Rethinking The Food Label

Have you ever thought that the “Nutritional Facts” on the back of a box doesn’t really give you the whole picture? Well, so have many other folks and they’ve decided that crowdsourcing ideas is a place to start. So a contest has been born.

Rethink The Food Label: Nutrition. Conversation. Design. Deadline is July 1st. I wish I’d noticed this before, but I can’t wait to find out the results!

Rethinking The Food Label (video link — I haven’t figured out how to embed in WordPress…)

Breakfast in the classroom: example ten

Pancakes, fruit cup, milk (syrup not pictured)
 Pancakes, fruit cup, milk (syrup not pictured)


I like that you can tell the breakfast was carried in a sack: all the little pancakes fell to one side!

I’m not really feeling this breakfast. Aside from the milk there isn’t a lot of protein. The pancakes are adorable, but I don’t think they are packing a nutritional punch. I don’t think they are whole grain. Add in the syrup and we’re talking a lot of sugar. Does this strike you as being largely empty calories?

Now that it’s the summer, I find myself wondering what my students are eating for breakfast now. I’m a little worried.

And now my husband and I are sick…

Sorry I haven’t posted in days (has it really been since Monday?)… The germ is making the rounds. My son got over his illness by Tuesday, but then my husband came home from work early on Wednesday and immediately went to bed with a high fever and sore throat. I’m not feeling great, but so far I haven’t gotten the bug…yet.

With Tuesday being the last day of the school year and having my husband home, I can’t say whether it’s Friday or Sunday. Even though my husband is sick, it’s been nice to have all of us home.

You’ve probably wondered what happened to me. I’ve had plenty of thoughts of blogging, but no time.

Redesign and a self-hosted platform is launching this weekend at There will be a learning curve as I figure out how to blog using the WordPress format. I will give you a heads up when I start blogging over there.

Tonight is the season finale of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution 2. My husband and I have had a date night planned for a long time and we will have to miss watching it live. We are determined to drag our sick selves out since we have childcare and rarely get the chance to go anywhere alone, much less to the movies. If you want to watch the whole season or you missed out on an episode or two, you can watch them on hulu.

Have a great weekend!

Update: My kid is sick

…so I’m not blogging. We thought it was strep, but the rapid test came back negative. It’s also my last couple days of school (late, right?!)… Needless to say, I’m completely wrung out.

Stay tuned — my redesign is launching sometime after Friday. The new URL will be If you click over there, keep in mind that the design is still being worked on and looks a bit odd. But you can get a rough idea. The site won’t launch until the weekend. Let me know what you think by commenting here, not over there.

It’s going to be summer soon right? I mean, the rain will stop at some point…I’m hoping. I plan on blogging as much as I can. I’m also taking a couple trips and finally catching up on email (sorry if you have been waiting). I want to spend as much time in the sun as I can so that I can load up on Vitamin D!

Future blog topics:
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution 2 and what I think of episodes 3-5
Titanium Spork Awards
The science behind taste.
My CSA box and easy recipes I’m making with all of the lettuce bounty!
(and whatever else you guys want — feel free to suggest!)

and …

last but not least…


It’s coming out later this year! I can’t wait.
I really can’t believe it.

Thank you for reading the blog and supporting me. Without your encouragement and interest, none of this would have happened!

This is going to be an interesting autumn…

Lunch Wrap Up: Week of June 6th

The school year is two days shy of being over for the summer. I feel bone tired. These past couple nights I’ve allowed myself to go to bed early. It seems to have made my fatigue worse. Right now I feel like I can barely move.

By the way, I picked up our very first CSA box this week. I’m going to blog about it next week. I’ll tell you all about what vegetables we received, my son’s reaction, and what I cooked with what we have. We get our CSA box every other week and each time I blog about it, I’ll share a recipe that I made using veggies from our box! It’s going to change my life.

You guys often ask for recipes for things I make and I feel self-conscious sharing anything. I’m really just muddling through many evening meals. I feel that my cooking is not ready for prime time. I’ve decided there’s a hierarchy when it comes to cooking:

And here’s where I fall:

If I have someone to watch my son while I cook, I’m able move into the “jazz things up” level. Then there are days like I’ve had over the past few weeks:

We’re cooking from a package and even eating out when my husband works late. We do the best that we can most of the time! Here’s my underlying assumption:

And that is in short supply at my house!

Lunches below the break:

My son’s lunches
(Top left to right) potatoes, hummus, turkey bacon, pita,
egg, watermelon, blueberry yogurt with blueberries

Day care menu was: Ground beef, real mashed potatoes, broccoli in a cheddar sauce, diced pears with a hard boiled egg and yogurt as snacks.

Mini-sandwiches with turkey, spinach, and goat cheese; jello;
blueberries, olives, chocolate yogurt, breadsticks
That day was so hot I couldn’t send a soup with my son even though he loves it and the other kids were going to have some. Instead I sent what we use to accompany soup: breadsticks. Day care menu was: turkey on wheat, veggie soup, bananas with pumpkin bread and pretzels and cream cheese as snacks.
Blueberries, watermelon; muffin; crackers;
turkey burger; broccoli; butternut squash risotto

Day care menu was: Chicken and rice, diced carrots, applesauce with string cheese and crackers as snacks

Chicken, butternut squash risotto; spinach and dressing;
watermelon; muffin

Day care menu was: Diced ham, cheddar potatoes, baked beans, apple slices with an apple muffin and lemon Italian Ice as snacks. My husband and I decided my son could eat the Italian Ice. It was a hot day and it would have been hard for me to pack an equivalent.

Snack bar; chicken stew; corn; breadsticks;
watermelon; strawberry yogurt

Day care menu: Meatballs with pasta in a butter sauce, corn, watermelon with sliced provolone and yogurt as snacks. I believe that the day care has made big strides in their lunch offerings. I’m encouraged.


My lunches

Watermelon; spinach and blueberry salad; crackers;
eggs; blueberry yogurt; apple

I’m trying to eat more salad. I’m taking baby steps by eating “mini” ones.

Turkey and spinach sandwich; chocolate yogurt;
blueberries; olives, watermelon

Watermelon, ketchup; turkey burger; bar;
butternut squash risotto; spinach

That risotto was from a package. Yep, it was one of the rough nights (the day before).

Chicken sandwich; blueberries; coleslaw

Chicken stew; watermelon

I “jazzed up” a chicken stew recipe. It’s not my own so I won’t be sharing it.
Have a great week!

Lunch Literature Book Club #fastfoodlover

Every morning my husband drops our son off at day care and each night I pick him up. Seeing his face when I come and get him is my favorite moment of the day. It’s like therapy.

He always runs to me and gives me a big hug. Then he cocks his hand to the side and asks, “You got someping ‘pecial?”

That’s because I often have a little nibble for him in my car. Sometimes it’s a small cookie, nuts, or a bite or two of a bar. The treat is not always food. This week I gave him a package silly bands. He put all 12 of them on and was quite proud.

When I picked up my son tonight, I overheard a mom say to her kids, “We’re going to McDonald’s for dinner tonight!”

Fast food is such an easy option on weeknights, especially Friday. My little family eats dinner early and with my husband working late these past couple weeks it’s been challenging for me to get something prepared with my son underfoot. Luckily my little guy wants to help and so I’ve been involving him. He dumps food into bowls and stirs. He feels so important!

Over the past two weeks we’ve had to resort to fast food a couple times. We went to Chipotle this week and the week before we went to Noodles and Co. Two weekends ago the three of us ate at Five Guys. They use pure ingredients and my son and I could eat their burgers and fries without any tummy problems! The ingredients in their fries? Potatoes with skins on fried in 100% peanut oil. Honestly, I pigged out. Be aware the restaurant also gives out raw peanuts.

Normally, I’m not interested in eating beef. We don’t buy it at the grocery store and rarely eat out. But I am not an island. My husband likes to eat the occasional burger and told me that he wanted to eat out at a place he thought was nutritionally safe for the whole family (that’s why we went to Five Guys).

As I read Fast Food Nation, it’s hard for me to read the statistics (I’m re-reading the book actually). I’m assuming you are going through the same turmoil. Given what you are learning about our food supply, how do you justify going out for the occasional burger? Or should we abandon all fast food excursions? I have found it not to be that easy. What about you?

Flavored milk update

This just in: the Los Angeles Unified School District voted on Tuesday to ban flavored milk. I welcome this initiative because I don’t think schools should be in the business of giving kids sugary milk every day. Chef Ann has called chocolate milk “soda in drag.” There’s a lot of added sugar in flavored milk as well as high fructose corn syrup and, in the case of many strawberry milks, they also contain artificial food dyes (Red #40). Let’s jack kids up on sugar and then teach them to read! Yee-haw!

But seriously, some nutritionists worry that if kids stop drinking milk they miss out on key nutrients including calcium and vitamin D. Well, I do think that some kids are turned off by white milk. I’ve blogged about the taste of my school’s plain white milk as stale and papery before. Not exactly pleasant. Spoonfed discovered that 66% of school milk sales are coming from the sale of flavored milks. And the potential loss of those sales could be devastating financially for school districts who are strapped for cash and the dairy industry, which I read is suffering from lower milk sales (though I can’t find a supporting link right now).

Andy Bellatti has blogged about other sources of calcium and vitamin D including leafy, dark greens. I know that a lot of people struggle to get their kids to eat greens at home — how can school districts get kids to chow down on foods that are new and unfamiliar? Am I lucky that I have a kid that is a great eater? Good question. Luck is a part of it. Also I think I exposed him to tons of foods during a “critical period” (that coincided with me eating school food for a year and then changing my life from the bottom up). What about school kids who have been eating processed food for a few years in a row? Well, I believe they have to grow there own greens to really be invested in their consumption. But school gardens are a totally different issue.

It doesn’t help that large, veritable news organizations often get their reporting wrong. Hey, I screw things up but I’m a part-time blogger; I’m not a reporter with the AP. Ed Bruske found out that the AP cited a recent “study” that was two years old and ultimately funded by the dairy industry. Who’s in the hen house?

Again, Chef Ann said it well, “We don’t have a calcium crisis in our country, we have an obesity crisis.” But maybe we need to call it a nutrition crisis and not stamp the “obesity” buzzword on anything health-related. Many students of all different shapes and sizes are lactose-intolerant and could meet their calcium needs through fortified OJ, a non-dairy based milk (soy, almond, rice, coconut, etc), or leafy greens.

Overall, I’m encouraged by what’s happening in LA. California does seem to be in the lead in food “trends.” I’m hoping this one catches on. Hey, I’m not against the occasionally chocolate milk made at home (we’ve even bought chocolate almond milk maybe twice this year — it’s great in fruit and veggie smoothies for a blast of sweet), but I just don’t think that schools need to be doling it out every day.

Breakfast in the classroom: example nine

Banana (top), “pink” yogurt, grahams

Surprisingly, I reviewed the ingredients in the yogurt and guess what? No artificial flavors (No Red #40!).

Well, knock me over with a feather.

File under: don’t judge a book by its cover. A good reminder for me, especially.

I’m encouraged by this breakfast. Real fruit, yogurt and some graham crackers? Simple. That I like.

Oh yeah, the kids don’t use spoons to eat the yogurt. They just squeeze the container and suck it out!


When I blogged about teachers eating the occasional school breakfast, a reader contacted me and said,

I believe that you live in the Midwest, as do I, and at my school funding for the breakfast program is based off of how many people eat it, whether that be students, teachers, or support staff. My school encourages everyone to go through the line and get something that is offered, even if it is just a box of milk or a piece of fruit. When I read what you had said about the teacher eating the breakfast my first thought was “they aren’t telling them no because of funding”…. I’m really just curious to see if your school is the same as mine. Do you know??

I don’t know. However, when a teacher grabs a breakfast either the teacher herself/himself or the lunch lady writes down “teacher” on a tally sheet of sorts. It’s not going unreported, but no teacher is handing over any cash. Hmm.
I loved that many of you commented that in your schools the teacher models for the classroom how to eat breakfast. Some of you commented that you are required to grab a breakfast so that everyone can enjoy breakfast together. The teacher eating the breakfast is a powerful endorsement.