Food Education and Connection to Family Farms

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I have written before about the importance of eating locally and teaching children about the importance of fresh, local produce. Here is an inspiring story that shows what one person can do for children, for schools, for the environment. It is an interesting success story about what can be done to help schools and farmers work together in improving the nutritional food  of children.

Here is a concern reported by The Telegraph in England: regional tastes are in danger of going extinct as fewer people are able to appreciate the subtleties of flavors in fresh, seasonal products. They go on to report that we’re losing contact with where food comes from – and its distinctive taste.

These are concerns in the US as well. More can, and should, be done to educate young people especially, about proper diets, rich in real locally grown food.

Lee Jackson
Author: Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards
From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers
The Littlest Christmas Kitten
Careers in Focus: Family and Consumer Sciences

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Harvest Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread 005
Image by Kristin Brenemen via Flickr

What do you serve drop-in family and friends when they stop by your house this season? Here is an easy entertaining idea that is sure to please your guests. It is one of my favorite breads to have on hand during the fall season and on into the holidays. Pumpkin Bread has been my mainsty for a number of years. It combines the mellow pumpkin flavor with cinnamon and nuts, plus, it freezes well. You can make it into smaller miniature loaves for gift
giving if you want. Children like to make it into cupcakes. Simply pour the batter into muffin tins about two-thirds

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk or water
2 cups (16 oz. can) pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

In large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; add the rest of ingredients. Mix well. Stir in nuts. Fill
two well-greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans one-half full. Bake in 350 degrees oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out on cooling rack.

Makes 2 loaves

This bread is high in sugar and oil so keep those slices thin and without butter!  But pumpkin is loaded with much
nutritional value and I like to think the high sugar and oil consequences are overshadowed somewhat by the
pumpkin’s nutrients! Again, moderation is the key.

The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant,
beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to
vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.

Current research indicates that food containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of
cancer and offers protection against heart disease. It has also shown to be effective against the degenerative aspects
of aging.

Here are the nutrition facts for 1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt pumpkin:
Calories 49
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg

Just a little pumpkin trivia: Pumpkins range in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds. The largest
pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds. That would make quite a few pies! The largest pumpkin pie ever made
was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of
sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake. I have one question: Why would anyone want to do this? Other
thoughts also linger with me — who will eat this and is good food being wasted?  Remember, pumpkin pie should be

May you enjoy good, healthy food.

Lee Jackson
Books for cooks and apple lovers
children, families and parenting professionals

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Helping Kids Make Good Food Choices

Parents should help children make good food choices. Food preferences in children are largely developed by age five. Therefore, it’s important that parents help their children develop a taste for nutritious food early.

Here are ways you can involve your children in making good food choices:

Talk to your children about the categories of foods that are most important. These would include: fruits and vegetables, meat or protein alternatives, breads and cereals, and milk.

Help them cut out pictures of foods from magazines or newspapers. Make sure they have foods from all the groups. When they find pictures of cookies and ice cream, ask whether those have a place in their “good food choice” list? You can tell them they are not “bad” but there are other foods that are better for growing strong bones and muscles.

Have children paste the foods on file cards or construction paper. You can use different colored paper for different food groups: green for the vegetable and fruits, white for the milk group, red for the meat and protein group, and blue for the bread and cereal.

Let children decide which foods from each group they would like to eat. This is a good way for them to see that choosing one food from each group works toward having a balanced meal.

Another card can be made up of “special treat” foods. These are foods eaten only once in a great while. This will probably include pictures of frozen yogurt, cookies, and other sweet and/or high fat foods such as French fries and potato chips.

Here is a recipe for a “special treat” food, granola, which can be a breakfast food with milk or eaten plain as a snack food. It has many ingredients that are very nutritious.


4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using any salted nuts)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup

Extra suggestions – may be added when oat mixture has browned:
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup of any dried fruit such as raisins, cranberried, pineapple, cherries, etc.

Preheat over to 350 degree F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt butter in small saucepan or microwave, add honey or syrup. Pour this mixture over the oatmeal mixture until all is coated.

Spread this on a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring often until flakes are light brown. Watch carefully as they can over-brown easily and the honey will burn and taste bitter. Go light, rather than dark.

When slightly cool, add any of the extras. Mix well. Store in airtight container. I like to use a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then I place a scoop inside for easy access. Works well to store in a large glass canister, too. This looks inviting sitting on your cabinet. This granola has much more substance to it than many of the already-prepared products on the market. Enjoy.

Lee Jackson
Home and Family Living

P.S. Another issue of my newsletter is coming soon. Sign up and get entered in the drawing for a free cookbook to be given away.

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Vacation Time With the Kids

2008 summer vacation, Indiana Dunes State Park...

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Vacation time means a great deal of time in the car. While traveling, the “hungries” come at different times than when we’re at home. Sometimes, they stay with us most of the day. too!

Having enough water for everybody is essential. If bringing along other liquids, check the label to be sure you are bringing juices that are 100% fruit juice or close to it.

Even if you are planning to stop for meals, it’s a good plan to pack a cooler for between-meal snacks. Here you can pack fruits, veggies, and cheeses. Having sandwiches with fillings that stick together rather than fall apart is helpful when eating in the car. You can cut the sandwiches in fourths for easier handling by young children.

You may want to bring some pre-wrapped packages of raisins, dried fruits, granola bars, etc. Remember, some foods such as chocolate can melt in the car. A wet washcloth in a plastic bag can be a real help.

In any case, I hope travel time will be a good time and a safe time for you.

Best to you,

Lee Jackson

Food writer and author of “Apples, Apples Everywhere –
Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards

About Lee Jackson

Writer and entrepreneur Lee Jackson is the award-winning author of Careers in Focus: Family and Consumer Sciences, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers, Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards, and the children’s storybook, The Littlest Christmas Kitten. As the president and CEO of Images Unlimited Publishing, she works to provide books and information that helps families live more satisfying lives through knowledge and skills. Sign up to get her FREE newsletter full of tips for better family living through knowledge.

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AAFCS Convention and Healthy Living Info

I just came back from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) meeting in Cleveland. One of the highlights of the meeting was hearing Michael F. Roizen, M.D. talk about living every day to the fullest through a healthy lifestyle. He and Dr. Oz host a show on Oprah and Friends radio where they discuss healing techniques, preventative medicine and the latest in health news. They also share a daily syndicated newspaper column. He is currently chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Roizen pointed out 4 areas of choices we make that impact our longevity and quality of life. They are:
food choices and portion size
physical activity

“No smoking” campaigns have greatly lessened the tobacco usage in the US, but smoking is on the rise again, according to his statements.

Here is information from Dr. Roizen about food choices and portion size:

Eliminate or limit saturated fat and trans fats. These kinds of fats are found mostly in meats, luncheon meats, full-fat dairy products, baked goods, fried fast foods, and palm and coconut oils.
Avoid simple sugars, including syrup (corn, malt, rice, maple).
Stay away from most white, processed food.
Use a smaller sized plate, such as a 9-inch rather than the more traditional larger sizes.

I was especially interested in his comment: “Teach cooking!” By preparing food in the home we can make a much more direct effect on our health.

Concerning physical activity, Dr. Roizen said to walk 30 minutes every day. Using a pedometer is helpful.

Five minutes of meditation morning and evening would help with stress control.

These were only some of the highlights that I wanted to share with you today.

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Home and Family Living Coach

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Fresh Peach Cobbler

I promised you I would post my favorite Peach Cobbler. There is nothing like this classic blending of cobbler topping and sweet, fresh peaches for a superbly simple late summer dessert.

You will want to choose ripe yet firm peaches. These hold their shape better while baking. Like most fruit, peaches vary in their juiciness. Sometimes you almost have to stand over the sink to eat them because they are so juicy and the juice runs down your arm, and other times, their rather dry, leathery interior will cry for more juiciness.

For this recipe, you will need about 4-5 good sized peaches. You will need to peel them for the cobbler. If you are cooking with children, this is the part you need to do yourself because it is too dangerous for children to handle.

To peel fresh peaches bring a pot of water to boil. Place peaches in boiling water (enough to cover peaches) for approximately one minute (less if they are really soft). Then immediately plunge them in a bowl full of ice water. After the peaches cool off, this is when children can begin their work in helping you make

Fresh Peach Cobbler

The skins of peaches should slip right off. (If they are too hard you will have to peel them with a pairing knife.) Cut peaches in half and remove pit. Some peaches will have a dark red flesh that surrounds the pit. Take a spoon and scoop this out and discard as it can cause the peaches to have a bitter taste. Slice each half into 4 wedges. Gently toss peaches with 1/2 – 1 cup sugar in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes to allow juice to form. Then continue with the following:

1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk

Melt butter in 12 x 7 1/2 x 2 inch baking pan (2 quart) in 325 degrees F oven. While butter is melting, combine rest of ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to blend. Drop evenly over melted butter; do not stir. Spoon peaches with their juice over the top of batter. Do not stir. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown and baked throughout.

Most of the peaches will sink to the bottom where they will form a thick, rich sauce. I like to serve this cobbler warm and upside down on a plate with a scoop of ice cream.

You and your family will enjoy it. Easy, too!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Helping promote family well-being through knowledge and skills

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Health and Nutrition Concerns

Will these tight economic times make people’s waistlines bigger? Is there a correlation between the two?

People on tight budgets sometimes choose take- out or quick-order meals rather than preparing food at home. This may mean they are eating higher calorie foods and even quite possibly eating more food than is necessary since many servings are super-sized.

Some think it is much cheaper and quicker to go out to catch a bite to eat. Then when they do, it is only a matter of “filling up” or eating to be satisfied rather than savoring the food. Eating out may, or may not be cheaper and quicker. It may, however, impact health, and waistlines.

Many families just haven’t learned how to cook a basic meal. if you grew up making food or helping prepare food for the family, this may sound unbelievable, but it is true. That is why I started this blog. I knew that in order to stay healthy, people need to know how to prepare nutritious meals. I was a family and consumer sciences teacher and realized first hand the need for young people to know simple basic skills in the kitchen, such as:

  • How to prepare fruits and vegetables, eggs, and meats.
  • How to boil, bake, roast, fry, broil, saute,  etc.
  • How to plan meals for the whole day.
  • How to shop for food.
  • How to store food properly.
  • How to keep the food preparation area clean.
  • How to organize work and use time management .

Young people really want to know how to do this. Lots of young kids watch the TV cooking shows.

If a family wants to eat healthy, someone is going to have to spend some serious time in the kitchen. Eating fast-food or pre-packaged foods may be contributing to not only an expanded waistline but other health complications as well.

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“Fast Food” for Your Family

Dried fruit and nuts on a platter, traditional...

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Before you go grocery shopping, think of foods your family would like for quick “pick-me-up” snacks. This could be your family’s “fast food”.

Raw fruits and vegetables are great to include. You might consider fruit such as grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries or other berries. Add some veggies like carrots, cut up cauliflower, celery stick and others. And you might want to have on hand non-sweetened cereals, granola bars, yogurt, dried fruits, cheese, whole grain crackers, and nuts.

Especially now when children are home from school for the summer, it’s good to have nutritious grab-and-go foods available.

Here’s to happy and healthy snacking.

Lee Jackson

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Kids in the Kitchen

I have been involved in a very exciting publishing project. Amy Houts, one of our authors, has a new children’s book coming out this summer and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product.

This new cookbook, “Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities” makes cooking with kids come alive! It has an American heritage flavor that helps children experience our country’s vast cultural diversity through food.

Children learn about regional food differences by preparing authentic recipes from various parts of our country. Amy has woven together fun activities along with a little food history and geography of each region showing where our food comes from.

Now I want to share just a bit of my excitement over this new book by sending you a FRe e Recipe Sampler from Amy’s new book.

If you want to be on the cutting edge of discovering this treasure trove of regional recipes, sign up below for her FRe e Recipe Sampler. You will be glad you did because it has one complete chapter from the book. This is the first sneak peak at what she has written to get kids excited about cooking across America.

Click here on SnaptailBooks to get the Fre e Recipe Sampler activated.

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Take a Look at How You Eat

Fresh vegetables are common in a healthy diet.Image via Wikipedia

We live in a hurried world. “Hurry, get ready”. “Hurry, we’re late” are words we may often hear or say.  Sometimes we zip through meals. We eat in cars. We go through drive-ins to grab something to eat.

But eating is serious business as it nourishes our body. We often lose track of the big picture and only think about “now”.

Consider thoughtfully what and how you eat.

Do you allow enough time to eat, and to eat slowly? if you eat slowly you give the body time to feel full. This helps you keep from over-eating.

Do you eat too many BIG meals when more smaller meals would satisfy you?  Big meals tend to cause the body to work harder to digest the food.

Do you tend to skip meals? Skipping meals is not a good habit to get into. This can make you much too hungry when you eat again and then any food looks good.

Snacking is good, but make sure you eat the right snacks. What are some healthy snacks, you ask?

You might try some of the following for those between meal “hungries”:

fresh fruit
dried fruit such as raisins, apples, peaches and others
celery with peanut butter
raw cauliflower
real cheese
plain yogurt

This is a start. Can you think of other healthy snacks?

To your health and healthy eating,

Chef Crombie

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