How to Eat Better at Buffets

Buffet

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

http://www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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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:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120708

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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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

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
http://healthykidseatingtips.com

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10 Ways to Shop Healthier at the Grocery Store

When you go to the grocery store you are challenged to make food choices that have serious and often  life-threatening

Example of an American grocery store aisle.

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implications. You are bombarded by attempts to control your eating habits in unhealthy directions. Here are 10 health awareness actions you can take while at the grocery store.

1. Place the emphasis on buying vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose dark green and yellow vegetables, rich in beta-carotene and other health benefits. Select vegetables in the cabbage family, such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, Brussel sprouts, kale.

2. Avoid unhealthy products that provide only empty calories, even if they say sugar-free and fat-free, this includes sodas, pop, and other drinks.

3. Find out when the produce and bread is delivered to the store and buy at that time.

4. When you buy oils, buy only in small quantities you can use soon and keep them in a cold, dark place.

5. Always check labels and the expiration dates.

6. Ask the store manager to display the origins of all produce, as well as any pesticides, fumigants, and waxes used. The waxes on fruits and vegetables often contain fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides.

7. Buy organic foods if possible and buy locally when available.

8. Tell your grocery manager that you will not buy genetically altered foods.

9. If buying coffee, check to see whether organic coffee is sold. By buying organic you won’t be drinking coffee with high levels of pesticides and you will be helping the organic coffee growers in the Third World.

10. Just because you shop in a health food store doesn’t mean all products sold are healthy. They possibly will also carry candies high in saturated fat (palm, palm kernel, coconut, and chocolate), and loaded with refined sweeteners such as corn syrup and fructose. Again, read labels.

When you go to the store, be prepared and resolved to buy foods that are healthy for your family. Your health depends on it.

To your good health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson
Nutrition Advocate
www.healthykidseatingtips.com

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What Affects Your Food Choices?

Food in a restaurant

Image via Wikipedia

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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Choose Wisely When Food Shopping on a Budget

Grocery Shopping

Image by Bruce A Stockwell via Flickr

With a little planning and effort, choosing foods at the grocery store can be simplified while still saving money and keeping nutritional values up.

Food for the week (or more) depends on how wisely you choose at the grocery store. The first step is planning nutritious menus before you go to the store. Make sure you keep in mind store specials and any coupons you use. Decide on the amount of money to spend based on your budget or food plan.

Then the next step is shopping carefully to assure that what you will have at home is nutritious, tasty, and stays within your allowance – this is no small task.

  • Try to shop only once a week or less frequently. The more you go to the store the more you will likely spend on food and other products.
  • Don’t go to the store hungry. You will probably buy much more than you need. Try to leave young children in the care of others while you shop.
  • Compare the cost of small and large containers of the same product. In most cases the larger size will be more economical. However, it will be more expensive if you won’t use it or don’t have room for it.
  • Consider the cost of convenience foods, that is, foods that are already prepared versus those you have to prepare yourself. For example, can you season the rice at home rather than buying packaged herb rice?  On the other hand, some foods such as cake mixes may be cheaper when found on special than making a cake from scratch. However, look at the ingredients and see whether any food coloring or additives are included, which are less desirable.
  • You gain a great deal of information by reading labels. The ingredient list will give you information about a product’s sugar, sodium, and fat content. Ingredients on labels are listed in descending order according to weight. Therefore, if sugar is the first item on the list, you know it is high in sugar.
  • Choose whole-grain bread and cereal products over white bleached flour products.
  • If you are buying canned fruits, buy those in their own juice rather than those with sweetened juice.
  • Make sure fruit juices are 100 per cent juice. Fruit drink and punches have too much sugar added.
  • Many canned soups, sauce mixes and packaged entrees have high sodium. Do you really need them?
  • Nobody needs pop or soda or cola, or whatever the regional dialect calls it – too much sugar!
  • Encourage the drinking of water. Flavor it, if necessary, with lemon or other fruits.
  • Choose a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are usually less expensive in season and are higher in quality. If you can’t choose these fresh, then buy them canned or frozen. If possible, compare the cost of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried forms of the same food.
  • Many snack foods are high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium.  See whether you can find lighter versions that contain less of these components. Or, just eliminate them from your shopping. If they are not in the house, they won’t be a temptation.
  • Try the “Meatless Monday” schedule for awhile. This promotes healthier eating by emphasizing fruits, vegetables and alternative sources of protein such as beans and lentils that are free from saturated fats. Reducing meat consumption has been shown to provide many benefits, including limiting cancer risk, reducing risk of heart disease, as well as helping to fight obesity and curb diabetes. Chances are, you will not miss having meat at your meals for one day. Besides, meats are usually the most costly foods in a meal and make a huge ecological imprint on our planet.

When you shop for food you have lots of important decisions to make. Wise shopping is not just a matter of spending as little as you can. It means getting the most value for your money while keeping the health benefits of foods at  center stage.

To your good health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Specialist
http://HealthyKidsEatingTips.com

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National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Farmers market, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know June was National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Isn’t that appropriate, with all the fresh produce you see at Farmers’ Markets and in stores? Have you had a chance to visit a Farmers’ Market this season? They are often open on Saturdays so hopefully you’ll have a chance to go this week-end and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food and Nutrition Consultant

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Apple Recipe Spices up Halloween and Homecoming Week-end

Assorted Red and Green Apples 2120px

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This past week-end I was the “apple lady” at a local grocery store. I got to set up shop beside aisles and aisles of apples and show off my apple cookbooks. It was the day before our university homecoming so the store was packed.

Both of the desserts I brought turned out to be hits with the customers. I gave out free samples and free recipes. A number of the customers, after sampling, then went to pick out their apples to make this over the week-end.

College students came through to sample, too (of course!). One said he was saving the recipe until his girlfriend came to town to make it. Another said they were to bring a dish to a homecoming party. They decided to make and bring the dessert I was handing out.

This is one of the recipes I made. It was provided for my cookbook,  Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards by the Glennie Orchard in New Berlin, Wisconsin. This cookbook has choice recipes from almost 70 orchards across the country.

Granny Smith or Jonathan apples work well for this recipe. Other varieties that can be used include: Cortland, Winesap, Rome Beauty, Braeburn, Wealthy, and Gala.

Glennie Orchard Dutch Apple Pie

For the streusel topping, combine:

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine

Mix together with fork until crumbly. Set aside.

For the no-roll crust, combine with a fork:

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons milk

Divide in half and press into two 7-inch pie pans or pat into bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan (which is what I used).

Peel and slice approximately 8-10 medium baking apples and place on top of the crust slightly mounded. Sprinkle with:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
Dot with 1/2 tablespoon butter, if desired

Stir the streusel mixture to break it up into small pieces and cover all apples with the mixture. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in pre-heated 425° F. oven for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 350° F and bake for another 50 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 25 minutes to brown the streusel. Cool.

It puffs up on baking but then settles down after it begins to cool. This pastry is good warm or cold; with or without ice cream.

I hope you have been able to take advantage of the year’s bumper crop of apples as we count down to Thanksgiving.

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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It’s Now Easy Being “Green”

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21:  Food 4 Less groce...

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Did you just run to the store and forget the bag to bring the groceries home? Now you have more plastic bags to add to your collection. Did that metal can get placed in the right bin? You do have separate bins for different disposables, right?

It doesn’t really take that much extra time or energy to consider our planet. The major cause of not following through is that we are not used to making this a priority. Like anything, we need to program our habits to include the important tasks.

This week-end, or whenever we go shopping, let’s remember our own grocery shopping bag or bags. Get your kids to remind you to bring those bags. This is doing our little bit to help the earth – and setting a good example for our children.

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“Going Green” in the Kitchen, Continued

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21:  Food 4 Less groce...
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Some of you may be saying, “I’m just a kid. What can I do?” Big or small, doing everything to save the earth and the air we breathe is everybody’s business and responsibility.

When you come home from the grocery store, do you end up with lots of plastic bags and extra packaging? Where will those plastic bags end up? You’re right. They are going back to the garbage heap where they will take hundreds of years, if not more, to break down. Or, they may fly around outside, being scattered by the wind. Birds can try to peck at them or might even get caught in them. Plus they make our world look dumpy and trashy.

So, what can you do about it?

You can take the plastic bags that have accumalated and take them to a neighboring recyling center. Hopefully, they will be made into some useful products. Then, next time shopping time comes, to remember to take the grocery tote bag (or bags) with you. Think how many plastic bags this will eliminate!

Individual snack packs are certainly handy. But it doesn’t take much time to make your own snack packs. Pour a quantity of food, whether it is crackers, chips, cookies, or whatever, into reusuable containers for the lunchbox or car.

In addition, buying food in quantity saves money. However, buying in larger quantity is only good if you know you’ll use it.

Throw out the plastic water bottles. If you want to take water with you, use a thermos bottle or other non-plastic container.

If you wash dishes by hand, run hot water into a clean sink to rinse them. This way you won’t be running the water all the time. If you use the dish washer to wash dishes, wait to run it until it is full of dirty dishes. This saves on water and electricity.

When you think about it, it really isn’t so hard to make small steps that impact the world. Every little bit you do toward this cause helps to keep our environment cleaner and healthier.

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