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Wednesday
Nov182009

Salivating over Tofu and Quinoa

Here are a couple of blogs that inspired me recently!

Thanks Amateur Nutritionist for a great recipe new to me: baked tofu! What a fabulous idea for a nutritious ingredient that is unfortunately, in its natural state, bland and mushy. But this particular idea, modified from an Eating Well recipe, is a fast easy way to infuse a burst of bright flavor into tofu. It's easy to eat too, served like a burger with lettuce and tomato. I changed the marinade ingredients from the original recipe to a tablespoon each of Hoisin sauce and honey. Make sure to toast up the bread (I used Arnold Sandwich Thins). The only downfall is that it’s not too filling so you may need to add mayo or a slice of cheese, or serve it with pasta salad or a hearty soup. I ate this sandwich three days in a row, it was so good!

 

Hapa Bento is a fun site I stumbled onto with gorgeous photos (when you’re salivating over shredded carrots and quinoa the pics have to be pretty amazing!). The entire site is devoted to bento boxes, Japanese-style lunch boxes that are traditionally filled with rice, meat or fish, and pickled vegetables. Kind of a hip-ified version of the TV dinner although these have long been a mainstay of Japanese diets. The Americanized version has no limits, using whatever ingredients you have handy, but retaining the extra care and creativity needed. Instead of an everyday packed lunch for your child of a turkey and cheese sandwich, a side of broccoli and carrots, and apple wedges, a bento box might present the same ingredients as slices of turkey and carved apples decorated into Mickey Mouse placed on an artfully arranged pattern of carrots and broccoli. I love this concept because it makes us take the time to prepare and appreciate food ingredients, offers portion control, and feels like a luxury to eat such beautifully crafted healthful food so you savor it more.

 

Thursday
Nov122009

Not Got Chocolate Milk?

There’s an issue going on that I’m not even sure why it’s an issue. Chocolate milk is being banned from some school lunch programs. We know America’s adults are obese, but now that our children are also obese has caused some counties to declare all-out war against the condition. But blame low fat chocolate milk? Come on!

All milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium. A cup of low fat chocolate milk contains about 150-160 calories, 3 grams fat, and 25 grams sugar. Depending on the brand, it may also be fortified with a significant amount of iron and vitamin D. Plain low fat milk contains 110 calories, 3 grams fat, and 12 grams sugar. So, yes, there is more sugar in flavored milk but the potential trade-off is that certain kids may choose milk because it is flavored. "Certain kids" meaning those who wouldn't drink plain milk and might reach for soda instead.   

It’s pretty hard to get enough calcium and vitamin D from food. In fact, most adults use supplements to meet those nutrient needs. Those nutrients are even more important in kids and teens because bones are actively growing and storing minerals to make lifelong strong bones. After the mid 20s, the body dramatically slows down in storing those minerals. I say yes to chocolate milk especially if it replaces other beverages filled with sugar but little else. I don’t view chocolate milk as I do chocolate cookies or chocolate candies. I see it like Honey Nut Cheerios or Raisin Bran or Dannon Strawberry Yogurthealthful food with some added sugar. The nutritional benefits outweigh the small amount of extra calories. Sugar is not a diet evil; it should definitely be limited, but controlled amounts can greatly increase our eating pleasure.  

The bottom line is that chocolate milk isn’t a necessity in school lunch programs and I doubt kids’ calcium intakes will drop dramatically without it, but I do believe it can help increase some kids’ overall calcium intakes and may even help satisfy a sweets craving that would otherwise be fulfilled by eating higher calorie chocolate bars and cookies. Hopefully the fight against childhood obesity will focus on more meaningful issues like supporting quality physical education programs and nutrition classes. For more info, click on the links below.

Monday
Nov092009

Fuji Offers Great Sushi Outside Boston

The always bustling sushi bar at FujiThere are plenty of celebrated sushi spots in Boston like Oishii and Fugakyu. Some have teppanyaki or "hibachi-style" grills for those who love seeing their food tossed in the air and lit on fire (who isn't charmed by the volcanic stack of flaming onions?). I have a favorite place that may not serve the most amazing sushi (I think it does, but as I prefer California Rolls and cooked items I don’t qualify myself as a true sushi connoisseur) but that I truly look forward to and have cravings for at least twice a month—Fuji Steak House. When I worked in Needham Center, it was a top choice for celebrating co-workers’ birthdays and a successful host for our employee Christmas party. The atmosphere is clean, pleasant, and relaxed. Customers always seem jolly, enjoying their food. One section holds a large dining area with several teppanyaki tables, and another includes a sushi bar with more intimate tables. A few of the waitresses aren’t always in the best mood, showing curt expressions and who my Asian dining friends speculate aren’t really Japanese (note: Asian people love to dissect other Asian people’s ethnicities). However, the owner always wears a huge welcoming grin that would instantly brighten anyone’s day and the service is usually fast. Lunch Monday thru Saturday is the most economical, with Maki lunch special with Una-Avo Maki and Seaweed Salad Makiteppanyaki specials running from 9.95 to 12.95 (choices range from tofu to filet mignon), and maki specials from 8.50 to 9.95 (includes a choice of two maki). Both lunch specials arrive with salad and miso soup. Although I’ve tried to enjoy raw, my top choices remain the savory Idaho maki (sweet potato tempura) and una-avo maki (grilled eel and avocado). Definitely bring the kids, who will be enchanted by the flaming food and a cool indoor pond with beautiful fat koi carp.