Health

The Paleo Diet: What it Is and Why it Works

I’m on a very strict meal plan.

I’ve been eating grass-fed ground beef, steak skewers, pecan-crusted chicken, pork and fish. I’ve been eating eggs, sausage, yams, deviled eggs, cabbage slaw and curry. I’ve been eating spice-rubbed chicken, salmon salad, and pear salad with balsamic vinegar. I’ve been eating shrimp with red onion, garlic, green bell peppers, salsa verde and chili powder -- served with romaine lettuce leaves, spinach, mango and lime. My fridge is filled to the brim with fresh, local, and organic fruit and vegetables of all colors, and my freezer is full of grass-fed beef, turkey, lamb, and chicken. I haven’t been scrimping on fat, either. I cook my nutrient-dense meals with coconut oil and olive oil, and eat plenty of avocados and macadamia nuts and even a little bit of almond butter.

What’s missing from this list? Added sugar. Alcohol. Milk. Cheese. Grains. Legumes. I’ve decided to spend 30 days eating a strict Paleo diet.

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The Switch to a Cleaner Dirty Dozen

As the mother of two small children (age 2 ½ and 6 months), I try my best to make healthy eating choices every day. I make my own baby food (lots easier than it sounds and very cost-effective), use as little pre-packaged/processed foods to make meals as I can, and avoid sugar and junk food whenever possible. That being said, I will admit that I used to roll my eyes at the word organic. I looked at the prices and didn’t really understand why I was paying sometimes more than twice the price for the “same” foods.

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Does Chocolate Milk Belong in Our Schools?

A long time ago, I had a friend who seriously thought carrot cake was good for you because it had, as one of its ingredients, carrots.

 

And by “a long time ago,” I mean 2002. And by “a friend,” I mean myself.

 

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A Whole New Kind of Lunch Lady at Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center

I don’t know about you, but until recently, the words “lunch lady” conjured less than pleasant memories of crabby women in hairnets glopping mystery meat and mashed potatoes onto plastic trays with ice cream scoops. Had I taken a moment to consider their point of view, I suppose I might have realized how annoying it would be to dish out food, day after day, to disrespectful kids yelling “ewwww, gross!” I’m ashamed to admit that this level of empathy was beyond me in my elementary school years. I was too busy yelling “ewwww, gross!”

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Food Coaches Help Schools' Youngest Students Make Better Food Choices

Imagine, for a moment, that you're five years old. After a busy morning in Kindergarten, you notice that your stomach is growling. It's time for lunch. Unless you brought food from home, you'll be eating what's served in your school's cafeteria. You get in line and grab a tray. You're barely tall enough to see the food behind the counter, and your teacher isn't there to help because she's having her lunch elsewhere. So when the lady wearing the plastic gloves asks you what you want to eat, you're not sure what to say. Then you might notice something familiar -- maybe a hot dog, spaghetti, or some chicken nuggets -- so you point to it and watch as it's placed on your tray.

 

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Beet Borscht: A Recipe for Traditional, Healthy Food

I don’t think I’d ever so much as looked at a beet until after college, when I had houseguests who were passing through town. They had learned how to make borscht while serving as missionaries in Russia, and I came home from a long day at work to a simmering pot of the root soup that they’d thoughtfully prepared. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous at first, but was relieved to find it both delicious and nourishing.

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Diet is a Four Letter Word

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a diet. It’s likely most of us have, given that we live in an image-obsessed, diet-crazed society and that the quick fix weight loss business is a multibillion-dollar industry. More importantly, did dieting work for you? If it did, were you able to meet your goal and keep the weight off?

Dieting is a hard row to hoe. It’s not conducive to having a social life nor is it uncomplicated for those who prepare meals for others. When we diet, the journey is not as rewarding as the destination. It’s an experiment in deprivation that we subject ourselves to with determination and resolve to “do it this time.” But the percentage of people who achieve their goal via denial and sheer willpower and who maintain this newfound image is very small.

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No More Plastic Bottles or Delivery Services: Easy Ways to Enjoy and Preserve Water

If you’re like me, you don’t think much about finding the perfect water source when you’re really thirsty; you just want to drink. Water is one of the essential elements of life, a sustaining force that not only quenches our thirst but is also integral in everything from agriculture to transportation to sanitation and personal hygiene. Water is essential for survival, not only for individuals and communities but also for the preservation of our environment.

How can we satisfy our own need for this precious resource while preserving it for future generations?

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Getting to Know the Minneapolis Public Schools Food Service Department, Part Three: The Unsung Heroes

One of the most striking things about the people who work at the Minneapolis Public Schools Food Service Department is how upbeat they seem. Just look at their picture above. From left to right, they are:

Larry Jones (Operations Manager - School Sites)Ricardo Abbott (Operations Manager - Nutrition Center)Joe Hollenback (Culinary Supervisor)Nicole Barron (Accounting & Business Systems Manager)Irfan Chaudhry (Assistant Director)

Do you notice something strange? They're all smiling.

"There are a lot of people in every business who are happy with the status quo," Nicole tells me, "you're not going to find it here."

"Summers used to be so easy," Irfan says, "but we don't take any vacation anymore. We want to make sure we give our kids the best food we possibly can."

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Stuffed Full of Gratitude

This time of year really does give me the fuzziest of warm fuzzies, even when the temps are in the teens. We’re huddling ‘round the fireplace, planning family gatherings, digging out the star-shaped cookie cutters, hanging lights, and trying our best to ignore retailers’ best efforts to convince us that the season is all about buying stuff.

The holidays are about togetherness, which helps keep the focus on expressing gratitude for what we already have. Too often, it’s easy to become dissatisfied with things as they are. With an estimated 1,500 advertisements bombarding us each day, we can fall prey to feeling as though we aren’t enough or that we don’t have enough or that what we have isn’t good enough.

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