Monday, November 16, 2009

I've Moved!

I just finished packing up my NuVal scores, my recipes, my blogposts, and oh yeah, my kids, and I've headed on over to my new home.

I can't wait for you to see my new digs. Blain Smith of 13-infinite helped me with the architecture and floorplan and then I did a little decorating and unpacking. The kids are all settled in and we're cooking again. There's lots of "Nu" things like giveaways, Incredible Vegetables and Field Trips.

Come and check out my new home at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time to Move It, Move It

Today is an exciting day! It's time to Move It, Move It. My blog that is! I've got a new name, new space, much greater functionality, and cool new surprises. Thanks to my new friend, Blain at 13-infinite, my new site is beautiful!

So today, I'm packing up my NuVal scores in a Uhaul and heading on over to my new site to unpack. My housewarming is next week and you are all invited! It's a potluck, so I'll need you to bring some things. I need your examples of how you've traded up for better nutrition using NuVal scores. I know you all have some great stories, so get 'em ready. There's a doorprize waiting for one lucky reader!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

C is for Cookie

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street! It is scary that I am almost as old as you! It has been wonderful these past 6 1/2 years, getting reacquainted with the Street. And yes, your Platinum Hits collection is on my Ipod. My Dear Son, now 6 1/2 and sadly Way-Too-Old for Sesame Street loved Oscar's "I Love Trash" and Ernie's "Put Down the Duckie." My daughter, now 4 1/2, still wakes up wanting her Elmo's World fix and sleeps with the one stuffed Elmo I could find that did not have some sort of speaking unit in it. I love watching her wake up, groping for Elmo's eyeballs so she can give him a hug. Any parent who has had a love/hate relationship with Elmo should read Joanna Weiss's column from the Saturday's Boston Globe: Six reasons why Elmo went from being horrible to adorable.

I am looking forward to the big Sesame Street special tonight (Episode #4187!), with Michele Obama, Elmo and the White House vegetable garden. I love that Cookie Monster now gobbles vegetables along with his cookies. But still, C is for Cookie makes me want, well, a cookie! I haven't talked much about cookies on my blog yet. Nutritionally, there's not much to know. The median NuVal score for cookies is a 3. Ouch! You can see some of the NuVal scores for cookies on our newly designed website here.
There are a couple of superstars in the Cookie category. Most notable are Kashi's TLC Oatmeal Cookies. They get a NuVal score of 40 - the best we've seen in Cookies to date. Of course, I prefer Kashi's TLC Oatmeal with Chocolate cookie (it's all about chocolate) which score a 24. Still, that's a great score when it comes to cookies. If I wanted to forget about the scores, I might have a Nabisco Chips Ahoy instead. They score a 6. I might try to be a little healthier by choosing the Reduced Fat version of Chips Ahoy. I wouldn't bother. They get exactly the same score as the regular version - a 6! I'll just be sure to have my cookie with a big glass of skim milk, which gets an almost perfect NuVal score of 91.

I probably only have a very small window of Sesame Street Love left in my household. You know Hannah Montanna is going to be knocking on my door soon. My son now knows that there's more to life than PBS. He's quickly teaching his sister how to find Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. So tonight, I'm going to have my cookie and eat it too, as we all Sing A Song. Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch

One of my goals is to raise two kids who appreciate good and nutritious food. When it comes to eating out, this can be a real challenge. So often, the children's menu is filled with the same old predictable choices: chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, hot dog, etc. The Boston Globe ran a great article this week about restaurants that do a better job of offering nutritious and creative dishes for kids.

My sisters and I have a new Friday tradition that includes exercise and lunch. Since we all have very different lives and schedules, we were so excited to find one day that we could get together for a few hours. First, let me introduce you to our clan.

There's Me, of course, Mom of two. I work for NuVal, teach group exercise part-time, and love motherhood, cooking and all things healthy.

There's Julie, owner of Rhode Island Pilates Studio. She is married and is about to become the proud owner of a new puppy, Lily.

There's April, busy Nurse and Mom to a preschooler and infant, both girls.

And Kristin, newly engaged, she works in Customer support for a major retailer.

Friday Lunch takes place with two kids in tow, my 4 year old daughter and my new niece. First, we get a great Pilates Reformer workout in at RI Pilates Studio. If you've never tried using Pilates apparatus (chair, Cadillac, Reformer, barrel, towers), you are missing out! It's amazing!

Then, it's off for a healthy lunch. On this particular Friday, we went to The Garden Grille Cafe in Pawtucket, RI.

The Garden Grille serves vegetarian, vegan and raw foods. I had heard about it so I was very excited to try it out.

On this particular Friday, Kristin was unable to join us but my mom came with us too, so we had a nice big party to try out different dishes. Julie and April are always seeking out something Mexican, so they went for the Garden Grille Nachos and Burrito.

Mom and I shared the Grilled Asparagus Wrap and the Roasted Butternut Squash Quesadilla, on the advice of one of my favorite Spinning instructors.

>My niece munched on a Kashi TLC Ripe Strawberry Cereal Bar, which gets a NuVal score of 30, in case you're wondering. April made a great choice there! That's a great score when you compare it to Nature Valley Chewy Granola Bar Strawberry (Score of 10) or Quaker Chewy 90-calorie Strawberry Vanilla (Score of 9).

After perusing the menu, I thought that the Vegan Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli would be the best choice for my daughter.

The Verdict:
The grown-ups loved our dishes. Lots of vegetables and yet, so satisfying. I would love to go back for dinner as they have a beer and wine menu.

My daughter ate all of the broccoli out of her mac & cheese and then picked at the macaroni. Instead, she really wanted Auntie Julie and Auntie April's nachos. And then, she remembered that I had a snack pack of Cheetos in my bag (don't ask!) So, she grabbed them and started eating Cheetos. In a vegan restaurant. With orange Cheeto cheese all over her face. Not my proudest Mommy moment.

I would love to see The Garden Grille put a few kid-friendly choices on their menu. How about a smiley face made out of vegetables? With some kind of vegan dip in the middle? The possiblities are endless and The Garden Grille is the kind of restaurant that would do it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken Soup with Rice

Well, it's official. Our household has fallen victim to the flu. Since my pediatrician is not testing for H1N1, we're not sure which flu. But it is the flu. And today, I am the latest victim, so this blogpost comes to you in a feverish haze. I apologize in advance for any typos!

Basically, my strategy when the kids get a cold or the flu is to push fluids - even if it means bending the rules. So, yes, you can have a popsicle before noontime. And yes, you can have yet another juice box, even though we are at home and I ordinarily only allow them to be consumed outside of the house since they are more expensive than bottled juice. And yes, you can have way, way, way more than the recommended 4 ounces of juice per day. And you can drink it in the TV room while sitting on the couch (instead of in the kitchen at the table). What? You'd like another glass or purple Kool-Aid? No problem.

There's nothing like some Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken Soup with Rice when you're feeling under the weather. I make a to-die-for Chicken and Matzoh Ball Soup. It's sort of a combination of my Italian cooking upbringing with some Jewish penicillin thrown in. I first make a roast chicken (like on a Sunday) and then make the broth from the remains. But, as I mentioned above, I now have the flu too, so I've only got enough energy to pop open a couple of cans. Plus, truth be told, my kids hate my homemade chicken soup. Well, actually, my 4 year old daughter eats it, but picks out the escarole. And my 6 year old son, no way!

What the kids really want is Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup with one of their favorite characters on the label. I love how when we shop, these cans with Princesses, Cars, and Shrek, are strategically placed right at kid-eye-height. They always end up in our cart. But here is the good news that I so need on this flu-ridden day. These soups score OK on the NuVal scale when compared to regular canned soups. In fact, Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup with Disney Cars on the label scores higher than Cambell's Select Harvest Healthy Request Chicken with Egg Noodles. Woo hoo! Check out these scores:

Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup with Cars: 35
Healthy Choice Chicken & Rice: 33
Progresso Healthy Favorites Chicken Noodle Ready to Serve: 30
Campbell's Chicken Alphabet Soup: 29
Campbell's Select Harvest Healthy Request Chicken with Egg Noodles: 29
Progresso Chicken Noodle Ready to Serve: 25
Campbell's Chicken Soup with Rice: 24

Campbell's Soup has made a good effort in reducing the amount of sodium in their kids' soups, as reported here in this Supermarket News article. Good for you, Campbell's! And this mom, who should probably be headed to bed, says thanks!