Our society is obsessed with the flavor of an orange, ribbed, and often homely looking squash. And thanks in large part to a certain spiced latte, pumpkin flavoring has been used in everything from M&M’s to chili and hummus.
A flavor that’s become so ubiquitous can be downright annoying, but it’s not the pumpkins’ fault. The fact is, the ugly squash is a bona fide super food, high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and E. The pumpkin is also full of carotenoid, an antioxidant shown to reduce the risk of cancer. So, when done right, a pumpkin treat can be a relatively healthy diet extravagance.
We’ve compiled some delectable recipes by five celebrity chefs to give you a little pumpkin-spiration. When you decide to whip up a pumpkin dessert, remember that pumpkin pie filling and pumpkin filling are two totally different things. And you must never discard the seeds within, as they are full of healthy fats, zinc, fiber, iron, and manganese and make a pretty killer snack on their own.
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Martha Stewart, the unofficial queen of Halloween craftiness, came up with this super easy recipe. You need less butter and brown sugar than you might think, plus honey, and pumpkin seeds. This recipe has all the decadence and crunch of old school peanut brittle, but the pumpkin seeds give it a nice seasonal, healthy kick. (more…)
The wheels of school lunch reform are finally starting to turn, even if pizza is still considered a vegetable.
The days of fuzzy chicken nuggets, grey burgers, and gelatinous square pizza are fading away. President Obama signed the Child Nutrition Bill three years ago, which gave the USDA authority to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools during the school day, including vending machines, the “a la carte” lunch lines, and school stores.
Congress passed the $4 billion bill, but regular citizens are responsible for getting their attention. Although schools have started serving more nutritious foods—breads and crusts with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, salads—the war is still on. The USDA had a PR nightmare in 2012 with “pink slime”—a meat byproduct made of random cow parts and ammonia—yet schools in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota continue to serve the stuff.
On a global scale, school lunch reform has been a common theme. In England, flamboyant chef, Jamie Oliver, took up the cause, and in the U.S., blogger Sarah Wu (aka Mrs. Q), First Lady Michelle Obama, and Chef Ann Cooper have carried the torch. All of their efforts worked to ensure that the future leaders of the world wouldn’t be fed the cheapest, most processed, and least nutritious junk imaginable.
Dietitian Allison J. Stowell and chef Erin Dow offered a webinar to those who were interested in Guiding Stars changing school lunches. Allison and Erin noted the rising obesity rates among children and how a change is needed as soon as possible. The issue at hand is childhood obesity and how changing school lunches can help lower obesity. The webinar basically described steps that Allison and Erin took to change a school district’s meal plan. The team offered advise to those who would like to implement healthy meals at schools in their home towns.
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will take effect July 2012. Congress passed the act to help children grow into healthy adults. Guiding Star wants to educate children, parents, staff, and administrators about the importance of healthy eating, and they want people from the community to gather credible research about children eating healthy at schools and summarize it to the school board or community members. With that support and information, they can get everyone on board for the cause. The next step is to find a chef who is willing to work with the school and help create healthy recipes for the kids. Finally, schools need to enlist the help of staff and teachers to encourage and educate kids on the importance of eating healthy. (more…)
Jamie Olivermay not be a fitness guru, but he has revolutionized the food and health industry. Born May 27, 1975 in Clavering, Essex, England, Jamie had a normal childhood until the age of 8 when he started working at his parents’ pub The Cricketers in Calvering. He would help around the kitchen and run errands for his parents. Jamie was around the kitchen so much that he found a passion for food. He completed training at Westminster Catering College at 16 years old and then France was calling Jaime’s name. He spent some time there working for a variety of restaurants. Upon his return to London he worked at Neal Street and then at the infamous River Cafe for three-and-a-half years with Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers. This is where his passion for Italian food was ignited.
His formal career started in 1997 after being featured in a documentary about the River Cafe. Jamie was offered his own show; thus The Naked Chef was born. Jamie kept himself busy with his projects, but gave back to the community. In 2001, he opened “Jamie’s Kitchen,” a training restaurant for English citizens who weren’t in school or employed. His open heart and love for cooking benefited people in need. The next project to catch Jamie’s attention was the poor state of school lunches in United Kingdom schools. In 2004, Jamie launched a national campaign called “Feed Me Better,” then went into schools and educated kids on the importance of eating healthy. “Feed Me Better” shed light on the obesity problem eradicating the UK. (more…)
As part of our weekly cooking series, we’re doing a special feature today on how to cook with real food, in celebration of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day.
The idea is simple: Put away the fake ingredients and pre-made mixes and sauces and cook with real food for better health.
This idea is being brought to American dinner tables and school cafeterias by one seriously-determined British chef – Jamie Oliver. Oliver has started a movement both stateside and in Britain called the Food Revolution, which aims to get back to real, quality food, and move away from the high-fat, sugar-laden processed foods most Americans are eating today.
For a better sense of how Oliver views healthy eating, here is his food philosophy as stated on his website. (more…)
Yesterday morning, like most American women, I was checking my favorite blogs. It’s part of my a.m. routine just as much as coffee and showering. Daily and habitual.
So when I stopped by my friend Katie’s blog, Yes I Want Cake, I was thrilled to see she’d partnered with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which works to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.
This is a movement I’m totally on board with. Exposing kids and their families to real, nutritious food and spreading the buzz on health? Sign me up. In fact, I just did.
Jamie launched his Food Revolution back in 2010, and his latest project is a small but mighty extension of that: The Giving Assistant. It’s an app you can download for free onto your web browser with just a few clicks, and it acts as a virtual fundraiser, giving money to the cause every time you make a purchase with one of their online partners – like gap.com, hotels.com, bestbuy.com. When you check out, a portion of the proceeds is automatically donated to the Jamie Oliver Foundation. It’s that simple. (more…)
Food Revolution leader Jamie Oliver may have stuck his foot in his mouth this week while giving an interview in Australia.
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, cookbook author, and health advocate was in Australia to promote his partnership with the government to address the nation’s obesity issues. While giving an interview with a female NBC News journalist, Oliver got very defensive with one of her questions after she asked if he had gained weight.
“I don’t know. I am very healthy. I think the last time I had a filling in my teeth, which was quite recently, I was in good nick. But really, I am not really sure. Are you from a tabloid? Thank you for noticing, you bitch.”
Oliver later explained that he wasn’t feeling well after having drinks the night before and that he didn’t understand what the question was implying.
“I went out last night and had a few drinks after a very long day, (and) my brain did not quite understand that question.”
Oliver also defended his health to the critics who came down on him for not practicing what he preaches about health.
The last episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution ended with a teaser about the appointment of a new superintendent for the LAUSD. This final episode of the season began with Jamie meeting with Mike of MLS at Patra’s restaurant.
Deno, Patra’s owner, reported that business had continued to be good with his new healthier menu. Mike informed Jamie (and us) that the new LAUSD school superintendent was willing to grant autonomy to schools that can show results. I also learned that schools are not eligible for reimbursement for the free lunch program if they do not serve flavored milk. Later, when we get to meet the new superintendent, he says that he wants to get rid of flavored milk in LAUSD schools, which we now know that he has accomplished. Jamie predicted that with Los Angeles taking such a proactive move, that soon we may see flavored milk eliminated from schools around the country.
With the new superintendent, Jamie was allowed to go back into West Adams High, even into the school kitchen, where he and his culinary arts students got to try out the new healthier school menu items.
My favorite part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution this Father’s Day week was Jamie’s visit back to the Barrett family to see if they have stayed away from fast food since his last visit. As Jamie strode up the sidewalk, he noticed that they were growing herbs and vegetables. The father and the teenage son answered the door in aprons, in the midst of preparing dinner for themselves and Jamie. They had even filled the living room with all kinds of produce in jest of Jamie filling their home with fast food on his last visit. The father stated that he had lost 16 pounds already and, most importantly, feels good about himself as a father now that he cooks and has dinner at the family table with his sons.
The episode started with Jamie visiting a convention for school lunch cooks. He let us know that it is not just the LAUSD, but he has also been denied access to 75 other school districts. The comments by the cooks and administrators made it clear that people are afraid of bad press.
I find it sad when we try to pretend that we are perfect and/or do not open ourselves up to improvement through real awareness. I work with people frequently who confess less than functional habits. Just because Jillian Michaels already works out daily, does not mean she is better than the person asking for help to start exercising more often. In fact, I often find that the person trying to make a change has more courage and is working harder than the person who has already developed a healthier habit. My favorite part of the school lunch cook convention was Jamie commenting on the fact that during airing of the Food Revolution, commercials for fast food or convenience food are also being aired.
Parents of children in the Los Angeles School District have something new to talk to their children about when discussing healthy lifestyle choices: the absence of flavored milk in school lunches. On Tuesday, June 14, 2011, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted 5-2 to remove flavored milk options from its school menus.
Many school districts – including Washington D.C. – have passed similar acts in their efforts to make the meals they serve their students healthier while also combating childhood obesity. Los Angeles is the largest school district to ban sugar-laden, artificially flavored milks from their lunches. This district serves 650,000 meals a day at 1,000 different locations. In addition to removing milk from their menus, Los Angeles schools will be removing other unhealthy options such as corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and other fast food items. In their place, the district is adding more vegetarian options, such as spinach tortellini with butternut squash and California sushi rolls.
“Absolutely, by the fall the district will be a national leader,” said a senior advocate for the California Food Policy Advocates, Matthew Sharp.
After the disappointment in the last episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, it was a wonderful surprise to see that the administrator of West Adams High had hopefully found a loophole, so that Jamie and his kids could indeed cook for the entire school, at least as an assembly. The administrator said that the school was based on experiential teaching and preparing kids for college, so healthy eating fit right into their principles. In the mean time, Jamie continued his role of instructor, trying out different subjects beyond culinary arts.
In math class, Jamie taught about calories and consequences by allowing students to choose a snack between soda, chocolate bars, pizza, or oranges. He then allowed them to experience weight gain using weight backpacks. Jamie then took his math students out to the track having the students walk around the track enough times to burn the calories of what they had just eaten.