When you hear the word “soup” I bet you think of something that warms your belly and perhaps even your spirit; a food with ingredients that “comfort” you. The exact ingredients of this “food” will likely differ depending on your ethnicity and culture. If you are of Jewish ancestry, perhaps chicken noodle or matzo ball soup comes to mind, if you are English, it could be porridge, French—lentil, Italian—Italian wedding or minestrone, Mexican—gazpacho…the list goes on and on. They all use vegetables (and sometimes fruits) in combination and the feeling of comfort is their commonality.
Last week, I had planned to make my favorite soup, butternut squash—until I saw this great recipe for apple turnip soup in a cooking magazine. Hmmm…I happened to have apples and turnips in the fridge, so I thought, “how bad can it be?!...let’s mix it all up and make a combo soup!” Guess what, it turned out great! A “stick to your ribs; great for a cold day; warm up my belly” recipe that I hope I’ll be able to re-create. Actually, the point of my blog is to say that it really doesn't matter what the exact recipe is, what’s important is that you use fresh ingredients, (and by fresh I also include leftover fresh veggies and fruits from other meals or recipes, or those you happen to have lying around or leftover) and with flavorings and spices you enjoy. Curry, parsley, thyme—all are ways to bring out aromas and flavors that comfort you, and enhance the vegetables and fruits you choose to put into your homemade (or Red Rabbit) soups.
Perhaps you have heard about the Wellness in the Schools [WITS] Program offered in many public schools. For several years, WITS - a non-profit organization - has been offering a program that has been bringing professional chefs into schools to teach kids and the DOE’s (Department of Education) school cooks how to prepare healthy meals. Last year they also provided lunch in thirty public schools.
Without warning, the NYC Department of Education suddenly announced a little over a week ago that it would cancel the WITS healthy school lunch program. They claimed that its meals may violate new federal guidelines – without providing any evidence that this in fact is the case. Then, due to public outcry, reversed their decision just a few days later.
Ever wonder why the typical salad dressing aisle in the grocery store has hundreds (yes,hundreds) of choices? It’s because the ingredients and chemical combinations offered by most dressing manufacturers are almost infinite! Making your own salad dressing is much cheaper and certainly much healthier. Here are 5 reasons you might want to reconsider that store bought salad dressing:
In a 2007 study, children ages 3 to 9 who consumed fruit drinks with added artificial colors and/or sodium benzoate for a week, showed increases in hyperactivity. There have also been a multitude of other studies linking artificial colorings and preservatives to ADD/ADDHD (attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity disorder).
These food additives are found in breakfast cereals, cakes, candies, pork sausage, gelatin desserts, soft drinks, juices, ice cream, cheese, butter, pasta and even Maraschino cherries. Check out the studyhere!
I just finished watching the third part of HBO’s Weight of the Nation, Children in Crisis, and I am both enraged and inspired.
I am enraged that the current generation of children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of the childhood obesity epidemic and simultaneously inspired to continue cooking and working with students to get them excited about cooking. It has never been more important to provide children with an understanding of the positive and negative affects food can have on their bodies.
Today’s children are missing a healthy connection and engagement with food. Additionally, there are other factors compounding this problem: physical education programs are either poor or nonexistent throughout the country; cooking and nutrition classes are lacking within the public school system and school lunch programs (non-Red Rabbit, of course) are outrageously unhealthy.
I often wonder about this: if fad diets really worked, would this country still have the obesity issues it currently has? Think it is time to take a harder look.
How Much Does a Pound of Fat Weigh?
Let’s begin by examining the caloric content of a pound of fat—it’s 3,500 calories. It’s not just the number that matters but also what those calories contain and the benefits your body can derive from eating that food item. Is a 350 calorie “protein bar” equivalent to a grilled chicken salad with vegetables and balsamic vinaigrette with the same number of calories? Not even close. One is manufactured in a factory with unhealthy sweeteners, binding agents and processed grains which add unnecessary fats and sugars. The other could be hormone and antibiotic free chicken with organic greens and tomatoes and cucumbers with olive oil and vinegar—loaded with lean protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fat. (in moderation, olive oil has been shown to be a contributor to lowering cholesterol).
On July 2nd, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, announced that, as part of the city-wide effort to fight the obesity epidemic, the City is increasing efforts to improve access to healthy eating. For first time ever, all of city's farmers markets will make fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for low-income New Yorkers.
138 Farmers Markets throughout the five boroughs will accept Health Bucks, coupons good for $2 of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, an increase of more than 100 percent from last year’s 65 participating markets. At the 125 markets that accept EBT food stamp participants are provided an extra $2 toward fruits and vegetables for every $5 spent with EBT, Overall, this is expected to amount to more than $350,000 in free fruits and vegetables for low-income New Yorkers this season.
Fish is good for you….but many of us don’t eat it.
You've probably heard that seafood is an important part of a healthy diet, especially for children and pregnant women. Chefs, nutritionists and seafood aficionados alike rave about the various health benefits of seafood, offering lean protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Yet U.S. seafood consumption has declined in previous years, averaging around 15.8 pounds annually. While the U.S. ranks third globally for the consumption of fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan, seafood consumption lags far behind meat and poultry as popular meal options. So why aren’t we eating more seafood? A congressionally mandated Food and Drug Administration seafood advisory cautioning mothers against the dangers of mercury-laden seafood provides part of the answer, resulting in a decrease in seafood consumption among these key demographics in the following years. Incorporating seafood into children’s diets is a great way to develop healthy eating habits early on for the entire family, but getting those picky eaters to eat seafood and deciding exactly what species and how much can be complicated!
Red Rabbit’s office has been buzzing with discussion over HBO’s most recent documentary concerning America’s obesity epidemic, The Weight of the Nation. This four part documentary series, in association with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) & the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides devastating personal stories, alarming health statistics and a look at the overall health of our country. Here is just an overview of Part One of this outstanding series, which focuses on consequences of the obesity epidemic.
Last week, we began telling you about celebrity chef, Mario Batali’s “Food Stamp Challenge” initiative. For one week, the acclaimed chef challenged Americans (and his own family) to “walk in someone else’s shoes” by eating only what they would be able to buy with food stamps. Batali, the star of ABC’s “The Chew,” partnered with the New York City Food Bank to raise awareness about potential cuts to the food stamp program, which helps feed millions of Americans. The food stamp guidelines amount to $31 per person, per week, or $1.48 per meal! Instead of filling up on fresh, organic vegetables, he’s been feeding his family more beans and starches like egg and bean tacos and lentils and rice.
What this initiative brings home to us is the need for families of all income levels to educate themselves on wellness and nutrition—as well as eating and cooking options—especially at a lower income level. Mario Batali may be giving up his $4 lattes from a specialty coffee house, but most families struggle with larger and more fundamental issues, like what to make for dinner that will be healthy, and not break the bank.