Spring

I am not a fan of Spring-Forward Sunday. For one thing, I’m pretty much a lazy person and when we’re off Daylight Saving Time and it starts to get dark at 5 or 6 at night, it’s quite easy to put the ol’ pajamas on and call it a day — literally — by 8 p.m. But in Daylight Saving Time, you’re sort of compelled to keep going until 10 p.m. or so. I mean, isn’t that why Daylight Saving Time was invented — so we’d have more time to do work? Whose bright idea was that???!!! And when I was a young mom, I dreaded the spring-forward time change that wreaked havoc with those lovely early bedtimes. However, now that I’m Grandma Ka-kee and treasure every moment I can spend with my almost-2-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, I say the more daylight, the better. That just gives me more playtime to hang out with the Captain in his backyard and his ultra-cool new playground equipment his mom and dad got him for an early birthday present. It’s got slides and a climbing wall and a fun underneath space for hiding. Plus, it offers the chance for scientific exploration, such as “Why has rainwater gathered in this little hole and I wonder what would happen if I put my finger in it?” And when it’s spring and nice weather, you can also have your  snack of yogurt-covered blueberries outside — definitely worth giving up an hour or two of sleep!

Food

Seems as if spring brings out new products and new versions of old favorites — and of course anything that screams “junk food made into something totally healthy and environmentally conscious” gets my attention. Such as the new Chocolate Cheerios. Did you get a sample this past weekend with your Sunday newspaper? We did, and along with most of America as soon as I started munching on my handful of chocolately goodness, I was hooked. What’s not to like? You can feel good about your Cheerios warm-and-fuzzy nutrition plus you get the thrill of feeling as if you’re sneaking in more than your alloted one small square of chocolate a day. I love cereal that doubles as a snack — maybe I love it too much. (Reese’s Puffs, I’m talking to you). And if you add milk to your morning bowl, you get the added bonus of chocolate milk. Score! Chocolate Cheerios for the win. I wasn’t as impressed with Multi-Grain Pringles, but maybe that’s because I’m not a fan of Pringles in general. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for fake and processed anything as long as it tastes good — I’m willing to down a few empty calories in return for satisfying deliciousness — but Pringles doesn’t deliver in the yum category enough to offset the fat and zero nutritionals. I thought the new Multi-Grain version might improve my opinion, but, no. The nutrition stats aren’t any better and the taste is cross somewhere between rice crackers and Wheat Thins — and not in a good way — with that heavy greasy Pringles after-flavor thrown in. I’ll pass, thank you very much. And speaking of good-for-you-and-the-earth junk food, we also gave Sun Chips’ new compostable bag a try. The verdict? Well, I can only take FritoLay’s word for the breaks-down-in-14-weeks claim, but if it’s true, that’s a good thing and I say we need more of that, please. I’m always sort of skeptical about Sun Chips since the nutritional stats aren’t any better — and in some cases, worse — than regular potato chips but the ads sort of make them appear all healthy and natural. And I’m glad that one plant in which Sun Chips are made is solar-powered but there’s still all the energy used in distribution and transportation so what about all that, huh, FritoLay??? On the other hand, the new bag does make a fun crinkly sound and as long as Steps Are Being Made in the Right Direction, who am I to argue?

Speaking about new stuff, I had to get a new cell phone recently. And if your cell phone is an extension of your personality and a reflection of who you are, then I am in deep trouble. Read more about it in my weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100312/ARTICLES/3125006

Food

Has anyone else noticed that Starbucks now is selling all sorts of individually packaged not-so-bad-for-you snacks? Most Starbucks have a display of these right up front as soon as you walk in the door. You’ll find such health-food-store classics as Annie’s Snacks White Cheddar Bunnies and Snack Mix, FoodShouldTasteGood chips and allergen-free Lucy’s Cookies, among others. There also are several fruit items aimed at the kids, gluten- and wheat-free granola bars and — my favorite — Sahale Snacks nuts and nut mixes. This is what a trip to Starbucks has been missing, seems to me. Previously, if you wanted something to munch on along with your coffee, your choices were limited to something out of the pastry case — or a trip to the nearest convenience store. And while I’m a huge fan of Starbucks’ Lowfat Raspberry Sunshine Muffins and Chocolate Mini Sparkle Doughnuts, I do know that indulging every time I order a grande non-fat dry cappuccinno isn’t a good idea. I imagine these are a boon for parents with youngsters in tow, although probably they’ve probably gotten smart by now and just use the drive-in window. Anyway, I’m always a fan of crunchy and salty packaged goodness, so I hope these stick around.

Healthy Eating

Better nutritionAs much as we try to eat healthfully and buy organic and nutritious Better Nutritionfood, it can get expensive. That’s why I was happy to see an article titled “Eat Well, Eat Cheap” in the March issue of Better Nutrition magazine — a freebie publication that’s probably in your local health-food store. I’m usually cynically suspicious about this magazine — Will the SuperEnergy Natural Organic Green X48  multi-vitamins really help me lose weight, sleep all night and beat every disease that comes my way? — but this article actually was objectively helpful. It’s not on the Web site, http://www.betternutrition.com/ yet (the site’s getting a makeover and will be updated early this spring, so the cover image here is March 2008 instead of the newest magazine that’s out right now), so grab a copy of the March issue if you find it. And what are some healthy and nutritious foods you can include in an even stretched-to-the-limit food budget? Author Lisa Turner details 15, such as eggs, cabbage, sweet potatoes, sardines, canned tomatoes and oats. This issue also has a great recipe for a St. Patrick’s Day potato appetizer that even people who turn up their noses at “health food” will gobble up: Top roasted red-potato slices with a feta-olive oil-fresh basil mixture and garnish with a parsley leaf. Yummy and green!

Bottled Water

dasani_strawberry2Am I the only person who cannot find Dasani flavored water in the non-lemon flavors anywhere lg_dasani_grape1anymore? All I can find anywhere — and I mean anywhere, any place, any time — are the plain and the lemon flavors. Not good. The grape, strawberry and raspberry Dasani flavors are favorites in my house. I know, I know. It’s all really local tap water. And plastic bottles are clogging up the earth. But my husband and I drink more water when we chug the Dasani — plain tap water tastes like blood to me ever since I had oral surgery and I only use the powdered flavor mixes as emergency backup because I’m not wild about them either — and we religiously recycle the bottles. So that makes us feel a little better.

But apparently I’m out of luck. My husband and I occasionally stumble across a rogue single bottle at a stop-and-rob but no local groceries have the six packs I buy four or five at a time. What’s the deal? Am I just constantly showing up behind other Dasani fans who beat me to it? Is there some sort of sinister Dasani shortage going on? Or am I imagining the whole thing? I abhor the taste of Nestle water, I’m suspicious that Propel has more than 25 calories a bottle and I don’t like water that tells me what to do: “Revive” “Energize.” “Focus.” Forget it. I like my water to remain quiet, thank you very much. That leaves me with Aquafina, which is only so-so.

Dasani, what’s up? Can you give us some strawberry love down here in Alabama? That would be very nice.