Review: Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Bread at Target

I’m meticulous with my shopping list. I buy the same few food products every week to keep costs down and I’m not much of an early adopter when it comes to new foods. Kellogg’s, Kraft and the like continuously refine and develop new food products each year and I’ve done a pretty good job avoiding the junk and sticking to the fresh, healthier stuff.

Blueberry Date

About a month ago I passed Target’s bread section and noticed a loaf of Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Bread. I’m a sucker for a treat here and there, but I refused for many weeks trying to stick to my shopping lists and avoid the unknown. Last Thursday, I caved. My thoughts were focused the bread even after I left the store weeks ago! My mom used to tell me if I really wanted something, go a few days and ask myself “do I still want that?” If the answer is yes, it’s time to think about getting it. I couldn’t deny the sweet blueberry crumble bread.

Nutrition Facts

Who says you can’t treat yourself once in a while? It’s good for your mental health and your taste buds. Raw veggies, fibrous breads and fruits can get boring.

Here’s the facts, straight from the source:

  • Calories: 120/slice
  • Calories from fat: 15
  • Total Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 140mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 8g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Iron: 6%
  • Calcium 2%

There’s iron, a bit of calcium and only 8 grams of sugar.  I wouldn’t suggest eating 15 slices a day, but with a little common sense and moderation, it’s a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Recipe Ideas

  • French toast: Soak each loaf for roughly 1-2 minutes per side (any longer and the bread breaks apart).
  • Plain toast: Pop these slices right in your toaster, don’t forget the milk!
  • Sandwiches: Not all sandwiches much be created fibrous

If you’ve tried Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Bread (a mouthful both figuratively and literally) let us know what you think below!

The Let’s Move Website

A TV ad for the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign aired for the billionth time. Finally, I decided to see this website for myself. After thorough inspection of the site, I’ve found there are truly valuable resources for kids, parents and educators.

In a section titled “Parents”, the following is mentioned:

Parents and caregivers can set a great example for the whole family by creating a healthy environment at home. Any combination of steps-making fruits and vegetables part of every meal, limiting treats, walking and playing, even shopping together—can add up to make a real difference in children’s lives and help build healthy habits for life.

The site then lists five ideas to get parents actively involved in not only the child’s health but their own. What’s great is the depth of detail and ease to execute healthy habits, such as how to understand “healthy snacks”. Not everyone knows what’s healthy and what isn’t. Education is half the battle, the other part is convincing change and that’s exactly what a great leader can do (hey parents, that sounds like you!).

This website is a must-read. It’s interactive and fun for kids while maintaining a nice balance of educational information.

Michelle Obama seems to be on the same page as those of us who believe the ban on homemade lunches is ridiculous. From ABC news,

“There’s no expert on this planet who says that the government telling people what to do actually does any good with this issue,” she said. “This is going to require an effort on everyone’s part.”

Obama’s announcing that forcing people, or telling them what to do, isn’t going to be an effective means to cure childhood obesity. It will take the effort and the change of parents, children, educators to be on the same page, aligned with one goal: teaching and implementing a healthy lifestyle from a young age.

Chicago Schools: No More Homemade Lunches

Some parents don’t have the option to dress their children for school- they wear uniforms. Some Chicago parents don’t have the option to make their children’s lunches- they must eat what the school provides.

According to the Chicago Tribune, this new rule instilled by Little Valley Academy, a public school in Chicago, is intended to eliminate all possible ways a child could eat something unhealthy during lunchtime.

I’d sure want a medical excuse to bring a lunch. That’s allowed by the way. Allergies to food and other dietary restrictions gets you a free pass for homemade lunches. The kid with food allergies is going to become a lot more popular at the lunch table. There’s no word on whether there’s some “inspection” on the lunches for children with dietary restrictions. I know I’d want to sneak in a brownie for my friend, deprived choice.

The Chicago Tribune continues,

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

Carmona, wake up and smell the Burger King. There are a lot of unintended consequences to this seemingly “great” plan on paper:

  1. School lunches are roughly $2.25 for those who aren’t on a reduced lunch plan. That’s more than the cost of a kids homemade lunch
  2. Parents are already outraged by the deletion of choice
  3. Children are going to be hungry, want more food, and feel deprived. Chances are when they get home, they’ll eat more cookies than they should. Ever heard of binge eating

Ray Rahman wrote about Sarah Palin who, in 2010,  made a strong, clear point,

“Palin asked at a fundraising event at a Bucks County, PA, Christian school, a clear shot at First Lady Michelle Obama’s nutrition guidelines. “Should it be government or should it be parents? It should be the parents.”

Many are asking the same question. The government and schools must be aligned to reduce obesity in children, but what happens at school isn’t necessarily going to happen at home. Healthy habits are taught from a young age, not forced at a school lunch.

Although this is specifically a school issue, there’s plenty of government involvement in lunch programs. I’ll let David Roland close this one up today,

“The government is taking away choice. That is just fundamentally un-American.”

 

New York: No McDonald’s Toys for Girls and Boys

Here’s the Beef

It’s New York City’s proposed ban on toys in fast food that’s caught the eyes of the media and the moms.

The New York State Restaurant Association released the following statement in response to the proposed ban on April 5th, 2011

“This proposal robs parents of choice while increasing the already burdensome regulation on local restaurant owners,” said Andrew Rigie, executive vice president of the New York City Chapter of NYSRA. “We need to find a more effective way to combat obesity than by taking toys away from children and choices away from their parents. The New York State Restaurant Association looks forward to working with the City Council and other groups in a meaningful way to help educate children and parents about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.”

There is an except to the rule however. NY 1 reports that

Toys would only be allowed in meals under 500 calories with fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium.

Imagine being a child and told you have to “count calories” to be rewarded. What kind of mindset is that instilling– especially for young children? It’s not about how many calories in every meal, rather it’s about a balanced diet. If a child is physically healthy, active and taught to make healthy choices, they shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of fat America. Sorry, NYC but your problem isn’t every ones and your proposal solves no ones.

Making a Change

Reducing childhood obesity isn’t a one-step/one time process, and certainly toys are not the root cause of obesity. We won’t start to see childhood obesity rates dropping significantly due to one or two “acts” or “bills” passed. The truth is, we need to get to the root of the cause by spending our tax money more effectively. If that means pouring 1 billion in federal money into parental education programs, that’s certainly more effective than telling a kid “no toy for you”. Plus, those toys are often over shadowed by iPhones, iPads and the like these days.

How about promoting healthy applications? How about targeting parents who are the primary influencers of a child’s diet while growing up? Now that’d just be juvenille.

 

The Odd Carrot Out

I’ve opened hundreds of bags of baby carrots.  I’ve never quite seen anything like this…

Double yolks are cool. I usually tell anyone who’s nearby. “Hey look I have a double yolk!” What the heck do I say here? “Hey look, I have a… conjoined baby carrot?

I’ll admit, it’s not yolk-cool. But definitely pretty weird!

Koalas Eat Eucalyptus, Humans Eat Red #40

In 6th grade band class I decided to eat Doritos right before my clarinet lesson. After eating and playing, I noticed the reed turned red. In 6th grade, that means “get another one”.

In adulthood, to me it means concern. The dye is an additive of course, so what are the risks associated with these “additives” everyone’s been talking about and how do they affect me?

Whether you know me personally or not, lately I’ve been reading and studying koalas. Every day I’m talking about their habits, diet or thinking about them in some way. Today it hit me- you’d never see a koala eating anything with Red Dye #40 in the trees of Australia (or going to clarinet lessons for that matter).

We, humans, are much more advanced and intelligent than our koala friends. However, even the simple creatures can, unknowingly, point us to healthier eating. Our foods are processed, sprayed, dyed and disfigured to somehow preserve, add fun, and consumer appeal. The food market is saturated and competitive so it’s only natural that over time, we’d come to our current state of market conditions.

Back in 2010, I conducted an experiment. It went a little like this:

Goal : Eat only raw, non-processed and 100% organic foods for 14 days.

By then end, I was hungry, tired and broke. Even in organic sections of the store, you aren’t sure if the food is “100% organic”. The truth is unless you’re growing it in the backyard you can never be 100% certain where it came from or how it was harvested/treated. Some foods are allowed to carry the organic seal even if they are under 100%.One site I really like that describes organic labeling is the The George Mateljan Foundation
for The World’s Healthiest Foods.
They list the following below:

  1. Food that is 100 percent organic may carry the new “USDA organic” label and say “100% organic.”
  2. Food that is at least 95 percent organic may carry the new seal.
  3. Food that is at least 70 percent organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package.
  4. If a product is less than 70 percent organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but cannot say “organic” on the front.

We know more about organic and what counts as organic (good tips for your next shopping trip). Yet the focus of this article is Red #40 and to get to the bottom of it, I’ve brought one of the many stories online right here (Red Dye #40 stories never cease to amuse me). One from BrightHub.com mentions Red #40 linked to ADHD:

Red 40 dye, an artificial coloring that is added to many food and drink products, has been linked to ADHD and found to potentially increase hyperactivity and irritability in children. Those who are sensitive to the red 40 dye can sometimes benefit from having the additive removed from their diet

I don’t see any specific study linked, therefore the saying goes “don’t believe everything you read”. For the facts though, I lead you to the  Center for Science in the Public Interest,

[Red 40] The most widely used food dye. While this is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse tests were flawed and inconclusive. An FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not “consistent” or “substantial.” Red 40 can cause allergy-like reactions. Like other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods.

Inconclusive, but not exactly comforting. Truth is there are tons of “potentially” harmful drugs, foods, additives and so forth. The good news is if you’re not allergic to Red Dye #40, limiting your intake would be the safest way to go. If it isn’t Red Dye #40, it’ll certainly be something else next time around.

 

10 Ways to Save Money on Food in 60 Seconds


Check out our list of the 10 best ways to save money at the grocery store:

1. In Store Ad Magazine. Grab a circular or booklet at the entrance  of your grocery store. Quickly scan for the best sales and shop those items.

2. Newspaper inserts. Take one minute  to scan through coupons in the paper and put them in your wallet for the next trip.

3. Go online. Check your grocer’s website for deals and promotions, or go to a competitor’s and see who’s got the best deals.

4. Apply for a store card. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on multiple sale deals (10 for $10) and regular promotions. Shop at Ralphs? Get one here.

5. Cut down your list. Do you really need Milano cookies or three varieties of graham crackers?

6. Check the clearance section. Target has food on clearance all the time, be sure to check the expiration date first. If you’re going to it the food tomorrow and it expires in two days you’ve just saved cash.

7. Buy in bulk. Forget mainstream groceries and check out BJ’s or Costco. Not only will you save money, you’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store  each month.

8. Say “Bye-bye coffee”. Just another  added expense.  Kick your caffeine addiction and save money in the meantime. Plus, creamers and sugar are hidden expenses.

9. Eat before you shop. Hungry shoppers spend more when grocery shopping. Fill up with a nutritious meal before you wind up bringing the entire grocery store into your home.

10. Eat smaller portions. Truth is, your portions are probably too big. A serving should be about the size of your fist (or a deck of cards).

 

Have your own tips and tricks? Share ‘em below!

One Year Without a Microwave

Moving across the country is a big step in life. So is ditching the microwave oven.

I realized my dependence on the microwave once I ran out of space for it in my new apartment. So many questions about how I’d cook food were swirling at that point, but I decided against purchasing even a tiny one. My friend called and asked how I had been with the Big Move. 3,000 miles is a long, long way.

“…wait, you don’t have a microwave? So you use, like, a stove?”

I’ll admit I felt a bit embarrassed. Everyone I know has one in their home or apartment. I’m assuming you do too.  I’ve seen so many different microwaves, it seems there’s one to suit every style.

  • Hangers: Those hangin’ out under the cabinets
  • Stealths: Those built into the wall
  • Sitters: Those sittin’ on the counter top or island

And then there are microwaves for people like me: the non-existent ones.

So what’s it like without one? Well, I’ll be candid and tell you this:

  1. More burns on my arms and fingers from using the oven.
  2. Less junk food and pre-packaged meals
  3. Still splatter to clean up. Microwave or stove, it gets everywhere.
  4. I absolutely love it.

After doing a bit of research, I found lots of other people have given up microwaves for one reason or another like Janelle Denison and Tyla Fowler. I also found this really bad joke on the Joke Buddha while hunting for some microwave humor:

Why’d they create the microwave? So blondes could cook, too

Anyway, it’s been a year and I have no intentions of going back to the ‘waves. There’s even a Facebook group I’ve considered joining. I’d like to hear from anyone who’s given this a try– or who is scared to even consider life without a microwave!

*Warning- Avoid making more unwanted waves by consulting your husband, wife or children before permanently removing your appliance from the kitchen.

 

 

Do’s and Don’ts of the Freshman Fifteen

It starts with your mindset

To successfully escape the Freshman 15, you must make difficult choices to avoid the bad foods you crave. It takes dedication to stick with a workout plan and time to choose the right meals, all while turning your back on the brownie staring you down. To help you fight the 15, we’ve compiled a few great tips to keep you less stressed– and less inclined to pack on the pounds as you venture away from home.

DO:

  • Take advantage of fresh sandwiches made to order.
  • Check what oils/butters vegetables cooks used to prepare veggies . (Hint: If you see butter or oil in the tray, steer clear, the liquid should be watery and clear which means they’ve been steamed)
  • Eat from the salad bar. Most colleges and universities have a wide array of fruits, veggies and cottage cheeses.
  • Make special requests. If you see the omelet bar has both egg whites and regular eggs, ask for whites.

DON’T:

  • Get seconds. It’s tempting to get a new plate and dive in for another round, especially when there are so many options available. Make your initial selection wisely and stick with it. Denying yourself a second round will pay off later.
  • Work out immediately after you’ve eaten. This will make you feel sick and discourage you from working out if you’re starting a routine.
  • Pile on the cheese, mayo, and other condiments that are high in fat and low in nutritional value. Try yellow mustard or reduced fat spreads.
  • Get freaky about food. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with having a small ice cream once in a while after your meal.
  • Forget about portion control (check out that link by Doug Millington, good stuff). Heaping on large amounts of that pasta salad? Try using your fist as a portion guide. All your sides should be about as big as your fist (inc. meat, pasta, beans).

With some self restraint and dedication you’ll be a little less “weighed” down.

Have suggestions on how you’re avoiding or have avoided the freshman 15?  Let us know below!

Boxed Desserts Made Healthy and Tasty

For those of us who are too busy to make  baked goods from scratch, we simply pick up a box at the market. Whether it’s  muffins, cake, or cookies the aisles are teaming with easy to make treats. We have a few simple tricks to lower the fat in your baked goods without sacrificing the moisture (because no one likes dry, ”healthy” brownies).

How do you screw up a boxed recipe? It’s easy. That’s because most boxed recipes aren’t good. Plain and simple. We’ve got a few tricks and tips to make your boxed muffins taste like homemade. Oh, and your significant other will start referring to you as the “baker” in the family. If you don’t believe me, TRY IT.

Speaking of great baked goods…

…we’re all about moist and decadent at FFL! That’s why we’ve created five fast tips for the best initial bite…ever. Healthy eating should be a lifestyle for you, your family and friends. We get it; not everyone wants to eat carrot sticks and blended fruit smoothies every day. When you’re heading for the boxed baking section and want to “splurge” check out these ideas to make it a bit healthier and tastier!

  • Substitute applesauce in place of oils.  You will reduce fats in your baking items and  increase the moisture. The muffins and cakes will taste soft and fresh even longer. Either plain or cinnamon will work equally well.
  • Creating a dish that involves raisins? Heat up a sauté pan with about an inch of water on medium heat. Dump designated amount of raisins in according to recipe. Let them soak for 4 minutes and drain. Add to your concoction and bake. You will have the most plump, delicious raisin bread or muffins your family has ever experienced.
  • Remove your baked goods from the oven a minute or two early. This will compliment your previous efforts to make moist baked goods. They will stay softer longer.
  • Using cinnamon? ADD MORE! The amount supplied in the mixture? It’s weak and feeble. Invest in a large jar of ground cinnamon at your local grocers and add extra tablespoons to your mix.
  • Use non-stick pans and forget the muffin cups. They leave cake, what a waste! Get as much cake from the cup as possible. Use non-stick butter flavor or baking spray to assist you with easy removal and clean up from the pan.

 

Easy enough to follow? We’ve got one more.

  • If a recipe calls for multiple eggs, ditch some of the yolks. You’ll reduce the amount of cholesterol AND fat.

Leave us feedback on quick, easy techniques for every day “out of the box” bakers (and thinkers)!