Let’s Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

graphic-cincodemayo

Today is Tues­day is May 5th, or as it’s called in both Mex­ico and the United States…Cinco de Mayo! Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the cel­e­bra­tion of Mexico’s inde­pen­dence. Instead, it is a day to com­mem­o­rate the Mex­i­can vic­tory over France in the Bat­tle of Puebla in 1862.

Each year on the 5th of May, Mex­i­can and Amer­i­can fam­i­lies cel­e­brate by indulging in Mex­i­can cui­sine, putting up Mexican-style dec­o­ra­tions, and singing and danc­ing to tra­di­tional Mex­i­can music. Cinco de Mayo is a great hol­i­day to expand your family’s culi­nary hori­zons by encour­ag­ing them to try authen­tic Mex­i­can dishes such as: Chile rel­leno, a stuffed pep­per dish that orig­i­nated in Puebla; Mole sauce, a home­made sauce that’s used in numer­ous cuisines and can made using pep­pers, bananas, pump­kin seeds, and even choco­late; Tamales, con­sist­ing of a spiced meat mix­ture which is wrapped in masa and cooked inside a corn husk. Not only is Mex­i­can food deli­cious, but many of the dishes are easy to make.

Cinco de Mayo dec­o­ra­tions include piñatas, som­breros, and mara­cas. But you can also get in the spirit by wear­ing green, white, and red on your cloth­ing, the col­ors of the Mex­i­can flag. Cinco de Mayo has been cel­e­brated every year for more than 150 years….so put on a som­brero, grab your mara­cas, and let’s all cel­e­brate together!

Earth Day is in April

earthday-shutterstock_250240966

Every year since 1970, Earth Day has been observed in the U.S. on the same day — April 22nd.  That’s a tra­di­tion of more than 40 years!

The idea for Earth Day came from John McConnell, a vision­ary activist for peace, while attend­ing the UNESCO (United Nations Edu­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Orga­ni­za­tion) con­fer­ence in San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­for­nia in 1969.  The pur­pose of this con­fer­ence is to encour­age inter­na­tional peace and uni­ver­sal respect for human rights by pro­mot­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion among nations.

Mr. McConnell orig­i­nally intended Earth Day to be a one day event to honor the earth and the con­cept of peace but in many places Earth Day has turned into a week-long cel­e­bra­tion com­plete with fun fam­ily fes­ti­vals, baby tree plant­i­ngs, and oodles of healthy nat­ural foods.

There is no bet­ter way to honor our earth than to con­sume foods the way nature intended…..by eat­ing green.  Eat­ing green is a grow­ing trend that focuses on select­ing “green” foods such as fruits, nuts, legumes, veg­eta­bles and whole grains; and eat­ing less red or processed meat.  You’ll see this week’s WT Café menu reflects a green menu.

As a par­ent con­cerned with the qual­ity of foods your chil­dren eat, you should be informed about how our gov­ern­ment decides foods that are deemed “safe to eat.”  About a month ago the U.S. Fed­eral Drug Admin­is­tra­tion qui­etly deemed a large num­ber of genet­i­cally mod­i­fied apples and pota­toes as “safe to eat”. These apples were genet­i­cally mod­i­fied (a process that for­ever alters the DNA of the fruit) to con­tain less of the enzymes that cause apples to bruise eas­ily and to turn brown when sliced open.  That means less waste and bad crop for the apple farm­ers, but what does it mean for con­sumers and espe­cially our youngest generation?

Many Euro­pean coun­tries, like Rus­sia and the UK, have already banned cer­tain types of GMOs for human con­sump­tion.  Let’s choose our food sci­ence exper­i­ments wisely in our coun­try too.  With so many fast and processed foods within easy reach not to men­tion the insid­i­ous draw of hand­held com­put­ers, keep­ing our kids healthy is an uphill bat­tle already!  We don’t need some­thing else to leave us ques­tion­ing what is safe or not safe to feed their young, devel­op­ing bodies.

As you and your fam­ily cel­e­brate Earth Day this year don’t for­get, the Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.  This Earth Day and every one here­after, let’s vow to make life bet­ter for our kids, not worse.

New Study Shows Chef-prepared Meals Increase Healthy Eating in Kids

chefmeal-shutterstock_232377856

Recently a study was con­ducted by researchers at the Har­vard Uni­ver­sity T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health of more than 2,600 chil­dren in grades three through eight. What they learned is some­thing many doc­tors, nutri­tion­ists, and par­ents have been say­ing for years; if given a choice of high qual­ity nat­ural foods, kids will gen­er­ally make healthy selec­tions. The study con­sisted of ran­domly plac­ing chefs in schools to “spice up the fruits, veg­eta­bles and entrees with low-fat, low-salt recipes.” They even went so far as to change the way the food was pre­sented to the kids in the food line. When the chil­dren went to throw their plate away, mon­i­tors mea­sured the amount of “plate waste” they dis­carded. Plate waste rep­re­sents the food left over after eat­ing that is thrown away by the child. The results speak for them­selves accord­ing to Juliana Cohen, a research asso­ciate in the school’s nutri­tion depart­ment “when kids were offered sautéed broc­coli in gar­lic and olive oil or veg­etable soup instead of hideous piles of indis­tin­guish­able greens, they tended to eat more of the health­ful food…” This is great news, because as the study points out “30 mil­lion chil­dren receive meals at school each day and many of them rely on those meals for as much as half their calo­ries.” And as for con­cerns that schools may not be able to afford a trained chef, Cohen said “the move actu­ally saved money for the ones in this study.” There is one is area though where more work remains, and that’s with children’s choice of milk. Kids in schools are still given the option of white milk or choco­late milk, and the major­ity still prefers the sugar-sweetened taste of choco­late milk. What this study and oth­ers like it make clear though, is chil­dren want to eat good, all-natural, healthy foods and given the oppor­tu­nity, they usu­ally will.

To learn about the results of the study, fol­low the link: http://wapo.st/1ChUJYK

year-of-the-goat

Celebrating the Lunar New Year with Traditional Delicacies!

year-of-the-goat

At WT Café we’re excited to cel­e­brate the Lunar New Year with mil­lions across the world.  Food is sym­bolic of rich his­tory and tra­di­tion, and we love find­ing new and excit­ing rea­sons to expand our menu!  The Lunar New Year gives us good rea­son.  It is a 15 day cel­e­bra­tion that begins this year on Feb­ru­ary 19th.

Where did this hol­i­day orig­i­nate?  Born out of fear and myth, an ancient Chi­nese leg­end tells the story of a wild beast named “Nien” (which actu­ally trans­lates to “year”) that used to attack Chi­nese vil­lages at the end of each year. The vil­lagers turned to loud noises and bright lights to scare Nien away, and the tra­di­tion was born.

Today, the Lunar New Year is observed by mil­lions in not only China but also Indone­sia, Malaysia, and many other coun­tries. The fes­ti­val is filled with cus­toms intent on bring­ing peo­ple together. The first week of the New Year fea­tures the sec­ond day of the New Year when time is to be spent with imme­di­ate fam­ily and in-laws and the sev­enth day of the New Year is a time to throw par­ties in cel­e­bra­tion of everyone’s birthday.

Of course, what kind of event would it be with­out some delec­table edi­bles?  Tra­di­tional Lunar New Year del­i­ca­cies include: Gok Jai which are cookie pock­ets filled with peanuts, coconut, and sesame, Nan Gao (rice pud­ding), and Jau Goks (crispy dumplings). The fes­ti­val closes on March 5th this year with the famous and beau­ti­ful Lantern Fes­ti­val. The Lantern Fes­ti­val offi­cially marks the end­ing of the New Year fes­tiv­i­ties by illu­mi­nat­ing the night sky with mil­lions of lanterns.  Lucky you if you can catch one where you live.  It’s a mag­i­cal event.

WT Café can help you start your Lunar New Year off right with some excit­ing from-scratch choices such as our sig­na­ture Asian Salad made with romaine, edamame, shred­ded car­rots, and our tangy house-made Asian Gin­ger dress­ing.  Also debut­ing this month is our Chicken and Veg­gie Pot­stick­ers served with our WT soy dip­ping sauce and our brand new Won­ton Soup!   With WT Café, the cel­e­bra­tion can con­tinue through­out the month of Feb­ru­ary and your chil­dren can join the mil­lions across the world ring­ing in the Lunar New Year.  That’s what we love about food….if you do it right, there’s never a dull moment.

Happy New Year!

fastfood

New evidence that fast food is bad for kids’ learning

fastfood

Life moves pretty fast some­times, and we’re often left try­ing to play catch-up. One area fam­i­lies try to save time in their busy lives is meal prepa­ra­tion. Being able to skip mak­ing break­fast, lunch, or din­ner can be a huge time saver for par­ents. Unfor­tu­nately this usu­ally does more harm than good. For years fast food con­sump­tion has been linked to child­hood obe­sity, now new con­cerns are being raised about feed­ing our lit­tle ones fast food as opposed to healthy home cooked meals. A recent “study pub­lished in Clin­i­cal Pediatrics…suggests that chil­dren who eat reg­u­larly at McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and the like don’t per­form as well at school as their peers.” The study mea­sured more than 8,500 Amer­i­can stu­dents at the age of 10 and then com­pared those results at the age of 13. What they dis­cov­ered was quite alarm­ing. For exam­ple, in Sci­ence “school­child­ren who never ate fast food scored 83 points, com­pared to an aver­age of 79 points for those who ate it every day.” The study sug­gests these results occurred because of the effect fast food has on brain chem­istry, “such as a lack of iron which leads to slower devel­op­ment…” What makes these num­bers even more dis­turb­ing is just how often school-aged chil­dren con­sume fast food. Researchers noted in their study that of the stu­dents they sam­pled, 52% of them had eaten fast food as much as three times in the pre­vi­ous week.

While we occa­sion­ally find our­selves short of time, stud­ies like this show us just how impor­tant it is to pro­vide our lit­tle ones with healthy eat­ing options. For more infor­ma­tion on the find­ings of the study, fol­low the link: http://bit.ly/13qWQLe

avacado

Super Food of the Month – Avocado

avacado

No big game party spread is com­plete with­out gua­camole! One of the rea­sons gua­camole is such a fab­u­lous game day option, is just how ver­sa­tile it is. It can be served as a condi­ment on your favorite burger or sand­wich, as filler in stuffed mush­rooms or dev­iled eggs, and of course as a dip for every­thing from your favorite chips to veg­gie spears. The key ingre­di­ent in gua­camole is of course the avocado.

Though avo­ca­dos are native to Cen­tral and South Amer­ica, thanks mainly in part to gua­camole, they have become a huge part of America’s big game tra­di­tion. Just a lit­tle over ten years ago only 8 mil­lion pounds of avo­ca­dos were con­sumed in the United States dur­ing the biggest game of the year. How­ever, in 2013 it was esti­mated that num­ber had risen to more than 79 mil­lion pounds. What makes the avo­cado such a pop­u­lar choice among many American’s isn’t just its ver­sa­til­ity as an ingre­di­ent, but its numer­ous health benefits.

Rich and creamy avo­ca­dos are a won­der­ful source of nutri­ents as well as healthy fat. Avo­ca­dos are high in Vit­a­min K and fiber, as well as mag­ne­sium, phos­pho­rus, iron, and potas­sium. In fact, accord­ing to the New York Uni­ver­sity Lan­gone Med­ical Cen­ter, avo­ca­dos actu­ally con­tain “even more potas­sium per gram than bananas…” They have also shown to help lower cho­les­terol, reg­u­late blood sugar as well as blood pres­sure, reduce the risk of can­cer, aid in diges­tion, and help to main­tain a healthy weight.

With the enor­mous num­ber of dishes that can be pre­pared using avo­ca­dos, their almost unri­valed health ben­e­fits, and the big game fast approach­ing, it’s should come as no sur­prise that avo­ca­dos are Whole­some Tum­mies Super Food for the month of January!

For unique ways to serve your favorite gua­camole recipe dur­ing the biggest game of the year, click the link: http://bzfd.it/1KfD9re

And to learn more about the incred­i­ble health ben­e­fits avo­ca­dos can pro­vide your fam­ily, fol­low the link: http://bit.ly/1o08PEL

pomegranates

Super Food of the Month – Pomegranate

pomegranates

While Decem­ber may not seem like a month to fea­ture fresh grown fruits and veg­eta­bles, that couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth.  Each month of the year brings with it deli­cious fruits and veg­eta­bles that are in sea­son. First grown in Per­sia, Pome­gran­ate is one of the old­est known fruits and packs a wal­lop of nutri­tion in every bite.

In the pome­gran­ate, the month of Decem­ber offers a delight­ful fruit that can be used in many of your clas­sic hol­i­day recipes. Hol­i­day favorites such as sweet pota­toes can be coated with a pome­gran­ate glaze, iced tea can be served hot or cold with just a hint of pome­gran­ate juice, and your stan­dard stuff­ing can be tweaked for the hol­i­days by adding pome­gran­ate to it. Pome­gran­ate is espe­cially use­ful in hol­i­day recipes because it stores so well. With proper seal­ing and refrig­er­a­tion, pome­gran­ate should keep for up to 2 months.

The savory taste of pome­gran­ate is only rivaled by its almost unmatched health ben­e­fits. Pome­gran­ate con­tains a pow­er­ful com­pound called puni­cala­gin. Puni­cala­gin is found only in pome­gran­ate and has shown to lower cho­les­terol as well as increase the speed at which heart block­ages go away. Pome­gran­ate is also one of the most pow­er­ful anti-oxidants of all fruits. These are just a few of the many health ben­e­fits pome­gran­ate pro­vides, and med­ical stud­ies are find­ing more and more every year.

While peel­ing off the tough outer layer of pome­gran­ate fruit just to get to the seeds and juices may seem like a lot of work, the end­less recipe uses and health ben­e­fits make it well worth it.  It’s easy to see why it’s Whole­some Tum­mies choice for Super Food for the month of December!

For more pomegranate-centric recipes, fol­low the link: http://abt.cm/1cQKnld

And for more on the won­der­ful health ben­e­fits pome­gran­ate can pro­vide you and your loved ones, click the link: http://bit.ly/11SbPgN.  Enjoy!

healthyholidays

Healthy Holiday Eating and Family Cooking Tips

healthyholidays

Just because the hol­i­days are here again doesn’t mean the days of healthy eat­ing have tem­porar­ily come to an end. While this time of year is full of delec­table treats, there are always healthy eat­ing options avail­able to you and your fam­ily.  You just have to look harder for them, or cre­ate them yourself!

For a start, you can try incen­tiviz­ing your child to snack on healthy good­ies like whole grain crack­ers, fruit, or raw veg­eta­bles before the big feast.  Try plac­ing these health­ier choices in front of your kids when they are first hun­gry, as that increases the like­li­hood that they will eat them!  Make a big deal out of these yummy “appe­tiz­ers” so your child is excited to try them. Din­ing on hol­i­day favorites such as fudge, cook­ies, and other baked goods is ok, but try to mon­i­tor con­sump­tion and encour­age your kids to eat them in small portions.

The hol­i­days are the per­fect time to bring out those vin­tage fam­ily favorite recipes, and whip up some­thing extra spe­cial for a large fam­ily feast or even a late night snack by the fire. While cook­ing with kids in the kitchen can some­times be a dif­fi­cult task, there are some dishes the lit­tle ones can help with and make it fun for the whole fam­ily. Some recipes chil­dren should be able to help with in the kitchen include: appe­tiz­ers, side dishes, hol­i­day cook­ies, and baked breads. Help­ing to cre­ate their favorite hol­i­day sweets while spend­ing time together in the kitchen with mom and dad is won­der­ful way for fam­i­lies to make the hol­i­day sea­son extra special…and extra wholesome!

Fol­low the link to learn about some kid-friendly recipes you and your lit­tle ones can make together dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son: http://bit.ly/1u9zmAo.  Bon appetit!

rootvegetables

Peak Season – Root Vegetables

 rootvegetables

While the sum­mer months are abun­dant with vibrant pro­duce, it seems most of us strug­gle to keep up the healthy eat­ing habits dur­ing the fall and win­ter because we don’t have as many options dur­ing the colder months. Dig just a lit­tle deeper, how­ever, and you will find that root veg­eta­bles are the per­fect answer to this culi­nary conundrum.

 Bright orange and sweet, crispy and fresh, spicy and col­or­ful; sweet pota­toes, jica­mas, and radishes are just a small exam­ple of the diverse tex­tures, col­ors, and fla­vors that roots can add to a win­ter meal. Sweet pota­toes are the epit­ome of com­fort food when they are slowly roasted in the oven with olive oil and salt and then driz­zled with honey while they are still warm!

 If you are look­ing for a crispy addi­tion to any salad, look no fur­ther than jicama. This tuber is abun­dant dur­ing the chilly months of the year. It has a crispy and refresh­ing tex­ture that will brighten up any salad. All you need to do is peel the thin outer layer and it is ready to eat — no cook­ing required.

 Radishes also become abun­dant dur­ing this time of year. The small root veg­eta­bles are bright red with a spicy white inte­rior but also come in bright green and pink col­ors! These are great paired with tacos and a splash of lime juice, and they can be a great addi­tion to sal­ads too.

 Don’t let the win­ter blues put a damper on your healthy eat­ing!  Eat fresh and in sea­son by fol­low­ing this great resource for sea­sonal pro­duce in your area — www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

 

 

 

pumpkinbrittle

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

pumpkinbrittle

(This recipe is tree nut free & gluten free)

You carved your pump­kins and saved those pump­kin seeds, and we know just what to do with them! Of course, if you didn’t save them, you can sim­ply pur­chase a bag of shelled, raw pump­kin seeds (also known as pepi­tas) from the gro­cery store.

 

Ingre­di­ents

 

  • Vegetable-oil spray or 1 tea­spoon butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tea­spoon bak­ing soda
  • 2 tea­spoons to 1 1/2 table­spoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of raw, unroasted pepitas

 

Pro­ce­dures

 

  1. Line bak­ing sheet pan with parch­ment paper and lightly coat it with veg­etable spray or butter.
  2. Put the sugar, but­ter, honey, and 1/2 cup plus 2 table­spoons water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over high medium-high, but mon­i­tor it care­fully until the mix­ture begins to thicken up a lit­tle bit.
  3. Once the mix­ture turns a medium golden (takes at least 10 min­utes) imme­di­ately remove from the heat, and care­fully whisk in the bak­ing soda fol­lowed by the salt (Caramel mix­ture will bub­ble quite a bit at this point). Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the pepi­tas or seeds.
  4. Quickly pour the mix­ture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden.
  5. Cool com­pletely, then break into bite size pieces and you are ready to enjoy.  Store in an air­tight con­tainer in the refrigerator.