Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Brain Food

This week, the ELA State test is being given to children in grades 3 through 8. In order to achieve the best results possible, it’s recommended to eat breakfast on the morning of any test. Eating food for energy is a great idea to help concentrate, but are there any foods you can eat to keep your brain ready for anything? Of course there are. Some foods helps to support brain activity. Brain foods are rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals provide energy and aid in protecting against brain diseases. So when we focus on giving our body’s whole, nutritious foods benefiting both the body and the brain, we’re actually benefiting our minds and bodies while keeping them both in tip-top shape. Here are a couple of examples of good brain food!

Avocados improve blood supply and oxygenation to your brain. Avocados contain high quantities of monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids helped protect nerve cells in the brain known as astrocytes, which provide support to information-carrying nerves. 
Researchers found that a large helping of blueberries boosts concentration and memory up to five hours later. The antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Blueberries are bursting with vitamins C and E. The fruit are thought to protect against cancer and heart disease, and may even prevent dementia.                                                                                                                                                 

More than two-thirds of the brain’s fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in oily fish and protects neurons from injury, reduces cerebral inflammation, helps produce neurotransmitters that tell cells what to do and is essential for quick information transfer down the axon, the neuron’s highway.

These are just a few examples of foods that are good for your brain. Give them a try and see if your brain is just as sharp in the afternoon, as it was in the morning. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Salt Awareness Week (March 20-26, 2017)

The Human Body needs a certain level of salt in order to function. Sodium maintains fluid balance and cardiovascular function; sodium and chloride ions also play an important role in the nervous system. Changes in the concentrations of these ions allow neurons to send signals to other neurons and cells, allowing for nerve transmission as well as mechanical movement. Chloride ions provided by salt are secreted in the gastric juice as hydrochloric acid (HCL).  And HCL is vital to the digestion of food and the destruction of food-borne pathogens in the stomach.

Ingesting too much salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water. The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Not ingesting enough salt or hyponatremia, can cause nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, loss of energy and fatigue, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, seizures, and even Coma. It’s important not to have too much or too little sodium in your diet. The recommended daily intake of salt is 2300 mg, or a teaspoon of salt per day. Most people today are eating much more than that. The average intake of sodium is about 3400 mg, most of it coming from processed foods.Salt is not to be included with the flavor enhancer, MSG.  

Sometimes it’s better to take matters in to your own hands, Here’s a low sodium breakfast recipe to help you get the day started on the right foot:

Baked Eggs with Hashbrowns
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
1/2 large red bell pepper (diced)
12 ounces sweet potato (large dice)
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
2 tsp dried sage
2 large eggs
1 ounce reduced-fat Monterrey jack cheese (grated)
Makes 2 servings
Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Place the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the bell pepper and continue sauteing for another 2 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, stir, and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are soft. Add the salt, pepper, and sage and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes on low. Divide the potatoes between two oven proof dishes. Break one egg on top of the potatoes in each dish. Place the dishes in the oven and bake for about ten minutes until the eggs are almost done to your liking. Top with the grated cheese and bake for one minute or until the cheese is melted, then serve.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Parents Corner

Everyday we hear and read about the statistics about the rise in overweight and obese children in America.  We see it in our schools and daycares everyday.  Studies have shown us that one major contributor to this is the rise in children’s unhealthy eating habits.  Here are some easy steps to make a some change in eating habits at home: 
1.  Get them INVOVLED…  Together create the family’s grocery list, go grocery shopping, and allow them to help you plan meals, cook dinner, set the table, etc.
2.  Make it AVAILABLE… Have HEALTHY snacks available at all times at home.  Instead of chips and cookies, stock your fridge with fruits and vegetables.
3.  Freedom of CHOICE…  Children love to give their input, so give them options.  It could be as simple as letting them choose between red or green apples.
4.  Lead by EXAMPLE…  Children, more often than not, learn habits from watching what is done at home.  If you try to eat healthy, they will follow your lead.  You will be teaching them the value of eating healthy while helping yourself.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chef of the Day

This week was the first week of the HCZ Kitchen’s new program called Chef of the Day. Chef of the Day gets various HCZ team members from different departments involved in serving lunch. The goal is to strengthen the bond with our team and show the students camaraderie, solidarity and teamwork.  Each Chef of the Day receives an apron, hairnet, gloves, and a Chef of the Day badge. We'd like to thank our volunteer chef's for taking time from the boardroom and conference calls and spending time with us in the HCZ kitchen. 

                Jessica Rawlings 

Malin Bergman

                      Dana Nichols
              Victor Boadum


Monday, March 6, 2017

Black History Month

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week." This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

The cuisine referred to as "soul food" originated in the kitchens of African-American slaves in the late 1800s. Soul food recipes typically called for ingredients that are indigenous to Africa and were often found on American plantations. Dishes such as fried chicken, bread pudding, Hoppin' John, greens and "potlikker," catfish, and hushpuppies are worthy (and tasty) representatives of African-American culinary traditions

Honey Peach and Blackberry Cobbler
From fried pies to rich, fruity cobblers, soul food desserts pack just as much flavor as the main dishes themselves. Their super-easy preparation, and a typically short list of ingredients, made cobblers popular as early Southern dishes. Cobbler is a cozy dessert dish—typically served warm—in which sweetened fruit is topped with sugary biscuits. This cobbler highlights two favorite Southern fruits: peaches and blackberries.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
8 cups chopped peeled peaches (about 4 pounds)
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3 cups blackberries
Cooking spray
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
Combine 1/4 cup flour, peaches, honey, juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes. Fold in blackberries. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, granulated sugar, rind, and baking powder in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, and stir just until moist.

Drop dough onto peach mixture to form 12 mounds. Sprinkle mounds with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

It was Albert Einstein who said, “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” How about a pear?  Pears don’t just taste great; they also have a history, going all the way back to 1000 B.C. In Ancient Greece, people used pears to treat nausea. The fiber found in pears helps to ease digestion, so pears are not only a tasty snack, but can also be used to help alleviate stomach aches. Pears are also low in calories. The combination of low calories and high fiber also make pears perfect for dieting. Not many people are allergic to pears, so they are considered hypoallergenic.  With all the benefits of a pear, it’s a good thing they are available all year long.

Try this recipe for:
Chili-Brown Sugar Delicata Squash with Pears

1 pound delicata squash (about 1 large)
2 medium ripe but firm pears, sliced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet.
Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Discard all but 2 teaspoons fat from the pan. Over medium heat, stir in water, brown sugar and chili powder. Add the squash and pears; toss to coat. Crumble the bacon on top.

Easy cleanup: To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you bake.

Did you know?
In China, it is bad luck for lovers or friends to share a pear.