California County Bans McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys

I just loved the above headline.  I’m hoping it’s just the first county to initiate the ordinance and others will follow.  Hooray for Santa Clara.

Read the entire article here.

So funny, the concept of fast food just doesn’t come up at our house.  Once my son asked about a McDonald’s as we past and said “how come we’ve never been there?”  I said “the food is junky” (he’s heard that before from me) and also asked him how he likes to eat.  “Do you like to hurry and eat?”  I knew his response would be “no”.  My son likes to take his time eating and he’s opposed to being rushed in general.  He also likes to dine.  He and my daughter enjoy the whole restaurant experience.  Including flirting with wait staff and hostesses. That’s just not part of McDonald’s experience.

Anyways…my mom gave my kids a Sponge Bob watch.  I looked at the package and it said “not for resale”.  I knew she didn’t buy these watches.  Flash forward to yesterday at my son’s school and I saw a little girl with the watch.  I heard her tell another interested student that she got it at Burger King.  (Yes, my mom is busted – she didn’t take my kids there, but I wouldn’t want to be promoting them either).  The little girl who was curious about the watch turned to her mom and asked “what’s Burger King?”  I love those moments.  I am happy not to be the only parent who doesn’t do Happy Meals and food with surprise plastic toys.  However I can see how pursuasive a little toy and interest can go.  It’s built at least one empire… an evil empire (and I’m not talking Star Wars figures).


Get Cooking Light…New Cookbook

So funny, that when you write about food and recipes and cooking people from all over contact you to try their product (food, book, sandwich wrap).  Most of these requests and things that people want to send me just don’t apply.  There’s way too many offeres for alcohol related recipes and products – obviously not in touch that I write about kids and family foods.  (or maybe they are and know parents sometimes need a drink).  Anyways when I was offered a chance to review a Cooking Light cookbook, I was quite pleased. 

Cooking Light, Cooking Through the Seasons is really how I like to cook.  Simple recipes with key ingredients and seasons in mind.  Choosing what to prepare is easy as you go to your season, in this case spring and list your ingredients to be able to buy at the local farmer’s market.  Not that I didn’t jump ahead and see some great summer and winter recipes too.  The book may replace my Better Homes and Garden Cookbook as a true cookbook staple and my new go to guide for making fresh seasonal food.  There’s easy steps of cooking methods for those unfamiliar (braising, blanching, etc).  The book also highlights ingredients from the seasons that may or may not be familiar.  Never being one to do much with rhubarb, I jumped right in, learned how to choose and made a refreshing sorbet.  Fava beans are also something I don’t use very often, but embraced a wonderful warm salad.  (And when I tired of peeling fava beans and didn’t buy enough, I substituted with spring peas.)

This book gives enough information and great photos for a novice cook, but also enough interesting ingredients, inspiration and delicious recipes for those more comfortable in the kitchen.

Here’s a few of the yummy foods I’ve made so far…

asparagus with brown butter sauce
chicken, edaname (sub for spring pea) and potato salad
rhubarb sorbet
vegetable fetuccini

School Lunch Threatens National Security

Last night I stayed up to write my newsletter.  In it I wrote about Earth Day and how we can celebrate with our children and create meaningful changes and habits to reduce, reuse and recycle.  While I focused on reducing school lunch waste in terms of trash and buying greener reusable products to help (cloth napkins, reusable water bottles and stainless steel lunch box systems; I woke up to see an article front page of Yahoo about a different type of school lunch issue.  

Specifically this article talks to some retired military personnel who have concerns about school lunches, as a threat to national security.  By that they mean school lunches (and kids’ eating habits overall) are so unhealthy that teenagers are becoming increasingly overweight, unhealthy and out of shape and can not join the military.  Interesting article (read here) and just one more reason to pack a healthy lunch and get on board with Michelle Obama (see Obama Foodorama blog) and Jaimie Oliver, and support the school lunch bill for improved school lunches.

The earlier you start children with fresh, homemade foods, the easier it is to establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits and strong, fit bodies.


Jamie Oliver – Look Out America

I’ve been a fan since the days of The Naked Chef and Pukka Tukka (way back).  Who doesn’t love Jamie Oliver?  He’s cute, has a funny accent, makes yummy and easy (peasy) looking food and seems like a great dad and friend.  I’ll tell you who…the lunch ladies in the town of Huntington, West Virginia.  If you haven’t seen the show Jamie’s Food Revolution, you should.  It’s a great look at the American school system’s archiac nutritional rules and guidelines, staunch opposition to change and how overall poor eating habits are hurting our kids, families and comunities.

There are certainly some wonderful voices and movements of change in the area of food and food production.  Some that come immediately to mind are Michel Pollan, Alice Waters, Eric SchlosserSlow Food USA, Morgan Spurlock, as well as others.  It’s great that food is getting so much attention – whether you see it as a political issue, safety issue, health issue, economics issue, human rights issue, animal issue…there’s no doubt it is an ISSUE that affects everyone.

I’m excited to help anyone that raises awareness about the lack of fresh, safe, healthy food for everyone, especially children.  Lately I’ve been doing more parent education at local preschools and elementary schools in the Bay Area to assist with healthier food guidelines, tips and ideas for packing a healthy lunch, and how to create waste free lunches.  I’d love to be doing more in the area, and helping the cause.

Read more about Jamie Oliver’s campaign to keep cooking skills alive, and change and improve school lunches in America,  then sign the petition to join the revolution.