We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year! Let’s work together to make 2018 the best year yet!
Nature is so important for kids. Here is an article with some great tips for getting kids outdoors and learning about our natural environment.
With education, comes appreciation and respect!
Still have baskets of zucchini? You’ll love this Zucchini Pizza recipe. It’s a kid favorite!
For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the ground turkey.
• 4 cups zucchini, grated
• 2 cups brown rice, cooked
• 1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, or mozzarella, grated
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 pound ground turkey
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
• 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, washed and chopped
• 3 tablespoons fresh basil, washed and chopped
• 2 cups cheddar cheese or other cheese, grated
Combine the grated zucchini, brown rice, jack cheese and the eggs. Press into a greased 15X11X1″ jelly roll pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
In medium skillet, brown ground turkey with onion and herbs. Set aside.
Pour marinara over crust, sprinkle with turkey mixture and top with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Summer’s bountiful zucchini is high in manganese, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A and dietary fiber.
Bone Health for Kids:
When I traveled the country interviewing kids, I was often asked to teach a class after I was finished the interviews. I was more than happy to of course! I chose bone health as the topic as it is a good segue into the dangers of soda and I found that kids correlated good health with strong bones. The below is really more of a checklist than an article.
Here are some basic facts about bone health for kids. Use this checklist when teaching groups of kids or your own children. Involve them by asking the questions and waiting for the answers. It’s really fun!
How many bones in an adult human body?
206. There are more in a kid’s body, as some bones haven’t fused together. More than half of our bones are in the hands and feet!
Does a human or a giraffe have more bones in their neck?
They’re the same!
Peak ages for bone density and growth is 9-12 years of age. By age 17, 90% of bone mass is established.
Think of bones like a bank account: You put in calcium until you reach the age of 18, then the bank is closed and you can only withdraw. This is an important visual for the kids.
Sources of calcium:
Dark, leafy greens such as collard greens and kale, spinach, chard, bok choy.
Calcium-fortified orange juice
Dairy: Yogurt, cheddar cheese, milk
How much calcium do you need a day as kids? That depends on age. The below are the upper intake level.
Infants 0-6 months 1,000 mg/day
Infants 6-12 months 1,500 mg/day
Children 1-8 years 2,500 mg/day
Children 9-18 years 3,000 mg/day
Adults 19-50 years 2,500 mg/day
What else is good for bone health?
Exercise! Weight-bearing exercise is particularly good for bones. This can be from light weight lifting or by using their own weight for weight bearing exercise; such as you do with pushups.
Osteoporosis means porous bones. Ask the kids if they know what this word means. Explain that porous bones are weak bones. Go to Google and type in Osteoporosis, and then click on images. Scary stuff.
What is not good for bone health?
Phosphoric Acid, found in sodas. It interferes with calcium absorption.
Caffeine also interferes with calcium absorption.
Kids like this next one and I am always surprised at how many kids know the meaning of the word. Ask them, do you know what ‘Euphemism’ means? Definition: The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive. Here is a real life example of a euphemism; ‘Energy’ drinks.
‘Energy drinks’ only give you short-term energy while doing a lot of damage to your good health.
Kids want strong bones and once they know the facts; they are more likely to lessen their soda and caffeine intake and increase bone-health foods.
Have fun with this and report back with your successes and comments.
Note: The above is very basic. With future posts I’ll give more detailed information and will include facts about vitamin D and bone health, and many other factors to help develop strong bones and ways to keep bones strong.
If you’re teaching a class in the winter months and perhaps it’s pouring rain, you might do what we do. Make a nice pot of soup, and while it’s simmering, have the kids stand against the wall, and see who can last the longest. We’ve had many a laugh over this one!
What is physical exercise?
Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy. Most experts agree that there are five basic components of fitness:
1) Aerobic Exercise
The definition is the ability to do moderately strenuous activity over a period of time. It reflects how well your heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen to your body during exertion and exercise.
2) Muscular Endurance
This is the ability to hold a particular position for a sustained period of time or to repeat a movement many times. This could be the capability to hold a push-up for five minutes, or to do fifty sit ups.
3) Muscular Strength
The ability to exert maximum force, such as lifting the heaviest weight you can move, one time. It is possible to have muscular strength in one area, say your arms, while lacking the strength in another area such as your legs. Please do not try to lift heavy weights without someone advising you!
This is the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion showing the elasticity of the muscle. This is how limber you are.
5) Body Composition
The proportion of fat in your body compared to your bone and muscle.
The above five are the most recognized, but there are other components as well, below.
- Speed – How fast a distance can be traveled, whether it is the whole body or just a part of the body like the hand.
- Power – Is the strength and speed combined, as in a punch, a fist has no power without speed.
- Reaction Time – Amount of time to initiate an action.
- Agility – Ability to move under control.
- Coordination – Ability to synchronize movement of different body parts.
- Static Balance – Ability to balance while not in motion.
- Dynamic Balance – Ability to balance while in motion.
- Fun! If it’s fun for you, you’re more likely to make it part of your lifeMovementWalking, running, climbing the stairs, playing soccer and dancing are all good examples of being active.Moderate physical activities include:
- Walking briskly (about 3 ½ miles per hour)
- Gardening/yard work
- Golf while walking and carrying clubs. Do kids golf?
- Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour)
- Light weight training
Vigorous physical activities include:
- Running/jogging (5 miles per hour)
- Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)
- Swimming (freestyle laps)
- Walking very fast (4 ½ miles per hour)
- Heavy yard work, (yeah, right)
- Weight lifting (vigorous effort)
- Basketball (competitive)
Some physical activities are not intense enough to help you meet the recommendations and do not count toward your total exercise. These activities can include grocery shopping and light housework, something kids don’t often do anyway!
Life on a Farm is part of DirectionThree: how our Earth’s health affects our health and vice versa.
Kids love this Life on a Farm lesson. If we teach this in the morning, we might make a veggie scramble with farm fresh eggs. If this is part of a farm tour that’s even better; purchase some goods from the farm and have a no recipe- recipe when you return to class.
Life on a Farm: Then and Now
In the 1930’s, a family farm raised several kinds of animals, selling some and butchering a few to feed their family. Other animals were a source of income and food. Cows provided milk and meat, while chickens provided eggs and meat.
Horses and mules were used to plow, plant and harvest the crops. Tractors were beginning to replace horses, but even by 1940 only 23 percent of the nation’s farmers had tractors. As more farmers traded their horses for tractors, they planted their rows of corn and other crops closer together. Instead of rows that were wide enough for a horse to walk through (42 inches), the rows were 30 inches apart. Production increased.
In 1900, almost all farms – 98 percent – had chickens, 82 percent grew corn for grain, 80 percent had at least one milk cow, and pigs. Most of the farms were diversified, growing multiple crops and raising various animals.
By 1992, only 4 percent of farms reported having chickens, 8 percent had milk cows, 10 percent had pigs and only 25 percent were growing corn.
Grasshoppers were picked by hand in the fall. Farmers used manure from farm animals, gypsum, ground animal bones and crop residue to fertilize their fields.
Today, more than 98 percent of the U.S. farmland planted in corn is chemically fertilized.
Pesticide residues from industrial agriculture enter our bodies through food, water, and air, and they raise risks for certain cancers as well as reproductive and endocrine system disorders
1 billion pounds of pesticides are used per year in the U.S.
35 percent of food is contaminated with pesticides
5 billion pounds of pesticides are used per year worldwide
Federal agricultural programs launched during the 1930s changed how and what farmers planted by paying them to plant certain crops or paying them not to produce a crop at all and allow the land to rest or lie fallow. Farmers who signed up for federal programs agreed to limit the number of acres planted with corn and wheat which depleted the soil, and increased the number of acres with legumes and grasses which helped renew the soil.
Farmers began rotating their crops on a regular basis in the 1930s, but the practice lost popularity as farms got larger and specialized equipment became more expensive and needed to be kept in use. Farmers now concentrate on growing just one crop such as corn, soybeans, or wheat.
In the 1940’s, America entered World War II. More and more farm workers left for the cities or serve in the military, and a tractor became the only way to get things done on the farm. The beginning of the war coincided with the end of the 1930s drought, but farmers remembered the dry years and irrigation systems were built.
There was greater demand for farm products; American farmers were feeding the world. The war effort produced new technologies that revolutionized agriculture and effected urban and rural life. New technology created a dramatic increase in productivity as farmers could do much more work in fewer hours.
- Post-WWII fertilizer production has increased yields, but also nitrogen and phosphorous pollution.
- High resource use (soil, water, energy, etc.)
- Environmental consequences and changes include land and water degradation, pollution by fertilizers and pesticides and soil loss.
- Artificially inexpensive fuel and water
- Agricultural subsidies (the farm bill)
- USDA has dueling roles: To promote U.S. agricultural products and to offer nutrition education.
- Threatened biodiversity
One of the continuing themes of American agriculture in the 20th century was a decline in the number of farms, farmers and rural residents coupled with an increase in farm size and specialization.
In the 1950’s to the 1970’s the number of farm declined by half before leveling off. More farms were consolidated or sold during this period than in any other period in our history. The number of people on farms dropped from over 20 million in 1950 to less than 10 million in 1970. The average size of farms went from around 205 acres in 1950 to almost 400 acres in 1969.
- · In 1900, 41 percent of workforce employed in agriculture
- · In 1930, 21.5 percent of workforce employed in agriculture;
Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 7.7 percent
- · In 1945, 16 percent of the total labor force employed in agriculture;
Agricultural GDP as a share of total GDP, 6.8 percent
- In 1970, 4 percent of employed labor force worked in agricultureSource: Compiled by Economic Research Service, USDA. Share of workforce employed in agriculture, for 1900-1970, Historical Statistics of the United States; for 2000, calculated using data from Census of Population; agricultural GDP as part of total GDP, calculated using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Land in farms peaked in 1950 at 1.2 billion acres. Today, land in farms has dropped to around 0.95 billion acres. Most of the lost farmland was converted to suburban and urban sprawl. However, land that is devoted to actually raising crops has remained relatively constant. In other words, as some farmland is taken out of production, farmers convert other land from pasture or lands once considered marginal for crops into cropland by installing irrigation systems, and applying fertilizers and pesticides.
When you choose local and organic food, the food hasn’t traveled across the country, or world for that matter, and again is more nutritious and certainly tastes better. You are also supporting your local farmers and local economy. Many farmers offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. This is a system whereby you receive food directly from the farmers that produce it. If you are a member of CSA you will either pick up or have delivered a weekly box of produce that was picked fresh that day for you right off the farm. You receive what is seasonal, taking the guesswork of what is available in your area.
Spring: focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent the fresh new growth of this season. Foods such as the tender greens Swiss chard, arugula (makes great pesto,) Romaine lettuce, spinach, fresh parsley, nettles, and the bastion of springtime, asparagus, just to name a few.
Summer: enjoy light, cooling foods, higher in water content for the warmest season. These foods include zucchini and other summer squash, corn, peppers, broccoli, eggplant and so many more.
Autumn: more warming foods are appropriate such as carrots and other root vegetables, yams, onions, and garlic. The harvest season in your area may still be in full-force, so you may still have many summer vegetables.
Winter: foods that take longer to grow are generally more warming than foods that grow quickly. Root vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, yams, onions and garlic as well as the winter squashes are good choices.
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped
1/3 cup green onions, white parts, chopped, or shallots
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
12 whole eggs
2 cups milk, dairy or non-dairy
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375º degrees. Grease a 9 X 13″ pan. Spread cheese on bottom of pan and top with vegetables.
Whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Pour over cheese and vegetables. Bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired
Béchamel Sauce with Variations
The sauce everyone should know how to make
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup warmed milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch nutmeg, freshly ground, optional
Heat the butter or oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, mixing thoroughly as you go. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.
Slowly whisk in a small amount of milk to form a smooth paste. Continue until all the milk has been whisked in and the sauce is thick. Add sea salt & nutmeg to taste.
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese to 1 cup of hot sauce; stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Season with a little mustard or Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Substitute chicken, beef, fish, or vegetable broth for the milk.
Add 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs to 1 cup of hot sauce. Cook for a minute or two longer to get more flavor from the herbs.
Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of heavy cream to the finished sauce. For an onion flavor, add an onion slice to the milk when heating; remove onion slice before adding milk to flour and butter mixture.
Combine 1 teaspoon dry mustard to flour used in sauce. This sauce is especially good with fish and chicken.
We are all biochemical individuals and therefore nutrition information as well as exercise programs and health advice should be altered to suit your particular needs. The intake percentage for fats, carbohydrates and proteins are estimates based on the “average” person of good health. Some people need slightly more protein to feel their best, some need less. An individual with, for instance, diabetes, might consume fewer carbohydrates.
Growing children might require increased protein and good fats, etc. Most food guides use a base of a 2,000-calorie a day diet though an individual’s calorie requirements depends on their stature, level of physical excursion and any health anomalies. Recommended portions are based on this caloric number. Portion sizes have increased dramatically over the past 20 years and a portion of brown rice might now be 1-2 cups, when, for most, it should be 1⁄2 cup. Do be cognizant of your portion sizes.
There are certain constants for all; antioxidants, natural body chemicals that reduce the oxidative damage caused by free-radicals, are necessary for everyone’s health. A free radical is an unstable molecule with an unpaired electron, which can cause oxidative damage to cells or tissues. Antioxidants scavenge and destroy free-radicals and are found in leafy green vegetables such as kale and chard, as well as the carotenes such as carrots, yellow squash and sweet potatoes, etc. Free-radicals are created by such health-diminishing activities as smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to toxins, to name a few. Vitamin and mineral supplements can be a useful tool to help maintain health and a good-quality multivitamin is recommended to boost anti-oxidant levels and other important nutrients.
A whole food is a foodstuff that is in its natural, unaltered state, unrefined state, i.e., brown rice, not white rice. Whole foods offer the health-supporting nutrients required for optimum health and should be a part of everyone’s diet. Avoid processed foods and consume nutrient-dense whole foods.
The glycemic index is a system, which measures the extent of which various foods raise blood sugar levels. The benchmark is white bread, which has a GI (Glycemic Index) of 100: the higher the score, the greater the extent of the rise in blood sugar. A starchy vegetable such as a potato or yam has a higher GI score than that of a non-starchy vegetable such as kale or spinach. Diets full of high-glycemic foods can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, unhealthy levels of blood fats and possibly adult-on-set diabetes.
Whole-grains, as an example, have a lower GI than their refined counterparts (again, the example of brown rice to white rice) as the fiber in the whole grain slows the absorption of sugar into the system.
Macro means large and nutrients are needed for your body’s survival. There are three macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Protein is from the Greek word, ‘proto’ meaning first or of first quality. Protein is an umbrella word for the twenty-two organic amino acids, of which thirteen are non essential to our diet, meaning our body can synthesize them. The other nine are essential amino acids meaning it is essential that we obtain them from our diet.
Proteins build and maintain our body tissues, help produce antibodies, enzymes and hormones such as insulin. Protein is the primary component of muscles, skin, nails, hair and internal organs, especially the heart. Each gram of protein releases four calories or units of heat or energy for the body. Your intake of protein should be approximately 25% of your daily caloric intake.
The average woman needs fifty to sixty grams of protein a day and the average man needs sixty to seventy grams of protein a day. These are very general, as lactating women need additional protein, as just one example. For children the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is based on body weight and included age-related adjustments. Multiply your child’s weight in pounds by the number of grams of protein needed per pound of body weight to calculate their daily protein requirements. Remember that everyone is a biochemical individual so your protein requirements might not fit into the ‘average’ category.
Ages 1 to 3 – 0.81 grams (child’s weight in pounds x 0.81 = daily grams of protein)
Ages 4 to 6 – 0.68 grams
Ages 7 to 10 – 0.55 grams
Sources of protein are fish, meat, poultry, tofu and eggs, which are complete proteins, meaning they have all the essential amino acids. You can combine various ingredients so as to have a complete protein: rice and beans, grains and legumes, and nuts or seeds with dairy.
Chicken Vegetable Soup with Noodles
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2″ thick slices
2 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth
4 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 whole bay leaf
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 large tomato, chopped
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, broccoli, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and bring the liquid to a boil.
Add the noodles and let simmer for about 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken and fresh tomatoes and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
Variations for eating seasonally:
Spring: Peas, asparagus, beet greens, carrots, celery, collard greens, chives, parsley, green garlic
Summer: Tomatoes, green beans, corn, red pepper (not too much,) summer squashes, basil
Autumn: Potatoes, corn, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, broccoli, pumpkin, shallots, turnips, parsnips
Winter: Broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, parsnips, winter squashes, turnips, yams
The importance of pan sizes:
You just made your favorite brownie recipe, which calls for a 9” X 9” pan. If you cook brownies that call for a 9” X 9” pan in a 9” X 13” pan, the batter will be thinly spread across the pan and the brownies will end up more like a cookie. You’ll be disappointed in the results. Pan size is a very important part of baking and cooking.
As an example of how to alter some-not all- recipes; if you are making a cake and it calls for a 11 X 4 1/2 X 2 ¾” pan, which by the below chart is 50 square inches, and you don’t have such a pan, then you can use the 8 X 1 ½ “ round pan as it is the same square inches. Cooking time might have to be adjusted, as a greater surface area would take less time to cook. Pans are measured across the top of the pan between the inside edges.
Square and rectangular pans
7 ¾ X 3 5/8 X 2 ¼”…….28 sq. inches
8 X 8 X 1 ½” ……64 sq. inches
9 X 5 X 2 ¾” ……45 square inches
9 X 9 X 1 ½” …..81 sq. inches
11 X 4 ½ X 2 ¾” …….50 sq. inches
11 X 7 X 1 ½” …..77 sq. inches
13 X 9 X 2” ….117 square inches
15 X 10 X 2”….150 sq. inches
15 ½ X 10 ½ X 1”……163 sq. inches
16 X 5 X 4 “ …..80 sq. inches
8 X 1 ½”…….50 sq. inches
9 X 1 ½”……..64 square inches
10 X 1 ½”…….79 square inches
Another note regarding cake pans is that the type of pan it is has an effect on the end result. A glass or enamel pan or pans of a dark color will hold more heat and make for a browner crust. If you have these pans, but do not want the darker crust, you can reduce the heat by 25 degrees, but use the same baking time. If you have shiny metal pans, your crust will be thinner and less brown.
This delicious cake is full of vegetables and we’ve found it’s a favorite. Dense, gooey and delicious!
1/2 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raw grated carrots
1 cup raw grated zucchini
1/2 cup raw grated beets
1 cup chocolate chips, optional
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13″ pan.
In a large bowl mix the oil, eggs and sugar, beating well with a hand mixer or whisk for 3-4 minutes.
Wash the vegetables well, but there is no need to peel any of them. Grate all the vegetables and set aside. Place the beets in a separate bowl so the other veggies don’t turn pink.
In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir into wet ingredients.
Add the shredded carrots, zucchini, beets, chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir until blended and pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.