Appetizers

By Sandy Todd Webster
Jun 21, 2016

Here’s a taste of what’s cooking in the nutrition world:

Affirming that small steps can lead to big changes in nutrition and other aspects of wellness, a New York City elementary school banned chocolate milk from its menu in 2008 (at the behest of a third-grader). Other incremental changes over ensuing years focused on the tie between nutrition and academic performance. Most recently, PS 244 became the first U.S. public school to adopt an all-vegetarian menu. Partly born of a leadership focus on wellness and partly a response to the prohibitive cost of quality animal protein, a plant-based menu made the most sense. Kids can still get pizza or mac and cheese, but they also have options like chickpea curry, salad bars, veggie meatballs, and panini with mozzarella, tomato and spinach.

The thump on your doorstep no longer signals that the daily paper has arrived. In a media-meets-meal-delivery twist, the New York Times recently announced plans to hop on the home meal kit bandwagon. Partnering with Chef’d, a startup in the food kit space, the Times will offer recipes featured on the newspaper’s cooking website and deliver a box to your door with all you need to make the dish at home.

Dairy-alternative beverages have captured major market share from traditional milk products over the past several years. Soy, almond, coconut, cashew, hemp—the list is long and still growing. WhiteWave Foods, which produces many of these products, is testing what it thinks may be the next big hit: banana milk! Research and development teams are test-marketing the Sir Bananas brand in a few states to see if the blend of 2% milk plus bananas (available in regular and chocolate) will fly off shelves.

Cornell University plant breeder Michael Mazourek, with input from chef-author Dan Barber, has created the Honeynut squash, a scaled-down butternut hybrid you may see soon on menus and at the farmers’ market. About half the size of its big brother, this “Mini Me” hybrid (not genetically modified) is said to be so sweet that there’s no need to boost the flavor with maple syrup or brown sugar, as many cooks do with other squash. Cute and tasty, the Honeynut delivers about double the beta carotene of its sibling. Look for the 898 squash next: A cross between the butternut and the buttercup, this 4-inch wonder fits in the palm of your hand!

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Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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