presented by cj:

every thursday morning, we go to our favorite coffee shop, jupiter house.  i meet with one of my best friends and accountability partner, bekah and jonathan meets with his mentor before going to work. i love thursday mornings. i get my favorite latte, jupiter’s nector, typically made by my favorite barista alyssa jarrell, and get to sit, sip, and have good conversation.

however, every thursday morning on the way to jup, i see this on a billboard, and everything in me writhes with anger. last weekend, i saw this on a billboard. ok, so it’s not that picture exactly, but it is an advertisement for a $1 burger with one slice of meat, $2 for 2 slices, $3 for 3 slices. once again, i cringe and almost throw up. every tuesday we watch the biggest loser, one of my favorite shows and i think the most inspiring show on television. during the show what drives jonathan crazy is the product placement (kashi go lean bars, whole grain cheerios), but at least they are healthier choices anyone can make in their grocery store. what drives me crazy are the very unhealthy advertisements made during the commercials. the main one that makes me want to throw the tv out the window is from kentucky fried chicken. click here and then click on “view latest commercial.”

i won’t exclaim the things i would like to, but i will make my point that i made in my first blog: cheap food is unhealthy, the more expensive food is better for you. that is what is so unfortunate in our country and why obesity is on the rise.  decades ago, we made cheap food. we made cooking more convenient and faster for moms by putting everything in a cardboard box or plastic container/bag, so all she has to do is dump it in a pot, add some water, and wa-la, dinner is ready in minutes (or just grab it out of the freezer and microwave it). or, all she has to do is put a little plastic box with some “meat,” cheese, and crakers with a juice box into their lunch box, and wa-la, lunch is done for the kids. all of a sudden, pre-packaged food was a revolution. however, even before that, we made the worst possible food for us, and it is the cheapest, most convenient for any parent on the go, or run through to grab a fast lunch, or for millions of americans, even a snack; we made fast food. full of unnatural hormones that cause addiction (watch the movie super size me-mcdonald’s food has opiate qualities that make you crave more), not to mention so many preservatives that on an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a woman saved a happy meal from mcdonald’s for 4 years and it looked exactly the same.  These foods, eaten multiple times a week by many american families, cause a great amount of weight gain, and the more weight you have, the more susceptible and likely you are to develop major, incurable diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

mcdonald’s, and many fast food restaurants, seem to be getting more and more lawsuits lately. the latest came up from my google alerts about childhood obesity. a woman is trying to sue mcdonald’s because her children are gaining weight because they always want to go to mcdonald’s. why? because of the happy meal toy.  now, i know this is ridiculous because the woman can say no to her children (which is mcdonald’s arguement).  however, the woman does have a point. advertisers know how to get to children.  they know that if they put this really “cool” toy from the latest disney movie, or icarly show, or whatever the new craze might be, kids will want to go to get that toy. they will beg, they will throw fits, they will fight you tooth and nail to get that stupid toy, which will probably get lost within a few hours.  now, i am certainly not taking up for this woman. she is responsible for feeding her children. however, i’m certain that lots of moms, especially working moms who pick up their kids from daycare after a very long day of work, are too tired to fight and don’t want to cook, so they go through the cheapest place where their kids can get that cool toy, and everyone can be satisfied (i see it every day. my kids i teach tell me what they eat for dinner, believe me).  our first lady (whom i do appreciate that someone in washington does care about the major health issues in our nation, especially in our children, and that these restaurants and school cafeterias need to be held accountable for the disgusting food they are serving our kids and not being honest with the public about where it comes from-excuse rant), is working hard to make sure our nation becomes healthy, encouraging families through her let’s move campaign, and advocating for legislation that make restaurants more accountable.  beginning this month, california banned toys from happy meals because of how advertisers get kids to eat their food.  i know this seems harsh, but it’s true.  would your kids really want that happy meal if that toy wasn’t in it (maybe since the food is addicting)?

so is that $9.99 worth it to feed your whole family? what about that $1, 2, 3, or 5 meals? sure it’s cheap, but i know for myself, when i eat out, i tend to eat more than i do when i cook at home. plus, especially when i eat fast food, yes it might taste good for that moment, but i feel lethargic and just completely gross afterwords. so ask yourselves questions before you go through that drive-thru or buy that pre-packaged meal that is “easier.” for a week, make a food journal and commit to feeding your family mostly organic meals 3 times that week. take note on how you feel after you eat an organic, home cooked, healthy meal, as opposed to when you grab fast food or eat the pre-packaged stuff. do you have more energy? do you see a difference in behavior in your children (i’ll write more on that later because i believe there is a direct link to nutrition and behavior)? do you sleep better at night? do you feel thinner? do you eat less?

i know, i know, “my kids won’t eat vegetables.” i bet they will if you hide them in foods that they like like mac-n-cheese…continue below for an awesome recipe!

Healthy Mac-n-Cheese (adapted from Rachel Ray)

1 1b. of organic carrotts
2-4 stalks of organic celery
1 1b. of whole wheat shells (or elbow macaroni if that’s what your kids are used to)
1 small, white onion
1 tbsp. of Old Bay Seasoning
4 tbsp. of organic butter
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups of 2% organic milk
2 tbsp of organic, unbleached flour
8 oz. of all natural sharp cheddar cheese
all natural mild cheddar cheese (to sprinkle on top)

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil, add carrots and celery and cook until tender. Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt it and add macaroni. While veggies/macaroni are working, finely chop the white onion (if you think your kids will not like the onion, put it in a food processor first). Heat butter in large saucepan on medium heat until melted and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes then add flour. Stir well to ensure the flour doesn’t burn.  Add two cups of milk and whisk thoroughly. Leave until it comes to a low simmer. Cook macaroni until al dente, turn off heat, drain, and return to pot.  Drain veggies and add to food processor. Food process until carrots are so small they can blend in with the cheese. Place in pot with macaroni. Pre heat broiler or oven to 350F. Add Old Bay, salt and pepper, and sharp cheddar to milk mixture. Stir with wooden spoon in a figure 8 motion until cheese is completely melted. Once, melted, add cheese mixture to macaroni and veggies. Stir thoroughly until all ingredients are well blended. Place mac-n-cheese in a non-greased, 9×13 casserole dish. Top with mild cheddar cheese, place under broiler or oven and cook until cheese on top is melted (about 10 minutes).

I promise you, your kids will love this. And it tastes way better than the stuff that comes out of a box. I mean, cheese in powder form…really?

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