Genghis Khan and Yogurt – Who Knew!!!

Tonight I taught a nutrition class about Yogurt.  I know what you’re thinking, what could I possibly say for an entire hour about yogurt?  Well…it ended up being a really thought-provoking class, and we all tried a lot of new things.  In particular, we talked about how if the only yogurt you ever buy again is plain yogurt, it will be OK.  Adding your own toppings to either plain American style or plain Greek yogurt is way cheaper and way healthier than buying individual yogurts that have either fruit on the bottom or mix-ins that you have to stir in on the top.  This evening we made our own Yogurt Parfaits and experimented with the following types of add-ins:

We sampled homemade blueberry sauce, strawberry sauce, blackberry sauce, and raspberry sauce to stir into our yogurt and then experimented with maple syrup, honey granola, and even mini chocolate chips… I KNOW THAT IT MIGHT SOUND LUDICROUS THAT I’M ADVOCATING THAT YOU PUT YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE IN YOGURT BUT I’M SERIOUS…ADDING YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE IS MUCH HEALTHIER THAN HAVING A MANUFACTURER ADD IT IN FOR YOU.  This is because you’ll just add chocolate to your yogurt while the manufacturer is free to add in whatever artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives they choose.  The berry sauces totally transformed the tangy plain yogurt and really made it into something special.  To add to the good news, fruit sauces couldn’t be easier to make: simply thaw frozen berries, blend them together and if you desire, add a tiny bit of sugar.  (A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of sugar for every 1 1/2 cups of frozen berries.)  Refrigerate your mixture and enjoy on top of yogurt for lunch!

Clearly, plain yogurt is very versatile, and we also discussed many of the ways that you can transform plain yogurt into something memorable.  For example, plain yogurt is a fabulous addition to marinades, spreads, dips, and smoothies.  Tonight we sampled three different kinds of Homemade Onion Dip.  One type was made with sour cream, the other was made half with sour cream and half with Greek yogurt, and the final type was made completely with Greek yogurt.  The general consensus was that the dip with the Greek yogurt was actually very yummy  and although there wasn’t a significant taste difference in the three, there was a vast nutritional difference in the three.  If you’d like the onion dip recipe, visit my website at:  www.projectlunchboxletseat.com

Throughout the class, we practiced reading nutrition and ingredient labels on packaging and then learned about the misleading advertising that consumers have to sort through at the grocery store.  And one more thing… who knew that Genghis Khan, an ancient Mongolian leader who desperately wanted to expand his Empire and increase his sphere of influence in Asia, had a powerful army that was sustained by YOGURT! For all of you Trivial Pursuit lovers out there, I hope that this fun fact can help you win a game or two! 🙂

If you have a chance, leave a comment and let me know your favorite yogurt add-ins!

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

🙂 Katie

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Happy Thanksgiving!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

-Melody Beattie

I hope that you all have an awesome Thanksgiving.  It has always been one of my favorite holidays, and I  think that Melody Beattie’s quote describes it perfectly.  I just want to say thank you for taking this Gold Award Journey with me.  Your support has been fantastic!

Enjoy the delicious food and relaxing time with family and friends!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Are You a Food Detective?

Has anybody ever read the book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, written by Michael Pollan?  It’s a fascinating read and Michael Pollan presents the facts in a personal way as he reflects upon his adventure across America to glean more information about the sources of our food.  Once you get started with it, you won’t be able to put it down!

This book is divided into four sections with each focused on a specific type of meal.  In the first section he delves into the Industrial Meal, and then in the second the Industrial Organic Meal.  The Local Sustainable Meal is then followed by the Do-It-Yourself Meal.  Everything he writes is insightful and there’s so much to learn from his tips, the Q&A section of the book, and his strong opinions that he backs up with much evidence.

Please let me know what you think of this book!  After you read it, I promise that you will have definitely earned the prestigious title of an official FOOD DETECTIVE!

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

🙂 Katie

Organic vs. Conventional…Is There a RIGHT Answer?

There’s a lot of conversation about whether or not the health benefits of organic fruits and veggies outshine the health benefits of conventionally grown produce.  This week, I thought that I’d present the facts about both sides of this national food debate:

Conventional fruits and veggies are mass-grown with the use of pesticides.  When I say pesticides, I mean any chemical fertilizers such as insectides, fungicides, and herbicides, some of which have been found to be carcinogenic.  Unfortunately, these pesticides also have a negative effect on the environment and lead to much pollution.  In addition, it has been found that the soil in which conventional produce is grown isn’t as rich as the soil of fruits and veggies that aren’t treated with chemicals.  Lastly, whenever you purchase a conventionally grown food, you never know what kind of chemicals it was treated with, or if it is free or not of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Unlike conventional foods, organic foods are grown without pesticides and GMOs.  Therefore, the soil is much more plentiful and hearty because its nutrients haven’t been depleted.  Furthermore, organic food growers don’t pose such a detrimental risk to the environment.  Organic food is usually grown on a smaller scale and special attention is paid to caring and honoring the plant’s well being.  In other words, organic farmers let nature take its course.

As we all know, there’s no question about the price of organic and conventional foods.  Organic produce is definitely more expensive than conventionally grown fruits and veggies.  However, I think that not enough light is shed on the additional future costs of conventional produce.  Although you pay less for conventionally grown foods now, you’ll more than likely be paying more for it later on in life.  This is because overtime, the pesticide residue from the fruits and veggies will build up in your body and could cause illness and disease.  Nevertheless, I don’t  think that it’s completely necessary for everybody to become “all in” organic shoppers.  Obviously, a strawberry would be more susceptible to excess chemical residue than corn would, which is protected by an outer covering.  Consequently, I’ve provided lists for the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15:

The Dirty Dozen:  (try to always buy these organic)

  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • blueberries
  • nectarines
  • peppers
  • kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • grapes
  • lettuce

The Clean 15: (usually okay if purchased conventionally grown)

  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions
  • onions
  • avocados
  • corn
  • pineapple

I’d be interested to know where you stand on organic foods vs. conventional.  Are you 100% organic all of the time,  do you mix and match, or do you eat conventionally grown foods? What do you think about the health benefits of each?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

🙂 Katie

References:

Cox, Jeff. The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide. Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons Incorporated, 2008. Print.

Pou, Jackie. “The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 of Produce.” PBS. PBS. 13 May 2012. Web. 4 November 2012.