Young Chefs as Food Critics, Food Writers, and Culinary Enthusiasts

Young Chef

Young Chef (Photo credit: Javier Delgado Esteban)

Interesting story and slideshow about 10 young cooks who already have promising culinary careers in their future.

Kid can never start too young to get interested in food and cooking.

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Have Organic Foods Lost Their Luster?

Consumers know various food products are loaded with ingredients and chemicals not deemed to be in their best interest. Therefore,

Labeling for products that meet the USDA-NOP s...

buying organic has been the food of choice for many. But does “organic” always mean it is pure, locally produced foods from small family farms? Is it much healthier than regular food not labeled this way?

This article takes you behind the scenes of boards who decide what should be considered organic and who makes up those boards. It is rather lengthy but a good overview of the industry. So take some time this week-end and have a look:

Nothing is ever black and white. We humans like to mix it up a bit. But we use our best judgement and always try to consider the health of our family and our country.

Best to you and yours,

Lee Jackson

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Successful People Read

Best Viewed Large

It’s inspiring to hear how books still change lives. Here are uplifting stories from student’s viewpoints Reading does make a difference in people’s lives.

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Time Management in the Home

Resolution - better time management

For the beginning of the week, I thought it would be good to take a look at how jobs can be simplified or changed in order to better manage time. Are you getting as much done as you could, or want to, get done? Here is a short self examination on time management and how it can affect productivity and goal setting.

Is this the best time to do this job?
Can this work or operation be eliminated?
What would happen if I didn’t do it?
Can my order of work be re-arranged to make it handier, less stressful?
How can I reduce the time to do this task?
Can I use a different/better tool for this job?
Can I change the work flow?
Can I change the places where things are kept?
What task could I accomplish now in five minutes or less?

Time is a valuable resource used to attain goals. Most people find that planning and following a schedule helps them get the most out of their time. Evaluating current ways of working can often lead to increased productivity and reaching goals more quickly.

Promoting more balance in home and family living,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Home and Family Life Studies

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6 Tips for Shopping Smart at the Grocery Store

Going to the grocery store with a plan will save time and impact the health of your family. In order to eat healthier, spend less


veggies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time in the store, and possibly save more money, you need to have a market plan.

A good place to start your list is with vegetables and fruits. The emphasis here should be on green and yellow vegetables and citrus fruits. Five or more servings per day are the recommended amounts.

These are often the very foods we choose to skip while adding the snacks, soda pop, and sweets to our shopping carts. Not good. If we are to live healthier lives, the emphasis should be on real food.

Here are tips for shopping healthier when going to the grocery store:

1. Do most of your shopping along the outer perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find the fresh produce and other fresh foods.

2. First, stock up on plant-based foods such as yams, squash, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and garlic.

3. Choose a good variety of salad vegetables, such as raw spinach, romaine lettuce, radishes, peppers, green onions.

4. Select fruits that are in season. These will be the choicest and generally the least expensive. If you can preserve seasonal fruits through canning or freezing, this may be a good way to incorporate fruits into your family meals later in the year.

5. Add rice and beans unless they are already in your pantry or food storage area. You may want to even pick up prepackaged (not canned) bean soups. Choose brown rice over white. (Yes, here you may have to use an “inside aisle”).

6. If possible, buy local and organic. This is not always possible, but if this is available in your area, more power to you.

Before you go to the store you have checked your cupboard for needed items and have checked the ads to see if any of the specials are what you need. Armed with your list of healthy foods and suggestions, doing your grocery shopping should be a breeze.

Here’s to your health,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition Advocate

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Your Health is Under Attack

The video, “Hungry for Change” will forever change the way you look at yourself, the way you look at food, and your concept of  diet and good health. If possible this week-end, set aside time to watch this free video at It may well be the most influential video you will see. It may even be the turning point in your life.

Get ready for an “a-ha” week-end,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition advocate and author

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Get Kids in the Kitchen This Holiday

Old-Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies

Image by Sifu Renka via Flickr

Are you saying, “but it takes too long to work with my kids in the kitchen”, or “it’s too messy when they help me”? In her book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, Amy Houts says that with a little planning and imagination, you can make holiday baking stress-free and enjoyable. The part children will remember is that they were able to “help” you in the kitchen.

Some points to remember when working with children:

  • Read through the recipe completely from top to bottom. Talk about the recipe. Explain what you will do and what the child will do. Know what needs to be done first, second, and so on.
  • Emphasize hand washing. Be a role model for your child. Practice food safety.
  • Collect all of the ingredients and tools that you need before you begin.
  • Measure everything carefully.
  • Clean up as you go.

Using this strategy, will help make cookie baking or any food work much more pleasant and enjoyable.

To your cooking enjoyment,

Lee Jackson, food writer

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Books that Leave Lifetime Impressions

Recently I wrote about being extra busy. It seems I never have enough time to do everything I  want to do. Does that sound familiar?

This is why I am anxious to read In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, on how people are discovering energy and efficiency where it is least expected – in slowing down. According to Scholastic‘s website “You Are What You Read”, it is one of the five books that most influenced Arianna Huffington, a nationally syndicated columnist and author and co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

Logo of The Huffington Post
Image via Wikipedia

I am constantly aware that the pace of life is spinning out of control. There is too much to do and too little time to do it. Eventually our body and mind remind us to slow down. Would slowing down help people live happier, more productive and healthier lives?

We need to make more conscious choices about how our time is spent. Everyday more people wonder if there isn’t some way for them to get a better handle on time. Saying “no” to many after-work activities will help. There must be other productive ways to escape from the frantic fast-forward pace of modern life.

Compounding this are the many changes in our society and in the restructuring of the family. Fears and insecurities regarding divorce, disruptions in the family and violence weight heavily on adults and children.  High stress, financial problems, more responsibilities and less free time are other high impact issues.

The demands of work, family, and community are great. Success in balancing these roles and relationships impacts personal satisfaction and well-being. And we continue to search for the answer to “how can I find balance in life?”

Lee Jackson
Still searching. . .

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Volunteering for a Cause

Map of Missouri highlighting Camden County

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a busy week – but aren’t they all? I’m the outgoing local hospital auxiliary president and have been working on completing the program of work.

Our auxiliary has had an active year. There have been lots of fund-raisers for the hospital, volunteering at the gift shop, and some travel.

I just came back from an enlightening convention of our Missouri Association of Hospital Auxiliaries (MAHA) at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri. One of the highlights was hearing the talk, “Leaving Your Imprint on the World Through Volunteerism” by JoAnn Contorno, a motivational speaker and author. She is a spirited and dynamic speaker, somewhat like Erma Bombeck. She really pumped us up – and made us laugh – what good medicine that is!

Lee Jackson
who thinks volunteering gives you an opportunity to change lives, including your own

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Vacation Time With the Kids

2008 summer vacation, Indiana Dunes State Park...

Image by unwiht via Flickr

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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