Jewish Community

2 Great News Items for your Family’s Health!

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your summer and are not letting the start of the school year stress you out too much. See my previous camp and school lunch ideas and stay tuned for more! Also coming up soon, new product reviews and Jewish holiday menus and recipes.

So, here is the great news!

#1

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If you have read my book, “The Healthy Mama’s Guide to feeding your family well – simply and sanely,” you know that triclosan, a common antibacterial ingredient in soap and hand sanitizer doesn’t work well, doesn’t prevent colds or flu, and actually may contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Now, the FDA has banned the use of triclosan and triclocarban in some products. “The FDA’s final rule covers only consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. It does not apply to hand sanitizers or hand wipes. It also does not apply to antibacterial soaps that are used in health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes.”

See this NPR story for more information about the ban of those two chemicals and 17 more. This is a great start towards dealing with the increased antibiotic resistance we’re facing as a society. Another great step would be to ban the routine use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. See this CDC page for more information.

#2

Some of you may recall that I actually started a change.org petition to take the food coloring out of Wacky Mac, the kosher version of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I thought if Kraft could do it for the masses, why should the Jewish kids still suffer? :) I’m happy to tell you that Wacky Mac took out the food coloring!

They’re following the trend of General Mills, Kellogg’s and many other companies who are phasing out artificial food coloring in many products. Very soon, Fruit Loops and Trix will no longer contain artificial food coloring. That certainly doesn’t mean they’ll be healthful, but at least one piece of fruit of the poisonous tree will be eliminated!

 

Feeding your family well on Shavuos – Simply and Sanely!

The way Shavuot falls this year (10 days from now) we are looking at a three day yuntov. Because of the length and because it starts with Shabbat, I really have to keep my menus simple to maintain my sanity. I encourage you to do the same! You’ll also want to do as much prep ahead of time as possible.

I have two suggestions to simplify your menu.

  1. Make one big dish and supplement it with a side salad and rainbow vegetable platter. For your big main dish, consider my vegan enchilada casserole or vegan gluten-free lasagna. I promise you won’t be able to tell that either dish is gluten-free or sans cheese. In addition, both of these dishes can be put together before Shabbat and yuntov and then baked fresh for lunch. You can also bake them ahead of time and reheat for your meal.

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  1. Another simple strategy is to let your guests customize their own meal. For example, see a previous year’s Shavuot blog with a “make your own” Taco Bar and Jicama Mango Salad. Two other Mexican options include a “make your own” nachos (which you can then bake fresh if you want to melt real or vegan cheese on top) or fajitas.

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Two Italian “make your own” options include pizza and a pasta (try whole grain or bean options) bar. Kids are often a focus on Shavuot. Let them enjoy their lunch and feel like they made their own meal, instead of being told what to eat. You’ll give them a number of healthy choices for toppings, such as baby spinach, sautéed mushrooms, black olives, fresh and roasted peppers, etc…

Here is an easy side salad suggestion from The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook:

Colorful Company Salad

Serves 6-8

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It doesn’t get any easier than this! I’m always looking out for you – easy, healthy and fast! I love this salad and don’t think it even needs dressing. However, feel free to add some if you like. You can also feel free to play around with the proportions of ingredients.

2 cups corn canned, frozen, or fresh cooked corn (cut off the cob)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
1 red pepper, diced
1 mango, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half

Combine all ingredients, except for the tomatoes, and stir. Cover the top of the salad with the sliced tomatoes. If you really want to impress your guests, use a mixture of yellow and red grape tomatoes.

Dessert

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For dessert, let the kids make their own chocolate covered strawberries or banana bites. My sis Lani’s fig salad is also always a hit and particularly refreshing after days of heavy dairy foods.

Good yuntov!

 

A Spring without Zombies!

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I’m not one to tell my kids to go outside and play. Why? I don’t like to play outside! If they’re out there, I have to be too (Call me crazy but I don’t enjoy Maryland gnats buzzing about my head). However, I recently realized that I had to do something to combat the slow screen-addicted zombie-ification of myself and my family. Discovering a sense of wonder (missing in the Google age) for something other than new toy videos on YouTube is definitely a healthy habit for children AND adults. I decided to force that discovery and took advantage of a once a year phenomena to get us out there. (You can see the results above. A lot better than fighting over the remote!)

Washingtonians are often aware of seasonal use it or lose it events because D.C.  is home to the famous cherry blossoms. They bloom once per year (we never know for sure when) and are only at their peak for a short time. Some years I make it. Some years I don’t.

This year I found a pocket of unscheduled time on a Sunday afternoon and took my kids on a drive to see the cherry blossoms. I was so eager not to miss them that I went even though I had heard news reports that it was still early in their blooming process. Alas, the trees were still in bud stage. It was quite the tease. I could clearly imagine the billowy pink canopy coming soon, but couldn’t quite feel or experience it.

Once they were in bloom, I simply couldn’t find an unscheduled hour (during daylight) to get back there. Their peak happened to fall during Purim, one of the busiest times of the year for us; filled with making and delivering mishloach manot, dressing up in costumes, attending the requisite parties (I know, it’s a hard life!) and Megillah (Book of Esther) readings, there just wasn’t time for much else.

When I saw tulips sprouting on neighborhood lawns, I started stalking the website and hotline of a local garden (Brookside). After receiving confirmation that the tulips were out, the only time I had to take my family was on an already packed Sunday.  I planned for us to enjoy a picnic lunch. Our other obligations quickly overtook the day and any window of time to go kept getting smaller. My husband, kids and mom were asking if it had to be that day, what’s the big deal and weren’t we simply too busy and tired that day? I dug in my heels. I missed the cherry blossoms this year. Last year, worse than missing the tulips at the gardens, I got there late – when they were all in various stages of decay. That was so much more disappointing than finding the cherry blossoms as buds.

After all the various, “I have to go to the bathroom” (that was me – and we were there so late the restrooms were closed) and “I need a drink of water,” and “I’m hungry” delays…I told everyone to put one foot in front of the other. We were going to walk until we saw those damn tulips. And we did. The kids, my husband and mom, were equally excited to spot and compare the different colors and varieties. 2016-04-17 18.13.51 2016-04-17 18.13.55

My children played with other kids around the pools and fountains. They clearly understood why I had pushed them to get out of the house, make the long drive and walk through the gardens. Everyone left a bit more relaxed and contented than when we arrived. They both played butterfly on the metal butterfly bench.

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Now, if only I could end the (so far) 7 year streak I’ve missed ordering and planting tulips in time to have them in my own yard for spring.

I have the (bad?) luck that my two favorite flowers, the aforementioned tulips, and Lily of the Valley, come and go in rapid succession and aren’t easily available other times of the year.

In fact, because Passover was a month later than usual this year, I was worried I would miss the Lily of the Valley due to bloom in my back yard. (No, I didn’t get it together to buy seeds and plant them. I had the good fortune to move into a house where it already grew.) I found them in full bloom the day I returned and quickly filled my kitchen with their sweet scent.

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There is some good in being able to find almost anything on YouTube or Google. I can show my children a rare animal or a plant that doesn’t grow here or grow now. However, there is something unique and valuable about savoring a tactile nature-related experience available only once per year. You can’t smell or touch flowers online – at least not yet.

We can teach our children to savor the season on a regular basis by paying attention to the seasons and their associated physical changes and rich bounties.

Now, excuse me while I go pull out my seed catalogues…