Archive for September, 2011

Happy New Year – Rosh Hashana Apples and Honey

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah is here. It is a tradition in the Jewish culture to dip apples in honey for a sweet New Year.  It doesn’t matter what time of year or what your culture, apples are the most popular fruit in the world.  And really who needs an excuse to dip them in honey?  Yum!

Here’s a link to my friend Lisa’s Velick’s blog who writes about all things gluten free and always gives me a lesson on the Jewish holidays and celebrations.

 

 

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“Is Junk Food Really Cheaper” – NY Times Op Ed Article

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Mark Bittman is a journalist, food writer and cookbook author with a direct writing style, which I admire.  His book How to Cook Everything is a must for any avid home cook.  He wrote a great article in the NY Times this week entitled “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?”. It’s an interesting read and debunks some of the information about the cost of food.  Having just gone through the hunger challenge I agree with him that healthy food can be made inexpensively, but with effort and planning.  Money alone is not the issue.  He concludes the fight to shift people’s eating from fast food to home cooked meals must be via education, policy and culture.  He brings up some interesting statistics in this article.  I had no idea there are 5 times as many fast food restaurants as grocery stores.  Wow!  And he also write about the fact that the engineering behind hyperprocessed food makes it virtually addictive. “A 2009 study by the Scripps Research Institute indicates that overconsumption of fast food “triggers addiction-like neuroaddictive responses” in the brain, making it harder to trigger the release of dopamine. In other words the more fast food we eat, the more we need to give us pleasure; thus the report suggests that the same mechanisms underlie drug addiction and obesity.”

I think he’s got some good questions and issues and brings into focus how our food and diet needs to change, and everyone needs to take responsibility and action. Individuals, families, local communities, and government need to get educated and involved.

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Cantaloupe Warning/Recall – Listeria Outbreak

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.  Listeria is most harmful to the elderly and pregnant women (as it passes thru to the fetus).  Symptoms of listeria include fever and muscle aches, often with other gastrointestinal symptoms. Victims often become incapacitated and unable to speak.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths have been reported from The Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms grown in Colorado and shipped between July 29th and September 10th all across the United States.  The cases have been found in 18 states including California.  See entire article here.

 

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Hunger Challenge Wrap Up

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

So my family agreed last week was hard.  I feel like the challenge (my goal of trying to keep my family full and satisified with healthy food on such a limited budget) was all consuming.  Everything else seemed like a blur, and other than our daily lives of school, homework and blogging, not much was accomplished.  I simply didn’t have the time or energy.  We also missed our social life and the ability to have people over and feel like we could host and provide for them.

My car broke down the day after the challenge ended.  If this had happened during the hunger challenge I would not have been able to handle it so well (car was towed and kids and I walked 1.2 miles in 85 degree heat).  Because we were able to get a icy, fruit smoothie and emergency snacks out of the trunk (yes, I keep nuts and graham crackers usually for when hunger strikes) for our walk home – it became another adventure – rather than a hardship.  If we had been hungry and thirsty and not able to refresh our bodies with fuel, we wouldn’t have had the energy or spirit to walk home.

So there is much to be thankful for and we’re glad the unhappy faces are down from the cupboards and we’ve been grocery shopping again.  My kids even have ideas for next year (they said it).  Unfortuantely hunger will still exist next year (although we can hope the numbers of people effected go down) and thus another challenge.

I’m happy to annouce the KGO Fight Hunger Day last week is still totaling and pulling in donations for the Bay Area food banks, and is now over $185,000.  Well done.  I think the more people are able to spread the word, the more we can all help each other.  Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.  And thanks to my family for supporting the challenge 100%.

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Final Day 7

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Our last day started the same as the first – with french toast.  My kids and husband had french toast with yogurt and fruit on top.  My son asked “Where’s the powdered sugar?”  Then he quickly remembered.  Yes, in the cupboard but behind an unhappy “not to eat” face.  I had the last of the oatmeal with a sprinkle of granola and half a banana.  So glad I bought those last evening.  I mistakenly put the last of the grapes on the table near my daughter and they were quickly eaten without sharing.  She likes her fruit.

a few good grapes

sleepy Jonas cutting his toast

Ellery dives in to a banana

My kids both had soccer games, so that also meant snacks provided afterwards.  My daughter enjoyed fruit kebobs while my son had strawberries and pirate booty (not my favorite – oh well).

my lunch leftovers

For lunch my son had flatbread with sunflower butter (we’re almost out).  My daughter had a hummus wrap.  My husband had the last of the turkey, hummus and a spoonful of avocado (left from dinner).  I ate last night’s taco left-overs – a few beans, some tofu and ground beef.  We rationed the last of the carrots – trying to save some for dinner.  We finished the bag of pretzels.  It kind of seemed bottomless during the week.  We were so hungry, I missed photos of lunch, except for mine (above).  Doesn’t look super appealing does it?  Ellery’s best friend came over and I felt bad not being able to offer more than carrots, pretzels, and water (although that’s what she usually eats at my house).

my snack

My daughter went to a friend’s birthday party.  Besides fun and friends, she got a cupcake.  Seemed like such a luxury I’m sure.  Friends of mine asked (who knew we were doing the challenge) if my kids would be allowed “outside” food.  I said yes.  I’m mean, but not cruel.  But I didn’t accept any food.  Thus when the party was done and we were home about 4pm, I was famished, with a headache.  I poured my last 1/2 glass of iced tea and finished off the last of the yogurt (so glad 32 ounces lasted through the week), topped with a bit of granola.  I felt much better almost immediately.

egg in a hole. note: my son made a "cap" for his milk with the cut out

Dinner wasn’t so hard – mostly because there wasn’t much to choose from.  There were eggs and bread, one sweet potato, some spinach, some leftover rice and a few carrots.  I don’t usually make individual meals, but I let each person decide how they wanted their eggs.  I made egg salad (I still had 2 hard boiled eggs from the week, and I made 2 more) for my daughter and husband.  Then my son and I chose poached/fried.  Acutally my son came up with egg in a basket.  Good thinking.  I decided to eat the remainder of the stir fry rice, topped with some sauteed spinach and egg on top.  We also had sweet potato chips.

dad's dinner

Ellery's dinner

my dinner

sweet potato chips

We always say our “thankfuls” at dinner each night.  Tonight’s involved soccer, birthday parties and completing the hunger challenge.  I’m thankful for my family participating again this year and putting up with me this week (tired, hungry, preoccupied).  We’re all thankful we don’t have to live on a food stamp budget as a way of life.  I’m thankful my kids aren’t teenagers.  I can’t even imagine how you feed a 16 year old boy with these limitations.  (And what about a pet?  We only have hermit crabs who eat a little spinach or fruit now and then).

I’ll be happy to going back to the convenience and freedom of eating when, what and where we want.  Healthfully, of course.  I also won’t be so (overly) preoccupied with food and photos.  And we’ll be more social.  I don’t like not being able to freely share food and host meals for friends and family.  Hunger effects everything – your mind, body, spirit, and your way of life.

 

 

 

 

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Day 6 Continued – $118,000 Raised for Bay Area Food Banks

Friday, September 16th, 2011

my lunch

So I ate my left-over oatmeal as promised, mid-morning.  Then enjoyed my left-over stir fry from dinner.  Not lots of veggies, but there was some chicken left and the rice filled me up.   I finished my daughter’s apple from this morning on my drive to San Francisco.

inside the food bank

my chat on KGO

I made it to the San Francisco Food Bank where KGO was broadcasting live for the KGO Fights Hunger Day.  This was a great sight.  The Food Bank was in full swing.  Volunteers working outside and in to receive and stack food.  It’s amazing at how large the space is and how much food you see, and realize it’s still not enough to meet the community’s needs.  I sat down and chatted on the air with Gil Gross about my family’s experience with the hunger challenge.  In the brief time I was there (about 1/2 hour) someone came in to the front office and dropped off a check donation for $500.  During the interview an AT&T repairman came in to give $40 to Gil since he was working down the street and heard the KGO broadcast.  It was really special to be a part of.  And today KGO raised over $118,000 for Bay Area Food Banks.  That’s what the challenge is all about – raising awareness and funds.

I was really hungry by the time I was driving home.  I stopped and bought 4 bananas at $.19 each.  I saw this morning that after doing totals, I could spend $.80.  I thought that the bananas would be good for breakfast – since we’re just about out of fruit.  I came home and had a snack of pretzels and sunflower butter.  My daughter and husband were home.  Both my kid’s had playdates while I was in SF.  They of course reported what they ate.  My daughter had fruit and a grilled cheese sandwich and my son had a snack of homemade pumpkin bread.  Am I the only hungry one around here?

taco fixin's

my hungry family didn't wait for me to sit down

roasted broccoli

For dinner we had our taco/burrito night.  It was later than I wanted to eat after picking up my son from Tae Kwon Do.  A few times this week I’ve been so preoccupied with hunger I’ve had trouble thinking straight.  I was crabby when making dinner.  Everyone started without me.  I gave them a pass on manners as I took a few photos before I sat down.  It was tasty and filling and everyone enjoyed.  I browned the ground beef.  I also drained and sliced some tofu and browned that a bit as well.  There was some remaining tomato and shredded cheese to use.  I made guacamole with the avocado.  And heated the black beans and corn-wheat tortillas.  I also roasted the rest of the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt.  No one complained – although a bit of salsa and fresh cilantro would’ve been great.  It’s a fun meal because the kids can make it themselves and build it to their liking.  Tofu, guacamole and cheese for my daughter and meat, cheese and beans for my son.  All of it for my husband and I.  Self choices and participation is always key to get kids to eat healthy foods.

So tomorrow’s our last day and I’m thinking we’re going to make it.

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Morning – Challenge Day 6 – Will We Make It?

Friday, September 16th, 2011

tea for me

I’m sure as you can tell, I usually write at night.  So much during the day with kids school and activities and just now getting back to meetings, writing and excercise for me after a summer of mostly fun.  I think being busy (yoga, paddleboarding, etc) also kept my mind off eating.  Rather than sitting at a desk, like I am now.  However I am having a nice cup of tea.  I bought the tea and didn’t like it as cold, but I do like hot, so it’s a comfort and a treat on this cold and foggy morning after taking the kids to school.  I also didn’t eat all my oatmeal from earlier.  I saved it and will reheat it when I get hungry.

Here was the usual morning…  My husband went to work very early, so I didn’t see his breakfast.  I’m assuming he missed or had a bowl of cereal, by the amount of milk left.  My son had toast, yogurt, and granola.  He wanted the whole banana but he settled for half, since it was the last one.  My daughter and I shared the other half on our oatmeal.  Yes, again.  My daughter also had her yogurt grapes and granola.

Jonas' breakfast

Ellery's breakfast

Ellery's snack

Jonas' lunch and snack

I packed my son’s usual lunch.  He is a creature of habit, so this hasn’t been tough for lunch – but he usually has more choices.  My daughter is going to a friend’s house after school and will have lunch there, while I go to the radio interview at the Food Bank.  She’ll probably be happy to see some new lunch options.  We’re out of the banana bread for snack so I packed crackers and cheese for my son.  My daughter got the last few crackers with sunflower butter and 1/2 an apple (the rest we’ll save for snack later).  By the way if you slice an apple and don’t want it to turn bown let is soak a few minutes in water with a squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of salt.

soaking apples

 

empty fruit bowl

We’re noticing the lack of ingredients.  We finished the crackers today.  The’re only about 1/4 cup of the cow’s milk left.  The fruit bowl is empty (we still have grapes in the fridge).   The cheese is about 1/2 thick by 4 inches.  Hopefully some for tacos tonight.  Let’s see how it’s adding up.  Here’s what I bought.  Each item is gone, unless I say otherwise…

First Shop – Trader Joe’s

almond milk 1.99 – for my daughter, she doesn’t drink cow’s milk.  I use in my oatmeal.  About 1 cup left

cow’s milk 3.29- for my son (and husband for cereal). We usually buy a full gallon, but get a half. about 1/4 cup left

organic yogurt 2.99- large.  Mix with fruit spread, fruit or brown sugar to sweeten.  Also for egg salad and tuna. About 1 1/2 cups left.

organic eggs 3.99  – 2 boiled left and 5 raw

wheat pizza dough 1.29 – pizza

organic hummus 2.29 – wraps. About 3 tablespoons left.

organic ground beef 6.49 – for tacos

2 red peppers 2.99 – roasted veggies and pasta dish.

organic baby carrots 1.49 – Trader Joe’s regular carrots aren’t organic.  Ate one bag and bought another for lunches and snacks.

organic grapes – 3.99 duet of green and red. For lunches and snacks.  About 20 grapes left.

broccoli 1.69 – stir fry.  About 1/2 head left.

orange juice 2.99 , half gallon – I usually buy organic, but too $. About 1/4 left

bananas 3 – .19 each

organic black beans 1.19 – for taco night

organic frozen edaname 2.29

wheat pretzels 1.69, About 1/4 bag left.

sharp cheddar cheese 2.87 – for pizza, and lunches. Small piece left.

Shop in My Pantry and Freezer (things I already had and didn’t want to rebuy)

orechette pasta .99 – first night’s pasta, lentil and veggie dinner and some left-overs

rice 2.99 – I should’ve checked I didn’t even have a whole bag. Have left-over cooked from stir fry.

canned organic tomatoes 1.99 – I usually buy Pomi

tea – 2.29 – this is just one of many we have.  I chose because least expensive, but I only like it hot, not cold.  Half box left.

tuna 1.49 – for sandwiches

hemp granola – 2.99 – for yogurt and granola

sandwich bread – 2.99 – for lunches

canned minestrone soup 2.99 – my kids love this.  Good when I don;t have time to make my own.

fruit spread – 1.79 – for sandwiches with sunflower butter and toast. Lots left

sunflower butter – 3.79 – Chose this instead of peanut butter since our school is nut free. Half left.

sliced turkey 4.79 – my son’s wrap choice this week

half loaf of banana bread – my kids and I made banana bread a few days before the challenge (to use some overipe bananas) and I froze it.  I used half the loaf for my kids’ snack at school the first few days of the week (sorry forgot to show).  It probably cost me about $2 in ingredients.

banana bread snack

Shopping at Farmer’s Market – all organic

apples (5) – 3.45 – lunches and snacks

kale – 2  – chips and stir fry

heirloom tomatoes (4)- 2.80 – wraps and salad

sweet potatoes (2) – 2.10 – chips – 1 left

zucchini (2) – 1 roasted veggies and pasta dish

spinach – 1.45 in wraps and salad

olive baguette – 2. First night’s pasta, lentil veggie dinner

Subsequent shopping yesterday and day before …

bananas – (3) 1.16

Tejava tea – 1.29 – couldn’t handle life without an iced tea and bought a bummer one.

flatbread/Lavosh bread – 2.29 for wraps. 5 left

whole wheat sandwich bread 2.49 – almost whole loaf left

corn tortillas – 1.99 – for tacos

organic chicken breast 3.94 – for stir fry

organic tofu – twin pack – 1.99 – for stir fry and tacos.

avocados – 1.79 for tacos

So we have almost no fruit and veggies left.  What food we have is mostly allocated for tonight’s dinner.  Tomorrow we’ll have stuff for sandwiches for lunch.  Dinner may be rough.  We have lots of bread – so we can always have toast and sunflower butter.

 

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Day 5 – Hunger Challenge

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

son's breakfast - note: the last piece of toast

I feel bored writing about our mornings, there’s so much of the same.  Oatmeal with almond milk and half a banana for me.  My daughter shared some oatmeal and a few slices of apple and grapes.  She put up a little fuss at breakfast.  My son got up earlier and ate the last piece of toast (along with yogurt, aple and a bowl of cereal).  I imagine this would be a regular problem in a large family, but it doesn’t happen much with only two kids.  Even the bread heel wasn’t an option as I used it for my tuna melt the other night, knowing no one else would want it.  We usually put the ends in the freezer to have on hand when we feed ducks at the park.

son's lunch, again

daughter's lunch

my lunch

While I was making my son’s lunch – he just keeps requesting the same turkey wrap, carrots, pretzels and grapes –  I decided to make a few hard boiled eggs.  My daughter loves making egg salad face sandwiches and I thought she’d like that for lunch with me.  I even went to the store and used up close to the last of my money (bread, carrots, flatbread, avocado, tofu, chicken, tortillas).   But no, she didn’t want that.  I enjoyed my sandwich – with no face.  She said “Why didn’t you make a face?”  I said “Because if you don’t have one there’e no one for my face to talk with.”  She had sunflowerbutter and fruit spread wrap, carrots and grapes.  There was one addition.  Cucumber slices.  The garden mom gave it to us at school pick up.  Score!

 

The afterschool snack was not exciting as we had 15 minutes to unpack bags, eat something, fill water bottles and change for soccer practice (both kids).  They had a Clif Z bar, as did their coach dad.  They hadn’t had one in a while and I keep them on hand for hiking or an emergency snack at a sports game/practice.  So this seemed like a treat.  My son remembered he didn’t eat his pretzels at lunch, so he packed them up for after soccer.  He’s now being resourceful and planning against hunger.

 

So I was glad I was able to buy more things today.  It wasn’t much, but staples we ran out of and a few things to get us through dinners.  I went to Trader Joes’ again, eventhough I usually buy meat, fish, chicken at Whole Foods.  It’s too too expensive for the challenge for these items.  I did still buy organic.  I also was happy to see the product demo for a taste of blueberry pancake with syrup.  I could’ve eaten 10 more samples, but I stopped at one.

dad's dinner

daughter's dinner - no meat, no sauce

Tonight was a stir fry.  A stir fry is great because you can add anything.  It’s also a good way to use all your veggies.  It seemed a treat to have two proteins – tofu (1/2 package) and chicken (2 small breasts, less than 3/4 lb total).  (My diet is lacking protein this week)  It also didn’t contain any left-overs or make-overs from previous meals.  My daughter not eating meat of course.  My son wanting chicken and my husband and I having both.  I had “bought” rice from my pantry, which wasn’t great planning.  There was only a little left of brown and the same of jasmine.  So I made a mix to get 1 cup and cooked it together.  This is one drawback to having too many choices – partial bags, but maybe not enough.  This meal was easy…First I heated some oil in the wok.  I rinsed and pushed out the water from the tofu and cut into chunks, then added it to the wok.  I removed the tofu and stir fried the chicken pieces.   I removed the chicken then for veggies I woked up some broccoli, carrots, and kale in some vegetable broth.  Everyone could add the veggies to the rice with their tofu and/or chicken.  I had bought a premade thai curry sauce for flavor, that we buy anyway.  It’s great for quick mid week stir fry, without having to measure and use lots of ingredients (which I don’t have access to this week).

edanamme

I also boiled some frozen organic edaname.  Half of which my daughter ate before dinner.  It’s hard this week to offer enough veggies for them to snack on before dinner, and be able to use them for the main meal.  It was good and we were full.  I even packed up the left-overs – a single serving, just barely big enough for my lunch tomorrow.  Something to look forward to…

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KGO Fights Hunger Day – Tune In Sept. 16th

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

It’s day 5 and while some things are getting easier others are not.  I think as a family this has been a stressful week.  It is my kids’ first full week of school.  Not as hard on my son as it is my daughter who started kindergarten.  Participating in the hunger challenge for the kids was a fun game at first.  Then there were all the questions and the sighs/groans about not having access to something they’re used to eating.  Now they just ask, “Is this still the hunger challenge?”  I’d like to think it’s because they don’t think they’re missing anything (dinner looks like what we eat for the most part) , but maybe they’re just resolved to getting through it.  It’s taking a toll.  Not just my being hungry and likley more irritable at times, but all the effort of pouring over food lists, talking about the challenge, working on blogs, taking photos of every morsel we eat.  But it is worth it because people are talking about the issue and raising money and awareness, and that’s important.

I’m very excited to be part of KGO Fight’s Hunger Day tomorrow.  I’ll be talking about the challenge and my family’s experiences on the Gil Gross Show between 2 – 4pm live from the SF Food Bank.  The station will be broadcasting from food banks all over the bay area and taking donations.  Click here for more info and the day’s line-up.

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Update to Day 4

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

So my family explained to Katie, the sitter about the hunger challenge.  She saw all the unhappy faces in the fridge and cupboard.  I was glad I made the vegetable parmesean as sometimes she’s eats a gluten free diet.  So I didn’t want our restrictions to impact her diet and health.

pizza

veggie parmesean

 

My husband and I ate the pizza and veggies.  I must say they were both really good.  A nice salad would’ve gone well too, but we need to preserve.  We’re only half way there.  So we headed to back to school night and saw all the kids artwork, and listened to the teacher presentations.  It actually ran late so we only had about an hour to ourselves.  We headed to a beer pub, Mill Valley Beerworks.  Was this cheating?  I suppose.  But my husband had a gift certificate, so that’s why we chose it and technically we didn’t spend any money.  We each had a drink.  But I couldn’t help ordering a mini pork slider for myself.  (I actually would’ve liked about a dozen).  I cannot tell a lie.  I was really hungry from eating early and not much, since I wanted to be sure there was enough for the kids and sitter.  Yes, I cheated.  Again I didn’t pay, but it was $4 and thus almost my entire day’s allowance.  Technically I could subtract the $4 from my left over money, which brings me to $21 for the next few days.  This is where I’m getting stressed (we need bread, cereal, fruit) and would go to the Food Bank to see what they had for me to suplement and make it through to the next food stamp allotment.

Beerworks

The kids and sitter ate later.  When we got home it was all gone.  Good thing I wasn’t banking on eating that.  Kids were in bed.  However I learned this morning the kids had dessert.  I wondered what they had, thinking the sitter wouldn’t have gone behind the unhappy faces.  They had mango sorbet which was in the freezer.  They knew that wasn’t part of the challenge, but there’s no unhappy faces because the tape doesn’t stick in the freezer (and there’s not much that is part of the challenge).  Oh well.  I couldn’t get mad.  Everyone cheated a bit.  This has been hard for them and they’re getting a bit agggravated by me and the challenge.  Actually everyone is a bit on edge.  I think it comes from lack of choice and freedom.

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