Archive for the ‘food news’ Category

Meatless Monday — and FoodieTots — on NPR

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Y’all know that the FoodieTots family participates in Meatless Mondays. Today on NPR, you can hear more about the movement and hear an interview with yours truly, cooking my quinoa-stuffed zucchini boats.

foodie tots on npr

And if you’re looking for more family-friendly Meatless Monday recipes, visit our new Meatless Monday resource page.

What are you cooking for Meatless Monday? And if you’re new here, welcome! Click here to receive new recipes by email as soon as they’re posted, or “like” us on Facebook.

In the Garden: Fighting Pests with Bugs and Flowers

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Thus far my gardening education has largely been in tidbits picked up via Twitter or around the gardening blogs. I did pick up two books to read, Grow Great Grub and The Gardener’s A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food. Another Twitter friend also recommended The Garden Primer, which I may turn to next. So I’ve gleaned little bits about companion planting, like that basil and tomatoes grow well together — so I stuck a basil plant next to my cherry tomatoes. And that marigolds help repel pests — so we threw a couple of those in as well.

And, I’ve heard before about how helpful ladybugs can be, so when Tiffany mentioned that she found some at our local garden center, we rushed over to pick some up this past weekend.

I’m pretty sure that all the ladybugs quickly fled for cooler climates (in typical DC fashion we went from frost advisory to 90s and humid in the span of about a week), but it was a fun experience for the boy. He bonded quickly with the little critters, even giving one a kiss… (above right).

They did seem to set in quickly on whatever was eating my basil, so hopefully a few of them will linger around for a while!

And now, 5 links for Friday:

1. FoodieTots around the web: our “Local Potluck Tuesday” was mentioned on the Washington Post; and our kitchen garden experiment was mentioned in “Mom’s Guide to Gardening with Toddlers and Preschoolers” at SheKnows.com.

2. Let’s Move! Some of my favorite chefs (and foodie moms) participated in today’s “Chefs Move to Schools” launch at the White House; read about it in Jane Black’s article at the Post.

3. Farm-to-School: While chefs talk at the White House, DC’s Farm-to-School Network hosted a city-wide “Stawberries and Salad Greens” event in DC’s public and charter schools this week. Erin of Sustainable in the City made my strawberry agua fresca for 160 elementary school kids!

4. Back in the garden, check out this beautiful post on “Here’s What Could Happen if You Grow Tomatoes” over at Raising Foodies. (I’ll settle for the boy *eating* a tomato from our garden, asking for it for dessert would be icing on the cake!)

5. And be sure to visit goodLife{eats} for this week’s Grow Cook Eat round-up, featuring a call for chard recipes. Our CSA starts next week, so we’ll be looking for new chard recipes, too!

Shopping Smarter at the Supermarket

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

For those who frequently shop with young children, the goal tends to be to get in, get what you need and get out before a meltdown. Reading nutrition labels and trying to make sense of manufacturer’s nutrition claims is increasingly time-consuming. While the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is supposed to regulate misleading claims — like Kellogg’s claiming their sugar-laden cereals increased immunity — for the most part, manufacturers have free reign over how they try to sell you on their products.

nutritioniQShoppers — and its family of grocery stores, including Albertsons, Acme, Bigg’s, Bristol Farms, Cub, Farm Fresh, Jewel-Osco, and Shop ‘n Save — recently unveiled a new program to help customers make sense of the claims. The nutrition iQ program is a grading system that measures food products against seven nutrition benchmarks, and then awards qualifying products a shelf tag stating that it is a good source of whole grains, low in sodium, etc. The guidelines were developed by a health organization, the Joslin Diabetes Center — independent of food manufacturers.

At first glance, this seems like a great tool to help consumers and also to apply market pressure to manufacturers. Early testing showed that consumers did shift their purchases towards products with a nutrition iQ tag. If a manufacturer sees their market share start to slip at participating stores, one would presume they would be encouraged to change their formulas. In fact, some of Shoppers’ own store brand products don’t meet the criteria for their categories, and their in-store nutritionists are working with their manufacturers to make changes.

The labels also provide a little more credibility to claims manufacturers may make on their packaging. It’s almost comical to walk the cereal aisle and see how many of the boldly “NOW WITH WHOLE GRAINS” labeled cereals don’t, in fact, qualify for the nutrition iQ whole grains tag. It’s not that they don’t have whole grains — products also have to fall under a certain sugar threshold before they can even be considered — so they may be too high in sugar and/or have too little actual whole grains. Unfortunately, a number of cereals are still made with the same over-processed grains and then have a whole grain supplement added back. To qualify for the nutrition iQ tag, an actual whole grain must be the first ingredient.

no nutrition iQ tag here

There are no bonus points for organics, so organic soup with high salt content is not going to get a tag. Organic yogurt with a lot of sugar is also disqualified, though you may still prefer that over yogurt with high fructose corn syrup.

The program was rolled out for certain categories of foods to begin with, largely processed ones. While choosing a nutrition iQ-labeled cereal is probably a better choice than one without, I do wonder if it gives an overstated sense of healthfulness — the better choice, still, is probably to skip the cereal and eat oatmeal. But I do think third-party verification of nutrition claims is a step in the right direction.

What do you think, would a store labeling program help you choose better products? How else can we pressure manufacturers to make healthier products?

Shared with Fight Back Friday at the Food Renegade – go check out more recipes and ideas in this week’s round-up.

Disclosure: I received a free lunch and bag of groceries for attending the launch event at Shoppers, as well as a gift card which I donated to charity. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

5 for Friday

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I have a bad habit of “starring” links in my Twitter feed to share later, and then never getting back to them. (Surely someone out there could create an app that reads those links and sends you back a cliff notes version, right??) So I thought I’d try sharing a few favorite things with you on Fridays, with the caveat that I may not get to it every Friday. But I hope you find it useful and will share anything interesting you’ve come across during the week, too, okay?

  • Health Note of the Week: A new study gives hope that some of the negative effects of exposure to BPA (you know, if you used plastic baby bottles pre-2009, or ever eat food or beverages from a can, or use toilet paper, or … ) may be offset by eating leafy greens and soy. Bring on the miso soup!
  • Food FAIL of the Week: New York City schools have decided that kids can buy pre-approved packaged snacks like Doritos and Pop Tarts at school bake sales, but not homemade treats with all those frightening real sugars and non-trans-fats. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t just so flat-out maddening.  Speaking of bake sales, remember to save the date for the National Food Blogger Bake Sale on Saturday, April 17 — coming to a city near you!
  • timeforlunchLunch Bite of the Week: Moms are getting fired up for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, and particularly for getting healthier food into school lunches. Here’s a great post from Ilina at Dirt and Noise.
    (Have you emailed your Congressman/woman yet?)
  • Recipe of the Week: The Jewish festival of Purim is this weekend, and I promised the husband homemade hamantaschen this year. Anyone got a favorite recipe to share?
  • Blog Find of the Week: One of my favorite parenting blogs, Simple Mom, has launched a new food site, Simple Bites. Even better, Simple Bites is edited by one of my favorite foodie mamas, Aimée of Under the High Chair. (Why do I love Aimée? Check out the adorable Pat-the-Bunny cake she made for her younger son’s first birthday.) And there’s the new Simple Organic, too. Love.

Kids vs. Tomatoes

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Tonight at dinner:

Me: “How’s your spaghetti?”
FoodieTot: “Not good. There’s something wrong with it.”
Me: “What’s wrong with it?”
FoodieTot: “It has tomatoes in it.”

He did consent to eat several bites, trying to avoid the visible tomato pieces. I used a different brand of crushed tomatoes tonight, which had a more visible chunk I guess. We’ve been waging battle over tomatoes his entire 3.5 years of life (well, once starting solid foods). He’ll occasionally try one, only to spit it out. We ran into his best friend at the market one summer day and she was buying herself a pint of cherry tomatoes. He declared he did like them then, so we bought a pint as well. Once again, there was a bite quickly followed by, “eww, yuck!”

So I was relieved to read this part of (ChowMama) Stacie’s interview with Feeding Baby Green author Dr. Alan Greene:

“… on average, most kids in the US don’t like whole tomatoes but, if you have them help to chop the tomatoes (carefully, of course), they’re about twice as likely to like them. If they go into a garden and pick a tomato or get a tomato from a farmer’s market before chopping it, they’re about twice as likely again to like it. And if they plant the tomato and watch it grow, most children will actually like tomatoes, just from watching them grow.”

Since the first two suggestions have failed thus far, you can bet we’ll be planting a tomato plant this spring!

For more funny things kids say about food, check out Jenna’s new weekly “Big Words, Little Foodies” round-up over at Food with Kid Appeal.

logo_letsmoveAnd in other feeding kids well news, I’m sure you all saw Michelle Obama’s launch today of “Let’s Move!” — a campaign to fight childhood obesity by increasing access to healthy foods (at home and at school) and encouraging physical activity. (Watch the GMA interview with the First Lady.)

You can get involved by becoming a fan of Let’s Move on Facebook, and visit Slow Food’s Time for Lunch campaign to send a message to your legislators urging increased funding for healthy school lunches.

As Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel explains, “One in three children will grow up to get type 2 diabetes, one in three is overweight or obese, and in the last thirty years, childhood obesity rates have tripled. Fortunately, this is not a mysterious disease. We don’t need to search for a cure. We know what the cure is. Eat healthy food, in reasonable quantities, and stay physically active.”

We’re fortunate to have ready access to fresh, locally grown tomatoes, even if the boy doesn’t yet appreciate them. We have a long way to go to make sure the same is true for every child in America. I’ll be following along and sharing more with you as the “Let’s Move” campaign progresses.