I received a link to this article in my twitter feed today from @yonifreedhoff. It’s about a child being sent to school with a Smarties sandwich for lunch prompting a free school nutrition program. I think lunch programs are great and whatever it takes to initiate one is fine by me. I just think it’s a little sad, and absurd, that a Smarties sandwich was the impetus. For decades now children have been sent to school with utter crap for lunches. Now, I was one of the lucky ones who got to go home for lunch every day, up until high school, and have a balanced lunch courtesy of my mum waiting for me on the table. Other kids were not so lucky (although at the time I was pretty envious). Lunchables? Very little in the way of nutrient content there apart from calories and sodium. How about sandwiches made with cheesewhiz? Or grape jelly? Or “Fluff”? Or… NUTELLA? How many kids did you know growing-up that had “chocolate” sandwiches at lunch? I bet, if you weren’t one of them, that you at least knew one. And really, what’s the difference between a sandwich made with Nutella and a sandwich made with Smarties? I’d say candy coating is pretty much the sole distinguishing feature. We need to be taking a closer look at the marketing of foods and what’s really in them. Just because Smarties are marketed as a candy treat and Nutella is marketed as “part of a balanced breakfast” doesn’t mean that they’re all that different.
I often hear people comment on their disdain for water as a beverage. Personally, it’s my go-to beverage, but even I get a little bored of it at times. If you want to liven it up just infuse it with another flavour. Try adding slices of citrus fruit like lemon, lime, or orange. Pop in a sprig of mint or sliced cucumber. Use your imagination. You can add pretty much any fruit you’d like for a flavour burst without any artificial flavours or dyes, very little sugar or calories. Delicious hydration.
I’ve had some success in substituting coconut oil and apple sauce for butter when baking. Coconut oil has been shown to increase LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) less than butter does. Many people will extol the health benefits of consuming coconut oil. However, to date, there has been very little scientific research to back the various health claims. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, coconut oil can still have a place in a healthy diet and can be especially useful when baking vegan recipes. I based the following recipe on the Scottish Oatcake recipe available from epicurious. Feel free to make your own modifications.
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed slightly
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
~1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place oats in large bowl. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into same bowl. Using fingertips, rub in coconut oil until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add applesauce and water; stir until dough forms. Transfer dough to floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. Arrange on prepared sheets, spacing apart. Gather scraps, re-roll and cut out additional rounds.
Bake oatcakes until edges are pale golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool 5 minutes. Transfer oatcakes to racks; cool completely. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)
CHNET-Works! has been a great source of free weekly webinars (they call them fireside chats) on a variety of health topics for a while now (at least as long as I’ve been working in Ontario). They recently started a blog Health As If Everyone Counted featuring posts about a range of population health issues.