Categories: Kristin's Earlier Blogs, About Kristin
A couple of weeks ago, I received a newsletter from the Food and Nutrition Services Division of the school district where my children attend school. A good portion of the newsletter was devoted to promoting healthy nutrition: educating about childhood obesity, healthy initiatives that support healthy eating habits, and listing recent district-wide nutrition improvements such as taking sugared cereals off the breakfast menus, protein choice on the breakfast menu daily (gee, isn’t that a no-brainer?), introducing baked snack chips versus fried, fresh vegetables and tossed salad offered daily at all schools, fresh fruit, etc.
So far, so good.
Until I came to the student preference survey. Each year, the Food and Nutrition Services Division does an annual survey to find out what their “customers” ie: students, are enjoying. The results are used in monthly menu planning(!)for the district. Here are the results of the survey for 2003. And I am not making this up.
Elementary “Top Ten” Choices
Donut/Long John, Cinnamon Roll, Pancake & Sausage, Bagel & Cream Cheese, Breakfast Burrito, Breakfast Pizza, Cereal & Toast, Biscuits & Gravy, French Toast & Ham, Scrambled Eggs with Ham & Cheese
Burrito, Chili Fritos, Corn Dog, Hot Dog, Nachos & Cheese, Hamburger/ Cheeseburger, Chicken Nuggets, BBQ Rib Sandwich, Soft Taco
Middle School “Top Ten” Choices
Donut/Long John, Cinnamon Roll, Egg O Bagel w/ Sausage & Cheese, Bagel & Cream Cheese, Egg O Muffin w/ Ham & Cheese, Egg O Bagel w/ Ham and Cheese, Cereal & Toast, Pancake & Sausage, Biscuit & Gravy, Breakfast Pizza
Pizza, Chicken Nuggets, Baked Chicken, Burrito, Chili Fritos, Corn Dog, Nachos, Hamburger/ Cheeseburger, Chicken Fried Steak w/ gravy, Chicken Patty Sandwich
I about dropped my drawers. Serving donuts, long johns and cinnamon rolls as a healthy choice for breakfast?? And please don’t tell me that “chili fritos” are Fritos corn chips with chili sauce on top. Can you believe it? In fact most of the food preferences are in fast food heaven. Might as well turn the school cafeteria into a Mc Donald’s. It practically is anyway.
The clincher for me was this statement in the newsletter that followed the survey results: “The data above represents a slight shift from previous year’s survey’s where healthier selections were voted more favorably in November 2003. This is AWESOME news, as together we’re making small steps in the right direction!!!”
THOSE preferences were healthier? What were the choices in previous years - sugar cubes dipped in lard? I know I’m ranting here but did anyone notice that not one of their “nutrition improvements” were listed in the top ten? Remember, the menu choices are selected based on preferences.
I’ll never understand school nutrition standards. Perhaps the fast food chains are in cahoots with the school dietitians... OK, lets not go there....
On a much brighter note... I asked my 5th grader how many students in his class ate the school provided lunch and he replied, “ About half... but I don’t want to!” Intrigued, I asked him why and he said, “Because that stuff is gross!”
Yippee Ki Yea!! He’s getting it.
And then, a few days later, on his own initiative, he asked me to help him create a couple of highly beneficial breakfast and lunch options that he can prepare for himself. Boy of my dreams. So we sat down together and looked at all the beneficial foods for his blood type (A) and looked at the menu options in both Cook Right and Eat Right. He has his breakfast choices on a menu card and is working on lunch options.
I might never be able to change the face of school nutrition, but I can teach my own what I know to be true. And maybe some of it will rub off where it is most needed...like in the school cafeteria.
The past few days were spent in a blur of meetings. I easily lose my equilibrium when I am running from meeting to meeting, becoming over stressed and off balance. Although my food choices were OK, eating hurriedly on the run is as stressful on my well-being as eating too many avoids. My breathing also becomes off kilter, with way too much “fight or flight” chest breathing and not enough deep, healthy belly breathing, thus creating a state of constant mild hyperventilation.
It got to the point if one more person asked me to do something for them, I thought I’d explode! So I took that as a sign to slow down and recoup. I skipped my morning meeting today - heavenly! and went for a walk instead. Then I came home and took a short nap and rested for awhile. I felt oh so much better! I have just one more rather long but important meeting tomorrow and then nothing next week except a hoity-toity art reception in the middle of the week.
Yes, I am breathing better already.
This past weekend I spent a lovely evening with a group of women friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in years. We were in a women’s group together, and many have since moved away. It was wonderful to hear their journeys through life since we had last gathered, many sorrows and joys and sharing in womanspirit.
Of course, when women gather there is always food. Fortunately, there were many raw veggies to munch on. I did indulge in a couple of the several desserts available - always in abundance at women’s gatherings - and felt good about it. I didn’t enjoy the desserts very much, however. I guess I prefer my own compliant cooking after all.
Waking up this morning feeling like a glutton for punishment, I decide to once again tackle the start of Barr Trail, one of the steepest sections of this famous trail. I left the house well before nine o’clock, thinking that would be in plenty of time to beat the crowds. After all, who wants to hike in the hot sun on a Friday morning at the beginning of a holiday weekend?
Apparently, everyone on the planet.
I had to park far from the parking lot and it was quite a hike just to get to the trailhead.
As I begin the climb, I notice that my legs feel like lead. I couldn’t understand how they could feel so heavy. My mind wandered to reviewing food choices and yes, there it was; I had been at a potluck the night before and although I had a bowl of soup before the potluck, I did have a little bit of bread and spinach dip along with my fruit and cheese. Also, we are experiencing a hay fever season like never before, and I am feeling the stress of all that ragweed pollen in the air. When my allergies are acting up, I do have stronger reactions to even small amounts of avoids. So let the heaviness in my legs serve as a reminder to up my level of compliance through allergy season.
I decide to make a concerted effort not to let my heart rate reach above 160 beats/minute. On the steepest sections of the trail I feel as if I am climbing at a snail’s pace. It was very difficult to not push myself beyond that limit. As I got further up the mountain, I began to feel flutters of panic and when I turn to head back down, I feel moments of definite, utter panic. I realize this trail is not only a physical challenge but an even greater mental challenge.
My nemesis. A beast to be slain.
When I was younger, I thought mountain climbing was for women who could not, or chose not to, experience natural childbirth. I don’t know what it is for men but that’s what I believed it was for women. My first child was born via c-section, my second was an HBAC (homebirth after cesarean). The homebirth was certainly harder on all levels but a much more transformative and complete experience than the hospital birth. And it took me to unknown depths of myself in countless ways. I highly recommend it.
As I was coming down the steepest sections of the trail, I relied on one of the more obvious lessons learned in labor: the only way out is through, one breath at a time. I tend to hold my breath when panicky and I forced myself to breathe through it. I did make it down the trail, shaky legs and all, and once at the bottom, wondered what all the fuss was about. I still don’t know for sure except that this trail, this beast of a trail, is challenging me on many different levels.
Just like homebirth.
Maybe its the recent chill in the evening air, or the distinct yellowness in the leaves, but the other day I found myself thinking about...Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving always makes me think about one of my favorite deserts, pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin...that beautiful rounded and oh so orange vegetable that heralds everything Autumn. And Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Pie - the two just go together, don’t they? I think it must be hard-wired in to the American psyche.
When I first started the BTD several years ago, I just ignored avoiding some of the avoids for me, like pumpkin and cinnamon, which I didn’t use frequently or in large amounts. But now, getting shall we say, a bit long in the tooth and feeling the stirrings of my menopausal journey beginning, my dance with compliance (and it is quite the pas de deux for me) is taking a new turn.
Since pumpkin is beneficial or neutral for everyone EXCEPT Type B secretors, which I think is highly unfair, by the way, I realized the time had come to make some substitutions in the time-honored tradition of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I have a recipe from “Laurel’s Kitchen Caring” that substitutes winter squash for the pumpkin and since I’m at it, I decide to throw the baby out with the bath water and make the pie sans cinnamon. Here’s what I used for ingredients:
2 cups cooked butternut squash, mashed
scant 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
freshly ground nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon
1 can evaporated milk
Mix all together (I blend by hand first, and then in blender until smooth and custardy) and pour into unbaked spelt pie crust. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes and then lower temperature to 350ºF and continue baking for another 45 minutes.
Results?? Quite splendid, if I do say so myself. The texture is a little softer than pumpkin pie so I will add another egg next time. I have noticed, and I know it’s not just my imagination, that eggs have been getting smaller, so I usually increase the egg in recipes. Also, I was a little heavy handed on the ginger; trying to mask the absence of cinnamon, I think, but still sweetly aromatic without the cinnamon. Not the same as pumpkin pie but certainly an acceptable replacement.
My role as mother/cook is calling as I have another favorite simmering on the stove, Turkey Rice Soup, that I am making from some fab turkey thighs that were available at the local natural food store. I’ll post that recipe sometime if anyone is interested...
Out of all the suggestions for a healthy, exuberant lifestyle based on BTD principles, the one that has brought the most satisfaction, well being, and balance! to my life has been following the exercise recommendations for my blood type. And although I do strength-training and yoga weekly, my passion, as many of you know who read my blogs, is for hiking.
I feel very blessed to live in a region where there are a plethora of amazing hiking trails accessible to the public for free. All trails are rated based primarily on elevation gain and steepness of grade: easy, moderate, and difficult, and even sections of trails are given a rating so you can choose the intensity of your hike. Hiking can be enjoyed alone or with others, clearly half of the hikers I see are solitary and anyone can hike, children through octogenarians. Don’t let the trend toward fancy, expensive hiking gear stop you, just a pair of sneakers and a water bottle will do. So if you relish time spent out-of-doors, find a nature preserve near you and enjoy the Great Outdoors.
This summer I spent quite a lot of time hiking with my sons. Although I enjoy the time I spend hiking with my women friends, there are many unique experiences to hiking with boys.
They have their own matchless pace on the trail, a slow walk tempered with frequent bursts of running. My youngest son (A) likes to be in front leading, unless hiking up a steep incline, then he drags behind amidst lots of complaining. The oldest (O) climbs up large rocks and then jumps off them several feet high onto the trail. Sometimes, I just can’t look and stifle a many “Be Careful!!!”. He never seems to weary.
They also like to rename things in typical boy fashion. Without them I would have missed the pleasures of Horse Poop Trail and Toilet Seat Rock (Gee, I guess it really does look like a toilet seat!).
I also did much more rock scrambling with them in tow than I would otherwise; great strengthening workout for all muscle groups and joint stabilizers.
They tolerate, and dare I say enjoy, Mom’s frequent exclamations to pause and notice the natural world: “Just look at the beautiful hue of blue in that flower”, or “ did you ever see such grace in the form of a rock?” I think they do.
On our last hike together before the start of the school year, the boys expressed a desire to continue hiking on the weekends - on both days even! I have made a conscious effort to share with them my love of the natural world, how are very humanity is dependent on its survival, and by protecting the soul of the land we are indeed saving ourselves.
If this is all they ever learn from me, it is enough.