Tag Archives: homemade food

Sunday Morning Shout Out

As the new school year gets into gear, perhaps you would like to spice up and “health up” the lunch you pack for your child.  I know that I sometimes feel like I get in a school lunch rut with our kids.  While giving them nearly the same thing everyday works, I would not consider making the same dinner every night.  Good food is just too exciting and important for that type of resignation.  I think I stay with the tried and true out of habit and the need to meet the tastes of three children.

I am ready to branch out!  At the “Eat Well,” website, there are some great ideas that can turn boredom on its sorry head.  From the “Pizza Roll- Up Bento Lunch” to the “Broccoli Cheese Pie” that brilliantly features the fifth food group -bacon (and can easily become a vegetarian entrée by skipping the bacon), there are great and delicious ideas here for lunch.  Even the most fickle pickle of children could find these offerings, many which have kid friendly fruits and vegetables on the side, appealing and desirable.  Think star shaped watermelon slices, and rainbow colored plates of fruits and vegetables!  These unique offerings go far to deliver a very “whole food” lunchtime meal.

Gone are the days of plain peanut butter sandwiches and hello to the days of healthier, and more interesting yum!  However, remember to throw in that old favorite once in a while.


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Filed under Education, Health, My Experiences, Parenting

Brown Bagging

Why Packing Your Own Lunch Makes Sense

Whether you are an independent teen or a parent hoping to give your child a healthier lunch, packing your own lunch is often the way to go. School lunches continue to made headlines across the US for counting pizza as a vegetable and doing other ‘screwie’ things designed to make lunches healthier. Problem is that many of the cafeteria staff and food service companies do not know how to use the guidelines and make nutritionally complete meals that are both appealing and taste good. An additional truth is that although school lunches should be healthy, cash-strapped education bodies often just don’t have the cash or the employees it takes to cook fresh, healthy meals every day. Here are some really good reasons to pack your own lunch box or bag.

The right to choose: Often, students don’t like what’s on offer for lunch and will opt for things they can count on like pizza, PB & J, or fries. If you pack your own lunch, you get to choose what you want to eat and look forward to it. This also gives you the opportunity to make healthier lunch choices. Just because lunch is healthy, doesn’t mean it has to be boring, put some work into preparation the day before so that you are not rushed in the morning. For Parents of younger children please note that involving your child in the making of their lunch is a great way to: 1. increase knowledge of healthy foods, 2. increase acceptance of what is packed (i.e., they will eat it!), 3. teach them sanitary food handling, 4, teach them how to do by their self, 5. promote responsibility and 6. spend some quality time together.

Variety is the spice of life: Eating the same tired old food every day from the cafeteria will have you wishing for a change. Packing your own lunch (even if it’s only a couple of days a week) means that you get a chance to eat your favorite foods and give yourself a welcome change. It also means that when you do eat hot dogs or pizza at school, you will enjoy it more. You also might find that after some time your body tells you these things are not healthy because of the excess sugar and salts used in them. I know my family could not go to a Burger King, Mc. D’s or Wendy’s and eat a meal since the after effect would be bloating, diarrhea, and energy high and then crash.

Fuel your brain: Despite the fact that your brain only accounts for 3% of your body weight, it uses a massive 20% of the energy you consume. Keep your brain fueled throughout the school day with healthy snacks high in fiber, carbohydrates and protein. Refueling will mean you feel less tired during the day and remember much more of your lessons, which makes studying for tests so much easier!

Show me the money: Avoid using lunch money to buy lunch. You will be far too tempted to invest in pop or junk foods from the vending machine (if the school still has them). Instead, opt for homemade lunch and save your money for something useful. Help to motivate yourself by putting your lunch money into a jar or savings account and saving up for something you really want like a new skateboard, a game, clothing, phone or music player.

Making your own lunch does take time and discipline. If you don’t have time in the mornings, try getting everything ready the night before. If you are too busy during the week, consider cooking soups, pasta dishes or meals on the weekend and freezing them in individual servings. Make sure your lunch is interesting and appealing or it may just end up in the garbage like so many purchased school lunches do.

Note: This blog was adapted from the Tutor Doctor Corporate Blog posted 4/16/12 titled “School Lunch: It’s In The Bag

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Filed under Health, Nutrition Education, Parenting

First Pink Slime…

…Now ‘Meat Glue’!  Yesterday a vegetarian friend sent me a news video describing the use of ‘Meat Glue’ in Australia. Seems the practice is legal in the USA as reported in the LA  Times and other news outlets almost a year ago.  However, the use of ‘Meat Glue’ is banned in the European Union (EU) due to concerns of fraudulent marketing and sale of scrap or chunk meat as whole steaks or fillets and the potential of bacteria growth within the glued pieces that may not be fully cooked. For a better description of the EU perspective you can check out ‘Food Safety Alert: The Problem With Meat Glue‘.

Meat Glue is technically called thrombian, or transglutaminase (TG). It is an enzyme produced from the blood of pigs and cows. From what I’m reading the general use of the product is to produce ‘whole’ steaks like tenderloin but imitation crab meat, chicken nuggets and skinless sausages or hotdogs often use the glue as well. I just looked on a couple of packages in my fridge of imitation crab and lobster meat also known as surimi but thrombian is not listed. What seems to be the binder is tapioca and pea starch. Glue is probably not used in the packages I have because the product is also exported and sold in EU countries.

For me the issue of meat glue is the potential selling of products as something it is not and paying a great deal more for it. Plus, I generally like my steaks, that I eat very infrequently, to be rare so the chance of the microbes being killed are reduced should I get a glued steak.

Bottom line is that knowing about this meat glue like arsenic in rice and pink slime is important in your attempt to eat healthy. Getting closer to the food source,  knowing how things are grown/produced and purchasing whole and fresh tends to be the best protection against food industry gimmicks. Learning how to make your own chicken nuggets from whole chicken breasts is not difficult (see All Recipes.com), takes 40 minutes and it will certainly spare you the ingestion of dozens of chemicals. It is also a great family activity!




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Filed under Health, Nutrition Education, Parenting

Homemade Summer Popsicles

As a kid, one of the things I remember most about summer is the sudden explosion in homemade foods and drinks. Maybe it was because the garden was in full bloom, and my dad would frequently send my brother and I out to snip some herb or another for dinner, to pick lettuce for a salad, or to check if any tomatoes were ripe. My dad also made iced tea in the sun, which I remember as tasting excessively bland to my childish palate. As the summer is now warming up, however, my mind is definitely heading to the cooler side of food.

My personal favorite is strawberry! (Image Credit:http://www.laaloosh.com/2011/06/20/homemade-strawberry-popsicle-recipe/)

Of course, one of my favorite homemade treats in the summer were homemade popsicles. We had a set of popsicle molds, and my family frequently experimented with different combinations of fruits and fruit juices. For extra creaminess, you can add yogurt (I recommend Greek yogurt). These popsicles are an easy way to get young chefs into the kitchen, and an easy way to experiment. After all, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to popsicles!

And homemade popsicles are great because you control what goes into them! Want to use all organic ingredients? Go ahead! Want to try and sneak in some veggies for picky eaters? Popsicles can handle it!

So gather up some fresh ingredients and get…freezing? What are some of your favorite homemade popsicle combinations?

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Filed under Improved Learning, Nutrition Education