Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Read: Lunch Wars

Lunch Wars

Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa immediately grips its readers with eye-opening statistics and facts about our nation's children, the foods they consume and resulting effects on their behavior and health.  “Nineteen percent of American children are obese and 35 percent are overweight and the trend is increasing.  The prevalence of overweight or obesity in children will nearly double by 2030.”  Okay, you have my attention.

There may appear to be a simple solution to improving our children’s diets – serve organic, healthy foods at home and pack a lunch composed of these healthy options.  Not so fast – Amy’s own journey began when she found her child was forgoing healthy home packed lunches for sugary drinks and snacks at school.  What inevitably followed was the formation of Two Angry Moms, a documentary and, now Lunch Wars, created to not only spread the word and provide parental support, but to also provide a game plan in overhauling school lunch options.

While I do not have any children of my own, this book certainly reinforced the issue of school lunch quality – and food quality in general – for our youth. While I found some of the points to be redundant throughout the book, I imagine it would be an invaluable tool for any parent looking to take a stand on these issues in their community.  I still strongly believe good food habits begin at home, both with the foods being served and the eating habits of family members.  But reading this book also shed new light on my stance: maybe the problem is not just that most schools offer processed foods for lunches and sugary options for snacks; perhaps many parents need to be educated on the effects of processed foods and affordable, wholesome alternatives.  To this point, such alternatives need to be affordable, and for many families stocking the pantry with organic products is just not financially an option.

“Our children’s life expectancy is now shorter than our own and we can expect them to be plagued with worse health than our own as well.”  You can call these parents hippies or granolas, but this is an issue that will not solve itself without parents, administrators and the government working together.

This was a paid review for Blog Her Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stewart & Claire Lip Balm

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It might be somewhat rare for the worlds of beauty and food to collide, but it certainly can be a beautiful thing when they do.  For instance, when my fingernails recently donned “A Oui Bit of Red”, I dreamt each morning of nibbling a croissant and sipping a cafĂ© au lait at a bistro table on some unknown Parisian sidewalk.  This image was certainly more beautiful than my reality - shoveling yogurt into my mouth between answering emails and returning phone calls.

Even more than perfectly manicured hands, lip balm is a necessity for my ever-dry lips, but finding the perfect brand has been less than an easy task.  Too waxy, too drying, too fragrant, too tingly – it is an extensive list of grievances.  Then, a few weeks ago, a coworker graciously gifted samples of lip balm, inspired by food and the seasons.  She and her husband are responsible for these absolutely addictive Stewart & Claire balms, which are custom made to order.  I am currently addicted to Autumn’s gingery smell and find myself reapplying much more than needed.  These balms are organic and have a forewarned shorter lifespan than other commercial balms, so I am parting with two and spreading the love to Washington DC and Virginia.  Check out the Stewart & Claire website and become addicted too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snap Pea, Prosciutto & Walnut Fettuccine


A heavy rainstorm blew through the city a few days ago, rolling the summer humidity right up into it’s rain clouds before heading out to the Atlantic.  Stepping outside the next morning felt as though the ceiling of gray summer haze had been lifted and the maze of streets and buildings were suddenly nestled beneath a beautiful, blue sky.  Harried commuters lifted their heads a bit higher, breathing in the cool morning dew and enjoying every minute of a breezy commute to work.

I so adore this weather and know it will all too soon make way for the short days and long nights of a frigid winter.  In the coming weeks, apples, pears and squash will fill the farmer’s market to the brim, but this transformation is just beginning and the last of summer’s bounty hangs on tightly despite the temperature change.

This simple pasta highlights the transition from sweltering summer days to cozy fall nights, pairing summer’s fresh, green snap peas alongside the hearty, toasty flavors of walnuts and whole wheat pasta.  In my household, good-quality prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano are always in season and lend a beautiful texture and balanced saltiness to this dish.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good Read: Rules of Civility

civility530"Rules of Civility is an energetic, attention-grabbing read which quickly draws you alongside Katey, exploring and leaving her mark on the sidewalks of New York City."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years Later

9.11I still can't believe it has been ten years since I watched the towers fall - first at school, then later at home with my family. The day was surreal and I remember feeling life would never, ever be the same. In some respects, this sentiment is true - our lives have been forever changed. On the other hand, life moved forward and our safe feeling of normalcy has resumed. It was gut-wrenching to watch the reading of the names this morning, with children paying tribute to the fathers they never met, but also comforting to see the circle of life continue. 

Many images from that day will be forever embedded in my mind; I can no longer watch the footage of the towers falling without turning away. Certainly many of these images have been replayed over and over again today, but I so clearly remember one piece of footage I have never again seen replayed in ten years. A husband and wife - their business suits covered in dust and looking terrified and disheveled - spotted each other in the same subway station. The only thing more emotional than the scream they both let out upon spotting each other, was the embrace and tears that followed. I think about that couple often, unable to process the thought of not being able to contact or not knowing where Mike might be if something like 9/11 ever happened again. And my heart breaks for every couple and family that were not as lucky as those two people. 

I moved to New York over three years ago and each anniversary of 9/11 is a somber and quiet day in the city. Residents jump at the sound of an airplane flying by or a blaring siren. We are all a little nicer to each other; we know each person is thinking of that day ten years ago, of the family and neighbors who perished downtown. In the years that have followed, I have watched as my family and friends have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I have prayed for their safe return each night, rejoiced when I am able to hug them again, and shed many tears for a friend who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Among all the emotions of this weekend, I suddenly realized my own children will never know the pain and terror that overtook our country that day. Perhaps the most meaningful contribution I will be able to make will be to teach my children about that day and how it changed our world forever; that freedom does not, and will never, come free.

Never forgive. Never forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Opening Act

OpeningAct_0654 Happy Labor Day Weekend! While the calendar might say there are still a few weeks left of summer, the city returns to its usual impossibly hectic pace post-Labor day weekend. So if you are also hanging onto these last few warm summer days, you might as well have a phenomenal cocktail in hand, right?  This cocktail features Domaine de Canton, a ginger liqueur, who exhibited this particular cocktail at the 2011 FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen. I would patiently wait until the last few minutes of the afternoon Grand Tasting, then bolt straight to their table for a taste of this delicious drink. Shake up a few this weekend and kiss the lazy summer days good-bye.



In my family, dogs are not pets at all and are rather considered to be members of the family. They become our children, siblings, and grand-puppies. Up until two weeks ago, I had not yet met the newest member of our family, my cousin Duke, although I received all of his puppy photos and email accounts of him growing into a full-sized golden retriever (as with toddlers, I am happy to have missed the biting/chewing stage). Quite the ham, right?

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