Teenagers and good food

Posted by on Feb 15, 2011 in featured articles, Food for thought | 0 comments

The teenage years are years of exciting freedom – on so many levels. Many parents experience freedom as rebellion, and food is one of the issues that causes some parents plenty of grief. Dr. Susan Rubin wrote a great post on getting teenagers on the right side of the good food equation, which I’ve re-posted here.  If you want to share your successes with teenagers and food, we want to hear them!

Dr. Susan Rubin: Rebellion is most certainly part of a teenager’s job description. Its part of our kid’s journey to become independent adults. As a parent of two teens and a twenty year old, I’ve endured my share of this energy over the years.

An anguished parent of a teenager reached out to me today. Her teen-aged son has a job working at a food store and is eating huge amounts of junk food as a result. This mom wanted some help in finding a way to get her kid to see the light about chemicalized processed packaged food. After all, at home she cooks great food from scratch using real ingredients.

The toxic food environment is everywhere, and the older our kids get, the more they are immersed in it. At a certain point, all we can do is cook really good food, don’t preach (too much) and hope that at some point our kids realize that our food values are worthwhile.

But if you want to do a little  gentle preaching with your teen, here are some ideas on how to go about it.

ZITS: Connect the dots between clear skin and clean food. Mark Hyman’s recent piece about Ance and Sugar is worth a read. Perhaps a 21-day elimination diet that includes lots of fresh water (and no Gatorade or diet soda) will show some results that will keep your teen eating clean.

MANIPULATIVE MARKETING: Teenagers hate being taken advantage of. Once they learn more  about the $4.2 BILLION dollars spent to lure them to eat junk food,  they might re-think their choices.

ADD/ADHD: If your teen has a hard time staying focused, junk food may be the culprit. Recent research in the Lancet medical journal suggests that ADHD can be induced by food. In the new study, kids with ADHD were put on a “restricted elimination diet” containing only rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water for five weeks. The authors found that ADHD symptoms were reduced in 78 per cent of children placed on the diet.  5 weeks of clean food may result in your teen getting more homework done in less time. It is well worth looking into.

My Junk Food E-book 

My E-book, Winning the Junk Food War will give you further support and inspiration to fight the good fight with your tweens and teens. You can learn more about it by clicking here.

But  always remember, at the end of the day, your best bet is to invest in a good meal made at home from excellent ingredients. Our walk is more powerful than our talk!

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Happy Valentine’s day!

Posted by on Feb 14, 2011 in Food for thought, news and happenings | 0 comments

Red and pink hearts.. the last post was about beet cookies, this one, simple beet hearts. Take your beet and cut it into slices. Then with a paring knife, cut each slice into a heart shape. Freshly cut, they make great stamps! Bake them or boil them, or if cut thin, drizzle with lemon and top with chopped cilantro.

All of us at Butter Beans wish you much LOVE today, and everyday!

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Valentine heart beets

Posted by on Feb 10, 2011 in Recipes | 0 comments

Celebrate Valentines day – by celebrating your heart! Beets are great for your heart (they are blood builders) and make everything beautiful pink and red – appropriate for the occasion. Grate them into salads, dice them and cook with your rice for pink rice, or chop them, drizzle in olive oil and top with rosemary and sea salt and roast until tender. Check out this Mama’s recipe for heart beet cookies. Have you ever made beet heart stamps? We are going to try…

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Butternut Bean Soup

Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in Recipes | 0 comments

This is a recipe from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It is the tale of her family’s year-long committment to living off the land and only buying food from their local community growers and farmers. The family of four had a few concessions, to include a couple of imported things that included olive oil, spices, tea and coffee. And they learned a lot about growing, and communing around food. Some pretty wonderful recipes developed as a result. This soup is served in the squash, and has dimension that is deeply warming. The image on the left, is the Kingsolver’s Vegetannual – an imaginary plant that bears over the course of one growing season a cornucopia of all the different vegetable products we can harvest.

Butternut bean soup Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained

3 medium portobello mushroom caps, sliced (optional)

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon thyme

1 tablespoon sage

4 teaspoons rosemary

2 butternut or hubbard squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

Olive oil


Combine beans and spices in a large saucepan, add water to cover amply, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until beans re tender and most water has cooked off. Add mushrooms toward the end. While beans are cooking, drizzle a large roasting pan with olive oil and arrange squash skin side down. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 40 minutes, until fully tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and serve each half squash filled with a generous scoop of bean soup.

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Food allergies, what’s up?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2011 in featured articles, Food for thought, news and happenings | 0 comments

There are many ideas about why we are seeing more and more food allergies, especially among children today. Some say it has to do with changed farming practices and an increase in use of pesticides and herbicides, some say it is from an over-polluted environment making immune systems more vulnerable in general, some say it is because of an increase in vaccinations and medications in general, others say the opposite, and some say it is no different than it was centuries ago but that now it is better documented.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that documented food allergies are on the rise. In the United States, the most common food culprits are: egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy. Many classrooms and even schools opt to label themselves “nut free” zones to ensure the safety of those vulnerable. Butter Beans’ kitchen, is also a nut-free zone.

When it comes to food sensitivities and allergies, the symptoms really run the gamut from a runny nose, and itchy eyes, to achy joints and belly bloating, to fuzzy thinking, dizziness, asthma and anaphylactic shock. There are blood tests and skin prick tests, but at the end of the day, if you are dealing with symptoms that are not life threatening, the most fool-proof method of discovering what foods might be ailing you, is by testing the food yourself. If you suspect dairy for example, then you would opt to not eat ANY dairy for a week (easier said than done!), and then have your regular dose first thing in the morning, and see what happens. Symptoms either will show up immediately, or can take a couple of hours. You can keep a food diary where you write down how you feel right after eating a food, and then check back in with yourself two hours later. You can also check your pulse before eating, and ten minutes after. Very often, your pulse will change by up to 20 beats in response to a food sensitivity.

The good news is that many people outgrow their food induced symptoms, and others find that they tolerate said food if eaten once or twice a week, but just not everyday. This may be nature’s way of forcing variety on us.

Have you discovered a food sensitivity or allergy? If you have a story that has led to a triumphant adaptation in the kitchen, consider sharing your story with us for our cookbook.

Interested in learning more? Check out this study that was just released describing that boys, and in general more affluent children in England, have more peanut allergies that girls, and less affluent populations. Some think that living in ultra-clean (anti-bacterial) contexts are part of the problem.

Also check out the updated guidelines from the National  Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Thank goodness humanity has a great track record for adapting to new and different landscapes of all kinds.

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