There are menacing spirits about tonight. Truly horrifying, ghastly ghouls in shiny, enticing packages. Resting ominously in bowls, baskets and bags, they await their jolly little prey. With the power of the Pied Piper, they will lead all manner of small witches, scarecrows, Spidermen, vampires, princesses, cowboys and gypsies toward ebullient, screeching glee, then sugar shock and moody mayhem this evening. Dastardly little devils, aren’t they…?
It’s commonly portrayed as the realm of infant formula, rice cereal, applesauce, teething biscuits, Zwieback toast and Cheerios. And in the following months a large pantry selection of strained this or that in tiny glass, commercial jars… Add to this picture more recent concoctions like toddler formula, Elmo crackers, mini juice packs, fruit gummies, and “Graduate” lines. All of this begs the question, exactly when and how did baby/early toddler nutrition become a string of processed convenience foods? The ingredient lists often smack more of Candyland than the “wholesome goodness” claimed on the labels. Was this really what nature intended? Can’t we do better by our baby Groks? What would Grandma Grok have to say about all of this? We’ve taken up the kid question before, but I thought it was time for a definitive focus on the youngest of the seedling set.
The prevailing opinion at MDA is that listening to one’s body is good policy. Natural instinct has been kind to us over the years – just as long as we listen to it. Oh, sure, some instinctual behaviors have little relevance nowadays and should be ignored (like our tendency to tribalize and shun newcomers for protection – made sense when we were living off the land in small inclusive clans competing for resources, but today it just causes war, racism, and nationalism), but most instincts are hard-wired into us for a reason. Consider salivation, which tells us delicious, wholesome food is to be had (I know I’m not the only one with an utterly Primal tendency to drool at the prospect of a rare steak), or our sense of fairness, which makes for a more harmonious environment (good for survival and for everyone involved). We like to stress the importance of listening to your body’s natural inclinations.
‘Tis the season (almost) for those holiday bake sales, church/temple bazaars, and school fundraisers. Can’t you see them? Friendly folding table arrangements with impressive displays of frosted, glazed, and baked creations in all homemade varieties. The glossy brochures full of burgeoning tins brimming with gourmet chocolates, peppermint bark, and all manner of confectionery sweets. (Not that anyone is off the hook for the rest of the year. Think sports season candy bars, Girl Scout cookies, and so on.)
We thought we’d take on the ultimate challenge this week: how to make Halloween somewhat healthy instead of horrifically unwholesome. Yes, Halloween, that spastic stroll through Candy Land, the annual Willie Wonka nightmare of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Does it really need to be this way, we ask? According to the conventional practice and the cooking/hospitality expertise of figures like Food Network’s Sandra Lee, yes. But then, Ms. Lee’s occasion cooking is always enough to send viewer’s blood sugar levels through the roof. (Seriously, are we wrong?)
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