Last month I paid my second visit to the University of New Hampshire as a consultant to their dining services program. UNH partnered with Guiding Stars in the fall of 2009 as part of a comprehensive plan to support a healthier student and staff population. A key goal was to improve the nutrition of the menu and retail items served on campus. However, many of UNH’s original recipes did not earn any Guiding Stars for nutrition, and despite their best efforts to modify their formulas, the chefs just couldn’t figure out why.
When it comes to satisfying a sweet tooth, we all know that the incredibly decadent flourless chocolate torte is definitely a “sometimes” food, right? Knowing that an item is composed of primarily butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate is a decent incentive for keeping the stuff out of the house, generally speaking. But when it comes those gray area sweets like coffee cake, which we often treat like breakfast, it’s a lot easier to fall off the mindful eating wagon. I know how that story goes, which is why I’ve worked tofu into this Blueberry Coffee Cake to give you a treat that will do a little less damage to your nutritional plan.
In this video produced for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, I explain how designing developmentally appropriate school lunch menus ensures that kids not only eat healthier, they understand why and how they should. My tasty Kid Crunch Trail Mix demonstrates how easily kids will accept new foods when they’re appropriately exposed and adequately educated.
As you plan your dinner menu for Passover, Easter or the first party of spring, do you find yourself frustrated by the lack of nutrition in so many of your family’s traditional recipes? You can follow the Guiding Stars to find more healthful substitutions for many ingredients. Replacing part of your all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour, for example, is one way to boost the nutrition in your baked treats. Better yet, why not start a new tradition with a delicious recipe that earns Guiding Stars? We took a look at this Coconut Chicken Satay from 100 Days of Real Food and substituted unsweetened, lite coconut milk in place of regular coconut milk to reduce the amount of saturated fat. It now earns 1 star and will have your guests asking for the recipe.
It’s no secret that couponing is all the rage these days. The extreme examples we’re seeing all over television definitely get people excited about the deals that are out there to be had. But coupons are still solidly focused on processed foods, which are items many of us would rather not buy. With a little digging and a different perspective, a little coupon knowledge can actually support your quest for a healthy and balanced life.
When you’re working with fresh, whole ingredients, you’re not working with cans and boxes. By feeding your family better nutrients, it also means that you’re not working with nearly as many preservatives. Stemming the tide of preservatives into your body is a good thing, but it necessitates food safety diligence to avoid unsavory bacterias in your food.
On January 25th I was invited to take part in a conference call preceding First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement of the new National School Lunch Program standards. Hosted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Chef Rachael Ray, the purpose of the call was to update the media and other involved parties on the changes to the standards before the official announcement was made. These changes are a step in the right direction. As common sense as they seem, these improvements are truly revolutionary, and they will help ensure a higher standard of school food for the millions of children eating school lunches like these every day. But we should guard against allowing ourselves to think for one minute that our work is done or that the problem of substandard school food is solved.
My favorite winter activity is stewing something warm and awesome on the stovetop. There’s no better distraction from being holed up in the house than a hearty dish, at least until you find that one magical threat that’ll get your sons onto the porch to clear the snow from the door. In my comfort food world–and on stormy winter days–chili reigns supreme.