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“DEAR PARENT, YOUR CHILD IS FAT”

By Jane Thomson Above is the gist of a message that would have been sent home a couple of years ago in a harebrained plan to combat childhood obesity. Now, Michelle Obama is on the problem, and at least, she will do no harm. I was a fat child; it was not fun; and guess what ”“ my parents had noticed without being informed. When I was ten years old, after years of nagging, my mother gave me, as part of my Christmas present, a pocket-sized calorie reference book with a dial on the front to count my daily calories. The timing must have been right, as instead of hurting my feelings, the book intrigued me. I ate a lot of cantaloupe that summer, and Junket (comparable to today”'s instant sugar-free pudding mix made with skim milk). When I went back to school the following fall, I was no longer fat and clumsy, but thin and clumsy. What causes childhood obesity? I will add to the condemnation of junk food and soda advertising - cigarette companies are hardly alone in trying to get at their market as early in the kid”'s lives as possible. In my case, living in an inner-city apartment with little access to physical activity was part of the problem. Domestic turmoil surfacing at meals can lead to nervous eating. A pleasantly casual family meal would be the ideal. Parents can set an example another way: Don”'t just lock up the candy, cake, donuts, sugared soda, etc. Don”'t have them around except for special occasions. What to have around for snacks and meals? Tasty, attractive, filling foods. These can be expensive; but don”'t have to be (I will try never to have recipes in this column that call for hard-to-find or expensive ingredients.) The following recipes are adjustable ”“ unlike in baking, these ingredients do not have to be in exact proportions. (more…)

Food obsession: Gingerbread

By Jane Thomson Note: “Food Obsession” will be a column written by Jane Thomson often, if not regularly, in The Alley. I am not a “foodie”, but I like to eat and am also a constant dieter ”“ thus the obsession. I welcome anyone else”'s sending in his own food article, perhaps focusing on informed healthy eating or on world hunger (as related to neighborhood action), subjects which I am not exceptionally well informed about. Focus on gingerbread: Such a recipe calls for ingredients that are often already on hand, so you can make it on impulse. “Gingerbread” is also the word used to describe the wooden trim often seen on Victorian houses in the Phillips neighborhood. The first recipe is for a classic gingerbread. Clipped awhile ago from The Star Tribune, it is called “Gingerbread from 1930”. When you make it, you should be wearing a cotton housedress, an apron, thick cotton stockings, and tie shoes with Cuban heels ”“ all well worn and mended. I do not necessarily recommend this costume for male cooks. 1/3 cup of butter, softened ”“ (it helps to have all ingredients at room temperature) 1 cup of sugar 2 eggs 1 cup of milk ½ cup of molasses 2 ½ cups of flour 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon; ginger; nutmeg; cloves; baking powder; baking soda Grease and flour a 9” x 13” pan and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together. Mix together eggs, milk and molasses. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with liquids. Bake in pan for about 35 minutes, testing to see if the cake is firm and done in the middle. Gingerbread is good with lemon sauce. Would you like cream cheese with that? Thin the cheese with cream or milk. Or you could have a wholesome dessert by topping the cake with lemon or vanilla fat-free yoghurt. Blueberry Gingerbread is somewhat like a pudding. 1 box of gingerbread mix water 1 pint of fresh [...]

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