Thursday, August 18, 2011


"More than a decade and a half ago, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a powerful and enduring icon:the Food Pyramid. This simple illustration conveyed in a flash what the USDA said were the elements of a healthy diet....
Tragically, the information embodied in this pyramid didn't point the way to healthy eating. Why not? Its blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.
With much fanfare, in 2005, the USDA retired the old Food Guide Pyramid and replaced it with MyPyramid, a new symbol and "interactive food guidance system". The new symbol, basically the old Pyramid turned on its side, has been criticized ever since its debut for being vague and confusing. In 2011, the USDA replaced this much-maligned symbol with a new food icon, MyPlate.
....the new icon while an improvement over MyPyramid, still falls short on giving people the nutrition advice they need to choose the healthiest diets.
As an alternative to the USDA's offering, faculty members at the Harvard School of Public Health built the Healthy Eating Pyramid .... The Healthy Eating Pyramid takes into consideration , and puts into perspective, the  wealth of research conducted during the last 15 years that has shaped the definition of healthy eating.....
This document, which by law must be revised every 5 years, aims to offer sound nutrition advice that corresponds to the latest scientific research."
THE NUTRITION SOURCE: Food Pyramid: What Should We Really Eat?

I highly recommend reading the whole of this article. 
The confusion about what foods are healthy is not just to do with pyramids.
We are told that red meat gives us essential iron and protein sources for  tissue and muscle fibre development. But health specialists warn us that if we eat too much we heighten the risk of heart disease and cancer.
If you have problems with bad body odor, some suggest to cut back on red meat. Medical authorities in the areas of diabetes, osteoporosis and immunity system problems, also give a clear vote to lower the consumption of red meat.
But if you have problems with anemia, red meat along with other iron-rich foods, are encouraged.
Other foods and food groups also suffer with contradictory advice.
It's a confusing picture.
In most doctors waiting rooms, and near the dispensary in pharmacies, there is often a rack-full of literature in pamphlet form, suggesting a variety of approaches to eating. Add to this, product promotion through television and magazine diet advertising, and magazine articles on what's best to eat and we find the picture gets more foggy.
What is the best approach to eating?
Finding the Harvard School of Public Health article is a help. Its explanations of why previous models have been inadequate and its statement of the intent to revise the pyramid each 5 years as new facts are found, is all helpful.
But I think food and eating must be a pleasurable and fun pass time. The preparation and eating of food should not have a science experiment feel to it. It needs to always be another opportunity of communication and enjoyment of being together as a family. (You may like to read my post WEEK 12 QUOTE 12 on The Family Meal Table)
My approach to food is simply to eat from every food group, eating through all the varieties that each offer. With vegetables don't just stick to potatoes, carrots, peas - include all the options on the shelves at the vegie shop. The same with fruit. If I don't know how to cook something I Google for ideas. Often friends from other cultures to our own, have great  recipes for foods that are unusual to us. Trying new foods broadens our taste palette and gives our family diet, the health benefit of different nutrients and minerals. 
Each month for the next year I intend to put up 1 or 2 healthy recipes using ingredients available that month here in New Zealand.  I'll aim to use some unusual foods.
So here's the first one ~

 >>> AUGUST <<<


From the first night I made this it has been an absolute favorite in our family. Some in my family find the flavor of parsnip, strong. This recipe however makes it totally acceptable.
Parsnip is an excellent source of fibre, has vitamin C, Potassium, is very low in salt, low in calories, low in fat and is cholesterol free.
I use 3 MEDIUM SIZED PARSNIPS / if I'm making the swede version I use 1 SWEDE. 
A LARGE HANDFUL OF ITALIAN PARSLEY (I LOVE the smell and taste of Italian parsley). Parsley is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and has twice as much iron as spinach. You can keep it with a little water in the fridge in a plastic bag, or freeze it.
100gm approx GRATED CHEESE. 
Wash Parsnip and slice into similar sized pieces/if using swede, peel and slice into 2cm cubes. Put 2 cups water into pot, lid on and bring to the boil. Add Parsnip/Swede, lid on and cook 15 mins. Grate cheese, and wash then roughly chop Parsley. Once cooked pour most of the water off the vegetable, leaving a small amount behind. Throw in the Parsley and Cheese, lid on and shake over a low heat 2 - 3 minutes. Serve.


I only started to bake pears this way this winter. Pears have vitamin A, B and C. 
It takes 30 seconds to prepare this dessert!
Use 1 PEAR PER PERSON. Wash and place into an oven dish. Bake at 180*C oven for 30 mins - the pears need to split open and juice ooze out. some pears varieties do better at this than others. I prefer Packhams and Doyenne du Comice varieties. The pear juice in the oven dish becomes a syrup which is to die for! Easier to eat with a knife and fork.
(Thanks to Jack Forsyth's "Scrumptious Tucker" for his insightful information of fruit and vegetables.)

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ for one meal, get them involved in cooking - try these recipes or something else which introduces a new fruit or vegetable to your family. Happy eating.

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