In a world where the food industry is so corrupted that shunning traditional meals altogether may be the next big diet trend, many public figures are stepping forth in support of food policy reform. Among the most notable is news anchor and mom Katie Couric, who recently co-produced Fed Up, a documentary that explores the issue of childhood obesity.
The film follows the daily lives of four overweight teens as they struggle to improve their health. Fed Up seeks to do for America’s food industry what An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change, except in this case there’s a more straightforward remedy: First, compel manufacturers to eliminate added sugar from processed foods. Second, buy organic foods and cook them yourself.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Couric states that, in her opinion, the responsibility for educating people on the obesity epidemic lies “at the top, with an examination of how we are marketing to our kids. Maybe we should consider not having the USDA promote American agriculture and come up with our dietary guidelines, because it is such an inherent conflict of interest. I think there are things we can do at the highest level of government; there are also things we can do at a local level when it comes to our food and what our kids are being served every day in our school cafeterias. When you’re sitting at the kitchen table, have a conversation about what you’re eating, what we are buying and cooking.”
She continues, “…I think that one of the ways that manufactures get us to buy ‘convenient’ foods is by making us think it is too inconvenient to buy whole foods, or to put a little effort into what you are eating. I think we have been brainwashed to believe that. This is the first generation that will live a shorter life span. That’s an unconscionable legacy we are leaving to our children. We need to make some changes to our own lives, but also try to demand changes on a much bigger level.”
Especially when it comes to serving your kids dessert, trusting a store-bought option is just asking for trouble in the form of synthetic chemicals and sugars. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re going to deprive our kiddos of one of life’s greatest joys for the sake of keeping them in shape. That’s what outdoor games are for.
Instead, bake your brood a sweet made with love, not high-fructose corn syrup. The following recipe—adapted from Couric’s family’s homemade lemon square recipe—is just thing thing. With lemon season in full swing, you can whip this tangy dessert up from fruits straight from the farmer’s market. And remember, everything in moderation!
Katie Couric’s Lemon Squares
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons whole-wheat or almond flour, divided
A pinch of salt
1 cup room-temperature butter, sliced into 8 pieces
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated rind of one lemon
1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.
2. In a food processor, blend confectioners’ sugar, 2 cups flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Press into pan and bake for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, beat eggs, 2 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons flour and lemon juice until well combined. Stir in lemon rind. Pour on top of hot crust and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Cool completely, then sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into squares.