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Monday
Jun142010

Kids Cook Monday...and Throughout the Year

A theme that has emerged in the past decade is a reconnection with food, in the kitchen and through family mealtimes, as seen in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaigns. A big reason for this is our country’s ongoing obesity epidemic, now having successfully invaded the youngest of generations. The Healthy Monday campaign, started in 2005 through Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University, is an innovative concept that features Mondays as the perfect day to start healthy behaviors. Just as many of us initiate health-related New Year’s resolutions on January 1, Mondays carry the same “new beginnings” feel to motivate us toward making positive changes. Joanna Lee, a spokesperson for the campaign, says “We consider Monday to be the New Years of every week, but because there are 52 Mondays a year, our participants are likely to keep up their health resolutions week to week.”

The Kids Cook Monday is one program in the campaign that stemmed from increasing research showing the health benefits of families who eat dinner together regularly. Of course, we are a fast food nation and eating together doesn't necessarily guarantee healthful meals but according to the Bureau of Labor, meals eaten with families consist of about 50% more fruits and vegetables than meals eaten alone, and family meals are three times more likely to include low fat choices and less soda. Children in families who eat together tend to get better grades in school, talk to their parents when they have a problem, and experience a lower incidence of obesity. The Kids Cook Monday encourages families to continue this effort all year, using the first day of the week as a reminder to involve the family each week. If parents set aside time with their children not only to eat but cook together, the whole family A Kids Cook Monday healthy idea!learns about food and portion sizes (portion distortion is one of the top reasons why people gain weight, even when eating fat-free and reduced calorie foods). The Kids Cook Monday website offers yummy, nutritious kid-friendly recipes categorized by age with specific instructions on how children can assist with preparation.

Joanna notes that bloggers can play a special role in this campaign: “We’d love it if parent bloggers did weekly The Kids Cook Monday posts, detailing their family dinner through family cooking videos, sharing kid-friendly recipes, or describing their dinner experience with photos.” If you cook regularly with your kids and want to take part in this great campaign and potentially be featured on The Kids Cook Monday web page, please contact Joanna Lee at jlee@mondaycampaigns.org.

Wednesday
Jun092010

Taking Out the Tart

I'm more of a veggie than fruit person but come spring and summer, I get mad cravings for fruit! Nothing is better than juicy, naturally sweet fruits but what you get in the store can be a guessing game. To salvage those strawberries you picked up at 2 for the price of 1 that taste dreadfully sour, try a fruit dip and turn them into sweet dreams. Most packaged fruit dips are filled with sugar and fat, using sour cream, cream cheese, whipping cream or extra sugar. Make your own with yogurt as the base and you'll have an extra energizing and filling snack as the yogurt adds protein and other nutrients. Vanilla yogurt unadorned (I enjoy Yoplait's French Vanilla) makes a delicious simple dip. Or, if you're fancying chocolate try this easy recipe.

More recently I discovered this delightful recipe sprinkled with cinnamon (did you know that early research suggests this spice has antibacterial and antioxidant benefits and may help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes?). It wonderfully complements those tart berries and too tangy Granny Smith apples.

Fruit Dip Whip

1 6 oz. container Chobani Greek yogurt, vanilla or peach flavored

1/3 cup fat free Cool Whip

1 tsp honey

1/2 t cinnamon

  • Stir together all ingredients until mixed well.
  • Serve with an array of sliced fruits for dipping, or make parfaits by alternating layers of dip with layers of sliced fruits.
Tuesday
Jun012010

A Is for Avocado

...B is for banana, C is for cucumber. Now that Jake knows the ABCs tune, we love to make up silly songs. With avocados singing in my head, I decided to revisit this super fruit. Even though it's not sweet, it's classified as a fruit looking like one big berry with a really big seed. The fat content scares off some but it contains a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, like in nuts, that studies show helps lower cholesterol, especially the "bad" LDL cholesterol. It has more potassium than bananas and is a great source of fiber. Avocados also contain a disease-fighting carotenoid called lutein that may help promote eye health. Diced onto salads, they add a creamy and satisfying richness, but the fat in avocados also improves the absorption of nutritious carotenoids found in other common salad ingredients like carrots and tomatoes.

Avocados pair well with citrus flavors, so I came up with this fresh colorful salad recipe. For protein, I added shelled edamame but you can use other protein sources like beans, nuts, eggs or lean meats.

Avocado Citrus Salad

Ingredients

11⁄2 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice

3 T orange juice

1 T honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Dash salt and pepper

1 10 oz can mandarin oranges, drained

1 ripe avocado

1 10 oz bag Spring Salad mix

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 cup edamame

Directions

  1. Dressing: Whisk oil, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl to blend.
  2. Remove avocado flesh from the pit and cut into small chunks or slivers.
  3. Add avocado and oranges to bowl and mix well with dressing. Add the salad mix, red onion, and edamame and toss gently to combine.
  4. If desired, garnish with a sprinkling of almonds or tortilla strips for extra crunch.