Tag Archives | nutrition

Cereal as a cure for chaos? Maybe…

The school year is winding down and we’re getting ready to move. Each boy’s school has end-of-year celebrations and parties and exhibits; after-school classes are over; babysitters are away on vacation.  Add to that the pile of boxes in the middle of our apartment, waiting to be shipped to Abu Dhabi, and it’s like a double whammy of chaos around here.

With all the schedule changes, family dinners have pretty much fallen by the wayside and with all the parties and celebrations happening during the school day both boys are getting lots and lots of opportunities for snacks and sweets—so the lunch boxes are coming home almost untouched. So much for that well-balanced lunch I pack each morning, hmm?

And at night, after the boys are in bed, I’m doing my own fair share of snacking, looking for a little extra sugary energy to get me through another hour or two of sorting through ten years of files, piles, and boxes.

When I was asked to review the FiberPlus cereals with antioxidants from Kelloggs in the midst of all this chaos, I got almost too excited: maybe the boys would like these nutritious cereals and I could know that even if they ate cupcakes and pretzels all day, their day at least had a solid nutritional start.

The first one we tried, FiberPlus Yogurt Berry Crunch has 10g of fiber, which is almost 40% of the daily recommended amount.  With a ½ cup of skim milk, a cup of cereal is 210 calories. The boys liked this flavor but we all agreed that it’s almost too sweet to be a breakfast food. A few handfuls of Yogurt Berry Crunch, however, have become my night-time snack, and I feel much less guilty than I do when I settle down with a plate of ginger snaps.

The second flavor, FiberPlus Cinnamon Oat Crunch was our hands-down favorite. It’s cinnamony and crunchy and tastes as good by the handful as it does with milk. A single serving with a ½ cup of skim milk has only 150 calories and contains 35% of the daily recommended intake of fiber.  Given that regular exercise has also fallen by the wayside in these chaotic weeks, a low calorie, high fiber way to start my day is a bowlful of happy.
The drawback to these two tasty boxes of goodness is that the list of ingredients contains a few too many polysyllabic chemicals (but no high-fructose corn syrup). Generally I like to serve food that’s pretty minimally processed—although, of course, Caleb regularly has hot dogs for dinner and Liam loves chicken nuggets, so I’m not sure I can quibble with what’s written on the side of these cereal boxes. I think these cereals will become a regular part of our morning routine.  Now if Kelloggs could only do something about the rest of my packing…


Full disclosure:
This is a paid post sponsored by Kellogg’s. I received one box of Berry Yogurt Crunch and one box of Cinnamon Oat Crunch to facilitate the review. The opinions in this post are my own, not Kelloggs.

Continue Reading · on June 21, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, food, Products

chicken parts, lady parts, and jonathan safran foer

I had an existential crisis in the meat section of Trader Joe’s.  I was staring at all chicken: chicken pieces packaged separately, chicken pieces in a big bundle, whole chickens, chicken boobs, “natural” chicken, “free-range” chicken, cheap chicken, less-cheap chicken.

On the one hand, I guess you could say, wow! what bounty! Look at all that protein so readily available to me, sparing me from having to get out to the back pasture with an ax and be all with the plucking and whatnot.

On the other hand, wow! look at all that cheap protein, farmed god knows where, killed god knows where by who knows what methods in who knows what layers of shit.

What should I buy? Or should I not buy it at all?

I’ve just finished reading Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer (not to be confused with Jonathans Lethem or Franzen; this Jonathan is the Everything is Illuminated guy).  The book is brilliant; it should be required reading for every human on the planet and excerpts should be plastered on billboards, buildings, and in the subway, forcing us to confront our eating habits.

We all sort of know about factory farms (those huge muddy shit pits that call themselves hog farms, chickens in cages not much bigger than this laptop screen) but many of us–okay, maybe only me–seem to close our eyes when it comes time to doing the grocery shopping.

Because really, who wants to know–really know–the conditions under which most of our proteins (beef, chicken, pork, fish) are produced?

Foer’s  book takes a lot of information that’s already been circulating out there, from Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Marion Nestle, and others, and distills it into a central question: how can we allow ourselves to eat meat (and poultry and, yes, fish) that has almost certainly been produced under inhumane conditions (at best) and torturous, environmentally disastrous conditions (at worst)?

In the paperback version, Eating Animals has sixty pages of footnotes documenting its sources, but the book reads like a novel; there isn’t a dull moment.  Instead it’s a jaw-dropping account of the infuriating (dangerous, violent, corrupting, polluting) methods used in this country to produce animal protein at relatively low costs, at least in the short term. Long-term costs, of course, include environmental destruction, toxic waste, and tainted food supplies, but heck. What’s that to keeping the price of chicken at under two bucks a pound?

What about my free-range chicken, I hear you say (as I thought to myself, rather smugly, as I read).  Bwhahahaha!  Foer says that “the free-range label is bullshit. It should provide no more peace of mind than “all-natural,” “fresh,” or ‘magical.'”  Free-range, you see, is not defined by the USDA. Free-range simply means access to the outdoors–which can mean that a shed housing 30,000 chickens has one little door open to a five-by-five patch of dirt.  And the door is usually closed. Further, free-range has nothing to do with how those chickens are handled, in either life or death.

We eat lots of seafood, though, a friend of mine said when I told her what I was reading. So that’s better, right? (She sounded anxious).  Well, sorry kids, there’s no Santa Claus there, either.  Let’s choose just one factor in “farmed fish,” shall we? How about…sea lice, which thrive in the filthy water of farmed fish.  Sea lice create open sores and can sometimes eat right down to the bones.  Yummy!  And “wild-caught” fish? Let’s say your fish is caught on so-called “long lines,” which can reach out a distance of seventy-five miles.  The targeted fish are caught, sure, but so are about 4.5 million sea animals, called “bycatch”: sea creatures caught up by the long lines but not used: 3.3 million sharks, 1 million marlins, 60,00 sea turtles, 75, 000 albatross, 20,000 dolphins and whales.

So much for fish. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on May 5, 2011 in environment, food, Politics, ranting

Maybe ketchup IS a vegetable, and other thoughts on lunch

The SV Mom Bloggers Network had an opportunity a few weeks ago to join a conference call with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about Michele Obama’s new initiative against childhood obesity, Let’s Move.  These two things, plus Jamie Oliver’s campaign to improve children’s diets, has me thinking (again, still) about the lunchboxes I pack every morning.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine have a devotion to routine that makes me think they’ve got futures in the military, and their lunchbox contents, as a result, are pretty much the same every day: each kid gets a juicebox, a small handful of pretzels or goldfish crackers, a yogurt or applesauce, and a sandwich: son #1 gets half a peanut-butter-and-honey, son #2 gets a pbj with no crusts. If there are crusts, EVERYTHING IS RUINED FOREVER. Continue Reading →

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Continue Reading · on February 22, 2010 in Children, food, Parenting

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