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Kellogg’s Virtual Breakfast Chat

April 27th, 2011 | Comments Off

Remember when I mentioned last week that I was participating in a virtual breakfast through The Motherhood with some other wonderful bloggers? The chat occurred this past Wednesday, when I was right about to be plunged over the cliff into complete sickness. I managed to deal with the chat perfectly, then set my computer aside and just about collapsed. The rest of that day I was immobile from fever, wandering in and out of sleep, twisting in fevered dreams.

Oy…..

But I survived. The chat was quite fun. It was video and text chatting, with two nutritionists from Kellogg’s, so you can bet it was pretty heavily geared towards eating cereal. I personally prefer something a lot more substantial for my first meal of the day. Still, cereal is a pretty standard breakfast for many, especially children. One aspect of the chat was to discuss the most recent dietary guidelines set forth by the Dep’t of Health and Human Services and the USDA. The Dietary Guidelines list four nutrients that American children and adults are not getting enough of: dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium, and apparently breakfast cereals are noted specifically in these guidelines for helping people meet their B12, folic acid, iron and Vitamin D requirements. They even spoke about the fact that Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks both have 3 grams of fiber per serving. With information from health studies that points to fiber intake being a shield against the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, infectious and respiratory illness and, for men, certain cancers. Hmmm. At this point, I wanted to ask what the sugar content of these supposedly fiber-rich cereals were but decided to just quietly pass through that part of the discussion. I was a bit surprised to hear some of this information, and along with my caution about sugar levels in breakfast cereal, the main reason I won’t eat many of them at all, I’m still firm on my belief that there are much better breakfasts to start your day with.

Thankfully, my co-hosts agreed. They were filled to overflowing with amazing and delicious breakfast options; waffles and pancakes topped with greek yogurt, and copious amounts of fresh fruit, smoothies with berries and ground flaxseed, parfaits made with yogurt, cereal and nuts. Kids don’t automatically know what constitutes ‘breakfast food’ too, and when my son was younger I told him that I didn’t care what he ate for breakfast; I just wanted him to eat something before school each day. So he would often eat leftovers from dinner, cold pizza or sometimes mac and cheese. On occasion he would eat soup, or make a half a sandwich with turkey or roast beef. The most important thing to me was that he was eating something. After that, it was up to him.

I’ve become much more aware in the last few years of how a good healthy breakfast can make such a huge difference in the rest of your day. And I love exploring the multitudes of options that I can eat each morning, sometimes finding myself getting rather excited about what my morning meal will be! And it’s always good to get excited about your food.

 

If you’re interested in the newest Dietary Guidelines, the entire document can be downloaded from this link:

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm

If you want a full summary of our virtual breakfast, you can find that information here:

http://www.themotherhood.com/talk/show/id/62187

 

DISCLAIMER:
I was financially compensated for participating in this chat. All opinions are my own.

reconsidering walnuts

October 8th, 2010 | 4 Comments »

Walnuts and I have a rough history, a long-standing feud of stubbornness that I’ve only recently come to understand as being a massive error on my part.

And it all goes back, innocently, to my childhood and the fresh baked treats that Mom supplied us with endlessly. Just about everything she made had walnuts in it, and I thoroughly despised the little nuggets, endlessly picking them out of my chocolate chip cookies, my banana bread, my pumpkin bread and anything else that she felt impelled to stuff with those icky things. I used to watch in despair as she pulled the sack out of the cupboard, and groan once again “Walnuts! Why do you ALWAYS put walnuts in everything!?” to which she would always reply in that ‘Mom’ tone “When you bake your own cookies, you can do whatever you want.” and I was pretty powerless to argue THAT point. This coming from a Mom who would rise before the break of day in the summertime so she could bake cookies before it got too hot outside. The Mom who scorned margarine for real butter and always asked us what favorites we wanted her to make. I couldn’t get past those walnuts though. And true to my baking heritage, when I got older and baked in my own kitchen, there were never walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies. Or my banana bread. Or in my house, for that matter.

I recall a time, lingering over a steaming coffee at some non-descript coffee house, that I wandered to the bakery case with a growl in my tummy and innocently asked for a piece of banana bread. Back at my table, I broke off a chunk and with my eyes firmly focused on the magazine I was reading, popped the bite in my mouth and began to chew. Suddenly a familiar, but not so familiar taste spread over my tongue and I stared down at the slice on the plate in front of me. There, staring back was the unmistakeable shape of walnuts. In my banana bread. My tummy went ‘Errrrr….gurgle’ and the welcoming chunk of bread, rich with bananas and cinnamon beckoned me. I realized though, that whatever taste was in my mouth seemed a far cry from that of my youth, the dreaded taste of pasty walnuts. I meticulously picked a chunk of nut from the bread, and with a deep intake of courage, I stuck it in my mouth.

‘This couldn’t possibly be a walnut.’ I thought to myself. ‘It tastes….. good!’ I took another bite of the bread and there it was again, the texture so familiar, but the flavor so foreign. It tasted nutty, moist and tender; it was crunchy not mealy. It was a nut that I had shunned and crossed my eyes at for my entire lifetime and here I was, enjoying it and wide-eyed at the experience. What the heck! Had I really grown up that much? Crossed the threshold of petulant youth to that of an open-minded adult with equally open-minded tastebuds? Had I been “gasp” wrong this whole time about walnuts??

I stretched myself even further by purchasing some walnuts fresh from the bin at the local co-op and chopping them up for a pumpkin muffin I made at home. I was hesitant, wondering if the whole batch was going to end up in the trash. But the first bite was another eye-opener and the muffins were delicious. I even took a walnut out of the bag and ate it, plain. I felt 10 feet tall too. The only thing that saved it from being a celestial experience was that I couldn’t call my Mom and tell her, triumphantly, that I found out I enjoyed walnuts. I think that I felt her smiling down at me from above though.

What I realized, and with quite a shock of clarity is that the walnuts my Mom purchased always came from the baking aisle at the supermarket, and likely were rancid and old, leaving a stale and metallic taste in my mouth. Walnuts have a high fat content, and need to be kept fresh. I like to keep all my bulk nuts in the freezer so they last a long time. Without that old and yucky taste in my mouth, I found that walnuts were as enjoyable as other nuts I’ve incorporated into my diet such as almonds, pistachios, pecans and peanuts. I grew up not liking nuts much at all until I learned how awesome fresh ones can be, and now I purchase nearly all of our nuts from the bulk bins at the markets.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve learned to appreciate a food that had been black-listed in my kitchen. We tend to tie our dislike of foods to personal taste, but what I’ve discovered is that often it can be traced to either a lack of freshness or an incorrect cooking procedure that makes a food unpalatable. Mike told me when we first met that he didn’t like salmon, but his past experiences with it came down to it being over-cooked, which turned it dry and rubbery. Once he ate a piece of perfectly cooked salmon, he never looked back and now he requests salmon often.

Looking for something delicious for those walnuts? This Date Nut Bread is amazing. You could try adding them to this hearty Overnight Muesli too, in addition to the almonds, and they could also be substituted for the pecans in these Pumpkin Maple Muffins.

(from the Health Castle website)………“Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E.  Nuts in general are also high in plant sterols and fat – but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-three fatty acids - the good fats) that have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Walnuts, in particular, have significantly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids as compared to other nuts”