Healthy Choices at Every Meal

Macaroni and Cheese
Coconut Granola Bars

(Family Features) For families of the nearly 30 percent of the general population who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, making healthy diet decisions is not an option, it’s a necessity – especially when those sufferers are children and young adults.

“It’s no secret that getting children to make healthy choices at meal time poses a challenge for all parents, but when you throw IBS into the mix, the task gets much harder,” said Patsy Catsos, registered dietitian and author.

While there are no known causes or cures, there are simple ways to figure out a child’s food triggers to avoid some of the discomfort it brings. Below are three simple tips to help families outsmart IBS:

  • Begin by discreetly keeping a food and symptom journal for at least two weeks. Record portion sizes, times of meals and symptoms. This information will be important for discussions with a medical professional in case symptoms increase.
  • Next, discuss with your medical provider about incorporating VSL#3 JUNIOR, a high-potency probiotic medical food for young sufferers of IBS.
  • Lastly, remember there are many healthy, IBS-friendly recipes the entire family can enjoy. Everyone will want seconds when you serve them creamy, delicious Macaroni and Cheese or these chewy, moist Coconut Granola Bars.

For more IBS-friendly recipes and to learn about VSL#3 probiotic medical food, visit

Recipes provided by Patsy Catsos
Secondary image courtesy of Thinkstock

Macaroni and Cheese


  • 8 ounces uncooked corn elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup lactose-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 ounces crumbled potato chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray a 9-inch by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions in 8-quart saucepan. Do not overcook. Drain and set aside.
  4. Combine cornstarch, salt, dry mustard and black pepper in same saucepan. Add milk. Stir briskly until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with flat end of pancake or burger spatula. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese and red pepper flakes
  5. Add pasta, stir, spread out and transfer to greased baking dish. Sprinkle potato chips on top of casserole.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow casserole to cool briefly before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Calories:361gTotal Fat:16g


Coconut Granola Bars


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup rice syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 serving protein powder
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup ground chia seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 10-inch by 15-inch baking tray.
  3. Stir first five ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly with wooden spoon. Mixture should be consistency of stiff cookie dough.
  4. Transfer mixture to baking tray. Spread it out and press it down using wooden spoon. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Allow tray to cool before cutting into bars. Store in airtight container.

Yield: 35 servings

Calories:183gTotal Fat:10.6g



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