Archive for the ‘ Doing Good ’ Category

Could You Give Up Sugar for a Day? Join Us As We Try

Monday, April 7th, 2014

A couple years ago writer Eve Schaub, her husband, and their two small kids stopped eating sugar — for a whole year. Not only did this mean no cookies, candy, or ice cream, they also discovered that many of their favorite everyday foods contained hidden sugars including some brands of bacon, crackers, yogurt, salad dressing, pasta sauce, chicken broth, tortillas, and even ketchup.

Schaub learned that the sweet stuff is everywhere, often lurking on food labels under names like high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, fructose, dextrose, glucose, evaporated cane juice, or molasses.

She chronicled her family’s journey in the upcoming book Year of No Sugar. And, now she’s organizing an event for the rest of us to test our sugar-free mettle, for one day only (phew!). Schaub has declared Wednesday, April 9, the Day of No Sugar Challenge. Several of us here at Parents are going to participate, and we’d love to have as many of our readers as possible join us.

But, first of all — why give up sugar at all?

To be clear, not all sugar is “bad.” Natural sugars in fruit and vegetables are fine. Because your apple contains fiber that counteracts its sugar content, your body remains balanced. But, dig in to packaged applesauce with its heaping teaspoons of sugar, and your body must produce insulin to battle it. All too often, this can lead to a number of problems ranging from sluggishness and irritability to diabetes and heart disease.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 9 teaspoons for men, 6 teaspoons for women, and 4 teaspoons for children. A typical breakfast of cereal and juice can rack up 11 teaspoons—that’s nearly four times the amount your kid should have in an entire day! Clearly, we need to cut back.

On top of this, sugar does not satisfy hunger. Instead, it can make you hungrier (or “HANGRY”) and more moody once your blood sugar drops.

So how did sugar get in virtually everything we eat in the first place?

Sugar used to be a condiment, sprinkled lightly onto food. Now, sugar has become our food. According to Robert Lustig, M.D., about 80 percent of items in grocery stores contain added sugar. This is because a majority of the food we eat is processed, which requires refined sugar to be palatable.

One of the best examples of this is flavored yogurt. Often considered a health food, yogurt can actually be pit of hidden sugar. Traditional yogurt is strained, sour milk—it’s supposed to be tangy. “Who gave us the notion to add fruit-flavored syrups to make it sweet? The food industry, which wants to sell more,” says Dr. Lustig. “No doctor would suggest that.”

Learn more about identifying added sugar and cutting processed food from your diet.

I’m already thinking about what my 8 year-old daughter and I will eat on Wednesday. Surprisingly, I think breakfast will be the toughest challenge. With no honey or maple syrup, oatmeal just won’t be the same. The vast majority of packaged cereals are out. Virtually any bread I buy at the grocery store has sugar in it, so no toast. I will probably make us a smoothie with milk, banana, unsweetened yogurt, frozen fruit, and unsweetened peanut butter. Eggs are another possibility.

Does this one-day experiment seem like more trouble than it’s worth? For a minute. But, then I remember that sugar doesn’t really belong in every single food we eat. I’ve come to crave the taste so much that any meal without something sweet seems like it’s missing something. I want to prove that I have power over my cravings. Because, really, we should be able to make it through just one measly day without sugar. Right?

Would you ever give up sugar, even just for a day? If you’re game, join us on Wednesday: Tweet to @parentsmagazine using the hashtag #NoSugarChallenge.

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Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid

Image: Year of No Sugar book cover courtesy of Sourcebooks, Inc.; close up on fruit salad via Shutterstock

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Spread Cheer, Get Some in Return!

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

With the food riches of Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is looming just around the corner (about three weeks to be exact). Though many get caught up trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends, it’s easy to forget that presents don’t always need to come in shiny packages. 

Today’s #GivingTuesday, a national movement that started just last year. The goal: create a national day of giving where people can pay it forward. Whether that means donating to a favorite charity or volunteering at your local shelter, being charitable is all about finding the causes that matter to you.

One toy company is taking that mentality and spreading the joy throughout December. Tegu, known for its award-winning magnetic blocks, recently introduced a new member to the family: the Tegu Elf. And he’s on a mission to give back this holiday season.

From now until December 20, he will be tracking the hashtag #TeguElf across social media–Tegu’s Facebook wall, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Once he finds a person in need, he’ll send a special present your way, anything from free Tegu products to a restaurant gift card.

To get the elf’s attention, just send out a message with the hashtag and the thing you’d like most this Christmas. Don’t forget to look outside your immediate family, too. The elf is on the lookout for charities to donate to as well.

In the weeks to come, be sure to track his movements and announcements on Tegu’s Facebook page. Each day, he offers something new (such as free cubes placed in every fifth order on the site). In the meantime, if you have your own plans to give back today, share a picture explaining your good deeds using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie.

The time it takes you to do something for others will feel so much better than battling a sea of frenzied shoppers.

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Family Favorites for Feeding America

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Just like many others, my family’s holiday season is all about tradition. Though Thanksgiving is a couple days away, I already know we’ll be having my aunt’s garlic “smashed” potatoes and my gram’s pimento-stuffed celery (even though she’s the only one who likes it). We keep these recipes in the rotation because they’re near and dear to us. But this year, sharing them with others gives bigger benefits to those in need.

Go to Dish Up the Love to submit your favorite recipe and $1 will be donated to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks leading the fight against hunger. Each dollar provides nine meals for families who need them.

Partnering with the program is Top Chef alum and mom Antonia Lofaso, whose first book The Busy Mom’s Cookbook was recently released in paperback. A single parent, Antonia relishes her time at home with her daughter, Xea, making memories through food.

“For me the holidays are about making memories with family and friends around the kitchen table and giving back. Dish Up the Love celebrates these special holiday moments,” Antonia says. “I shared the recipe for my grandma’s lasagna because it’s served at all Lofaso family holidays. At Thanksgiving, we have turkey, but there’s always lasagna and tons of other Italian food.”

Grandma’s Lasagna

Serves: 6 to 8
Total time: 85 minutes

SAUCE INGREDIENTS
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped garlic (about 8 cloves)
• 3 (16-ounce) cans of peeled, whole plum tomatoes
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar

LASAGNA INGREDIENTS
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning, or 4 teaspoons fresh marjoram or oregano
• 1 (9-ounce) package of no-boil, oven-ready lasagna noodles
• Sauce (from above)
• ½ cup shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
• 4 cups shredded whole-milk, mozzarella cheese
• 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 6 to 8 slices each
• 12 medium to large fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. For the sauce, head the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and just as it starts to brown around the edges, throw in the canned tomatoes. You don’t want the garlic to burn, so have the cans open and ready to go beforehand.

2. Add the salt and sugar and whisk it all together. Let the sauce simmer on medium-low for 40 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. If any foam rises to the top of the sauce, skim it off. That’s the acid from the tomatoes, and your sauce will taste better without it. Using a hand blender or counter top blender, blend on medium until smooth.

3. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 10-inch sauté pan heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the ground turkey and the salt. Cook the turkey for about 5 minutes, until it’s browned throughout. Just as it’s finishing the cooking process, stir in the Italian seasoning. Drain any excess fat or liquid from the pan.

4. Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with 3 sheets of pasta. Ladle 1 cup of sauce over the noodles. You don’t want the sauce to soak through, so you don’t need to overdo it. Layer on half of the meat, followed by half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and half of the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle on one-third of the mozzarella and arrange one-third of the fresh tomatoes on top of it. Top with one-third of the basil.

5. Repeat the process for the next layer: 3 sheets of pasta, a cup of sauce, the rest of the meat, the rest of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the remaining ricotta, a third of the mozzarella, a third of the fresh tomatoes, and another third of the basil. The last layer is your presentation layer, so make it pretty. Add three more sheets of pasta.

6. Top the noodles with the last of the sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The top should be a crispy golden brown when the lasagna is done, and the pasta sauce around the sides of the dish should be thick, not runny. Let the lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. If you cut into it while it is still piping hot, it will fall apart.

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For more information and to share your favorite family recipe, visit worldkitchen.com/dishupthelove. After submitting a recipe, you’ll be entered for weekly sweepstakes to win Pyrex, Baker’s Secret, and CorningWare products.

Get more kid-friendly recipes from Antonia Lofaso.

Recipe and image reprinted from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook with permission from Avery, an imprint of Penguin Group.

Image of Antonia and Xea by Alex Martinez.

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Sunday Saver: How to Reduce Food Waste and Slash Grocery Bills

Friday, November 8th, 2013

“When my daughter wakes up, she opens her eyes and asks ‘What’s for dinner?’”

“I wish I was kidding,” Alex Guarnaschelli laughs. ”By the time she’s eating breakfast, I better have an answer for her.”

Like moms everywhere, this Food Network star faces The Dinner Question. (And thus, trips to the market and food storage tasks.)

Alex, the author of Old-School Comfort Food and mother to a 6-year-old, is the executive chef at Butter in New York City. Last year, she became one of Food Network’s Iron Chefs, and she is a regular judge on Chopped.

Every morning Alex goes to the kitchen to plan her entire day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.

Making a plan of attack on your groceries will save time, money, and cut back on waste, she says, which is why she partnered with Glad for the Save It Sunday campaign. The movement, which encourages participants to protect and preserve food, centers on the Sunday ritual of grocery shopping.

“It’s the one day of the week when you can commit to setting aside time: for shopping, cooking ahead meals, and storing other items—it’s about starting the week on the right foot,” she says.

Alex does a lot of her cooking on Sunday, which is why the pledge really speaks to her. But it also goes a step further.

“Ironically, the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook—because I’m doing it all day everyday and by mid-week I’m fried,” she says. “Taking that time on Sunday, and getting joy from it, is wonderful.”

A proponent of reducing waste, Alex is extremely conscious of the issue both at work and at home.

“When I talk to my team about how to prep and store 100 pounds of beans for the restaurant, the same thing applies when I go home and make braised short ribs for my daughter,” she says. “You have to be very proactive.”

According to a 2012 study by the National Resources Defense Council, the average American household throws out 25 percent of the food purchased—roughly $1,500 worth each year.

 

Try Alex’s tips for saving time, money, and reducing food waste:
• Make a meal plan.

“Figure out what you are going to do with everything you buy,” she says. “It’s a pleasure to have an agenda—you’ll feel like you’re pulling a fast one on everybody because it’s so easy!”

Read the Parents meal-plan guide to get started.

 

• Stop thinking about leftovers as, well, leftovers.

“Instead of looking at packaging as something that lets you recycle and throw back in the scraps no one ate, think about it as a new beginning,” she says. “And, by making a plan, you’re actually ensuring there aren’t any leftovers.”

Plus, “leftovers” can be better than the first time around: “Growing up my mom would make a big batch of meatballs and sauce and, to me, the sauce tasted better two days later,” she says. “It’s not a leftover—it’s something you created that got better with age or other ingredients.”

 

• Don’t be hard on yourself.

“Some weeks, I don’t have my act together,” she says. “As a busy working mom, there are nights when I have to say, ‘Guess what kid, it’s fried eggs tonight.’ And that’s okay.”

 

• Reorganize your fridge.

“The crisper can be the kiss of death. Don’t put your fruits and veggies in there,” she says. “Instead, fill it with club soda and put your produce on display. My favorite thing to do is put herbs in a jar of water on the top shelf, or sometimes right on the kitchen table.”

 

• Buy different ingredients.

“Challenge yourself to use new items—like a bunch of thyme or mint—by taking one little step each day for a week. In order to use it up, you’ll find creative ways to add the ingredient to dishes.”

 

To join the #SaveItSunday movement, visit glad.com. If you pledge, you’ll be entered to win a meal prepared by a personal chef.

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Thinking About Hurricane Season and Rebuilding Together

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

This is a guest post by Isabel Kallman, the founder of Alphamom.com. Isabel is volunteering with Meredith Corporation in Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit that believes everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy home. Earlier this year, the Parents team spent a day cleaning, painting, and gardening at Gerritsen Beach, New York, a Brooklyn neighborhood hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Visit parents.com/WeRebuild to see photos of the workday, volunteer for a project, or to make a donation to support Rebuilding Together’s efforts.

Gerritsen Beach after Hurricane Sandy by Joseph Mikos Photography

Gerritsen Beach after Hurricane Sandy by Joseph Mikos Photography

 The beginning of September always brings with it a flood of memories and anxieties, frankly.

It’s the beginning of the school year in the Northeast. It’s the beginning of a month filled with beautiful skies and crisper weather, just like on September 11th, 2001. And, it’s the beginning of Hurricane Season for the East Coast.

As a child, Hurricane Season in New York City wasn’t something to which we paid that much attention. I remember schools being closed during Hurricane Gloria. But, she skipped New York City.

By college, Hurricane Andrew of 1992 was very memorable. Not because it hit New York (it didn’t), but because its path had crossed with the homes of some of my college buddies from Florida.  They came back to college in the Northeast having endured a Category 5 hurricane. My world and cares were expanding beyond New York City.

Over the past two years, New York City has prepared itself for Hurricane Irene and seen firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Sandy (some like to call it Super Storm Sandy, but to me that moniker underplays the devastation she left in her wake). I saw some of it firsthand in the days following.

Unfortunately, I think this is our new normal in the Northeast.  I think we should be prepared for annual super storms and hurricanes to hit our coast.

Since Hurricane Andrew, I  have often wondered how the residents of the Caribbean and the southeastern states mentally prepare and steel themselves for Hurricane Season.  But if there was one lesson I learned back during Hurricane Katrina it was how the American public rallies around others and how the Internet is an effective tool in connecting those who want to help to the resources that allow them to do so. The comfort I reach for now is knowing for sure that if and when a hurricane strikes our area again, there are many many people who want to help.

When my friends from around the country learned of the desperate need for supplies in hard-hit areas of NYC like the Rockaways, Coney Island and Staten Island, I was inundated with messages asking where they could send supplies.

I discovered in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy so many wonderful organizations that were able to coordinate the many volunteers who wanted to help. One such group is Rebuilding Together. It’s a non-profit group that for the past 25 years has been helping communities throughout the US with critical repairs post-devastation.

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach with Meredith Corp

I was fortunate enough to be a guest of Parents Magazine at Meredith Corporation’s annual Rebuilding Together volunteer day in Gerritsen Beach. Along with 499 other volunteers, I visited the small Brooklyn seaside community where 75% of the homes were unexpectedly flooded during Hurricane Sandy. In team groups, we all worked furiously to help as much as we could that day. I was assigned to help paint and restore Kidde Beach which is the small neighborhood beach where Gerritsen community–especially the kids and families–gather during summer nights and hang out.

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach with Meredith Corp

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach with Meredith Corp

We hammered and painted as furiously as we could. Together we wanted to make a huge impact that day. I left with sore arms, but even though we couldn’t accomplish and restore everything, I was comforted to know that Meredith Corporation and Rebuilding Together would be in Gerritsen finishing up restoring homes and Kidde Beach as long as necessary.

We Rebuild Gerritsen Beach Meredith Corporation

Thank you from young Gerritsen Beach resident

Hurricanes are horrifying, as is the devastation they leave behind. But the Americans who rise to the occasion and help? They are awesome and a source of help and comfort to others afterwards. Knowing that fellow Americans want and do help, well, that  is a huge comfort to me. Especially now that it’s September again.

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Easy Way to Raise Money for Your Kid’s School

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Sometimes giving back feels like a chore, but it doesn’t have to.     I recently came across Kellogg’s Family Rewards Giving, which allows you to donate to schools and charities with nothing more than a computer and products you probably already have around the house.

Kellogg’s new loyalty program only requires that you peek inside the box of participating products (like Special K, Mini-Wheats, and Nutrigrain granola bars) and type in the code online. Kellogg’s then sends you a donation code you can use to give donations of $1 or $5 to the school or charity you care about. From a typical grocery order, you may be able to donate a couple of dollars a month.

Kellogg’s partners include Feeding America, Action for Healthy Kids, American Red Cross, Share Our Strength, United Way, Food Research and Action Center and more than 120,000 schools. If you don’t see your child’s school on the list, talk to the principal about getting your school involved.

 

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The Gift My Mother Gave Me—What Did Your Mother Give You?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Mother and Daughter Mother's DayWhat’s the biggest gift your mother gave you? Is it your strong independent streak? Your insane sense of humor? Or was it post-soccer-practice Taco Tuesday that she somehow pulled together every week?

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we’re thinking a lot about the beautiful gifts that mothers give—and about how we can pass along similar gifts to the children in our lives. (It’s no surprise that 89 percent of moms say they’re happy to be turning into their own mother when it comes to parenting—our moms are incredible!)

Maria Shriver lost her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, more than three years ago—but that doesn’t mean the incredible gifts her mom gave her have faded in any way. In fact, Maria has made a short (and holy-wow, seriously emotional—get out the tissue box!) film celebrating the gifts her mother, founder of the Special Olympics, left her with.

Beyond being super moving—it WILL make you want to call your mom!—Maria’s film, “The Gift My Mother Gave Me,” is available to watch and share with other parents right on Facebook. And one of the most touching things about it is that, thanks to the people over at P & G, each time you share the film with a Facebook friend, they’ll donate a dollar to the Special Olympics—up to $50,000 that will help to promote the basic tenants of acceptance, encouragement, and community—three things I think almost any mom hopes to instill in their children.

Have you seen the video? Did you go through two tissues like I did? What’s the biggest gift your mother gave you? Tell us in the comments!

Image of mother and daughter via Shutterstock.

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Give an Amazing Gift This Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

If you’re still trying to figure out what to give Mom this Sunday, consider a floral arrangement that does more than brighten up the room. This FTD Bright Bounty Bouquet is not only beautiful but powerful as well — just like the mothers in your life!  The colorful arrangement includes 13 stems of pink and yellow daisies and yellow tulips, perfect for a lovely spring day. The bouquet was named the Editors’ Choice by Parents magazine editors, and proceeds from every purchase will help fund a $10,000 donation to CARE headed by our parent company, Meredith Corporation.

CARE International is a global relief organization that fights human poverty. In 2012, the organization worked in 87 countries to support nearly 1,000 different poverty-related projects.

Each Bright Bounty Bouquet purchased will help CARE’s mission to fight poverty. It’s a simple way to give back and a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

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