Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are Working Mothers Making Children Obese?

A recent study published in the journal Child Development suggests that children of working mothers are more likely to gain weight than children with stay-at-home mothers.  Google News is filled with headlines suggesting that working mothers are to blame for obese children, but is this actually the case?

Actually--the study never says that working mothers cause obesity in their children.  What the article does say is slightly different from that.  The researchers looked at the BMI of children in grades 3, 5, and 6 and found that for every 5.3 months a mother was employed, her child would gain 1 more pound than what is considered normal  In 6th grade, a child with a working mother was six times more likely to be overweight than their peers with stay at home mothers.  Overweight is not necessarily obese, and gaining slightly more weight than is normal does not exactly make a child overweight. The study merely correlates weight gain with having a mother that works outside the home. 

In fact, in an NPR interview with Professor Taryn Morrissey, one of the author's of the study, said, "[I] want to stress that while we found that the duration of time that mothers worked is associated with an increase in their children's body mass index, it was a very small increase."  Morrissey later added, "There are so many factors that factor into childhood obesity...I feel that a lot of the coverage on this has been extremely sensationalized...We don't know if this is causal first of all, we can do something to change it. And so we can improve access to healthy foods, we can improve information about children's sleep habits, we can help inform policies and parents and working parents, both mom and dads alike, to promote healthy weight."

The study does not find a "smoking gun" or offer an explanation of why the children of working mothers gain more weight, however it does suggest that eating meals outside of the home, having a more sedentary lifestyle and less supervision might be factors.

There were also a few flaws in the study such as a lack of diversity among the participants and the failure to include the work habits of fathers.  It is 2010, not 1950 and women and men are both working outside the home and in a lot of cases, both contribute to eating habits and lifestyle choices of their children.

So working mothers--no need to feel guilty yet, you are not causing the obesity epidemic in children, at least according to this study.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heidi's: A Mini-Review

So last night, Valentine's Day weekend of all weekends, we decided to just drop in at Heidi's for dessert and a drink at about 10:30 on Saturday night.  We were just planning on hanging out at the bar--but the hostess thought she could get us a table.

First of all, I was extremely impressed with the staff. They went out of their way to accommodate two people who just wandered in.  Second, their recommendations were spot-on.  I love dessert wine--however, I am extremely picky about it.  I can't stand when it is overly sweet and syrupy, so I requested something light and crisp--and we ended up with a perfect Amontillado.  We were unsure about desserts--and tried the Yuzu Souffle which was incredible in terms of desserts.  My own choice of Pineapple Napoleon was pretty awesome as well.  Sometimes, when you go to a place and just order dessert, the staff can seem almost annoyed with you because obviously they could make a lot more money if you were ordering dinner and wine, however this was not the case at Heidi's.  Everyone from the hostess, to the server, to the young woman who filled our waters and cleared our plates was extremely gracious and welcoming.  I can't wait to go back for dinner!

Second, the restaurant itself is a pretty neat space.  The first thing I noticed is that you can see into the kitchen--a big draw for someone who likes to cook such as myself.  However--even though you can see in the kitchen, there is something that makes the restaurant have a romantic and classy feeling to it.  These are two elements I feel are missing in a lot of new restaurants--it seems everything is pretty casual, which is fine, but it is nice to feel the need to dress up and go out somewhere.  There were lots of little and unique touches that added a lot to the restaurant---from the over-the-top chandeliers to the unique tree in the center of the dining room.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For the Love of Vegetables! Quinoa & Winter Veggie Medley

Each week, I am attempting to eat vegetarian at least once.  I could go the old grilled cheese and tomato soup route, but I really want to enjoy and look forward to my vegetarian meals so I am trying some new things.  This week I wanted to use the rest of my quinoa.  I looked up some recipes online, and did not find anything that totally struck me, but I learned that quinoa goes well with just about any veggie.  I decided to take advantage of some winter vegetables.  The result was a quinoa veggie pilaf.  I tried to cook each vegetable the best way I knew how to bring out the flavors. 

The trick to this recipe is this:  Cook the quinoa and each vegetable, add add each of them as they are done to a large casserole dish.  Keep the casserole dish in the over (which will be at 375 for the roasting beets and butternut squash) until everything is finished.  At the very end, toss with 8 oz of feta cheese.  Also--use the veggies you have in your fridge.  The veggies I chose are merely suggestions.   You can skip the cheese and it is vegan.  It is also gluten free unless the veggie broth you use contains it. 

1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of veggie broth

1) In a pot, combine quinoa and veggie broth.  Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat and let it cook until liquid is absorbed--about 10-12 minutes.

Braised Turnips and Carrots
2 small turnips peeled and cut into cubes
2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
2 Tbs of sugar
1 Tbs of red wine vinegar
2 Tbs of butter, cut into small pieces
salt & pepper (you are going to want to add salt depending on how sweet you want the veggies)

1) Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil, uncover, lower the temp and let it simmer 10-12 minutes, until the veggies are soft and there is about 1/2 cup of broth left.  Pour the contents of the pan, including the broth into the quinoa. 

Roast Butternut Squash & Beets
1/2 butternut squash cut into cubes
2 medium beets peeled and cut into cubes
2 tbs of EVOO
salt & pepper

1) Combine squash and beets in a small baking pan.  Toss with EVOO and salt & pepper.  Roast for about 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Sauteed Spinach & Mushrooms
2 cups fresh spinach
8 oz white button mushrooms sliced
1 Tbs of EVOO
salt & pepper

1) Heat a frying pan at medium high heat and then add EVOO.  Let it heat for about 30 seconds and then add the mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  As they turn golden brown, add the spinach and cook that until dark green and soft.