(CNN)"This is a song about the high school experience, sung through the eyes of the person who -- more than anyone else -- puts young people on the right path," said Adam Sandler in a 1994 Saturday Night Livesketch. "I'm not talking about the teachers. I'm not talking about the coaches. I'm not even talking about the guidance counselors. I'm talking about a person we call the lunch lady."
Beyond making us laugh -- and providing Chris Farley an opportunity to dance his aproned heart out -- it seems Sandler was on to something.
More than 30 million students eat school meals every day, and many of them rely on school foods for up to half of their daily calories.
"Therefore, school-based interventions that encourage the selection and consumption of healthier school food components can have important health implications, especially if they are sustainable and economically feasible," writes Juliana Cohen, the lead author of a studypublished Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
Crafting better M.E.A.L.S.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health teamed up with the non-profit anti-hunger organization Project Bread to create the Modifying Eating and Lifestyles at School (MEALS) study, a randomized clinical trial in two urban, low-income school districts.
Subjects consisted of more than 2,500 third- through eighth-grade students from 14 elementary and middle schools in Massachusetts.
The team set out to examine the short- and long-term effects of a professional chef and the effect of extended daily exposure to a choice architecture intervention on students' school food selection and consumption. "Choice architecture" is a term that is used to describe the different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision-making.
"Overall, we found that both collaborating with a chef to enhance the school meals and using choice architecture techniques provide benefits," write the study's authors. "However, improving food quality and palatability was a more effective long-term method to increase consumption of healthier school foods." See Full Article: http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/23/health/healthy-school-lunches/index.html
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What has 17x the calcium of milk, 4x the protein of eggs, 10x the Vitamin A of carrots, 15x the potassium of bananas, 7x the Vitamin C of oranges and 15x the iron of spinach? I'll give you a guess...actually, best I just tell you 'else we may be here all year ;-)
What is it?
Moringa oleifera, also called the "Miracle tree", is a tree that grows in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India AND (more significantly for us Aussies) in Northern Queensland. It is a multi purpose plant, whereby all parts of the Moringa plant - the gum, fruit, leaves, bark, root, seed and seed oil can be utilized.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Moringa is that it has such incredible health benefits over a wide-range of health issues. Throughout history Moringa has been used to treat diseases which range from cardiovascular and gastrointestinal to inflammation - Journal of Phytotherapy Research 2007.
Why is it good for you?
From what I gather, the possibilities are almost endless. However, here are the most commonly reported benefits:
1. Increased and longer lasting physical energy
2. Mental and emotional balance
3. Faster recovery post workout
4. Nutrient dense mothers milk - in cultures across Africa, Moringa is referred to as 'Mother's Best Friend' in that the iron, potassium, Vitamins A, B, C and E along with other important nutrients are readily absorbed from the Moringa and transferred from the mother's milk to the growing newborn.
5. Stabilizes blood sugar levels
In addition, benefits of Moringa also include increased flexibility, improved sensory perception, better sleep cycles, decreased depression and anxiety and improved memory. It has been used to assist those with diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Additionally, Moringa is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and works effectively on wounds or fungal skin complaints.
How do we eat it?
Moringa is most readily available in powder form. The reason why dried leaf powder is preferred over fresh leaves is that the nutrition is preserved (and concentrated), a single serve can contain up to ten times more specific nutrients in comparison to fresh moringa leaves. This soft fluffy powder has no side effects and is easy to store. Moringa has a nutty earthy taste which is quite strong and being water soluble can be added to soups, stews or smoothies. Peanut and lemon seem to work well with the flavour profile of Moringa.
If you can get your hands on fresh Moringa leaves, pods or seeds, they can be eaten in all sorts of ways; in salads, rice or quinoa dishes, steamed or even fried in a little coconut oil. Half a cup of cooked leaves will meet your day's needs for Vitamin A & C.
Do note that excess heat destroys some of the vitamins and all of the enzymes of Moringa leaves or Moringa Powder. Be sure not to cook the fresh Moringa leaves or powder for too long.
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