Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eat Healthy: New source for nutrition info and options

Hola, Jenn-folk! Melissa here. Jenn recently got a tip to check out the site below. Because it's a parent-oriented site, and, um, because I am one, she asked me to take a stab at reviewing it. Here goes!

Before I go too far here, I suppose I should admit that I am presently eating candy corn. And that my kids like a Happy Meal (and dislike most vegetables) as much as the next kid. But like any other parent, I aspire for my kids to be healthy and to learn how to keep themselves that way by making good dietary choices, at least most of the time. I also like to be in the loop on what ingredients and foods are considered -- by groups whose opinions I respect -- to be safe for consumption.

The nonprofit organization
Healthy Child, Healthy World is looking out for kids, too, and to that end, it recently debuted a new section on its website called Eat Healthy. And it's jammed with information to help parents make informed food choices -- and tasty meals, too.

The Eat Healthy site's mission (in its own words):

"In a world of processed foods and lean budgets, it can be difficult to make the right choices when it comes to food. Healthy Child wants to make sure that families see the importance of organic foods, non-GMO, and nutritionally balanced eating while encouraging healthy habits."

This site is so packed with information and links that I can barely scratch the surface, but here are some of the key features:

  • Interesting recipes: A sampling from the periodically-updated top level page includes Crispy Baked Taquitos with Black Bean Filling, Asian Style Shrimp Pilaf and Confetti Meatloaf. More are available by clicking on Eat Healthy's "Recipes" link.
  • A sidebar linking questions along the lines of "What is bisphenol-A?" or "I think I have toxic mold in my house. What can I do?" to answers.
  • Links (in the site's "Resources & Advocacy" section) to organizations like Center for Science in the Public Interest, Allergy Kids (raising awareness of food allergies affecting children) and Local Harvest (a site that allows users to track down fresh, locally grown produce anywhere in the country), to name a few.
  • Practical tips-and-tricks articles such as "Low Cost Ideas for Eating Organic," "20 Creative Ideas for Healthy School Lunches," and "How to Eat Healthy When You're On the Go."
  • Guides to what fish are safe to eat, what produce to buy organic, etc.
  • Links to bios on and articles by a handful of "Healthy Eating Experts" who help shape the site's content.

My neighbor Julie, who in her pre-mom incarnation was a science writer, and an avid reader of books such as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," (both of which are incidentally mentioned as resources on Eat Healthy) was initially a bit turned off by the ad-heaviness of the site. But on further reading, she was happy to see the site's solid connections (via the broader Healthy Child, Healthy World page) to respected organizations like Environmental Working Group, as well as some of the practical "what to avoid" and "how to do this" kinds of lists.

For my part, I had two nits to pick. As I said, there are scads of information here, so it would be easy for readers to get a little overwhelmed (or possibly lost in linkland) unless they took it slowly. And I felt like the "Healthy Eating Experts" section was kind of like a bibliography -- something you maybe have to do to fulfill an obligation, but not the most scintillating use of online space.

On the whole, though, I'm handing out
to Eat Healthy for giving those of us with grand and green nutritional aspirations for our kids the building blocks to make them a reality. (Whew...did I just split something there or what? But you know what I mean!)

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