How to buy healthy foods on a strict budget

I've gathered a bunch of great tips to help you shop healthy on a budget.

Public school lunches: how healthy are they today?

[caption id="attachment_13665" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="St. Paul Public School lunch"][/caption] There's a common misconception that kids won't accept healthier school lunches, and that we have to feed them fast food favorites to ensure that they eat something to keep them going during the school day. As it turns out, though, schools around the nation have started to shift towards healthier school lunch choices with great success. Hard-won success. Today I've asked my friends and healthy eating advocates from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who've been on the front lines of school lunch policy reform, to kick off the new school year by sharing their perspective on the changes happening in school lunchrooms across our country. Not only do they offer a fresh—and maybe surprising!—perspective on what's happening in schools today, but they offer resources to support your school in celebrating the changes already made and implementing even more school lunch improvements in the months to come. We'd love to hear more about the lunchroom in your child's school. Have you seen improvements? (more after the jump)

Traveling with Kids: Healthy Food Options While on the Road

Every year I find myself struggling to feed my family well while on summer vacations—or even just while on day trips. I used to think it would get easier as my kids got older. Though it has in some ways, I hadn't anticipated the pressure to give into junk food. Even my big kid, who likes to declare that McDonald's—which he's never tried—has "very terrible food," has a penchant for friend chicken fingers and insatiable appetite for restaurant burgers. I've shared my favorite tips for how to eat well while traveling and even put together a list of the best travel snacks for kids, but today I've asked my friends at The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to weigh in. CSPI recently released a report on kids meals that every parent should read. (Or at least skim, busy mamas and papas!) Even if you only succumb to fast food the few times a year that you're on the road, you should know what's on your kids plate, and have other healthier options in your back pocket. (more after the jump)

Moms Are Not Lovin’ It: Stand Up To McDonald’s

Tomorrow, Thursday 5/23, is the McDonald's annual shareholders' meeting. Today, let them know that we've had enough of their marketing to kids. It's as easy as posting an update on Facebook or Twitter (which I know you have time to do: just imagine that you took the cutest picture of your kid ever!). Click here and choose Facebook or Twitter. Then "share" or tweet: the content is already there for you. (more after the jump)

The first step to a happy, relaxed table

Six years and two kids into this motherhood gig, I’ve come to learn that judgement from other parents is an inescapable part of the job. Six years and two kids into this family food gig—from starting a baby food company to writing to working with clients—I've also come to learn that the way we feed our families is an easy target for anyone looking for target practice. And I'm not just talking about organic-eating-local-buying-vegetable-feeding parents sniping at those who feed more conventionally. It's also the other way around. And, sadly, everyone in between. As I talk to more and more of you lovely parents as part of my client practice, I'm hearing a lot about judgement. You judge yourself, you feel judged by others, and you judging others as well, from the folks who run the school lunch program at your kid's school to family members who don't eat—or feed your kids—the way that you do. It's sad that there's no strong, unifying American family food culture, but it's even more sad how we've burdened food with so much judgement. And lets not forget judgement's faithful sidekick, anxiety. That guy (gal?) is along for the ride, too. I'm tired of it. You too? Then join me! All you have to do is stop judging yourself and others for the foods they eat. (Can you handle it?!) (more after the jump)

5 easy ways to manage sugar at home

Have you heard? I've started working with private clients and am loving it! Speaking with you lovely people about how to fit healthy family eating into your busy lives has been exhilarating. My understanding of what families are struggling with deepens with every conversation, and one of the big challenges is managing sugar at home. Sugar can be tricky: some think it's terrible, while others think it's no big deal (after all, it's natural!). The truth is somewhere between. On one hand, natural, unprocessed sugar has an important place in our diet. On the other, it's most definitely terrible that highly processed sugar is so ubiquitous, particularly in packaged kids and baby food. Sadly, avoiding sugar isn’t as simple as avoiding “sugary” snack foods, it’s about watching nearly everything that your family eats. You can see this for yourself by looking at the shockingly high sugar content of most packaged breads, yogurts and tomato sauces, for example. One 2010 study found that over 50% of packaged baby/toddler foods found in Canadian grocery stores had excessive sugar. In some products sampled, over 20% of the caloric content came from sugar! So what's a parent to do? (more after the jump)

Healthy Family Tip: Better Baking with Yogurt

Have you started your holiday baking? Me either, but I'm planning! Perusing my favorite food blogs, scanning Pinterest, and flipping through my food magazines is my favorite part of holiday cookie season. (I have even already rounded up 8 delicious holiday cookie recipes on Cool Mom Picks!) My least favorite part of holiday cookie season is all the sugar and butter. So. Much. Butter. Good thing that my friends at Chobani sent this awesome substitution chart. Seriously, that pic above isn't even the whole chart and it's insanely useful! (You can see the full chart below.) More after the jump...

Speak out against hunger: World Food Day 2012

Y'all: I don't even know where to start. I was lucky enough to kick off World Food Day—today!—with the absolutely brilliant Robyn O'Brien (@unhealthytruth) and Gary Hirshberg, cofounder, former CEO and Chairman of Stonyfield Organic. These two are among the most dynamic food activists in the world. I'm looking forward to sharing their work with you in detail soon but, in the meantime, in honor of World Food Day, I want to tell you THE big takeaway from listening to and speaking with Robyn and Gary today: Each and every one of us can make a difference. Robyn was a food industry analyst who'd grown up in a conservative family in Texas. She wasn't into the whole "hippie food thing." In fact, she fed her four children blue yogurt and Eggo waffles. Until her youngest got sick. Gary, on the other hand, was into the "hippie food thing." He was a pioneer, even, who grew a profitable organic food business that proves time and time again that you can do good and make money. Against the odds, both have become leaders. But, once upon a time, they were just like you and me. They know, first hand, that caring, passion and dedication are all it takes. Gary and Robyn have come to make food activism their business, their livelihood so their impact is huge. It's not yours and so your impact will be smaller, but it will be. Because—as Gary and Robyn reminded us as business leaders—at the end of the day, numbers define the bottom line. The more people who speak up, the bigger the impact. Period. So today, mark World Food Day by making your voice heard. Speak out to end hunger. I've listed three ways that you can below. Each takes a minute. Literally Today, speak up for food. Tomorrow, we'll get back to cooking. * Sign the ONE.org Food Day petition * Tweet a message to the Secretary Clinton at the State Department. Go to ONE.org to do it quick, even if you don't have a Twitter account! (No excuses!) * Like "World Food Day" on Facebook Stacie xo

Organic doesn’t mean more nutritious, but does it mean healthier?

Earlier this week, scientists from Stanford University weighed in on the debate over the benefits of eating organic. After an exhaustive look at over two hundred studies conducted over four decades they concluded that organic produce is no more nutritious than conventional. The study also found that conventional produce had more pesticide residue, but that even these higher levels were nearly always below the safety limits. (You know, like the ones that said that it was totally safe to use BPA in manufacturing baby bottles.) Allow me to digress for a moment. Nutritious is defined as "providing nutrients." So does an organic peach have more nutrients, vitamin C for example, than a conventional one? No, seems not. And I'm curious: Did you think otherwise? (more after the jump)

Move over lactation consultant, I want a formula consultant

One Hungry Mama is about finding the joy in feeding your family. Mostly, that comes from making delicious food that you feel good serving to everyone in the family. But it's also about getting your bearings on feeding issues so that when things go awry, as they so often do when feeding children, you can comfortably stay in place. Even when the kids are being picky. Or there's too little time. Or any of the other things that stress us out about mealtime. Getting your bearings starts early—with baby's first sip—and though there's not much for me to post about the time before solids (sorry, you'll have to get your recipe for breast milk cheese elsewhere), it counts. There's been some recent talk about breastfeeding and formula (when is there not?!) and I wanted to chime in. Because this isn't just an issue for new moms. It's related to how parents are left to find their way in a feeding landscape defined largely by industrialized food companies. It matters to all of us. *********************************************** Sun poured in through the cafe window. Me and the hungry boy, an infant at the time, were sitting in the corner of our local coffee spot. I chose a table as far from everyone as possible, but still felt exposed. The table was right by the window. Everyone would see. I reached into my bag and, with tears filling my eyes, pulled out a baby bottle filled with water. I considered giving him a few pure sips for show, but he was hungry. I snapped to and continued our new feeding process. Instead of unhooking a secret panel in my bra, I reached into my bag for a second time and shiftily pulled out a brand new, baby blue container filled with white powder. The way I was acting, you would have thought it was cocaine. It was formula. (more after the jump)

{parenting} Parents Need to Eat Too, a Q&A with Debbie Koenig

I remember like it was yesterday. Astounded that it was legal to leave the hospital without a professional, I brought my little boy home. My house, under construction at the time, was clumsily prepared, but my fridge was expertly stocked. I'd spent days before my first son's arrival prepping, cooking and packing. I had stocks made, chili portioned and lasagnas frozen. We were going to be well fed for about a month and then, well, after that, things would be easy. We'd be cruising. Cruising for disaster, as it turns out. One month of prepped food was not nearly enough to get us through the many hectic months that marked my introduction to parenthood. Then, once it seemed we were in the clear, about 6 months in, the baby needed to eat, too! Though it helped for a short while, I didn't need a stocked fridge, I needed a whole new way of cooking. If you have a little one and are feeling the same way, I have just what you need: Parents Need to Eat Too, the new book by Debbie Koenig. Go ahead. I'll wait here while you place an order for your copy. (I know how important this is.) Then, come back to read my interview with Debbie to get some of her best tips, you know, to hold you over until the book arrives. (more after the jump)

{food for thought} New Federal Standards for School Lunch Official

The Obama administration announced today final changes to the federal school lunch program which feeds roughly 32 million children each school day. These are the first changes made to the program in fifteen years. Though marked by compromise—yes, pizza still counts as a vegetable—the updated standards are expected make marked improvements on the nutritional quality of lunches served in school cafeterias around the country. (more after the jump)

{parenting} Table Talk with The Family Dinner and HuffPo, Meal Courtesy of OHM

I love Laurie David and her Family Dinner team. If you know who I'm talking about and are familiar with the indispensable book The Family Dinner, then I'm sure that you love them, too. If you don't know who or what I'm talking about, allow me the pleasure to introduce you to a new favorite family food resource. (more after the jump)

{food for thought} Oct 24, 2011—Our First National Food Day

Happy Food Day! Today and every October 24th to come is Food Day, a national day of focus on real food that seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Today, all over the country, community events are taking place at city halls, hospitals, state capitals, schools, farmers markets and more, all designed to celebrate and educate the six Food Day principles: (more after the jump)

Healthy school lunches are not just a luxury

National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2011 began on Monday and runs through the end of the week. While it's not lost on me that NSLW was given a week that kicked off with a school holiday, I'm happy that schools across the country have the opportunity to highlight the benefits of eating healthy lunch food. This year's theme "School Lunch—Let's Grow Healthy" focuses learning on where food comes from. According to the School Nutrition Association, the theme is meant to provide an opportunity to promote locally sourced foods and encourage things like a harvest-of-the-month menu, meeting with local farmers and planning a school garden. The theme also connects with National Farm to School Month which runs through October. Nice, right?! (more after the jump)

{parenting} Blog For Family Dinner Project

Remember that game show $1,000, 000 Dollar Pyramid? Let's do a quick round. Ready?! Ashton's mistress. Occupy wall street. Family dinner. YES! Hizzy hot topics of the day on which I'll say a little something. Let's start with Ashton's mistress: really, we care about this? Far be it from me, the RHNJ fan that I am, to question others' interest in this story, but I just find it boring. Maybe because I find him boring? Dunno, but I just don't get this one. Next up, the wall street protests: all I'll say about it (here) is RIGHT ON! Contact me privately for more. Unless you disagree with the protests—then we might be better sticking to food (which I'm happy to do!). Remember that game show $1,000, 000 Dollar Pyramid? Let's do a quick round. Ready?! Ashton's mistress. Occupy wall street. Family dinner. YES! Hizzy hot topics of the day on which I'll say a little something. Let's start with Ashton's mistress: really, we care about this? Far be it from me, the RHNJ fan that I am, to question others' interest in this story, but I just find it boring. Maybe because I find him boring? Dunno, but I just don't get this one. Next up, the wall street protests: all I'll say about it (here) is RIGHT ON! Contact me privately for more. Unless you disagree with the protests—then we might be better sticking to food (which I'm happy to do!). Last, but never least: family dinner. Well, you know that I have lots to say on this topic. Lucky for me—and you—there's a place other than here where I can carry on with others who have smart, thoughtful things to say about family dinner, too. That's right hungry mamas and papas, there's a new gathering spot where we can talk specifically about family dinner—why it's important, the benefits, how to make it happen and so on. It's the site for a wonderful project called Blog For Family Dinner (more after the jump)