Slow Food versus Fast Food

May 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Recipes

Veg
Image by Two Roads via Flickr

Have you heard about the slow food movement? A lot of people have had enough of junk food and what it seems to be doing to our health and society as a whole. For these reasons, the slow food movement was set up.

The basic ethos of the movement is about getting back to basics when it comes to food. It’s buying in season and local. It’s about supporting our local economy and eating food that’s simple, clean, basic and good for you. It seems we truly have gone full circle and many of us are ready to give up the fast food movement that has dominated our society for decades now and move onto slower, more nourishing nutrition.

If you feel the slow food movement may be something you’d like to join or contribute to, here are a few basic ideas to help get you started:

#1 – Buy local. This is a big emphasis of the slow food movement. By buying foods locally, we support local farming and agriculture. Local foods are also better for the environment as they don’t have to be transported for miles to reach supermarket shelves. Another bonus of buying local foods is that they’re more nutritious. After vegetables and fruits are picked, they slowly start to lose their nutrition content. By eating foods earlier after the picking process you take in more nutrients and vitamins.

#2 – Eat in season. Buying local will mean that you naturally eat what is in season. Many experts believe that we are meant to eat what is in our local environment so that we can survive those conditions. For example, in hot climates the emphasis is on watery fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cucumbers, melons, peppers. These foods contribute to our overall need for more fluid and vitamins needed during hot weather. In colder climates our bodies need filling, stocky foods such as potatoes and other root vegetables.

Eating in season is not only good for your health but also for your pocket book. Eating seasonally allows you to get the best produce without having to pay a fortune for it. Foods that need to be imported cost more because there is a higher cost in acquiring and transporting them. By eating in season you support your body, the environment and local farmers.

#3 – Cook from scratch. This doesn’t mean you have to make difficult, time-consuming meals. In fact, the slow food movement emphasizes the opposite. You can cook delicious, wholesome meals from scratch with very few ingredients. The key is to cook a variety of fresh, seasonal foods without resorting to pre-prepared foods or junk food.

Cooking from scratch is good for your overall health as you avoid many additives and preservatives. It also saves you money. Pre-packaged foods cost on average more than fresh foods. And with only three or four ingredients you can cook a really delicious meal the whole family is sure to enjoy.

#4 – Make food a priority. A big part of the slow food movement is that we can once again make food a priority in our lives. This movement is about connecting with and enjoying our food. It’s also about families taking a little time to spend more time together, around the family table.

While this isn’t always possible in modern times, the idea is that if parents start putting more emphasis on the importance of family meals, children will follow suit. By showing our children that food is meant to be pleasurable and enjoyed rather than gulped down or rushed, we start to show them the basics of good nutrition.

The slow food movement is a sign of progress for many. It shows that as communities we feel the need to connect to our food and each other. Eating fresh foods, supporting our communities and the environment, and coming together around the family table, are positive steps into the future.

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How to Increase My Child’s Iron Intake

December 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Main symptoms that may appear in anemia. (See ...
Image via Wikipedia

Anemia is a condition where there is a lack of iron in the blood stream, resulting in low red blood cell count. It is common among women and children. Many mothers wonder about how to increase their child’s iron intake to help them avoid becoming anemic. Luckily, by preparing certain foods, your child can build up the iron in their system and avoid developing anemia.

Iron is an important mineral and is a key part of hemoglobin, present in the red blood cells and used to carry oxygen around the body. Children with iron-deficient anemia can develop mental, motor, or behavioral problems. Symptoms include:

* Pale skin, lips, or under the eyelids
* Increased heart rate
* Difficulty catching their breath
* Dizziness
* Irritability
* Headache
* Lack or energy or becoming easily fatigued
* Sore or swollen tongue
* Slowed growth or development
* Slow healing wounds

Children of various ages require different levels of iron. Young children require approximately 7 to 10 milligrams of iron each day. Adolescent males need 12 milligrams and females need 15 milligrams of iron each day. By eating foods which provide this important mineral, you can expect them to have strong muscles and sufficient hemoglobin production.

Consider adding any of the following foods to your family’s diet to increase the amount of iron your child has access to each day: Meats including beef, eggs, veal, chicken liver, chicken, pork, and turkey as well as non-meat sources of iron like iron-fortified cereal, cooked lentils, grits, fortified oatmeal, legumes of any kind, spinach, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, and raisins.

Red meats are considered to be the best source of iron, but many people choose to avoid eating meat. While the amount of iron in legumes, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables isn’t as high as red meat, they can be used to get enough iron if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Eating foods which contain Vitamin C while eating foods containing iron will help your body absorb more of the iron.

Since children need only 7 to 10 milligrams of iron each day, it is possible to ensure they receive their daily allowance by providing foods which are high in iron. Iron-fortified cereals may have an entire day’s worth of iron in one serving. Or you can break up their intake over the entire day, ensuring they have some iron-laden foods at each meal.

If you’re concerned about whether your child is deficient in iron, you can take them to their pediatrician and have them checked. The doctor will take a blood sample to test it. If they are anemic, the doctor may recommend diet changes or the addition of a vitamin and mineral supplement with iron. Please be sure to keep any iron supplements out of reach of children as too much iron can be dangerous for a child.

Parents want the best for their children. That means they want them to be happy and healthy. If you’re concerned that your child isn’t getting enough iron and wondering how to increase their iron intake, you can add some of the foods listed above or talk with your child’s doctor and follow their advice.

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7 Back to School Lunch Tips

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Independence High School's cafeteria during lunch.
Image via Wikipedia

Another great Lunchtime article! Enjoy!

Don’t look now, but school’s here! Are you ready for one of the biggest challenges for Moms of school-age kids – preparing school lunches day after day?

There’s hope and help for you yet. Here are 7 back-to-school lunch tips. Hey, I can’t come over and make your kids’ lunches for you, but these tips will surely make it much easier:

1. Make dinner do double-duty

You’re already in the kitchen preparing your family’s dinner, why not use that time to get a head-start on the next day’s brown bag lunches?

Make a double batch of meals that taste just as good “the morning after,” you know, like fried chicken. Or cook dishes that can be transformed into something “new”, such as pasta sauce that’s just as yummy as pizza topping (on ready-made crust of course).

To make meal planning easier, take a look at Dine Without Whine. It’s a monthly service for planning your family’s meals and grocery shopping.

2. Include lunches when meal planning

To do tip #1, you need to be more organized. This means including your kids’ lunches when planning your family dinners.

3. Let the kids participate

Lighten your load and teach your children some important life skills at the same time. Even small children can help prepare their lunches.

If morning is too stressful, then make this an after-dinner activity – which brings us to…

4. Make advance preparations

Do whatever you can do ahead of time. For example, cook in batches on the weekend, or put leftovers in packable containers the night before.

5. DIY fast food

Commercial packed lunches are attractive but unhealthy. But who says you can’t make your own? Buy your own colorful and attractive lunch boxes, such as a bento-style lunchbox.

Fill it up with a variety of healthy food. Think of mixing up foods with different textures and colors. And cut them up into small pieces so they’re easy and fast to eat.

6. Soup it Up

Soup makes a quick and healthy lunch. You can cook a large pot in the weekend and pack it in a thermos for a warm and satisfying lunch. Serve with whole wheat bread and some fresh fruit and you’ve got a complete meal!

7. Sprinkle in some fun

Sneak a little surprise into your child’s lunchbox once in a while. It could be a little chocolate treat, stickers, or a sweet note from you. Getting something unexpected makes lunch fun.

With planning and creativity, your children can have healthy, delicious lunches without too much work for you.

For meal planning help, go to Dine Without Whine. It makes meal planning a breeze, while helping you save time and money.

Then you’ll have time and energy for those school lunches.

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Tips for Traveling With Your Breastfed Baby

July 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

A smiling baby lying in a soft cot (furniture).
Image via Wikipedia

You have spent awhile getting used to breastfeeding your child at home
and getting into a comfortable routine. Traveling can really mix up
this routine and present new challenges, especially for a
breastfeeding mother. Here are a few tips that can help ease you into
a more enjoyable and comfortable trip with your breastfed baby.

Road Trip With a Breastfed Baby:

If your baby or toddler is already eating solids, this can be an
option for feeding him on the road. However, if he only drinks milk,
you might want to pump milk ahead of time into bottles to feed him
along the way. If you are the passenger, you can even pump into a
bottle and feed him during the drive, if need be. Some babies do not
take bottles at all and only drink from the breast. In this case,
you’ll want to schedule in regular meals and snacks for your child by
visiting rest stops to nurse him. Do not remove the baby from his car
seat as you travel on the road, as this is both illegal and
potentially dangerous.

Breastfeeding On An Airplane:

While it may be frowned upon by some people, it is perfectly legal to
breastfeed your baby in public, and this includes during a flight. As
a breastfeeding mother, you even have an advantage over those who use
bottles, due to the strict liquid regulations. While bottles of
formula and milk are now allowed onto planes, the milk in your breasts
are not subject to search and are quite portable, making traveling
easier for you. One tip you’ll want to try is breastfeeding your baby
during takeoff and landing. This can reduce his fears of flying and
reduces the chance of his ears popping, which can feel painful for a
baby. While many people aren’t thrilled about having a baby near them
in flight, breastfed babies typically make wonderful flying
companions!

Taking along a baby sling can be a huge help when traveling with a
baby, especially when going through busy airports. You can even nurse
discreetly in the sling and noone will be the wiser. The sling also
helps to comfort baby and reduce fussiness, as well as helping him nap
when he’s tired.

Bottle Feeding

Breastfeeding while traveling and doing activities is certainly
different than feeding at home. For many breastfeeding mothers, bottle
feeding is a new concept. If you do plan on bottle-feeding your pumped
milk on outings, be sure you have a cooler that can keep milk fresh as
you are traveling and be sure to abide by the guidelines of how long
milk should be kept. If you are planning on being away from the baby
for a period of time, such as a day at the spa, then be sure to pump
ahead of time for baby as well. This can also be an adjustment for
baby as well and should be introduced to him days before your
departure.

Taking care of yourself

Although vacation is designed to be fun, it can also be physically and
mentally exhausting. There is a lot of moving around from place to
place that occurs, as well as eating at new places and experiencing
new things. It is also possible you will be nursing on a different
schedule, which can be uncomfortable for you. To counteract this, be
sure you are getting plenty of rest, fluids and nutrition. If you are
breastfeeding at odd hours or less than usual, you might need to carry
along a small pump with you (or pump by hand) to release some milk and
give you some comfort. Take along breastfeeding items you may need,
such as breast pads, lanolin or hot packs if your breast get sore.
Vitamin B6 can also assist in tenderness. Vacations are a common time
for moms to experience plugged ducts or mastitis. Baby is distracted
and you may be nursing less. Be sure to take care of yourself so your
vacation is relaxing.

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