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Wednesday, September 29 2010
Editor's note: all week, CNN Newsroom, Rick's List and Eatocracy are teaming up to take a look the effects our dining choices have on our minds, bodies and wallets. Tune into CNN Newsroom daily from 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m. ET for on-air coverage and join in the discussion here on Eatocracy.ALL COVERAGE
(CNN) -- Dana Woldow issues a challenge to every member of Congress: "Try school cafeteria food in your district. Then see if you continue to make the same decisions about how you fund the program."
This San Francisco, California, mother of three is mad. As the co-chair of the student nutrition and physical activity committee for the San Francisco Public School District, she has personally led the charge to improve school meals.
"I got involved completely by accident," Woldow said. "The principal of our middle school wanted to get the soda and junk and chips out of our school cafeteria and needed a parent to help. It really wasn't an issue for me because I packed [my children's] lunch, but when I saw what was being served, I felt relieved they never asked me for money to buy it and I felt sorry for the kids who did or who had no other choice but to eat what was being served."
She got involved in 2002. She said she feels her committee's volunteer efforts have made the district's meals much healthier, but she said they still have more to do. She thinks the federal government is setting the program up for failure.
Congress is about to increase the amount of money it gives to the National School Lunch Program. The Obama administration asked for more than $10 billion to improve the program over 10 years. The current bill cuts that money in half. If the bill passes, districts will get about a 6-cent increase per child. Currently, schools in high-expense cities such as San Francisco get $2.74 a meal per child. "When's the last time you could get a lunch for that price?" Woldow asked. "What we need is really about $5 a child to feed them healthy food."
The No. 1 meal served to children in U.S. schools is chicken fingers and French fries. Processed food is much cheaper to serve than fresh produce. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 94 percent of school lunches failed to meet the U.S. Agriculture Department's regulatory standards. None of the schools met the sodium benchmark, based on the 2005 dietary guidelines. One in five schools served lunches that met the total fat standard. It's no wonder, then, that another study from 2009 that looked at children who participated in the National School Lunch Program found they were more likely to gain weight than other children.
From its beginning, the National School Lunch Program has been woefully under-funded, according to many school food experts. While the federal government mandates schools that receive federal money serve a free lunch to children whose families meet a certain income, the funds don't cover the entire cost of the meal. So, state governments or local school districts make up the difference. "Which of course is a problem, because every dollar that has to be supported by the general fund is a dollar out of the classroom," said Ed Wilkins, the school nutrition director for the San Francisco Public Schools.
Wilkins joked that around school his nickname is "Mo Money." But without it, no matter how much he wants to serve children healthier food, it's tough. "But not impossible. I do think we've done a lot with this program with very little."
San Francisco has radically transformed its meal service. When Woldow started observing what kids were served in 2002, she was shocked. "In the school cafeteria you could buy soda, potato chips, snack cakes, corndogs, French fries, apple turnovers, ice cream --you know, carnival food," she said. The popular wisdom at the time was if a school stopped serving these empty-calorie foods, the cafeteria would lose money and the district wouldn't be able to make up for the gap in federal funding with those profits. Woldow wanted to test that theory.
She did an analysis of the budget. "What we found out was our cafeteria had actually been operating in the red even selling soda and potato chips hand over fist," she said. So, they launched a pilot project at one middle school. It eliminated the junk food from the a la cart program and removed it from the vending machines.
Instead they sold freshly made deli sandwiches, salads, soup and even sushi. "Three months after we started our pilot project, the cafeteria was breaking even. Six months into it, our cafeteria was one of two in the school district that turned a profit. So much for the idea that you will lose money if you stop selling junk food in your cafeteria," Woldow said.
The next year they expanded the program to every middle and high school. Based on the program's success, the school board passed a resolution to remove junk food by the start of the 2003-2004 school year.
Today, many of the public schools in San Francisco have salad bars. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at every school daily. Healthy snacks such as baked chips, low-fat crackers and fruit snacks are in the vending machines. White bread is gone. Whole grain bread and wheat pasta are on the menu. The entire district also is trans-fat free. "We have been able to bring in fruits and vegetables, but it's been a costly project," Wilkins said. "As it is, there is a desire to have an even better program here, but there's such funding limitations there is an absolute limit on what we can achieve."
Most of the schools in the district lack kitchens, so they must buy pre-produced food from off-site. Most of the vegetables they use are frozen. While hundreds of farms are nearby, the district can't afford to buy organic produce.
"Schools shouldn't have to choose between meeting their children's academic needs and meeting their nutritional needs," Woldow said. "We need a higher reimbursement -- 6 cents isn't going to do it."
"We found money for small businesses. We found money for small banks. We certainly should find money for small kids," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the National School Lunch Program.
While the funding in the current bill is less than the Obama administration asked for, Vilsack vows that his department will do everything it can to help schools do the best with what money they are given. He said when he was asked to take the job as head of the Department of Agriculture, the first thing President Obama asked him to do was to improve the country's school meal program.
"We need to do a better job improving access and improving the quality of those programs," Vilsack said.
The Obama administration has launched several high profile initiatives to improve school meals. The "Chefs Move to Schools" program launched by first lady Michelle Obama from the White House lawn calls on chefs to adopt schools and work with teachers and school nutrition professionals to help educate kids about food and nutrition.
The "Recipes for Healthy Kids" is a recipe competition to encourage participants to develop healthy and delicious meals that meet nutritional requirements. Winners will be invited to prepare these meals alongside White House chefs and their work will be published in a Recipes for Healthy Kids cookbook.
The "Healthier U.S. School Challenge" recognizes schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.
School food advocates said they like the extra attention these efforts bring to the issue of school food, but they worry it's not enough.
"A lot of the programs the USDA sponsors are based around the idea that every school cafeteria has a kitchen. Well, here in San Francisco, like a lot of school districts in this country, we don't. We haven't cooked in our elementary schools in more than 25 years. You can talk all you like about chefs moving to schools and sharing their expertise and that would be great, but we don't have any place for those chefs to cook. And you can have kids developing recipes from scratch with dark green leafy vegetables and that's wonderful, but where are these recipes going to be cooked if there is no kitchen?"
Vilsack said schools are going to have to be creative. "It's up to all of us. It isn't just up to government. The reality is everybody needs to be engaged in this," he said. "It's no one's fault but it's everyone's opportunity. If you make it a priority we will respond at USDA. Parents will respond and school districts will respond. We're already beginning to see that we will have to be creative about it. There's nothing we can't do in this country if we make it a priority.""Maybe we've gone as far as we can go in the absence of proper federal funding," Woldow said. "We can't afford the organic sustainably raised apple, but the fact is we have an apple and not an apple turnover and that's how we measure progress."
Tuesday, September 28 2010
It is important to learn a little about Italian history in order to better understand northern Italian cuisine and how it evolved. People from the north of Italy fled the Lombard invasion in 570 AD, taking refuse in the remote parts of the countryside.
The Roman armies were defeated and barbaric invasions were ongoing. Venice was founded and the north Adriatic Sea lagoons protected it. It was not until 1000 AD that people started to return to the cities.
There was a rapid population increase at this point, which boosted fairs and market commerce, artisan manufacture and agricultural production. Italy divided itself into autonomous city republics, which means the smaller Italian cities were soon invaded by foreign powers, which controlled these areas until 1862.
Because of their trade with the Islamic world as well as national commerce and trade with northern Europe, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Verona, Genoa, and Venice all became very rich. The courts of nobility had many banquets and feasts at the time, each of which was magnificent and opulent. The recipes dating from this era are still preserved although such elaborate meals are not meant for everyday meals.
Fish Recipes In Italian Cuisine
The recipes from the north of the country are not as extensive as you might think, considering the long coastline. There are not so many fish in the Mediterranean as in the Atlantic so most recipes from the area do not include fish or seafood as an ingredient.
Also, fish used to be tricky to transport, especially into the interior of Italy, where the inhabitants would eat lake fish or freshwater fish instead. Many people think of meat such as beef, pork and cured ham when they think about Italian cuisine but modern transportation possibilities mean that fish is popular all over the country as well and is included in a lot of dishes.
Well Known Italian Ingredients
A lot of original cooking techniques and unique ingredients were developed in the north of Italy and they are still in use all over the globe today. Examples include balsamic vinegar from Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano from Emilia, red radicchio from Treviso, pesto, tortellini, prosciutto and much more. Rice and maize dominate the mountainous Po Valley area. The rice is used for risotto and the maize is used for polenta.
South of the Po River are Romagna and Emilia. This land is fertile and wheat and pork are produced abundantly there. Bologna, which is the food capital of the country, is nicknamed La Grassa, which means "the fat" and fresh pasta is famous in the region. Pasta recipes from Bologna are especially refined and sophisticated.
Venice's cuisine is rich with fish, including sardines and other crustaceans and mollusks. Cioppino, which is a fish stew, is well loved in Liguria. This dish was taken to San Francisco with fishermen from Genoa at the beginning of the 1900s, and it is often served in Italian restaurants there. Dried cod and salt cod were used in many of Veneto's recipes since they were available all year.
Even though some Italian cities were ruled by foreign powers for a time, Italy's native cuisine never lost its identity and, instead, the foreign dishes and ingredients were incorporated into the local fare, making Italian cuisine truly classical and traditional.
Sunday, September 26 2010
The other day while I was making zucchini bread, I cracked an egg and dumped it right down the drain. Total mistake. (With a baby who still wakes up multiple times a night, I’m still a little sleep deprived.) There was a time, however, when I intentionally washed egg yolks down the drain—and used only the whites—because I thought that egg yolks were bad for my heart.Joyce Hendley tackles this food myth and 12 others in the September/October issue of EatingWell Magazine.
Here are the details of why you should go ahead and eat the yolks, plus highlights of other food myths that just won’t die.
Myth 1: Eggs are bad for your heart.
Related: Two Dozen Easy, Healthy Egg Recipes
Myth 2: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse for you than sugar.
Myth 3: A raw-food diet provides enzymes that are essential to healthy digestion.
Myth 4: Your body can’t use the protein from beans unless you eat them with rice.
Myth 5: Microwaving zaps nutrients.
Related: How to Cook 20 Vegetables
Myth 6: Radiation from microwaves creates dangerous compounds in your food.
What food myth are you sick of hearing people defend?
Friday, September 17 2010
In order to make your parties and events very special you can take the help of the especially prepared gourmet food items that would really make your mouth water. You would be surprised to know that gourmet food items are very easily available and you just need to gather all the ingredients in order to prepare a special meal. These delicacies are prepared with great culinary skills and sophistication and great attention is paid to the presentation of the dishes. There are various cookery books available in the market which would provide you some special recipes for gourmet food.
Gourmet food baskets are easily available in the market which you can purchase and present to your guests. In this article, I would basically like to tell you about some special dishes that you can prepare for parties.
1. Entertain your guests with rich flavor
2. Smoked Salmon
3. Gourmet Wine
4. Gourmet Dessert
Thursday, September 16 2010
Food Network star Ellie Krieger shares her secrets.
- Jane Farrell, BettyConfidential.com
Most of us want to eat healthy, but with all the information around, it can be hard to know just how to go about it. Registered dietitian Ellie Krieger, the host of the popular Food Network show Healthy Appetite, cuts through all the unnecessary stuff to show you what works for her—and what will work for you, too.
1. Have a good breakfast. As many times as we’ve all heard this, Ellie says it’s a “key habit.” Her recommendations: whole-grain cereals, plus seasonal berries, in skim milk. Look for “whole grain,” not “multi grain” on cereal boxes; whole grains are healthier. “I also love old-fashioned, steel-cut rolled oats,” she says.
2. Eat seasonally. If you know what produce is in season, you can choose the fruits and vegetables that are freshest (and haven’t been trucked in from thousands of miles away.) If you’re craving a fruit or vegetable that isn’t in season, Ellie suggests buying an equally healthy frozen version – without sauce, butter or sugar.
3. Shop at the right time. Ask your supermarket when its produce is delivered, and shop then. Your vegetables will have a longer “shelf life.”
4. Avoid picking. If you’re going to eat, sit down and enjoy it. Don’t pick at food while you’re rushing around the kitchen or dinner table. “You’ll get the calories without the satisfaction,” says Ellie, “and it’s a bad example for your children.”
5. You can have a high-calorie treat, but only if it’s worth it. If you start eating a pastry and find out you don’t like the taste, there’s no law that says you have to finish it. When you do have a treat you like, says Ellie, “eat it, savor it and enjoy it.”
6. Add spices to make plain dishes zippier. “Curry, ginger, garlic, chili powder have tremendous anti-oxidant effects,” Ellie says. In other words, the spices can help fight certain kinds of cancer. She also suggests that you buy your spices in small quantities (since they usually keep their flavor just 6 to 12 months) and that you go to a store where there’s a frequent turnover of spices so they’ll be fresher.
7. Eat fish twice a week. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon help fight inflammation in your body. That can help people with rheumatoid arthritis. These fish also have omega-3 acids, which help battle inflammation and cancer.
8. Stop when you’re full. Don’t feel that you have to gobble up every bit of food in front of you. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 “starving” and 10 “Thanksgiving full”, Ellie suggests you end your meal at 5 or 6.
9. Get your kids involved in preparing healthy food with you. “They can make a smoothie [strawberries, skim milk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, and a bit of wheat germ]. My daughter loves the way the blender sounds,” Ellie says.
10. Eat the rainbow. Focus on boldly colored fruits and vegetables: red, like peppers and apples; yellow, like bananas; violet, like eggplant. All these are a great source of antioxidants.For more information from Ellie, and to take a look at her healthy, yummy recipes, you can order her booksSmall Changes Big Results and So Easy: Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Day of the Week. You can also visit her website at www.elliekrieger.com.
Tuesday, September 14 2010
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, your dinner could be to blame. Our esteemed panel of nutritionists and dieticians list out seven foods that keep you up past your bedtime. For the ones that put you to sleep, click here.
You've known this guy for years. He's gotten you through countless all-nighters and pepped you up for that 8 a.m. Monday morning presentation. But did you know that caffeine isn't actually giving your body any energy? "Though caffeine does provide us with that feeling of alertness, it's just a stimulant," says Michelle Dudash, registered dietician, chef, and freelancer writer.
If a nap is in your future, steer clear of Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, and other hard cheeses (basically, all the yummy smelly ones!). The high levels of the amino acid tyramine are known to keep you up.
Hot tamale! Those hot wings may taste damn good during the football game, but they aren't going to feel so great come bedtime — especially if you're prone to heartburn, since lying down only amps up its side. Make sure you eat your favorite hot foods early enough in the day to prevent a sleepless night later.
Processed or Smoked Meats
Leave this one on the deli counter. Cynthia Pasquella, CCN, CHLC, CWC, says processed meats contain high levels of tyramine and makes the brain release a chemical that makes us feel alert. These meats also aren't the healthiest ones to munch on either, sleep patterns aside.
Even though it's a depressant, alcohol will, oddly enough, keep you up at night. "Many people use alcohol to help them relax, but it actually prevents your body from entering the deep stages of sleep," says Pasquella. Although you may fall asleep, you won't feel very well-rested in the morning.
The average milk chocolate bar contains tyrosine, which is converted into dopamine — a stimulant, says Pasquella. This causes alertness and restlessness, which can keep you up at night.
Herbal teas are great for sleeping, but steer clear of ginseng. It's been shown to act as a stimulant, and though some tea drinkers don't feel any effects from the tea, others experience insomnia and hypertension. If you might fall in this category, avoid drinking it several hours before bed, recommends Pasquella.
Friday, September 10 2010
How many times have you heard that you are what you eat? I’m reminded of that fact whenever I’m pulling on tight jeans or having a no-energy day, but too often I forget to make the connection between what I eat and the way my SKIN looks. The “Today” show’s nutrition expert, Joy Bauer, one of my favorite guests, came by our studio to tell us which beauty superfoods should be at the top of our shopping lists.
One of the reasons I love talking to Joy is because she has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything edible. Her recipes are all about packing as much supportive nutrition into each meal as possible. Here’s Joy’s list of the 7 items we all need to start working into our meals asap:
Red Bell Pepper. Everyone thinks citrus fruits corner the market on vitamin C but one red pepper has 2 to 3 times more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C keeps skin healthy because it helps protect us from the sun (which also means it’s an anti-ager) and it’s a key nutrient in collagen production, which keeps skin firm.
Avocado. This unsaturated, heart-healthy fat helps keep skin moist and it contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, which protects skin from aging.
Shrimp. This iron-rich protein helps us grow thick, shiny hair and strong nails while the zinc in shrimp is great for our skin.
Sweet Potato. Beta-carotene is important for new skin cell turnover and these have a ton.
Kale. This vegetable powerhouse is packed with both beta-carotene and vitamin C.
Wild Salmon. This fish is loaded with omega-3 fats, which keep toxins out of cells and allow good ingredients in.
Wheat Germ. Joy loves this excellent source of vitamin E and Zinc for its versatility. She suggests sprinkling some on yogurt or oatmeal in the morning. Mix wheat germ and whole wheat flour to bread chicken cutlets.
For more info, check out joy’s website, joybauernutrition.com, and pick up a copy of her most recent cookbook, ‘Slim & Scrumptious’, which uses lots of the superfoods on her list. I recommend the crispy kale!
Do you have any go-to foods that make your skin look and feel good? Let us know!
Thursday, September 09 2010
As Claude Fischler once said, "If you are what you eat and you don't know what you're eating, do you know who you are?" With busy work schedules and even busier lives, the temptation to eat fast meals, generally high in fat, sodium, calories, and sugar, remains a great risk to the health of the nation, especially healthcare professionals working long hours. Whether you're a surgeon in surgical scrubs with ten-minutes to eat before you have to scrub in, or a nurse in a children's ward, here are some great power foods that will keep your energized throughout your workday and beyond.
Water. Reading this you may find yourself saying, "duh?" but the truth is that most people don't drink the recommended eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day. If you wear sports scrubs, you are probably more physically active and will need to up your water intake to replace what is lost in sweat. Some call it the "Eight by Eight Rule," which is easy to remember.
Nuts. You don't have to be a hospital dietician in tall scrub pants to know that an increase in nut intake has assumed with the reduction in risk factors associated with heart disease. Nuts also have fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin E. The best way to enjoy nuts is au naturale. Avoid nuts that are salted or sugared for maximum flavor and health benefits.
Yogurt. There are so many flavors of yogurt packaged especially for the on-the-go lifestyle that you might not have a chance to try every variety in a month. Yogurt helps boost your immune system and is a great source of high-quality protein. When you're in the dairy aisle, remember to purchase a yogurt with low sugar content.
Coffee. Most healthcare professionals consider coffee an integral part of any given workday. Coffee has come under some criticism, but in moderation current research suggests that moderate consumption has no harmful health effects. So go ahead and enjoy a cup of health-inducing phytonutrients.
Beans. Pinto, black, kidney and red beans-whatever your preference-provide a high protein, low fat addition to any meal or on their own. They are also rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
Thursday, September 02 2010
Are you one of those people who pour the milk down the drain on the expiration date?
Expiration dates on food products can protect consumer health, but those dates are really more about quality than safety, and if not properly understood, they can also encourage consumers to discard food that is perfectly safe to eat.
A recent poll of more than 2,000 adults showed that most of us discard food we believe is unsafe to eat, which is a good thing, of course, but it is important that we understand what food expiration dates mean before we dump our food -- and our money -- down the drain or into the garbage. On average, in the U.S. we waste about 14% of the food we buy each year. The average American family of four throws out around $600 worth of groceries every year.
Which five foods are most often feared as being unsafe after the printed date? According toShelfLifeAdvice.com, we are most wary of milk, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt, and eggs, and the site offers these helpful explanations:
The “Use-By” Date
The “use-by” or “best if used-by” date indicates the last day that the item is at its best quality as far as taste, texture, appearance, odor, and nutritional value. The decline after that is gradual. The use-by date refers to product that has not yet been opened.
The “Sell By” Date
The “sell by” date is not really a matter of food safety, but a notice to stores that the product should be taken off the shelf because it will begin to decline in quality after that date.
From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): “Product dating is not generally required by federal regulations. However, if a calendar date is used, it must express both the month and day of the month (and the year, in the case of shelf-stable and frozen products). If a calendar date is shown, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date such as "sell-by" or "use before."
There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. Although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states, there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has some type of open date and other areas where almost no food is dated.”
Cross-contamination and unsanitary conditions are a primary cause of food-related illnesses, whether it occurs in the home or in a restaurant, and this is independent of any expiration date. The leading culprits are:
The Yuck Factor: Common Sense Approach to Food Safety
Aside from any expiration date or lack thereof, if a food item is moldy or if it smells and looks spoiled, err on the side of caution. If it makes you say, “yuck,” throw it away.
Wednesday, September 01 2010
Not everybody is ardent on the regular pastas and breads. There are some specialty food junkies who swear by foods like exotic cheese, olives, kettle chips, truffle oil and the like. While these gourmet foods taste delectable, they can cost you a bomb. But, the heavy price tag should not keep you off from these foods. All you have to do is act a bit of sensible.
The 1st and foremost thing to do in this context is to buy only seasonal gourmet food. All gourmet foods are not obtainable all round the year. For example, sunchokes are available in winter and fall season. So, purchasing this specialty food in summers will only make you pay a hefty price for the same.
An additional efficient money saving tip is to buy specialty foods after holiday season gets over. Such foodstuff can charge a bomb during such times, with packaged food being the most costly of all. Food items like candid chestnuts could cost as only $35 in comparison to its whopping price of $60 in the festive time of the New Year. Attempt to eat this food moderately, lest you could drop victim to blackheads too. Buy such foods just after the festive season gets over. Ensure that you make timely purchase or the stocks may get finished.
Try to think in terms of savings when you purchase gourmet foods. You don't need to buy the food items from a mall and spend tons of cash when you can get the same thing readily in stores. The concept here is to shop perfect in right place. It's just like saving considerably whenever you purchase Zenmed Derma Cleanse System online rather than from a usual store.
Go for away season clearance promoting as conducted by the food stores that stock in seasonal gourmet stuff. You can get to buy your favourite specialty foods in the sale time at a pocket friendly price. It is advised to sign up for the mailing list of such stores to get timely info about various offers and schemes.
While you search for techniques to maximize your savings on purchasing specialty foods, Be certain that you look into factors like expiry date as well. It is not exceptional to see stores to announce heavy discounts on gourmet foods when they're on the verge of expiry. You should purchase such food items only if you're certain that you could consume them ahead of the exact expiry date. For instance, buying big cans of proper chocolate could be a wise thing to do if you have events such as wedding approaching in few days.
So, you need not enable the heavy price tag prevent you from purchasing these gourmet food items any more. With these affordable ideas handy, you could readily enjoy the specialty foods.