The Kids Menu- an Inpirational look at the future of nutrition in schools

Last night, a few fellow health nuts and I attended a screening for the latest documentary by the  Aussie health warrior Joe Cross at the Kendall Square theater in Cambridge, “The Kids Menu“. For an hour and a half, the audience was inspired by stories from across the country of educators, organizations, parents and children who were taking an active role in nutrition education and leading a healthy lifestyle. With over 60% of Americans now considered overweight/obese, and all the chronic diseases that are associated with carrying extra body weight (diabetes, cancer, heart disease just to name 3 of the 30 on the list) this is a public health crisis our society has never seen before. Our best defense against addressing, reversing, and preventing this epidemic is food, plain and simple. Joe Cross is an entertaining and genuine narrator, who during the film shares his own story of how being “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” (a previous documentary) had him tethered to multiple prescription meds and was woken up by the notion that diet and lifestyle could reverse the course of his life..armed with a juicer and pure motivation, he became a lean mean plant eating machine and today, travels around the world to share his story. The movie shared stories of hope and opportunity, with the spotlight on various schools from Coast to coast planting gardens, offering cooking and nutrition lessons, and embracing clean eating. The film is available April 1 for download and sharing with our respective communities- we are called by Mr. Cross to carry the torch and spread the good word…let’s join hands and contribute to the food revolution!!! 

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Rainbow Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Rainbow Vegetable Sushi Rolls
A colorful, nutrient dense delicious meal for kids and adults alike
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
  1. 1 package of Nori Sheets
  2. 2 large carrots, cut in half and sliced thin
  3. 1 cucumber, cut in half and sliced thin
  4. 1 head of red cabbage, shredded
  5. 2 cups spinach or baby kale
  6. 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  7. 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise
  8. 1 cup hummus, black bean, or pesto spread
  1. You can use a bamboo sushi mat to make these easy sushi rolls if you have one, otherwise just use a cutting board as your work surface.
  2. Take a nori sheet and spread your choice of spread over it - hummus seems to have the right consistency to act as the "glue" holding the veggies and the roll in tact.
  3. Be sure to spread generously on the sheet, without making the sheet soggy and taking care to leave room on the edges so it doesn't spill out.
  4. Place assorted veggies in the center in the desired "colorful" pattern; such as carrots, cucumber, red pepper, avocado, spinach, and cabbage.
  5. Roll up as tightly as possible and using a serrated knife, cut into 1 inch slices.
  6. Repeat the process for remaining sheets.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Art of Healthy Eating
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Eat the Rainbow Art Tiles

Eating the Rainbow is a message that we hear/share often, and as parents try to pass along to children the importance of this message in order to stay healthy and strong. Tough to make the message sink in when its been heard so many times, and it can fall on deaf ears.  We thought it would be fun to involve the Kindergarten Class at the Eliot Innovation School, where my children attend school in Boston’s North End, in an art project where they had a chance to paint their own individual art tiles with their favorite fruit or vegetable, and turn it into a permanent installation in their cafeteria. Not only was this project fun for them to participate in, but now they have a visual reminder every day when they are eating breakfast and lunch of the colorful bounty from mother nature that should be part of their daily diet. 


"Eat the Rainbow" Art Tiles at the Eliot Innovation School in Boston's North End

“Eat the Rainbow” Art Tiles at the Eliot Innovation School in Boston’s North End

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Edible snowmen at the Boston public market kitchen

Meet Lucas, the adorable, inquisitive, energetic three year who joined me along with his fabulous family from the North End to make delicious and healthy edible snowman food art in class yesterday at the Kitchen at Boston Public Market. Our class is a fun way to introduce your picky eater to trying more fruits and vegetables in a creative and effective environment. Lucas definitely enjoyed making his three different snowmen out of oranges, cauliflower, and seed butter/coconut oats blend. Join us next month as we make edible festive heart shaped snacks in the spirit of Valentiene’s Day!! 

edible snowmen

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Veggie turkey art

edible food art charlestown  Check out these all veggie turkeys edible food art snacks we made with the Kennedy Center this week! Carrots, celery, cucumbers and peppers made a fun and delicious snack when paired with hummus, and shaped like a turkey!! Special thanks to Whole Foods Market for generously donation all the produce. What makes this class special? Mainly…The kids gobbled up the produce! But add to that, eating the rainbow, using fine motor skills, exercising our creativity, and having fun too. 


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Healthy Food Art Lesson at the Eliot school 

I had the pleasure of making these delicious and healthy wicked witches with over 70 1st grade students at my daughter’s school today. Ingredients were avocado, lime, carrots pepper black bean and blue corn chips.  No junk, pure plant based nutrition that they gobbled up. Each child had a chance to help make the guacamole for the witch face, which included squeezing in some lime, sprinkling some sea salt and also mashing it up. They then assembled their festive witches with the remaining ingredients. “Cooking” as simple as this drives up a child’s interest in sampling new foods as this makes them feel more empowered and involved in the process. It is wonderful to see the impact this has on their likelihood to try and ultimately embrace fruits and vegetables. 


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New Study Highlights Harmful Effects of Sugar for Children

According to the following Washington Post article by Ariana Cha published on 10/28/15, cutting sugar from kids’ diets appears to have a beneficial effect in just 10 days. 


American kids consume an insane amount of sugar — often double or triple the federal recommended dietary guidelines — and these empty calories are often blamed for everything from obesity to hyperactivity in the schools. What happens when we take it away?

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco and Touro University decided to find out by recruiting 43 volunteers, ages 9 to 18, and putting them on low-sugar diets and measuring all kinds of things about how their bodies changed as a result. All of the study participants — 27 of whom identified as Latino and 16 as African American — were obese and had at least one other metabolic health issue, such as high blood pressure or a marker of fatty liver.

The study participants underwent extensive testing that included everything from basic blood pressure measures and cholesterol counts to oral glucose tolerance tests and sophisticated bone density scans.

The children (or their parents) filled out a food questionnaire and were interviewed by a dietitian to come up with a baseline diet. The scientists then designed a new diet that included a similar amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates as their normal diet but cut out 10 percent to 28 percent of the sugar and replaced it with starch calorie-for-calorie.

The transformation in the kids was almost immediate.

“All of the surrogate measures of metabolic health got better, just by substituting starch for sugar in their processed food — all without changing calories or weight or exercise,” study author Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, said in a statement.

After 10 days, the researchers saw a reduction in diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Glucose tolerance and the amount of excess insulin circulating in the blood improved.

Even though they were still eating roughly the same amount of calories, the participants lost weight — an average of nearly two pounds in that short period of time. Several of the children lost so much weight so quickly that the researchers had to increase the number of calories they were feeding them.

Previous epidemiological studies had linked sugar consumption with metabolic syndrome, but it had been impossible to prove causation from that research. While this study, published in the journal Obesity on Monday, also does not prove causation, it provides a revealing look at the details of what changes in the body and what appears to remain stable with less sugar.

The average participant’s blood pressure went down by 5 mmHg. The researchers noted that this would “normally trigger a compensatory increase in [heart rate to maintain cardiac output], but it did not.” They also found that uric acid, which is created with the breakdown of certain foods like anchovies, increased unexpectedly, and they weren’t able to explain why this happened.

One of the key questions the researchers were interested in answering was whether restricting dietary sugars in children with metabolic syndrome would lead to the metabolic dysfunction resolving. The study seems to have answered yes to a certain extent.

While the study is very preliminary because of its small size, it has important implications for how we think about the ills of sugars. The researchers argue that instead of thinking about sugar as empty calories that cause weight gain they should be seen as having a more threatening effect on the body’s whole metabolic system.

The study “demonstrates that a calorie is not a calorie,” Lustig explained.

“Where those calories come from determines where in the body they go. Sugar calories are the worst, because they turn to fat in the liver, driving insulin resistance, and driving risk for diabetes, heart and liver disease,” he added. “This has enormous implications for the food industry, chronic disease and health care costs.”

The researchers noted that further study is needed to figure out whether these short-term gains in health with low-sugar diets will hold out in the longer term.

Calling the study “flawed,” the Sugar Industry Association said that the fact that so many of the participants lost weight during the study “makes it impossible to separate the effects of weight loss from dietary changes on the health variables measured.” The group, which represents major sugar companies, such as Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar, also questioned the study’s short duration and the fact that the baseline diet data was self-reported which can make it unreliable.

In addition, the industry group said the lack of information that the authors provided about what the children actually ate “raises serious concerns about the legitimacy of the study’s hypothesis.”

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Wicked Avocado Witches

 We had a wonderful healthy treat making class at the Kitchen at the Boston Public market! Witches made from avocado, carrot and peppers, “boo”nana ghosts and clementine pumpkins were among the favored healthy treats. Fun,  Plant based and delicious! Join us next month for healthy thanksgiving inspired treats!! 

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