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'Our children are in trouble, because we've outsourced the job of feeding them'

According to experts, in order to live well and stay healthy we are to have five portions of fruits or veggies each day; as well as plenty of things like bread, potatoes, rice or noodles as well as about half that amount of dairy products such as milk, yogurt or soymilk, and smaller portions of meat, chicken, turkey or fish and other protein-rich foods; and above all, a much smaller amount of the foods that are exceedingly high in fat and sugar.

Five portions of fruits or veggies each day; plenty of potatoes, bread, rice, and other starchy foods; some soymilk or milk, and other calcium-rich products; some meat, fish, eggs, or other protein; and only a small amount of foods high in fat and sugar.
U K Dept. of Health / Wikimedia Commons

The challenge then, is to be able to prepare three meals and some energy snacks, when both parents now must work outside the home and who have schedules that are difficult to coordinate for family meals. It's easy to appreciate how convenient it is for time-constrained families to rely upon "fast food."

The internet has now provided interesting options for families to adapt to this challenge in a unique way -- and to keep the costs no greater than that fast-food option, and sometimes less. There is now a video course that is free-of-charge and sponsored by Standord University in California and the long-distance learning professionals at Coursera, at the "massive open online course" (also known as a MOOC. This particular course can be taken at any time. It is 5 hours in length, and is divided into brief video modules, like YouTube videos -- or other kinds of free, long-distance learning options like The Kahn Academy or TED Talks -- which can be self-paced for each individual, and are available for access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while the course is in session (and some that may be available on a more permanent basis).

This course is being given by Maya Adam, M.D. from the Stanford School of Medicine, who is also a Mom and an expert presenter. The course is entitled: "Why Home Cooking Matters:"

"About this Course

Eating patterns that begin in childhood affect health and well-being across the lifespan. The culture of eating has changed significantly in recent decades, especially in parts of the world where processed foods dominate our dietary intake. This course examines contemporary child nutrition and the impact of the individual decisions made by each family. The health risks associated with obesity in childhood are also discussed. Participants will learn what constitutes a healthy diet for children and adults and how to prepare simple, delicious foods aimed at inspiring a lifelong celebration of easy home-cooked meals. This course will help prepare participants to be the leading health providers, teachers and parents of the present and future.The text and other material in this course may include the opinion of the specific instructor and are not statements of advice, endorsement, opinion, or information of Stanford University."

In the first of 5 modules, "Child Nutrition and Cooking" brings you up-to-speed in discovering how to bring a higher level of nourishment to the table, and enjoy the time you spend with your family. This section explains what you can do to protect your household and explores the six ingredients that are basic for everyone to have on hand, in the kitchen.

The second section explores the nature of a well-balanced meal and how it possible to have a satisfying meal and still maintain the balance of nutrition, the balance in calories, and the balance of satisfaction.

In the third section you will see how to "navigate" the supermarket and learn how to shop for, and serve.both steamed, stir-fried or delicious roasted vegetables and how to prepare fresh fruits and why this is such an important aspect of nutrition -- even for a packed lunch or a healthy treat -- so that the entire family can explore the good taste as well as the health benefits of these kinds of choices, when they also see the difference in how much better they can feel.

The fourth section, "Sustainable Eating," you will learn about the differences between foods that are "organically grown" and then experience for yourself, the difference between foods that are grown locally and those that are shipped from far away.

Finally, in the last section, you will learn how to read a nutrition label and what are the important things to look for on that label -- particularly the amount of calories and the proportion of calories derived from fat, and keeping track of the number of calories and fiber and sodium and carbohydrates, for each individual serving, should you decide to help yourself to more than one, on occasion. Our food and beverages are the fuels that provide our energy for healthy bodies -- to use or to store, depending on how active you are.