Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jamie Oliver and the Ugly Truth

I watched the second episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last night and... yikes. Have you tuned in?

The gist of the show is this - Chef Jamie Oliver has come to Huntington, West Virginia (the most unhealthy/fattest city in America, according to the Center for Disease Control) to change the way that people feed themselves and their families, with a particular focus on adding fresh foods to school lunch programs. Who could possibly have a problem with someone willing to get their kids excited about eating fresh, healthy foods? As it turns out, the very people who you'd expect to advocate for these kids - school principals, cooks, nutritionists and worst of all, their parents.

I was straight-up thunderstruck by how completely apathetic most of the adults in charge of nourishing these kids were. One cafeteria cook defended the quality of a pre-cooked, processed chicken nuggety-thing by pointing out that chicken was the number one ingredient. By what margin is it number one? And what about the other 20 four-syllable ingredients?!?

Even for a organicy-granola girl like me, this has been a wake up call. I don't feed my kids too much of anything that comes in a package or box, and they can recognize and name most fruits and veggies on site, unlike an entire classroom of kids on the show, who only understood what a tomato was after it was revealed that ketchup is actually made from tomatoes.

My husband shared my outrage and kept saying The kids in our neighborhood would know all of those veggies! And he's right. We are lucky to live in a time and place where nutrition, health, variety and simplicity are very much of value. Our daughters' school even has it's own gardens that the kids plant, maintain and harvest to eat themselves and share with the food bank. They know where food comes from and what it takes to make it happen. The same cannot (yet) be said for the kids of Huntington, West Virginia, nor could it have been said for many kids of my generation, growing up in the 70's and 80's.

I'll be the first to admit that I grew up eating the standard lower-middle class fare of the 1980's - pop tarts, frozen pizzas, twinkies, drive-thru burgers and orange soda. I also had a weight problem from an early age. It was the product of a perfect storm of hectic lifestyles, a shift in value away from farms and food to cities and status symbols, and vast, convincing misinformation campaigns by processed food manufacturers that assured our parents that sugar-laden, fatty, highly-processed breakfast cereals were the right way to start their kids' day because they contained 8 essential vitamins and minerals! Sure, it will keep you alive, but for how long?

Making people stop and think about what they are putting into their bodies, and more importantly, what they are teaching their kids to put in their bodies is what Jamie's Food Revolution is all about. Check it out and sign the petition, if you are so inclined. But most importantly, feed your family well. For starters, if you need a chemistry 102 textbook to decipher a food's ingredient list, don't eat it. ;)

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is set to take place at 8:30pm tonight, lasting for 1 hour. Over 126 countries are on board to participate in Earth hour, shutting down all non-essential electrical appliances and lights. Lest you think that you'll be the only one flicking the switch or unplugging, wikipedia has a partial list of world landmarks that will also be going dark for earth hour, including Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower and right here in my own back yard, the Space Needle.

Will your household be participating? What do you propose to do with your 60 minutes unplugged?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Calling all Cooks!

I know that I've been a wee bit needy lately; taking more than I've been giving in terms of advice or inspiration, and as much as I'd like to promise you that this is the last time that I will try to wrench feedback or advice out of you, my friends, we both know that there is zero chance of that being the case. At any rate, I need the help of you, my fellow foodies, moms and creative cooks to assist me in helping someone else.

As some of you might already know, my brother-in-law, Jim, just deployed (again) to Afghanistan, leaving his wonderful wife, Jen, back home in Tennessee with their two beautiful little boys, a very precocious 4-year-old, and a 3-month old sweet baby boy. In what has become a family vacation/mission of mercy, my husband, kids and I are flying out to Tennessee over spring break to give Jen a little breather after a month home alone with the boys. Job #1 is to kick Jen out and send her butt to the spa for a day, and get me some serious baby/toddler snuggle time with my nephews. Job #2 is to cook a big old mess of freezer dinners for Jen & her oldest to eat for the next month or so to give Jen a little break from cooking. And so I look to you. Do you have any kid-friendly, freezes-well, healthy freezer meal recipe ideas to share?

The only parameters here are that it can't include any seafood (fish are friends, not food, so says Jen), that it look and taste yummy once it's been thawed and reheated and that it be relatively healthful. You can leave your recipe in a comment, leave me a link or send me an email at pisceschick 99 @ gmail dot com. I appreciate you all so much and I can't wait to see what you've got for me!

P.S. - If you email me your address, I'll send y'all a postcard from Tennessee, and maybe bring back a goody or two for a giveaway offering. ;)

Jim, Jen, Me, Bill and the kiddos, last year at Disney World. P.P.S. - I've lost 70 pounds since then! :)

Try, try again...

Be brutally honest people. Is this new background better or worse than my original lame white page? I'm notoriously indecisive so, HELP!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm a wi-nner and you can be too!

My homegirl Michelle, (Yes, another Michelle. The 70's & 80's were rife with Michelles. And there was no shortage of Jennifers either, but I digress...) over at All Home Cooking, All Year Long has very kindly nominated me for a Stiletto Award. Part of the deal with receiving this award is that you get to nominate 5 of your favorite blogs to be recognized as well, which for me, is kind of better than getting the award myself. I follow many blogs, but the following have a special place on my dashboard. These are the gals who inspire me, encourage me, and frequently have me laughing my butt off-

Jen @ Knitters-Knitters. Woman, you are awesome. I have never in my life known a more skilled and prolific knitter than you. And, you are freakin' hilarious! :)

Kris @ Quilted Simple. Another Wonder Woman! Mom, knitter, quilter and farmer extraordinaire. :)

Banu @ A Hungry Bear Won't Dance. You are just lovely and brilliant and a killer cook. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - you need to write a cookbook! :)

Amy @ Life in the Slow Lane. You are a fount of nutritional info, girl! :)

Little T @ Raw Adventures of an Army Wife. For so many reasons - your writing is so honest, and you do crazy-awesome things with crochet that I could only dream of pulling off. (For the uninitiated, behold the awesomeness that is the bacon scarf!) :)

Blog on, my friends!

(Oh - and Andrea & Michelle would most definitely be on this list as well, but they've already won.) ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trying New Things...

I'm trying this jazzy background thing on for size. Not sure if I'm feeling it or if I prefer the plain-jane look of old. Feel free to weigh-in! ;)