Too many cooks in the kitchen

I have often read how parents should include children in the preparation of meals, as they are more likely to eat what they’ve helped create. It makes sense to me, but I’ve never really tried it. Sure, I’ve spent many frigid January afternoons in the kitchen with both kids standing on chairs, helping me make chocolate chip cookies. Just yesterday, my 3-year old spread peanut butter and jelly on bread for her lunch.

But when it comes to preparing dinner during that dreaded 5 o’clock hour, I just can’t bring myself to enlist the help of my two young children. By that time of day, they are inevitably tired and wiggly, and seem to have lost the ability to follow simple instructions. So, instead of having them help out in the kitchen, I usually get them going on an art project or encourage them to play animal hospital together while I get out the sharp knives and chop vegetables.

Today, however, I was motivated to prepare dinner while my 3-year old was eating lunch (which seems to take all afternoon). I scrubbed and chopped two pounds of carrots for soup while she chattered on about her toy hedgehog and tried to hide under the counter. Then she reached into the bowl and pulled out a piece of carrot. “I can eat this?” she asked, very sweetly. “Well, it’s for dinner, but I guess you can have one,” I replied.

While I continued chopping, she shyly stole more carrot pieces, feeling like she was doing something sneaky. I was ecstatic — I had never before seen this child voluntarily eat a carrot, even though I often serve them with hummus at lunch. But watching me cut the carrots and not offer her a piece somehow inspired her to try them out.

I’m still not ready to employ my wiggly little ones as assistant chefs, but I have decided to gather up some late-day patience and find ways to help them feel included in the dinner-making process. Even if it means I have to “let” them sneakily eat those healthy ingredients!

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Food, Inc. is thought provoking

My wife and I had heard snippets in the media and from friends and colleagues about the movie Food, Inc. We finally rented it and sat down to watch it. The movie is of that genre of semi-documentaries made with a clear bias and a core message to deliver (think Michael Moore).

Nonetheless, like many people we found Food, Inc. to be thought provoking. Much of what is presented is doubtless factual, and most of it is at least mildly disturbing. Although I think of myself as someone who maintains a healthy diet and lifestyle and who knows something about food and the food industry, I was surprised to learn about the makeup of the modern food industry.

Although I think of myself as someone who maintains a healthy diet and lifestyle and who knows something about food and the food industry, I was surprised to learn about the makeup of the modern food industry.

Who would have guessed that four manufacturers control over 80% of the meat industry? Or that corn and soybeans are such predominant, government subsidized crops in the U.S. that they appear directly or indirectly as ingredients in virtually every food you’ll find on today’s store shelves? Or, perhaps more insidiously, that one chemical company has a virtual monopoly on the GMO seed supply used to grow almost all of today’s soybeans?

If you’re interested in food quality and food safety for yourself, your family and your community, you may find Food, Inc. to be informative and even galvanizing. And if you’re interested in influencing how food is grown, stored, and transported throughout this great country of ours, vote with your pocketbook whenever you make food choices.

Watch the Food, Inc. trailer

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The choices we make

The featured photo of the article.

As I approach my 43rd birthday, I find myself pondering my own mortality far more than I do the unlimited potential on the blank canvas of life that lies before me. Now, I know 43 is not “old,” but for the overweight, middle aged person, it can seem a lot closer to the end than to the beginning.

Do I continue to lament the day of my pending demise or do I chart a course down a different path? Should I just throw caution to the wind and see how far a lifelong diet of wings, pizza and beer can take me, or should I start to mix in a new attitude of healthy eating and see how far I can take myself? I choose the latter. The time is now to acknowledge and embrace the changes that need to be made to alter the course of my destiny.

I joined a gym the other day. I’ll be honest. I rue the day of my pending confrontation with Mr. Treadmill. I do not expect this relationship to be filled with exuberance and mirth…

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Eating healthy lunches – a workaholics guide

Breakfast I can usually handle and dinner I love to cook. Lunch for me is the hardest meal to make time for, enjoy and make healthy choices. This past year I put a new focus on my lunch and work snacks and I have found a rhythm and saved myself quite a few dollars in my weekly food budget as well.

Making time for a lunch – who has time?

I have to schedule my lunch. That is my big secret. No matter the day or the workload, if I see that it is 1pm and I haven’t eaten lunch I have to stop what I am doing and make that time. We are all busy and some of us are easily distracted and forget to eat. Time is not going to present itself, we have to make it. Another hint is to make your lunch something you can handle eating at your desk if you have to. If my lunch feels like a process to make or sit and eat, I will find excuses…

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There are NO Excuses for Not Exercising

We all know we need to exercise – how can we not? We hear it everywhere. That said, it’s often easier to make excuses than make your gym session.

“I don’t have the time”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to sleep? We’d get 6-8 hours of extra work/play/relaxation time in. Unfortunately, that’s not a possibility.

So, don’t have time to make it to the gym or get a run in? There’s no secret; you have to make the time. You make the time to watch your favorite TV show, or to get a massage in. Make the time to exercise.

The good news is you don’t need to spend two hours at the gym. Take your dog for a 30 minute walk, or join your kids in a game outside for 45 minutes. There are a ton of activities that burn calories and don’t take a lot of time.

“I don’t have the money”

No one said you have to go to the gym or take expensive classes to exercise. Grab your sneakers and go running on the road, or do some weightlifting with things found around the house (like cans of food).

You don’t even need to buy an expensive workout video to get the most popular workout of the moment – you’ll find shows on the cable you already pay for. Check out some of the major networks early…

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The University of New Hampshire Goes Guiding Stars

The featured photo of the article.

The University of New Hampshire was introduced to the concept of utilizing the popular Guiding Stars program into our campus’ dining program almost 1 year ago. From the moment we began to discuss the program, I felt it was a good fit for what we were trying to accomplish – communicating quick and easy nutritional information in our dining halls.

Prior to Guiding Stars, we presented nutritional information on cards that were placed next to each menu item. While that offering was informative, this easy to understand symbol system, with Gus as its mascot, seemed a natural addition to our program and provided an informational platform for our guests to make food choices.

I am very pleased with the results and the immediate impact the Guiding Stars program has had on our operations. It sets us apart from other Universities and helps put UNH Dining Services in the category of truly innovative organizations.

After the rating of some 1,200 recipes, we introduced the Guiding Stars program to our guests. We viewed the launch as an educational opportunity for not only our students, but for us as well. We quickly learned that some of the menu items we previously thought were “healthy” didn’t pass the Guiding Stars parameters and some items we didn’t think would pass – did.

The Guiding Stars ratings have challenged us to rethink ingredients and incorporate more vegetables and fiber – and less salt and sugar. Feedback has been positive; students, faculty and staff want to see more items on the menu with more Guiding Stars. Recently, we held a Healthy UNH luncheon where almost everything on the menu earned at least one Guiding Star. The feedback on the menu was outstanding and Guiding Stars had a lot to do with the meal’s success.

Throughout the implementation process, right through today, Misty and her colleagues at the Guiding Stars Licensing Company have been great to work with. The team has worked to bridge gaps between our production software company, our IT staff and our evolving needs/ideas. They have been available, supportive and a true partner in the creation of the program at UNH.

The team has worked to bridge gaps between our production software company, our IT staff and our evolving needs/ideas. They have been available, supportive and a true partner in the creation of the program at UNH.

I am very pleased with the results and the immediate impact the Guiding Stars program has had on our operations. It sets us apart from other Universities and helps put UNH Dining Services in the category of truly innovative organizations…

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