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Robinsbite: May 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Hubbard, Muffett, the Pumpkin Eater and Dumpty Spin Kid Food

I must say that I love how many nursery rhymes make reference to food. It's never too early to introduce children to food via song, book, taste, touch, smell and feel.

I have a question for you. Have you ever really listened to the nursery rhymes you grew up singing or perhaps now sing to your own children? Several, I've found, are extremely violent, have sad endings and would otherwise give valid reason for lock up and/or a lifetime of therapy. Below are just a few examples. (note that all are not food related)

Three Blind Mice. See how they run...they all ran after the farmer's wife who cut off their tails with a carving knife...wouldn't that be consider terms for arrest? I was informed recently that some people now say that she cut of some cheese (which illicits giggles for some) with a carving knife instead. Much more kid friendly.

Humpty Dumpty. Sat on a wall and had a great fall? Couldn't put him back together again? Again, new versions, I'm told, allow for the kings horses and men to be able to indeed put him back together again. But seriously, he's an egg. How and why was he up on that wall anyway? Wasn't anyone watching him?

It's Raining, It's Pouring. Old man-snoring-went to bed and bumped his head and basically died? Terrifying for children whose parents are snorers!

Rock a Bye Baby. What is a cradle doing in a tree? Of course when the wind blows the cradle will rock and that cradle and the baby will come crashing down. How is that comforting?

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater. Had a wife and couldn't keep her..put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well? She lived in a pumpkin shell? Isn't that like jailing your own wife? I supposed a pumpkin wouldn't be the worse place to be kept, but seriously-why couldn't Peter be the one in a gourd?

Old Mother Hubbard. Had a dog-went to get a bone-cupboard was bare-dog goes hungry because Mom Hubbard forgot to get dog food and bones at Petsmart when she was out today? The dog can't have people food for one day? Come on, Hubbard! This is an extreme situation.

Little Miss Muffet. Sat on a tuffet eating curds and whey. Great snack, right? Then the spider came down beside her and scared her to death! Let's try to teach our kids to be tolerant of all insects, people! Now she's never going to eat curds and whey again because of the association with spiders.

Sigh......I have to leave you with a recipe that ties in delightfully to this post-one that I learned at the Charleston Cooks Maverick Kitchen Store in Charleston, South Carolina.

Strawberry Mice

8 large strawberries
mini chocolate chips
almond slivers
shoestring potatoes
wedge of cheddar cheese

1. Cut a small slice on the bottom of each strawberry to create a flat bottom.
2. Press a mini chocolate chip on the tip for a nose. Press two chips above the nose as ears.
3. Press 2 almond slivers into the top to serve as ears
4. For the tail, push in a shoestring potato (an almond sliver can also be used)
5. Serve on top of crackers with a small wedge of cheese

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Looking for Humor when a Heart Attack Hits Way to Close to Home

In our family, we like to say that three out of the four of us children were blessed with the humor gene. We don't like to say it to loudly, though, because my sister will get offended. (she's worked hard and is coming around with her timing and humor). So when my older brother called me last Sunday night and told me he was in the hospital, I thought he was joking, naturally.

The last time he called me and told me he was in the hospital was about a month ago when he stated he admitted himself for his Facebook addiction. He built up the conversation, line by line and I was literally petrified..until he delivered his punchline and his own laughter erupted. Very funny, I said.

This call was different.

He told me that he had been feeling chest pains and had numbness and tingling on his left side after playing softball that morning. He took himself to the ER and, long story short, he had suffered a heart attack. One lone clot in his right coronary artery was the culprit and 2 stents (mesh-like inflatable balloons that help expand the artery) were placed during his cardic catherization.

Here are his stats:
  • physically active
  • weight within normal range
  • non smoker
  • Family history-Father had heart attack at 53
  • Under tremendous stress
  • Did not follow a heart healthy diet
  • Male
  • Blood values were not known at the time as it had been a while since he had them drawn, but the last time, his total cholesterol was elevated.
If you recall, I recently wrote about my friend's husband, Paul, who suffered a heart attack in nearly the same way. It was after softball and he wasn't feeling well. Unfortunately, Paul did not recover from his heart attack and died a week later. The irony in this situation is that my brother was suite mates with Paul in college. My brother visited Paul in the hospital when he had his heart attack and talked at length with his wife, who is a friend of mine. My brother has said, more than once, if it had not been for Paul, he would had never taken himself to the ER. Paul saved his life.

In the last three days, my brother has said the following:
  • I hate that my kids had to see me go through this-they are so young (14 and 12)
  • I hate that my kids will now have to say yes, we have family history of heart disease and have to put my name down
  • I have to be on 5 medications when I get out of here
  • I hate feeling like a victim---a heart attack victim
  • It's hard to believe that I have to say I had a heart attack--I'd rather just say I had some chest pains
  • If it weren't for Paul, I would have never gone to the emergency room. Please call his wife for me and tell her that for me.
While we've tried as a family, it's hard to find humor in this situation. He is 43 years old. That's right-43. I know exactly what you are thinking. Wow-he's young! Yes, he is. Even the cardiac cath nurse looked at him as they were wheeling him in to the procedure and said "Wow, you're pretty young for this, aren't you?". I think he just thought she was flirting with him. My younger brother wanted to know if the clot they found was actually a Skittles instead. He also wanted to know if the clot was a mutli-colored rainbow-much like the Skittles bag.

Now more than ever, it's critical to make your Dr's. appointment and get evaluated for heart disease. My appointment is this Thursday. When is yours? When you get your results back, have the doctor explain to you-until you understand-what your numbers mean. Print out the table below and take it with you when you receive your results. If he/she recommends a heart healthy diet, ask him/her to refer you to a registered dietitian. If he/she doesn't have one to refer you to, go to and click on find a nutrition professional.

My brother thinks he's the one with the most humor in the family. We'll laugh at all of his jokes and one-liners. We'll click on all of the You Tube videos he sends us. We'll watch the Jib Jab videos he likes to make for us. For now, we'll let him think what he wants--laughter is, after all, the best medicine.

Blood Test


What the Results Mean

Low-density lipoprotein


A high LDL is a key indicator of heart disease risk. Elevated levels may require diet and lifestyle changes and/or medication.

Total cholesterol


An elevated total cholesterol level is possibly an indicator of risk for heart disease. Elevated levels may require diet and lifestyle changes and/or medication.

High-density lipoprotein


A low HDL is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Low levels may require diet/lifestyle changes and/or medication.

HDL lipoprotein fractions
(apo A-I, apo B, apo C, apo E)

Optimal levels are under study

In the future, HDL fractions may determine heart disease risk and help decide type of treatment.



High-serum triglycerides are an independent risk factor for heart disease. Treatment may involve dietary changes, weight reduction, physical activity, and/or medication.


No established norms related to heart disease

Elevated homocysteine in the blood is linked to heart disease, but is not considered a risk factor for heart disease.

Highly sensitive CRP assay (hs CRP)

<1.0>3.0 indicates high risk of CVD

Hs CRP measures inflammation in the body. Elevated hs CRP is useful as an indicator of risk for heart disease.

CRP=C-reactive protein, CVD=cardiovascular disease, dL=deciliter, hs CRP=high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, L=liter, mg=milligram Source:

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Sunday, May 9, 2010


Recently, I stumbled upon a diamond in the rough....I saw the "Chop Chop Magazine" Fan page on Facebook and immediately clicked on it. I am so glad I did!

What is Chop Chop?

ChopChop is a quarterly food magazine and website for kids aged 5-12 and their families. ChopChop’s mission is to educate kids to cook and be nutritionally literate, empower them to actively participate as health partners with their families and help establish and support better eating habits for a lifetime of good nutrition. ChopChop’s vision is to reverse and prevent childhood obesity.

The magazine is filled with nutritious, great-tasting, ethnically diverse and inexpensive recipes, as well as interesting and little-known food facts, Q&A’s and games. (reprinted from

I knew immediately this was something I wanted to be a part of, so I emailed the publisher and we started a nice email conversation. Long story short, she shipped me 400 copies of the first edition for the kids of Days of Taste (see previous blog post). I was so excited to see a publication of this nature-the first of this kind-that I was jumping out of my skin. Each child that receives it through our program has been beyond excited to take it home and share it with their families.

First order of business for me was to make one of the recipes. Last Friday night, I made the Not Your Grandmother's Fried Chicken out of the first edition. This chicken was a healthier version of fried chicken that used Panko bread crumbs, whole wheat flower, Dijon mustard and a few other ingredients that I'm sure you have in the house. It turned out perfectly and my family loved it. It was simple (less than 15 minutes to prepare), easy (I used the toaster oven), healthy (baked as opposed to fried and no additional fat if you didn't want any) and made tasty leftovers (I prepared double the recipe for lunches over the weekend). Definitely a staple recipe in my house now!

As we all search for way to encourage our children healthier, please consider a subscription or a donation to Chop Chop Magazine. What better way to empower your child than to give them a gift that will keep on giving. Teaching them to cook is just that gift. And Chop Chop is the perfect tool to start!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Teaching Kids How Food Gets From the Farm to the Table-Jamie Oliver-Come to Our Food Revolution!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard "This is the best field trip EVER" from my Days of Taste kids. For the last seven years, I've had the pleasure of directing this amazing program for the American Institute of Wine and Food. We've had thousands of 4th and 5th graders through the doors-shopping at the Dallas Farmer's Market, learning about their taste buds and the difference between salty, sweet, sour, bitter and aromatic. We've had thousands of volunteers who give their time to teach the kids the proper way to hold a veggie peeler, the safe way to hold a knife and the proper way to place a napkin in their lap and wait until everyone is served their lunch before they start eating. Chefs, growers, producers, nutritionists, retired teachers, people in the food community, people not in the food community...we all come together to do one thing. Make a difference in a child's life through the one thing that everybody needs-Food.

We've watched these kids transform from shy and timid in the morning to proud, vibrant children in the afternoon. You see, we teach them about food, where its grown, how its farmed, how to wash and prepare it and how to eat it properly. We introduce them to fruits and vegetables they've never seen-like cucumbers and kiwi fruit. We give them the tools and the OKAY to do whatever they want with the fruits and veggies they purchase. They make pasta salads, fruit salads, green salads and they all love it. Not necessarily because they taste great, but because they made it themselves. They chose the ingredients and they prepared their own lunch themselves-usually for the first time. They shopped somewhere that didn't have everything wrapped in plastic or paper or came prepared already. They can't believe how much food they can get with so little money. Their food isn't loaded with salt, sugar and fat at Days of Taste. It's fresh, homemade and proudly served by these kids. They want me and every other adult to taste what THEY made. The pride, the self esteem and the self confidence it immeasurable.

Unfortunately, we can't measure the % of self esteem, self confidence and pride and translate it into numbers and figures. Sure, we can count how many kids were there, how many pounds of pasta we cooked and how many t-shirts we ordered. But those numbers don't give us the funding we need to continue this program. If we could capture the numbers of the intangible, we'd be rolling in dough (no pun intented!) as foundations, grant partners, corporations and personal funders would see absolutely no reason not to provide funding for this incredibly unique program. Who doesn't want a child to succeed? Again, because we can only capture certain numbers, those don't seem to make the impact needed to receive funds.

The only way to measure it is to see for yourself. There will be no question as to what this program provides for these children. I'd love to invite all of you to come down to the Dallas Farmer's Market May 3-6 or May 10-13 to see what transpires over the course of a few days. Contact me directly here or go to The American Institute of Wine and Food website and learn more. I promise you will learn something, get a kick out of something and most certainly eat something. It's a great way to spend the day.

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