Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How do you define "junk food"?

Can candy be defined as "un-junk" food?  According to a new product, Unreal candy - yes.  Decide for yourself.

Here's the info:
What does “unjunked™” mean?

UNREAL™ is starting with candy, because it’s the worst offender when it comes to “junk” – corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, GMOs, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. To “unjunk” means to replace all these ingredients with real cane sugar, real milk, more peanuts, and twice the cacao.

What makes UNREAL™ products unique?

Our candies contain no artificial flavors, preservatives or hormones; no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms); no hydrogenated oils; and no corn syrup. Instead, we use real sugar, natural oils, and real milk. Also, you don’t need to travel to a fancy health food store or pay a premium to buy our candy, it’s only available where junk food is available.

I was skeptical at first.  I mean, sure, candy is chock full of tons of stuff that's bad for you, like all that stuff listed above, but let's be for real - sugar is sugar, and just because it's in the form of "cane sugar" (or even honey) instead of corn syrup or the like doesn't mean it's GOOD for you.  Plus, it contains two things that are on my latest "foods to avoid at all costs" list - chocolate and palm oil (the former due to child slaves and the latter due to widespread rainforest destruction and orangutan obliteration).

However - candy IS candy, and the company is at least up front about the fact that it is not HEALTHY for you:
Is UNREAL™ a “healthy” candy?

We don’t consider candy to be “healthy” for you. It’s a delicious treat that we love. What we’ve done is give people a better choice, so that when they go looking for candy, they have the option to avoid the junk.

However - I also take issue with the statement regarding hormones and antibiotics in "real milk".  Because - unless the milk used is organic, it probably DOES have hormones and antibiotics in it.

And they also are honest about their sustainability aspect in the packaging:
Is your packaging sustainable?

Not yet. Since we’ve removed the preservatives from the candy, we’ve had to use disposable packaging to keep our products fresh. However, we are currently working on finding a sustainable alternative.

Also, I hate artificial colors and flavors and preservatives, as they can do all sorts of bad things to you.  One of my favorite aspects of this product is they do not put this crap in their candy.  And when you compare their candy to the comparable leading brand, it has WAY less sugar, more fiber, sometimes more protein, sometimes less fat, and fewer calories.  So - if I am going to buy candy, I would definitely go for this.

So, I give Unreal a thumbs up.  The candy was delish.  I especially loved the peanut butter cups and chocolate peanut caramel nougat bar.  BETTER than the conventional counterparts you're used to.  You must try this.  However, I can only plea with the company to look into two aspects of making this candy better:

1) Use fair trade cocoa, as such to avoid the use of child slaves.

2) Find an alternative to palm oil, and thus save the few remaining orangutans and other species which depend on Asian rainforests.

Companies need to step up and become more responsible in their impacts on our world, social and environmental, and this company is doing such a great thing in their attempt to "unjunk" their product, I can only hope they will continue their quest to better their products in every aspect.  If they do this, I'll give it two - no, three - thumbs up.  :)

If you'd like to try it yourself, simply leave a comment below.  I must forewarn you - they arrived a little melted - but taste good nonetheless!  I will choose a commentor at random on August 6.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Zucchini Skillet

Another yummy zucchini recipe!

1 large zucchini, sliced
vegetable oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 jar spaghetti sauce
shredded mozzerella cheese

In a large skillet, saute zucchini slices and garlic in oil.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking, then add spaghetti sauce and as much cheese as you'd like.  Sprinkle herbs on top.  Cover skillet and cook over low-medium heat until bubbly.

Serves 4.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zucchini Souffle

This one's great for babies too!

3 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. diced onion
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Steam zucchini until soft.  Squeeze out water.  Beat or blend until smooth.  Add butter, onion, salt, pepper, and eggs - beat or blend.  Pour into greased baking dish.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

2-3 servings

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zucchini Cakes

Second post in my "What to do with all this squash?" series!

1 large zucchini
1 onion
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour

Shred zucchini and onion.  Combine all ingredients except oil.  Heat oil in skillet.  Drop mixture a spoonful at a time onto hot skillet, and flatten with spoon.  Cook over medium heat until brown, then turn and cook other side.

4 servings

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amazing Zucchini Recipe

If you're like me, you're pulling TONS of zucchini/squash out of your garden by now!!!  Well, here is a series of posts with some yummy zucchini recipes - use 'em up!

4 small zucchini
2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
8 ounces mozzerella or swiss or jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease baking dish.  Slice zucchini into 1/2 inch rounds.  Core tomatoes and slice them 1/2 inch thick, then quarter.  Combine zucchini, tomato, onion, garlic, salt, basil, pepper and oil.  Mix well.  Pour into baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir to recoat veggies and bake 10 minutes more.  Stir again, add cheese on top, and bake 10 final minutes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A little hiatus

Dearest readers -

I am going to be taking an approximate 2 week break from the blog, due to:

1) Needing some personal time

2) Having some visitors and taking a mini-vacation/camping trip

3) Starting up another venture:

Macaroni Kid

for the area in which I live: http://elko.macaronikid.com/

I hope you understand.  This blog is near and dear to my heart, and I simply need a small break to put some time into other things, and then I will happily return and resume my regular posts!  I hope you will stick around.  I'm sure you will find plenty to occupy you in the meantime.  ;)  And I hope my latest giveaway is extremely successful, so please, take the time to enter it during my absence!  Until the end of July - have a fantastic summer, and enjoy the heat - before we know it, it will be winter again!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Do you have a picky eater?

Long for a young 'un that will eat their fruits and veggies?  Here's the answer!

Copy-Kids eat fruits and vegetables

The premise is that kids are copy-cats, and if your child sees another child eating something, they'll want to eat it too!

Fortunately, I've always had a good eater.  At twenty months old, she's tried (and liked most) everything from rutabagas to parsnips to black olives to chard to curry.  She goes through phases - no edamame today?  But you LOVED it yesterday!  And fruit has NEVER been a problem - she's quite the little fruit eater.  Just the other day she went through 6 clamshells of blackberries in 2 days.  Although, as she gets older, she is becoming more set in her ways and less willing to eat certain things - namely some vegetables.  Peas and spinach?  A sure bet.  But other things, like squash and broccoli, I have to get really creative with - squash blended into her smoothie, broccoli in her mac 'n cheese.  And still others, I'm having no luck with - carrots and green beans.

Enter Copy-Kids eat fruits and vegetables - a video depicting kids eating various fruits and veggies and (gasp!) - LIKING them!  I know kids like to copy other kids.  In fact, the one fruit my daughter is not a huge fan of is the oh-so-easy and transportable banana.  Go figure.  However, whenever we're around a play-mate of hers, who loves bananas, my C can't resist and begs to have some!  So I believe in the power of the suggestion of your peers, and was eager to review this video with her.

Her most favorite thing, by the way, are other babies.  In fact, "baby" was her first word.  So, now she asks to watch the "babies" on TV, meaning she wants to watch this DVD.  She giggles along with them, entranced by their on-screen antics, and I use this time to sneak in the food.  Exit stage right.  And...

... enter the carrots!

She was eating carrots!  She was liking carrots!  All while watching this DVD.

Here are the specs:

Age Range: 6m - 5y

Price: $19.95

Running time: 115 minutes

Copy-Kids Eat Fruits & Vegetables is a media product designed to get young children enthusiastic about eating their fruits and vegetables. The DVD is divided into 6-8 minute chapters, each focusing on a different fruit or vegetable. DVD 1 contains: carrots, apples, tomatoes, bell pepper, broccoli, avocado, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, bananas, strawberries, and cucumber. Simple. Adorable. It features kids having such a good time eating fruits and veggies, that when children watch it, they want to join in. Featuring well-known pediatrician, Dr. Gordon, this product is a positive approach in the quest to get children eating healthy from the start.


And click here, here, here, and here for others who recommend it.

Click here to watch the trailer.

And the best part?  One reader will be receiving their own copy of this DVD, so you can encourage YOUR little picky eater to eat his/her fruits and veggies!

All you have to do is comment on this post, and tell me your favorite way to encourage your little one to eat healthy.  A favorite recipe you often resort to, a sneaky way to hide them in their food, a tactic - whatever you have found successful!  After you do that, for an extra entry, you can like my facebook page.  So get those comments rolling - on June 25th I will select a winner at random from among the comments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, if you want an EXTRA entry - share this link on your own blog, and let me know that you did in your comment!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A mish-mash of travel recommendations

As a past writer for Suite 101, I didn't want to pass up on introducing articles I'd already written here on my blog.  So, for lack of a better way to do it, simply scroll through the places below.  If you live near any of the following localities (or plan to travel there), simply click the link to find an article highlighting some fun things to do in that area.  If I happen to hit on a place you'll be, I hope you can use this!

St. Lucia

Catch of the Day - Sara Wittenberg


Arkansas (Devil's Den SP or Northwest Arkansas in general)

Alabama (Wheeler NWR or Gulf State Park)

Whooping Cranes - Sara Wittenberg

Central Texas

The Alamo - Sara Wittenberg

Southeast Arizona (and here too)

Chiricahua National Monument - Sara Wittenberg

Saguaro National Park - Sara Wittenberg

Southwest New Mexico

Elephant Butte Lake - Sara Wittenberg

Southern Nevada

Black-throated Sparrow - Sara Wittenberg

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

In honor of this date of our country's independence, here are a series of historical articles regarding travel destinations.  For anyone near Indiana/Kentucky, you can roll these into one trip, as my mom and I did, and learn more about our country's history!

Slavery and the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln's Birth and Childhood

Lincoln Memorial - Roberta Ress

Historical Kentucky: Bardstown area

My Old Kentucky Home - Roberta Ress

Berea College, Kentucky

Berea - Roberta Ress

Spring Mill SP and Inn, Indiana

Spring Mill Grist Mill - Roberta Ress

And as an aside, we had a LOT of fun on this trip!  My grandparents, John and Marieta Ress, actually visited here years ago!

Spring Mill 1939 - Marieta Ress

Spring Mill 1939 - John Ress

Monday, July 2, 2012

Teaching about thermal energy

Here's another great kid's activity, that can be modified for younger or older kids.  I used this for my 9th grade Physical Science students when teaching them about thermodynamics.

I found that any lab that involved food was sure to get them excited and motivated to learn!  And this one involves ice cream!

Ice Cream - Clip Art Graphics

So, we waited for a really warm day, divided into groups (necessary to give freezing hands a break as they pass the bag off), and headed outside to learn about thermal energy and enjoy a cool snack!

Just make sure you have them tell you the principles behind the lab before allowing them to dig in!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Edible cell activity for K-12

In the past I have taught pre-K aged children through college, and have used this activity with all ages, adapting it appropriately.  Because it involves food, it's always a hit.  It's a great way to introduce the concept of cells and their parts to very young children, and a superb way to have older students lock into memory the cell's structures and functions.

The text from the article can be copied and pasted into a word document, and printed to give to each child along with the materials to build their cell.

For young children, a very simple explanation of what cells are and how living things are all made of cells is likely enough before they set to work building their model, with great assistance from you.  Make sure you talk about what each part does as you walk them through it as a class, each student adding a part as you do, until they have built their entire cell.

For older students, an in-depth lecture on cell structure and function should proceed the activity, and students should be allowed to each build their own cell, having to check it with you upon completion before being allowed to eat it.

Having to prepare students for standardized state tests (and having them score higher on the biology exam than any other school in our state!), I have found this is the best way to engage them, and they often later tell me they remembered the mitochondria by thinking about the Hot Tamale.  Now that's good science!  :)