When my son Oliver started public school this year, I told myself I was going to keep an open mind about the lunchroom offerings. Sadly, my preconceived notions about the food were right on target. Admittedly there is some healthy food to be had; it is just not prepared in an appealing manner. Furthermore, my son is only eager to buy on the most unhealthful days of the week, hot dogs, prepackaged peanut butter and jelly (really) & of course chicken fingers.
Granted, I don’t want to appear to be the food police, but I consider these foods to be “fun” and not ones I am happy to see on the regular lunch rotation. Though I believe in food choice, my almost 7 year old would happily eat M & M’s for dinner, washed down with a cup of Gatorade. So how can my son make proper food choices at school if there are so many more appealing, yet very unhealthy options? Is it possible for schools to offer more healthy appealing choices and stay within their budget? I recently read a very insightful column by Mark Bittman discussing these issues. Click the link to read.
You probably don’t need an article to tell you that people who work…are more invested in what they do…when they have positive relationships with their coworkers and supervisors.
After all, loving people and serving others is at the core of our core.
But, Five Things Great Managers Do Every Day, is excellent.
Recently I had the privilege of hearing a very well respected physician speak on the topic of health and nutrition. However, when this physician started quoting Dr. Oz, my inner skeptic went on overdrive. All credibility was lost on me when this speaker began quoting NYT reporter (and major propagandist) Gary Taubes.
Sensationalism. That is the word I think of when I hear Gary Taubes (not a physician by the way), Dr Oz and other “experts” speak about nutrition and weight loss. The quick fixes, the pills, the supplements, no sugar, no gluten, no grains, no wheat, hey how about no food!
Not to say that these physicians and reporters don’t give us something to think about; science is ever changing and these “experts” certainly give us food for thought. However, no matter the credentials a practitioner has we need to be skeptics of the quick fixes and promises that simply do not work.
I had a fabulous dinner at Foo Dogs ramen bar in Richmond a couple weeks ago. The company was the best part (Chris Blain, the hot new chef at the governor’s mansion!). But the food was a close second!
We started with
BAO WOW (love the name!)
Two pork belly bao sliders with cilantro, red onion,
plum sauce drizzle and sprinkled with cashews
Basically pork buns served taco style. The shell was the typical chinese pork bun dough. It was folded around perfectly tender, fatty & sweet pork belly. The accompaniments finished it off nicely!
Eight Wings tossed in a fiery Foo Dog signature
sauce, Korean BBQ Sauce or Malay Curry Sauce
We had the fiery Foo Dog signature sauce. It was delicious, but pretty much your typical hot wing sauce. Loved that the wings were small, really crispy & not breaded!
For out entrees, we shared two ramen dishes:
Red miso & curry broth with Chicken breast, soft cooked egg, bean sprout and scallion
Stir fried with Chasu pork (Chinese flavored bbq pork), shitake mushroom
and green onion (no broth)
The broth on the Malasian ramen was incredible! Light, just enough sweetness & heat to know you were eating curry. The noodles were floating in the sauce, so they were soft & silky. The richness of the egg yolk just takes it over the top!
The Chinese ramen was by far my favorite dish of the evening! The Chasu (aka Char siu or Chashu) pork was salty, sticky & delicious! There was no broth, just the pork, vegetables & noodles stir fried. It was delicious on its own, but even better with a ladle of the curry broth from the Malasian ramen.
I highly recommend trying Foo Dog! It’s a great little place, right on Main Street in Richmond. Fairly new, but doing a booming business! You won’t be disappointed!!!
VOTED #1 BEST SCHOOL LUNCHES IN AMERICA
“If you’ve got the two First Daughters enrolled at your academy, you’d better be sure the lunch is luxurious. And that’s exactly how it is at Sidwell. Cuisines you’d never dream of show up on the menu here, such as an entire lunch of Brazilian delicacies like feijoada, caldo verde soup, all-natural chicken with coconut milk, and mango and pineapple with lime and mint. There’s a soup every day, like borscht, creamy spinach soup or Tuscan white bean, and creative dishes like the Creole caprese salad or hot and sour Cajun gumbo served on “Fat Tuesday.””
Admit it: When you were a whippersnapper paying your dues in your local school system, you probably tried to avoid the mystery meat of the day the way a vegan avoids eating animals. With few exceptions — namely extra-crispy pepperoni pizza (round or rectangle; they both met the minimum edibility requirements, if “edibility” is, in fact, a word), cookies, copious quantities of chocolate milk, and the ultimate juggernaut of taste when it came to Caféteria food: glorious, golden-baked Jamaican beef patties — it was simply too high a social risk to consume the majority of mysterious conglomerations that “lunch ladies” ladled onto those flimsy, Styrofoam trays.
To a teenager who used about a quarter-cup of hair gel every morning to form perfect scalp stalagmites, the choice between starving oneself at lunch and then having to run two miles during eighth-period gym class on an empty stomach versus the unknown possibilities that could ensue from scarfing some of Ethel and Gertrude’s “secret-recipe” chili was as clear as vodka.
Thank goodness somebody realized how backwards it was to serve such unappealing, nutritionally lacking lunches. In the past decade, enormous changes have been made nationwide in the ways learning institutions feed our offspring. Initiatives have been undertaken where schools have students manage organic gardens on premises and take field trips to local farms to learn where their lunch originates and how it grows. Budgets have been utilized more thoughtfully and efficiently, investing in these same farms to supply students with the freshest ingredients and an abundance of healthy choices, and in other creative, culinary-geared ways.
Some of the public schools (and, in some cases, entire districts) that made this list earned their place by overhauling pre-existing systems that were clearly in need of a makeover; others were added because their private school status afforded them the luxury of an on-staff celebrity chef (I’m not kidding, people). Most of these schools integrate nutrition, food history, and business and economic principles — like supply and demand and supply-chains — into curriculum by way of their culinary programs, some going as far as to bring esoteric teachings like bee-keeping into the mix. And our top school on the list had better have gourmet fare in its Caféteria — it’s where the POTUS’s daughters attend.
Schools like The Calhoun School in Manhattan, New York, have a French culinary chef weighing-in on the menu design, and ten-day menus are even submitted a week in advance. Others like the high schools in Burlington, Vermont, source a third of all their ingredients for the lunches locally and add bonus fruits and vegetables, and unlimited milk to meals for hungry students.
1c black caviar lentils
1lb local beets (heirloom if available)
1/3c fresh orange juice
2T orange zest
1/4c shallots, minced
2T cider vinegar
1c olive oil
6oz goat cheese
2c baby salad greens
1. Wrap beets in foil, roast at 325°F, 1 hr
2. Peel beets while warm, dice to ½”, chill
3. Cook lentils in 4 c salted water until tender. Drain & chill
1. Combine 1st six ingredients, slowly whisk in oil
2. Peel, section & dice orange
3. Toss chilled lentils, beets & orange sections with ⅔ of dressing
4. Assemble greens; top with lentils, orange sections, beets & crumbled goat cheese
5. Drizzle with remaining dressing
Recently I had the privilege of attending the annual meeting of the Virginia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. One theme that kept popping up was the endless amount of nutrition misinformation on the Internet. Do a Google search on the latest nutrition hot topic and you will find an extraordinary amount of “expert” information which in reality is simply a layperson giving their opinion. Next time you conduct a health related search remind yourself that anyone can create a blog or website with a catchy name. Follow these helpful tips by true nutrition experts from Appetite for Health to find the most reliable and evidence (i.e. science based) health & nutrition information.
Five ways to Get Better Internet-Based Nutrition Information
Look for peer-reviewed references: Almost every nutrition article we write on our blog, we provide the references and links to the abstracts or full research articles, when available. Of course, there’s a big difference in the quality of research with human clinical trials being the gold standard while animal studies or laboratory analyses don’t carry the same clout.
Check the writer’s bio: A quick search about the writer can turn up all kinds of useful information. You can see if she/he holds a research or clinical position at a hospital or university; or you can see if they have degrees that make them qualified to be able to provide the most accurate information. You can also see the relationships the writer may have with corporations that may influence his or her point of views on various nutrition issues. For example, a writer who consults with Monsanto or DuPont may have a strong pro-GMO stance.
Use .gov sites: We have a lot of wonderful government resources on the Internet that have accurate information, so use them. As a dietitian, I turn to Health and Human Services, FDA, USDA and many other government-based sites when I’m researching topics.
One study or source isn’t enough: Credible, peer-reviewed science needs to be replicated several times–and from various research labs–before you change eating habits based on the results. Often times, Internet stories fail to note that the study was preliminary or the results have only been found from one laboratory. Unless there is consistency in results with several studies, it’s probably not worth making changes based on the results.
Be a healthy skeptic: Probably the best piece of nutrition advice I can give to anyone is to be a critical thinker and if something sounds too good to be true, know that it’s 99% likely to be a sham. The Internet today is full of modern-day charlatans that may have degrees or even TV shows, but they too can have hidden agendas, and may have a financial incentive to mislead consumers.
Given the topic of my previous blog I thought it was fitting that I stumbled upon this article. Many of us (falsely) believe if only we had better willpower we would surely eat less, and then surely we will be “bikini body” ready or weigh the same we did in high school (20 years later).
Statements that really stuck with me from this article:
“Many people go through life believing that they can’t stick to a diet because they have no willpower. They believe that some innate force is keeping them from resisting food temptations,” The truth is that the ability to stick to a weight loss diet has little to do with will — and everything to do with changing the way we think about food.
Believing that willpower is at work only serves to make you feel less in control of your eating habits, experts say.
One of the best ways to avoid eating too much of the foods you don’t want, is, ironically enough, to allow yourself to eat them. “The more you deny yourself what you want, the weaker you will feel when you’re around it, and the harder it will be to resist.”
This last statement is one I firmly believe. Before you go another day (or minute for that matter) berating yourself about your lack of willpower to avoid eating that brownie, I encourage you to read this article and re-frame your thoughts about willpower.
Though you wouldn’t know it by the weather, summer will be upon us in the next few months. The change of season is evident by the bombardment of articles promising to get you a “bikini body” in just a few months. Though my deliveries from the mailman have dropped significantly in the electronic age, I still manage to get obscure catalogs featuring scantily clad women on the beach.
Normally I don’t think much about these marketing ploys, but since I have had the opportunity to work one on one with college students, my eyes have been opened to the world of body dissatisfaction. I have seen young females in all shapes & sizes; the one thing they have in common is they are not happy with the way they look. Focus on the flaws seems to be the mantra.
Although it is easier said than done, I want to spread the word that we should focus on the strengths of our body. Rather than worrying whether the food we eat will add pounds, shouldn’t we be concerned that the food we eat is healthy and benefits our bodies in the long-term?
In honor of the upcoming “bikini season” I am including some adapted tips on Ways to Love your Body.
1. Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Rest when you are tired.
2. Change the messages you are giving yourself. Identify the negative ways that you speak to yourself and make a decision to replace that self-talk with more realistic, loving, and positive statements.
3. The number on the scale does not determine your worth. You are much more than a number on a scale. Instead focus on the most important things about yourself like your unique talents, qualities, skills, and characteristics.
4. Think of your body as an instrument instead of as an ornament. Be thankful every day for all of the wonderful things you can do in your body such as dance, play, run, and enjoy good food.
5. Exercise to feel good and be healthy, not to lose weight or punish your body. Find fun ways to add more physical activity in your life.
6. Walk with your head held high. If you act like someone with a healthy body image and good self-confidence, the “act” will eventually become reality.
7. Wear comfortable clothes that fit. Clothes that are too large or too small tend to create physical discomfort and may make you feel even worse about your body. Clothes that fit you well are designed to complement your figure.
8. Question ads that perpetuate unrealistic standards for our bodies. Instead of saying, “What’s wrong with me,” say, “What’s wrong with this ad?” Set your own standards instead of letting the media set them for you.
9. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you and your body, not critical.
10. Every day tell yourself, “I am worthy.”
Adapted from: Judy Lightstone, RD. “Improving Body Image”
- If you really want to see the scale number drop, what you put in your mouth matters most
- Active lifestyles may not protect against obesity if people continue to consume a “Western” Diet (i.e. high in sugars, salts & processed foods)
- Exercisers, however, are more successful keeping the extra weight off than non-exercising couterparts
Source: Michael Pollan Food Rules