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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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.

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.

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 Food Security under threat due to overweight and obese population

The world food security is in danger due to overweight population. Scientists are ringing alarm bells that if obesity continues to be unabated then the global population is in danger of running out of food. The additional pounds carried on by the fat people may have the same significance that is equivalent to food energy needs/demands of one billion people.

The researchers carried on this study after examining the average weight of the adults across the globe. The authors of the study team were the scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that further suggests that confronting the population weight is the need of the hour for food security. As per their study, not only the population growth, a major threat for the worlds’ food security and environmental sustainability but population fatness or obesity is also an important factor in toppling the apple cart of food security. Professor Ian Roberts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine or LSHTM has led this research team.

As per the United Nations predictions by the year-2050, the global population will be 2.3 billion people, this increase in population will have additional consequences to worry about, and that includes obesity. As per the study published by the BioMed Central or BMC Journal on public health, the world’s adult population weighs around 287 million out of which 15 million are overweight and another 3.5 million are obese.

Studies find food fortified with folic acid do reduce some childhood cancers

Recent studies do indicate that foods that are rich in folic acid or fortified with folic acid may reduce the incidences of some types of brain tumors and most common types of kidney cancer in children. Foods rich in folic acid may help in reducing the occurrence of Wilms’
and primitive neuroectodermal tumors or PNET in children.

Folic Acid or folate or Vitamin-B9 is usually found in beans, grains, green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals. Folic acid helps the body in maintaining and building DNA thereby helping the body in building new red blood cells or RBC’s. Deficiency of folic acid in the blood is linked with the occurrence of colorectal cancer, certain birth defects and other types of cancer.

This new study was carried out by the Kimberly J. Johnson – Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis and Amy Linabery – Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Minnesota. The study was based after examining the information from the nine registries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data base program that was established by the National Cancer Institute and the database used by the researchers is from 1986 to 2008.

An Elegant Easy Holiday Brunch!

An elegant holiday brunch is the perfect way to start a relaxed day spent with close friends and family. The holidays are a special time of warmth with close friends and family gathering to spend time together. I have hosted a holiday brunch for a large group of our family and friends for the past few years, and have tried to balance an elegant spread that is eye catching and has something for every age group, with the need for a short preparation time that allows the chef (me) time with this gathering of all my loved ones.

Our family is spread over many generations from my Grandparents to my little niece and my best friends’ 5 year old son. It is a challenge catering to everybody’s differing tastes and I find that my best friends in this endeavor are the two ‘P’s’ – Planning and Preparation. For my holiday brunch I always plan a menu around one special hot dish like a breakfast frittata, the extras include an assortment of sweet breads, fresh sides, a platter of meats and sandwiches and beverages.

Comments (4)

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