Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food for Thought & Baking for Good

Do you remember bake sales? As a child, I remember them being a highlight of elementary school. Not only was it exciting to buy a homemade treat, but it was thrilling to be on the other side of the table and spend an afternoon baking cupcakes with my mom. As a teacher, I was always a big fan of them. Not only do they encourage wonderful moments at home (learning to cook! A fun activity with family members!) but they teach a lot of great lessons to kids - counting money, buying and selling, donating to charity, and fundraising.

But with the recent onset of promoting healthy eating, which in general I am a huge supporter of, something has gone seriously awry with bake sales in New York City schools. School districts have allowed only certain items to be sold at "bake" sales, but the logic is off. Since homemade foods don't have exact calorie counts, they can't adhere to school rules on what can be sold. So homemade oatmeal cookies are out, and packaged foods, like Doritos, are in. Total catastrophe, right?!

Kim Severson recently reported on this issue - read the article here - and the writers in the Diner's Journal blog from the New York Times (which has recently gotten so fabulous, by the way) got together to encourage people to submit recipes of what they'd bake in a bake sale. What would I bake? Hmm... I'm absolutely obsessed with these cocoa brownies. Oh and I also loved these chocolate yogurt cakes. And these oatmeal spice cookies. And these easy chocolate chip cookies... I could go on and on.

There is another thing, however, that you can do if you love bake sales, that doesn't involve baking or protesting at City Hall. The girls over at Big Girls, Small Kitchen, are part of a Virtual Bake Sale, and are raising money for the Valerie Fund. By going to the Baking For Good website, you can purchase some yummy Peanut M&M Blondies, made by Cara and Phoebe, and the proceeds will be donated to the Valerie Fund, a New York-based charity that raises money for children with cancer and blood disorders. Click here to read more about it and to buy some of those mouthwatering blondies... it is the perfect dessert to have for a Mother's Day brunch or a picnic this weekend or (if you're like me) just to have around the house. And what a great way to hark back to the wonders of the bake sale!

One of the things I believe in most is that eating healthy means eating real food. Desserts shouldn't come from a package - if you are going to treat yourself, treat yourself right and eat something homemade. You'll know what went into it (real butter, no preservatives, etc.) and enjoy it more. Bake sales (Virtual or in elementary school hallways) should encourage this and not shy away from it. Of course, we can't be eating brownies every day, but a treat that comes with life lessons for kids or a donation to a good cause is always welcome in my book.

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