Oct 27, 2008

School Lunch Programs and Your Children

My children are adults now, and how quickly that time went by...yes parents, it does go quickly, just like those of us who have finished raising our children say it does, and just like I was told when my children were young. There were days when I couldn't wait for the day when they were grown and I had more free time, but let me tell you, I miss being a Mom more than I ever imagined.

When my children were in school, I made their lunches until they were in middle school. I did it for a while then, but it became apparent that this just wasn't the "in" thing to do, so I would hand each of my children their dollar and change, this went on right through high school.

I know what I HOPED they would buy when they went to school, but what they actually did buy us another story. I'm sure their bodies craved good food many days of the week, but a hallways lined with snack and soda machines on the way into the cafeteria were probably a temptation on other days.

Updated 2/10/16

If you would like to read information about school lunch programs from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services Site, click here.

Oct 20, 2008

Autism, Parenting an Autistic Child

Help for those who are disabled and their parents touches a special place in me because I had a brother who is disabled. If you are a parent to a child with autism, I hope you find hope and help by reading this article by Jen Miller entitled "Child Autism - How To Cope With An Autistic Child As A Parent".

If you have an autistic child, you will know that it can be a very challenging task taking care of the child. There are times when your child seem just too much for you to handle and there are times when it can be very rewarding, especially when the child is willing to do what you have planned. Nonetheless, it is not easy to cope when you dealing with child autism.

Despite its challenges, there are ways to help you cope better as a parent. As the awareness of autism increases, you may be able to find a support group for parents with autistic children in your area. It helps greatly to have people who can understand what you are going through and at the same time, you can learn from them some tips on handling child autism and taking care of your child. It is always nice to have someone to talk to when the going gets tough.

You may also try to schedule a getaway. When you are handling child autism, you may feel like you do not have much time for yourself. A short getaway either with your spouse or just yourself will help you relax and rejuvenate. You can hire a nurse or a qualified caregiver for your child. If getting away seems like an impossible option, then spend some time for you to relax after the child has gone to bed. Simply spending some time to unwind and help to make a difference in coping with stress.

It can be difficult to live a life like other moms when you have an autistic child. It may be hard to take your autistic child with you on your errands at all times. When this happens, you can either outsource your errands. For example, you can get grocery delivery, get your spouse to help pick up the dry cleaning, use online banking for your bills, etc. There are ways for you to cut down on the stress and anxiety of having too many tasks to do. When you are more calm and happy, it makes a better life for your child as well. You may have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle but it is worth doing because in the long run, it is beneficial for you and your child.

Are you looking for more understanding about CHILD AUTISM? Perhaps you have a loved one who has autism or you are taking care of an autistic child? It is vital to have a good knowledge of autism and how to live with an autistic loved one. Symptoms Of Autism is a comprehensive resource with lots of information on Autism.

About the author:
Jen Miller is a health and fitness enthusiast. She currently runs a website at http://www.symptomsofautism.org to help all parents with autistic children as well as to increase the awareness of autism.

Are Vaccinations Harmful or Helpful?

This post has little to do with food, but a lot to do with vaccinating children. This is a topic that has become more and more a matter of concern to many, but not all, parents.

My children, now in their 30's at this 2016 update, were vaccinated before I knew that some parents decided not to have their children vaccinated because they believed it caused harmful after-affects; sometimes serious, and occasionally even deadly affects.

I am not going to get into the controversy in this post, you can comment on that if you like. I wanted to share an interesting timeline that I found on a website that no longer exists, I thought you might enjoy seeing how it all started, and progressed through the years....a lot has happened since my children's vaccines in the l980's:


  • First Generation of Vaccines (pre-1950s)
  • 1798 Smallpox
  • 1885 Rabies
  • 1897 Plague
  • 1917 Cholera
  • 1917 Typhoid vaccine (parenteral)
  • 1923 Diphtheria
  • 1926 Pertussis
  • 1927 Tuberculosis (BCG)
  • 1927 Tetanus
  • 1935 Yellow Fever
  • 1940s DTP
  • 1945 The first influenza vaccines (flu) began being used.
  • 1955 Inactivated polio vaccine licensed (IPV).
  • 1955 Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids adsorbed (adult use, Td)
  • 1959 World Health Assembly passes initial resolution calling for global smallpox radication.
  • 1961 Monovalent oral polio vaccine licensed.
  • 1963 Trivalent oral polio vaccine licensed (OPV).
  • 1963 The first measles vaccine licensed.
  • 1964 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), designed to provide CDC with recommendations on vaccine use, holds its first meeting.
  • 1964-1965 20,000 cases of Congenital Rubella Syndrome occurred during the largest rubella epidemic in the United States.
  • 1966 U.S. Measles eradication goal enunciated.
  • 1967 Mumps vaccine licensed.
  • 1969 Rubella vaccine licensed - 57,600 rubella cases reported this year.
  • 1970 Anthrax vaccine manufactured by the Michigan Department of Public Health.
  • 1971 Routine smallpox vaccination ceases in the United States.
  • 1971 Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine licensed (MMR).
  • 1976 Swine Flu: largest public vaccination program in the United States to date; halted by association with Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome.
  • 1977 Last indigenous case of smallpox (Somalia).
  • 1978 Fluzone, the current flu vaccine that is made by Aventis pasteur, was licensed.
  • 1979 Last case of polio, caused by wild virus, acquired in the United States.
  • 1980 Smallpox declared eradicated from the world.
  • 1981 Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine, groups A, C, Y, W135 combined (Menomune)
  • 1982 Hepatitis B vaccine becomes available.
  • 1983 Pneumococcal vaccine, 23 valent
  • 1986 The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act establishes a no-fault compensation system for those injured by vaccines and requires adverse health events following specific vaccinations be reported and those injured by vaccines be compensated.
  • 1988 Worldwide Polio Eradication Initiative launched; supported by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, CDC and others.
  • 1989-1991 Major resurgence of measles in the United States - 55,000 cases compared with a low of 1,497 cases in 1983. Two-dose measles vaccine (MMR) is recommended.
  • 1990 The Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS), a national program monitoring the safety of vaccines established.
  • 1990 Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) polysaccharide conjugate vaccine licensed for infants.
  • 1990 Typhoid vaccine (oral)
  • 1991 Hepatitis B vaccine recommended for all infants.
  • 1991 Acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) licensed for use in older children aged 15 months to six years old.
  • 1993 Japanese encephalitis vaccine
  • 1994 Polio elimination certified in the Americas.
  • 1994 Vaccines for Children (VFC) program established to provide access to free vaccines for eligible children at the site of their usual source of care.
  • 1995 First harmonized childhood immunization schedule endorsed by ACIP, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics is published.
  • 1995 Varicella vaccine licensed; before the vaccine an estimated 4 million infected annually in the United States.
  • 1995 Hepatitis A vaccine licensed.
  • 1996 Acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) licensed for use in young infants.
  • 1998 First rotavirus vaccine licensed.
  • 1999 Rotavirus vaccine withdrawn from the market as a result of adverse events.
  • 1999 Lyme disease vaccine approved by the FDA.
  • 1999 FDA recommends removing mercury from all products, including vaccines. Efforts are begun to remove thimerosal, a mercury based additive, from vaccines.
  • 2000 Worldwide measles initiative launched; 800,000 children still die from measles annually. Measles declared no longer endemic in the United States.
  • 2000 Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar) recommended for all young children.
  • 2001 September 11 results in increased concern of bioterrorism. The United States establishes a plan to re-introduce smallpox vaccine if necessary, a vaccine thought never to be needed again.
  • 2002 Lyme disease vaccine withdrawn from the market by the manufacturer because of lawsuits and lack of demand for the vaccine.
  • 2003 Measles declared no longer endemic in the Americas.
  • 2003 First live attenuated influenza vaccine licensed (FluMist) for use in 5 to 49 year old persons.
  • 2003 First Adult Immunization Schedule introduced.
  • 2004 Inactivated influenza vaccine recommended for all children 6 to 23 months of age.
  • 2004 Pediarix,a vaccine that combines the DTaP, IPV, and Hep B vaccines, into one shot, is approved.
  • 2005 Rubella declared no longer endemic in the United States.
  • 2005 Boostrix and Adacel, Tdap vaccines, are approved for teens.
  • 2005 Menactra, a new meningococcal vaccine is approved for people between the ages of 11 to 55 years of age.
  • 2006 RotaTeq is a new rotavirus vaccine from Merck.
  • 2006 ProQuad is a new vaccine that combines the MMR and Varivax vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox into a single shot.
  • 2006 Gardasil, the first HPV vaccine is approved.

I wonder what they will think of next...or have already thought of. There is no doubt that there are benefits to early vaccinations, those that stopped epidemics, but I am not sure what I think of them for illnesses that were common when I was a child, remedied by being exposed to them and building our own immunity to them...like measles, mumps and chicken pox...all of which I had as a child.

Updated 2/10/16

References: the CDC and Mandell: Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 5th ed.


Oct 10, 2008

Connection Between the Heart and Tomato

Is it really possible that the heart and tomato have an affinity for one another? A connection of sorts? According to the Doctrine of Signatures, described at the beginning of this post (click here), there may be. Take a look at the shape of the tomato, the shape of the heart, read on!

Tomatoes are red and have four chambers, just like the human heart. Scientists are suggesting that tomato lovers may be more likely to reduce the risk of serious disease. Lycopene, an anti oxidant which gives tomatoes their lovely rich red color, helps remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules and have been implicated in cancer and other serious diseases.

Professor Michael Avirim of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel who is testing lycopene in clinical trials says, ' In its natural form, lycopene is an excellent anti oxidant that helps to prevent formation of oxidized LDL, the 'bad' cholesterol in blood, which contributes to the build up of plaque that narrows, stiffens and constricts arteries and can lead to heart attacks. When this natural extract was added to cancer cell cultures, the lycopene inhibited their growth. Lycopene is the most potent nutritional antioxidant found to date.

Some of the information provided came from my favorite snack source, Wholefood Farmacy.

Updated 2/10/16

Oct 8, 2008

Cooking With Children - Easy Recipes

When my children were small, one of the things I regret was not letting them do more in the kitchen with me. They did chores, like dishes, and setting the table, but when it came to preparing the meal, I had a tendency to want to just get the job done, and didn't have patience for how slow things could be. I did lots of things with my children, but there's always more, isn't there?
I found this article, and wanted to share it with you, in hopes that you will find fun ways to spend time with your children in the kitchen. At the end, credit is given to the source of this great information, I hope you and your children will have a lot of fun together and make great memories.


Children learn by touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, and listening. They love to help prepare food and cook because they can use all their senses. Children like to eat the foods they make. Plan ways the children in your care can help you. Be sure to consider the age of the child.

Two-year-olds are learning to use the large muscles in their arms. They will enjoy activities such as:
  • scrubbing vegetables and fruits
  • wiping tables
  • dipping vegetables and fruits
  • tearing lettuce and salad greens
  • breaking bread for stuffing
  • snapping fresh beans
Three-year-olds are learning to use their hands. Try activities such as:
  • pouring liquids into a batter
  • mixing muffin batter
  • shaking a milk drink
  • spreading peanut butter on firm bread (This may be messy!)
  • kneading bread dough
Four- and five-year-olds are learning to control smaller muscles in their fingers. Offer them experiences such as:
  • rolling bananas in cereal for a snack
  • juicing oranges, lemons, and limes
  • mashing soft fruits and vegetables
  • measuring dry and liquid ingredients
  • grinding cooked meat for a meat spread
  • beating eggs with an eggbeater


  1. Good cooks of all ages always wash their hands before cooking.
  2. Tell children to wait until the dish is done before sampling it. This will help prevent illness.
  3. Expect spills and messes.
  4. Children have short attention spans. Give them quick, simple jobs, and give instructions one at a time.
  5. Children get excited and forget. Repeat directions as often as needed.
  6. Young cooks need constant supervision.
  7. Give children jobs to help with cleanup.



Children love to knead and shape dough. Allow plenty of time for the children to do as many tasks as possible.
3 to 3 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 package dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons soft margarine
1 1/2 cups very hot water (105-1150F)
Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved dry yeast in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add margarine. Add very hot water gradually to dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap.

Let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes. Stir dough down and turn out onto heavily floured surface. After washing children's hands, flour them and have them knead dough until it is smooth. Shape dough into one large oblong or let the children experiment with different shapes and sizes. Try pretzels, animals, letters, numbers, or holiday shapes.

Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise (40 to 50 minutes for a large loaf, less time for small shapes). Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (40 minutes for a large loaf, 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown for small shapes).


flour tortillas
cooked ground beef, cheese, re-fried beans and other vegetables for tortilla filling
Give a tortilla to each child. Fill with cooked ground beef, cheese, and/or vegetables.


1 stalk celery
1 apple
1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
1 banana
1 orange
1 cup low-fat lemon yogurt
Have children wash the celery, apple, and grapes. Children can peel the banana and orange. An adult should cut the fruit and celery into bite-size pieces. Have children place fruit and celery in a large bowl. Add yogurt and mix well.


Low-fat mozzarella cheese slices (1 slice per child)
English muffins, sliced in half (1 half per child)
fruit (an apple, banana, orange, or seedless grapes)
Have the children wash the fruit. Children can peel bananas and oranges or pluck grapes from their stems. An adult should cut the fruit into small pieces.

Split the English muffins. Give each child one half. Have the children place a slice of cheese on each muffin. Toast the English muffins until the cheese melts. Have each child top his or her muffin with fruit.
Updated 2/10/16

National Network for Child Care's Connections Newsletter

James E. Van Horn (Ed.) and Lyn Horning (Ed.)
Better Kid Care Project
Penn State University, University Park, PA

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Van Horn, J. E. (Ed.) and L. Horning (Ed.) (1995). Cooking with children: kids in the kitchen. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.). *Family child care connections* 4(6). Urbana, IL: National Network for Child Care at the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

Oct 2, 2008

Doing NutriSytem Gluten-Free - Correction

Today I had a phone call from a wonderful woman from Virginia who told me that many of the NutriSystem foods listed below do, indeed, have gluten in them. I agreed with her and thanked her for contacting me as I don't want to cause harm to anyone. 

 When I listed the foods, I listed those that did not have what NutriSystem calls "vital wheat gluten" listed as a separate, added ingredient on the packaging. Nevertheless, there are foods with grains, etc., listed in the ingredients, that all who are on gluten-free diets know to avoid, so my subject "Doing NutriSystem Gluten-Free" is not accurate or these people.

Personally, I found that choosing foods that do not contain "vital wheat gluten" made a big difference for me, so perhaps my sensitivity is more toward wheat than the gluten in it.  Those are the foods that are listed below. AND I want you to know that I am only doing this diet temporarily, I am actually not a big fan of processed foods, sweets, etc.

Now, read on to find out what I am doing for a month or two to support my husband.


I have joined my husband in doing the NutriSystem program again. Last year, he lost 35 lbs and has kept most of them off. I had to quit as I was sensitive to many foods, and discovered that many had high amounts of gluten added to them. Are you having the same problem and interested in knowing what foods to choose? Below is a list of what I ordered.

List of foods that do not have "Vital Wheat Gluten" added - there are others, I chose these, and decided how many of each I wanted to make up my 4 weeks plus week free for 3 months.

Apple Strudel Scone
Chocolate Chip Scone
Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
Lowfat Granola Cereal
NutriFlakes Cereal - 40% Bran Flakes
Peanut Butter Granola Bar

Cheese Tortellini
Chicken and Pasta in Cacciatore Sauce
Chicken Salad
Pasta with Beef

Beef Pot Roast with Vegetables & Gravy
Cheese and Spinach Ravioli with Meat Sauce
Cheese Ravioli with Basil Tomato Sauce
Chicken Breast Patty
Chicken Pasta Parmesan
Chicken with Almonds, Rice and Vegetables
Green Pepper Steak with Rice
HomeStyle Chicken Noodles with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes with Meatloaf and Tomato Sauce
Pasta Primavera with Tufu
Rotini with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
Stroganoff Sauce with Beef and Noodles
Tender Beef with Vegetables
Teriyaki Sauce, Rice, Beef and Vegetables
Vegetable Lasagna with Basil Tomato Sauce
Wedged Potatoes with Sliced Beef Steak
Zesty Cajun Style Chicken and Sausage with Brown Rice

BBQ Soy Chips
Caramel Popcorn
Cheese Puffs
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pudding
Milk Chocolatey Delight Bar
Mint Chocolate Crunch Bar
Nacho Crisps
Sour Cream and Onion Soy Chips
White Cheddar Soy Chips
Zesty Herb Snack Mix

Updated 2/10/16

My husband is a diabetic and doing the Diabetes program, his "iron gut" isn't allergic or sensitive to anything.

You may also be interested in my popular article "Replacing NutriSystem with you Own Foods - a Complete Weight Loss Plan".