The Busy Bee

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Like a beehive, a college campus is a small city of residents with wildly different roles and needs. You’ve got your workers, your studying drones, your drama queens – some need just enough energy to hold a book up, others to run a marathon.

Each month, my blog will track down one type of student trying to find his or her way through a maze of dietary options. I will get to know them, discuss their food choices, and make an interesting “Guiding Stars inspired” meal suggestion for them to try. I begin here with my first summer voyage to Holloway Commons, the main dining hall at UNH:

For the first time since freshman year, I felt lost in the dining hall. I scanned through a sea of prospective students and UNH Wildcat campers. Although I seemed not to fit in, I felt entitled to be there, a dining hall “veteran” – like a worn crayon thrown into a box of crayons fresh off the press. Just when I was about to give up on my search for a college student, a gray UNH t-shirt caught my eye. I approached her carefully as if she was a mirage but quickly recognized her authenticity. After getting her permission to feature her in my first blog, we sat down to talk food.

Erin is a senior at UNH studying Athletic Training. When she graduates, she plans to get her certification, go to grad school, and eventually become a physician’s assistant. She is spending her summer working at the UNH sports camps. Erin explained that if she had free time she would spend it at the mall, hanging out downtown with friends, or enjoying Portsmouth, NH.

This busy-bee is highly active and needs to feed on some serious (yet quick) grub. She meant business this day with a green plate filled with several delicious 2 and 3 star choices. She chose stir-fry—one of her dining hall favorites—with snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and chicken. We both agreed that stir-fry is an easy way to get a well-balanced meal: whole grains, lots of fiber, various vitamins and nutrients, and lean protein. This meal is healthy, filling, and will sustain a girl like Erin throughout a hectic afternoon…

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A New Cook in the Kitchen

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It’s no secret that I have hesitated to let my two children “help” me in the kitchen. It has always seemed like more trouble than it’s worth, with poorly measured ingredients, big spills, and squabbles about who gets to do what.

Today, however, something magical happened: I changed my mind. I realized that in order to survive this long summer at home with my four-year old and six-year old, I’m going to have to give them jobs beyond setting the table and feeding the dog. And, who knows? They just might be ready to handle it.

This afternoon, after having her hose off our very sandy beach shoes, I let my six-year old help put away the groceries. Grace did this very well, and she felt proud. Buoyed by a surge of self-confidence, she then decided to fix herself a snack.

First, she put yogurt in a carefully chosen bowl (she spilled some, but cleaned it up without any prompting), and spooned some granola over the top.

Then, she asked me…

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A Cookout Doesn’t Have To Be A Calorie Blowout

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The summer season is upon us and that means a summer full of cookouts celebrating everything from Memorial Day to Fourth of July, graduations, birthdays and family reunions. And, with all these cookouts come a lot of high-calorie and high-fat foods and drinks like chips, beer, soda and desserts.

As I find I’m still trying to shed both holiday and ‘owning my own business’ weight, my goal this summer is to try to demonstrate some discipline. Instead of grabbing soda, my plan is to ask for water or bring my own reusable vessel. Portion control is another obvious goal and as a guest I plan to bring my own low calorie/low fat recipe offering a healthy choice for myself as well as others.

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow recently had a great blog post about Greek Yogurt. I have started using it in some of my own recipes lately and I find it to be a great alternative to higher fat ingredients like butter. For example, this summer I plan to try this low fat potato salad recipe:

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Weighing In On Their Future

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We’ve all heard about the youth obesity epidemic, but sometimes I wonder if people grasp how serious it is.

Did you know that 20% of four-year-olds in the US are obese? 1 in 5 four-year-olds!

Now you may say that it’s just baby fat and that they’ll grow out of it, but here are some things you should know:

  • 10% of non-obese children become obese adults
  • 40%-50% of obese children become obese adults
  • 70% of obese adolescents become obese adults
  • 80% of obese adolescents become obese adults if one parent is obese

In addition to their weight itself, most obese children have at least one other major cardiovascular risk factor, (i.e. high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high insulin or high blood pressure). These risk factors were previously thought of as adult conditions, not ones you’d find in kids. Our children’s generation could be the first generation where the parents live longer than the kids do.

So who’s to blame? In my opinion, we all are. Parents, schools, the community, and society all carry the burden of what’s happening to our kids. We all need to step up and do our part to help overcome it.

What Parents Can Do

I’m a father myself (I have two boys, ages 9 and 11) and as parents, we make choices for our kids every day that influence how they will live their lives. Here are some suggestions for what I believe we, as parents, can do to keep our kids on the right path:

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Waffling Gluten-Free

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I LOVE making pancakes (waffles too). Always did. Not just pancakes but wild blueberry banana pancakes. It is true that it is the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure and making wild blueberry banana pancakes with my daughter on a weekend morning is top of the list.

So several years ago when the need to go off gluten threatened the morning breakfast-making ritual, I needed solutions!

I went Gluten-Free while troubleshooting a health related issue. As it turns out, gluten was not the culprit although it took almost six months to determine this (the issue has since resolved itself). At the time I was faced with the prospect that so many people with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance deal with on a daily basis. And I slowly began to discover just how much of my typical diet would be affected – hint: this was not just about bread. So many of our processed and unprocessed foods contain gluten. Eating out became a huge challenge and suddenly those trips down to Brooklyn, NY to visit friends and family could no longer include side-foodie fave trips for pizza, bagels and falafel – ouch!

Worst of all – I soon realized that pancakes (and waffles) were also off the table – the ultimate blow. I became relentlessly committed to finding a Gluten-Free alternative to get them back on the table.

While Gluten-Free products have improved over the years I wasn’t having much luck finding a mix that didn’t turn pancakes into stonecakes (do not use as a flotation device) despite working with different ratios of mix to eggs to milk or water. A random discovery lead me to of all places 30 miles west of Portland, Maine—to Gramma Mills of Steep Falls. Gramma Mills’ products are available in health food stores and some healthy food sections of the supermarket. A registered nurse, the company owner started exploring different mixes after her son became gluten intolerant in 2004. While hesitant to get my hopes up based on past mix experiences I decided to give it a try…

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Setting realistic goals and seeing them through

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A year and a half ago I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. As of right now I have completed four 5Ks, a 10K and 2 half marathons and I can’t wait to see what I can do next! If two years ago you told me I would run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed at you. How I got this far has taught me a lot about life in general and the importance of setting goals.

No matter what your goal is – running a 5K, cutting your grocery bill, getting a promotion, losing weight – all of them have a desired end result and it can be actualized. The end result can seem staggering to achieve and you may have stalled before because climbing that proverbial mountain seems overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to help you chart your way to success, no matter the goal:

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Shh…The Ultimate Secret to Weight Loss

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Contrary to popular belief, diet supplements, the latest diet fad, and even exercise can’t help you lose as much weight as this secret. And I’m going to let you in on it….are you ready?

It’s portion control.

If you can control the size of your food and meal portions, you’re well on your way to looking great – and [bonus] feeling better.

It’s easy to over indulge, especially with those foods that may not be the healthiest for us. But don’t worry. You don’t have to give up your chocolate or lose the carbs.

Here are some tips that will help get your portions down to size [pardon the pun]…

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Eating healthy while working from home

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Being a freelance web designer and now co-owner of a web design company has allowed me to set my own work hours and location for many years. There is nothing handier then being able to work from home, especially when my son is sick, or the weather is bad. And some days it’s just nice to stay home and not get wrapped up at the office.

So with being able to work at home you would think it would be easy to eat healthy. You can decide at noon and prepare fresh what you feel like eating. And no threat of eating out when there are leftovers just a few feet away ready to be heated up. And how about the chance for variety? You can skip PB&J and quickly grill some salmon and asparagus for your mid day meal.

However I have found that eating healthy while working from home is perhaps more challenging than the days when I head to the office. I’ve narrowed my trouble down to the following:

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