Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Better Back-To-School

First of all, I must say that I am boycotting Back-To-School this year. With all the rain and cold weather we had in June, this summer seems shorter than ever. I’ve enjoyed some time with a little less structure, a few less weekly activities, and sleeping in on Sundays. Since the kids will wear summer clothes until the weather turns cooler, I don’t see the need to go out and buy a boatload of fall clothes until later in September. I’ll hit the sale racks then. And as the mother of a preschooler and a child entering first grade, I really don’t need to go out and buy much in the way of school supplies. I think that this country’s Back to School season is now longer than our Christmas season, with the first Back-to-School flyers arriving before the 4th of July. Can we please have a little summer?

While some parents can’t wait for school to begin again (I think of that office supply store commercial from a few years back that used The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for background music), I am dreading the return of bus schedules, gymnastics, swim lessons, ballet, and sport-du-jour for my son. Probably the thing I dread the most is Lunch Box and Snack Preparation. Because you see, in our house, we need an excel spreadsheet to keep this task organized.

My two children attend a total of 3 schools all with different rules around heat-ups, cold packs and peanuts (or any nuts, really). My son needs 1 lunch (peanuts OK), a morning snack (no cold pack because there is no room in the back pack), and an afternoon snack (no cold pack, must be something that won’t be all wilted by 2 pm). My daughter attends a Nut-Free pre-school 3 days a week, for which she needs a snack with no allergens, and daycare 2 days a week, for which she needs a lunch that can be reheated. Now you see why we need the spreadsheet – and containers that we mark with the child’s name and whether it is lunch or snack. Good thing I don’t have 8 kids. I can barely handle 2. And my heart goes out to children with food allergies and their parents. We have friends and relatives who deal with food allergies, and it is very difficult for them.

When my son attended aforementioned Nut-Free Preschool (that would be a funny name for a school actually), he was there all day, so lunch had to be nut-free and the teachers do not have time to heat up your kids’ food in the microwave. And that is why my kids eat hummus and cheese sandwiches. You see, my son was not a big fan of ham-and-cheese or turkey-and-cheese. And peanut-butter-and-jelly (his favorite) was not an option. So, I started making hummus and cheese. It was a great way to give him some protein in the middle of the day. Hummus scores in the 40s and there are some great whole grain breads that score very well:

Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread - 81

Arnold Natural Flax and Fiber Bread - 48

Pepperidge Farm Natural Whole Grain 9 Grain Bread - 40

And that is about all I’d like to say about Back to School, because I am going to enjoy these last days of summer, this luxuriously late Labor Day this year, and just a couple more Sundays to sleep in. Oh, and I’ll get right on making this year’s lunch/snack spreadsheet.

For more tips from people who want to talk about Back-To-School, like NuVal’s Communications Director, please check out our Back-To-School Press Release. It really does have some great ideas – and cool scores. I’m just not ready to think about them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Today, I’m guest-posting over on, a site devoted to trying to find balance between fitness and your greedy side. Josie, is a mom of 4 (gasp!) and she is fuh-ney! She eats food and then she talks about it – and she doesn’t hold back. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fun Things to Do With Yogurt

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I work for this amazing company called NuVal. We are analyzing thousands of foods and scoring them on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being highest. This process is eye-opening, to say the least, and there have been many “Ah-ha!” moments along the way. One of the most interesting categories so far has been yogurt. Considered by many to be one of those universally healthy foods (It’s yogurt, it must be good for you!), yogurt actually has a huge range of scores, from 14 – 99.

We used to be all into Activia in our household. I guess we thought we’d try the whole digestive health thing to see if it made our tummies happier. The Activia scores are all over the board, with Dannon Activia Light Fat Free Blueberry scoring an 89 and Dannon Activia Low Fat Mixed Berry scoring a 23. So, my DH and I ate our yogurts, but not with gusto. We just ate them because, you know, it’s yogurt and it’s good for you.

And then, on the advice of my super-healthy, Pilates-studio-owning sister, I tried Greek yogurt. Well, I just thought I had died and gone to heaven. Yum, yum, yum. I love it. It is smooth and creamy and filling. When I was growing up, we actually made our own yogurt. We bought a yogurt-maker with S&H Green Stamps (I am so dating myself here) and made delicious plain yogurt that we ate with strawberries. I think that experience gave me my taste for plain, thick yogurt, which I much prefer to thinner, fruity varieties. I love that Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek yogurt scores a 94.

Here are some things I’m doing with my Chobani plain these days.
1. Mixing it with blueberries, strawberries and/or bits of nectarine
2. Serving it on baked potatoes in place of sour cream
3. Layering it in our Healthy Fajitas (we use a whole-grain tortilla, slices of lime grilled chicken, my famous Avocado salsa, and of course some Chobani plain)

A well-mannered foodie friend of mine mixes her plain Greek yogurt with cold boiled new potatoes and fresh dill for a delicious potato salad.

Another structured foodie friend makes a great salad dressing with plain (not Greek) yogurt, a little feta cheese and fresh or dried dill. It is my new favorite dip. I even had the kids fooled for a while until they demanded they get their Ranch back.

What fun things are you doing with yogurt these days? I’d love to hear your comments.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dina Rose on Apples, Apple Sauce and Apple Juice

Check out Dina Rose, Ph. D. She is a sociologist (and a Mom!) who blogs about food, nutrition and kids. Today she takes on apples vs. apple sauce vs. apple juice with NuVal scores for each. Before you go out and stock up on apple juice boxes and individual cups of apple sauce for Back To School, read what she has to say in An Apple A Day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Kids' Top Ten Favorite Foods

After my blogpost about My Top Ten Favorite Foods, I thought it would be fun to blog about my kids' Top Ten Foods. I wanted their list to really come from them, so I pulled out my flipchart from Staples that we sometimes use to draw big pictures, put it in the living room, and had a brainstorming session with my 6-year-old and 4-year-old. They thought that this was pretty cool. I took a picture to prove to my readers that this really is THEIR list. Notice the wrinkled paper and the kindergarten and pre-school penmanship. We were too tired to bring the easel up from the basement and we propped the flipchart up on the couch, so you can see that the the handwriting is quite slanted.

So, I asked my kids questions like, "If you could eat a food every day, what would it be?" I was surprised to see that their list was so healthy! I truly expected Cheetos, Kit Kats and cotton candy ice cream to make the list since they beg for these items at our Pool Club's snack bar. Maybe they chose real foods because we were in our own house? Like most grown-ups, they tend to eat well at home and not so well when we are at a restaurant, vending machine, convenience store, etc. We took turns (of course!) with this list, so my six-year-old son chose the odd numbered items and my four-year-old daughter, the even.

1. Carrots
How excited was I that this healthy veggie which scores a 99 on the NuVal scale was the first thing out of my son's mouth! I buy the smallest baby carrots I can find for the kids because they are not choking hazards. Sometimes, during the school year, I splurge on the small baby carrots that are pre-packaged.

2. Spaghetti
This was when I knew that my daughter was taking this exercise very seriously. Spaghetti is definitely her favorite food and she loves to eat it just like the dogs do in Lady and the Tramp. Now that I know the NuVal scores, we eat Barilla Plus Pasta Spaghetti Multi-Grain at home because it scores a 91. I had tried whole grain pastas years ago and did not like them, but this one tastes just like regular spaghetti. It's a great alternative when you realize that Prince Spaghetti gets a 49.

3. Apple Slices
These get a 96 and they make a great accompaniment to a sandwich. When you can get your kids to eat something that gets a 96, why would you ever give them chips?

4. Pancakes
Now my daughter must have been thinking that by putting something on this list, we could get is back in our household because we stopped buying Aunt Jemima Frozen Mini Pancakes when I found out that they score a 6! This same child loves Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal which scores a 57, so I make it in large quantities and reheat leftovers for a quick hot breakfast.

5. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
My son begged for this cereal last week because Ice Age 3 Return of the Dinosaurs was on the box. We were shopping in Roche Brothers at the time and they do not have NuVal yet (although I wish they would get it), so I wasn't exactly sure of the score, but I was in no mood for a melt-down in the cereal aisle, so I relented. I got home and looked it up and found out that it gets a 27, which is not bad when you consider that the median score for cereal is a 25. The key would be to get my son to switch to Cinnamon Toast Crunch with 75% reduced sugar because it scores a 40. That is even better than Cheerios (one of the best scoring Children's cereals at a 34). The question is: Does the 75% reduced sugar have Ice Age 3 on the box? I hope so.

6. Ice Cream Sandwiches
My daughter, who does not like chocolate (crazy!), loves Hood Ice Cream Sandwiches. They score a 2. She also loves plain vanilla ice cream. As I discussed in my I Scream post, Breyer's Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream scores a 45. I will work on migrating her over to that choice. "Sorry, honey. The store was all sold out of ice cream sandwiches." That will only work when I get to go grocery shopping alone - which is like a vacation!

7. Pineapple
Another award-winning pick from my son. Fresh pineapple gets a 99. The canned versions only score a 25. So, while it is more expensive and a huge pain to cut up, I buy the fresh. I admit there are weeks that it sits on the counter and the leaves get all dried out and it starts to grow a little mold on the bottom and then I feel guilty that I blew $4 on a fresh pineapple. But actually that is usually when it tastes the best, so it works in our busy house.

8. Orange Juice
This surprisingly healthy shout-out came from my daughter, Miss Spaghetti-Pancakes-and-Ice Cream. As I mentioned in Keeping Kids Hydrated - Guiltfree, Tropicana 50 Pulp-Free with Calcium scores a fabulous 81. That is amazing when you compare it to Minute Maid Orange Juice Pulp-Free which scores a 30. Before I knew about Trop 50, we were buying our juice from our milk man because I'm on this glass bottle kick right now. Sorry Milk Man! As I mentioned in My Top Ten Favorite Foods, be sure to buy the one with added calcium and Vitamin D, because the other one scores much lower.

9. Plums
My son must have thought there was a prize at the end of this because his last choice scored a 99 also. My colleague and friend is a dad of 2 and he has a "fruit before anything else at breakfast" rule in his house. I liked that, so I started giving the kids cut up plums or peaches with little tiny seafood forks that came with my everyday flatware (what else are you going to do with those?) at breakfast time. It's a great way to squeeze in another fruit. I put the plums in paper bags until they get nice and ripe.

10. Soup
And on the hottest day of the year, my daughter chooses soup! She has always been a big fan of this hot and salty favorite. We love to sing the old Tom Jones favorite, "She's a Lady" when she drinks the remaining broth right out of the bowl. She's such a class act, my four-year-old. Unfortunately, I don't have any scores on soup as of yet because NuVal is scoring that this fall. It will be interesting to see how they do. It was also interesting to read this morning that Campbell's will be removing 25% of sodium from soups. Maybe they heard about NuVal?

Try this with your kids and see what they choose. I'd love to see your lists in the comments!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Exercise Debate

Everyone in the world of health and fitness is talking about John Cloud's article in Time magazine, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin." Mr. Cloud makes the claim that "fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain." He writes that he is more hungry on the days that he does cardio and therefore, he eats more on those days. He also feels that he is more sedentary during his non-exercise hours than he would be if he didn't exercise.

This attention-grabbing headline may have sold some magazines, but the article has been criticized as one of the most poorly researched pieces of all time. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, released a statement as a rebuttal to Mr. Cloud's article. Janet Rankin, Ph.D, FACSM, an expert in nutrition and exercise put it this way: "A practical response to the claim that exercise makes you eat more and gain weight is to look around. If this were the case, wouldn't those who regularly exercise be the fattest? Obviously that isn't the case."

I am in complete agreement with the ACSM, of course. My dear husband (DH) and I have been known to eat a cookie and then comment, "Well that cancelled out this morning's workout." Exercising does not give you license to eat whatever you want - at least not if you hope to lose weight or maintain your weight. When I'm working out on the elliptical or treadmill, I often think back to 2001 when I was completing my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Associate of America) group exercise instructor certification. I remember being on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then our instructor telling us how many calories we had burned and what it equated to in terms of food. It wasn't much.

We have some great twenty-somethings who work in my office and who seem to have speedier metabolisms than those of us who are headed to the big 4-0. When they offer me chips, my response is usually, "Oh, no thanks, I get up waaaaayyy too early in the morning for that." You see, I have a choice: beauty sleep or early morning workouts. And I usually pick the latter. So if I eat chips at 3 pm, my snack has cancelled out my spin class and I lost out on precious sleep so I have to buy more of my $100 eye cream. Not good.

I agree with Mr. Cloud that I often feel hungrier on the days that I take Spin or when I run. But it is no license to eat high calorie snacks with low NuVal scores. I often reach for one of my Top Ten Favorite Foods and I try to incorporate protein throughout the day. When I get home from the gym in the early morning, my DH is usually whipping up some scrambled eggs following his basement gym workout. His recipe is 4 eggs whites, 1 egg and a little skim milk. Eggs have a NuVal score of 33. We pair them up with a cereal that contains protein and we're good to go.

I've always been more of a veggie girl than a carnivore, but I know that protein is important and I do eat it in all forms. I wrote a lot about some non-meat protein sources (skim milk, greek yogurt, chick peas, almonds) in my Top Ten Post, so here is some information on Meat and Seafood. As you can imagine, Seafood has the higher median score at 81, compared with a median of 28 for Meat.

Here are some sample seafood scores:
Salmon Fillet 87
Cod Fillet 82
Shrimp 75
Haddock 64
Lobster 36

and some meat scores:
Skinless Turkey Breast 48
Boneless Chicken Breast 39
Beef Tenderloin 30
Ground Sirloin (90% lean) 30
Ground Chuck (80% lean) 26

In this day and age, when obesity statistics are off the charts and most Americans do not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity, the Time headline was probably the last thing we needed. I often think of the people in the movie WALL-E. As the centuries wore on and life got more automated, they got fatter and fatter. They could barely lift up their Slurpees, never mind sit up. Thanks for the advice Mr. Cloud, but I think I'll stick to my plan!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Foods

As I learn more about NuVal scores, I am rethinking what I put in my mouth. When I walk in the door some nights with 2 kids, lunchboxes to unpack, dinner to make and everyone starving, I've stopped reaching for a handful of Cheez-its or pita chips. With their low scores, they're just not worth it. As I approach my one year anniversary of working for NuVal (which I love!), I realize that I have a new Top Ten Favorite Food List that is different than what it was one year ago. Here it is:

1. Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt: Score of 94

I love this plain, thicker-than-regular yogurt so much. I mix in some fresh nectarine and blueberries. I also put it on baked potatoes. And when my neighbor called looking to borrow sour cream for a recipe she was making (none in my fridge), I gave her the yogurt instead and she said it turned out great. This yogurt is filling and substantial. It's my quick fix on Monday afternoons when I need an energy boost before teaching my 6:30 pm Pilates class.

2. Almonds: Score of 81

My boss and friend got me hooked on these. I opt for the roasted, unsalted brand and my husband loves them too. Since I work out early (5:30 am), I often need a post-breakfast, mid-morning snack. These do the trick.

3. Frozen Grapes: Score of 91

Someone brought frozen grapes this year to the 4th of July cookout. And boy did it bring back memories. I ate a lot of frozen grapes back in my obsessive Weight Watcher days (circa 1996) because they kept me from eating ice cream. My husband affectionately called them frozen eyeballs. So I resurrected them this summer. They are so easy - just rinse and throw them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They still look like frozen eyeballs, but they are so tasty and the kids love them too. But this post is about MY top ten. The kids' will be next week. Moving on...

4. Special K with Protein: Score 0f 60

As I mentioned in my Adult Rated Cereal post, I don't have time for a lot of munching in the morning. So bye-bye to some of my more laborious cereals and hello Special K with Protein. But it MUST say Protein on the box. My DH has mistakenly bought the regular one (which scores only a 23) and we had to return it. It is a little sweet, very filling, and it lasts me until Almond Time.

5. Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Flour Pita Bread: Score of 65

These very flat pitas are so satisfying. We go through at least two packages of these a week because everyone in our house seems to like them. And the score is much better than most other breads or pita products.

6. Skim Milk: Score of 91

This is just one of those perfect foods. You get some protein, your Vitamin D and your Calcium. I'll admit, I probably was not getting the recommended number of dairy servings per day until we switched to milk delivery in glass bottles. I was even able to get the kids to switch to skim. There I go talking about them again. This post is about MY favorites.

7. Tropicana 50 Pulp-Free with Calcium Orange Juice: Score of 81

This is a recent find from when I blogged about juice. We were drinking Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D with a score of 51. Now we're drinking 30 points higher because the Trop 50 has less sugar. I really think they should change the name though. It makes me think that it is juice for people over age 50. And I've got 11 years before I get there. Note: Make sure you buy the one that says "with Calcium and Vitamin D". The other Trop 50 right next to it scores much, much lower.

8. Quaker Steel Cut Oats: Score of 60

They take a long time to cook, so I often make a big batch and reheat them on busy weekday mornings. These oats are for Mommy only. My daughter loves oatmeal, but not this kind. Even the purple container could not win her over. But I love their sticking power. It's all about getting me to Almond Time.

9. Chick Peas: Scores vary

And this is why I need NuVal in my grocery store. Because while I do have access to the scores because I work there, I can't remember them when I am trying to pick out the chick peas that have the best score. Progresso chick peas get a 58, but the Food Club organic brand that I can buy at my local Roche Brothers store, get an 82. Yes, I've had a long-time love affair with chick peas. A friend and colleage of mine dubbed me the Queen of Leafy Greens and Chick Peas back in the '90s. They are just the protein you need on salad.

10: Vegetables: Scores vary, but they are really high

Yes, I am a veggie lover and I have been one since early childhood. I used to ask my mom, "Can I have lettuce for my treat tonight?" and she'd say, "Well, OK. Only if you're good." When I get back from traveling or a vacation where veggies were scarce, I feel the difference. And it makes me crabby. My favorites are asparagus (100), arugula (100), broccoli rabe (100) and brussels sprouts (94). My husband knows to just let me order that $6 plate of one of these when we go out to dinner. The good news is that frozen vegetables without additives score really well too. I always have a bag of frozen brussels sprouts in my freezer in case we run out of fresh veggies before that weekly shopping trip.

So that is what is on my shopping list each week. Next week, I'll post on my kids' Top Ten list. What's on your Top Ten List? I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Scream

Well, it's August 11th and Summer is finally here in New England. And just in time for the heat and humidity, NuVal has released its ice cream and frozen yogurt scores. So what do you think is the most nutritious dessert: fat-free sorbet, frozen yogurt, popsicles, or extra creamy vanilla ice cream? If you're like my husband and me, you probably are thinking fat-free sorbet, right? Wrong. Most sorbets score a 1 or 2 on the NuVal scale (which is 1-100, 100 is highest). So, if anyone would like the rest of my just-opened, $5-a-carton lemon sorbet that is in my freezer, just let me know!

Yes, in this case, my 4-year-old daughter, the vanilla ice cream aficionado wins. Breyers Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream scores a 45. Deans Healthy Delight Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (doesn't that sound just so healthy?) only gets a 14. The ice cream aisle at my local grocery store is one of those dizzying places with all sorts of claims on all sorts of products including: Light, No Sugar Added, Reduced Sugar, Fat Free, Reduced Fat, Low Fat. So this is the kind of place where you really need the NuVal scores to cut through the clutter.

Take this example:

Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Cherry Ice Cream scores a 21

Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Cherry Low Fat Frozen Yogurt scores a 15

It seems a little crazy, doesn't it? My colleague, NuVal's Director of Nutrition Annette Maggi, puts it this way: "While it will never be mistaken for a health food, ice cream does offer some of the benefits of milk - calcium, vitamins, and a few ice creams even offer a good amount of fiber."

So relish the hot days of this oh-so-short summer and enjoy with a little bit of ice cream.

See the NuVal ice cream press release at

Read more about NuVal's ice cream scores in the Chicago Tribune.

You can also see sample ice cream and frozen yogurt scores at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don't Be A Vegetable Snob

My kids eat vegetables. Many mom bloggers would follow that statement by saying "I am lucky." But I won't say that. I will say that my kids eat vegetables because I've made it a priority and I haven't been a vegetable snob. By that I mean - yes - I resort to canned vegetables. I know that there are moms gasping in horror by that statement. But consider this:

On the NuVal scale:

Fresh Green Beans score a 100

Del Monte No-Salt Added Canned Green Beans also score a 100

Del Monte Fresh Cut Whole Green Beans (Canned) score a 59

I'll admit, it wasn't until I started working for NuVal that I switched to the No Salt Added variety. Canned vegetables that add sodium, fat or sugar don't score so well. However, those without additives score nearly as well as fresh.

So here is how my canned vegetable habit started. I was at a playdate back when my first child was about 15 months old. We had a wonderful playgroup of 5 moms, all with kids born within weeks of each other. We were all venturing into that stage when you graduate from baby foods and move on to more real foods. One mom - the mom with the oldest of our children actually - caught my attention when she opened up a can of plain old green beans and started feeding them to her daughter straight out of the can. What a great idea! It was cheaper than the "graduate" kind you see in the baby food aisle - tiny little pieces of green beans in tiny little jars at an astronomical price. So from that day on, I started giving my son vegetables out of the can: green beans, wax beans, carrots, peas, beets. And to this day (he is 6!), he goes to school with a serving of canned vegetables in his lunchbox and he eats them at room temperature. Additionally, at dinner time, when I add vegetables to everybody's plate, I often finding myself opening up a can. Perhaps dinner included steamed broccoli, which we like and my daughter likes, but my son does not. In that case, my son gets no salt added sliced carrots out of a can.

Here's another example:

Fresh Peas score a 96

Del Monte No Salt Added Peas (canned) score an 82

Del Monte Peas (canned) score a 39

My kids like some fresh vegetables too. They are big on baby carrots and cucumbers. They both like fresh green beans, especially at this time of year. But let's face it. There are nights when I just don't have time to wash and trim those green beans. It's good to know that I can open a can of no-salt-added vegetables and get almost the same benefit. And the kids are used to the soft texture. There are no fights. It's all good.

Check out this link, where a dietitian at Hy-Vee, the Iowa-based supermarket chain where we've implemented NuVal, advises that canned vegetables are an OK way to make sure you get your veggies.

Most kids today do not get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables according to researchers at Ohio State University. More on that in this link:

And has some great tools for figuring out how many vegetables (and other foods) are recommended for your child.

I am happy that my kids do eat vegetables and I know that now our next steps are to vary the vegetables that my kids eat. Not always easy. A friend and colleague of mine introduces her 3 boys to a new vegetable every Monday. Great idea! And if they don't like it the first time, she keeps trying. She says that she's never been able to get her boys to like cooked spinach, but they happily munch on raw baby spinach with ranch dressing. Ranch dressing is a secret weapon isn't it? I can get my kids to eat anything with a little bit of Ranch on it.

For more canned vegetable scores, visit

I would love more ideas. How do you get your kids to eat more vegetables?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Adult Rated Cereal

Have you looked at the cereal aisle in your grocery store lately? It is huge. Absolutely humongous. And although there are many, many cereals to choose from, one of the most frequently asked questions I get when a friend or acquaintance learns that I work for NuVal is, "What about Kashi?"

Great question. I admit, I had a Kashi addiction circa 1996. I loved Good Friends. Loved it. It was life B.C. (Before Children). I was getting ready to be a bride, counted Weight Watchers Points obsessively, only had my own health and nutrition to worry about, had time and stamina for twice-daily workouts. When Weight Watchers added fiber to its little Points system slide rule (B.C. indeed!), I found that I could eat a really big bowl of Good Friends for breakfast. And I did - like, every day. My fiance (now dear husband) had many affectionate terms for the different Kashi cereal products, including Sticks, Twigs, and my all-time favorite, Compost. As life got much busier with two small children, I no longer had time for all that crunching, and we moved on to smaller bowls of something else.

So, when I'm asked about Kashi, my answer is that there are some Kashi cereal products that score really well and some that do not. Check out these scores:

Kashi 7 Whole Grain Cereal Puffs 91

Kashi GoLean High Protein and High Fiber Cereal 47

Kashi Go Lean Crunch 33

Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes 29

Kashi Good Friends 26

Kashi Strawberry Fields 11

Good or bad? Well the median NuVal score for cereal is 25 and scores range from 4 - 100. Cheerios get a 34. You think you're doing a really healthy thing by eating Kashi Go Lean Crunch, but you could be just as healthy eating Cheerios.

If you didn't know the NuVal scores, you might think you're doing a really healthy thing by eating Kashi Strawberry Fields, which scores an 11. Just know you're in the Capn' Crunch range. It gets a 10.

My DH and I have a marathoner friend who has become a huge fan of NuVal and is living it. He's a great athlete who posts Lance-Armstrong-like times, including 3:02 in Boston this year, when he runs. He chooses the best scoring products in each category whenever he can. These days he's eating Post Shredded Wheat which scores a 91. He gets up really early to run and then chew through that.

As for what the adults in our household are crunching through these days: Kellogg's Special K Protein Plus which scores a 60. That is much higher than regular Special K, which scores a 20. And it goes down easy.

Yes, there are a lot of sticks, twigs, composts and cereals. And a lot more stories to post, including those about kids' cereals. Stay tuned.

For these and other cereal scores, check out

And check out this great interview with our own Dr. David Katz, the visionary behind the NuVal system, at