culture, food

Healthy Snacks Delivered to Your Door Step… Sign Me Up Please…

I used to loooooooove Fruit Roll-ups when I was a kid. When snack time rolled around at school, I’d whip out my tube of strawberry flattened fruit, unroll that puppy and then roll it right back up around my little finger to make one, long, fruity finger. Classy, I know. Hey, I was in first grade… and my fruit finger was delicious. Fruit Roll-ups, Fruit by the Foot, any sort of fruit snacks… I loved them all.

I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d had any sort of fruit snack other than the literal kind – like an apple. But just a few weeks ago I was introduced to the  natural, whole-foods version of the Fruit Rollup, thanks to Healthy Surprise

It happened when one day I came home from work and found this guy on my door step:


I knew it was coming — the company contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out a box of their vegan, gluten-free, soy-free snacks. “You mean, snacks I can actually eat?!” I thought… bring it on!

I got my box and when I opened it I found chocolate chip cookies, macaroons, caramel corn, hemp seeds, flavored nuts and fruit snacks. Here’s what the little treasure chest looked like…


And here’s all my new snack loot layed out on the kitchen table…


How fun is that?! You can sign up with Healthy Surprise and get one of these healthy treasure boxes on your door step once a month. What a cool way to discover tasty new products. Brilliant idea! I sure wish I’d thought of it…

Thanks, Healthy Surprise for sending me a box, and in particular, for the fruit snacks.

culture, media, news

What I Read This Week: No more recipes. Foods to try in 2012. What your urine’s telling you.

I’m a bit a news junkie (journalism major here) and in particular I eat up anything related to health/nutrition/food. My little New York Times “recommended for you” section is chock full of it. They know me. As does who seems to think I am an obsessive dieter/avid hiker/ecofarm hippie.

Anyway, I thought instead of selfishly hoarding all of the information I consume in my own brain (where it’s sure to be lost never to be found again), I should share the little nuggets that I think you might find interesting too. So here goes… here are a few things that caught my eye this week…

A Recipe for Simplifying Life: Ditch All the Recipes

A Medical Tell-All Can Be Found in Urine

FDA: Some Livestock Antibiotics Will Be Limited

Stopping Superbugs: Time for Congress and Industry to Catch Up With American Consumers

Mark Bittman: The Last of Last Year’s Food Links

12 Healthy Foods to Try in 2012

10 Things I Say No to and Why

What about you? Anything catch your eye that’s worth sharing?

culture, recipes

Delicious Quinoa Combos

Have you meet my friend Quinoa?

“Key no WHO?” If that’s your response then I take it you have not.

Quinoa – sounds like “KEEN-wah” – is part of the whole grains family but it’s actually a seed. I’ve mentioned it here. Think couscous, but with a nuttier flavor. When you cook it, the little seeds pop and they look like tiny spirals. Can you tell in the pic? It’s a nice change of pace from the standard brown rice. Plus it’s crazy good for you. It’s very high in protein (about 16%) and is one of the few vegetarian sources that’s considered a complete protein. It has all eight essential amino acids. And a serving has more calcium than a glass of milk. Talk about a match made in heaven for vegetarians. Did I mention it’s gluten free too? I haven’t even gotten to all the vitamins and fiber and folic acid in there. The stuff practically has super powers. So where did this grain come from and why are you just now in the year 2010 hearing about it?! Quinoa was the staple grain of the Incas. It’s what gave them the strength and stamina to run long distances across the desert. So they praised it and the land it came from. That little tid bit along with their and bloody sacrifices freaked out the conquistadors. People shouldn’t worship a seed they said. So quinoa was forbidden and cast into obscurity. If they’d only realized the health benefits and that it cooks in just 15 minutes! That’s my absolute favorite part. Just rise it, put it in a pot with the right amount of water, let it simmer and DONE! Eat it by itself or try one of these delicious combos… Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try your own. Have fun!

For each of these recipes, start with four cups cooked quinoa.


(makes 4 cups cooked quinoa)

What you need:

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup water

What you do:

Rinse* the quinoa in a fine strainer. Combine quinoa and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork when done.

Now your ready to make it unique. Try one of these…

Quinoa with Cranberries, Almonds & Parsley

What you need:

4 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 sliced almonds
2 tbsp chopped parsley

What you do:

Mix the cranberries, almonds, parsley  into the quinoa. Combine well and chill in fridge.

Quinoa with Spinach and Feta

What you need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh spinach
2 oz. feta cheese

What you do:

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Addd garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until it’s lightly browning. Add quinoa and spinach. stir to combine and cook until spinach wilts. Remove from heat. Add feta and stir to combine evenly.

Tomato Basil Quinoa

What you need:

1 medium tomato, chopped OR  a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp basil, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

What you do:

Combine quinoa with tomatoes, basil, parsley and seasoning. Add balsamic vinegar just before serving.

*Rinsing removes the bitter tasting outside coating called saponin. Saponin is naturally occurring, but it’s toxic so it needs to be removed before cooking. If you buy grains in bulk you should always rinse them to remove any dust, dirt and whatever else may have found its way into those silos.


The Real Reason Why the French are Skinny…

You’ve heard of the French paradox. How do the french eat so much cheese, dessert and wine and stay skinny? We Americans got obsessed with this for a while. Here we’ve been eating low-fat this and no-fat that, and we’re the fat kids? We don’t get it.  This article does though. It’s about school lunches in France. They’re just what you’d think – gourmet. proper. fussy. Not a single meal gets repeated over 32 days and four-year-olds are served a five course meal of an hors d’oeuvre, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert. You could get used to this, right? The point is that at a young age French kids are taught to take food seriously. I love this…

“…it could be the red wine, as some believe. But another reason has to be this: in a country where con artists and adulterers are tolerated, the laws governing meals are sacrosanct and are drummed into children before they can even hold a knife.”

A few weeks ago on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution the school cafeteria in West Virginia didn’t even have knives. I’m not saying our problems would be solved if the kids in America ate hors d’oeuvres for lunch. That’s not it. It’s the values that are being served up with it. There’s something to eating at a table… in good company… and it being a full and balanced, nutritious meal. every. single. day. These kids aren’t eating fruit snacks out of a vending machine. They don’t even have vending machines. They were banned. So were Coke machines. Eating real food at a table is the only option.

I like this line too… “The French don’t need their First Lady to plant a vegetable garden at the Élysée Palace to encourage good eating habits. They already know the rules: sit down and take your time, because food is serious business.”

Or, you know, maybe it’s just the wine….

culture, media

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution vs. the Lunch Lady and Pizza for Breakfast

Did you catch the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC Sunday night? I missed it, but I caught it on If you didn’t see it, go get caught up before the second episode airs this Friday at 7 p.m. Central. I’ll be setting my DVR. Watching this I was like a black woman in a Bible church. I may have actually shouted “Amen! “Jamie Oliver is a chef from the UK, with a mission to revolutionize school lunches and home cooking habits. He goes to Huntington, West Virginia, the #1 unhealthiest city in America based on disease and death rates, with a charge to get people to eat better. His goal is to get them to cut the processed crap and go fresh, raw, real. Amen! It’s not going to be easy. When he arrives he’s lambasted by radio personalities: “we don’t want to sit around and eat lettuce all day” and finds he’s up against a fierce bunch of lunch ladies. He starts in the school cafeteria. Kids are eating pizza for breakfast, ladies are adding water to powdered chemicalized potatoes to serve with chicken nuggets for lunch, and there’s lots of fresh bread and fruit being thrown in the trash. He says: “If these were my kids and I saw the crap they’re eating and how much is being wasted, I’d be pissed off!” Amen!

And that’s the first step to change. So watch. Get pissed off.


What Do You Eat In A Week?

My work BFF, Jennifer sent me this link. Check out the photos of families from all over the world (The U.S., Mexico, Japan, Ecuador, Mali…) surrounded by the foods they eat in a week. You can imagine how this looks already, I’m sure: Americans with pizza and potato chips and people in Mali with, well, rice.

If you took a picture of all the food you ate in a given week, what would it look like?

There’s also a table that compares average income, life expectancy, food consumption and amount spent on healthcare among other things in each country. No big surprise here. America has the highest income and spends the most on healthcare (nearly double what Japan, France and the U.K. shell out). Funny thing is people live longer in Japan (#1), France (#2) and The U.K. (#3) than in the U.S. (#4). One thing we do have going for us is we smoke less. The U.S. came in #7 in tobacco consumption. The English take that one.

Interesting stuff.