How to Eat Better at Buffets


Buffets are loaded with lots of food. Where to begin? Diners often feel they need to sample a little of everything. But this leads to heaping platefuls of food. And this adds to weight and health problems.

Being selective matters. But it’s not the easiest to accomplish, so here are some pointers:

Start with fresh green vegetables and juicy fruits. Make this your greatest portion of the meal. Find the different greens: spinach, romaine lettuce, leafy greens, and carrots, peas, and other. Top with only a small amount of a light olive oil dressing, or better yet, taco dressing or other less fatty dressing. Fruits are so colorful and tasty – add the apple, orange, strawberries, melon, berries, peaches, kiwi, and other fresh fruits. Use as a dessert, if desired. These are the food products where you’ll get your most plentiful and best vitamins and carbohydrates, as well as other nutrients.

Minimize animal-based products. Studies indicate that the lower the percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits. You will still be getting your protein through green plant foods.

Are there any cooked vegetables or brown rice or whole wheat pasta dishes? These can be good choices.

Is there a vegetable based soup? This makes a perfect accompaniment.

Nuts and seeds are good in moderation.

Pass on any deep-fried foods and sugar.

Are you feeling deprived with all the other food available? Just like in the grocery store or other restaurants, you can’t eat everything, so be selective. You will still be satisfied, but best of all, you will feel good about yourself and your healthy food choices.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson

Working toward healthy choices

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School Lunches Work to Reduce the Salt, Sugar, Fat-Conditioning

Here is a new announcement about an important topic:  kids’ school lunch programs. See the article at Putting Real Food in School Lunches.

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There is still some industry-sponsored congressional meddling, but the plan is much improved from previous years.

It has been found that nearly 40 percent of the calories American children eat come from empty calories – cookies, sodas, pizza and the rest. This has resulted in paving the way for “picky eaters” with dull palates.

One of the big problems will be getting the kids to eat the healthier food unless it is reinforced on the home front. If children eat healthier at home then the changes in the school lunch program will go much smoother.

To healthy kids,

Lee Jackson
Child Nutrition Advocate

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What Affects Your Food Choices?

Food in a restaurant

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Do you eat only because you need food to stay alive? Or only for good health? Of course not! There are so many reasons why you choose to eat the food you do.

Food choices are based on cultural, religious, social, or psychological reasons. Even your own personal values enter into choosing foods. Sometimes, too, you eat what you eat because it’s the only food available when you need it.

Different cultures tend to center their foods around certain types. When one refers to Italian, Mexican, American foods, a certain kind of food comes to mind. Usually this is because of climate or geography that a particular food is grown there and becomes popular. Perhaps it is the custom or tradition to serve certain foods at festivals or special occasions and now becomes a food associated with a particular culture.

Religious influences such as not eating pork or not eating meat on certain days are special food customs of certain religions. Some are discouraged from drinking coffee and tea and alcoholic drinks. Fasting from foods is practiced by some religious groups.

Wouldn’t you think something was wrong with a get-together if there wasn’t something to eat or drink? Eating is very much a social activity. Most people don’t like to eat alone. Mealtimes with families are some of the first experiences of a social setting for children – a time of sharing the day’s events. Hopefully, with our fast-paced living, this social interaction will not become a lost art, but that families will continue to eat meals together.

Have you been a part of the “clean your plate” syndrome? Or, perhaps as a child you were given certain foods like candy or ice cream for good behavior. These are all part of the different ways you now look at food by what was encountered through associations with others. Maybe, too, you eat because you are unhappy or sad and lonely. These are all psychological reasons why you may choose to eat certain foods.

Then there are other, personal reasons why certain foods are eaten. It may have to do with a food allergy or condition, or because of a weight problem. Maybe it is because it smells so good and past experience lets you know it tastes good. Is it avoided because it is too expensive, or is it eaten because it is expensive and this is what the “rich people” eat? Here status comes into play.

So, you see, there are many influences that shape your eating habits and food choices: some are cultural, others are religious, social, or psychological. Hopefully, too, there is consideration of whether the food is healthy and good for you.

Why do YOU choose the foods you do when you are:

at the mall or fast food restaurant?
at a fancy restaurant?
at a cafeteria (school, business, or restaurant)?
in the grocery store?

I invite you to comment on why you eat the foods you eat.

Best to you and your family,
Lee Jackson, CFCS
Author: From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards
The Littlest Christmas Kitten, a children’s story book

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End of the Week – Time to Plan Weekly Meals

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End of the week is a good time to plan meals and grocery shop. Some plan for two or more weeks at a time, saving to do the fresh produce buying periodically. The end of the week usually means grocery stores have specials on certain products. Just because some foods are on special doesn’t mean we necessarily want or need to buy them, only if the family will eat them and they really are a bargain.

Meal planning may not be the most pleasant task, but one that needs to get done. Someone has to do it. This job is really very easy, once you get into the habit of doing it.

First, check what you have available in the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard. Look in the paper to see what is on special. Think about the events of the next week or so. Are there certain days when you need to plan for picnics, etc., or days you know you won’t have much time to prepare?

Then plan your menus. Take out a sheet of paper and plan what you will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and maybe snacks. Is breakfast the time for cereal, muffins, fruit? Maybe salad or sandwiches for lunch? What will the main dish be for dinner? And so on during the week, or two.

Yes, get those cookbooks out and get some suggestions on what you and your family might like. Think what foods are seasonal and do any of the store specials appeal to you? Mix in some favorites, and you’ll be well on your way to planning great meals in no time.

Now is the time to write out your grocery order. Perhaps you have already listed things on your list because you have run out of them. Now add to it. I like to write out my list according to the “path” I’ll take in the grocery store. For me, it’s the food and other products in the outer circle of the store, going down certain aisles where I need something. Then I leave the fresh and frozen foods until the end.

Having your meals planned is half the battle of “knowing what’s for dinner”. Now you can swing into action when you know what to prepare. I remember when the kids were home, I would post the menus on the refrigerator which helped everyone know what was on that evening. My hopes, too, were that someone would take the initiative to begin the meal!

More and more people are finding that planning meals helps them save money and have more peace of mind. They can check the menu, know they have all the ingredients, and prepare a healthy meal. And they don’t need to go to the drive-through because they didn’t know what to have for dinner.

To planning healthy meals —

Lee Jackson
Food and Nutrition Specialist

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Banning Home-Made School Lunches?

In an effort to bring children’s school lunches up a notch on the nutrition scale, a public school in Chicago is not allowing children to bring home-made lunches to school. Children will be forced to eat the school’s lunches. Will your school be next on the list of following suit?

One might ask, what is there to say that school lunches are necessarily better than home prepared? Watching Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution on TV, I wonder whether eating at school will do anything for our children’s health.

Efforts nationwide have certainly brought attention to the need for better nutrition for children. Many schools are involving area food producers in supplying local food for the schools. There is more interest in growing food as class or family projects.

But to ban home-made lunches?? Certainly not all home-prepared lunches contain soda, chips and Twinkies. Most parents know that lunches need foods rich in protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals, or do they? Education in the past few years has de-emphasized food preparation and nutrition information in the schools. Many home economics or family and consumer sciences programs have been eliminated. Is the only food and nutrition information now coming from the ads on TV?  Let’s hope not.

It is important for parents to know what is being served in their school cafeteria. They need to stay updated on what changes, if any, are being made. Certainly the choice of their children eating at school or from their home-prepared lunch bag should be theirs alone.

Now, let’s keep encouraging healthy eating, no matter from what source. I invite your comments.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food writer and author

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Real Apple Connoisseurs – Take A Look at England’s Apple Heritage


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Here is a good read about England and their long apple history. This universal fruit has fans the world over – but some fans are more discriminating than others.

I enjoyed reading how apples are viewed by others across the ocean. Hope you enjoy it, too!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Author: From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers
Apples, Apples, Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards

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Eating Without Thinking

Clover Ate Some Cake

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Have you ever eaten soggy potato chips right down to the greasy bottom of the package? Or eaten dried out cake to the last few crumbs? Why do we eat foods that don’t even look or taste good?

Hard questions to ponder.

For help in getting you and/or your children out of traps such as this and to really appreciate the taste, smell, and enjoy the sight and feel of different foods, head on over to While there you can pick up a Free Report with lots of kid-friendly food activities that will make them use their creative thinking skills. Start your kids out by being really aware of what they are eating.

You will be glad you did.

To your health,

Lee Jackson,CFCS
Healthy eating for healthy kids

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What are Mealtime Goals?

Children vary in their food needs and eating habits. Some children are very picky eaters, others go on various same-food binges. Then there are others who like and eat a little of everything. Everybody is different. That’s a good thing!

Parents often get overwhelmed, though, by the so-called problem eaters. This is a difficult time to get through. However, if they can learn to adjust to the individual differences without making an issue of eating, mealtimes will be much happier.

Here are a number of fundamental mealtime goals most parents want their children to meet.

First, they want them to eat a well-balanced meal. It is up to parents to see that their children have foods available from the different food groups – protein foods such as meat, fish, chicken, or eggs; fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals; milk and milk products for strong teeth and bones; and breads and cereals for energy to run, play, and learn.

To taste a little of everything and eat only from their plate. All the food may not be to their liking, but encourage them to taste a little of everything. By tasting a little and eating other foods they like, they should be well-nourished. Some children like to eat what’s on their parents or other children’s plate, or to dip into the serving bowls. Nibbling on someone else’s food should be discouraged. If they want another serving of the food, they can ask for it.

To enjoy mealtime. Hopefully this is a time when the family can eat together. Many studies show how valuable this is to all members of the family. It should be a time of sharing and “catching up” with the activities of each. If there are unpleasant topics, disagreements or criticisms to discuss, they need to be left for another time.

To stay at the table and use good table manners. This isn’t the time to jump up and down from their chair but to remain seated until excused. Having good table manners makes mealtime much more pleasant for everyone.

Mealtime is a good time to sit together, learn about the foods to eat, about table manners, and how to talk to one another. Mealtimes can be the highlight of the day but everyone needs to work on making this time enjoyable.

Enjoy your mealtimes,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Check out our children’s cookbooks here

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How To Get Your Children To Eat Better

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Today we have a guest post by a writer from our neighbors and friends to the North, Canada. As surmised, they have some of the same problems we have in the US. Read on…

Childhood obesity is a very real problem throughout North America. Our kids are bombarded a million times a day by ads for every form of unhealthy fast food on the planet so getting them to eat better is no easy task. However it can be done. Here are five ways to get your children to eat better.

The Wallet Diet

They say charity begins at home and, let’s face it, when you’re raising kids you’re running a 24-hour soup kitchen. The good news here is that you’re the manager of this particular soup kitchen so you get to decide what goes on the menu. Your child may covet that Big Mac, but you’ve got the magic beans that produce the burger.

A Steady Diet For The Brain

Teaching your kids about healthy eating early will pay great dividends down the road. Kids have a million questions and they all begin with “Why…” so during meal time explain to them why you’re having fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish and when it is time for that burger and fries make sure they understand why it’s not food for everyday.

Junk Food Is Not A Reward Diet

This is an all too easy mistake to make and sets up a pattern that can be hard to break. Try to avoid instilling in your child the idea that fattening foods can be had as a reward for doing jobs around the house or staying quiet in church and so on. Like Pavlov’s dogs, your junk food craving child will be programmed to embrace life in the fast food lane every time they do a good deed. Keep food interesting but keep it set in your child’s mind for what it is: energy to keep one alive and healthy.

The Availability Diet

Kids have voracious appetites. They’ll eat anything that isn’t nailed down. And as soon as they are old enough to raid the kitchen you’ll think a bomb went off in the cupboards. Well, sorry to say there’s nothing you can do about the size of your grocery bill, but what you can do is make sure the kitchen is stocked with healthy food only. When kids get hungry, they’ll eat whatever is available. If only healthy foods are available, well, you can figure out the rest.

The Occasional Diet

As a parent, one can’t help feeling like a drug pusher the first time you give your kid a piece of candy or that first bite of a cheeseburger. Remember, until that first taste, they have no idea junk food exists. But once they find out… look out! You’ve created a rabid monster! The thing is, once your child has a taste for sugary snacks or fast food, there’s no going back. Total abstinence won’t work because the ‘forbidden fruit’ will only seem all the more tempting. Instead teach your children about moderation by indulging in unhealthy meals or snacks only occasionally, making sure they understand that it is an indulgence and such food is not for every day.

This guest post was written by Andrew Salmon. He writes for the website Life Cover, which provides term life insurance in Canada. Andrew lives in Vancouver, BC.

Hope these comments help you get your children to eat healthy. Thanks for reading!

Lee Jackson
Images Unlimited Books

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NEW Learning Through Cooking Activities E-Book (Early Childhood Fundamentals)

New Learning Through Cooking Activities e-book by Amy Houts is now available on Amazon. This guide helps parents and others who work with children use food to teach children important concepts. The activities in the book are organized so that early childhood teachers can use them as part of their curriculum.

There are many concepts that can be taught through cooking activities. These include math and science principles, cooperation and sharing, using all 5 senses to enjoy food experience, classifying colors, identifying shapes, teaching good nutrition concepts, and so much more.

Children love to cook and help in the kitchen. As parents, grandparents, and caregivers, we can make this time fun as well as a learning experience.

In this e-book, each cooking experience lists what the children are to learn, the ingredients and/or equipment needed, what preparation to do, discussion questions to involve children, and additional projects or related activities.

For example, if the object is to learn to observe and classify primary and secondary colors, children can use food to enhance this study and their sense of taste. You will need foods of different colors. (Suggested foods are given). Each day foods from a different color can be discussed and prepared. A related activity could be sorting colorful cereals or dry pasta of different colors.

For lessons on shapes and encouraging fine motor skills, foods with different shapes can be used. Children can use cookie cutters to cut shapes from cheese slices and bread, then match the cheese to the same shape of bread. Foods can be chosen for circles, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and orange slices; squares, such as crackers and cheese slices; foods that look like triangles such as pizza slices and pie wedges. After discussion, the food can be eaten at snack time.

To order this e-book, click here It will make a valuable resource for home and school.

Lee Jackson
Family and Lifestyle Coach

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