Nutritional Facts: 50% student. 50% advocate. Location: Los Angeles. Tackling the nutritional challenges and other compelling issues of our time. Knowing what is in the dish may not be so delish. Together, we can be food smart. Grab your forks!

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Well, it’s been quite a time blogging on the nutritional challenges facing our country. And they are everywhere, in schools, in your kitchen, at work, and, of course, on the road when you see those golden arches and think convenience.

I plan to continue this blog (may take a couple weeks off to celebrate my graduation from USC!) because people need to be informed on the facts, on what they’re eating, and whether it’s good for them.

At A Taste of Truth, we like it to give it you straight. Nothing artificial.

Together, we can all be food smart!

Bon appétit,

Adam

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Below you’ll find Starbucks new diet-friendly snacks that really do hit the sweet spot. And what’s cool about it, you don’t have to feel guilty about scarfing down a whole cupcake or doughnut or something with a whopping 600+ calories. Nope, these only have half or even less the amount!

Check ‘em out, tell me what you think.


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Healthy fast-food alternatives made at home!

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Feast your eyes on Subway’s Cold Cut Combo! Yes, this picture is a legit Subway sandwich. Is it just me or am I seeing more Subways than ever? Hmm, check out my earlier Subway post to find out why!
scanwiches:

Subway: Cold Cut Combo. Scanned for Fortune Magazine. On shelves now! Click here to see a sneak peak.

Feast your eyes on Subway’s Cold Cut Combo! Yes, this picture is a legit Subway sandwich. Is it just me or am I seeing more Subways than ever? Hmm, check out my earlier Subway post to find out why!

scanwiches:

Subway: Cold Cut Combo. Scanned for Fortune Magazine. On shelves now! Click here to see a sneak peak.

Source: scanwiches

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First item on the LAUSD school lunch agenda: eliminating flavored milk from schools, which, according to LAUSD’s new superintendent, John Deasy, “There’s more sugar per ounce in flavored milk than there is in a can of soda. And then you worry about diabetes?”

The LAUSD superintendent is not doing it alone, no, he has the help from food revolutionary Jamie Oliver. In fact, the two came out recently on ABC’s Jummy Kimmel Live!

Oliver and Deasy (who will be the keynote speaker for the USC Rossier School of Education at this year’s commencement ceremony) are ready join forces after months of resistance by LAUSD school officials to reform the District’s lunch menus, which for years have been laden with unhealthy items.

Some school districts have already begun implementing a more nutritional approach to the lunch menus like the Claremont Unified School District in Southern California. Under Rick Cota, Director of Nutritional Services, the District has eliminated 50% of the cafeteria’s processed foods. “Earlier this year, we got rid of canned fruit and vegetables in our meal program and brought in organic fresh fruits and vegetables to our breakfast and lunches district-wide. We are proud to be one of the only districts in Southern California to believe and do this every day,” says Cota.

Here’s the LAUSD school lunch menu breakdown with Jamie Oliver’s comments thanks to our friends at TakePart:

Monday

L.A.: Chicken and cheese enchiladas, or turkey sub on wheat, or beef corn dog. With broccoli bites, frozen OJ cup and fruit.

Jamie: Home-style beef stew, garden salad with ranch dressing, whole wheat roll, blueberry yogurt and fruit.

ADVANTAGE: Jamie. A hearty stew with leafy greens beats a corn dog or enchiladas any day of the week.

Tuesday

L.A.: Cheeseburger, or beef steak fingers with gravy. With yogurt trio with graham crackers, crisp baked potato rounds, cucumber coins, and fruit.

Jamie: Sausage and bean stew, honey carrot coins, cheesy corn bread, and fruit.

ADVANTAGE: Jamie again. Even when made with the freshest of ingredients, cheeseburgers aren’t a health food.

Wednesday

L.A.: Bean and cheese burrito, kung pao chicken rice bowl, deluxe meat and cheese sauce. With baked tortilla chips, baby carrots, and fruit.

Jamie: Rotisserie chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, garden salad with ranch dressing, wheat bread sticks, and blueberry yogurt.

ADVANTAGE: The Brit is three for three. A burrito or kung pao chicken? What is this? The mall food court? A nice roasted chicken with green salad is sending the smarter message to kids about good food choices. 

Thursday

L.A.: Pepperoni pizza, or sweet & sour veggies with brown rice, or farmer’s market salad. With oven-roasted potato wedges, frozen chocolate cup and fruit.

Jamie: Crusty mac & cheese with broccoli, apple and cucumber salad with honey dressing, cheesy cornbread, and fruit. 

ADVANTAGE: This is getting embarrassing, L.A. The farmer’s market salad is a nice touch, but the pizza-versus-gloppy-Chinese-food option sends another distinct food court vibe. Jamie wins again—even though the mac & cheese and cheesy cornbread combo sound like the least healthful Naked Chef meal so far. 

Friday

L.A.: Breaded fish nuggets with green beans, or macaroni au gratin, or chicken Italiano melt. With celery sticks, strawberry cup, and fruit. 

Jamie: Shepherd’s pie, steamed parmesan brocolli, whole wheat tortilla chips, blueberry yogurt, and fruit.

ADVANTAGE: Looks like a clean sweep for Jamie Oliver. You can give mac & cheese a fancy name, but it’s still mac & cheese. And breaded anything can be dangerous. 

So, while L.A.’s school lunch standards may be above the country’s at large, this one-week menu doesn’t read like a soloution to the childhood obesity crisis.

Granted, Jamie may just be looking for a place with good weather to film his reality show. Still, if L.A. school officials could swallow their pride, they might see some actual improvements.

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I was at Costco today and couldn’t resist buying these tasty Peter Rabbit Organics fruit snacks. They’re über delish!
The good stuff:
100% organic 
They come in two exciting flavors! 
Apple & grape (86% apple, 14% grape juice concentrate) 
Strawberry & banana (57% banana, 43% strawberry) *my favorite 
One serving of fruit per pouch 
70-80 calories per pouch 
No added sugar 
BPA free

I was at Costco today and couldn’t resist buying these tasty Peter Rabbit Organics fruit snacks. They’re über delish!

The good stuff:

  1. 100% organic
  2. They come in two exciting flavors!
  3. Apple & grape (86% apple, 14% grape juice concentrate)
  4. Strawberry & banana (57% banana, 43% strawberry) *my favorite
  5. One serving of fruit per pouch
  6. 70-80 calories per pouch
  7. No added sugar
  8. BPA free

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In a continued series of diet-friendly items you can find at your grocery store, this time we’re looking into the chips isle where you can find lightly salty snacks, while still hitting that craving for something crunchy.

If that’s the case, here’s some good buys according to Yahoo Food:

Popchips BBQ Potato Chips (You can find these at Seeds in the Campus Center!)

  1. I tried these for the first time yesterday, in fact, same flavor, and they were super delicious—then again I love BBQ-flavor.
  2. The difference: the chips are popped not fried in oil like most chips
  3. The facts (18 chips per serving): 120 calories, 4g fat, 250mg sodium, 20g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 1g protein

Guiltless Gourmet Tortilla Chips (Yes, “Guiltless” is really part of the name) 

  1. The difference: crispy tortilla chips made with organic corn!
  2. The facts (18 chips per serving): 110-123 calories, 2-3g fat, 26-250mg sodium, 19-23g carbs, 2g fiber, 0-1g sugars, 2-3g protein

Cape Cod 40% Less Fat Potato Chips

  1. The difference: reduced fat chips may not sound too appealing as anything that’s reduced-something may not always taste flavorful but Cape Cod’s 40% Less Fat chips is an exception
  2. The facts (approx. 18 - 23 chips): 130 calories, 6g fat, 110-220mg sodium, 18g carbs, 1-2g fiber, 0-2g sugars, 2g protein

Michael Season’s Baked Single-Serving Chips

  1. The difference: these chips have 70% less fat than regular chips and come in single-serving bags
  2. The facts (1 bag): 100 calories, 2.5-3.5g fat, 160-180mg sodium, 15-18g carbs, 1-2g fiber, 1-3g sugars, 2g protein

Special K Sour Cream & Onion Cracker Chips

  1. You thought these folks over at Kellogg’s only made the Special K cereal, nope—these chips are similar to the Popchips
  2. The facts (27 chips): 110 calories, 2.5g fat, 230mg sodium, 22g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g sugars, 2g protein

Genisoy Roasted Garlic & Onion Soy Crisps

  1. The difference: these crisps bolster 7g of protein and are made with mix of soy and rice
  2. The facts (17 crisps): 100 calories, 2g fat, 280mg sodium, 14g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g sugars, 7g protein

Snack Factory Original Deli Style Pretzel Crisps

  1. The difference: these crisps are fat-free and look like a smashed pretzel!
  2. The facts: 110 calories, 0 fat, 330mg sodium, 23g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 3g protein

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First Lady Michelle Obama shows off her moves at a Washington D.C. middle school as part of her “Let’s Move!" campaign to fight childhood obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has “more than tripled in the past 30 years.” In 2008, childhood obesity rose to 19.6% for children 6-11 years (compared to 6.5% in 1980); for adolescents 12-19 years, obesity increased by over 13%.

The Let’s Move! initiative helps tackle these rising rates by educating children and families on the issue of obesity and how to get involved in living a healthy lifestyle. Several studies have confirmed the link between fast-food and children (refer to my earlier post We Are What We Eat).

Here are a few interesting articles that speak of this toxic relationship:

  1. Fast-food linked to childhood obesity
  2. Fast-food + nearby schools = fat kids
  3. Fast-food advertising targets minority youth

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A wrong turn for L.A.'s food truck scene?

Interesting article on the food trucks that are becoming omnipresent in the Los Angeles landscape.

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What you need to spice up your day with these Cinco de Mayo favorites taken from CNN’s Eatocracy:


1. Guacamole is required
“Nothing sets up your fiesta for success like a big bowl of homemade guacamole. Don’t be ‘culinarily blasphemous’ with pre-packaged purées and spice mixes when you can spend a few extra minutes doing guac right.

Once your guests taste your recipe, you will undoubtedly have the Cinco de Mayo respect of all your fiesta patrons. The key to guacamole is starting with fresh, ripe ingredients: Haas avocados, cilantro, onion, jalapeño, tomato and a bit of salt for seasoning.

The secret to perfect guacamole is to start by making a paste with jalapeño, onion and cilantro in a molcajete - a lava-rock mortar found in Mexico. You can purchase one at an upscale kitchenware stores or use a traditional mortar and pestle to approximate the paste.

Once you try our recipe, you’ll be hooked - no lime juice necessary. I frequently make it for parties and it’s always the first appetizer to go.

2. Margaritas, of course
“Equally as important as guacamole on Cinco de Mayo is the margarita. If you’ve never made one, don’t be afraid! They are among the simplest drinks to make, but only if you pay attention. The keys to the perfect margarita are quality, balance and shaking.

If you use great ingredients, you will get a great margarita. Simply take two parts tequila to one part fresh lime juice and one part orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec). I’d recommend using a 100% blue agave, silver tequila like 1800, Herradura or Tres Generaciones. Make sure you the lime juice is fresh and you’re all set.

To achieve balance, measure your ingredients. Just as a chef follows a recipe, a great bartender does the same. Use a jigger (or tablespoon if you don’t have one) and take your time.

For Cinco de Mayo and future parties, I’d recommend making a pitcher of them at a time. It will save you time to enjoy your own party and will keep your thirsty guests well-hydrated.

Once your ingredients are measured, add ice and shake it like you mean it. These viscous ingredients are begging to be combined, but it takes commitment to make it happen. Shake for about 30 seconds (yes 30 seconds!), pour into a glass rimmed with kosher salt, garnish with lime and enjoy.”

3. Try a Michelada
“Nothing beats a cold one, and a Michelada takes it to the next level. Few things are more Mexican than beer, and Mexico has some great ones: Corona, Pacifico, Negra Modelo and Tecate to name a few.

While beer is great on its own, a Michelada, a beer cocktail famous in Mexico and gaining popularity worldwide, is a great way to spice it up. It’s the perfect antidote for a warm day.

There are many variations of the Michelada, but the simplest combines Cholula or Tabasco, lime juice, and Worcestershire sauce.

Pour equal amounts of these ingredients into a tall, salt-rimmed glass, top with ice, your favorite beer and serve. You can play with the recipe, adjusting for spice and flavors by adding different juices.

At Rosa Mexicano we will be offering our collection of Micheladas for Cinco de Mayo, including a version that features beet juice - which our guests love.”

4. Be Old Fashioned
“Tequila is one of the most versatile spirits and obviously the most appropriate for celebrating Cinco de Mayo. But, if you’re looking for a more sophisticated celebration, try a variation on one of the most famous cocktails around, the Old Fashioned.

Though most people know an Old Fashioned as being made from whiskey (often bourbon or rye), it can in fact be made from any spirit. The requirements for an Old Fashioned (in the classic sense) are: spirit of any kind, bitters, a little sugar (or other sweetener) and a twist of citrus.

My variation is fantastic and simple. Start with two dashes of Angostura bitters, making sure to dash assertively. A dash is not a drop - so fully upturn the bitters bottle! Add two ounces of Tanteo cocoa-infused tequila, and only then add the ice. This will help you make sure the drink isn’t too diluted – an Old Fashioned should be strong.

Stir for only about 5 seconds to chill everything down, top with ice if necessary, then garnish with a large orange twist. You will be hooked!”

5. Mix it Up with Mezcal
“Mezcal is tequila’s bold older brother. It’s made from agave as well, but cooked to impart a smoky flavor, even more aggressive than Scotch.

Mezcal is gaining popularity in the U.S. and is definitely worth a try. You can find Mezcals at high-end liquor stores, some made with infusions and there’s even one variety, Pechuga, that includes chicken breast in the mash during the fermentation process.

The best way to enjoy Mezcal is to substitute it for tequila in a margarita, drink it neat or on the rocks. It’s a really unique, interesting and delicious spirit whose popularity is on the rise.”

How do you plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Be sure to share your fiesta details in the comments.

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