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Hunger

Today, my kids and I spent two hours packing dried food packets to send to hungry children.  We were a few of many  volunteers.  Feed My Starving Children is an organization dedicated to helping hungry and starving children worldwide.  Our boxes will be sent to Haiti.

I’ve known that hunger is a problem our world faces.  We all hear of the poor starving kids in . . .  Parents of generations past used to shame their children into eating everything on the plate because, you know, there are starving children out there who would appreciate what was on their plate.  But now, here in the USA, we’re surrounded by such an over abundance of food, that true hunger and starvation seem distant.  That’s not to say there are no hungry or starving people here in our country.  There are, I’m sure.  And they face the same hunger as others, just in a different location.

So when the opportunity came up to volunteer, and in some small way affect the lives of these children, we came on board and signed up for our two hour shift.  It was amazing!  My kids and I worked alongside other children and adults to pack 179 boxes of food.  At 32 packs per box, each pack feeding a child for a day, well that’s a lot of food. And it’s specially formulated for starving children, to sustain them and help them improve nutritionally.

Did you know that about 17,000 people die each day from hunger and starvation?  It’s a staggering number.  I’ve read many blogs lately dealing with delicious food and recipes that we can try at home to enhance our diet or taste palette.  Yet while I sit here writing, or while I’m trying to decide what to make for supper from my well stocked pantry, there are children who don’t have enough to eat.  That’s sad, really sad.  While it seems like a far away problem that I can do little about, there are groups like Feed My Starving Children who get out there and do something about it.  I’m thankful they do and thankful my kids and I could be a small part of that today.  My 9-year-old said it best when he said “Mama, we helped some starving children today, didn’t we?”

If there’s a packing location near you, won’t you consider volunteering?  Two hours are all it took.  And the time flew by.  We had fun doing it together.  You can too.  Take a look at Feed My Starving Children.  You’ll be glad you did!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Family, Health, Nutrition

 

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Gifts from My Mom

Tuberose in bloom

I sit here writing as the sweet scent of tuberose fills the room.  Some in my family think it’s quite overpowering, too heavy a scent.  But I like it.  It reminds me of my mom.

You see, this tuberose was my mom’s.  She was passionate about gardening, spending more time in the summer sunshine than most people ever do.  Her green thumb was deep-rooted, and plants of all kinds flourished under her care.  But I think her real love was flowers.  That’s why the tuberose reminds me of her.  It was one of her gifts – something left of her that continues to produce heavenly scented white flowers even since her passing.  Her green thumb stretches far.

Gladiolus – Welcome

I have other flowering gifts from her that bring back memories every August.  Gladioli flowers were one of her favorites, and in her prime she grew around 3500 or more glads.  For a bulb that has to be planted each spring and dug up each fall . . . well, that’s pretty amazing for a small town gardener in my opinion.  I have fond memories of walking through her garden as a little child, finding and eating ripe gooseberries, helping her at the county fair by filling with water the bottles that would hold her glads, sorting through more purple and blue ribbons than you’d ever know what to do with, and learning how to arrange attractive bouquets. Roses, lilacs, Peruvian daffodils, peonies, and dahlias are all gifts from her garden that I now have.

Gladioilus – Atom

But I think she left much more than tangible flowers and bulbs.  Her passion passed on a love of the outdoors, of nature, of eating fresh picked vegetables from the garden, of staying active and healthy.  These are gifts too. But even these are surpassed by other heartfelt, even more intangible, gifts. Memories are one.  She also showed and gave me a reverence and love for God, love for her family, and commitment and love for her husband.  Those are the lasting, intangible gifts . . . her legacy.  And those gifts, those roots, run much deeper than even her green thumb.  They run deep to the heart.

Gladiolus – Mt. Index

Looking at those flowers now causes me to stop and reflect on my own family.  What are my gifts, what’s my legacy to my loved ones?  It’s something that I think is worthwhile to reflect upon.  I hope and pray they will have a healthy lifestyle, cherished memories of time spent together, cuddles, hugs, and kisses, a relationship with and love for Jesus, and a love for others.  That’s what I hope.  Those are the gifts I want to give.  You may not have a green thumb or a desire to stay healthy but you will leave gifts.  And I wonder . . . what will your gifts be?  What is your legacy?

Dahlia

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Faith, Family, Gardening, Health, Parenting

 

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Musings on the Question: “What’s for supper?”

“What’s for supper?” This has to be one of the most common questions uttered in homes everywhere.  At least, that’s my opinion on it.  Of course I may be biased – feeding a family of six and all.  Surely it ranks up there with “Are we there yet?” or “What time is it?” or my all-time favorite –  “Why?”  At least for my family it is.  I have no data to support my thoughts, just my experience as a mom and primary cook for my clan.

In fact, it’s a question I frequently ask myself – all too often at the same time my hungry kids make their way to the kitchen to ask the very same question or my husband calls to say he’s on his way home and was wondering “What’s for supper?”

I’ve pondered this question lately – probably as a result of listening to a reading of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. In it, he speaks of the choices we have in selecting our food, and how that’s changed over time. While I don’t agree with everything he writes, it did cause me to look at how our family answers the question: “What’s for supper?”  Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Taste and food preferences
  2. Availability
  3. Nutrition
  4. Cost
  5. Convenience

All these factors influence our food selection in one way or another.  But I think for my family taste and food preferences trumps them all.  If my family doesn’t like it and won’t eat it, it really doesn’t matter if it’s healthy, cheap, and convenient.  Are they ungrateful? No. I still try including those foods on our menu once in a while – usually as a side dish – just to see if I can expand their tastes a little.  And they usually humor me by trying it, and sometimes even liking it.

After taste come availability.  After all, if it’s not available in the store, pantry, freezer, or garden – it’s not likely to be found on our supper menu.  With today’s transportation abilities, however, that’s quickly becoming a weaker influence.

Nutrition and cost tie for the next slot. I realize others may think differently.  I’m all for eating healthy, and as a dietitian I’m always encouraging a healthy way of eating.  But there are times when a nutritionally superior food is just, well, too expensive. I love salmon, and it’s super healthy for you, but in the middle of the midwest in the middle of winter it’s just too much – at least for our budget.  So instead of the fresh salmon, we might have tuna or another type of fish that’s not so hard on the wallet, but still a healthy choice.  Suffice it to say that there is a balance.  For our family I will pay a little more for something that is healthier it if fits in our budget.  To me that is an investment in the lives of my family.  I just can’t fit in everything.

Last, but not least, is convenience.  This is not as high on my list of influencers, but it may be for others.  And truthfully, there are certain times of the year when convenience moves up the ladder a bit.  Baseball and basketball seasons come to mind – when quick meals and sandwiches seem to reign.

So that’s it. “What’s for supper?” All things considered, if it tastes good and my family likes it, it is reasonably priced, nutritionally healthy, and is available it will most likely make it to our menu at one time or another.  Convenience is icing on the top. So now, I’m curious.  What influences your food selection?  I’m sure there are other things I’ve missed or just don’t apply to our family.  How do you answer that question “What’s for supper?”

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Cooking, Family, General, Health, Nutrition

 

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But They Just Won’t Eat those Fruits and Veggies

How do I get my kids to eat fruits and vegetables?  Usually the question deals with toddlers and preschoolers.  But this question came from a friend whose child is in the “tween stage.”  And at this stage, toddler tactics don’t work.  After all, her child might just complain if she straps that child into a high chair with a five point harness.  No, at this age there is an amount of freedom with food choices that weren’t always there before.  But I believe there are still things you can do to encourage a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables for your child.  Here are a few that I suggested to my friend:

1.  Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to feeding your family.  If you believe fruits and vegetables are important, but your spouse doesn’t, your children will notice. And if they are inclined to refuse those good-for-you rainbow colored food items – well, all the more reason to not even try.  After all, if dad or mom won’t eat them, why should I?

2.  Take stock of your refrigerator.  Have a good variety of fruits and vegetables ready to eat.  Convenience goes a long way.  If the carrots are cleaned and cut, the grapes washed, and the peppers sliced, it’s one less step for your child to prepare a snack; and the odds of them choosing one of those items over an easily accessible bag of chips increases.

3.  Provide a variety of fruits and vegetable at meals, but don’t push or force them on your child.  Nagging never works, and you will never win a food battle.  Your job is to provide.  Their job is to eat.  For more on this see Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility.

4.  Don’t be sneaky.  It just adds an air of suspicion to your child’s dislike of these foods.  Certainly don’t be afraid to put these things in foods, i.e. shredded carrots in muffins, pureed vegetables in soups, etc., but be open about it and comment on how it makes the food item a little healthier – don’t hide it.

5.  Make it interesting.  Try celery with peanut butter and raisins, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas, frozen grapes, apple slices with caramel, or strawberries dipped in chocolate.  Some may say doing that adds excess sugar or fat.  But let’s think of the goal – getting our kids to eat some of these fruits and vegetables.  Eating strawberries with chocolate is better than eating no fruits at all and may just replace a snack that lacked any resemblance to a healthy food item.

6.  Let them choose.  Take your child to a farmer’s market or local grocery store that allows you to sample some of the produce they have a available.  They may find something they like that they’ve never tried before.

7.  Educate them.  Talk about the benefits of eating healthy, and the possible consequences of an unhealthy diet.  Why is it important?

8.  Enlist other adults.  If your child has a favorite teacher, coach, or other mentor, explain your goal and ask if they could reinforce it in their own teaching.  For example, if your child is on a swimming team the coach could encourage a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables and relate it to performance.

9.  Be a good example.  Take a look at your own eating habits.  Do you eat the foods (fruits and vegetables) that you’re encouraging your kids to eat?  Or maybe you have a fruit or vegetable that you don’t like.  Why not try eating it while your child tries something they don’t like.  You may both be pleasantly surprised and find they’re not as bad as you thought.

Those are just a few ideas I had for my friend.  How about you?  If you have or know of a child who dislikes fruit and vegetables, how do you get them to try and eat these healthy food items?

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Family, Health, Nutrition, Parenting

 

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