Healthy Snack Ideas for Packed School Lunches

It’s no secret and definitely not news that our country has an obesity epidemic on its hands with 1/3 of all children considered overweight or obese. The key to preventing your child from becoming another statistic is by changing the way they perceive food. A lot of kids hear the term “healthy food” and instantly protest, but by forgoing the usual broccoli and carrots and getting a little bit creative you will be able to provide your child with healthy snacks that they definitely won’t want to trade away at lunch.

  • Whole Grain: Whether packing a tortilla snack wrap, a sandwich, or adding in pretzels, crackers, or dry cereal whole grain should be one of your go to snacks to pack.
  • Granola: Whether your child enjoys sweet or savory snacks there are hundreds of recipes out there for homemade granola bars. The best part about making granola bars yourself is that you can put only what your child likes in them from the healthier dark chocolate to salted nuts or even dried fruit.
  • Hummus: Many kids turn up their noses to traditional veggies because they think they taste bland. So you definitely won’t want to let them in on the secret that hummus is a ground-up vegetable (the chickpea to be specific) with spices added for flavor. They’ll love to eat it with whole grain pita chips.
  • Healthy Chips and Fries: Admittedly, it’s hard to see how healthy could ever be an adjective in front of “chips” or “fries.” However, oven-baked vegetable or sweet potato chips and fries are a healthy alternative to regular chips that your child will eagerly switch to because they taste so good.
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Scientists succeed in creating the first test tube burger

The world’s first laboratory grown beef burger made not out of meat but out of bovine stem cells came into existence having cooked and tasted in an event in London. This burger was grown in-vitro at a cost of 250,000 euro or $332,000 and was eaten in front of the television cameras to gain the greatest media coverage for the culmination of a five-year science experiment. According to the Cultured Beef spokesperson, the total project that will go beyond this first burger and includes other expenses would cost close to 750,000 euro or about $994,200 that was financed by Sergey Brin, the co-founder of search engine giant Google and who will oversee the company’s investment in future products.

Headed by a team at Maastricht University, the Cultured Beef project’s goal was not only to create the first burger in a lab but also to pose a solution to the problem of potential meat shortages. The  head of this project, Dr. Mark Post, a vascular physiologist at Maastricht University, opined that the current livestock of meat production was not sustainable and that would result in meat becoming a luxury if nothing is done. He further insisted that this demonstration was a proof of concept and cultured meat could realistically be on the supermarket shelves within ten to twenty years.

McDonald is considered as the cheapest and most nutritious food

McDonald considered as the trademark of American food dream and then later on renounced for its dangerous health risk has now reclaimed its status according to some as the cheapest, the most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history. Ralph Thomas made this claim to Freakonomics authors and radio broadcasters who are well known for showing the ‘hidden side’ of everything by fitting economics to popular culture. Stephen Dubner who had co-author of the Freakonomics blog along with fellow economist Steven Levitt recently posed the question on the wNYC podcast, Freaknomics radio.

The question was what food did one reader Ralph Thomas calls the cheapest, most nutritious and beautiful food that has ever existed in human history? The food that was voted for is none other than McDonald’s McDouble that has 390 calories, 23 grams of protein and 7% of recommended dietary fiber. This was in contrary to radio host Kai Ryssdal’s best guess of “tofu”, “soy”. The McDonald’s McDouble certainly has the Freaknomics authors thinking and therefore they put up for discussion as part of their “A Burger a Day” radio podcast.

However, the responses of nutritionists have been largely divided ever since they are queuing up to have their say. Senior nutritionist Alosya Hourigan opined that a serious flaw in the claim is the fat and salt content of the burger. She informed that even though the burger may supply some nutrients, the consumers must need to remember that it includes a high amount of saturated fat and salt or sodium as most of the takeaway fast foods are. Therefore, food that is high in saturated fat and salt is not very healthy. It is also observed that consumers of burgers usually consume ‘fries’ and ‘soft drinks’ which further raises the saturated fat, kilojoules, sodium and adds in unhealthy amounts of added sugars as well.

An open debate on organic food

Organic food that includes farm produce, milk and meat are becoming popular among the consumers every year. The sale of organic food now accounts for almost $26 billion per year which is up from $1 billion some few decades back. The reasons for the popularity of organic food include potential health benefits and environmental impact. Despite the popularity of organic food among the masses there is a debate going on whether organic food is better for our health and is worth to its higher price in the United States. The studies carried on the aspect of health benefits of organic food is quiet unclear.

The controversy once again raised its head when The American Academy of Pediatrics, this week highlighted some aspects related with the supposed benefits of eating organic food but said that it is not clear whether parents are actually getting the healthier food by spending extra amount on these foods.

Burgers of McDonalds now being offered without pink slime

The world’s biggest fast food chain McDonalds announced that it will stop using the “pink slime” a controversial meat product consisting of lean beef trimmings that is treated with ammonium hydroxide solution in its hamburgers. This product was recently brought to the attention of the public by the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who mockingly described this product as a “Pink Slime” on an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

The trimmings actually consists of the left out meat after all the choice cuts of beef are taken is banned for human consumption in United Kingdom but these are allowed to be used in chicken and dog food. However, in the United States the human consumption of these trimmings is legal, if they are treated with ammonium hydroxide in order to kill the bacteria such as E.coli as precautionary measure.

The Oak Brook – Illinois based fast food McDonald chain announced that it will no longer use this controversial additive beef trimming which is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company however, said that its decision in this regard is nothing to do with the month’s long campaign by celebrity chef – Jamie Oliver to get rid of ammonium hydroxide treated meats like chicken and beef out of the U.S. food supply. The company said that the decision of not using this “pink slime” was made nearly a year ago.

It is estimated that seventy percent of burgers in the United States use this pink slime as filler.  McDonald further stated that it stopped using the filler last August itself and two other fast food chains, Burger King and Taco Bell had also bowed to the pressure and removed the ammonium hydroxide processed ingredients from their food products.

Is Coffee Good or Bad?

Anything that is done in excess like eating, drinking (intoxicating substances), sitting or any other usual human activity that we may do in our day to day life might lead to detrimental effects on our health. A few years ago, we used to hear about the ill-effects of coffee that it adversely affects out heart and might lead to various other detrimental effects on our health and harm our overall well-being, if consumed in excess. It was also believed that too much consumption of coffee also resulted in the patient having aggravated nerves and also develops ulcers.

But according to the latest studies conducted by scientists, the merits of drinking coffee are being taken into consideration. Although the excessive consumption of coffee still remains a hazard and should be avoided, many good effects of coffee have been unveiled. There are some merits of drinking coffee but not to the extent that doctors may encourage their patients to go out and consume excess amounts of coffee. They doctors still advice people to consume coffee in moderation and caution them from excessive consumption. The studies conducted are trying to change the people’s perspective about coffee, based on facts and truths about caffeine and its consumption. It was noticed over a period of 20 years in a group of people that consuming 6 cups of coffee (which contains 100mg caffeine per 8oz cup) did not result in any medical problem like cancer or any other cardiovascular diseases.

Tasty chicken fast food with dip in features like chips

The latest craze that is doing rounds in the fast food world is the bite-sized fried chicken. Popeyes is experimenting with new finger foods that can be dipped while driving the car. Americans love consuming fried chicken or driving their cars and fast food chains are going in full gear to make sure that their customers can enjoy both these options simultaneously. The fast food industry is raking moolah by converting the classic fast food favorites into chips and dips.

It is estimated that nearly seventeen percent of all the meals ordered at restaurants are being consumed in cars. McDonalds officials confirm that the drive through order make up about seventy percent of its sales. Meanwhile, snacking in between lunch and dinner is becoming more common with ice creams or chips that are being eaten quiet frequently. However, people are now more interested in substantial foods like a small sandwich.

In 2011, Popeyes began selling the Dip’n Chick’n – a chicken-dip combo that became the company’s best selling limited time menu in the company’s history at that time. The Dip’n Chick’n comprises of thin pieces of chicken that curl at the edges when soused just like a potato chip. The success of this menu item encouraged Popeyes to launch another innovative food item which is known as Rip’n Chick’n – a fried chicken breast that is sliced in such a way that its pieces are quiet easy to tear off. This item also received enormous response due to which the company had to find poultry suppliers that could adjust their cutting equipment to make the shape.

Food truck ordinance – Throttling the food truck businesses

The proposed new ordinance being introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel allows the food operators and owners to offer a wide variety of food by preparing and cooking it on board and also extending the sales time to twenty four hours. But on the other hand, this ordinance continues with the existing rules and also introduces new restrictions. These rules include the increased penalties and fines that may range from $1000 to $2000 in case the food truck being caught dealing with food items within 200 feet from a restaurant. The other new rule is the requirement of GPS tracking devices to be installed in the food trucks.

The irony of the new regulation is that the 200 foot proposed buffer zone which the food trucks must observe or adhere to around restaurants includes the convenience stores and coffee shops. In that sense, the legal parking spots in the city in the downtown Loop area are nearly non-existent.  There are also proposals for food truck –“Stands”— that are designated parking spots that help in easing the burden of the two hundred foot rule.

The ordinance further requires that a minimum of five trucks stand in six community areas and in totality there will be sixty spots throughout the city. But the ten designated spots in the Loop area of the city are not enough or suffice for more than fifty five trucks. Moreover, there are another two hundred new trucks that are entering the market that will clamor for these in demand hot spots during the downtown lunch rush.

Gene mutation- Culprit behind the tomatoes loss of flavor

A major breakthrough in plant genetics occurred with the scientists discovering an answer to the question about why tomatoes are so tasteless and lack flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and stored in moderate temperatures. Now researchers have discovered a genetic reason behind such occurrences in the form of genetic mutation that happened by chance and was discovered by tomato breeders.

This discovery was made by an international research team headed under the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and one of the lead authors of the study Dr. Ann Powell – a biochemist at UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences said that they made this discovery by accident. The scientists started studying about the ripening process of the tomatoes and how they get their color some ten years ago and after working on it for about three to four years they had to stop the research due to lack of funding.

However, with some funding from the UC’s Discovery program, the USDA, The National Science Foundation and few other groups the research team started up again some 18 months ago. This time the university partnered with the researchers from Cornell University who then were mapping regions of the tomato genome in Spain. This was the time when they discovered that the genetic mutation as the main factor that made the tomatoes luscious scarlet when ripe.

World’s largest McDonald’s restaurant getting ready for London Olympics

The city of London will not only be playing host to the Olympic Games-2012 but is slated to set a world retail record in the form of the world’s largest McDonald’s restaurant. This two story restaurant which is located next to the Olympic Stadium is spread in an area measuring 3,000 square meters (32,290 square feet) and is expected to have a seating capacity of 1500 diners and serving up to 14,000 people per day.

A total of four McDonalds restaurants are proposed to be built up in London. The first two restaurants – one which will be the largest will be built in Olympic Park for spectators, another will be erected in the main press center and a fourth one in Olympic Village.

For the 29 days of the Olympic and Paralympic Games extravaganza this largest restaurant is expected to serve 1.75 million meals which are also described as the biggest peacetime catering operation in Great Britain during peace times. The venue of this restaurant is designed by leading French designer Philippe Avanzi with brightly colored chairs and stools that reflects the vibrant environment in addition to contemporary designer graphics.

These restaurants will be staffed by 2,000 of the company’s best performing front line employees within the United Kingdom and from around the world. The restaurants will also offer the broadest range of menu in the chain’s history that include items like porridge and Happy Meals with fruits, vegetables and diary options. McDonald is the official sponsor of the Olympic Games with exclusive rights to sell branded food products inside the venue.


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