The Renegade Lunch Lady, part 2 of 2

The “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper went to Washington, D.C. to investigate our first lady’s agenda. She ripped a hole in Michelle Obama’s “feel-good” childhood-obesity legislation, that has no funding and no policy “teeth.” I figured as much. Great platform, Mrs. Obama. Let’s make it reach to families and schools:

Let’s get vending machines out of the schools even if they create revenues (at the expense of our children’s health). Let’s get processed food out of school lunches. Let’s not cut funding and class time for physical education. Let’s educate people about real nutrition, not curriculum funded by big businesses like meat and dairy and processed food conglomerates.

Those are the things we need, not feel-good irrelevancies like providing milk and juice as options, or replacing potato chips with low-fat potato chips, or frying the french fries in a different oil. (Someone here in Utah, where nutrition initiatives have always failed in our legislature, called me this year to ask if I’d get behind a school-lunch initiative that was baby pablum like that.)

Chef Ann Cooper’s sites are here:

Thelunchbox.org

Lunchlessons.org

Enjoy her sites–I love this lady and her enthusiastic, tireless mission. She said re-training long-time lunch ladies, towards better nutrition, is one of her most difficult tasks. We are certainly, the vast majority of us, deeply and emotionally entrenched and invested in the destructive food habits of our generation.

I am personally not untouched by the way our culture is sucking our kids into a no-win situation where more than half our kids finish junior high school overweight. Since my divorce 18 months ago, despite the fact that I have NEVER purchased school lunch for any of my children, one of my own children has become overweight. I do not provide junk food in my home, and serve only whole plant foods. But just eating in her father’s home some of the time, 1 of my 4 children has gained significant weight.

It is an issue that is very difficult to discuss with a child. Any suggestions are welcome.

But one study found that being overweight is a bigger life stressor for a child than having cancer is. Watching my own daughter, I cannot overestimate the social impact on her own life. I am doing all I can do, including begging her father to make efforts on his side, but the good news is that she has the experience and knowledge to make a change in her choices, when she decides the physical/social/emotional cost is too high.

We do more than physical harm to children allowing them to become overweight. The whole culture must be educated and retrained back to the basics our ancestors took for granted.

If more and more people support whole, locally grown, organic, and raw plant foods, we will turn the health care debacle around. Watch this blog this week for my thoughts on ObamaCare.

the Renegade Lunch Lady

In Anaheim (I know! I still haven’t told you about the handful of cool products I found–but I will! And I bought some of them for you!) . . .

I heard the coolest talk by Chef Ann Cooper, the “Renegade Lunch Lady.”

She manages 30,000 kids’ lunches in the Boulder, Colorado area. Her goal is to transform children’s diets from the hot mess of processed food it is now, to a nourishing whole-food meal, one school lunch at a time. She’s my hero.

The U.S. government pays $2.68 for a child’s school lunch. Two thirds of that, Cooper says, goes to payroll, leaving just a dollar to feed each child! She wants you to go to her site, thelunchbox.org and write your elected officials to ask for an extra dollar to feed kids good nutrition, in addition to other government initiatives.

She told us to go out into ExpoWest and find real nutrition. (Good luck! Like I said, 1 in 100 “organic” or “natural” choice is worth your money.) Instead of (her voices changed to a sarcastic tone) organic gummy bears. (I love this lady. Wasn’t that just what I was telling you last week? Don’t waste your limited dollars on organic junk food!)

She said, about school lunches:

“Just say NO to refined flour. To soda, candy, and chips. To antibiotics and hormones. To chemicals and preservatives.

“Just say yes to plum tastings, to a salad bar in every school, to cutting sodium levels in half, to hummus tastings.”

She helps the schools figure out ways to connect children to their food sources. Growing food in the school yard. Trying new, whole foods they’ve never been exposed to, with fun tastings–with all the varied colors, textures, and tastes.

She says the USDA LOVES food for school lunches that haven’t been touched by human hands. School lunches nationwide are chicken nuggets, corn dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches. And we wonder why 70% of America is overweight. In the next two years, MILLIONS of Americans will become overweight. We have to stop the trend NOW.

What is needed, Chef Ann says, is “fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and clean proteins.” Amen, sister.

She says, “Vote with your purchasing!”

Here’s her PowerPoint presentation she showed us, which is fantastic:

http://www.chefann.com/html/about-chef-ann/audio-video.html

School Snacks

From Email:

 

With school starting soon I am feeling lost on what I can buy for treats to take and share with my children’s school  classes.  Our state requires that all treats brought to school are store bought.   I just can’t seem to find anything I want my kids to eat that is store bought and reasonably priced to share with 30 other children.  One of my kids also has a child with severe peanut Allergies, complicating things even more.  The youngest is still in Preschool, and part of the contract is that we all take turns bringing in the treats.  Does any one have any suggestions or ideas?

Thanks so much!

Energy drinks: attention, parents of teens!

Visiting my best friend in San Francisco recently, I sat outside her high-end convenience/grocery store in the very affluent suburb of Piedmont grading papers.   The high school kids arrived en masse, at lunch and after school.   An amazing amount of candy and energy drinks walk out of that place–thousands of dollars’ worth daily.   Kids walk up and throw their backpacks in a pile (not allowed in the store), and they walk into the store with their wads of cash and come out with all kinds of junk food.   (These kids have money!)

 

One day the lead singer of the rock group Greenday was there (he is a resident of Piedmont).   So to impress some of my (new) teenaged friends, who dared me, I got a photo with him.   Unfortunately, the kid who took it with his cell phone emailed it to me, but I haven’t seen it!   Turns out, my own teenagers tell me, Billy Joe Armstrong is the most foul-mouthed rocker alive today.   Clean-cut Christian mom poses with edgy, famous, potty-mouth rockstar.   That’s kind of funny, no?   His kids play on the soccer teams there in Piedmont, and he and his wife were having lunch together and seem so nice.   I have a hard time imagining him screaming from the stage what I’ve been told he does!   (It’s shocking, is all I’m going to say.)

 

So I came home and read about these energy drinks the kids were guzzling by the gallon.   They’re called Alcopops or “flavored alcoholic beverages” because they have more alcohol than beer!   Beer has 5-6% alcohol, but these have 6-12% alcohol.   Here are some examples of the alcohol content by weight:

 

Tilt (8%), Rockstar (6.9%), Sparks (6%), Four (6%), Joose (9-10%), Monster, 3Sum, 24, Charge, Torque, and many more.   This is a $3.2 billion annual industry!   No soda bottler can pass up the opportunity to jump on this growing bandwagon.   And guess who drinks the most?   Yep, teens aged 12-17.   They consume 31% of the total amount sold.   These drinks contain alcohol, which is a depressant, but also massive amounts of the stimulants ginseng, guarana, and  caffeine.   (And no, caffeine doesn’t cancel out alcohol.   If you drink alcohol and caffeine, you’re still drunk.)   And of course they are full of sugar or chemical sweeteners, plus lots of other unpronouncable chemical garbage.

 

Parents, beware.   Are you okay with your 12-year old drinking beer?   Please educate others about this.   (And thanks, GSG reader Camille for sending me source material.)

What did you make, when did you eat it, and where?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl, what do you eat in a day?   Not only what did you eat, but WHERE were you when you ate it (soccer field, etc.), and when did you make it, etc.?

 

Answer:   I logged three weekdays  in a row, just for you.   (I think this question was a nice way of asking, do you spend your whole day in the kitchen, or are you busy like me?   Because if you’re in that kitchen for more than half an hour, I’m not even listening to you!)

 

Tuesday:  

 

Breakfast: the kids made themselves kefir blended with banana smoothie, and bowls of granola with sprouts added, and rice milk.   I made my Hot Pink Smoothie in less than five minutes and drank it out of a quart jar on the way to the gym.   (Always!   So boring, sorry.)

 

Lunch:   In front of the computer, I had a quart of green smoothie with some chips I made with sprouted wheat tortillas (under the broiler, brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled The Zip on them).   I had some guacamole with the chips (that I had in the fridge from yesterday).   The kid in charge of school lunch assembly made whole-wheat PB sandwiches, an apple, carrot sticks.   I stuck the kids’ green smoothies in the fridge for after school.

 

Dinner:   I made a hot dish called Amaranth L’Orange (coming out in Ch. 9) right before eating it, and my teenaged son made a salad, with some chopped squash and cucumbers and tomatoes in it (took each of us about 15 mins.).   I tossed some raw apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil on, to avoid making a “real” dressing.   I ate mine in the car driving to a soccer practice, along with the remainder of my green smoothie from earlier.   Everybody else ate together except me and my son at soccer practice.

 

Wednesday:

 

Breakfast: same as above.

 

Lunch: took a quart of green smoothie to work, with a baggie of Chipotle Sprouted Almonds (Ch. 7).   Drank some of the green smoothie in the car on the way to work (at noon).   Finished teaching at 3:15 and had the rest of the GS and almonds driving home on the way to grab kids for sports practices.   Kid in charge of school lunch assembly made whole-wheat sandwiches and a baggie of cantaloupe slices, a baggie of sugar snap peas, and a Stretch Island fruit leather.

Dinner:   Had Southwest Quinoa Salad that I’d made and refrigerated a  couple of  hours earlier, with extra raw veggies in lieu of making another salad, because we were going in different directions to soccer games and this is an easy meal to take.   I grabbed some plastic cups and spoons to eat out of, at the game.   We also had some Oat-Coconut Cookies I’d made earlier (a mix recipe you’ll get in Ch. 11).

 

Thursday:

 

Breakfast: same as above.

 

Lunch:   had a quart of green smoothie (drank only about 2/3 of it), and leftover quinoa salad from last night, while working at the computer.     Kid in charge of school lunch assembly made bags of popcorn with coconut oil and seasonings (see Ch. 4), a bag of grapes, and a bag of baby carrots.

 

Dinner:   Threw together Cucumber-Tomato-Red Onion salad with garden veggies, with balsamic and olive oil (see Ch. 2), and made Turnip Buckwheat Casserole (coming out in Ch. 9).   Took about 30 mins. in the kitchen.   We all sat down and ate together at the kitchen table, a miracle in soccer season!

 

Anyone else trying to eat a plant-based diet of whole foods want to share what you ate in a day, when you made it, and where you ate it?   (Or anyone else eating the S.A.D., just to make the rest of us feel better? haha)

For parents or grandparents: race cars need better fuel!

My yoga teacher today, in the middle of class (to take our minds of the obscene length of time she makes us hold each pose, I’m sure) said the coolest thing today.

She said, I tell my kids why their school lunch isn’t made up of bags of potato chips, like their friends’ are.   I tell them that when you go to the gas pump, the nicest cars have to buy the best fuel.   It’s more expensive!   But if you want to go FAST like a race car, you have to give your body the good stuff.   Race cars aren’t meant to run on junk gasoline!

You wanna be a sleek race car, or a clunker with black exhaust pouring out the back?   Your choice.   Flax crackers, vegetable-quinoa stirfry, green smoothie: premium fuel in the tank of a Porsche.   Hot dogs, fries, soda: diesel or “regular” in the tank of a Pinto.

Try that out on your kids to teach them about food choices (and why you’re making the purchasing choices you are) and let us know what they think!   I could see that being one of those sayings your kids remember for life, and 20 years later you hear them telling one of their friends, “You know how Mom always said, you wanna to be a racecar, or a clunker?”   Or, “What do racecars eat?   Racecars don’t eat hot dogs or Ding Dongs.”   I love this analogy, because we’re trying to teach our kids to be racecars, right?   And little boys love them!   And it helps us parents remember at the grocery store, PREMIUM GAS COSTS MORE.