It’s the time of year when kids head back to the classroom — and parents head back to the kitchen for another year of lunchbox anxiety. But there’s no need for packable meals to inspire stress. Here are simple lunches worth a spot in any brown bag, plus some time-saving packaged add-ins that parents can actually feel good about. Read more
Does the One Percent Eat More Kale?
A 12-year study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health has determined that, although there’s still room for improvement, many Americans have bettered their eating habits over the past decade, upping their consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. That’s the good news. The bad? That positive trend was true only among those higher on the socioeconomic ladder and didn’t hold for lower-income individuals, making them vulnerable to health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. “Declining diet quality over time may actually widen the gap between the poor and the rich,” study co-author Frank Hu told the Associated Press. Read more
Lunch at many public schools across New York City means chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks and mystery meat sandwiches. But at P.S. 244, The Active Learning Elementary School, in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, the menu sounds like this: Roasted Organic Tofu with Sweet Curry Sauce, Braised Black Beans with Plantains and Herbed Rice Pilaf, Chickpea Falafel with Creamy Tofu Dressing, Lettuce and Tomato and Loco Bread, and Mexican Bean Chili. In April, it became the first public school in the nation to become 100-percent vegetarian. But there’s more. To drink, there’s low-fat milk and water. No juice, no soda. And the salad bar looks like something from a very expensive day spa, not the 24-hour corner mart.
For Bob Groff, a co-founder and the principal of P.S. 244, and the man who turned his menu meatless, the need for better food was obvious. Kids were drinking neon sugary drinks, eating cheese puffs, losing focus and gaining weight. His students were not alone. Nationwide, one in three children and adolescents is obese or overweight, and childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years. “There is a strong correlation between academic achievement and student health and nutrition,” said Groff. “I wanted to prove that better nutrition could make a difference to students’ lives.”
A study out earlier this week has been generating lots of buzz with its finding that study participants on a low-carb diet lost more body weight and reduced their risk of heart disease compared to subjects on a low-fat diet. So should we be saying goodbye to all carbs?
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, was a randomized trial that followed a group of 150 racially diverse men and women over one year. The subjects were divided into two groups: One group limited the amount of fat, while the second group limited the amount of carbs they ate. Neither group was asked to scale back on total calories or to alter physical activity.
After one year, researchers found that those in the low-carb group lost an average of 8 pounds more compared with those in the low-fat group. In addition, the low-carb group lost significantly more body fat compared with those in the low-fat group.
Wait, There’s More
It’s tempting to want to shout from rooftops, “low carb-diets rule!,” but that may not necessarily the case. The low-carb group was eating higher fat, but mainly from unsaturated sources such as nuts, fish and olive oil. Butter was sometimes eaten, but wasn’t a primary ingredient in their overall diets. Their total fat intake was more than 40 percent of their total calories. Read more
Here’s something you may not know about Camille Becerra, chef at the stylish New American seafood restaurant, Navy, in New York City’s SoHo. Becerra studied macrobiotic cooking, prepared meals to heal cancer patients in Philadelphia and lived at a Zen monastery in New Mexico where she cooked vegetarian meals for the monks, sourcing ingredients from the on-premises garden. “Through macrobiotic cooking, I saw the importance of food as a source of health,” she says. “I am always very interested in how food can heal and prevent illness.”
At Navy, Becerra offers a menu that caters to locavore hipsters, with seasonal plates like black bass crudo with rhubarb and pine nuts, tilefish with tomato, avocado and almonds, and soft-shell crab with squash-blossom pancakes. But she’s also partial to her macrobiotic roots. For the lunch menu, Becerra added this bowl of grains and eggs with an eye toward offering guests a midday meal that would energize. “During the day, you don’t want something super-rich that will potentially slow you down,” she says. “For the lunch menu, I focused on lighter dishes with lots of vegetables and superfoods.”
Here is a simple nutritious smoothie for getting back into a post-vacation routine. Although it tastes like summer and is delicious when made with fresh blueberries, the smoothie can be prepared well into the fall with frozen berries of any kind.
Famous for their endurance-supporting qualities, chia seeds also give the smoothie an Omega-3 boost and provide fiber and protein that can help keep sippers satisfied. Since the seeds thicken when soaked, they also add body and a creamy texture to the smoothie once blended. The coconut butter supplies a touch of richness and also a hint of sweet flavor that tastes great with blueberries and vanilla.
What’s the best way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables? Pizza, obviously. And in as much time as it takes to order delivery, you can make a summer pie that’s bursting with flavor and able to satisfy hungry guests. Bonus points: This pie is gluten-free, meat-free and dairy-free too. So what’s the trick?
Even if you hold the beef and spring for an alternative protein, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor. Just in time for Labor Day grilling, these five unconventional patties are ready to step up to the bun.
Vegan Lentil Burgers (above)
Don’t let the lentil-spinach mixture fool you. There’s nothing hippie-crunchy-tasting about these delicious meat-free patties. Give them a whirl on the grill — or a quick pan-fry session — then tuck them into whole-grain buns with a wallop of spicy mustard. Read more
Veggie Lover’s Club Sandwich (above)
Nothing boring about this veggie sandwich. Choose from smoked tofu or smoked mozzarella for a boost of protein, and give the whole-wheat club an Italian accent with sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and chopped fresh oregano. Read more
Hey, Kids: Do Try This At Home
Parents encouraging kids to reach for fruits and vegetables may frequently find their efforts undermined by a barrage of marketing that lures young eaters toward chips, candy, sugared cereals and other less-than-healthy snacks. But some marketers and grocers, including Wal-Mart and Giant Eagle, are now ramping up the appeal of healthier snacks by deploying colorful, kid-centric junk-food-style packaging and signage in the produce aisles. The CEO of Giant Eagle told NPR that when she first heard about the kid-oriented produce-section snack stations, she thought, “This is a win-win.” Apple slice, anyone? Read more