Have I mentioned that I’m tired of all the junk food at my daughter’s elementary school? And I am not talking about what they’re serving in the cafeteria. I am talking about the junk food that’s constantly being used for rewards, parties and activities. Here are just a few examples…
- “Box top” prizes where winning class gets a donut or cupcake decorating party
- Skittle sort (why not a button sort, which could even be reused the following year?)
- Cake for the entire class (from the cafeteria) almost every time a student has a birthday
- School “spirit” events at fast food restaurants and pizza places
- “Popsicles with the principal” for top fundraising students
- Celebrating the 100th day of school by stringing 100 fruit loops onto a necklace (cute idea, but I’m confident some healthier alternatives could be just as much fun)
But rather than just sitting here complaining about these issues, I thought why not do something about it instead?! As you may know, another mom and I teamed up to offer our school a healthier “nut-free” snack list so now we are doing the same when it comes to student rewards. And I’m finding that there’s no better place to brainstorm for ideas than my facebook page (thank you everyone for your wonderful ideas). So without further ado here’s a long list of student rewards…that aren’t junk food! We plan to submit this list to our school administration and PTA and hope you’ll consider doing the same by downloading the printable version. And as always, please leave any additional ideas in the comments below. Continue Reading »
We took our own pledge for 100 days in part to convince others that they could follow our same “real food” rules for only 10 days. We realize not everyone is keen on the idea of going “cold turkey” with the 10 Days of Real Food pledge though, which is why we also developed 14 weeks of mini-pledges. If taking baby steps is more your speed then check out the weekly “real food” challenges detailed below.
Earlier this year we finished up these mini-pledges with our readers as a group, but just because we’re no longer taking these pledges together doesn’t mean people can’t do them on their own. If you’re interested in giving it a shot you could start at the beginning or go in your own preferred order. You could also build each week on top of the next or simply tackle one weekly challenge at a time. Our hope is if you take these mini-pledges (or the 10-day pledge) that you’ll gain a new perspective from the experience and make at least some positive long-term changes as a result. No matter what though…these pledges will get you to start reading ingredient labels (if you don’t already)!
14 Weeks of “Real Food” Mini-Pledges
- Week 1: Two fruits and/or vegetables per meal – Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.
- Week 2: “Real” beverages – Beverages will be limited to coffee, tea, water, and milk (only naturally sweetened with a little honey or 100% pure maple syrup). One cup of juice will be allowed throughout the week, and wine (preferably red) will be allowed in moderation (an average of one drink per day). Continue Reading »
We originally cut out processed food because we thought it was the right thing to do. What we didn’t expect were all the surprising improvements to our health that followed. It’s hard not to let those positive changes confirm that it was in fact a very good decision to cut out the junk. In case you or someone you know still needs some convincing check out these 10 reasons below for some “food for thought”….
- Processed foods are an illusion, often appearing to be healthy (with claims like low fat, low carb, vitamin fortified, no trans fat, contains omega-3s, etc.) when these foods are in fact the very thing making a lot of Americans unhealthy, sick, and fat.
- Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us – “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food” according to Michael Pollan. Continue Reading »
This is one of those recipes that my whole family absolutely loves. Let’s face it…meatballs are a crowd pleaser. My youngest daughter even likes cold leftover meatballs in her lunch on occasion. These would also be good on toothpicks as an appetizer at a party or a tailgate, or you could mix them together with some warm noodles and sauce like the picture. You could also double the recipe and freeze the leftover meatballs (when they are either raw or cooked) for a quick meal on a busy day. No matter what you decide to do I promise you will not be disappointed. This recipe has been one of our family’s favorite “go-to” meals for years!
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Pictured: White rice, brown rice and black wild rice (only the brown and black rice are whole grain)
We actually don’t keep track of any of our food stats whether it’s calories, fat grams, carbs or nutrients. One of the key messages I took away from Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, is that if you eat a variety of whole foods that’s heavy on plants and reasonable in quantity then the rest will just fall into place. After all the subtitle of his book is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And we agree that this philosophy is a whole lot easier than weighing out 4 ounces of salmon for dinner or writing down how many calories we consumed in a day.
Now that’s not to say knowing how nutrients in different foods compare couldn’t be valuable information, which is why I’m sharing the below charts today from the Whole Grains Council. In a recent post about “Understanding Grains” I detailed the difference between some of the most common whole and refined grains, and overall I think most people get the fact that whole-wheat is far more nutritious than refined white flour. But lately quite a few readers have been trying to challenge me when I say brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. So without further ado, below are the exact numbers from the Whole Grains Council that very clearly show you the difference between… Continue Reading »
A couple of weeks ago we discussed the fact that meal planning is an important part of sticking to a budget. Not only does meal-planning help you stay on track financially, but I personally think it helps keep things interesting as well. If I actually dedicate a little time to planning out our dinners for the upcoming week there’s a much better chance we’ll have something to look forward to. I know a lot of you out there are expert meal planners (military style!) so please share any tips I left out in the comments below.
- Scour your fridge, pantry, & freezer so you can make note of ingredients you have on hand that should be used before they spoil. Also, make note of any staples you could incorporate as well (like rice or beans) to reduce your overall grocery purchases.
- Ask your local farmers market if they have an email list or newsletter so you can be notified of what they expect to offer at the next market. If not, figure out what will be in-season so you can plan meals around those items before you go. Continue Reading »