, until there was no more the tree could give. The illustrations are simple and powerful.

As one of my favorite books, I always thought that it was a story of generosity and self-sacrifice to make someone happy. In a recent conversation with a colleague, I was quite surprised to hear her perspective of this book. Her thoughts of this book are very different than mine. She thinks the story is about greed. She shared why she feels this way, and each of her points were valid and well thought out. I left the conversation pondering and wondering what other people thought of the book.

I began researching and discovered that “The Giving Tree” is “one of the most divisive books in children’s literature.” That one quick conversation I had about a book read and loved by many, lead me to reread this book and look at the relationship between the tree and the boy from different perspectives.

As a teacher and a parent, I carefully choose what I read to children. Seemingly a book of friendship that withstands the test time, I read it often. Never was it read with dry eyes and without a sniffle at the end. In fact, the last time I read it to students, I vowed that I wouldn’t cry. Guess what? Didn’t happen!

So is this a book on selfless giving or a parable of narcissistic greed? The title implies that it is a story of giving, but as you read it you may begin to think differently. Many adults pick it up and read it to their child for the first time in many years. Some of them are disappointed, yet many people love the book just as much.

I asked 25 of my friends their thoughts on the book. Strong opinions and valid points on both were voiced. One friend said that her church recently referenced it in the sermon. My teacher friends all read it to their classes. Some felt it was about the unconditional love as in the parent-child relationship. Another friend thought it’s a parable about life, as our world is full of both the givers and the takers. There are so many ways to interpret this book that go well beyond this post.

Regardless of how you interpret the characters, this story has withstood the test of time. I encourage you to read it with your child and talk about it. Talk about the friendship and the special relationship between the boy and the tree. Take time to look at the simple illustrations and discuss what you see. On another occasion, reread the book together and talk about the boy’s greed and what he did to the tree. What is greed and what it does to others?

One of the questions I continually ask myself is what makes literature good? My answer always comes back that good literature is timeless. Fifty years ago, this book was loved and read by millions, just as it is today.

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

How to manage allergy emergencies in children

Little girl blowing her nose.

Cropped image. Oddharmonic, Flickr. CC License.

What are allergies?

  • They are abnormal immune system reactions to things that are non-threatening to most people. When a person is or becomes allergic to a particular substance, the body thinks that the substance is trying to harm the body. That’s when the immune system mounts its response and we see the physical symptoms. The symptoms can range from just annoying to life-threatening.
  • Substances that can cause potential allergic reactions are foods, dust, pollen, medications, bugs and topical preparations.

What are the signs and symptoms of allergies and allergic reactions?

  • There is a wide range of allergy symptoms that can vary in different people.
  • The life-threatening version is called anaphylaxis.
    • This can cause potentially life-threatening symptoms in seconds. It is critical to determine if the allergy is causing this type of reaction very quickly.
    • People with anaphylaxis risk must carry an EpiPen® (or other brand of epinephrine auto-injector) with them at all times. It is a good idea to have an antihistamine around as well.
  • Seasonal allergies more commonly cause sneezing, itchy nose and/or throat, stuffy nose, coughing, and/or watery, itchy eyes.
  • Insect, medications, food cause more widespread symptoms such as coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdomen pain, swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, in addition to the common ones listed above.

Who diagnoses allergies?

  • The pediatrician, family doctor, allergy specialist, or stomach specialist are all able to diagnose allergies. It is best to start with your primary provider first.

Prevention is the key to reactions.

However, being prepared is the medicine to treat the reactions.

What to do when there is a reaction?

  • Stay calm.
  • If there is ever a question, call 911.
  • Call your doctor if it is your first reaction, or one that is more than you expect.
  • If the symptoms are mild, you can give an antihistamine. Call your doctor if the dose isn’t on the bottle for your child’s weight.
  • Wash the affected area if it is a topical exposure.
  • If the symptoms are severe or progressing fast, use an EpiPen if you have one. Call 911 as well. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Other pointers about severe allergic reactions.

  • Consider an allergy band for the child to wear at all times.
  • Be sure to have an updated allergy/anaphylaxis plan filed at your child’s school.
  • If your child has an EpiPen, make sure that everyone in the family is used to using it. Ask your provider to write a prescription for a trainer pen and practice with it as a family once a month.
  • Keep extra EpiPens and antihistamine wherever you might need them. Up north at the cabin, on vacations, in sports bags, in purses, overnight bags, etc. It is a good idea to write a date with the current dosage and weight on each bottle so there is no need to calculate when it is needed.
  • Become informed and educated by reading labels and telling anyone who might need to know about your child’s allergies. Making sure all the siblings know them as well.
  • Find a support group. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor. You are not alone in the worry that comes with life-threatening allergies.

– Sarah Rauner, CPNP Chief Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Emergency Center at Beaumont, Troy


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