When Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move initiative to combat childhood obesity, we jumped for joy (okay, maybe not literally, but certainly figuratively). The goal of Let’s Move, in the words of the First Lady, is “to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation, so that children born today can reach adulthood at a healthy weight.” Sadly, since 1980, rates of childhood overweight and obesity have tripled. Today, over a third of America’s youth weigh too much.
Here at Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, we applaud the First Lady’s efforts (in fact, we devoted this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast to the topic). Her initiative strives to tackle four things: Healthier Schools, Physical Activity, Accessible and Affordable Healthy Food, and Healthy Choices. That’s certainly a tall order, but we believe Obama’s challenge to all of us — parents, school administrators, the food industry — is not just timely and critical … it’s doable.
Giving parents the tools they need to get nutritious meals on the table AND to get their kids to eat it happily without complaint has been our mission for the better part of the last decade. So we’re thrilled the issue of kids’ nutrition is receiving the national attention it deserves. Clearly, there are a lot of people out there who share our delight in Let’s Move and who are doing amazing things to promote a healthier future for children. Everywhere we look, we see positive changes taking place. Here are a few examples of things that caught our eye just this week (and it’s only Tuesday).
> Mandy, who writes the blog, Gourmet Mom on the Go, introduced a fun new Secret Mission Worksheet to encourage kids to try new fruits & vegetables. You can download it at her blog.
> Sally Sampson, a Boston-based cookbook author, launched a free cooking magazine for kids called Chop Chop. It features nutritious, kid-friendly recipes, games, and lots of cool food factoids.
> In Liz’s town, two amazing moms founded an after-school program for kids ages 7 to 12 called Kids Cooking Green. They teach hands-on classes about the value of cooking and eating locally grown foods, and the program culminates with a delicious dinner party hosted by the students, which Liz attended on Friday night (Liz helps with the program’s nutrition component and will be blogging all about it soon)!
Michelle Obama has added fuel to the exciting national discussion about new ways to improve the food choices available to children in schools, restaurants, at the corner grocery store, and at home, and it’s the “at home” part that got us thinking about our latest blog giveaway. To encourage everyone to cook more at home (we believe cooking at home offers parents the most control over what goes into their kids’ tummies), one lucky winner will become the proud owner of a 10-piece set of Anolon® Nouvelle Copper cookware! This giveaway is valued at $399.00.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we don’t work for Anolon. Janice met some of the Anolon folks at an International Association of Culinary Professionals conference a few years ago, and they have generously donated several items since then. Anolon® Nouvelle Copper, suitable for all cooktops, provides even heat distribution, and is nonstick (so it’s easy to clean, which, as busy moms, is something we appreciate). The giveaway includes a 1.5 Quart Covered Saucepan, 3 Quart Covered Saucepan, 8 Quart Covered Stockpot, 8 1/2-inch French Skillet, 10-inch French Skillet, and a 3 Quart Covered Saute.
To Enter our Giveaway (U.S. residents only, please), leave a comment on this post or on our Facebook Fan page, and tell us what you have been doing at home or in your community to bring better nutrition and/or physical activity to children … or tell us what you like about the Let’s Move campaign … or tell us about a change you’d love to see — a wishful thought, if you will — to improve the way kids eat. Over the next two weeks, we’ll “tweet” about your activities and ideas on Twitter to further the dialog (we’ll use the hash tag #LetsMove).
The giveaway ends on Friday, April 9th at noon EST, and we’ll use Random.org to select our winner. We can’t wait to hear from all of you. This is sure to be a very interesting discussion!
In the meantime, here are a few simple, under-the-radar things you can do at home to improve your family’s diet:
> Add vegetables such as shredded carrots, finely diced red bell peppers, or beans to main dishes like Sloppy Joes, tacos, and soups to increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients (plant nutrients), and fiber.
> To increase the fiber and nutrients in baked goods, incorporate ground flaxseed and whole grains including whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and oats.
> Cook with omega-3 eggs for more heart-healthy fats. They cost a few pennies more per egg, but we think it’s more than worth it.
> Add chopped nuts to baked goods and to breadings to increase the nutrients and good-for-you fats.
> Switch to lowfat dairy and lean meats to lower the saturated fat and calories.
> Chose convenience foods wisely to provide desperately needed shortcuts in the kitchen without the addition of trans fats or too much sodium.
> Replace butter, margarine, and shortening with healthier oils such as canola oil and olive oil to reduce the saturated fat and trans fats.
> Kept a watchful eye on portion sizes to keep the calories in check.
> Eat local and organic when possible.