There has been a lot of talk recently about how to change the unhealthy eating habits and food choices that many Americans make. First Lady Michelle Obama is challenging schools around the United States to adopt new standards for the quality of food served, participation in meal programs, physical activity and nutrition education. Another popular news story is New York’s move to ban soda and sugary drinks from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Federal food stamp program.
Proponents of the soda ban often claim that the existing SNAP ban on alcohol and tobacco could naturally extend to a ban on harmful foods as well, such as soda and sugary drinks. However, unlike soda and sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco are already heavily taxed and vendors need specific licenses to distribute them. Proponents also stress that soda hurts not only the drinker with negative long-term health effects, but the tax payer with more tax dollars going towards public health insurance costs.
Although SNAP benefits are currently largely unrestricted, The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits are restricted heavily. A brochure with of the allowed foods for WIC can be found here. It is important to point out that there are a few differences in the two programs. The federal government markets WIC benefits as a diet supplement while SNAP benefits are allotted to provide for individual’s entire diets. Also, SNAP is an entitlement program while WIC is funded through a Federal grant program. However, it is interesting that one Federal food assistance program restricts choices heavily while one hardly restricts choice at all.
Many people fear that banning soda and other sugary drinks as SNAP eligible foods is an unsuccessful tactic in promoting healthy eating habits. For example, families that receive SNAP benefits often do not worry about purchasing nutritious groceries, but about stretching their food dollars to get as many calories as possible. Also, soda is typically a cheap alternative to other, healthier beverages (besides water). Banning certain, unhealthy foods under SNAP benefits may confuse recipients and the recipients may not even have access to “approved” healthy foods. Luckily, alternatives to an outright ban do exist. Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program is a good example of a different approach to getting Americans to make healthier food choices. Education programs like Cooking MattersTM help change purchasing and eating habits too.
The New York Times Opinion section had a really amazing article in it last week. The article talked about redesigning the lunch line so that children naturally made healthier lunch choices. The article is interactive and users can view all of the changes by hovering the mouse over orange spots in the diagram. Check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/10/21/opinion/20101021_Oplunch.html
This month, we’re featuring Amanda Kischuk, who did an Eating Right class for us in the summer and is signed up for her second class at Redford Interfaith food pantry. She recently received her dietitian tech certification and is currently pursuing a dietetics internship while working full time, and of course volunteering for us! She took some time off from her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
OFL Detroit: Where do you live?
Amanda: Allen Park
OFL: Where did you go to school? What is your degree in?
Amanda: I graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science, Major in Dietetics.
OFL: Why did you go into dietetics and nutrition?
Amanda: I decided to major in Dietetics because it is a field that gives you the opportunity to truly help people. I wanted a job that I felt good going to every day, not one that is just about the paycheck. I have been fortunate enough to be raised with a healthy lifestyle and I want to share my knowledge and passion for nutrition with as many people as I can.
OFL: Where do you work now?
Amanda: A health and wellness company called Summit Health.
OFL: How did you hear about OFL?
Amanda: I discovered OFL while I was searching for nutritionist jobs. I’m so glad that I did! (So are we!)
OFL: What do you like best about volunteering for OFL?
Amanda: My favorite thing about volunteering with OFL is answering the questions the participants have about eating right. There is no better feeling than seeing the light bulb turn on above their head when I explain something to them. I think the most important thing people take from the nutrition part of the class is learning to read and understand a nutrition facts label.
OFL: What do you do in your spare time?
Amanda: I look for jobs and opportunities to get my feet wet in the nutrition world! I also love running, playing tennis, and anything else that keeps me active and outdoors.
OFL: Do you like to cook at home?
Amanda: Yes. I love having the Eating Right book at home as a matter of fact. The recipes are easy enough for me and very affordable!
OFL: Can you give us a nutrition tip or share a healthy recipe with us?
Amanda: I can give you a lot of nutrition tips, but I’ll keep it short. When planning meals make fruits and veggies the focus of the meal and throw in lean protein, whole grain carbs, and healthy fats for extra nutrition. Everything in moderation, of course.
This past Saturday we had an awesome volunteer event at Yates Cider Mill in Rochester, MI. Although the weather wasn’t the greatest, it was still a lot of fun! Two of our volunteer chefs, Ina Cheatem and Barb Hughes, participated in an Iron Chef competition that incorporated apples from the cider mill.
Barb made a dish called Third Coast Toast.
1 Whole Wheat or Multigrain Baguette, sliced in about 20 slices, a little bigger than 1/4 inch
1 1/2 – 2 cups Skim Milk
2-3 Apples, pared and peeled and cut into 8-12 wedges
2 Deli Ham slices cut into 2″ squares
3/4 cup Shredded Mild Pinconning Cheese (can use Mild Cheddar, Edam, Colby or Gouda)
1 TBS Butter
1 TBS Vegetable Oil
Cinnamon Cider Syrup:
1 cup Apple Cider
2 TBS White Sugar
2 TBS Honey
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1. Combine syrup ingredients and set to simmer until reduced by 1/2 or coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. Stir eggs into 1 1/2 cups of milk and stir vigorously with a fork. Add bread slices, about 4 at a time. Turn so both sides are covered. Let sit while you prepare apples.
3. Heat pan and add butter and vegetable oil o medium heat. When butter is bubbly add apple wedges to brown slightly and turn and brown other side. Remove to plate.
4. Now add bread slices to medium hot pan. Brown about 3-4 minutes per side. (While the first batch is browning, add the other bread slices to egg mixture to soak). Now do another batch of bread until there all cooked.
5. Turn heat to low.
6. Put bread back in pan an top with a square of Ham, 1 or 2 apple wedges and 1 tsp of grated cheese. Cover with lid for about 30 seconds so the cheese melts.
7. Put on a plate and drizzle with Cinnamon Cider Syrup.
Ina’s made a Gingered Apple Breakfast Bulgar.
Makes 1 serving
1/3 cup Bulgar
1/3 cup Apple Cider + 2 TBS Water
½ Apple, Peeled, Seeded, and Shredded or Finely Diced
1 TBS Golden Raisins
½ tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Lemon Zest (organic if possible)
1 TBS Honey
Shredded Fresh Ginger
Chopped Almonds (optional)
1. Bring cider/water to a boil.
2. Add Bulgar and boil on high for 10-20 seconds. Cover saucepan with lid and take off heat. Let sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, combine shredded apple with cinnamon, lemon zest, ginger, and raisins. Mix with Bulgar.
4. Serve warm, with a drizzle off honey and chopped almonds, if desired.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the volunteer event! Hopefully we’ll see you at the next event!
My name is James Hartrick and this is my first blog post for the OFL Detroit Blog. I am a new Americorps member and you can read more about me here: http://bit.ly/aiJkwO.
I was reading the news the other day and happened upon an article in the CNN blog titled, “Better childhood nutrition needed, retired military officials say.” The statement and subsequent article was focusing on the upcoming U.S. House of Representatives vote on The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010. The act would:
- Improve access to school meal programs
- Improve access to out of school meal programs
- Help schools and child care improve the quality of meals
- Encourage public/partnerships in communities
- Improve food safety requirements for school meals programs
- Streamline program administration and support program integrity
Military leaders feel that the act is necessary to decrease childhood obesity which would increase the number of young adults who are qualified for national service.
The article also briefly mentions the creation of the National School Lunch program in 1945. Similar to The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010, the program was designed to combat hunger and bolster national security by allowing more children to eventually qualify for national service. National security has played a large role throughout American history in the nutrition information published by the USDA. One of the publications was NFC-4, the National Wartime Nutrition Guide (1943). The USDA’s first publication was Food For Young Children which was authored by Caroline Hunt in 1916. The USDA is gearing up to release a revision to their Guidelines for Americans by the end of this year. Keep your eyes peeled!
Courtesy of USDA
Dorothy wrote an article about The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010 back in July. Remember, the legislation expires September 30! If you care about how well our kids eat in school contact your representative today!
- Call 1-866-277-7617 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office. Don’t know who your Representative is? Look it up online: http://www.house.gov/htbin/zipfind
- Email your Senators and Representative in support of Child Nutrition Reauthorization. http://www.hungeractioncenter.org/fastaction/default.aspx
This month we’re featuring one of our most hardworking volunteers, Ina Cheatem, who has her own healthy cooking and personal chef business. Since joining OFL, she has done an Eating Right (with 20 people!) and is signed up to do another Eating Right later this month. She took some time out from her busy schedule to answer a few questions from us. Also check out Ina’s healthy dessert recipe for bread pudding below.
Q. Where do you live?
A. I live in Novi, MI
Q. I know you’re originally from Germany. When did you arrive in the U.S.? What brought you here?
A. I moved to the US almost 11 years ago. I met my American husband while he was stationed in Germany with the US Army at that time.
Q. What is your culinary background?
A. I have been passionate about cooking healthy food for more than 15 years. I always enjoyed delighting other people with healthy food creations and my strong urge to feed others ultimately led me to open my own personal chef company. During high school and college in Bielefeld, Germany, I was first exposed to the culinary industry while working for multiple restaurants and hotels in various positions, including a position with a local catering leader that provided culinary services for small (5000 people) events.
Q. I just saw on Facebook that your business is 1 year old. Can you talk about the ups and downs of launching your own healthy cooking and personal chef business? Why did you decide to launch this specific type of business?
A. I decided to open my own business last year, because I was unhappy with my “real” job and decided it was finally time to pursue my real passion – healthy cooking! People have always told me to make a business out of my love for cooking, and I did! Initially, things moved ahead very slowly, partially, because of the bad economy. However, this gave me the time I needed to set everything up properly (website, marketing materials, menus, agreements, etc) and slowly transition into my new venture, while still having the security of the regular job. It was a huge learning experience for me and mostly lots of fun, and maybe, sometimes, a little frustrating🙂 The best advise I can give to anyone that wants to turn their dream into reality is this: Follow your bliss and you will be surprised how many doors will open for you! Just be patient!
Q. When you have spare time, what do you like to do in terms of hobbies?
A. I love to read and spend time with my kids. Also, I love to workout daily: boxing, running, weight training, yoga, cardio, rock climbing….anything that challenges my body!
Q. What drew you to OFL and why did you want to volunteer?
A. As a strong advocate for healthy eating and good nutrition, I want to make a difference in my community by helping people eat and live better. My own experience with food insecurity and poverty is another reason why I am volunteering my time with OFL. It makes me happy to brighten someone’s day with cooking, even if it is just for the 2 hours a week that I am with them.
Q. You have completed an Eating Right with us. How did you like the experience? What did you like best about it?
A. Loved the experience! My class was great! Close to 20 fun people. I enjoyed sharing some of my knowledge with the group and truly loved spending every minute with them.
Q. You went with seven other OFL Detroit chefs to Washington, D.C. for Chefs Move To Schools launch event in June. Can you share a little bit with us about how that day went, what you learned and your impressions of hundreds of chefs coming together for this cause?
A. Wow, yes! That event was something else. Being part of such an important movement (ending childhood obesity) was a very powerful experience! In particular also because it was at the White House with the First Lady in attendance! The day was great. We attended a breakfast symposium in the morning before heading to the White House at noon. Before listening to Michelle Obama’s speech, we had the pleasure of meeting some really inspiring chefs that have already made some HUGE advances in improving the school lunch system in their communities. Other interesting visitors and guest speakers included: The White House Assistant Chef, The Secretary of Education, celebrity chefs from the Food Network, and more.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your Chefs Move to Schools progress? What school are you working with? What stage are you at?
A. Since my trip to DC, I have adopted the Novi Public School District. I am meeting with their Food Director this Friday (9/10) to discuss details of my involvement. Very excited to get started! First activities will probably focus on educational activities on the elementary school level, such as: food tastings, food demos, etc…we will take it from there.
Here is a budget-friendly healthy dessert recipe from Ina.
Harvest Bread Pudding
By Ina Cheatem
1 1/2 cups skim, soy, or almond milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
4 egg whites
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
12 slices high-fiber or whole wheat bread, in 1/2 inch cubes
2/3 cup raisins
1 large apple, seeded, peeled, and shredded
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Spray a 9X12 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
3. Combine all ingredients, except bread and raisins. Mix well.
4. Add bread and raisins and let stand for 5 min. so bread can soak in the wet mixture.
5. Spoon mix into baking dish and bake for 30-40 min. or until nicely browned.
6. Let sit for 10-15 min. before serving.
Last week our new AmeriCorps member, James Hartrick, arrived and we’re happy to have him on board. That means he’ll be busy doing all of my work! Just kidding, James.
James lives in Royal Oak, where he was born and raised. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science while concentrating in Urban Planning. While at the University of Michigan he was a member of Amnesty International, Human Rights through Education, The Detroit Partnership, The Men’s Glee Club, and the Semester in Detroit Planning Team. With interests in food security and education plus a minor in peace and social justice, it’s no surprise he was drawn to Operation Frontline and AmeriCorps.
During his year of service he is eager to help us grow our program, saying he wants to be a part of that growth. Among the many responsibilities James will handle this year include coordinating classes, managing our inventory and creating videos.
Post-AmeriCorps he is interested in going back to school and pursuing either public policy, urban planning or law.
He is a soccer player and an avid music fan. His favorite genres of music are new wave, funk & soul, and hip hop, and his favorite band is Talking Heads. He enjoys the outdoors and loves living
Michigan due to the state’s abundance of fresh water, especially in the Great Lakes.
Last week I graduated a group of fine ladies over at Hannan House. For graduation day I prefer to do a potluck: after all, celebrations call for food, right? At least that’s what I think.
We had a fabulous spread, from delicious salads to spaghetti with whole wheat pasta to an apple crisp.
Volunteer RD Cathy Neal brought a black bean and corn salsa, for which I immediately asked for the recipe. Cathy not only gave me that recipe but several others. She said they incorporate Michigan ingredients — always a plus in my book — plus they are low in fat. These recipes were developed when she was working with a group of women in Mexicantown for a healthy Cinco de Mayo feast.
1 bunch fresh asparagus
¼ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. canned green chilies, drained and chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped onion
½ medium tomato, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. white pepper
Cook asparagus. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and place in blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Blend or process until smooth. Stir before serving.
(This recipe contains NO FAT or CHOLESTEROL and is a significant source of Folic Acid – a necessary vitamin to ensure healthy babies.)
BASIC MEXICAN GUACAMOLE
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tsp. finely chopped yellow onions
2 tsp. minced jalapeno chiles (seeds and membranes removed)
salt to taste
2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
2 tbsp. finely chopped plum tomatoes (cored and seeded)
2 tsp. lime juice
Mash together cilantro and onion in bowl. Add the avocados and gently mash with a fork until chunky smooth. Fold chilies into mixture and stir in the tomato and lime juice. Serve with chips.
(This recipe has 18.5 grams of fat.)
BLACK BEAN, AVOCADO AND CORN SALSA
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red onion chopped
½ cup chopped tomatoes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 green onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients in bowl and chill.
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans
1 pound ground turkey
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 (6 inch) corn tortillas
8 oz. shredded cheese
8 tbsp. sour cream
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
½ avocado, diced
1 tbsp. sliced ripe olives
Heat the refried beans in a small pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the turkey in a frying pan, drain and add the taco seasoning (following package directions). Warm the tortillas in a small frying pan, place on a cookie sheet and spread with a layer of beans, then turkey then cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, cut into wedges and top with the sour cream, chilies, green onions, avocados, tomatoes and ripe olives.
(Normally this recipe has 48 grams of fat and 772 calories, but by using fat free refried beans, fat free sour cream, turkey instead of ground beef and fat free cheese, you can reduce the amount of fat and calories significantly and still have an acceptable product.)