Staying Healthy During the Holidays

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Can you believe it?  The hol­i­days are here! And while it’s a sea­son of shar­ing and giv­ing, much of the time, it’s also the sea­son for indulging.  Candy, cook­ies, cakes…and lots of BIG meals. With­out totally deny­ing our kids (and our­selves), there are a few things we advise par­ents to do so you can keep your family’s eat­ing habits in check dur­ing the season.

  1. Stay Active Together
    Time off of school and work means you’ll have a few days to fill. Walk to the park, make an obsta­cle course in the back­yard, play in the snow, rake leaves into piles per­fect for jumping…make time for out­door activ­i­ties every day.
  2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
    It’s tough, with all of the won­der­ful sea­sonal treats…but if you don’t keep sweets in your house, you won’t have to deny your­self or your kids every time you see something.
  3. Snack Healthy
    With every­one off of a reg­u­lar rou­tine, it’s easy to want to nib­ble all day. So stock up with healthy snacks—mandarin oranges, part-skim string cheese, whole-wheat crack­ers, and gra­nola bars are favorites for kids and adults alike.
  4. Bake Healthy Treats
    Cook­ies and can­dies are fun to make (and eat), but this year, do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent by bak­ing up some health­ier treats. Gra­nola is a sim­ple, fun, and deli­cious treat that’s fun to give as gifts, too. Add your favorite mix-ins (dried fruits, seeds, nuts, or even a few choco­late chips!) to make it your own. Scoop into mason jars and tie with fes­tive rib­bon for a pretty and tasty home­made gift.

 

Cherry-Vanilla Granola

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Ingre­di­ents

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup unsweet­ened shred­ded coconut
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups sliced almonds (optional)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 table­spoons molasses
  • 3 table­spoons water
  • 1 gen­er­ous tea­spoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ tea­spoon kosher salt
  • ½ tea­spoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cherries

 

Pro­ce­dures

  1. Place oven racks in mid­dle two posi­tions. Pre­heat oven to 275º.
  2. Line 2 bak­ing sheets with parch­ment paper. Set aside.
  3. Com­bine oats, wheat germ, and coconut in a large bowl.
  4. Com­bine honey, molasses, water, vanilla extract, and oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stir­ring fre­quently, until mix­ture is uni­form and melted.
  5. Pour honey mix­ture over oat mix­ture. Sprin­kle with salt and cin­na­mon, and stir to com­bine, using your hands or a wooden spoon. Divide mix­ture among the pre­pared bak­ing sheets.
  6. Bake, stir­ring mix­ture and switch­ing posi­tions of pans halfway through, until gra­nola is golden, about 15 to 25 min­utes. (It won’t feel crisp until after it cools.) Keep an eye on it, as it goes from golden to burned in a mat­ter of minutes.
  7. Cool on bak­ing sheets set on wire racks until gra­nola is cool to the touch and crisp. Place in a bowl; add cher­ries and toss gen­tly to combine.
  8. Store for up to 1 week in an air­tight container.
bacon

No More Bacon for Little Johnny?

As you have no doubt heard, the World Health Organization’s Inter­na­tional Agency for Research on Can­cer (IARC) recently announced the results of a meta-analysis based on over 800 stud­ies doc­u­ment­ing the asso­ci­a­tion between a diet high in red and processed meats and an increased risk of col­orec­tal can­cer.  This does not mean a causal rela­tion­ship was found, just that the pre­pon­der­ance of evi­dence sug­gests such a rela­tion­ship exists.

 It’s not like this is new news for us.

 As Mar­ion Nes­tle points out in her Food Pol­i­tics Blog, ever since the 1959 diet book “Eat Well and Stay Well” by health experts Ancel and Mar­garet Keys, Amer­i­cans have been directed to limit intake of processed and red meats to reduce the chance of heart dis­ease.  By the late 1990s, dur­ing our nation’s low fat craze, can­cer experts again advised us to reduce con­sump­tion of red and processed meats as they believed the high-fat intake that comes from a diet high in these meats was a “prob­a­ble cause” of var­i­ous types of cancer.

 If you’re any­thing like me, you’re a believer in the old adage “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  And there’s been a lot of smoke.  The issue is not whether or not the data exists.  It clearly it does and has for decades.  The issue is…

 Why haven’t we heeded it?

 We are a red meat and burger-eating nation with an army of bacon-lovers.  We have bacon fla­vored tooth­picks, cup­cakes, and band-aids in the shape of a slice.  We even host a nation­ally tele­vised Annual Hot Dog eat­ing con­test!   It’s hard to give up the foods we love, espe­cially when so much fan­fare sur­rounds them.   We raise our chil­dren in this hedo­nis­tic cul­ture of food enter­tain­ment, and their food habits become an unin­tended by-product of this environment.

The research is not sug­gest­ing we cut “cold turkey” (although the high mor­tal­ity rates of those liv­ing the vegan life demon­strate wis­dom in that choice).  Instead, the research urges us to approach these foods in mod­er­a­tion along with a bal­anced, nutri­tious diet.

 What do you need to be con­cerned about for your family?

 As par­ents, we have taken the uni­ver­sal oath of a life­time of respon­si­bil­ity over our chil­dren.  We want noth­ing more than for them to live long, happy, and healthy lives.   If we can do that eas­ily and in a way that min­i­mizes resis­tance, then most of us would hap­pily stand in line for the magic formula!

 Your best bet is to feed your kids a bal­anced diet, includ­ing an increase in fruits and veg­gies and a decrease in processed and red meat.  Eat a bal­anced diet with every­thing in mod­er­a­tion, cook­ing foods for your fam­ily your­self when­ever pos­si­ble, using lots of raw, pure ingre­di­ents.  Save red and processed meats for spe­cial occa­sions, and teach your chil­dren why it’s impor­tant they do the same.   In par­tic­u­lar, aim for less than the fol­low­ing aver­age intake of these foods:

  • 4 oz daily of red meat (e.g., a quarter-pound burger)
  • 2 oz daily of processed meat (e.g., 2 slices of ham or salami)

 The recent WHO study con­cludes that a diet high in processed meat is a defin­i­tive cause and high in red meat is a prob­a­ble cause of col­orec­tal can­cer.  Eat­ing more than the amounts listed above will increase you and your child’s col­orec­tal can­cer risk by 18%, and increase total life­time risk from 5% to 6%.

To help you man­age that risk, here are some ideas for strate­gies you can adopt today by mak­ing some small changes to your family’s diet:

  • Use nut­but­ters or tuna/chicken/egg sal­ads instead of deli meat for sandwiches
  • Sub­sti­tute ground beef with ground turkey or chicken in beef recipes
  • Do not have too many cold cuts in the house (if they are there, they do get eaten!)
  • Cel­e­brate #meat­less­mon­day with your fam­ily every week
  • Sub out fresh fruit instead of sausage and bacon for breakfast
  • Save red and processed meats for a once a week treat, when­ever possible

 At WT Café, we are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing your fam­ily with con­ve­nient, fresh, and healthy foods.  In our local kitchens, recipes tra­di­tion­ally made with ground beef are made instead with ground turkey, a prac­tice we employed since the day we founded our com­pany in 2007.   Entrees like Spaghetti & Meat­balls, Shepherd’s Pie, Spaghetti & Meat Sauce, Tacos, Meat Lasagna, Chili, and Meat­loaf & Mashed Pota­toes are all deli­ciously made with our house-seasoned ground turkey.   We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Feed­ing a gen­er­a­tion of healthy, happy eaters is worth doing, and any­thing worth doing is worth doing right.

Thank you for the priv­i­lege of feed­ing your children!

Deb­bie Blacher

Founder, WT Café

SOURCES

 

Dr. David L. Katz,

Founder, True Health Coalition

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/meat-cancer-hammering-memo-david-l-katz-md-mph

 

Dr. Mar­ion Nestle

Food Pol­i­tics Blog

http://www.foodpolitics.com/2015/10/some-comments-on-the-meat-is-carcinogenic-report/

 

NY TIMES Sun­day Review

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/sunday-review/so-will-processed-meat-give-you-cancer.html?_r=0

 

Time Mag­a­zine

The War On Delicious

http://time.com/4092378/red-meat-hot-dogs-and-the-war-on-delicious/

 

October Newsletter

If you’ve been fol­low­ing our con­ver­sa­tion on Face­book, you’ve noticed some sober­ing facts regard­ing the state of the health of our children:

  1. 1/3 of Amer­i­can chil­dren eat fast food every day
  2. Kids who fre­quently eat fast food have higher rates of obesity
  3. An obese child has an 89% chance of grow­ing into an obese adult
  4. Only 1 in 210 obese adults ever regain a healthy weight

What does all this mean?

It means that our jobs as par­ents and edu­ca­tors just climbed another rung on the lad­der of impor­tance.  Cur­ing our country’s obe­sity woes starts with us – the adults in our children’s lives -  chang­ing the way kids eat.

The power for change is within our control.

Kids don’t know it, but they need adults in their lives to be role mod­els for good behav­ior.  With­out our guid­ance and advice, kids do what kids to best…..make impul­sive deci­sions that come back to bite them. Teach­ing chil­dren healthy habits is as impor­tant a les­son as brush­ing their teeth, wash­ing their hands, and look­ing both ways before cross­ing the street.

Yet we have a Con­gress bick­er­ing over whether to lower cur­rent nutri­tional stan­dards of the National School Lunch Pro­gram.  When 80% of our chil­dren attend pub­lic school and con­sume 50% of their calo­ries there, do we not have a respon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide sound nutrition?

We have a pow­er­ful lob­by­ing group (errantly called the School Nutri­tion Asso­ci­a­tion) lead­ing the move­ment to repeal stan­dards.  Backed by big processed food man­u­fac­tur­ers with bil­lions invested in pub­lic school lunch com­modi­ties, the SNA is fight­ing to reverse cur­rent nutri­tional stan­dards in favor of lax ones.

Why take a step back­wards now?

Per­haps low­er­ing stan­dards seems like a good idea when pub­lic schools are leav­ing the National School Lunch Pro­gram in record num­bers.  Kids are throw­ing out more food than ever before and have ini­ti­ated thriv­ing social media boy­cotts to drive the change they want to see (#thanksmichelleobama).  Dis­tricts are los­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars every year due to increased waste and decreased participation.

 It is obvi­ous that change must happen.

But there must be a bet­ter solu­tion than back­ing off cur­rent stan­dards.  If we lower stan­dards, we are mak­ing deci­sions at the expense of our chil­dren instead of for their ben­e­fit.  If we lower stan­dards, we are pro­long­ing our cur­rent health cri­sis, not fix­ing it.  If we lower stan­dards, we are not lead­ing our chil­dren, we are giv­ing in to them.

For us at WT Café, the solu­tion is an easy one.  We cook fresh food for kids and fam­i­lies every day in local kitchens across the coun­try.  So far, we’ve served over 2 mil­lion meals at over 200 schools across the coun­try.  We’ve built a pro­gram that helps schools and fam­i­lies ele­vate the qual­ity of their food choices, so they can feel good being part of the solu­tion, not part of the problem.

 It’s not hard, Washington!

Let’s keep nutri­tion stan­dards high and teach pub­lic school kitchens how to cook food from scratch.  Let’s show them how to take fresh veg­eta­bles and add sea­son­ing and new cook­ing tech­niques to bring out their nat­ural fla­vor.  Let’s help them elim­i­nate processed foods and let chil­dren eat as nature intended.

Give these dis­tricts the sys­tems they need to effi­ciently and prof­itably run a scratch operation….recipes, sup­pli­ers, train­ing, and tech­nol­ogy.  Give pub­lic schools the tools they need to ele­vate their pro­grams and keep their stan­dards high….you may be sur­prised at what they can do!

Good health is every­thing, and it starts with us.

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

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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

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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