Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bringing the JOY Back to the Kitchen - Giveaway extended to March 2nd!

Chef Hollie Greene wrote such a wonderful blog post yesterday about her Joyful12™ giveaway and about how all we got connected a few months ago.  I just had to share it with you all! 

Click here to hop on over and read her post! Check out her incredible site and learn about how YOU can win a lifetime membership into her amazing Joyful12™ learning lab community! 

Our giveaway is now extended to March 2nd!
Here's how to enter:
1. Follow @52tries on twitter (Not on twitter? Well make it your new #52tries!!!! HA! I use Twitter more than anything else nowadays to get my information. It's better than the rest, really.)
2. Tweet: "@Joyfoodly inspires me to _____ (fill in the blank). @52tries #giveaway #joyful12

Hollie is indeed a kindred spirit and a friend that I surely hope to meet someday! OH would we have fun cooking together!!

Cheers to keeping it "real" together in the kitchen!!!! 

Thank you so much Hollie - It's so much FUN spreading the food love with you and Tiffany over at 52tries:) I think you'll really enjoy hearing how much of a impact you are having on team Shifdog in my diary post tomorrow.

Tweet Tweet!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

District 76 + Preferred Meals = Food Transparency for all!

Hello Dr Joe, Colette, Kathleen and Dwayne,

I wanted to reach out and say how thankful I am to have met with you all Friday morning at West Oak to discuss increased food transparency, added sugar and your innovative allergy systems menu. It was truly lovely to meet, shed our computer terminals and talk face to face. There is no doubt we are all working in the same direction.

I am thrilled to know that our district families will have full ingredient transparency in 30 days and that you’ll be following up with us on the challenge of including added sugar content information. I am also excited for our school board to continue the conversation regarding the allergy systems menu and am hopeful that these cleaner, more organic options might be accessible to our families in the future.

There is such frustration over food. I could feel it from us all. Questions and debates swirl around what we should eat, what we shouldn’t… conflicting messages everywhere we look… Thank you for sitting at the same table with such optimism and shared concern. What has become clearer than ever is the need for more real food over fake food ingredients, less sugar and food education for all. I am so inspired to hear that Preferred Meals is doing everything possible to remove these controversial ingredients from your school food menu. I believe that not only will these changes positively affect the children in this district who rely on us for 2/3 meals a day, but in the long term, these changes will position your company as a food service provider who can deliver more nutrient dense, real food to school districts across the country. A transition every school food company should be focusing on in order to meet the evolving consumer demand for cleaner, more nutrient dense food. 

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the hidden MSGpartially hydrogenated oils and other artificial additives that are still lurking in some of the ingredient lists. I can only imagine the challenges you face in phasing these ingredients out. This important work should be applauded, supported and celebrated at every level.

Thank you again!  Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to continuing our conversation!

Lindsey Shifley
JOFR Super Ambassador


The challenge Preferred Meals faces with required calorie amounts (fat is regulated and sugar is not) could be changing! I am hopeful the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recommendations may lead to some regulatory changes that will allow food companies more flexibility and send the sugar packing - This just in:

And of course, I couldn’t resist this little ditty:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Joyful12™ + 52tries

Do you believe in serendipity

I sure do. 

When this mysterious phenomenon rings my bell, it's like getting zoomed ahead.

The Joyful12™ project landed in my kitchen like a gift from above this past week. My family table has been struggling lately and I feel like it swooped in (just in time) to keep my family table growing and evolving in the direction I want. 


I will tell you all about it in my full 52tries | & Company diary post coming up tomorrow. In the meantime, I want to introduce you to my family table’s new fairy godmother. I’m goobers for Joyfoodly® and her Joyful12™. It has me swinging to the mullies again. 

Who is JoyFoodly®? 

Chef Hollie Greene is a classically trained chef from New York City's French Culinary Institute. She has taught over 2,000 children in New York and California through her work with non-profit programs such as Rachel Ray’s Yum-O!, Mayor Bloomberg and Mary J. Blige. She is a Professional Expert for the State of California’s Healthy CA Kids Initiative and has worked as an Education Director for The Sylvia Center and Chef in Residence at NYC School through Wellness in the Schools to improve School Food. 

What is the Joyful12™?

It’s Chef Hollie’s uniquely fun "year long online crash course to eating in season” designed for busy parents and individuals looking to get more fruits and veggies into their family's diet. Her learning lab is full of engaging videos that invite the young and old to chop, cook and try new foods. Members gain access to a vibrant community forum to ask questions and share experiences as they evolve and gain a better understanding about seasonal cooking and eating. Click here to watch more!

Who is the Joyful12™ designed for?

Everyone! Parents, guardians, grandparents or any family member who is interested in learning and teaching children how to cook and how to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables “as part of a joyful, balanced lifestyle”. Recipes and meal planning suggestions are created for both adults and kids in mind. Chef Hollie does not believe in “kid food”! Check out these easy to read, down to earth E-letters: Radishes + Rhubarb | Peas + Avocado

Does the Joyful12™ include special diets?

You will find extensive dairy free, nut free, egg free and vegan recipes. Also, all recipes are tested to be gluten free. 

Does the Joyful12™ extend out of the home and into the school classroom?

Heck yea! The Joyful12™ School Project is the charitable, 501(c)3 arm project of JoyFoodly®. The crowdfunding campaign runs through February 26th for their first pilot, and after that, the project will raise funds via grants and foundations. The Joyful12™ School Project is sponsored by the Social Good Fun, 501(c)3 which aims to improve the health of children by providing cooking education to every parent, teacher and child in school communities through a lifetime membership to the Joyful 12™. Basic cooking skills are taught first focusing on vegetables and fruit. You can learn more about this incredible program here:

Beam me up Scottie!

AND!!! Chef Hollie is partnering with us on to giveaway two LIFETIME memberships to her Joyful 12™ program (worth $48 each!) - For a chance to win, follow us on twitter - @52tries - then check out this Saturday’s post for full entry details and info!! 

To the Mullies we go...


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Making the Case for School Food Transparency

My printer is tired.

I am prepping for Friday's #schoolfood brainstorming meeting with Preferred Meals and District 76. 

Please leave comments below if you have any concerns or ideas you would like me to bring along to the meeting! 

In addition to driving positive change, I hope this evolving story is a source of inspiration and hope for other parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators and any individuals who are interested in improving school food education and school food transparency. Our teachers and schools need our help in reaching our kids. I'm sick of hearing that it's the teacher or the school district's fault. I have a family FULL of teachers, not to mention a bus full of teacher friends. It's getting harder and harder to teach and reach students (for a variety of reasons... But I'm just sticking to food ed here). In our case with Abbie, it was not the teachers. It was her food. Instruction was not meeting her "needs" because of the food was not meeting her needs. I just didn't know. Once I cleaned it up for Abbie, her brain opened up. This mind blowing experience is what drives my passion. I am not keeping this information to myself. There are other kids out there whose brains could use a roto rooter too. 

This is not about food control, food judgment or food snobbery. This is about food transparency, food education, freedom of choice and the power of the consumer. Schools are the biggest restaurants in town and I think it's time we took a closer look at the ingredient lists to see if they are serving our children for increased academic success, not the other way around.

Let this article bring you up to speed: Connecting Attention and Nutrition

Food transparency = a win win for all: The kids win. The schools win. The companies win. 

Well, that is for the companies who change with the tides.

Food companies who are meeting the demands for cleaner, more organic food are being rewarded and those who are keeping up with the "status quo" of chemical companies who are being left in the dust.

Read about the food companies who keep the chemicals + fake food = real BIG profit losses (Robyn O'Brien)

I hope to discuss the following on Friday:

1. Fake food vs real food ingredients: D76 Preferred Meal Systems - Can we improve the quality of breakfast and lunch offerings within budget to increase sales?
2. Food transparency: Can the District provide full online ingredient list access to parents before June?
3. Can the "Allergy Systems Menu" be offered to all D76 families? At extra cost? How can we make this option accessible to all with or without a doctor's note.

4. When will added sugar amounts be provided to the D76? Is D76 responsible for calculating added sugar? How & when can we get this vital food education information on sugar to our parents and staff? We do have some more eating to do after school and most of us like to eat dessert from time to time.

The amount of added sugar is especially alarming in our school breakfasts. According to my quick math (on an OLD menu, albeit same items) PM breakfasts range from 27g of added sugar up to 46g of sugar. According to the Fed Up Challenge Sugar Facts, 4g of sugar = 1 tsp. The American Heart association recommends that children should not exceed 5-8 tsp's in a DAY (20-32g per day). So, we're already at a minimum of 6.5 tsp's of added sugar BEFORE they even have a snack or lunch at school. Got chocolate milk? That'll put you over the limit in one 8 oz box. What's a Mom and Dad to do at home!? That is one tough, restrictive menu to be handed in my kitchen.

Here is what I have come across in my search for information. More than you need I am sure, but the following is what District 148 offered online in 2011. This simple PDF format will be something I suggest our District can offer families from our District website. (It sounds like PMs website is still "under construction" for full ingredient food transparency.) In the meantime, let's take some pictures and upload them for anyone who would like to look into the school food ingredients.

District 148 - 2011 Preferred Meals spec sheet 1

District 148 - 2011 Preferred Meals Condiments

District 148 - 2011 Preferred Meals spec sheet fruit and veggies

Partially hydrogenated oil + high fructose corn syrup much? WOW - Major MEGA props to PM as these 2011 menu items have been reformulated and updated to meet the growing demand of parents and school districts for cleaner, more organic and local school food. 

Here is the most updated information I could find to access current PMs menus in our country. It took A LOT of searching. Nobody is granting much access to school food ingredient lists in America:

To find this, first you must cut and paste the following into a google search (it won't let me link it for you):

"preferred meals systems product specification sheet 2014"

Next, the following should come up 3rd in your list. Click to download:

"Elementary and Comm Ed Labels. pdf"
(July 14, 2014)

So what do our menus look like now? I don't know. I still haven't gotten my hands on anything and there is NOTHING current online. So crazy. I have requested that D76 provide me the ingredient lists on Friday. I am looking forward to bringing home a "packet."

I'm most concerned with PM's claim that artificial flavors and MSG have been taken out of the menu. An ingredient does not have to be labeled with "Monosodium Glutamate" (MSG) for it to be in the product. Check out this link for MSG's "spy names"Unfortunately, companies are still able to get away with MSG in products under different names. There are still a shocking amount of MSG "spy names" listed and I'll bring these to everyone's attention on Friday. I'm so happy to see the menu's progress over the past 5 years AND I think there is still room for some progress. Baby steps. High fives. And we can do better. As I do not have our D76 - 2015 menus in hand just yet, I am going to have to wait before I assume anything.

I am fighting for cleaner, less sugar laden, more nutrient dense school food for ALL of our students so that they can perform at their highest potential in the classroom. This should be our highest priority, our shared responsibility in our District's quest to support our families and teachers, to inspire higher learning and to raise our District's academic performance. 

Below is a comment I received from PM on my recent blot post. I am so excited to hear back from them and I'm thrilled to get the opportunity to sit and brainstorm alongside them and the District. 

I am so impressed by the menu changes I can see between 2011 and 2014 and they should be applauded!!!

I'm not sure who should be responsible for providing me with ingredient information and added sugar content (the vendors are not "required" to give that to PM? WHAT!?), but somebody It sounds like the District has had this information all along, which is highly aggravating as I/we asked for this information in several past Wellness Committee meetings. We were told that they would get the information from PM.  Shame on me for being complacent.

"Who's on first?"


Hello Lindsey,

Thank you for reaching out to us on your blog! We love and share your passion in providing healthy foods to kids. Our menu website is relatively new and we are still working on a way to tie in ingredients with specific products. Our menu system calculates nutrients as part of the planning process but ingredients are not part of the database yet. 

As for the nutrients that show, we do not include sugar because our vendors are not required to provide that information to us. Since some do provide it and some don’t, our calculation is inconsistent and we wouldn’t want to pass along incomplete information.

We do want parents to be able to view ingredients if desired and we provide updated product spec sheets to the district on a regular basis. Also, each case of product delivered to the schools is labeled with all ingredients. I’m sure if you visit the school they will be able to provide that information to you.

You will be pleased to know that we have eliminated from our products many of the ingredients that are likely a concern to you, such as MSG, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and fats, bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, palm/coconut and partially hydrogenated oils and more. In addition, by regulation, our menus are calorie, fat and sodium controlled by age group and contain 0 grams of trans fat. Since our menus are calorie controlled, we don’t add extra sugar and fat and always choose low fat, lean meats and cheese. Items are baked and not fried, all breads/ breadings /crusts are whole grain, juices / fruit cups have no added sugar or syrup and juice is always 100% juice.

Did you know school meals are very highly regulated? Check out the USDA’s website for more information:…/national-school-lunch-program-nslp

As for our Allergy Meal System, this is available to the district as an option and should be discussed with the school. Offering an alternate meal may require additional planning and preparation for school staff, resulting in higher cost and additional labor, so making this available to all students would be a district decision.

A representative from Preferred Meals is always available to attend a meeting with the district if you would like to discuss further.

Thank you!


BIG thanks in advance to all the individuals who weigh in at the comments section below. Regardless of your school district, your voices COUNT and together, we can make change... 

One school district at a time!

Fighting for food transparency + food ed,

Stay tuned,

JOFR Super Ambassador


Check out this fake food ingredient I just discovered from the lists: Cinnamaldehyde. Instead of adding real cinnamon, they add this "pesticide" to give applesauce and other foods a cinnamon essence. GROSS.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In search of the food truth with the food babe

it's valentine's day.

i can't think of a better day to recap my first #52tries that started 2.5 years ago.

it's a love story about family, food truth and connecting to one of my favorite food activists, the food babe.

thank you vani. thank you for helping me turn this swagger van around.

i love love your new book.

happy valentine's day!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

where are school food ingredient lists?

i honestly would LOVE to let my kids have school food. it would be so lovely if i knew what exactly was IN the food so that i could trust that my kids (especially miss gut-brain sensitive abbie) weren't overloading on fake food additives and added sugar.

currently our school food service, preferred meals provides basic nutritional information, excluding (what i consider the MOST IMPORTANT) added sugar content and ingredient lists online for parents and staff. in my digging to find information, i also discovered they offer an amazing "allergy meal system" for students with food sensitivities. of course, you need a doctor's note (why can't this menu be offered to all students even if at extra cost?) and i have no idea if our school district even offers it to families at all. i still haven't heard back. 

i am dumbfounded that our wellness committee was not informed of this option. 

here's the letter i sent off this morning to our district business manager. i haven't heard back from an email i sent off a week ago. i'm posting it here today in hopes that it may inspire another parent, staff or food revolutionary out there to ask the most basic food truth question: "what is in school food?" 

as a parent, i would sure like to gain access to that wonderful allergy menu. my kids just might like some of those options every once and awhile and i'd love to have the day off or two from making lunches every morning! 


Good Morning!

I hope all is well!  I have a few questions and thoughts for you regarding our school food provider. Is "Jane" still the contact at Preferred Meals?  You mentioned that there has been a change of personnel and I would like to get the ball rolling with getting our District families full menu ingredient disclosure plus added sugar content online. It is simply unacceptable that this information is not available to parents and staff.

In addition, is the special "Allergy Meal System" available to our student population?  If so, there needs to be information sent out to families regarding this amazing school food option. If not, we need to find out how to bring it into the food offerings. 

I am blown away by this menu option and am hoping it is something we can promote to the district. Also, I would also like to investigate the possibility of getting this option available at extra cost to parents who would like access to cleaner, more organic food.

Thank you!



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

3 months and counting to #foodrevolutionday 2015

20 years ago i walked the halls of my high school as a student athlete.

last friday, i went back to mundelein high school as a super food revolution ambassador to talk to to students and teachers about:  

the food change behind me
the family table of 52tries in front of me 
and the food revolution's food truths all around you + me

i'll never forget the day i dreamt of the real food waterfall spreading into my community while sitting in a parking lot (travel back to here!).

food revolution day 2015 is going to be a big one. 

i can feel it. the goosebumps are everywhere.

our global team is huge and strong and we're ready to rumble. 

it's time. 

beep beep.

to the mullies we go...