Posts Tagged ‘
Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Imagine gratefully sitting down at the table for a classic American Thanksgiving meal, only to notice the glorious turkey is nowhere in sight.
As strange as it sounds, a survey shows there are around 7 million Americans identifying as vegetarians; meaning this Thanksgiving they will intentionally pass on the traditional turkey, ham, and chicken-infused dressing.
If you happen to be in a room of 100 people right now, look around you: Statistics would predict that 3 of those people are vegetarians; meaning they choose not to eat meat.
Cue the Shell family from Nashville, Tennessee. Every time they walk into a room of 97 people, they become the token vegetarians.
How is it possible to have a Thanksgiving meal without any meat? Doesn’t that somehow defeat the purpose of the feast?
Nick Shell, father to 2 year-old Jack and husband to wife Jill, gives some insight on what will be on their Thanksgiving menu this year:
“We have this awesome recipe for vegetarian meat loaf. I know this sounds weird, but you make it with cottage cheese, bran flakes, French onion soup mix, chopped walnuts, and an onion. You mix it up in a big bowl then bake it in muffin tin in muffin form. It so believably tastes like real meat loaf, I often feel guilty when I eat it.”
While many of the Shell family’s daily typical meals are simple and based around whole wheat pasta, they plan to prepare some of their more special recipes for this Thanksgiving.
To accompany their “meat loaf,” they also plan to indulge in “baked spicy fries” and cucumber sandwiches on Jewish Rye bread. Of course, it goes without saying they will have a salad to start off their vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.
It sounds like the Shell family have their menu figured out for this year, but how would things be different if they were guests at someone else’s dinner instead?
“It’s actually not that big of a deal,” Nick explains. “When you live the extreme lifestyle of ‘no meat’ every day, you’re already accustomed to coming up with a Plan B. A lot of times, it becomes our responsibility to bring our Plan B with us to a dinner. We’ll volunteer to being a dish or two that we know will fill us, and that will also contribute to the meal as a whole, so others can enjoy it too.
For our son Jack, we seem to always be carrying out a bag of Cheerios and pouch of pureed veggies with fruit any time we drive him somewhere anyway. Or he can try what we’re having. So we really don’t have to worry about what to feed him; this lifestyle is all he knows. Even at his daycare, he’s used to being the only kid in class to have a separate vegetarian version of what the other kids are eating.”
But even with a fancy vegetarian selection, does a person truly enjoy their Thanksgiving as much as the other 97% of America? Nick shares his perspective on this:
“Honestly, I never really was a big fan of the Thanksgiving meal. For me, I always felt obligated to eat too much turkey and overcooked vegetables, becoming too lazy to escape whatever VH1 countdown was on TV. But now, as a vegetarian, I can be completely full, yet not feel bogged down. In fact, it’s becoming our tradition to go for a long walk after our Thanksgiving meal. Fresh air and sunlight are basically part of the menu too.”
Of course, vegetarians aren’t really limited when it comes to desserts. Sure, marshmallows and pudding are made from the skin and bones of pigs and cows; but other than that, a vegetarian can enjoy pumpkin pie, homemade cookies, and egg nog with the rest of the crowd.
However, if you are of the majority of America who will be eating turkey this Thanksgiving and the concept of a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal does not intrigue you, then there’s one more thing to be thankful for this year:
Be thankful you’re not a vegetarian.
To see the actual recipes of the menu items Nick Shell mentioned today, check out his Pinterest and click on his page called “Proven Vegetarian Recipes.” Then you can make your very own vegetarian meat loaf out of cottage cheese and bran flakes.
Saturday, November 10th, 2012
Call it a trend. Call it a common trait of the children of Generation Y. Call it what you like:
Studies are consistently showing that when given the chance to eat cake or candy over vegetables, toddlers are choosing the sweets every time.
Nick Shell, a father of a 23-month-old son, expands on the phenomenon:
“With my son Jack’s 2nd birthday coming up next week, we received a large padded envelope from my sister-in-law in Pennsylvania. My son was so excited to open the package after hearing my wife and me tell him it was for his birthday,” Shell explains.
“It’s not that he was disappointed with his new outfit or his die cast metal Thomas the Train toy, but for about ten minutes after opening the package, he continued looking around the room for the cake he assumed came with the package too.”
Raising his son in a lifestyle of strict vegetarianism and avoidance of processed foods, even juice, the toddler boy had never really eaten candy up until last week at Halloween.
“We were so proud of Jack for eating his green beans after dinner last night that we rewarded him with some leftover Halloween M&M’s. After the first few, he kept resonding, ‘I try? I try again.’
Shell goes on to tell that after his son saw a package box of cake mix in the car ride home from the grocery store, his son Jack insisted of holding the box tightly to his chest.
Jack soon began crying when he opened the box to find there was not actually prepared cake inside, but instead only the cake mix.
Little Jack Shell is only one of many toddlers out there who has a slight obsession with sugary foods.
So the next time you hear of a toddler throwing a tantrum because they can’t have a Snickers bar at the grocery store check-out, don’t be surprised.
This sort of thing is happening a lot these days. It’s official:
Toddlers have a sweet tooth.
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
I happen to be on vacation right now in California, and couldn’t help but notice the continuous TV ads either praising or demonizing the state’s Proposition 37.
It is a food labeling bill that would force companies selling genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) to make this clear in their labels, to notify potential consumers.
To research both sides of the controversy, visit CA Right to Know and No Prop 37.
However, if you would like to hear my extremely biased perspective, keep reading.
This is a subject I am passionate about. It’s a personal issue for me which I have written about several times before.
My family has been vegetarian for nearly a year now; to the best of our knowledge, that is.
Honestly, I am less concerned about knowing whether my food has GMO’s and more concerned about knowing what actually is in my food. But I know that if Proposition 37 is passed, it will provide a greater chance for a future of more honest food labeling, in general.
Back in February, I published an article named “Is ‘Natural’ Vanilla Flavoring Really From Beavers’ Anal Glands?”
What a silly and ridiculous question to have to ask. But the the truly silly and ridiculous thing was that the answer was, and still is, an assumed yes.
I want the confidence of knowing that my son isn’t eating food that was “naturally” flavored by the anal glands of a beaver.
Not to mention, pudding and gelatin are made from the skin and bones of cows and pigs; not vegetarian or kosher.
Oh, and the red food dye Crimson Lake comes from parasite bugs. I applaud Starbucks for agreeing to stop using Crimson Lake in their drinks earlier this year.
Why did Starbucks implement the change? Because it’s what some of their vegan and vegetarian customers asked for.
Similarly, there are Californians who want their food growers to be less candid as well.
If you have Netflix, watch Food, Inc. It’s a very well-produced documentary that helps us understand, as well as question, what’s actually in our food and where our food comes from. You will understand why people like me cringe at the mention of the name Monsanto.
Then it will be that much more interesting that Monsanto is currently the top financial donator against Prop 37, having already spent over $7 million to campaign against it.
I also highly recommend taking look at this list of the top donors, both for and against the bill.
Let me be the first to admit Proposition 37 isn’t perfect. I have extracted this quote from No Prop 37, a website that is against the food labeling bill:
“Prop. 37 is full of absurd, politically motivated exemptions that make no sense. It requires special labels on soy milk, but exempts cow’s milk. Dairy products, eggs, meat and poultry are all exempt. Fruit juice requires a label, but alcohol made with some of the same GE ingredients is exempt.”
Good point. Proposition 37 is politically motivated and catered to protect certain groups. But I would rather have an imperfect solution than no solution.
I believe that if Proposition 37 is passed, other states will adopt similar, yet better, versions of the bill.
In closing, please know that I welcome all comments on Proposition 37, especially from people who completely disagree with me.
If you believe my opinion is wrong, let me know why. Use this article as a platform for your biased perspective, as I have just done.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
“Jewish?” asks my son Jack every Saturday and Sunday morning. His pronunciation of the word “juice” is still a little off.
Be glad you’re not my kid. In the economy of food at our house, juice is just one notch down from holy and sanctified.
When can Jack have juice? Only on the weekends, in the kitchen. And it’s 100% organic juice, which we water down greatly.
(He can drink a little bit of juice when he’s sick, like right now.)
Why am I so weird about my letting my kid drink juice? At least it’s not soda, right? Or some sugary, food-dyed cocktail.
People across the world and throughout time have wondered why we’re all here; as in, what’s the meaning of life?
Similarly, everyday thousands of people are looking for an answer to help get rid of their kid’s eczema.
Well, I have an answer.
For nearly a decade, I suffered from excruciating eczema; in particular, dyshidrosis.
Mine is completely in remission now, but only because I radically changed my diet and lifestyle. About three years ago when I starting experimenting with ways to get my “Freddy Krueger hands” to stop oozing, I discovered that if I stopped drinking juice for a couple of days, my skin condition improved.
So I stopped drinking juice all together.
While my son may look nothing like me, he did inherit my sensitive skin condition and he is prone to eczema.
And sure enough, if he drinks more than one serving of juice for more than one day in a row, the back of his neck and his thighs break out.
This didn’t happen just one time. It happens every time. In fact, I’m pretty sure his eczema will bad tomorrow with how much juice I’ve let him drink since he got sick a few days ago.
But why does 100% organic juice make eczema worse?
Because it’s a processed food.
The vitamin-packed juice of the fruit is separated from the healthy fiber of the fruit. Together, the juice and fiber digest properly in our bodies.
But apart, it’s messin’ with nature and stuff.
That’s why we feed Jack actual fruits and veggies, even if we have to puree them and mix them together. So he gets all the nutrition he needs from the whole fruit or veggie.
And that’s why he thinks prunes and broccoli taste good.
Jack’s dentist, Dr. Snodgrass, even warns against giving kids juice regularly, in his brochures. The high consistency of sugar in juice, especially when the child sleeps with a sippy cup full of juice, can lead to cavities.
This is taken from the guidelines of The American Academy of Pediatrics in regards to the subject:
- Babies and toddlers should not drink fruit juice at bedtime.
- For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup).
- Drinking too much juice can lead to poor nutrition, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, and tooth decay.
- All children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.
So am I really that weird after all when it comes to being extremely conservative about my kid drinking juice?
I invite you to read a blog by Lisa Leake, who is not okay with juice either. Her blog is 100 Days of Real Food.
Here’s what she had to say today on her Facebook wall:
“A few readers have asked what my kids drink besides milk and water…and I hate to say it, but the answer is not much! They occasionally have juice (which is usually store-bought 1-ingredient organic apple juice) and by occasional I mean 1 – 2 cups per week on average and it’s diluted with water.”
The way I see it, a kid drinking juice is like an adult drinking alcohol. It is to be consumed in moderation.
So that’s how it’s treated in our house:
Juice is “baby booze.”
Categories: Health, Must Read, The Dadabase | Tags: eczema, food, fruit juice, Health, healthy, kids drinking juice, parenting, toddler, vegetarian
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
Kids eat the darndest things. Or maybe it’s just mine.
To our amazement, Jack loves broccoli. He opens his mouth as wide as it will go in an effort to get as much of that green stuff in at a time.
I mean, usually with new foods, especially healthy ones, we put them on his plate in hopes he’ll just eat them without question; eventually having to force him to take a few bites when he refuses.
But with broccoli, you’d think he’s eating cake and ice cream, based on the passion and speed he eats it.
That would be one thing. But in that same dinner when he first proclaimed his love for little green trees, he just as eagerly wolfed down some “all natural, organic, unsweetened” applesauce.” Utensil of choice?
A toy truck.
Yes, we provided a very cool giraffe-shaped spoon for him. But he made it clear to us that he preferred an old Matchbox toy truck, that was actually mine from the 80′s, to scoop (?) his applesauce up with.
It has become a regular occurrence, too.
But for some reason, Jack won’t use the truck as a utensil for other foods. Though I would love to see him try.
One thing’s for sure: I’m not going to prevent my kid from eating healthy food, even if, in theory, he should like it.
I’d much rather keep him under the illusion that broccoli tastes just as good as a Happy Meal. For what it’s worth, we already provide the toy with his meal anyway.
An all-you-can-eat broccoli buffet served alongside unsweetened applesauce and a toy truck as the utensil?
Many toddlers would turn down this opportunity, but as for Jack, he’s eating his fruits and veggies by the “truckful.”
(Ah, come on… Like you didn’t see that pun coming!)
Does your kid have a weirder eating habit than mine? I want to hear it!
Categories: Health, Home Life, Must Read, Nostalgia, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: applesauce, broccoli, food, fruits and veggies, organic, toddler, vegetarian