Two moms and an eye-opening experiment


The creativity of our readers is amazing! The following is an “experiment” that two Moms, Mandy and her friend Jessica, did over this past holiday season. 

They thought it would be interesting to keep track of all unhealthy treats, including the calories, fat grams, and sugar grams that three of their children were offered at school, church, and Grandma’s house from November 10 through December 25th; for a total of 45 days.  They charted it below, and the following is the summary: 

In forty-five days, three children, ages 3, 5, and 7 were offered a total of 41,734 extra calories; 1,927 grams of fat; and 6,470 grams of sugar! No joke! 

And interesting to note, because the Moms had both pledged to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s Holiday Challenge during that time, Mandy thinks the numbers would’ve been at least twice that amount had they not accepted the challenge. She said the children were amazing as they brought home the treats that they had passed up and counted the days on a paper chain.  As a reward, and as a way to reinforce in them that they weren’t “giving up” something, but making a trade for something better, the Moms took them to a hotel with an indoor pool and had a mini-vacation afterward. 

For better treat options, Mandy and Jessica found lots of fun and tasty ways to eat fruit, like frozen bananas with a little peanut butter to make banana ice-cream. They also discovered that it was a huge shift in mindset to get over the idea that they “had” to have a treat after every dinner, but they succeeded!

Here is the list of combined treats passed up by all three children:

[November 10 through December 25, 2011]

Candy Type

 Total Offered

Total Calories

Total Fat Grams

Total Sugar Grams

Snack-size Candy










Ice Cream

 30 ½ cup servings




Pixie Sticks










Chocolate Milk

 1 carton (school lunch)














Tootsie Pops










Full size Candy Bar






 1 serving




Soda Pop





Hard Candy











 8 slices









Candy Cane





Sleeve of Thin Mints










Box of Cocoa





Bag of Crunch Bars





Box of Orange Sticks





Peanut Brittle










Small Cookies















Grand totals:


41,734 calories

1927 grams of fat

6470 grams of sugar


309 calories per child per day

14 grams of fat per child per day

48 grams of sugar per child per day


25% of daily caloric needs

35% of daily fat intake

16% of daily needs for carbohydrates, according to one internet source


Bravo to these Moms and their precious children! 

Let’s all learn from their innovative experiment that it is truly up to us, as parents, to protect our children’s health and well-being.    

Contending is required now more than ever!

Okay, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of Dr. Fuhrman’s Holiday Challenge. It’s time to bring out a word that no one wants to talk about over the holidays. 

Based on my own experiences and interacting with others, the next couple of weeks will be some of the hardest weeks of the entire year to fight through!

Yes, “Fight.” 

To be successful in getting one’s health back, and to remain in optimal health, it takes contending. Contending involves a struggle with opposition in order to achieve a goal. And let’s be honest, the opposition facing us to eat sweets and junk food in the next couple of weeks will be at an all-time high! 

Platters of homemade cookies and candies will be suddenly and unexpectedly delivered to our front door by kind and thoughtful neighbors. With just the ring of a doorbell we will have multiple temptations at our fingertips. 

The office break room will have large bowls of chocolate covered Chex mix, salted peanuts and pretzels; or lovely cheese balls surrounded by cocktail crackers and creamy spreads.

Spouses will bring gift baskets of specialty cheeses and salami home from work.

After all it’s December! It’s time for everyone to celebrate . . . there’s always January to mop up the messes!

The most carefully thought-through strategies will be challenged right now, big time.   

If we become apathetic and passive anytime in the next couple of weeks, our best intentions will get bulldozed over. All the hard work and success up to this point will go straight down the drain. It happens all the time. 

One compromise will lead to two or three, and before one knows it the towel will be thrown in, high-nutrient foods will be replaced by disease-promoting foods, weight will be gained back, and poor health and suffering will abound once again.

So what does contending look like?

Yesterday three containers of a variety of Christmas cookies were delivered to our home. I was caught totally off-guard. I hadn’t planned for the sudden deposit of decadent treats. At first I ignored them. However, curiosity got the best of me, and eventually I opened the lids for a peak. Then I snuck a taste test. Instantly I knew I was in hot water and flirting with danger if I didn’t stop immediately. 

In northeastern Indiana yesterday we had below freezing temps. The sun was hiding beneath bleak skies and the landscape had turned gray. I had a table full of clean laundry to fold and a stack of shirts to iron. BUT I knew I had to contend. I had to fight. I quickly bundled up in my winter coat, threw on some gloves, snapped on a helmet, and hopped on my bike. I pedaled into a rural, adjoining county for a twenty-mile ride. My nose dripped and my eyes watered from the bone chilling air, but I had to ride away from the temptations in order to devise a specific plan of action. 

By the time I returned home I was fine. The fresh air had cleaned out the cobwebs in my brain and I had a practical strategy in place. (Btw, I still got the laundry folded, the shirts ironed, and I even had time to go to the grocery and stock up on my favorite vegetables and fruits for the days ahead.) 

I struggled and contended with the sudden opposition until I achieved victory.

That’s what it means to contend and earn great health; one victory at a time.


The holidays provide ample opportunity for extra practice that is so necessary for a lifetime of success. Let’s all get in the habit of contending for excellent health, because it’s not a matter of if temptations will come, but when.

If we can successfully overcome temptations during the holidays, we can be victorious anytime! 

How about you?

Are you contending?



image credit:  cookies by Esther Boller; cheese by flickr D.A.K. Photography

Black Bean Brownies for Valentines

Valentine hearts

Wait! Before you skip over this recipe . . . it’s good! When I first read the title, I thought to myself, “No way!”   (Plus, read on ~ Dr. Ferreri made a delicious Chocolate Cherry Pie using it for the crust.)

Since Valentine’s Day is just eleven days away, and chocolate and valentines go hand-in-hand, I decided to give the recipe a try to see if it would be worth making as a special treat for my family. I didn’t mention that beans were in it, and they liked them. However, I highly recommend keeping the black beans a secret ingredient!

I have a son with type I diabetes that requires accurate insulin coverage, so I calculated approximately 30 grams of carbs per brownie if the recipe is cut into 12, even pieces. Because of the beans, they didn’t affect his blood sugars in a negative way. 


Black Bean Brownies

½ cup dark cocoa powder

2 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 (15 oz.) can of salt-free black beans (drain liquid)

1 large handful of sunflower seeds or 1 T. ground flaxseed

1 ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups pitted dates (chopped)

¾ cup whole wheat flour

1 cup walnuts

Put the first six ingredients in a food processor. Turn it on and then gradually add the 2 cups of chopped dates, a few at a time until blended. Add the flour and continue to mix until everything is well blended. Turn off the machine, remove the blade, and stir in the nuts. Spread into a 13” x 9” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

brownie batter

Note: I doubled the recipe, put the batter into the 13” x 9” stoneware pan, and increased the baking time to 55 minutes. It made 24, chewy brownies. I thought they were plenty sweet, but next time I’ll slightly reduce the applesauce, and add one or two ripe, mashed bananas to make them a tad bit sweeter for my family's tastebuds. 


Dr. Ferreri made and taste-tested the following recipe. She and her friends gave it a “thumbs up!”


Chocolate Cherry Pie

Crust = ½ recipe of the black bean brownies

Spray a pie plate with olive oil, and spread the brownie batter into the bottom and sides.  Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.


2 - 16 oz bags of frozen cherries, thawed

1 cup dates

1 Tbsp arrowroot

Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.  Set aside ½ cup of cherries, and place the rest in a bowl.

Blend in Vitamix or blender: cherry juice, ½ cup cherries, dates, arrowroot

Stir the juice/date mixture in with the cherries, spoon into the crust.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.


Enjoy! These recipes make delicious, health promoting treats. Please let us know how yours turn out!    


image credits: hearts,; brownie batter, Emily Boller