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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.


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.


Yes, Vegetarians DO Love to Eat!

It was a beautiful fall morning and I was especially rested from the extra hour of sleep granted by turning our clocks back, so I decided to check out the Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. My first time there, I wasn’t prepared for the suffocating mob in the single auditorium space. I should have expected it at a free event offering lots of free food. The variety of vendor booths affirmed how vegetarianism covers a broad scope, whether focusing on health, the environment, religion, or cruelty in animal slaughterhouses. I noticed quinoa, flax, organic t-shirts and…the desserts! The last thing I’d associate with vegetarianism is amazing desserts, but I was captivated by some impressive sweets displays, particularly Vegan Treats Bakery, a celebrated Philadelphia bakery hopefully soon to break into the Boston market. I’ve had many a dairy-free cake because of my nephew’s allergies, all tasting like sawdust, but whoa!—these cakes were simply spectacular. My frosted triple chocolate mini-cake was very moist, very chocolately, and beautiful to behold. I daresay it was better than regular chocolate cake and made me suspicious that it was missing any butter or eggs. Sorry to highlight the sweets but this display was so beautiful!I scored several freebies of hummus snack packs, organic energy bars, vegetarian magazines, and dairy-free chocolates. I tasted new items like African bean cakes (reminded me of the fried taro dumplings at a Chinese dim sum) and Teather, a kind of adult fruit roll-up made with tart organic pressed fruits rich in phytonutrients. I curiously checked out a massive line in one corner and chuckled when I saw it was for Tribe Hummus, a common product found at any supermarket! Oh well, hungry people love free food. For those expecting to eat lunch, many vegetarian restaurants were present, selling plates of their most popular items. Expert chefs and researchers offered educational talks. After a dizzying hour to survey all the booths, you leave with a heavy bag of nice samples, coupons, and inspiration to eat green, or at least appreciate that vegetarians and even vegans are serious foodies too.Lotsa goodies!