Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fury, Frustration, Failure and School Lunches

While it may not have been the most horrifying thing for a parent to experience, yesterday’s family food drama was this food mommy’s worst nightmare.

I get a note from my child’s school that her meal account balance is negative, and I wonder “what the heck? I just put $50 in about a month ago.” The good thing about the new internet-based system is that I can check what my child has been purchasing. The bad thing is that I discovered where all the money went: cookies and extra entrĂ©es. I was livid. I had really been perplexed as to why the healthier choices I had been giving my child, along with regular doses of exercise, had not produced any results. Guess I can’t blame Nana on this one.

The fury came first, and it was directed at the school: Why didn’t the cashier think it was inappropriate for an 8-year-old little girl to be buying so much food. I know they want to sell the cookies, but extra pieces of pizza, corn dogs, and hamburgers? (I know, you may be wondering, “what happened to taking lunch to school every day?” I’ll get to that later.) I can’t believe they even offer that. I don’t remember being able to buy extras when I was in school, even in high school. We were given a dollar every day, and what they provided for that dollar was all we got. I never thought that there was not enough food.

So, now I have a problem with the meal account system. Our society as a whole definitely has a problem with self-control – with food and spending – and this system obviously doesn’t do us a bit of good to control either. Fortunately, I was able to have a conversation with the cafeteria manager and they put a note in the system that my daughter is not allowed to purchase anything other than the $2 meal. However, they won’t be getting more money from me for a long time.

Next came the frustration: Why can’t I make my child understand how much food is necessary to sustain us, and that too much food is a bad thing? We have this conversation over and over, and I hate that I have to talk about food and health so much to my child. I just want her to make good choices so she does not have to worry about her health her entire life. It is not fun! I regularly allow my kids treats, but under the assumption that they are making good choices most of the time. This has obviously not been the case.

Finally comes the feeling of failure: I have failed my child because I let a busy life get in the way of better habits. For the first couple months of school, I was making her lunch every day (except one – check out “The Great Chocolate Milk Compromise”). Then she was accepted into the school choir which meant getting to school earlier a couple days of the week. So one day, became two, and then three. And finally she was lucky to get one lunch from home a week. I didn’t feel bad at the time because they changed the menu, and it looked pretty decent. I just had no idea that they let the kids buy as much as they want. I also stopped asking her what she was eating at school, and just assumed everything was peachy. I had a few hours of self-loathing, but finally came to realization that we just need to start anew.

Miss E now has no choice but to take her lunch to school every day. She also has to do extra chores to work off all the extra money spent on her school food extras, and no spending any nights away from home for a while. I might also be doing some hardcore research on the number of calories a young person should be getting, and show her what that looks like in terms of volume. The sheriff just got a little bit meaner.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cooking with Cabbage - Part 2

Pop's Cabbage Burger Soup

It's finally here! This is absolutely my most favorite soup in the world. The recipe belongs to my grandfather, who is my family's head culinary creator. He was an Army mess sargent during the Korean War, and learned a wealth of knowledge he has lovingly shared with us. I am sure much of my love for this soup is emotionally-based, but I really do think it tastes great and is super simple. I made it this past weekend, and am still enjoying the left overs.

Brown 1 lb. ground beef
Add 1 cup chopped onions during the browning
If you are using high-fat burger, be sure to drain most of it off.

Chop cabbage finely. I use half of a large head of cabbage.

Add a 15 oz can of tomoto sauce, a 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, and the cabbage to the ground beef. Also add two cans of water. Season with celery salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder.

Enjoy with your favorite corn bread and large glass of milk!

If you try this, please let me know how you like it. You are also welcome to share your mofications.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cooking with Cabbage - Part 1

There are so many vegetables that I did not learn to enjoy until I was near adulthood, so I am trying to encourage my children to start early. Cabbage is one of those vegetables. Cole slaw I could handle, but the only other way it was usually presented to me was sauerkraut, and I can say that I am still not a fan.

My mom showed me the following recipe many, many years ago, and then I finally became a fan of cooked cabbage. This is a favorite with my kiddos too! AND, cabbage is still in season in my part of the nation, so try to find a fresh one. You won't be disappointed.

One Pot Wonders: Cabbage, Potatoes and Sausage

Slice red potatoes thinly into a large, deep skillet or soup pot. I use 4 to 5 potatoes.

Add half a large onion, cut into large pieces.

Add cut cabbage - about half a large head (I'll share what to do with the other half later).

Add cut Polish sausage. While the beef/pork versions taste the best, I have become a fan of the turkey sausage to save fat and calories.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a cup of water and cover. Cook on medium heat until cabbage and potatoes are tender. Stir occassionally.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eating Healthy has Paid Off

Apparently, today is “Start Eating Healthy Day.” I am not certain, but I think the initiative was started by the American Health Association since they are referenced in several news articles. On their web site, they have a link to a “Healthy Holiday Eating Guide” serving as a reminder to not overdo it the next few months. I am proud to say that this day will serve as my reminder to continue eating healthy (it’s also my mama’s birthday.)

Last summer I finally quit making excuses for having too much post pregnancy/too much stress weight and started to do something about it. I began exercising daily and made sure to make healthier food choices. To me, this means eating more vegetables, whole foods, and less sugar. I’ve always been pretty good about eating fruits, nuts and whole grains in my diet, but I also amplified those efforts as well. My meat intake has probably decreased a bit, but only because I have increased egg consumption. Dairy remains the same; I consume a lot of milk, cheese and yogurt. And since I do all of the cooking at my house, my family has benefited from my new habits as well.

The word “diet” is currently not in my vocabulary. I know that if I dramatically cut calories or refrain from having my favorite foods, I won’t be able to sustain my weight loss. So, I still eat my favorites on occasion. I also make sure that if I want to splurge on a treat, it has to be the good stuff – none of that low fat, low sugar stuff.

So what are the results? In about 14 months I have dropped 35 pounds and am back to what I consider my average adult weight (the weight I was back in high school, most of college, and pre and post 1st baby.) Yes, I’ll tell you… I now weigh 170 pounds and am 5’7”. My waist is currently 31 inches, down from a high of 37. I would still like to lose at least 10-15 more pounds to put myself within the healthy BMI range and other average recommendations for someone my height and build. But I refuse to set a time goal to reach this weight. I am just going to see where my new habits take me.

I am also proud to report the numbers from my last physical:

Blood pressure – 112/65

Triglycerides – 82 (should be below 150)

Cholesterol – 190 (healthy range is 125-200)

HDL-Cholesterol – 49 (should be greater than 46)

LDL-Cholesterol – 125 (should be less than 130)

Cholesterol to HDL ratio – 3.9 (should be less than 5.0)

Glucose – 85 (should be between 65 and 99)

I had these same tests done this time last year. While I don’t have the exact numbers, I do know that they are better this time. Therefore, I am concluding that the dietary changes I have made are healthier. The only thing I may change is to eat a little less… or exercise more (which may be the harder thing to do with my schedule).

Today, I did not have to “start” eating healthy. I am and will continue to do so.
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