Tag Archives: healthy food

Eating with Kids: Family Meals Matter

by Brittany Barton for Change Food
August 28, 2015

From the 2011 TEDx Manhattan event titled

From the 2011 TEDx Manhattan event titled “Changing The Way We Eat” held February 12, 2011 in NYC. Photo by Jason Houston.

As summer winds down, families gear up for the back to school routine. This means earlier mornings, shuttling kids to and from school, fitting in basketball practice, dance class, piano lessons, homework and time with friends. Each family is stretched for time and something critical is missing, family dinner.

August is Family Meals Month. In 2011, Laurie David presented at TEDxManhattan on the importance of healthy, family meals in a world where eating right has become increasingly difficult. The dinner table is where we learn our first lessons of civilized behavior. With kids spending more than seven hours per day on electronic devices, they are missing out on key lessons gleaned from human connection. Laurie mentions that entire families living under the same roof are leading separate lives under the influence of personal electronics.

Connected family time is moving toward extinction and children are suffering for it. Studies show a decreased risk in drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression when families share a meal at least three times per week.

The regular act of sitting down and eating together creates a safe, predictable time with ritualized access to one another. This is a time for real connection away from electronics where children learn values and manners. Continue reading

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TEDxManhattan Speaker Profile: Annemarie Colbin

Annemarie

Annemarie Colbin

As TEDxManhattan approaches, we’ve asked this year’s speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. Today we feature Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City.

1)     What’s the topic you’ll be speaking about?

How to think about food.  How to make healthful choices.

 2) Why do you feel this is important?

People are generally very confused as to what to eat that is healthy – they
need an easy model or paradigm to help them make decisions either shopping
or eating.

3) Are there other projects you’re also passionate about right now?

Labeling GMO foods.

4) Which TEDxManhattan speakers from previous years did you particularly enjoy?  

Steve Ritz, the edible wall!

 5) Where can more information about your project be found?  

See my book, FOOD AND HEALING.

Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., is Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City, the oldest natural foods cooking school in the US (since 1977). She also lectures at the associated Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health and has been an adjunct professor of nutrition at Empire State College in New City, NY, and at Touro College. She is a once-yearly visiting lecturer at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, and has led workshops all over the country in such well-known institutions as the Omega Institute, The New York Open Center, and Kripalu Yoga Center, as well as in many smaller regional organizations. She presented talks in the Integrative Health Symposium in 2009, as well as in several earlier ones.

She is the author of four books, authors a bimonthly column since 1988 for the magazine New York Spirit, and has written numerous other magazine articles as well as chapters in anthologies. For her charitable activities, Dr. Colbin volunteers her time on the board of the non-profit organization, FIONS (Friends of the Institute of Noetic Sciences). She is also on the Board of Advisors of Health Corps, the organization founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz; of What Doctors Don’t Tell You (UK), and of the Source of Synergy Foundation. In addition, she is a consultant (as representative of the Natural Gourmet Institute) for Project Aspire, a project of Touro College’s Children’s Health Education Foundation (CHEF), in teaching 5 and 6-year-olds the importance of healthful eating.

Change Food is a nonprofit whose mission is to connect and transform the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the world in which it is grown. To read and learn more, visit The Guide to Good Food blog. 

Asking Questions

Mt. Shasta CA farmers marketBecause there are no official standards for sustainable food, you need to ask the right questions to find the information you need to make the best choices for you and your family. There are generally three types of places you can buy fresh food from – direct from the farm/farmers’ markets, stores and restaurants – and you can ask questions at each outlet.

To start, know that it’s okay to ask questions. When I first started eating sustainable food, I tended to look for organic because I was hesitant to ask farmers questions about how they raised their meat, dairy and produce, and I knew what I was getting with organic (or so I thought). My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t like something about the way the farmer produced the food and would have to walk away. It seemed a bit rude.

So, first off, understand that you are not rude or inappropriate for asking questions. If you buy a car, you ask questions, and odds are you won’t buy the first one you look at. You shop around – and you don’t feel guilty for doing so. You do the same for any large purchase – appliances, computers, electronics – so why would any of us feel uncomfortable asking questions about our food? It’s your money and your choice.

Also, asking questions sends a clear message to farmers and businesses. If all of us asked for pesticide-free or pasture-raised food and shopped around until we found it, farmers would find a way to start producing food that was completely pesticide free or from animals raised on pasture. Many consumers may not understand that even organic food is permitted to be produced with a certain class of “natural” pesticide. This is much better than the chemical pesticides sprayed on industrial food, but if you want to go a step further and you make some inquiries, you may find farmers who use no pesticides at all, and yet their produce may not be labeled organic. So it’s important that we learn the issues and then go out and start asking questions.

Farm Direct/Farmers’ Market
If you’re shopping at a farm stand or a farmers’ market, odds are you’ll be speaking with one of the farmers who works the land. Ask them general questions about their farm so you can get to know them better – remember, they’re your neighbor. Questions you could ask include:

Where is your farm?
How long have you been farming?
What type of farming do you do?
What do you raise?
What are your favorite crops?
What’s your favorite way of cooking (kale, chicken, squash, any product they produce)?

You can also ask about their growing practices. Sustainable Table has wonderful handouts that give you both questions and answers for meat, dairy and poultry, so you can find out such things as –

Continue reading

Shop Sustainable – buying food

veggies

Today we’re going to show you that it is possible to eat healthier on a budget, and we’re also going to talk a bit about the reality behind our food system.

I recently saw the movie Food, Inc. which opens today, June 12th, in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco (Click here for movie and ticket info). In the film is a scene where a family of four buys a fast food meal for $11.38 but say they can’t afford broccoli for $1.29 a pound. That’s understandable, but what could a family of four eat for around $11.38 that might be a little healthier? Let’s look at a chart we created with current prices from Stop and Shop’s Peapod website:

Grocery Item Non-organic(1) Organic (2)
Beans, canned 1.00/1 lb can 1.00/1 lb can
Beans, dry black 1.50/pound 1.79/pound (3)
Bell peppers .89/each 2.99/two-pack
Broccoli 2.89/head 3.19/head
Cabbage, green 2.19/head 2.49/head
Carrots 1.79/2 lbs 3.49 5 lbs
Celery 1.50/pound 2.99/pound
Eggplant 1.49/each 2.99/10 oz pack
Rice, brown 2.69/32 oz 3.19/32 oz
Rice, white 1.99/32 oz 3.19/32 oz
Romaine Lettuce 1.50/head 1.99/head
Summer Squash/
Zucchini
.69/each 2.99/two-pack

(1) Based on Stop and Shop’s Peapod website (accessed 5/29/09)
(2) Based on Stop and Shop’s Peapod website (accessed 5/29/09)
(3) Based on OrganicDirect.com (NY and NJ area) (accessed 6/2/09)

The family of four could eat 2 pounds of conventional white rice and 2 pounds of black beans for $4.99, two foods that, when combined, meet our bodies’ need for high-quality protein. They could go organic and eat 2 pounds of organic brown (or white) rice and 2 pounds of organic black beans for $6.77. Add in a head of broccoli and the total is $7.88 for all conventional and $9.96 for all organic. Both well under the $11.38 the family spent at a fast food drive through, leaving extra money for herbs, spices, or another item.

If you would like to see a comparison of farmers’ market and grocery store prices, check out “Is it possible to shop locally on a budget?” from Farm Aid.

If you look at nutritional values –

1 cup black beans (boiled with salt) – 172g, 227 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated), 0g cholesterol, 408mg sodium, 60% fiber, 15g protein, 20% iron and a good source of thiamin, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese and folate.

1 cup brown rice (medium grain, cooked) – 195g, 218 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated), 0g cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 4g fiber, 5g protein, 6% iron.

1 stalk broccoli (boiled*, without salt) – 280g, 98 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated), 115mg sodium, 0g cholesterol, 9g fiber, 7g protein, 87% vitamin A, 303% vitamin C, 11% calcium, 10% iron. Also a good source of thiamin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, vitamin E and K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and manganese. (*Steaming vegetables is preferable to boiling – more nutrients will be retained. We could only find data for boiled broccoli.)

1 Burger King hamburger sandwich (as an example of a fast food burger) – 121g, 310 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated), 40mg cholesterol, 580mg sodium, 2g fiber, 17g protein, 2% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 8% calcium, 20% iron. (Note: Burger King supplied the information and most vitamin and mineral content was not provided.)

To compare the quantity of food (172g beans plus 195g rice and 280g broccoli), you’d need over 5 Burger King hamburger sandwiches (at 121g each) to equal the volume of the beans, rice and broccoli. That means 1550+ calories, 65g fat (25g saturated), 200mg cholesterol, and so on, compared with 502 calories, 4g fat (0g saturated), 0g cholesterol, etc. (Or, conversely, you could reduce the amount of beans, rice and broccoli, to an equivalent of one or two hamburgers, which would bring the price of the healthy meal down considerably.)

This shows that you can consume fewer and far more nutritious calories for less money by shopping and cooking, rather than resorting to fast food, so why do so many people continue to buy and eat fast food? One reason is convenience. We think food should be cheap and fast so pulling through a drive through and shoveling food quickly into our mouth is the way many of us eat. It’s a sign of our over-stressed, over-worked lives. And we’re used to it.

How convenient is it?
What if you cooked your own food, ate at home and took food with you from home to work? Clearly, you would save money and eat healthier food. But, I hear you saying, “I don’t have time” or “I’m always so tired when I get home that I don’t want to cook”. What can you do about that?

Continue reading