By Charlyn Fargo
A recently published study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlights kids’ eating preferences.
We often think kids won’t eat something healthy, but this study found otherwise.
The study looked at the availability of lower-sodium lunches in middle schools and how well-accepted the lower-sodium entrees were by students. The surprising thing? Students actually preferred lower-sodium entrees and fruits and vegetables.
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Data for the study was collected in 13 kindergarten through eighth grade schools in a large school district in New England. Two of the kitchens prepared and cooked meals from scratch on-site. Two others provided students with a salad bar with multiple fresh fruit and vegetable options daily and meals with locally sourced foods. The rest of the schools had limited cafeterias and minimal kitchen space and only were capable of preparing prepackaged heat-and-serve meals that were provided by outside vendors (but were similar in sodium levels).
Two separate plate waste measurements were collected from the 1,985 students in the study. Sodium levels for the meals were categorized as “moderate sodium”, which met the current U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Target 2 sodium requirement of less than 935 milligrams for a meal, and “low sodium,” meeting the current USDA Target 3 sodium requirement of less than 640 milligrams for a meal. The overall meals selected by students had on average 711 milligrams of sodium, with 87% of meals selected meeting the Target 2 sodium standards, and 34% meeting the Target 3 sodium standards.
The bottom line? Schools can provide lower-sodium meals that are acceptable to students. It goes back to what Ellyn Satter, a leading dietitian in the field of children’s eating habits, preaches: “Offer children healthy meals, and eventually, they will eat them.” Our job as parents is to continue to offer healthy choices and not second-guess whether a child will eat it.
Q and A
Q: If an egg has a crack in the shell, is it still OK to use?
A: It depends on the size of the crack, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s true that salmonella bacteria, which is associated with food-borne illness, can enter eggs through a crack in the shell. A study in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture found that eggs with large cracks in the shells were more likely to contain salmonella compared with eggs without cracks or with only hairline cracks. It’s wise to check the carton of eggs before you buy it to make sure none of the eggs is cracked. If you find an egg that does have a crack when you get it home, break it into a container; cover it; refrigerate it; and use it within two days, the USDA says.
This is soup season — cold days and nights with a fire in the fireplace and soup on the stove. Here’s a healthy recipe, from Today’s Dietitian, to warm your soul and your body. Pairing cauliflower and white beans makes a great, low-calorie soup.
CAULIFLOWER AND WHITE BEAN SOUP
1 1/2 pound head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Optional garnish: fresh thyme leaves
Remove outer leaves from cauliflower. Cut cauliflower florets and stem into 2-inch pieces, discarding any tough parts of the stem. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add celery and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add cauliflower, beans, broth and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender. Puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Garnish each serving with thyme leaves, if desired.
Per serving: 100 calories; 5 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 2.5 grams fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 3 grams fiber; 3 grams sugar; 280 milligrams sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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