July 2013 Archives

Be a Snacktivist!

Jenna White
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Snacktivism.jpgBy Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

Have you noticed that kids can't seem to do anything without being served a snack? Packaged cookies and gummy fruit snacks are doled out any time children gather in a group, whether it's a two-hour preschool class or a 45-minute pee-wee soccer game. Every sporting event is now a reason to celebrate with cupcakes. And instead of water, children are getting juice boxes, pouches and bottled punch.

Today's children get about 500 calories a day from snacks--and mostly from these kinds of processed foods. According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the most common snacks for kids are chips, cookies, crackers and other junk food made with refined white flour, salt, sugar, and artificial flavors and colors.

What is "Snacktivism"?

It's a grassroots effort to rethink the emphasis on snacks--and reconsider what kinds of snacks we're serving--for the sake of our kids' health. Rates of childhood overweight and obesity are alarmingly high, and we owe it to our children to equip them with healthy eating habits. If we teach them that snacks are artificially-colored cookies out of a package, how do they ever stand a chance at maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding complications like diabetes and high blood pressure, and living a long, healthy life?
Snacktivism is about finding a better way. It's about thinking twice before serving snacks, about considering whether kids actually need a snack. And if they do, it's about making a better choice. It's about offering whole foods and about making fruits and vegetables the default. Snacktivism is not about giving up cookies and cupcakes. Instead, it's about putting them back in their place as special occasion foods, not every day choices.

What You Can Do

If you're fed up with the snack culture, here are five steps you can take now:

  1. Mobilize other parents at your child's school, church and sports teams. Chances are, other parents feel the same way.
  2. Volunteer to bring food for events to model healthy choices. Organize your child's classroom parties and sign up to donate healthy food to school functions, church potlucks, and other events.
  3. Talk to your child's teachers, principals, and camp and preschool directors about the kinds of snacks served. Read my post, "Camp Snacks: The Sequel" about how just a few parents can help change snack policies for the better.
  4. Ask your child's coaches if they can institute a fruit-and-water team snack policy, or eliminate snacks entirely. Check out my Sports Snacktivist Handbook for a sample team email, FAQ, and other resources.
  5. Consider how your child snacks at home. Are your kids filling up on empty snacks like pretzels, granola bars, and fruit snacks all day? Kids who are perpetually grazing will have a harder time branching out to try new foods at mealtime--and knowing what both fullness and hunger feel like is a skill they'll need their whole lives.

Sally Kuzemchak.pngSally Kuzemchak,MS, RD, is a registered dietitian,  blogger, freelance writer, and educator. Read her advice and recipes on Real Mom Nutrition, and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Recipe for Success on HCC-TV

Jenna White
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HCC-TV.jpgHCC-TV invited Recipe for Success Foundation to guest a segment of Houston on the Move. Molly Kaminski, Director of Operations, and Julie Garza, Director of Strategic Partnerships, share with viewers about our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs and the impact they've made in Houston-area schools. Take a peek!

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Trouble viewing? You can also watch here.

Yuck: A Short on School Lunch

Jenna White
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Ever wondered what's actually served in school lunchrooms? Or maybe based on what you remember from your own childhood, you're afraid to think about it. In this amusing yet telling 20-minute documentary, a brave kid filmmaker goes undercover to reveal the truth about the food service program at his elementary school. Even for those with an idea of the issues surrounding school lunches, it's surprising to see how little his actual daily meals reflect the tasty-sounding menu descriptions posted online. Take a peek!

Yuck: A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch from Maxwell Project on Vimeo.

Cooking up fun with Chef Ruffy!

Jenna White
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Chef Ruffy-Group-cropped.jpgThis summer RecipeHouse has been alive with activity during five week-long sessions of Eat This! Summer Camp. During the week of hands-on culinary and gardening activities, campers learn how to grow, prepare, enjoy and even market a variety of fresh and tasty dishes with our professional chef and garden instructors. Campers have enjoyed learning from volunteer chefs from Houston restaurants, including the engaging chef Ruffy Sulaiman.

chef ruffy-nuggets.jpgEach week, Chef Ruffy has taken an afternoon out of his wildly busy schedule as executive chef for Hilton Americas-Houston to volunteer time with our young cooks to create a kid favorite - chicken nuggets! Chef and campers created wholesome versions by using breast meat, and experimenting with different breadings (whole-wheat panko bread crumbs and corn flakes) and homemade dipping sauces (ketchup and pesto) and baking, instead of frying, the snack.

chef ruff-demo.jpgThanks, Chef Ruffy, for sharing your culinary wisdom for campers will carry with them during future food adventures!

At RecipeHouse, we host a full calendar of camps and classes for chefs and foodies of all ages. Learn more here or visit our Events Calendar for upcoming opportunities. 

July's Volunteer of the Month

Tracy Weldon
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Melissa Manske.jpgWe are happy to have Chef Melissa Manske as our featured volunteer for the month of July!  Melissa is originally from Beaumont, Texas, but moved to Houston for its food scene.  Through a nutrition course at Texas Christian University, she realized that her passion did not lie in journalism, but in cooking.  From TCU, she attended the University of Houston and Culinary Institute of America to obtain hospitality and culinary arts degrees.  Melissa is currently working as a culinary teacher at the Art Institute.  She loves that she is able to stay connected to her industry through Recipe for Success.  For Melissa, Recipe for Success, presents some of the same values her mom emphasized as a kid; the importance of cooking and eating as a family to make food fun.  Melissa and her students assist our nutrition educators in our classrooms as well as help Houston area chefs at our We're Cooking Now! A Gala in Small Bites dinners.  

Melissa is happy to say that she already has her dream job!  She loves to teach and provide her students with life skills and confidence.  Some of her most memorable moments in her classroom are when lessons do not go as expected.  She finds the beauty in and importance of mistakes and learning how to correct the errors.  In ten years, she hopes to still be teaching, involved in the education system, and giving back to her community. She loves inspiring her students and seeing everything that they accomplish!

We hope to have Melissa apart of our volunteer team for many years to come!  We appreciate all of the help that she and her students have provided.

Please contact our Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, if you would like to get involved or know more about our Small Bites dinners.

Taming summer snack attacks!

Jenna White
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by Lisa Wade

As mom to a second-grader and fourth-grader, the school break often poses challenges when it comes to satisfying the appetites of my two rapidly growing boys. As anyone with kids will understand, snacks between meals are constant requests, especially if they're playing in the yard and burning off energy. Despite every effort when they were younger, my two are particularly fussy eaters who, given the choice, would sooner reach for a bag of potato chips than an apple. However, I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting snack ideas that are easy to prepare (contrary to the coffee mug, I'm far from Super Mom!) and free of junk. Not only that, but they have to be delicious and just as appealing as the unhealthy alternatives.

Here are a few winners in my household:

PB Power-up Bars

My kids are particularly active during the summer months and rarely sit around indoors, preferring to run riot outside, have water fights and just be kids. Of course, they come inside every now and then to refuel. One snack they absolutely love are my peanut-butter bars. The best part is they're really simple to make, all-natural, and delicious (after my first attempt, I consumed half the tray myself).

To prepare, mix 1 Cup peanuts with 1/3 Cup whey protein (which gives them a natural energy boost) before adding 1/2 Cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter. Once combined, line an 8x8" oven-safe pan with wax paper, pour and spread mixture evenly into pan and allow it to set before cutting it into bars. That's all it takes. If your kids are chocoholics, then you could always add a bit of chocolate to sweeten the deal.

We scream for SORBET!

You might be thinking 'Sorbet... that sounds complicated' (and believe me, I did until I tried it), but it's actually a snap to prepare. Plus, the great thing about sorbet is that it's pretty much ice cream without the added calories from dairy and you can make it with a variety of fruits. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you will have to check on it during the freezing process , but that's no biggy. Serve in a cone, or let your kiddos enjoy a scoop in a bowl on its own or topped with fresh chopped fruit and mint or basil.

The Cherry Sorbet recipe I used can be found here.

Dip it good.

It's unsurprising how appealing carrots, celery and other vegetables and fruit become when your kids have a selection of dips to choose from. The first time I tried this was when they had friends over for a play date and it was an instant hit with the both of them. (I've noticed my kids are more inclined to try something new if their less fussy friends are eating it, too.) While it might seem an obvious choice for kids, there are so many possibilities that you can get really inventive. Favorites in our house include cold chicken pieces and veggie sticks with an onion-garlic dip and mini pita wraps with both barbecue and salsa dips.

That's a WRAP!

Wraps make such a great snack. Not only are they ridiculously quick to prepare, they're healthy, portable and can satisfy any kid's hunger in a single shot. What's more, with so much potential as to what you can fill them with, your kids won't get bored. I usually make a batch of snack-sized wraps with various fillings every couple of days (the majority of which my husband eats!), and they're definitely the first thing the kids reach for when they're feeling hungry. But one of my favorite things about them is how you can 'smuggle' vegetables inside them - the green stuff doesn't seem as intimidating to a fussy eater when it's rolled in amongst the ingredients they're more enthusiastic about.

The top fillings in our home include chicken, black bean and brown rice, tuna and sweetcorn, and salmon and salad. You can also create sweet wraps too, such as banana and cream cheese or mixed fruits with a little yogurt. It all works well and goes down a treat with everyone.

So there are my top kid-approved healthy summer snacks. I hope it's given you some food for thought!

Lisa Wade is a graduate of Nutritional Science and worked as a nutritionist prior to having her two boys. She currently writes articles to encourage readers to seek out healthier choices for their families to give their kids the best start in life. Lisa likes nothing better than experimenting with new recipes that she can pass on to other moms.

Greenling contest benefits RFS!

Jenna White
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Playa Viva Giveaway.jpg

Exciting news! Starting this week, our wonderful community supporters at Greenling have teamed up with Playa Viva resort to give away a beach vacation in Zihuatenejo, Mexico. The winner of their Sustainable Summer Giveaway will receive an all-inclusive 6 day / 5 night stay for two adults in a deluxe suite at Playa Viva's eco-friendly resort. You can enter multiple times throughout July in a variety of ways, including adding a $5 donation to Recipe for Success Foundation to any Greenling delivery orders for a bonus entry. Great local produce AND a chance to DoGoodHaveFun? We're totally on board with that.

Visit Greenling's blog for more details