Tag Archives: lunch

LA School District Bans Flavored Milk

chocolate-milk

Jamie Oliver has set forth a new generation of revamping school lunches. As seen in the first season of his popular TV show, “Food Revolution”, Oliver first modified school lunches in Huntington, West Virginia. This community was deemed by the CDC as one of the top unhealthiest cities in America, with high rates of obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The main concept of this revolution was to get rid of sodium-packed processed foods, and bring in fresh foods made on site with loads of fruits and vegetables.

This year Jamie Oliver focused his attention on the Los Angeles School District. Below is an article from Los Angeles Times revealing their latest triumph.

L.A. Unified removes flavored milk from menus

The Los Angeles school district becomes by far the largest in the country to do so, as part of its effort to make school food healthier and help combat childhood obesity.

The Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday, with a 5-2 vote on a new dairy contract, became by far the largest district in the country to remove flavored milk from its menus, part of its effort to make school food healthier and help combat childhood obesity.

The milk issue has overshadowed other changes in the district’s food services division, which serves 650,000 meals a day at 1,000 sites. A menu overhaul is underway that will mean fewer meals that resemble fast food and more vegetarian offerings. Spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce and California sushi rolls, along with many ethnic foods, are to be added. Corn dogs, chicken nuggets and other breaded items are out, said Dennis Barrett, food services director.

“Absolutely, by the fall the district will be a national leader,” said Matthew Sharp, senior advocate with the California Food Policy Advocates, who has long worked on school food reform.

The Board of Education does not generally vote on individual menu items, but it weighed in on flavored milk because it must approve large contracts. The board approved a five-year, $100-million dairy contract Tuesday that excludes chocolate and strawberry milk. It includes low-fat and nonfat plain milk as well as soy and Lactaid milks.

L.A. Unified, the nation’s second-largest district behind New York City, has been in the forefront among large urban districts in the effort to improve cafeteria food. The district banned sodas on campuses in 2004, starting a trend followed by the state and districts across the country. Later that year, the school board passed a motion to ban the sale of junk food during the school day by restricting the calories and fat content in snack foods. It also endorsed farm-to-school programs and called for more produce to be served.

And in 2005, the board approved the Cafeteria Improvement Motion, which required that foods have less salt, banned added trans-fats and limited saturated fats.

Not every initiative has panned out. A call for salad bars at all schools “where facilities permit” has left many campuses without them. And some school food activists and others say the cafeterias still have a long way to go.

Among his first acts as superintendent in April, John Deasy appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV talk show with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to say he would propose eliminating flavored milk.

Responding to Tuesday’s decision, Oliver said, “This is a giant step forward for the health and future of 680,000 kids in Los Angeles, and leads the way for more school districts around the country to follow.” Oliver set his recent “Food Revolution” reality TV series in Los Angeles, and, among other things, loaded a school bus with sand to demonstrate students’ sugar consumption.

Parents and others have also lobbied against chocolate and strawberry milk, saying flavored milk contains unnecessary added sugar in a county where about one in three kids is overweight or obese.

Board member Tamar Galatzan, who voted against the plain-milk contract, suggested that the district was letting “a TV chef who’s trying to get publicity” dictate the decision.

“I think we are demonizing milk,” Galatzan said. The juice the district serves at breakfast has more sugar than flavored milk, she said.

Board member Yolie Flores, who voted in favor of the contract, said students tell her that food is their No. 1 issue at school, and she wondered how it can be appealing and healthy when the district has “77 pathetic cents” to spend on food per meal.

A cup of fat-free chocolate milk served in L.A. Unified has 120 calories, with 20 grams (80 calories) of sugar. Strawberry fat-free milk has 130 calories, with 26 grams of sugar. White, plain nonfat milk has 90 calories, with 12 grams of sugar. (Milk contains some natural sugar in the form of lactose.) For comparison, a cup of Coke has 26 grams of sugar.

Emily Ventura, a research fellow at USC’s Childhood Obesity Research Center, said a child who chooses a school breakfast of sweetened cereal, chocolate milk, coffee cake and juice would eat 51 grams, or 204 calories, of added sugar.

Some flavored-milk advocates say students won’t drink milk at all if chocolate or strawberry isn’t offered. Julie Buric, vice president of marketing for the Milk Processors Education Program, cited an industry-funded study that shows milk consumption can drop 35% when flavored milk disappears. And in January the dairy industry held a seminar for California cafeteria workers called “Keep Flavored Milk From Dropping Out of School.”

About 60% of the milk taken by students is flavored, and some officials as well as the dairy industry say plain-milk-only policies could keep kids from the lunch lines altogether. Students are required to take three of the four items offered for breakfast and four of the five at lunch in order for school districts to receive reimbursements from the federal School Lunch Program and breakfast program.

The district needs to attract students to the cafeteria with an effective campaign that will introduce students to the new menu items and explain why flavored milk has disappeared, said Sharp of California Food Policy Advocates.

Megan Bomba, a project coordinator with Occidental College’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, agreed, saying “the meal needs to be better, not [that] we need to keep chocolate milk” to attract students to the cafeteria, she said.

The menu proposed for fall sounds more appealing and sophisticated, she added.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs school food programs and promotes the dairy industry, allows flavored milk in reimbursable school meals. New York City schools serve chocolate milk. Berkeley, Compton and San Diego as well as Boulder, Colo., Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., have eliminated flavored milk with at least some meals.

(Los Angeles Times – June 15 2011)

5 Healthy Snacks that will give you energy

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Some snacks enhance energy levels, while others leave us feeling depleted. The key to choosing a satisfying snack that will give you energy to burn is understanding how certain foods fuel energy.

Not all calories are equal. High-calorie processed foods can certainly provide a quick boost, but the result is fleeting and inevitably followed by a low period when blood sugar plummets. Energy-efficient snacks, on the other hand, balance high-quality calories with the nutrients needed to convert calories into enduring energy.

If that’s not enough to appeal to your appetite, consider this: Increased energy naturally improves your mood. Try these five energy-enhancing snacks for a happy high.

1. Almonds
Almonds are packed with a potent combination of energy-enriching nutrients, including manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, tryptophan, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and phosphorus. Magnesium has been called a miracle mineral because of its multifunctional capabilities: In addition to being an essential part of more than 300 biological processes, magnesium aids in the production of energy, supports the immune system, improves sleep patterns, relaxes muscles, relieves stress and anxiety, and boosts mood.

The protein and fiber in almonds stabilizes blood sugar and slows digestion, which helps regulate energy, so you have steady reserves over time. Healthy fats like the kind found in almonds have been found to curb appetite and prevent overeating that can result in weight gain and its accompanying feelings of fatigue. The fat and fiber in almonds also contribute a feeling of satiety that helps prevent mindless snacking. For these reasons, almonds and other nuts are frequently recommended as part of a healthy diet for people looking to lose weight.

Rev it up: Spread almond butter on whole-grain crackers, or combine a handful of raw almonds with unsweetened dried fruit for a satisfying snack full of fiber and protein.

yogurt

2. Yogurt
Yogurt is full of calcium, phosphorus, protein, tryptophan, molybdenum, and zinc. It’s also a great source of vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Thanks to its liquid-like state, the nutrients in yogurt are assimilated quickly and easily during digestion, which means you get an immediate boost of energy. Yogurt’s high protein content means that energy also has staying power.

Protein-rich snacks like yogurt can even pump up your probability for ditching the pounds. Since protein takes time to digest, you’ll feel satisfied for longer — which means less snacking and fewer calorie splurges throughout the day.

Yogurt also supplies the brain with tyrosine, an amino acid that boosts blood levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, resulting in a mood and mental boost. In a number of studies, tyrosine has also been effective at fighting fatigue.

Rev it up: Control your sugar intake by opting for unsweetened yogurt, and up the energy ante by adding chopped walnuts or ground flaxseed — both will add protein and omega-3 fatty acids for extended energy. Sweeten to taste with a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup.

pineapple

3. Pineapple
Pineapple is one of summer’s most popular fruits simply because it’s so delicious. But if you want more reasons, look no further: A rich source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, fiber, and vitamin B6, this juicy fruit is a super snack for fueling energy.

Thanks to high levels of naturally occurring sugar (fructose), dietary fiber, and water, fresh pineapple is nature’s equivalent of a kick in the pants. The carbohydrate-rich fructose breaks down quickly for an immediate energy boost, while the fiber slows digestion for long-lasting results. Pineapple’s energy-extending capabilities don’t stop there: Manganese and thiamin are both essential in energy production and help metabolize carbohydrates. And the vitamin B6 in pineapple plays a part in converting tryptophan into serotonin in the brain for a natural mood booster.

In terms of energy, digestion is one of the costliest bodily functions. The good news: Pineapple contains bromelain, which contains a number of enzymes that help improve digestion. In addition, eating fluid-filled foods like pineapple can help prevent dehydration, one of the most common culprits of zapped energy. Water is necessary for every bodily function, including converting calories into energy, and even a slight dip in fluids leads to physical and mental fatigue.

Rev it up: Pair pineapple with protein-rich yogurt or nonfat cottage cheese. The combination of carbs and protein is ideal for stable and enduring energy.

A wheat field with blue sky background

4. Whole wheat snacks
Whole grains — especially whole wheat — are full of essential nutrients that energize both body and brain, including fiber; manganese; magnesium; iron; protein; carbohydrates; and vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Whole wheat is loaded with energizing B vitamins, which fight fatigue, maintain energy levels, stabilize blood sugar, improve sleep patterns, coordinate nerve and muscle activity, and boost mood.

Simple carbs like white bread and sweets provide a quick surge of energy, but the results are temporary. What’s more, the energy comes courtesy of a spike in blood sugar; once that subsides, you’ll feel depleted and fatigued. The complex carbohydrates in whole wheat, however, are absorbed more slowly, which translates into stable blood sugar levels for hours at a time and gradual, lasting energy.

Carbs are also full of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin produced in the brain. Too much tryptophan can trigger a spike in serotonin that leads to drowsiness, though, so the key is to pick healthy carbohydrates such as whole grain toast, which is full of fiber, to slow digestion and regulate the flow of serotonin. That way, you’ll get a happy mood boost without the drowsiness.

Rev it up: Combining whole grains with protein is a classic energy-extending combination. Try whole-wheat crackers dipped in low-fat cottage cheese, or top whole wheat toast with your favorite sugar-free nut butter.

edamame

5. Edamame
Edamame, or boiled soybeans, are a great pick-me-up because they’re easy to make, easy to transport, and fun to eat right out of the shell. Soybeans are full of nutrients that contribute directly to a boost in energy as well as mood.

A single cup of edamame provides 116 percent of the recommended daily amount of tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite, enhance sleep, and improve mood — three factors that play a significant role in affecting energy levels. In the same serving, you’ll get 57 percent of the recommended amount of protein, 43 percent of your daily omega-3 fatty acids, 41 percent of fiber, and 49 percent of your daily iron — all important contributors to sustained energy.

Soybeans are also super-rich in molybdenum, an essential trace mineral that helps cells function properly, facilitates the use of iron reserves, aids in metabolizing fat and carbohydrates, enhances alertness, improves concentration, and helps balance blood sugar levels. All of these functions are crucially linked to the production and sustainability of energy. Molybdenum also helps prevent anemia, a common culprit of iron-deficiency-related fatigue.

Plus, soybeans are packed with folate, a natural mood booster that’s been shown to increase serotonin levels and improve symptoms of depression.

Rev it up: Combine half a cup of soybeans with equal parts shredded carrots, presoaked sea vegetables such as hijiki or wakame (two types of seaweed), and a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar for a savvy salad loaded with protein, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Optional: Top with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.