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food, nutrition, and health news



Nutrition & Health News, week of June 17

  • After recently banning chicken nuggets and soda, the city of Los Angeles became the first major school district to ban the sale of flavored milk to students. Flavored milks are notoriously high in added sugars (much of it is high fructose corn syrup) and other additives, like food dyes. While I  think this is an encouraging forward step in school lunch reform and preventing obesity, I worry that a) kids who drink flavored milk because they don’t like regular milk will be losing a major source of calcium in their diet and b) this could hurt schools that depend on funding that comes from the sales of popular food items, like flavored milk. [NPR]
  • The House passed the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill yesterday, which makes huge cuts across the board. Of course, food subsidies were left alone despite Democrat objections, securing the domination of corn and soy crops in our food system yet again. Particularly important are the proposed cuts to the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) nutrition program and food safety programs, two programs which desperately need more funding currently. The bill also proposes re-writing school lunch standards, which had been slated for a 6 cent increase as the result of a bill passed in December. Let’s see what the Senate does with it. [NPR]
  • The Environmental Working Group released a list of the “Dirty Dozen” – common foods shown to retain a high amount of pesticide residue. Apples, celery, and strawberries top the list. The best defense is to purchase organic versions of the foods on the risky list or, if buying conventionally grown produce, wash everything thoroughly before consuming. The group also released a “Clean 15” list of foods lowest in pesticide residue. Use common sense – most of the foods deemed less risky are ones you peel before eating. [EWG]
  • You’ve probably heard of the iPhone apps that allow you to take a picture of your meal and calculate the number of calories in it (an estimate, at least) which operate through a combination of complicated algorithms, a large database of foods, and apparently, people. Said people are paid 2-5 cents per picture identified in apps like MealSnap and Foodish. [WSJ]
  • Rumor has it that Ben & Jerry’s will be releasing a new ice cream flavor, “Schweddy Balls,” inspired by a classic SNL skit with Alec Baldwin, Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon. If you aren’t familiar with the skit, go watch. I’m not sure that’s a flavor I want to eat…[Gothamist]
  • Sweet bakery, home of my favorite cupcakes in Boston, opens its fourth location today at 11 School Street (Downtown Crossing) in Boston. Right near my office – this could be dangerous! [Sweet]

Happy Friday!

The Weekend in Pictures: NYC

Brunch at Essex – for $16 (for a Saturday brunch in NYC, that’s cheap!), you get a tasty meal from a varied menu (pictured: omelet with spinach, feta, tomato, and chive; mixed greens and home fries) and 3 drinks, which are seemingly unlimited (pitchers of mimosas? YES.). Make reservations ~3 weeks in advance. 120 Essex St, NY, NY 10002

read on…

Cupcake Tour of Boston: Part 1

In an effort to woo a visiting friend from NYC – the cupcake capitol – into choosing Boston for grad school, I suggested a cupcake tour of Boston. We started out strong at Davis Square’s Kickass Cupcakes, and headed towards Boston’s Sweet with a little stroll down Newbury St. in between. Well, that’s as far as we made it – walking + excessive amounts of sugar = impending sugar crash!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the gorgeous cupcakes heaped with frosting. But, man, they were pretty – and looked almost too good to eat. Um, almost.

At Kickass, I chose the limited edition champagne bubbly cupcake – a vanilla cupcake with pink champagne frosting and a strawberry in the middle. The cupcake didn’t come with a description, and the flavors were somewhat hard to identify at first – it clicked when I was pleasantly surprised by a champagne-soaked strawberry hiding under 2 inches of frosting. I wouldn’t say the frosting tasted like champagne – but it was delicious, so I’m not complaining. My fellow cupcaketeurs chose a Mojito cupcake (rum-soaked cupcake with lime frosting) and…something else that obviously wasn’t very memorable. The mojito cupcake was a little too much…mojito for my taste.


Our next stop, Sweet, is a sparse shop on Mass. Ave – it’s only adornments were their signature pink and brown scroll wallpaper, and rows upon rows of delicate mini and full-size cupcakes in classic flavors. I appreciated Sweet’s devotion to the more traditional flavor combos – chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot with cream cheese frosting – because sometimes, I don’t want a really crazy-flavored kickass cupcake. I want a perfect carrot cupcake (sans nuts! hallelujah!) with a glorious dollop of silky cream cheese frosting. Which is exactly what I got.

For now, I would pick Sweet over Kickass – although I recommend both. But, who knows – Boston’s best cupcake could still be out there waiting for me! Looks like I have more research to do.

Kickass Cupcakes
378 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA
(check out “The Adventures of a Kickass Cupcake” on their website!)

49 Mass. Ave., Boston, MA

I do love cupcakes

For all you New Yorkers and cupcake-lovers:

A map of NYC’s best cupcakes at Gridskipper.

Recipe: Brownie Cupcakes with PB Frosting

Yesterday was A’s birthday and instead of making a typical birthday cake, I made birthday cupcakes because, well, who doesn’t like cupcakes? I made Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting and they were oh so good!

I used brownie mix for the cupcakes, because I had already been baking all day and was feeling lazy. If you’re going to go mix, I recommend using the Ghiardelli Double Chocolate mix, as it’s far superior to Betty Crocker.

let me have the recipe already!

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