Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hot Topics-The New Dietary Guidelines in 5 Lines or Less

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are developed every five years.  The newest ones, for 2015-2020 come in the form of a government issued document that is hundreds of pages, but there are actually just five simple guidelines. Here's my version of the guidelines, followed by the actual guidelines in parentheses:

1.  You will ALWAYS eat - figure out how to do it in a healthy way.
(Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.)

2.  Eat GREAT stuff, but not too much.
(Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.)

3.  Skip the sugar spoon, the butter pats, and the salt shaker.
(Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.)

4.  SHIFT, as in small steps, to better choices.
(Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.)

5.  What you eat and drink, the choices you make, is YOUR pattern.  Own it.
(Support healthy eating patterns for all.)

It's not complicated, so don't make it that way. Patterns, shifts, choices.  That is good advice for many areas of life.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hot Topics: Cooked!

Read the book, love the series.  Now that non-readers can view the world that Michael Pollen brings to us so well in his many books, we are ripe for a revolution.  A "re-evolution" where we might return to our roots, our traditions.  We might give more value to the process of acquiring, processing,  preparing, and presenting food as meals, with the traditions and meanings that meals had to our ancestors. We might get it back, so we can give it back to our children.

Netflix has brought us, in the convenience of our homes, on the convenience of our schedule, in a play and resume format, many cooking and food related shows.  Fed Up was wildly popular.

I think Cooked gives us a solution to all the things that Fed Up showed is wrong, very wrong with the food system.  We, as single consumers, individuals and families, can imperceptibly impact all that is wrong, confusing, or unjust - the food industry powerhouses, food lobbyists, conflicting research, labeling laws and meaningless terms, and the like.  But, we can cook.

Cooked is not at all a how to, it goes back, way back to the "birth of cuisine".  Broken down into 4 convenient segments or 4 logical sections, cooking is presented as: fire, water. air, earth. It is food history.  It is family history.  It is societal history.  Just like the inspiration for this blog, food is part of everyday life and hundreds if not thousands of decisions a day. Cooked weaves food, and the processes of transforming it, into our culture, old and new.  You'll get a kick out of the #TBT style retro food ads and commercials.

"Fire" explores the tribal, ritualistic, basic element required to make many foods edible.  It is inspiring.  "Water" starts out as "pot cooking" and for all of you who loved the Crock Pot gals on Facebook, that is NOT what he is talking about. "Air" is about bread, leavening and the harvesting of wheat.  You will want to at least go and dig out your bread machine.  Finally, "Earth" discusses fermentation - thoroughly.

If you are seeking inspiration to grow more of your own food, develop family rituals, learn new skills in the kitchen, understand the history of food, and if you are choosing to participate a little more in your food decisions, then this is the series for you.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What's In My Garden Now? Labor of Love

11 beds down, 5 to go!  Waiting for slightly warm and mostly dry weather to begin prepping our raised beds for planting is a sure sign of spring.  That is one of the benefits of raised beds, is that they can be worked much earlier than in-ground gardens. It is also easier to loosen weeds or to turn cover crops when the roots are shallow, before they take off for spring.

Side benefit:  Prepping raised beds is a great way to work upper arm, shoulder, core and inner thigh muscles by hoeing, weeding, raking, bending, stretching and reaching.

Chicken benefit:  They get wheelbarrow loads of weeds, tender roots, and an occasional worm or two to scratch through and continue the cycle of creating compost that returns to the garden.

I've already planted sugar snap peas, directly sown, and have some spring greens in a "hoop house".  As winter approached, we made a simple structure of PVC tubes and plastic sheeting with plastic clamps over one of the raised beds.  I planted spinach, lettuce and mustard greens - envisioning some wonderful add ins to boring winter iceberg salads.  The hoop house wasn't quite tight enough for it to get warm enough for things to grow, but seeds did germinate and some lettuce plants survived. We will re-engineer it next year. Meanwhile, I'll roll the plastic back on warm days this spring, with the ability to cover the bed as needed for cold nights.

Collards and kale seem to have survived the winter and are bouncing back with some new growth.

I top dressed a few beds with compost that is full of nutrients that will work their way down into the soil with the spring rains or that will get turned in to the soil as I plant the beds.
Looking forward to getting more seeds sown and more things started in the potting shed.  Broccoli, beets and Brussels sprouts are on my wish list!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chuckles From the Chicken Coop - Sexed?

When we purchased our 8 pullets to get back in the chicken business (really the family egg business) this year, we paid extra to ensure they were "sexed" - poked and prodded or whatever they do to determine chicken gender.  Pullets should be all laying hens, as in no boys allowed.

Imagine our surprise when one of the "girls" grew a comb, wattles, upright tail feathers, and grew faster and larger than the others, and then, of course, began to crow.  Oops.  Well, now we have a rooster.  He's friendly so far and seems protective - he is the first one out of the coop and he stands guard while the ladies eat.

We lost one chick soon after we moved them from the safety of the indoor holding area to the outdoor fully enclosed chicken coop with attached yard.  Snakes will find their way into anything and sure enough, a young chicken was constricted and eaten up to its "shoulders" at which point Jake the snake realized he could not consume the broader part of a young chicken.  This, with the gender identity issue, put us at 6 laying hens, just about enough to keep us in fresh eggs.

Their favorite garden surplus item so far?  Cantaloupe!

Monday, September 28, 2015

School Daze - VA Farm to School Week

This year, Virginia's Farm to School Week will now be celebrated the first full week of October.  This is a significant change from the third week in November, as in years past, when produce was more difficult to source, it being after the first freeze in our region.

Late summer crops, such as melons, tomatoes, and peppers are still holding on and fall crops are just coming to harvest.  In our schools, we will enjoy butternut squash and sweet potatoes, with cabbage following later in the month. Virginia grown apples are well known in the fall, with our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley a haven for apple trees and fall foliage.

In my home garden, I am still harvesting peppers, green beans, and cantaloupe.  Temps have cooled enough that lettuce is ready, while collards and kale are taking off. I'm eager to see if my volunteer tomatoes can offer something before the frost settles in.

Birds, bad soil, inconsistent water or something prevented my broccoli and Brussels sprouts seeds from germinating.  I will miss those crops this year.  Broccoli casserole, with tender home grown broccoli, at Thanksgiving was becoming a family favorite.

At school, we will steam, mash and season the squash and rough chop and roast the potatoes.  Free samples, colorful educational signage and harvest d├ęcor will tempt the students to give it a try. As my dad used to say, "Try it, you'll like it!"

Showing students of all ages the many links between garden and nutrition, farm and flavor, plant and plate, color and carotene, local and sustainable, is well worth it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why Am I A Preceptor?

For the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, April is National Preceptor Month.  As a Preceptor of dietetic interns and a Guest Blogger, I contributed this piece to Food and Nutrition Magazine here.

There is a shortage of internship slots for dietitians in training and a recent news article predicted the demand for dietitians to increase, calling it one of the hot jobs for the near future.  Sounds like a perfect storm.

Consider contributing to the future of your profession.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The More Things Change

I was reading a biography about Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.  During World War I, the idea was that "food will win the war" and that if families grew and conserved their own food, more would be available to send overseas to soldiers.

Housewives pledged to:
  • use all leftovers
  • adhere to voluntary rationing plans such as wheatless Mondays and porkless Saturdays
  • plant a kitchen garden
  • preserve their garden's excess
These remind me of current initiatives to reduce, reuse, recycle, meatless Mondays, and the resurgence of home gardening and backyard farming.  Canning is also making a comeback.

As part of the war effort, Girl Scouts pledged to "give up candy and soda water".  Perhaps the children of today need a more noble cause to help them make better food and beverage choices.  If not for themselves, then whom?

Juliette Gordon Low-The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts, Stacy Cordery, 2012