What’s for Dinner?

Home-cooked Chinese Three Dishes and One Soup Dinner

The Menu

Steamed Pork Ribs in Black Bean and Chili Sauce

Braised Sponge Cucumber (丝瓜) with Dried Shrimp

Stir-fried Lettuce

Pork and Pickled Mustard Egg Drop Soup

“Smart Snacks” To Replace Junk Food In U.S. Schools

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that under USDA’s new ” Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, America’s students will be offered healthier food options during the school day.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools — beyond the federally-supported meals programs. The “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, to be published this week in the Federal Register, reflect USDA’s thoughtful consideration and response to the nearly 250,000 comments received on the proposal earlier this year.

“Smart Snacks in School” carefully balances science-based nutrition guidelines with practical and flexible solutions to promote healthier eating on campus, drawing on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and existing voluntary standards already implemented by thousands of schools around the country, as well as healthy food and beverage offerings already available in the marketplace.

Highlights of the “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards include:

  • More of the foods we should encourage. Like the new school meals, the standards require healthier foods, more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein.
  • Less of the foods we should avoid. Food items are lower in fat, sugar, and sodium and provide more of the nutrients kids need.
  • Targeted standards. Allowing variation by age group for factors such as portion size and caffeine content.
  • Flexibility for important traditions. Preserving the ability for parents to send their kids to school with homemade lunches or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations; and allowing schools to continue traditions like fundraisers and bake sales.
  • Ample time for implementation. Schools and food and beverage companies will have an entire school year to make the necessary changes, and USDA will offer training and technical assistance every step of the way.
  • Reasonable limitations on when and where the standards apply. Ensuring that standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at afterschool sporting events or other activities will not be subject to these requirements.
  • Flexibility for state and local communities. Allowing significant local and regional autonomy by only establishing minimum requirements for schools. States and schools that have stronger standards than what is being proposed will be able to maintain their own policies.

USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.

America’s students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

  • USDA’s MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
  • USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools.
  • USDA awarded $5.2 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals and support stronger school nutrition education programs.

Collectively these policies and actions will help combat child hunger and obesity and improve the health and nutrition of the nation’s children; a top priority for the Obama Administration. The interim final rule announced today is an important component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to combat the challenge of childhood obesity.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Japanese Summer Confection

Gold Fish Jelly

Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones

Should women take calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause for bone health? Recommendations conflict, and opinions are strong. But now, an analysis from the major Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial throws weight on the supplement side—at least for women taking hormones after menopause. The analysis was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society.

Among the nearly 30,000 postmenopausal women in the hormone trial, some 8,000 took supplemental calcium (1,000 mg/day) and vitamin D (400 mg/day), and some 8,000 took look-alike placebos. These women came from all the hormone groups in the study—those who took estrogen plus a progestogen (required for women with a uterus), those who took estrogen alone, and those who took the hormone look-alike placebos. The researchers looked at how the rates of hip fracture differed among women who took hormones and supplements, those who took hormones alone, and those who took neither.

The supplements and hormones had a synergistic effect. Women using both therapies had much greater protection against hip fractures than with either therapy alone. Taking supplements alone wasn’t significantly better than taking no supplements and no hormones. The benefit of hormone therapy was strong in women who had a total calcium intake (supplements plus diet) greater than 1,200 mg/day. Similarly, the benefit was strong in women who had higher intakes of vitamin D, but the individual effect of each one could not be determined because the two supplements were given together.

The effects translated into 11 hip fractures per 10,000 women per year among the women who took both hormones and supplements compared with 18 per 10,000 women per year among those who took hormones only, 25 per 10,000 women per year among those who took supplements alone, and 22 among those who got neither therapy.

These results suggest, said the authors, that women taking postmenopausal hormone therapy should also take supplemental calcium and vitamin D. Although they couldn’t specify how much, they noted that the benefits seem to increase with increasing total intake of calcium and vitamin D. The dose will depend on keeping side effects, such as constipation from too much calcium, to a minimum, they said.

That differs from the recommendation of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), made earlier this year. USPSTF stated there was no basis for recommending calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures. But now, with a study this large, there may well be.

The study will be published in the Menopause.

Source: The North American Menopause Society (pdf)

Stuffed Green Bell Pepper

Ingredients

3 green bell pepper
8 oz ground fish
1 Chinese black mushroom

Seasoning

1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
dash ground white pepper
1 tsp light soy sauce

Method

  1. Cut bell peppers into quarters and remove the seeds. Soak and dice the mushroom.
  2. Mix ground fish with seasoning. Stir until firm and sticky. Mix in mushroom.
  3. Stuff bell pepper with fish mixture. Shallow-fry with the filling facing downward until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve.

Source: Hong Kong magazine

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