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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Team Up At Home

Another great resource from Let's Move!

You can download this free 40-page activity book here.  Inside you'll find a quiz to help you determine your family's "pyramid style", tons of nutritional information and tips, recipes, and activities for kids!!

I really love this resource, but here are a few of my favorite pages:

Tips for Families- Eating Right & Exercising

Activity Calendar for kids & parents:

All about healthy grains:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Food Revolution: Week One

Did you watch it? I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution this weekend with my husband and I LOVED it!

My favorite part: 
 I love how shocked Jamie Oliver was that the school does not offer knives. I thought of Mrs. Q. and her sporks.  Then I thought about Mr. Ferguson and his students' full place settings!  I currently give Baby A a spoon and sometimes a fork. I cut her food on her tray, with a real knife. I am, of course, extremely careful and have taught her, "hands up" while cutting.

Lunchtime at school should be a time of learning, but guess what? It's so not. Teachers often take their lunch break and children are supervised by (wonderful volunteers) lunch aides.  Why not give them something to do besides watching the children with an eagle-eye?  I go to schools where children get all their food opened by teachers, cut up by teachers, heated up by teachers. When I taught in a montessori classroom, the children heated up their own food, opened their own baggies/juices/waters. They knew to get up, get a pair of scissors, and cut open their bag of pretzels if they could not open it themselves.  Why are we treating 5-year-olds like babies? Eesh.

I was surprised by:

...the young children who didn't know what ANY of the fruit/veggies were.  Do you think it was edited to look that way?  Seriously, not even a pea?  The tomato/potato thing, I can forgive, at that age, they sound the same and can easily be confused, but ugh. I was slightly horrified.

What about play food? Lessons about food?  As an itinerant teacher, I am in many different classrooms each week and I can't think of one that does not have a kitchen set as well as all kinds of fake food.  Often times, there are posters with pictures of fruits and veggies posted, and in most of the school, whole weeks/months are devoted to learning about fruits and veggies and "sometimes" foods.

I can't say I blame them: 
 I get why they resisted on a few levels.  During Oprah's interview, the radio DJ stated that he was scared Jamie Oliver was just coming in to exploit and make money off his town. Point taken.
Do I think (hope) Jamie Oliver is genuine? He certainly seems that way.

My husband made a comment about the family who was being followed--aren't the parents ashamed of themselves? Yes. I truly believe they are, but I bet until now they knew no other way. They are probably repeating the cycle set by their parents. Let's get the cheap/processed/junky food over spending more money and taking the time to produce healthy, wholesome meals. Parents are busy and stressed and sometimes that's what we do. Most of us just do it in moderation though.

Looking forward:
I cannot wait to see the reaction he gets in the high school. I hope to see less food waste. I hope to see some real and inspiring change in that town, that radiates all the way up here to the Philly 'burbs.

Tell me your thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

Tips & Tricks from Baby Kitchen!

These tips are by The Baby Kitchen, a fresh organic baby food company in Texas.  How many of these do you currently do? Do you have more to add?

Creative Ideas for Baby Kitchen Fruits
  • Combine with any milk in a blender to create healthy smoothies
  • Thaw and add to yogurt or cottage cheese for a quick snack
  • Melt into hot breakfast cereal
  • Spread over pancakes or waffles for a healthy alternative to syrup or jam

Creative Ideas for Baby Kitchen Veggies
  • Add to spaghetti sauce to provide a nutritional boost
  • Spread on a pizza crust and top with cheese for an alternative pizza
  • Add to soups for a delicious, flavorful broth
  • Melt over pasta or rice for a quick yummy toddler meal
Mix and match cubes to create fun creative flavors and add some variety to your baby's (and your own) meals!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Milk about to expire?

I can't remember where I learned this awesome tip, but, you can freeze milk! Tonight we were almost at the expiration date on our milk and I couldn't bear to part with it.  You can freeze milk, but you need to make sure you leave some space in the container because it will expand when frozen.

One thing to remember~ the texture can change after freezing. I plan to use this milk for cooking (maybe for a future batch of french toast!), not drinking.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Make Your Own Chicken and Black Beans in the Crock Pot

 YUM. I made this today and it was amazing. If you don't know me by now then let me tell you- I love all things mexican food! I love black beans, the seasonings, cilantro, salsa, avocados...YEAH!

Baby A went to town on this meal- as did my husband. We served it over brown rice tonight and will eat it in tortillas with fresh tomatoes/avocado for lunch tomorrow. Fabulous!

Chicken in Black Beans in the Crock Pot
by Meal Planning Mommies
Here is what you need:
Black Beans (uncooked, not from a can)
Chicken Broth
Packet of taco seasoning
Can of tomatoes (whole, diced, chopped, whatever!)
Rice or Tortilla

Here is what to do:

1. First, stand in your kitchen and take a deep breath. This five minutes of preparation is going to produce a healthy and tasty dinner tonight with very little effort and hardly any clean up!

2. In your crock pot add the following:
*Black Beans that have been rinsed and drained. You do NOT have to let them soak overnight as long as you have a good 8 hours to let them cook in the crock pot today.
*Uncooked Chicken
*Can of tomatoes with the juice
*Box of broth
*half a packet of taco seasoning

3. Stir

4. Allow the crock to cook the meal all day long. Eventually the beans will soften perfectly and the chicken will become so tender that you can shred it with a fork, which is what you want to do before serving.

5. About 45 minutes before dinner cook your rice. We use brown rice, which takes a bit longer than white rice. (But, has added texture, taste, and health benefits!)

6. Serve the chicken and black beans over the rice. You can add a bit of sour cream or taco sauce to taste it up even more.

This meal was received very well by my family. I do think that when I make it again I would use the entire packet of taco seasoning and I might chop and cook an onion in the crock too.I did not freeze the leftovers, simply stored them for lunch tomorrow which we will serve with tortillas

Make Your Own: Chicken Casserole

4 c. cooked chicken
1 bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 oz.) container low fat sour cream
2 ribs celery, finely diced
Saute onion, pepper and celery in skillet sprayed with Pam. Stir to keep from sticking. Mix chicken, vegetables, soup and sour cream together. Salt to taste. Pour into 2 quart casserole dish. Top with crushed corn flakes. May garnish with paprika and parsley flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I added just a fewwwwwwwwww more veggies (red and yellow peppers, mushrooms)

Make Your Own: French Toast Sticks

I made Baby A french toast sticks and she LOVED them! I fed her them without syrup, mainly because I wasn't sure how to handle sticky dip with an 11-month-old (she was finger feeding, I wasn't feeding her).

Use kitchen scissors to cut wheat bread into strips. I used about 10 pieces of bread.

Add 1 cup milk, cinnamon, 3 tablespoons of vanilla, and 4 eggs.  Mix well.

Melt a tablespoon of butter on a skillet.

Place your bread strips on the skillet and let them brown on each side.  If you would like, sprinkle a little cinnamon, sugar & or nutmeg on them.

Once both sides have browned nicely, serve with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.


Abes loved it, and I packed some for her lunch tomorrow. We have plenty leftover this week and some to freeze.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Help Out Healthy Tara!!!

I read a great guest post on Fed Up with Lunch today and immediately contacted the author, "Healthy Tara". She gave me permission to post her story here in the hopes that YOU will consider helping her out. All ya have to do is sign a digital petition if you agree with her quest for healthier school lunches.

Leave me a comment if you do! Thank you!!!!

Hello! My name is Tara and I'm a senior at my high school in Illinois. I have been through a lot this year in the realm of school lunch improvement.

In November of 2009 I decided to take on our school lunch. I sent my first email to our school food provider (Aramark) in search of ingredient lists for our food. I thought it would be a very easy process to get this information, as I figured they were legally obligated to provide it to me.

To my surprise, after weeks I received no response. So, I contacted my district's associate superintendent to let him know that Aramark wasn't responding to my email requests. About a day later I got a response email from Aramark:

"Oh hey Tara! Your message had gotten sent to my spam folder." Blah blah blah.

Little did I know, I was in contact with a very new member of our district's Aramark team. Weeks later I received an unofficial word document (obviously typed up by someone... full of grammatical errors) which contained ingredient lists for a few of our main dishes.

I was not surprised by what I found: our food was on the boarder of plastic.

On January 11th 2010, I gave a speech at our school board meeting.
At the time, it was an enormous success.

Our district's associate superintendent was in contact with me the next day to arrange meetings with Aramark and I to "fix the food".

At this point I had two main objectives:
1. Have the chemical fillers removed from our food
2. See that an official ingredient and regularly updated ingredient list was made accessible to the student body

And long story made short....

After several meetings with Aramark and district officials I realized neither of my wishes were going to be met.
I was not surprised by the fact that our school couldn't "find the money" to get the fillers out of the food.

What DID surprise me, however, was the fact that the ingredients in our school food were being kept a secret from the students.
I was actually told by our district's Aramark coordinator of food services that I should have never been given any ingredients in the first place, and that the woman who had them sent to me unknowingly risked her job by doing so.

In the past month my district's associate superintendent has dropped out of my efforts.
(I have a feeling he is too busy worrying about the six million dollars the state owes my school district.)

So, I have taken ingredient transparency for my district into my own hands.

I have stated a petition for transparency, (please sign it!)

a facebook group,

and a blog of my own.

The only place I feel that this movement is lacking in is more student support. With that said, I'd like to offer my assistance to anyone who is interested in being a part of this all. There are a thousand different ways one can get involved. (You can start by signing my petition!!)

-Healthy Tara

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Awesome TV Shows

Wow, chef Jamie Oliver is really tackling the obesity epidemic.  He has two shows coming out soon that focus on both meals at home and at school.

The first show premieres tomorrow night on abc--Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Set your dvr for 8pm for a two hour special.  From ABC's website:

Jamie is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces with the thought-provoking new series, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which has a special sneak preview SUNDAY, MARCH 21 10|9c on ABC, followed by a 2-hour premiere on FRIDAY MARCH 26 8|7c.

In the six-part series, Jamie heads to Huntington, West Virginia. Why? Well, Huntington has been called the unhealthiest city in America. Jamie wants to do something about that. Through his efforts in this one town, he hopes to start a chain reaction of positive change across the country.

Awesome. My dvr is set!!!  My sister told me about another show coming up also by Jamie Oliver on TLC: Jamie's School Lunch Project.  We actually had a funny conversation about the new shows--

D-Did you hear about the new show by that chef...Jamie Oliver?
C-Yea! This week on ABC?
D-No, it's on in May on TLC.
C- What? The one where he goes to people's homes?
D-No, what? He's taking over school lunches.

HA! Little did we know there were TWO shows!

Will you be watching tomorrow night? I am psyched!

In searching for a photo for this post, I came across this book by Jamie Oliver. I might have to check this one out!

[If you're in google reader, click over to the blog to see it.]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter Eggs!

Our reader Meredith sent us a great topic for discussion:  
Easter Eggs

Specifically, how to decorate them a bit more naturally, so toddlers do not have food coloring stained on their hands.  I hadn't even considered this, and we wee planning to dye eggs this weekend!

You can see the full question here on

Now I am not familiar with the website, so I don't know if the editor normally chimes in, or if other readers do, kind of like a message board, but I was a bit disappointed by the editors notes.  Eggs are fragile, right, we get that.  Then they basically reiterated what she had already stated.

When we were little, we used to color in light colored crayons and then stick them in a vinegar/food coloring mix. We used brown eggs because my mom liked how they colored better:)

Meredith found these great color recipes:
1 cup pickled beet juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup grape juice and 1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup strong coffee and 1 tablespoon vinegar
Cut 1/4 head of red cabbage into chunks. Add cabbage to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Let cool to room temperature. Remove cabbage with a slotted spoon.
Mix 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 cup water. Bring to room temperature. Remove blueberries.
Dark Pink
Cut 1 medium beet into chunks. Add beet to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Let cool to room temperature. Remove beets.
Remove the peel from 1 orange. Add peel to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Let cool to room temperature. Remove orange peel.

Here are some other ways to decorate hard boiled eggs:

1. Dye them in regular old food coloring
2. Add stickers
3. Accent with ribbons
4. Dilute craft glue and add glitter all over*!


What does your family do?  Do you do it with young children, or do you wait until they're older?


Thanks, Meredith!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Food for a Day

Check this out from Let's

You can download the pdf here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Go ahead, slice your own veggies!

Your wallet will thank you. I always knew there was a markup on bagged salads vs. buying a head of lettuce, but Trent over at The Simple Dollar has put it into concrete numbers for us.

Check out the article here.

Hey Devon, I bet you love this article:)

Trent highlights several different buy-fresh scenarios but I particularly liked this one:

Celery sticks? I can buy a bag of celery for $1.49 or I can buy about three containers of pre-sliced sticks for $1.99 each. I spend about four minutes cutting the sticks and it saves me $3.47 – or about $52 over the course of a full hour.

Eesh!  I do prefer to buy produce as is, not pre-washed, pre-sliced, pre-etc..., but every once and awhile I do grab a bag-o-salad out of convenience, but it does add up, so thanks for the reminder!
Do you buy any of these convenience-packed produce options? How do you justify the costs?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Look Michelle! [Crunchy, Clean, PB]

While doing my grocery shopping last week, I saw (and purchased!) some clean, CRUNCHY peanut butter.  The only ingredients are peanuts and in this variety, salt.  After my post a few weeks ago, Michelle commented that she couldn't find the crunchy variety, so I was happy to find some at the local Giant in the organic section.

Oddly enough while typing this post, I wrote "peanut better". ;)

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Sorry- I published a post on here that was meant for our family blog (it's not a published blog, it's private)!

Cool Resource: Merck

Check this out- Merck has a comprehensive online resource of nutritional facts and recipes.

It seems that this information is not just for members, though you can sign up for more access, emails, and articles.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Eating Well Costs More. Or Does It??

We constantly hear the debate that eating well costs more than eating fatty, cheap, fast foods (check out this video to see Michelle Obama's efforts in Philadelphia.  Casual Kitchen makes a good point that eating well doesn't HAVE to be more expensive.  Check out the full article here.

Some of the main points-

1) Eat in season.
2) Stear clear of pre-packaged name-brand foods.
3) Buy the more expensive, leaner beef, but eat less and eat more veggies with your meal. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Have you been following Mrs. Obama's new initiatives?  What do you think? 
Do you believe that eating well can be cheaper than eating fast food?  How do you save without sacrificing your health?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Teach Children Manners

I saw this cute book on Meal Makeover Moms -
Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant.  What a cute way to teach children about table manners!

We are not quite there yet in our home as Baby A is only 11 months, though we are starting by encouraging her not to throw her sippy cup/food/etc etc etc.  She went through a short phase of laughing and spitting out her food which was a bit un-nerving, but thankfully she has stopped that.  She also used to SCREAM when she wanted more, but she now instead (almost always) signs for more.

We go back and forth on how to teach A to have good manners at this stage beyond the typical "no" (we of course tell her no!) I generally dip into my special ed strategies at times like these---I find that my behavior strategies are appropriate for children of all abilities!

1. Stay calm.
2. Speak in a steady, low tone.
3. When all else fails, remove her/the object.

ie: "Abes, please stop throwing your food. Are you all done?" (sign for all done)
Usually at this point, she'll keep doing it or slap her tray, which I take to mean all done.
"Okay, all done." (remove tray/sippy/food/whatever)

What stage of teaching manners are you in?  Any tips to share with our readers?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, here's a little treat for you all!

Leprechaun's Shake

1 cup skim milk
2 scoops vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring

Pour all ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth and green. Serve with a shamrock.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Help me save! PLEASE!

Don't you know my sister is THE Mamacheaps!?  Her grocery bills are lower and lower and her pantry is more and more full, and then there's me. High bills each week.  Trips to produce stores & grocery stores. I try, I really do, but I still really need help.

I found this great article over at Money Talk News.

There are 28 tips so make sure you check them out, but here are my favorites:

  • Cook from scratch: Making meals from scratch is probably the single best way to save on food. Because the more prepared the food, the more it costs. Ironically, less expensive home-made is also normally better for you as well.
  • Generics: sometimes generics aren’t as good as name brands. In those situations one might choose name brands. But for things like flour, sugar, salt, bleach or virtually dozens of other items you find in the grocery store, the only discernible difference is price. Paying more for an identical product is more than extravagant; it’s stupid.
  • Lists: Writing down what you came for…and ignoring everything not on it… will save money. It will also save time and fuel expense by preventing repeat trips to the store for things you forgot.
  • Always overcook: then freeze. That saves the time you need to be able to cook from scratch.
  • Substitute cheaper ingredients: for more expensive ones.
  • Grate savings: You pay more to have someone else grate your cheese for you. You’ll also save by cutting up whole chickens, slicing your own pickles, slicing meat for cold cuts, and using a blender or rolling pin to make your own bread crumbs.
  • Save on starch: Fancy boil-in-bag or flavored rices routinely cost 10 times the amount of the old-fashioned kind. All it takes to make rice is the ability to boil water! Bags of smaller potatoes are often half the cost per pound of big baking potatoes. Bake two little ones instead of one big one. Your stomach won’t notice.
  • Save on protein: The simple proteins found in beans are better for you and obviously much cheaper than the complex ones in meat, fish and poultry. In other words, eat less meat!

Which ones do you have trouble with? Which are you good with? I strive to use coupons (but never do), to buy in bulk, to cook from scratch, and to over cook......

pic from here

Monday, March 15, 2010

Make Your Own: Lasagna

Don't ask me why but I have NEVER made lasagna. I like it, but I don't love it.
I felt inspired while doing the grocery shopping and picked up a box of pasta to try it out.

I bought some ronzoni whole wheat lasagna noodles (noodles?) and used the recipe on the box.  Since there are only three of us, I made two smaller casseroles instead and froze one.

In large skillet, brown meat; drain.
Stir in spaghetti sauce; simmer 10 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
Lay flat on foil to cool.
Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.
Spread about 1/3 cup meat sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.
Arrange 4 pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce, overlapping edges.
Spread one-third cheese mixture over pasta; spread with about 3/4 cup meat sauce. Repeat layers TWICE, beginning and ending with pasta.
Top with remaining meat sauce; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil; bake about 10 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. 10 to 12 servings.

1 lb. ground beef [I used turkey sausage]
3 cups (about 28-oz. jar) spaghetti sauce [I made my own]
16 pieces (about 16 oz.) RONZONI HEALTHY HARVEST LASAGNA, uncooked
4 cups (2 lb.) ricotta cheese [I used low-fat]
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tomatoes in a GLASS JAR!!

Remember when I scared you last week and told you BPA might be seeping into your tomato products in tin cans?   This has been weighing heavily on my mind and I am happy to report that I found something to be excited about!

In the organic section at Giant, I found strained tomatoes IN A GLASS JAR by Bionaturae.  It seems that Bionaturae is an organic company in Italy- hey can't go wrong there, right?  Yes, it's much more expensive than the Nature's Promise next to it, but look- there are 18 more oz.

I tried their pasta sauce recipe on the back of the jar and it was really good!!!

To make sauce:

Saute 4 cloves of garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add tomatoes.
I also added one fresh tomato.

Of course, I did not save the jar, but I think all you had to do after that was let it simmer 5-10 minutes. Then after you can add basil, salt, peper, whatever!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Make Your Own: Tortellini Soup!

It's been raining cats and dogs here all day, so I thought it would be the perfect day to have some tortellini soup! I had never made it, so I looked up a recipe on and modified.


  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (9 ounce) package cheese tortellini [I used fresh--found @ Giant with the refrigerated pasta]
  • 1/4 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/4 tablespoon garlic powder [I used chopped garlic]
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • I added turkey sausage-YUM!


  1. In a large pot over high heat, combine the spinach and chicken broth. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low. 
  2. Chop garlic.
  3. Cook turkey sausage (cut it up into small pieces).
  4. Stir in tortellini, garlic, sausage and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tortellini is cooked to desired tenderness. Season with basil, salt, and pepper.

Friday, March 12, 2010

10 Commandments of Weight Loss

Sorry, Devon,  I just love Dr. Oz. I simply do love him. I will never stop linking to his amazing tips, nor will I stop posting his sassy, sweet picture! [Just a little sisterly ribbing!]

I have spent the better part of this snuggly, rainy day curled in a fetal position due to a stomach bug or a bad reaction to last night's dinner (take out).  Luckily, baby A hasn't minded and has gone about her normal business of "feeding me" tea, playing music for me, and giving kisses.

While she naps, I've been catching up on DVR which led me to Dr. Oz Show, which inevitably led me to his website and this article!

1. Thou Shalt Not Wear Pants that Stretch
Your clothing is your early-warning system for weight gain. When it’s getting hard to snap your jeans, you know it’s time to be vigilant. Wearing stretchy clothes allows you to live in ignorance of how your body is growing, making it easier to pack on pounds without knowing it.

2. Thou Shalt Not Keep Bad Clothes in Your Closet
When you keep the clothes you wore at an unhealthy weight, it gives you a back-up plan if the pounds don’t come off. Instead, force yourself to stay on track by 86ing your “fat pants.”

3. Thou Shalt Not Eat Meat That Walks on Four Legs More Than Once a Week
Meat that comes from an animal with 4 legs is higher in saturated fat (the unhealthy kind) than that which comes from 2-legged animals such as chickens, or animals with no legs, like fish. Plus: women who eat large amounts of red meat more than once a week have a 50% higher chance of dying from heart disease and have higher cancer rates.

4. Thou Shalt Not Graze
Plan your meal before you open the refrigerator, get what you need, and close the door. Opening it throughout the day leads to impulsive choices and overeating.

5. Thou Shalt Not Eat After 7:30pm
When you eat late at night you are more likely to be eating in front of the TV (when you won’t pay attention to how much you’re putting in your mouth) and you’re more likely to pick high-calorie snacks.

6. Thou Shalt Not Pile Food More than 1 Inch High or Within 2 Inches of the Plate Edge
Larger portions equal more calories. ‘Nuff said.

7. Thou Shalt Not Chew Food Less than 20 Times Per Bite
Chewing allows your body to realize that you are eating food, prompting it to create a sensation of fullness at the appropriate time. When you don’t chew enough, you get ahead of that process, eating well past when you are actually satisfied.

8. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Plate
Spend your day nibbling bites on someone else’s sandwich or afternoon snack, and you will add on 1,000 calories easy.

9. Thou Shalt Not Carry Small Bills
Nothing loves a small bill better than a vending machine. When you have them at the ready, you are one step closer to an impulsive, calorie-loaded afternoon slip up.

10. Thou Shalt Not Eat While Standing Up
Eating sitting down enables you to be aware of what you’re eating and eat it slowly so that your body can tell you your full before it’s too late.

Which one(s) is your downfall? Mine by far is wearing pants that stretch. At some point in my adulthood, I have adopted some bizarre reasoning that I am NOT allowed to wear sweats in public- unless I am very sick and have a cute shirt & hat on to go with it. Don't ask.
That rule does not apply to the home and the SECOND I get in the door, I am in sweats, and loving it. I loathe when we have to go somewhere at night or when we have to wait for a service appointment, because then I keep my nice clothes on. I'm a weirdo, I know this.

Anyway...leave a comment! Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Open Letter to Our Children: We're Sorry About School Lunch

An Open Letter to Our Children: We're Sorry About School Lunch

Wow, this is a powerful read....

check it out here at Simple, Good, and Tasty.

What do you think? Something needs to be done and I am very excited to see what changes are made in the next few years! Thinking about it now, I am honestly not sure if I will have Baby A buy lunch when she's older.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Make Your Own: Pasta with Veggies & Feta Cheese

Pasta with Veggies & Feta Cheese
* I never write recipes down, so please excuse my instructions below;)

1. Boil whole wheat pasta & peas in one pot.
   *Stay away from enriched pasta, get the real thing. Even better if you can get fresh!
2. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms, diced onion, peppers, really any veggie you're craving at the moment!  When veggies are almost done, throw in some diced tomatoes, oregano, basil and pepper.
3. Fire up the Foreman Grill and throw some salmon on. Season it or marinade however you like beforehand.
4. Set veggies aside.
5. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, throw back in pot.
6. Toss pasta with some olive oil (butter too if you're into that!), the veggies, and some feta cheese.
7. Top with salmon.

YUM! Baby A ate all but salmon since she hasn't had seafood yet.

This is the Foreman Grill we have---I'd be so lost without it!

(If you're in google reader, click over to see.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Eat Local

A friend of mine posted this link on facebook Friday.  Follow it to find out what is "in season" currently around you. Unfortunately for us local peeps, we only have potatoes and lettuce in season in early March.  Boring!

I always try to buy local first, but if strawberries look good and fresh in February, I buy them.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Section

Things I love---with product links!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Clean" Peanut Butter

Here you have it, on the great quest for "clean" foods- I have succeeded in finding peanut butter that only contains one ingredient- peanuts!

Check out the comparison.

Have any great finds yourself? Send them to me:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Your baby eats WHAT?

Several people have asked me recently how I get Baby A to eat "everything" including foods that some people would consider "exotic"---soup that contains curry for example.
I feel like a broken record but I am serious- I was inspired by the book Feeding Baby Green.  I bought it back in November and read it cover-to-cover over a weekend.  It's not just about eating organically, so do not be scared and buy it today!

[If you're in google reader, click through to view the book, and to check it out online.]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

5 "Bad" Foods You Should be Eating

Good food for thought (no pun intended)!  My take, everything in moderation:)

5 “bad” foods you should be eating

5 “bad” foods you should be eating
Recently, a friend who was eating with me appeared shocked as I spread full-fat natural peanut butter on my whole-wheat toast. Isn’t peanut butter super-fattening, she asked? It’s high in fat but that doesn’t mean it’s fattening, I told her, noting that gaining or losing weight, and body fat, basically comes down to balancing calories. Knowing my master’s work focused on weight loss, she took my word on this. (Find easy, quick and delicious 500-Calorie Dinners to help you lose [5].)
That said, peanut butter is a concentrated source of calories, so you don’t want to go overboard. But you don’t need to eat tons of the stuff to feel satisfied: just a tablespoon (90 calories) or two of peanut butter goes a long way. I eat peanut butter nearly every day because it tastes so good and it’s really nutritious. Peanut butter provides protein and folate, a B vitamin important for the healthy development of new cells.
As a nutritionist, I often encounter people who fear healthful foods because these foods have somehow gotten bad reps they just can’t shake. Peanut butter is a common one. Here are four more “misunderstood” foods and why you should eat them—in moderation, of course.

Eggs [6]
The bad rep: A significant source of dietary cholesterol, egg yolks are off-limits for those concerned about heart health.
The good truth: Medical experts now emphasize that saturated fats and trans fats are bigger culprits in raising blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol is. Plus, eggs are super-satisfying: in one study, people who ate a scrambled-egg-and-toast breakfast felt more satisfied, and ate less at lunch, than they did when they ate a bagel that had the same number of calories. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that research links with reduced risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. (Need new ideas for eggs? Find dozens here [6].)

Beef [7]
The bad rep: Beef is full of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, so people who care about their hearts should avoid it.
The good truth: Lean cuts of beef are a low-fat source of protein and iron, a mineral essential for getting oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body—and one many women (of childbearing age) are deficient in. There are many lean cuts of steaks: filet mignon, sirloin, strip steak, flank steak. If you can’t remember the names, pick steaks that are deep red with a relatively small amount of marbling—a fancy name for fat—to find lean cuts. Click here for a Bistro Flank Steak Sandwich that has only 3 grams of saturated fat per serving! [8]

Chocolate [9]
The bad rep: Chocolate has lots of fat, lots of sugar—and it tastes amazing, so it must be bad for you.
The good news: Dark chocolate contains flavanols, antioxidants that seem to have a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health. And, recently, researchers in Switzerland reported that eating dark chocolate (1.4 ounces of it) every day for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol, in highly stressed people. But be sure to account for the calories (1.4 ounces delivers 235)—or you may be stressed to see extra pounds creeping on. (Discover delicious chocolate recipes here [9].)

Potatoes [10]
The bad rep: Potatoes rank high on the glycemic index, which measures how quickly different foods raise your blood sugar. Foods with a high GI value tend to cause a higher spike in blood sugar—and in insulin, the hormone that helps glucose get into cells—which can be a problem for some people, particularly those with diabetes.
The good news: Potatoes are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. And unless you’re eating an absolutely plain potato all by itself, its GI value doesn’t matter. (It’s also worth noting that the glycemic index is an imperfect and controversial scale.) A high-GI potato becomes a low-GI meal if you simply add a little olive oil, because the added fat helps slow the absorption of the potato’s carbohydrates. (Try our easy, delicious recipe for Oven-Fried Potatoes [11].) 


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The More I Read,

....the more I fear! Ack! Look what I just read on The Clean Eating Mama's page.  Popcorn is my go-to snack! And we always have canned tomatoes on hand for soups. Eesh.

What do you think? Do you avoid any of these? Are you good at buying organic?

From Tasha:

Eating clean does not mean you have to be a vegan or a vegetarian. It means that you are making a conscious effort to eat wholesome food that is from the earth with minimal processing and contaminants. They are often organic and should never contain preservatives. But in a lot of cases the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable.
Here is a list of items that should be limited to your daily food consumption. While I am not saying to “ban” them from your diet, I want you all to be aware of the hidden dangers and to make adjustments when you can.
Canned Tomatoes                                                                               Fredrick Vom Saal, PHD, Endocrinologist
Tin cans contain BPA – Bisphenol – A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to certain health problems: reproduction problems, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The acidity found in tomatoes causes the BPA to leech out into the food and contaminating it. And not in canned tomatoes alone – all tomato based substances, like soups and sauces, should be avoided and purchased in glass containers.
Solution: Ditch the can and go for fresh. Easier said than done, I know. Making homemade soup on the weekend, searching for glass jars of tomatoes and tomato sauce, and understanding that fresh is really the best.
Corn-Fed Beef                                                                                     Joel Salatin, farmer, author
Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. Because of the high demand of meat these days, farmers are forcing cattle to eat corn and soybeans. Not only is this a cheaper food source, it also fattens up the cattle so they can slaughter them faster. Unfortunately this means more money for the cattle farmers, lower prices at the super market BUT LESS nutrition for us. Clemson University researched meat and found grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3’s, CLA, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It is also lower in inflammatory omega-6’s and saturated fat.
Solution: Buy grass fed beef. You can find it at specialty grocery stores, health food stores that carry fresh meat and farmers markets. If you don’t see grass-fed beef out on the shelves, ask the butcher. They sometimes will have it in the back or can easily get a shipment in. You can also buy direct from a local farmer – find one near you by visiting
Microwave Popcorn  
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is in the lining of the popcorn bag, are just some of the compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study at UCLA. In recent animal testing, PFOA caused liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer. When heated in a microwave, these compounds vaporize and leach into the popcorn you eat. While manufactures have promised to phase out PFOA by the year 2015, the chemical stays in your body for years and accumulates there.
Solution: Pop your corn the old fashion way – In a large pot with oil. Add REAL butter or nutritional yeast for flavor.
Nonorganic Potatoes                                                                           
It only makes sense that root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides and fungicides that are in the soil. The potato is the most popular vegetable – think french fries! They are treated with large amounts of fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill the vines before harvesting. But it doesn’t stop there; after they are dug up they are yet again treated to prevent them from sprouting. “I’ve talked with potato farmers who say point blank they will not eat the potatoes they sell. They have a separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without the chemicals.” says Jeffery Moyer, who is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.
Solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough as the chemicals absorb straight through the skin.
Farmed Salmon David Carpenter, MD, Director of the Institution for Health and the Environment
Nature did not intend for salmon to be locked up in pens, crammed in on each other and fed soy, poultry litter and hydrolyzes chicken feathers. Farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants which include cancer causing carcinogens, PCB’s, flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. The most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which is found on American menus. Science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity. There is also the concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. “You could eat on of these salmon dinners ever 5 months with increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter. “It’s that bad.”
Solution: Look for wild-caught Alaskan salmon. If you see fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.
Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
  To boost milk production, producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone AKA rBGH or rBST. rBGH increases udder infections and even pus in the milk – YUCK! It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor. High levels of IGH-1 contribute to breast, prostate and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1nfrom milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says Rick North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it. “There is no proof that this is increasing cancer in humans. However it’s banned in most industralized countries.”
Solution: Check the labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. Also be aware that in order to be free of all artificial hormones in dairy, all dairy must be organic – cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.
Conventional Apples
Apples are the most heavily sprayed fruit in the supermarket. Why? Apples are grafted to maintain their each unique and distinctive flavor. Because of this, apples do not develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. While the industry claims these residues are not harmful, it is common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most sprayed and treated produce. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” says Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and organic food expert. And increasing number of studies are starting to link a high percentage with Parkinson’s disease and high levels of ingested pesticides.
Solution: Buy organic apples. If you cannot afford organic apples, be sure to wash a peel the apple before eating it.
Side note – here is a list of the 12 most heavily contaminated produce in the market: (in no particular order)
  1. Strawberries
  2. Bell peppers (green and red)
  3. Spinach (tied with number 2)
  4. Cherries (grown in the United States)
  5. Peaches (grown in Chile)
  6. Cantaloupe (grown in Mexico)
  7. Celery
  8. Apples
  9. Apricots
  10. Green beans
  11. Grapes
  12. Cucumbers

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10 Ways to Get Your Baby Involved in the Kitchen

10 Ways to Get Your Baby Involved 
in the Kitchen

  1. Familiarize your baby with the kitchen. Bring the high chair in (ours is in the dining room, unless we're "cooking").
  2.  Consider the five senses whenever possible.
  3. Give your baby utensils to hold (only safe ones of course)!  Let her hold a spatula, chew on a plastic ladel, etc.
  4. Respect the mess. Food can be messy if you allow it. Embrace it. Have fun!
  5. Talk about what she's experiencing. "Wow, that feels slimey! That strawberry is sweet! Blueberries are BLUE!"  
  6. Whenever possible, prep her food right in front on her.  Teach her "hands up" when you are slicing bananas with a butter knife. If you need a more sharp knife or just cannot trust your child with their hands, do it on the counter next to them.
  7. From a safe distance, let your baby peer into the pots on the stove, or the dish in the oven.  Tell her what she's seeing.
  8. Let her have taste-tests.  If you're cooking pasta, allow her to check out a hard uncooked noodle.  
  9. Familiarize her with kitchen items. Let her bang on pots and pans with a spatula.  Let her hold a kiwi or tomato.  Point out the beeping noise from the mircowave. Let her run her hands under the running water.  
  10. Play with food. Paint with it, make necklaces, make music, the sky is your limit.
*Always consider safety first and HAVE FUN!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Well lookee here!

Remember my nitrate post the other day?  Well look what I found at my local Giant!  This particular store does not have an organic section, so this was in the hot dog/lunch meat area.