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Juli Novotny of Pure Mamas Emphasizes Protein During Gluten-Free Back-To-School Week

Juli Novotny Pure Mamas Melon Ice Slushie

My {modest} and super smart friend Juli Novotny, “green chef”, about-to-be health-food book author and host of the popular modern parenting blog I contribute to, Pure Mamas is here today to share her thoughts on healthy proteins to snack on, plant-based foods and her easy recipe for melon slushy. We thought it would be valuable for readers to include her experience during gluten-free back-to-school week because so many parents struggle to include healthy protein sources for school lunches.

We know that foods packaged as gluten-free are not always health foods, they just happen to not have gluten in them. And, since this post features Juli, you can be sure there there will only be fresh, whole foods mentioned to pop into kid’s school lunches instead of packaged chips and other prepared foods that parents succumb to when they’re in a rush. Juli is not your average bear- she knows a lot more about nutrition and wellness than she lets on! Read til the end and let us know what your kids think of the melon slushy!


T O D A Y I’d like to talk a little about protein as well as a common misconception about vegetables and fruit. I’m going to just use common sense and some facts from the internet, not my health background or the nutrition degree I don’t have.

I was sitting at my computer a few weeks ago writing to a friend who asked me where I get my protein since I follow a mainly plant-based diet. I have received this question over and over again after 20 years of being vegetarian.

I am NOT telling you to become a vegetarian. It’s not for everybody. There are so many reasons to be a vegetarian and so many reasons NOT to be a vegetarian. Blah blah. I won’t go into the ethics or science behind it or the lack of science and reasoning behind it either. It’s a personal debate.

But what I realized the other day when trying to explain to a friend about my protein, is that the key to my diet is my snacking and rarely do I eat empty calories. By empty I’m talking about calories from table sugar, soda or any packaged foods for the most part.

Eating real food – from the ground or from an animal – is going to give you enough protein and nutrients and calories to lead a super healthy lifestyle…

As I was writing this post I realized I was having a mid-morning snack. My mid-morning snack was a melon slushy. I crave these {I’m also 36 weeks pregnant} things and have them all the time because they are SO easy to make {not to mention that we’re barely out of our heat wave and it’s still summer here in Southern California}. Lucky for me I work from home and take care of kids so I’m not finding myself at the Starbucks drive through instead.

Let’s now pretend I am wanting a snack and I am at the Starbucks drive-thru! I am craving a cold icy beverage so I get the Espresso Frappuccino. Perfect way to satisfy my craving and beat the heat. Now let me remind you this is a very very common mid-morning snack/pick-me-up for most people.

Here is the nutrition info:

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (16 fl oz)

Calories 370 Calories from Fat 130
Total Fat 15g
Saturated Fat 8g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 50mg
Sodium 220mg
Total Carbohydrate 57g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 53g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 15%
Iron 4%
Caffeine 105mg**

Not to mention the chemicals in Starbucks drinks. Oh wait, I’m mentioning it.

Now let’s look at the nutrition facts in my drink:

Nutrition Facts
Cantaloupe Slushy

Amount Per 1 melon, medium (552 g)
Calories 186

Total Fat 1 g
Saturated fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 88 mg
Potassium 1,474 mg
Total Carbohydrate 45 g
Dietary fiber 5 g
Sugar 43 g
Protein 4.6 g
Vitamin A 373%
Vitamin C 337%
Calcium 5%
Iron 6%
Vitamin D 0%
Vitamin B-6 20%
Vitamin B-12 0%
Magnesium 16%

Now let’s look at a refreshing slurpee you can get at 7-11:

Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Juice 0% {yes 0 %}

Calories 100
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates 30g
Sugars 30g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Protein 0g
Sodium 40mg
Iron 0mg
Calcium 0mg
Cholesterol 0mg
Potassium 0mg
Phosphorus 0mg
Aspartame 0mg
Saccharin 0mg
Acesulfame 0mg
Potassium 0mg
Sucralose 0mg
Caffeine 0mg
Vitamin A 0mg
Vitamin C 0mg

The ingredients in this beverage are high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, caramel color, sodium benzoate, artificial flavors and yucca extract to name just a few!

Grabbing a small bag of potato chips is equal to the following:
Nutrition Facts

Calories 150

Total Fat 10 g
Saturated fat 1.5 g
Trans Fats 0g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 250 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13 g
Dietary fiber 1 g
Sugar 1 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0%
Vitamin B-6 0%
Vitamin B-12 0%
Magnesium 0%

Whereas a banana with a handful of almonds would be a much better choice than the potato chips seeing how you can get 250 calories and 6-8 grams of protein.

And whether you are a meat eater, not a meat eater, it’s important to see that snacking plays a big role in your diet. Empty calories can make or break a healthy lifestyle and diet. Fruits and vegetables are abundant in nutrients and protein and carbs for energy to get you through the day.

Thanks Juli!

Melon Slushy

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cantaloupe or honeydew
  • 2 handfuls of ice
  • Optional: few drops of stevia, small squirt of agave + vanilla bean powder

Putting It All Together:

1. Remove seeds and skin of melon
2. Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until ice is no longer chunky and is consistency is smooth.

{grab reusable glass bottles so the kids can take this to school, I’m obsessed with Lifefactory’s kid-safe non-leaching, non-glass smashing on the ground bottles :)}
Note from Christine on snacking:

Garden Eats enjoys readers from all over the world. Sometimes we receive messages from readers in other countries that tell us “you shouldn’t be promoting snacking, it keeps kids from eating meals” or that “snacking should not be allowed for children bc they will not establish a routine around their meal time.”

We love and welcome comments, but wanted to emphasize that here in the United States our day to day cultural habits dictate that we need healthy snacks! We are emphasizing healthy snacks as Juli points out, not crackers, cookies and cakes. But, we agree that children definitely thrive with routine surrounding food that is both culturally and activity-level driven.

J U L I is a mom of two, “green chef” and health food advocate. The beautiful images featured above are her own- we were invited by Juli to show them to you today. Stay tuned for more in her upcoming book debut that will feature Juli’s highly sought-after, yet-to-be released healthy recipes for modern families.

This entry was posted in: Be Our Guest, Make Food & Eat


C H R I S T I N E Dionese, co-founder of flavor ID and Garden Eats is an integrative health & food therapy specialist, medical & food journalist. She has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. To balance the more serious side of her work, she loves to concoct, write about and connect people through food & drink. You can check out her latest work at The Chalkboard Magazine, The Fullest and Rochester's Boomtown Table. Christine lives, works and plays between Southern California & Upstate New York.

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