Amazon Go, a convenience store that lets you go, go, go…

Are you tired of the hassle of grocery store checkout counters? If a seemingly endless line approaching the supermarket cashier, coupled with the process of unloading the entirety of your basket or cart onto the conveyor belt makes you feel harried, fret no more! Amazon has the solution to your woes.

Enter Seattle’s Amazon Go, a convenience store that first opened its doors to the public this Monday. What differentiates Amazon Go from other shopping locations within the convenience store industry? There are no checkout counters. Imagine that!

From ceiling cameras to sensors, the sophisticated array of technology Amazon Go boasts, entitled Just Walk Out, facilitates a consumer experience that is speedy, to say the least. Unlike other convenience stores, Amazon Go is accessible only to consumers who are equipped with certain technology. For example, consumers are eligible to enter this Seattle convenience store after registering a payment method within the Amazon Go mobile app. This same app is used to gain access inside the convenience store after arriving at its brick-and-mortar location.

From milk to salads to tea, consumers choose items from a variety of inventory featuring a selection of grocery items and prepared foods, among others. While cashiers are not present inside the convenience store due to its lack of checkout counters, Amazon Go is still equipped with employees, such as stockers.

Where’s your head at when it comes to the intersection of retail and technology that makes a convenience store like Amazon Go possible? How do you think this convenience store model will affect retail workers now and in the future?

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

Katie

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Brussel sprouts chips

Chips prepared from vegetables (other than potatoes?) Count me in!

If you’re a new subscriber to this blogging community, then you should know that ‘Let’s Eat Lunch!’ absolutely adores vegetable chips. And if you haven’t had the chance, please be sure to check out my recipes for eggplant chips and zucchini chips.

This week I bring you brussel sprouts chips. If this cruciferous vegetable is not your cup of tea when eaten raw or sautéed, I urge you to try this recipe. These baked chips feature a crispy crunch sure to satisfy you at every snack!

To prepare brussel sprouts chips, simply remove the layers of brussel sprouts and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. As a side note, instead of discarding the portion of the brussel sprout that remains once the pieces become too tiny to use for chips, chop the leftovers up to toss in a salad with spinach or spring mix.

Next, drizzle the brussel sprouts with about a tablespoon of your preferred neutral-tasting oil (i.e. olive oil, sunflower oil), dust with salt, and add your preferred seasonings (i.e. black pepper, chili powder, curry powder, garlic powder, or smoked paprika). Bake in a 375 degree oven until brussel sprouts become crisp, or about nine to 11 minutes.

Do you enjoy vegetable chips?

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

Katie

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Any ‘Rotten’ fans?

Happy New Year…I hope you’ve ushered in 2018 with family, festivities, friends, and of course, nutritious foods!

Speaking of 2018, what are your food resolutions for the upcoming year?

If you haven’t yet set a food resolution, be sure to check out my first blog post of 2017, featuring 17 food intentions, for inspiration.

If your goal in 2018 is to further educate yourself about where food comes from and how it’s made, have you checked out the first season of Netflix’s, Rotten?

From the trailer I’ve watched to the reviews I’ve read to what I’ve watched of the series thus far, this docuseries seems promising to me! For the food documentary fans, happy viewing!

Wherever you find yourself on the food documentary fan scale, I’d encourage you to give the series a try…I think you’ll find it offers a captivating reveal of how many of America’s favorites…from chicken to honey to milk…are made.

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

Katie

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Community Servings’ message of healing

“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

-Thomas Edison

Don’t you think this quote is refreshingly perceptive and pithy? I think that the underlying message Edison relays is a correlation between diet and disease. Nutrient-dense foods have the potential to combat, or even cure, certain ailments.

Speaking of the impact of a nutritious diet, I was grateful for a recent opportunity I had to serve at Community Servings, a not-for-profit that designs and disseminates hundreds of thousands of nutrient-dense meals to patients combatting disease.

As I entered the facility, one of the first things that stood out to me was how its entrance was adorned with the phrase FOOD HEALS. Beneath those words I saw an image of a kitchen pot with a heart at its center. What a compelling message of the power of nutrient-dense food to enhance one’s health and spirits!

Have you ever heard of or volunteered at Community Servings? What are some of your favorite mission-driven organizations committed to ensuring nutrient-dense foods are accessible to all?

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

Katie

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Community gardens. School gardens. What about hospital farms?

I came across a USA Today article last week reporting a shift in the American healthcare landscape as the number of hospitals introducing gardens and instituting farms on their premises grows. For example, the Boston Medical Center’s rooftop garden, implemented in the spring of 2017, features an array of crops, including but not limited to kale and rainbow chard. From promoting a patient’s consumption of nutrient-dense foods to minimizing carbon dioxide emissions during food transport, these hospital farms and gardens serve simultaneous community, environmental, and wellness functions.

I commend the growing practice of planting and sowing hospital farms and gardens, which is why I wanted to shine a light on it this week. The act of integrating local agriculture with healthcare delivery is another powerful way hospitals put their missions in action, as the tangible expression of health and nutrition that these bounties and crops embody will not only engage, but also empower.

Do you know of any hospitals in your area that have planted gardens? What do you think of the idea of hospital farms?

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

Katie

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Happy Halloween!

If your Halloween preparations are well underway, then I’m sure you’ve purchased candy corn. It seems like the thirty-first of October isn’t complete without this sweet treat.

Have you ever wondered what candy corn is made of? Read this article…if you dare!

Happy Halloween to you and your family!

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

Katie

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How To ‘Whole Grain’ Your Culinary World

One of my favorite places to grab lunch on campus is the food court’s salad bar. The eatery features dozens of ingredients that you can mix-and-match to create a customizable salad. This semester, one of the ingredient choices is red quinoa, and each time I frequent the salad bar I’m reminded of what a super smart idea this is!

While many think nothing of adding croutons to salad, I’d say it’s less common to add a scoop of whole grains atop a salad–whether it’s red quinoa or even bulgar and buckwheat. I’ve written many a blog posts about the superior nutritional content of whole grains versus white, refined carbohydrates, and this week I wanted to share some lesser-known tips and tricks to make your culinary world even more whole grain.

Did you know that if you have oats in your cupboard or pantry, you also have the makings of oat flour (with the nifty help of a blender of course!) Simply grind a few cups of whole oats in your blender until they reach a flour-like consistency. Next, add your DIY oat flour to pancake, scone, or waffle batters. This option is fantastic, particularly if you’re not a fan of oatmeal’s consistency or texture, and it will also ensure that your baked goods receive a boost in nutrients.

If you don’t have the time to make DIY whole-grain flours like oat flour, then make it a point to purchase whole wheat flour rather than white flour at the grocery store. If you’re having trouble adjusting to its different taste, opt to use whole-wheat flour for half of a recipe’s needed amount of flour. As your taste buds grow to tolerate the whole-wheat flour, you can increase the amount of it that you use, and eventually transfer your recipes completely to whole-grain flour. 

This same process of gradually transferring from white flour to whole-wheat flour can be applied to rice. Start purchasing brown rice at the grocery store, and substitute it for half of the white rice that a recipe calls for. I personally think that it’s easier to adjust to the taste of brown rice than it is to adjust to the taste of whole-wheat flour, because often times rice recipes include aromatic spices or herbs (i.e. ginger in vegetable fried rice) that completely masks the taste of the rice itself.

What’s your favorite source of whole grains? What’s your go-to tip for incorporating more whole grains in your diet?

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

Katie

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Frito-Lay’s Simply Organic Doritos. Yes, You Read That Sentence Correctly.

Have you seen the newest grocery-store arrival to Frito-Lay’s lineup of snacks?

Simply Organic Doritos. I must admit, those are three words that I didn’t think I’d ever use in the same sentence!

Fooducate, one of my favorite food literacy and nutrition apps, published an analysis comparing the ingredients in Doritos Supreme Cheddar to the ingredients in the newest organic version, Doritos Simply Organic White Cheddar. Although the organic version is produced without artificial additives such as Red 40 that are found in its counterpart, Fooducate noted that this organic certification hardly makes the new snack a nutrient-dense option.

I’m reminded of Michael Pollan’s summation of the changing landscape of organic food products featured in his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: 

“Organic Oreos are not a health food. When Coca-Cola begins selling organic Coke, as it surely will, the company will have struck a blow for the environment perhaps, but not for our health. Most consumers automatically assume that the word “organic” is synonymous with health, but it makes no difference to your insulin metabolism if the high-fructose corn syrup in your soda is organic.”

Applying Pollan’s reasoning to Simply Organic Doritos elucidates the fact that this organic certification does not substantially change the nutrients (or lack thereof) in this food product.

What is the rationale, then, behind Frito-Lay’s decision to introduce this product to supermarkets?

The word organic holds a positive connotation within American food culture. And, as this same food culture who glorifies smoothies simultaneously vilifies Frito-Lay’s products on the grounds of environmentalism, ethics, and nutrition, it certainly behooves the company to attempt to win-over certain publics through this organic certification. If nothing else, the move is strategic.

How does Frito-Lay’s decision to produce Simply Organic Doritos change your perception of its brand? What factors do you think drove this business decision?

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

Katie

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Food literacy is at an all-time low. Here’s what you can do about it…

I recently came across an astounding article in The Washington Post, entitled “The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.” Author Caitlin Dewey uses surveys and studies to make the case that the American public’s food literacy is at an all-time low. From elementary-school aged children to adults, the U.S. citizenry is unaware of the agricultural and commercial processes that occur as sustenance is transported from fields to factories to food marts.

“Project Lunchbox: Let’s Eat!” aims to debunk food myths, inspire informed food choices, and instill in families the belief that they are capable of igniting change within the global food system: through their united voices and their collective wallets.

To that end, here are five action steps to implement in your household to ensure that your family is food literate:

  1. Take your kids with you to the grocery store. As you’re placing items into the cart, explain to your children that although food is purchased at the grocery store, it doesn’t come from grocery store.
  2. Plan a family visit to a local farm…’tis the season for apple and pumpkin picking! I’ve discovered that many farms offering CSA shares also provide free agriculture and food programming for kids.
  3. Bring the farm to table concept to life by planting a family garden. Yes, even in the season of autumn, there are steps you can take to ensure a bountiful harvest next spring. Did you know that planting garlic during the autumn months ensures a plentiful growing season the following summer? Food for thought…
  4. Cook with your child. As you prepare a recipe, explain to your child the difference between a whole food and a processed food. Then ask your child to tell you whether each ingredient is either a whole food or a processed food. 
  5. If your child is old enough, read books about the food industry together. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition provides an age-appropriate overview of the global food system, and the differences between how whole foods and processed foods come to be.

Do you agree that food literacy is at an all-time low in America? What steps have you taken to ensure that your family is food literate?

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

Katie

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Reading Recommendation: Real Food Fake Food by Larry Olmsted

Has anybody read Larry Olmsted’s Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It?

I recently picked it up, and I’m impressed by Olmsted’s knack for breaking down the American food industry’s fraudulent practices in bite-size chunks. 😉 His comprehensive analysis of how some grocery vendors and restaurateurs misguide consumers by mislabeling food products will compel you to act.

One of my favorite parts about the book is that Olmsted’s writing style is empowering. This is not a book that will make you throw you head in your hands, lament the way things are, and feel as though the problems are too big and too complex for you to make a difference. Instead, Olmsted shows you how you can take matters back into your own hands and become a savvy sleuth skilled at detecting real food versus fake food.

From Kobe beef to Parmesan cheese to sushi, Olmsted cleverly devotes each chapter to a food product that’s sold in America as something that it’s not. He sifts through the historical information, food politics, and statistics to provide you with the relevant research you need to determine what fake food is and how to avoid it.

What books about the food industry are on your must-read list?

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

Katie

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