Reprise of 2015 Pressing Concerns and How to Fix Them – Part Two

Thank you to all who commented on Part One of this series by sharing your thoughts on your three most pressing concerns surrounding the state of our collective nutritional health.  As touched upon in previous posts, here are my top three concerns:

1.  Ignorance disempowers

The entire premise behind “Project Lunchbox: Let’s Eat!” is to teach families about the undeniable link between healthy eating and positive school performance.  To that end, I am committed to instilling in students an appreciation for where food comes from and an understanding of how to read ingredient and nutrition labels, and lastly a recognition of the degree to which the processed food industry dominates American culture.  I stand strong in the conviction that nutritional education should be an integral part of each student’s academic experience, beginning in kindergarten and continuing throughout one’s lifetime.  The science behind the food we eat, the nutritional benefits and detriments of what we ingest, and the countless additives that manufacturers put in food and beverages are in complex, constant, and evolving motion.  The impact that education has on a person is unquantifiable, thereby putting the necessity of mandatory, in-depth nutritional education at the top of my list of concerns.  If I had unlimited resources, time, and money, it’s the first thing that I would take immediate action on in order to improve the collective health of our global society.

2.  Indifference disengages

I feel with every fiber of my being that each individual has the moral obligation to not only live productively in the world, but also to change the world.  One person cannot do it all.  Nevertheless, each person must do something.  The belief that an individual does not possess the power, time, or talent to affect noteworthy change is a fallacy.  Each time you demand to know exactly what you are eating, you petition for your local grocer to stock healthier versions of your favorite foods and beverages, you leave a comment on a legislative website in response to nutritional laws, or question the nutritional norm, you undoubtedly cause at least one other person to question why they themselves haven’t taken such action yet.  Then you inspire them to take the first step.  They’ll probably never tell you the effect that you had on them, but then again, you probably never told anybody about the effect another person had on you.  The chain-reaction of change carries onward.

3.  Detachment deceives

There is an unequal distribution of resources in our society.  This grim fact is evident in our media and our politics.  World hunger plagues some, the obesity epidemic scars others.  It’s one of the ultimate paradoxes of our time: while some people are starving to death, others are literally killing themselves by overeating.  I’d be willing to venture that the majority of the general public innately recognizes this dilemma.  However, it appears as though the majority of the general public is in denial, as their acknowledgment of these challenges is lacking to some degree.  Turning a blind eye to the health problems one area of the world is grappling with does not enable us to grapple with our own in a manner that is any more efficient or productive. Although we all face the same challenges (unequal distribution of resources) these conflicts present themselves in different forms depending upon the area of the world that you reside.  It is only with this understanding that the clarity of expression and the voice of reason will join together to be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks for our global food system.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter…

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



Urban Agriculture

The theme of today’s post is urban agriculture! In particular, I’d like to direct you to an article about Canada’s Parliament Gardens that I recently wrote for Food Tank. Here’s the link:

I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions about the productivity and the success of urban agriculture!

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


Dr. Adams Guest Blogs About “Factoring Digestive Issues in Your Child’s Health and Development”

This week I am honored that Dr. Alexandra Z. Adams, Ph.D., is guest blogging on the factors impacting children’s digestive systems. Last year, I was lucky enough to take Dr. Adams’ course, Digesting the Modern Diet, which explored the evolution of diet, the intersection of culture and food, the role digestion plays in health, the processed food industry, and the biology of allergies and chronic disease. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and the community that was fostered through the course by Dr. Adams. In addition to being a lecturer of Digesting the Modern Diet and Cell Biology at Boston University, Dr. Adams created a website entitled, Contented Belly: Where Stomaches and Tastebuds Reunite, which serves as a resource for those combatting digestive issues and those aiming to lead healthful lives. Dr. Adams’ website features recipes, shopping lists, book, video, and documentary recommendations, and finally articles that educate her blogging community about digestive issues, nutritious consumption, and the effects of the processed food industry on diet. Please use the following link to access and follow Contented Belly and its informative content. Thank you so much, Dr. Adams, for sharing your time and your insights…I am grateful to have you guest blog for “Project Lunchbox: Let’s Eat!”

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


“Factoring Digestive Issues in Your Child’s Health and Development”

Written By: Alexandra Z. Adams, Ph.D.

Unfortunately, as we have seen with adults, children are increasingly developing digestive disorders. This can be seen with the rise of food allergies, specifically peanut allergies as well as lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disorder (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), gastroesophageal reflux, celiac disease, food intolerances, pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, and more. Babies and children can suffer from digestive issues ranging from a mild bout of diarrhea to a severe case of celiac disease but they might not have the ability or words to describe how they are feeling. This can be scary and frustrating for a parent. If you find that your child complains about stomach pain often and you were able to eliminate hunger, too much of salt, sugar, and fat, and all is good on the school front, then there might something more serious going on. Even if they cannot describe their pain, there are signs that you can watch out for and if some of these are increasingly occurring, you should contact their pediatrician.

  • Behavioral signs: Is your child less active or less interested in playing than is typical for him or her? Is your child waking up in the middle of the night (not from nightmares), losing weight, or not eating?
  • Physical signs: Do they have blood in their stool at times when they are not sick with a stomach bug? Are they nauseous, bloated, gassy, have chronic diarrhea or constipation, and/or do they vomit?

Doctors have found that what and how we are eating may contribute to the increase in the digestive disorders that we are suffering from. So the best defense may be a good offense when it comes to diet and either preventing or alleviating some digestive problems. Below are tips on how to improve your child’s digestion.

  • Don’t supersize. We tend to eat with our eyes and not our stomachs so the same way that it is recommended that we pack half of our restaurant meal in a container before we start eating, we should control the portion size of children’s meals. Too much food affects how well our bodies can digest our food.
  • Avoid processed foods. The chemicals and preservatives in processed foods can be problematic for our digestive system. Additionally, many or most of them do not contain the nutrition needed for children to grow and develop.
  • Don’t drink during meals. Drinking can dilute the digestive acids and slow down digestion. So children should drink either before (15 minutes) or after (30-45 minutes) meals.
  • But do drink water. Staying hydrated is important for our bodies and our digestive systems. Drinking water versus sugary sodas and juices will cut down on calories, cavities, and not stress the digestive system with extra sugar.
  • Limit meat and dairy. These foods can be more difficult for our bodies to digest so focus more on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and give them beef and cheese only once in awhile.
  • Increase the fiber. Fiber is a great way to exercise your digestive system and keep things moving at a good speed. This can prevent diarrhea and constipation. Another reason to sneak in those vegetables and fruits in their diets.
  • Be mindful. Or at least have them turn off the Pokémon GO and TV and be present while they eat their meal. Electronic distractions can be a stressor that activates the fight or flight response in us, which takes our body’s focus away from digestion. Whether you sit around the kitchen table or relax on the living room couch, eating mindfully can be good for their belly as well as their relationship with you.

Overall, even if your baby or child cannot describe exactly how they are feeling or where the pain is coming from they can still communicate what is going on. Being aware of some of the possibilities and warning signs, you can make sure you have enough information to go to your doctor and ensure they get the tests and treatment they need.


Musings from a CSA Shareholder: Butter-“nutty” Squash with Maple Syrup

As I first mentioned after my community supported agriculture post, I am writing a “Musings from a CSA Shareholder” series. This series offers recipes featuring seasonal crops found in the garden, at the farmer’s market, and/or included in CSA shares during the summer months. Previous posts featured recipes for zucchini chipsraspberry lemonadeescarole saladroasted potatoes and leeks and savory watermelon salad.

Today’s recipe features butternut squash. Butternut squash, a harbinger of autumn, serves as the perfect ingredient to spotlight as my “Musings from a CSA Shareholder” series concludes. Enjoy this recipe for butter-“nutty”  squash with maple syrup as the summer comes to a close, and the foliage welcomes us to the new season of fall!

Butter-“nutty” Squash with Maple Syrup


1 large butternut squash (peeled, deseeded, and cubed)

1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup

1 tbsp. salted butter

One handful of roasted, unsalted pecans (chopped)

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


Add cubed butternut squash to a medium-sized boiling pan.

Next, cover the cubed butternut squash with water.

Bring to boil until tender. Drain. Add maple syrup, butter, Kosher salt, and black pepper.

Mash to desired consistency.

Transfer to serving dish. Finish by sprinkling roasted, unsalted, pecans on top. Enjoy!

Wondering what to do with the butternut squash seeds? Roast the seeds, and enjoy their crunchy texture on top of the butter-“nutty”  squash with maple syrup, or simply grab a handful for a snack!

What are your favorite recipes featuring butternut squash?

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