Thursday, January 20, 2011


Cookies. Cookies are good. And the best one's are homemade. I make a chocolate chip cookie not even my health nut husband can resist. And my sister has a cookie business that puts other cookies to shame. With this in mind and the goal to avoid processed food as much as possible, why would I bother with a packaged cookie? Well because I need an acceptable quick fix cookie in my medium food arsenal. You know, just in case. And I think Kashi TLC Soft-Baked Cookies fit the bill.

I decided to pick up a box while at the store today because they were on sale and I needed a little something to get me through until lunch. The box is well designed. As you can see from the picture, it has a big yummy cookie on the front. Makes you think the cookies are big, like those Grandma's Brand cookies but they're not. They're not the smallest cookie around but smaller than expected. Which isn't a problem just a bummer for me, ha ha.

Putting aside the superior taste of a homemade cookie or one from a reputable bakery, these cookies are decent and a more "healthful" option. They contain whole grains and provide 3 grams of fiber and only 8 grams of sugar. My favorite flavored yogurt contains 16 grams of sugar. I would definitely recommend these as a back up to a favorite granola bar or other on-the-go snack.

For some reason, I've always trusted the Kashi brand. Could be a case of brilliant marketing I suppose but what I've read about the company so far, I like. Reminds me of what I like about Amy's brand. To read what I did, click here. I do believe that all packaged/processed foods are NOT created equal. I ultimately think we should make the bulk of what we eat ourselves, especially treats. But sometimes our lives beg for a convenience or two and being able to grab a packaged snack or meal occasionally that I can feel okay about is huge some days - like today.

Finally, price. The box I bought today cost me $2.79 on sale. You get 8 (smallish) cookies in a box. The price is average, I think. About the same as a box of granola bars.

Ingredients (Oatmeal Dark Chocolate): Kashi Seven Whole Grains & Sesame Blend (Whole: Hard Red Winter Wheat, Oats, Rye, Triticale, Barley, Long Grain Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Sesame Seeds), Dark Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soya Lecithin, Ground Vanilla Bean), Whole Rolled Oats, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Honey, Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals, Brown Rice Syrup, Chicory Root Fiber, Oat Fiber, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Sodium Bicarbonate, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Natural Vitamin E) For Freshness, Monocalcium Phosphate, Walnuts, Peanut Flour, Nonfat Dry Milk, Eggs.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Slow Cook

I was on one of my favorite sites,, and found yet another fabulous site, I have found some really cool sites and blogs via TasteSpotting, you know by clicking on one thing then finding your way to something else and then something else?

While exploring The Slow Cook site, I started reading about Ed Bruske's experience at the Berkeley Schools central kitchen. We live all of 15 minutes from Berkeley which made it even more interesting for me. I wanted to share a section from the story that illustrates the way I feel we should approach food and one of the reasons why I started Medium Food Mama.

...Why go to all that trouble? 

Indeed, it was precisely this question that I came to Berkeley to answer, because it was here that Alice Waters, the fairy godmother of cooking fresh food from local, seasonal ingredients, made her imprint on the public school cafeteria. Her influence continues to reverberate around the country inspiring school districts, farm to school programs, even first lady and White House gardener-in-chief Michelle Obama.

But in case you thought the Berkeley school menu was just a copy of the one at Waters’ internationally famous restaurant–Chez Panisse–located just a few blocks from the central school kitchen, you need to check those inclinations fast. As I quickly learned, kid preferences exert an enormous influence even in schools where food is fresh-cooked, because Berkeley schools still depend on subsidies from the federal government. Like every other school in the federal meals program, they need to “sell” as much of that epic chicken as possible. Each student who qualifies for a free lunch and takes the chicken earns the school district a $2.68 payment from Uncle Sam.

Thus, at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School you will see pizza on the menu twice a week, Monday and Friday. Pizza is, hands down, the favorite food of school children nationwide. In most schools, kids get a reheated frozen pizza made in a factory with a ton of industrial additives. In Berkeley the pizza is made in the central kitchen using a whole wheat crust, real mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce made with freshly chopped onion, celery and carrots. And instead of being topped with frozen, factory-made pepperoni, as in my daughter’s school in D.C., here it’s fixed with turkey sausage also made from scratch using whole turkey and seasonings. One variety of Berkeley pizza even comes with pesto.

Nachos are served every Friday. But they are not the ones you see at other schools–fried chips doused with processed orange cheese. The Berkeley nachos start with baked corn chips, but forget about the Dayglo cheese. Instead there’s a meat mix of beef, turkey and soy protein, accompanied by a side of freshly cooked brown rice and re-fried beans. Tacos, also with brown rice and beans, are served every Monday as an alternative to the pizza. And there’s plenty of pasta to be eaten over the course of a week, but Berkeley pasta involves freshly grated cheeses and sauces that start with home-made vegetable stock, just like in a first-class restaurant.

Alice Waters might cringe at the way her food rules have been bent to accommodate juvenile tastes. But executive chef Bonnie Christensen says her menu addresses the main concern of Berkeley parents who lobbied for the change. They were appalled by the frozen processed foods being served in school loaded with fat, salt and sugar. They did not want their children exposed to corporate, brand-name products laced with additives.  They wanted their children to learn to eat fresh-cooked meals.

Choosing to make food from scratch when you can and with better ingredients in conjunction with taking the time to find the "better" convenience items is the essence of medium food. It is especially important for young children to be accustomed to and prefer the real food versions of chicken nuggets, pizza, mac and cheese, etc. If a school district that has to feed 2,350 children five days a week can find the happy medium, I think the average family can too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Slow food

I recently read a brief spot from Dr. Weil in regard to the Slow Food Movement. As you know, I'm a slow food advocate. My goal is always to pick slow over fast and if not slow, "medium." What I liked about the article was its three suggestions on how to practice the Slow Food Movement and thought it worthy of sharing here. The suggestions are simple and easy for anyone to adopt.

1. Shop for fresh, organically grown local produce and baked goods at farmers' markets.
2. Patronize restaurants that specialize in local or regional foods.
3. Keep family traditions alive. Think about the foods your grandparents prepared for holidays or family gatherings, and try to replicate what you can.

Three fantastic steps to eating slower. Number one can challenge the budget but with practice, you can learn to prioritize and likely make it work. Especially by brushing up on what you can skip buying organic if you need to. Depending on where you live, number two can offer lots of options or not a lot of options. We've found only one restaurant in our area that serves local food. But I'm certain I could find a few more if I take the time. As for number three, who doesn't want to keep family traditions alive? It's so much fun and a wonderful thing to pass down. It's still a work in progress but making my mom's enchiladas has been a project of mine for a very long time. Making them with grass-fed beef from a local ranch and using local and organic onions only adds to the pleasure of eating them.

I feel strongly about making the effort to eat slower and showing my children the importance of the Slow Food principles. It takes discipline. The stress of the day can make us vulnerable to giving in to a fast food meal but just like anything else, planning ahead is key. And if you didn't plan ahead, as I often don't, knowing what and where you can go to get something decent in a pinch will keep you and the family on track.