Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Healthy Lunch Box meals!

Putting the health and fun back into your kid’s lunch!
Scooby Doo, Strawberry Shortcake, Transformers, Care Bears…
Ah, the selection of lunch boxes and all the wonderful school supplies hitting store shelves marks the start of a new school year. This was always one of my favorite times of the year growing up. I still go school supply shopping for my office! The lunch box selection has actually returned to the same selection I found in elementary school. Finding the right lunch box was a big commitment, because it would be one school supply that would stick with you for the entire school year!

What about the contents that fill those lunch boxes throughout the school year? I was never quite as concerned with that. My mom packed my lunch through elementary school. I was a creature of habit with meals, so it wasn’t hard to pack the same sandwich, carrots, potato chips, and snack cake each day. I kept up the habit when I took over packing my lunch in middle school. Then came high school, and something went horribly wrong for me! It was no longer cool to carry your lunch. Instead, we happily purchased our lunch from the “junk food line” in the cafeteria. (It really was called the “junk food line”). Every day was the same unfortunate choices – snack cakes and chocolate milk. I look back in horror on those selections. Thank goodness I was fortunate enough to have healthy meals at dinner!

Now that we know so much about the impact nutrition is having on us and on our children, lunch decisions are much more important.

Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. As reported by the CDC this results in an increase from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008 in children 6 – 11 years old and from 5.0% to 18.1% in 12 -19 year olds. (information from Obese children are at a far greater risk for a wide variety of health problems from high cholesterol to high blood pressure (both are indicator signs for cardiovascular disease). Also included in the long list of health risks are: sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, low self-esteem, Type 2 diabetes…list goes on and on. No wonder we can’t get kids to achieve in school! School systems across the country that have incorporated healthy, minimally processed foods into their school lunch program have documented improvements in ability to concentrate in school, increased cognitive development, and fewer discipline problems to name a few.

So what should you pack in your kid’s lunch?

• Peanut butter and jelly is always a good stand –by. Be sure to purchase natural peanut butter (Don’t worry! There are good inexpensive, “no-stir” brands. Remember to check the peanut butter and jelly labels. With jelly, be sure the label lists fruit as the first ingredient and avoid products with high fructose corn syrup (highly concentrated sugar). Avoid hydrogenated oils in your peanut butter and other foods.

• Pinwheels: Take one tortilla, then spread cream cheese, peanut butter or even hummus on it. Add chopped up veggies or real turkey, not processed lunch meat. Roll in a log. Cut into slices. Serve with carrots, and an apple.

• Sandwiches: The combinations are endless and can provide a great way for your kids to explore the veggie isle at the grocery. Allow them to pick out 1 to 2 veggies they like and then have them pick out one new veggie they have not tried. Add those to sandwiches with lettuce, cream cheese or low-fat mayonnaise. Watch out for lunch meats! Most deli meats are full of nitrates and fillers which are not healthy. Try brands that are minimally processed, like Boar’s Head, or use leftovers from the prior evening’s meal to add to their sandwiches. And, who says you have to use bread? Use fun multi-grain tortillas or giant pieces of bibb lettuce to contain all the tasty ingredients.

• Smoothies: If you are able to keep something cold (good thermos), try packing a smootie for your child! Load your blender with frozen fruit (your child’s favorite) and a low fat yogurt. Add a little local honey if it needs a touch of sweetness. Blend until smooth. You can also make this the night before and freeze it so that the smoothie is still cold but thawed by the time lunch rolls around.

So go on, take your kids out shopping for their new lunch boxes. Feel good that you have the power to influence their future health by packing healthy lunches for them this year. If that seems like a tall order, pack their lunch with them each evening before bed. This involves them in the process and helps them make choices, too. Better decision making will lead to a child who is less likely to hit the “junk food line” once they reach high school.

More healthy lunch box recipes:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good morning!
It's gorgeous out here today! Perfect temperature, lots of calling birds, leaves already starting to change, SO much to see! Have you seen the new CEC billboards around town encouraging you to get your kids outside? What a perfect day to do just that! Visit our website at and download a great booklet with tips about exposing your child to the great outdoors! Hope to see you on the trails...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Biking to work at CEC

I’m Katrina Cohoe, and I’ve been working in the Cope garden since the beginning of the 2009-10 school year. Groups from Girls, Inc. and Meridian services have been working away on their plots, and they look wonderful! Lettuce, radishes, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and one cucumber have been harvested, and many more vegetables are on their way. While I could talk off your ear off about the garden, I wanted to write instead about something I’ve been thinking about while commuting to work: bicycles.

I’ve talked with a lot of people about the reasons why they bike, and I have sometimes felt disconnected from biking communities that I have interacted with. Sure, it’s healthy, but I’m no health nut. There can be an air of competition surrounding bicycle knowledge and the quality of your bike and gear. The biggest reason I could come up with for riding is that I don’t have the money for a car, and that’s not an inherently positive thought.

I ride my bike to work most of the time when it is nice outside (about 5.5 miles one-way), and while riding, I have had a lot of time to think about bikes. A couple days ago I began to smile as I was riding because I became amazed at how fast I could move with a machine powered by my own muscles. Think about it: bicycles are the fastest commuting machine that’s commercially available that requires no external power source. It's a great thing you can do for the environment, and for me, it is so empowering!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Get Up!

Okay, people. I know it's early, but the 7am Monday morning bird hikes are worth it! A few things we saw this morning: Sora, White-throated Sparrow, Phoebe, Yellow-throated Warbler; we also heard a Prairie Warbler, but didn't see it. This is a great way to start your day, so don't be shy! Hope to see you there next Monday at CEC- 7am sharp!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gorgeous Day

Alison Zajdel, here. The sun is shining SO bright today that the remaining snow nearly blinds you when you walk outside. What a great day to come out to CEC to see the sap flowing, hike the trails, and enjoy the land. Got a camera? Take some pictures for us! We love to see people's different perspectives of the property, so let us know if you have some to share. Just thought I'd give people a nudge to get outdoors today in case you needed one. Take care!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bonner Scholars Great Asset to CEC

Non-profit organizations have the wonderful perk of working with great people who are willing to give of their time and talents to make your organization a better place! These are volunteers! Cope Environmental Center has the privilege of working with Bonner Students from Earlham College. This program allows us to grow very close to our Bonner Students during their four years. We have been blessed with several students who have spent all four of their years here at CEC.

Unfortunately for us, college students graduate and move on. We are so proud of all our students. They have all been a tremendous asset to Cope Environmental Center and have completed thousands of hours of service and projects! Please read the comments to this post to learn more about each one of our graduating Bonners and what they completed and learned during their time at Cope Environmental Center.

Composting in 2010 by Chuck Warner

Hi All:

Well here we are in 2010 and there still isn't much activity on the CEC blog so I will kick start the new year with a quick message. How did everyone do on their goal to be more green in 2009? If you remember I had vowed to start composting and even though I labored about how to do it all during the year I started right away. First I did it the hard way...let me explain. I live in a subdivision where you can't just have a big stinky pile of garbage in your back yard. I already had a pile of dirt in my side yard that was left over from a landscape project. I kept a plastic bucket under the sink and later in the garage to put my compostable stuff in. Whenever it would get enough in it to make it worth it I would dig a small hole in the dirt pile and bury the kitchen scraps under the soil. I also put yard waste on the pile and that was about it. I felt good that I was "composting" but I knew that I needed a better plan for winter when the ground was frozen and I couldn't dig. I had been looking at the commercial compost bins and thought about building one from a variety of materials but I just couldn't decide on the right approach. Finally on one of my trips to Sams Club I found a composter that met my requirements. Below is a link that shows it.

This unit is well made, assembles quick, can be moved (although you start over), and it is resonable priced. You can get different colors but the black is the best for composting because the sun warms it to accelerate the process.

If someone tells me they can't compost because they don't have any place to put the compost pile so the neighbors won't complain...problem solved. Now for the price of a dinner out for 2 you can reduce the waste going to the sewage desposal plant for processing, reduce or eliminate sending compostable material to the landfill, and never buy nutient rich soil for your flower garden.