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Archive for March, 2010

Stay-at-home daddies, unite!

Check out the new blog from MoCo client/new dad Richard Schneider.  Well said, Rich!

Do you know a stay-at-home dad?  We’d love to host a gathering at Mothers & Company.  Contact info@mothersandcompany.com to express your interest in the gathering.

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You’ve probably seen all the press by now:  slings recalled and warnings issued due to safety issues with certain slings and the way that some parents are using them.  See  CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies

Yes, there are definitely some slings/baby carriers out there that are dangerous in and of themselves.  And others are just uncomfortable for either the wearer or the baby (every kind we sell is MoCo Momma-approved so they can be comfy if fitted correctly).

All slings can be dangerous if not used properly.  So, let’s talk about how to use them properly.  Watch our video that shows how to position an infant in the CRADLE HOLD in a sling.   The cradle hold can be the most dangerous hold to do if not done properly, but our Caring for a New Baby instructor, Melissa Dunn (a pediatric nurse) and our Managing Momma and Yoga Instructor, Sarah Whiteman, show you how to wear your baby safely and comfortably.  More videos to come (subscribe to our blog and our youtube channel)!

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I just wanted to write a short post about a television series you may have already heard of called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” debuting Friday, March 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.  You can read all about the program on Jamie’s website: http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution/petition, but in a nutshell, it’s a show about changing our kids’ school lunches, getting back in touch with our food, and keeping our cooking skills alive.  If you can’t tell from my previous posts, those are things that are extremely important to me and I am thrilled that they are getting mainstream attention.  As I’m sure you’re aware, health-care reform was a big to-do this week.  But you know what? If we take better care of ourselves and our children now, starting with the quality of the food we eat, we may not be so concerned with health care in the future.  Why? Because we’ll have fewer illnesses and less need for health care!  Wouldn’t that be fantastic?!?   We simply have to take responsibility for ourselves and treat our bodies and our kids’ bodies with the respect they deserve.  It’s that simple.

There’s a petition on Jamie’s site that I strongly urge you to consider signing, as he is bringing it to Washington after the series airs to show the President and the First Lady just how many Americans are devoted to feeding themselves and their children better food.

So, join a revolution!  Sign Jamie’s petition and watch “Food Revolution” on Friday night, March 26 at 9:00 p.m EST on ABC.

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Snacking on the run is… okay (just don’t snack on junk food)

by Amy Caputa

So, my last article was all about ditching the idea of “eating on the run.”  I gave you a few suggestions on how to prepare healthy home-cooked meals and I stressed the importance of eating together, around a table, as a family.  As I had mentioned, that article was influenced by Rule #58 in Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules” (the rule being: “Do all your eating at a table”).   In this article, I’m taking the liberty to stretch Rule #58 by saying that it’s acceptable to eat snacks on the run.  Now, I’m pretty certain that we all snack.  We snack in our cars (which is kind of a no-no and I’m not condoning it!), at the office, and while watching TV.  We love to snack.  Nom, nom, nom. And snacking does have its place in a healthy eating plan, within reason. Unfortunately, we tend to snack on junk food.  Even though I’m sure you know what junk food is, it’s sometimes helpful to read an official definition of word. The Wikipedia definition of junk food is:  an informal term applied to some foods which are perceived to have little or no nutritional value, or to products with nutritional value but which also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten, or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all. The term was coined by Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in 1972. Foods more likely to be considered junk food generally are those that are more convenient and easy to obtain in a ready-to-eat form, though being such does not automatically define the food as “junk food.” You know the stuff: chips, pretzels, microwave popcorn, candy bars (including many so-called “energy bars”), doughnuts, etc.  The only good thing about these foods is the taste.  Yes, I admit that they taste good. But, once you stop eating them for a while and then try them again a month or so later, they will not taste nearly as good. I assure you. Fresh food trumps packaged, processed food every time.

BECOME A LABEL READER

Look past the flashy advertising claims on packages such as “Made with Whole Grain.” You need to flip the package over and read the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts chart to get the real lowdown on what is in that food.  If you’re looking at a loaf of wheat bread and the word “whole” isn’t the first word on the ingredient list, then the item isn’t a 100% whole grain product.  You may see “whole wheat flour” further down the list, so the advertising claim isn’t a lie, but the product isn’t a true 100% whole grain product.  In case you aren’t aware, the ingredients list is written in quantity order. So if sugar (or high fructose corn syrup, fructose, corn syrup, etc.) is the first ingredient on the list, the product is mostly made of, you guessed it, sugar.

I’m a label reader and part of my eating philosophy is to not purchase a food item if it contains a paragraph-length list of ingredients that I can’t pronounce. A list like that is a pretty good indicator that the package contains junk food.  I also skip over items that list sugar as one of the first three ingredients (check your flavored yogurts) and those that contain high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).  Many times I’m horribly disappointed when I see these ingredients in something I really want to eat!  (This is a little off topic, but I will share one secret.  When I’m at a restaurant, I don’t ask the waiter about the ingredients in my food.  If my dessert contains a pound of lard and 3 cups of sugar, oh well.  I eat a full dinner out—appetizer to dessert–maybe once a month.  That one dessert won’t hurt me.  I want to be healthy, but I don’t want to be a total party pooper.  Sometimes I want my cake (especially molten chocolate lava cake) and eat it too. And in my opinion (since I’m not diabetic) that is fine.)

How often do you read labels?  Try it this week, especially on the food staples you buy most often.  It may take you longer than usual to do your shopping, but you may be surprised (and possibly dismayed) by what you read.

SO, WHAT CAN WE SNACK ON?

Okay, with all that said, what should we snack on? Pollan addresses snacks in Rule #56: “Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods, specifically fruits, vegetables, and nuts.”  That sounds good to me, but to be realistic, we’ll most likely eat some processed food along with unprocessed food. I mean, unless you’re eating a completely raw food diet, it is pretty impossible to never eat a processed food.  (A quick note:  If possible, buy organic produce and dairy products.)

Now, without further ado, here are some suggestions for portable, healthy snacks:

Fresh, raw, preferably seasonal (and, if you’re really on the ball), local fruits and vegetables.  The idea of eating seasonally and locally has recently become a little obsession of mine. Prior to reading Pollan’s “Food Rules,” I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” by Barbara Kingsolver (author of “The Poisonwood Bible” and other popular novels) in which she chronicled the year her family lived on a farm and ate as seasonally and locally as possible.  That concept and dedication made a huge impression on me.  Everything we eat comes from somewhere before it ends up in the grocery store.  Duh, right? It sounds so obvious, but I think a lot of us forget that.  Why in the winter should I eat blueberries from Chile when I could pick them from the farm down the road in the summer and freeze them for use in the cold months when blueberries are out of season?  Sure, it’s a little labor intensive, but it’s so worth it nutrition-wise, and also environmentally. It takes a lot of fuel to get those Chilean blueberries into a grocery store in the Northeast, right?  Much more gas than my car takes to drive 10 miles down the road. Another example is bananas. Bananas do not grow in the Northeast or anywhere in North America that I am aware of. Because of that I buy bananas only occasionally. I’m not suggesting that you give up bananas; I’m just giving you something to ponder. The food you purchase impacts more than your wallet and waistline.

Hummus Use as a dip with whole grain crackers and fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumbers (my favorite brand of cracker is “Mary’s Gone Crackers.” They happen to be wheat and gluten free, but they are super crunchy and have a nice nutty flavor. And, no, they are not paying me for the plug!)

Avocado Mash it up and use it as you would hummus (one of my favorite sandwiches is hummus, avocado, tomato and cheddar cheese on whole grain bread). Feel free to turn it into guacamole by adding some chopped onions, cilantro and lime juice.

Almond or peanut butter (I am partial to almond butter, but it’s wicked expensive).  Spread it on whole grain crackers or bread, apple slices, or celery.

Plain yogurt (Yes, p-l-a-i-n.  As I mentioned above, flavored yogurts are loaded with sugar. Adding fruit to the plain yogurt adds plenty of sweetness. But, if you need it even sweeter, add a little bit of honey, too.)  Mix it with fresh or frozen berries and some crunchy whole grain cereal and/or unsalted almonds. Or, experiment by adding some spices and use it as a vegetable dip (my son dips everything in plain yogurt, including his fish sticks)

Unsalted mixed nuts (Just watch the quantity.  Although I try not to be a neurotic calorie counter, the fact is nuts are high in fat and calories so you don’t want to eat a cup at a time. Stick to a handful. And, of course, don’t give nuts to children under 1 year of age.)

Lastly, for the “special” times when a piece of fruit just can’t satisfy my sweet tooth, two of my favorite packaged snacks are 70% dark chocolate (I like Green & Black’s brand. Dark chocolate is so rich that you need to eat only 2 or 3 squares) and Lara bars (I love the Coconut Cream Pie flavor). (Again, I’m just sharing my favorite brands, there’s no compensation involved!)

THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO EAT JUNK FOOD

With all of these tasty, easy snack options available, why, why, why do we choose to eat foods that are known to be unhealthy? And even worse, why do we choose to give it to our families, our children?  We choose to eat foods that can harm us and shorten our lives.*  It’s crazy. It’s even crazier that there are companies that produce this harmful “food” in the first place.  They produce “food” that is full of sugar, fat, chemical preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors.  In my mind, these “food” companies are as much to blame for our health problems as the tobacco companies.  Both produce unhealthy products that are addictive and harmful. It’s outrageous.  We’re making them rich while they’re slowly making us fat and sick.

From this point on, try to be a little more conscious of the quality of the food that you’re snacking on.  Unpackaged, unprocessed fruits and vegetables will always be the best snack choice. But when shopping for processed foods, you’ll need to take a little more time in the store to read labels, maybe spend a little more money on the good stuff, and maybe even pick some produce from a local farm (it’s really fun!), but it will ultimately benefit your health, your family’s health, and the environment’s health.

*After re-reading this, I want to clarify/expand on my statement about how we choose to eat junk food. Many people do not necessarily choose to eat junk. Those people, poor people mainly, often do not have access to fresh food.  They are forced to do their shopping at small convenience stores in their neighborhood because there are no larger supermarkets nearby, and, most likely, they do not have cars to drive to the nearest supermarket or farmer’s market.  It’s a crime, really, for entire communities to be undernourished yet overweight and sick.

Amy Caputa

February 24, 2010

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Check out a great blog by a mom we see often at our place.  Thanks for the shout-out, Michelle!

Interested in this toy, come to Mothers & Company.  We also have the famous Sophie the Giraffe!  And by the way, you can save on shipping all the time and know that we work hard to make our prices are the same or close to the same as amazon.com and BRU, too!

http://peasoutmama.wordpress.com/

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