Tell Me What To Eat–How to get skinny before the Holidays!

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Hey friends!  Back at it again and wanted to address something I get asked all time, “Will you just tell me what to eat?”  I usually follow this with a similar reply, such as this, “Sure, you can eat whatever your heart desires but cut your portions in half.”  Easier said than done, right?  And you probably want to hurt me for that comment, so here are the specifics.  I would like to start a mini-series here and just show you super-duper-simple ideas for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner ideas.  These are realistic meal and snack ideas that I use every day in my busy, hectic life (like everyone else) and so can you!  Now, I will take your hand and show you just how simple eating healthy and how super simple it really can be for you!  This is just what you needed right before the holidays, right?  And remember take the ideas/suggestions you like and maybe you will find more examples I give in the upcoming weeks. 

BREAKFAST

Check out this post about the products I like to use Getting Real About Breakfast.  Super simple as I microwave two eggs on HIGH for two minutes.  Add a sprinkle of  shredded cheese and pop back in the microwave for 12 seconds.  Toast a hearty slice of bread and add a spat of real butter, ahh, now this a breakfast of champions, eh?

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If you don’t want to try the sprouted bread, I also like Sara Lee 100% whole wheat with only 1 gram of sugar per serving.  Check out your bread you are buying, how much sugar per serving?  Yikes!

Oh yeah, and I always have a plain latte – just one cup of milk and espresso!  Or if you want skip the coffee/espresso and just have a glass of milk!

I am finally able to nix my sugar in my coffee and boy do I feel like I conquered the world.  My trick to kicking the sugar in coffee is buying really good coffee, like Starbucks, Caribou and Panera Bread ground coffees – my favs!  I also bought an aero press which is the the second trick into making absolutely wonderful coffee/lattes.  Honestly, the aeropress is my best kitchen investment ever! I will have to show you how I make lattes.

 

A.M. SNACK –Anytime in the morning.

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Psss . . . for starters go ahead and have a whole apple . . .maybe if weight loss is stagnant then go for just a half apple.

 

LUNCH

This is my super-quick lunch that I just adore! Find more info at How To Make The Perfect To-Go Lunch.

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Just one chicken sausage link for lunch and don’t forget to ADD eight crackers or chips to this lunchI really like Hint of Salt Triscuits.

Remember this easy template?  Try this for variety if you do no like the suggested items I have shown above.

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P.M. SNACK!  I always crave something a little sweet in the afternoon, like chocolate,eh?  So here is a great way to satisfy your afternoon sweet-tooth.  You may pair this item up with a glass of milk or if you need a little pick-me-up like myself in the afternoon, I sometimes make another latte with just milk and espresso.   Remember it is all about training your taste buds to like flavors without added sugar. Plus, it is even easier to nix the sugar habit when you pair it up with something a little sweet. 

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Remember when looking for a snack protein bar shoot for less than 220 calories, less than 8 grams of  added sugar and at least 4 grams of protein.   My other favorite bars are Chocolate Peanut Butter Quest Bar and Snickerdoodle or Carrot Cake Lara bar – OMG!  These are all amazing!

 

DINNER

Try this super simple, yet comforting and heart-warming Skinny Chili.  I think chili is one of the best meals this time of year and it even tastes good days after.  Love chili leftovers! 

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Try my recipe by cutting down the fat and calories with chopped mushrooms! Remember this trick?  You really don’t even taste the mushrooms and this is an awesome way to get extra veggies into any dish! 2013-10-09

If you don’t want to do this, not a problem – sometimes I just cut the amount of ground meat down to half or even a third!    One serving is 1 1/2 cups!  I always add a handful of oyster crackers because it would not be chili without them, right?  And don’t forget to open up your fresh-cut vegetable tray and dig in!  And one tablespoon of Ranch dressing is fine to dip!  Check out where I got found my container Getting Organized – My favorite food storage containers.

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And for bedtime, please hold off on the eating and try get your mind off of food.  Relax a bit, read a book, watch your favorite T.V. shows or one of my favorites, surf some pinterest! Try to stick to eating your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed.   I like sip on some herbal tea while I enjoy some night time quiet time, oh wait . . . not sure if that actually happens at my house, ha!

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Oh, and how could I forget the recommendation to water, water and more water throughout this meal plan. Make your own water station at your work or at home.  This just means to have a set spot where you keep your water bottle so you know where to go!

Here is a great overview!  *TIP – save pic to phone so you will remember what to buy when you are grocery shopping! 

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So, I hope you enjoyed the first post of “Tell Me What To Eat” series and come back for more! This is all about finding simple solutions that don’t break the budget and focusing on real food that taste awesome, yet good-for-you!  Cheers! 

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How to Get your Kids to Eat Better! Realistic tips for picky-eaters and more!

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I never would have thought that one of the toughest jobs of being a parent is to get your kids to eat healthy foods.  This is a tiring, never-ending battle I deal with every day and some days are fabulous and other days I feel like a failure of a dietitian/mom, ugh.  But I am true believer in the balancing act of healthy eating given the 80/20 rule or whatever it may be . . . there is no such thing as perfect eating, especially when it comes to kids, eh? But as a parent it is our job, our duty, our will to do our best at promoting healthy foods to our kids.  I have found through this rollercoaster ride of teaching my kids to eat better, I believe there are definitely some standards that parents should strongly support and here I go . . .

 

BE A ROLE MODEL

If you expose healthy options at home regularly then the child will be familiar with those foods and won’t see it as an option.  If you buy mostly processed food, aka not-good-for-you-foods, then the child will more likely eat the junk food, and same goes with if you mostly buy healthy foods, then the kids will more likely eat the healthy options.  Remember this rule totally leaves room for all “junk food” in moderation.  Being a role model also supports portraying balanced eating and that totally means going out for an ice cream once in awhile or having a brownie for dessert.  Just keep the good-for-you-foods as the main act on the stage for most of the day.

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GET CREATIVE WITH FOOD

Make a pretty plate or let your kids make a pretty plate and that sometimes means, letting them play with their food.  Offer a variety of colorful foods, including a good amount of fruits and vegetables on the plate! And for the little ones, a  little creativity can do wonders – try using cookie cutter shapes for fruits, vegetables, quesadillas or even sandwiches.

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Pancake Pops                                                                 Homemade Popsicles for the Kids

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Spider Web Pancakes                                                          Pizza Cracker Bites

GET CREATIVE BY ROLE PLAYING

I have found a little role playing with food may be the trick to tackle especially for those hard to handle vegetable dilemmas.  This tactic may not be something you want to try on your teenager but I find it work wonders for my kiddos, especially my youngest children: my 4-year-old and 2-year-old.   Make the food talk or make your carrots a racing plane that needs to enter the landing gate (kid’s mouth).    If I make a fool of myself then my kids pretty much guarantee me some participation, even it is just a couple bites – that is all that I am asking for, hooray!

Here I am at my daughter’s school talking about healthy food through a puppet, again, making a fool of myself to get the kids attention but all in good fun and I think they got the point about having fun learning about some good-for-you-foods.   Someday I will make myself a giant broccoli costume – I have always dreamed about a cool vegetable costume, ha!

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GET THE KIDS INVOLVED

Sometimes a little attention is all that is necessary for a child to eat well at dinner time. Get them involved in making a dish or maybe it is something as simple as having them help out with food preparation like setting the table.

Another way to get them involved is to let them pick out a new vegetable to try at the grocery store. I know, kids and grocery shopping is probably one of my toughest jobs of the week, I dread it, but sometimes it is totally worth it in order to get your kids excited about trying a new food. This is a great way to change up the grocery list!

Other great tips include starting your own garden!  We had our first garden at our new home this summer, the kids were not into it but once they saw me pick a giant zucchini out of the garden they were amazed it came from OUR garden!  I told them it is like getting free groceries!  I am putting a reminder on my spring to-do list – Let the kids plant seeds to sprout, maybe it might be more exciting for them to see the plant start to finish instead of buying already grown vegetable plants.

 

 

OFFER FOODS A VARIETY OF TIMES

Research shows that a food must be exposed to a child at least 7-10 times before the food to be accepted. Try positive reinforcement for a job well done at cooperatively trying a bite.  Remember you do not have to force them to finish a food. Encouraging one bite to taste is great and more bites even better but if your child is resistant try not make it a negative experience.  Setting a good base of healthy eating habits at a young age will carry on into adulthood.

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  Doesn’t this look say it all?  “Mom, I am not sure about these green popsicles, what did you put in them?” 

 

MEAL TIME LESSONS

I have often asked kids, “What does healthy mean?”  And many times a child will define the word healthy  by telling me that broccoli, strawberries are healthy.  I will then ask what do these foods do for our bodies?  They will finally get the idea and tell me that carrots may help them see better or milk gives them strong bones, etc.  I love the idea of teaching kids that there are foods that can be grouped into two different groups.   “Every Day Foods,” aka good-for-you-foods foods you have on your plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner!   And then we also  have “Sometimes Foods,”  aka not-so-good-for-you-foods -  foods that can be eaten once a week or every other day. I always give the example that my family has donuts on Sundays, just once a week not everyday.  Somehow my kids will ask me, “Is it Sunday today?”   Teaching kids about these two food groups foods is a great lesson in letting them know the differences between foods and making healthy choices.

 Raising Healthy Eaters – Plus my trip to school!

 

Sometimes I believe there are foods that we just don’t have to tell our kids (husbands, too) what we put in them and just let them enjoy the food.  Of course, always encourage them to eat their vegetables at every meal but sometimes it our “mom-duty” to make a sweet treat just a little bit better for you!  That also includes sneaking in more vegetables at a meal (mushrooms in ground beef).  My husband and kids have caught onto my mission but here are some great examples, such as my simple   No-Bake Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie recipe, loaded with a variety of good-for-you-foods! And Check out more My Top Food Fools – Tips for making your food a bit better for you!

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 OFFER FOODS SEPARATE

After a couple of years of making stir-frys or any one-pot dish, I always struggled getting my kids to eat the dish and then ended up throwing most of it away, grrrr . . .  I have found better luck by simplifying my meals and offering my kids a protein, vegetable, starch and fruit separate.  I find my picky eaters eat better when foods are offered separately.  Remember, think MyPlate! Here is a great example of what our plates look like at meal time.  Simplify!  

One Amazing Simple Grilled Meal

 

Well, if you are like me I just keep trying and realize that not everyday is perfect or every week is perfect heck, let’s face not every month even comes close to being perfect on the healthy eating scale but I try and try and try and try my very best.  Hopefully my persistence will pay off . . . I hope!  Cheers to our kids eating better! 

 

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One Amazing Grilled Meal–Grilled Chicken & Vegetables with Rice

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Hey!  Well, I mentioned the other day on Facebook and Twitter that I made an awesome, super-duper-quick, meal the other night and here it is, taadaaa!  This meal could not be easier and it took only minutes (less than 10 minutes, that is . . .) to put together!

First I started out with 1/2 red onion, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper. I chopped up all the vegetable and added 1/4 cup Bolthouse Balsmic dressing and 2 tbsp Italian dressing.

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I added the same amount of marinade (1/4 cup Bolthouse Balsamic dressing and 2 tablespoons Italian dressing) to the chicken and I refrigerated it for at least 30 minutes for the marinade and the chicken to marry.   I added my veggies to a grill pan and here we go grill!

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Yum! I absolutely adore grilled vegetables and could probably eat this entire pan!  The kids did okay with eating the grilled veggies but the rice medley was definitely their favorite! 

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To this simple dinner I complimented it with Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Medley, including quinoa and brown rice with garlic.  Oh boy was it tasty!

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Simple Grilled Chicken & Vegetables

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breast

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 yellow squash, choped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup Bolthouse Balsamic dressing, divided

1/4 cup  Italian dressing, divided

Preparation

Add 1/4 cup balsamic dressing and 2 tbsp Italian dressing to the chicken breast. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  Add the same amount of marinade (1/4 cup balsamic + 2 tbsp Italian dressing) to the chopped vegetables and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes.  Place vegetables in a grill pan and grill until tender.  Grill chicken breasts over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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Celebrate the 4th with My Skinny Strawberry Watermelon Frozen Cocktail!

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Can you believe that it is already July 4th?  Whaaat, it is unbelievable that summer is flying by this fast!  The fourth always marks the middle of summer and now the rest of the summer is only a blink of an eye, whew!  So today I would like to share with you a super simple cocktail drink that will save you from packing on the unwanted pounds during this holiday weekend. 

I used only three ingredients to make this tasty drink and here they are: lemonade, frozen strawberries and watermelon flavored rum.   Yes, I am sorry to say the rum is left my honeymoon, almost 8 years ago!  We went to the Bahamas and boy oh boy, was the rum super cheap but we probably made up for it by paying extra for our heavy luggage, ha! Oh well .  . . I have been making more alcoholic frozen drinks this summer because I now have a high-powered blender, hmm  . . .  green smoothies or  margaritas? Heehee, I do both but once a week I love playing bartender with my blender and mixing up something fun!  Honestly, I am a true beer girl but making drinks is sure fun!

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Strawberry Watermelon Frozen Cocktail  (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup lemonade

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

2 oz watermelon rum

Preparations:

Blend all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: 122 calories; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g fat; 0 g protein; 11 g sugar

(Most cocktail drinks range from  200-400 calories per serving!)

 

By the way .  . . this makes a good serving, so enjoy (bigger than the picture, woohoo!)!

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Get Real About Breakfast . . . A simple breakfast with tons of benefits!

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Hi friends!  I will have to admit, this dreary weather lately just makes me want to be lazy.  Relax . . .read the paper, surf pinterest, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a wholesome breakfast.  Ahh . . well, that does not lasts not very long until I hear the words, “Mooooooooommmm!”  I know someday I will miss hearing those cries for mom, but  one of my favorite times during the day is enjoying a late breakfast with a little “me time!”  After the kids wake up and eat their breakfast, I like to enjoy a quiet breakfast by myself while they are playing together. I try to make it last as long as possible and explain to the kids that mommy need some time to eat a good breakfast so I won’t start the day off as cranky-pants-mommy.   Nobody like it when that happens!

I think breakfast is probably one of my favorite meals but let’s face it, I have to make something super quick so I can enjoy more “me time”, right?   And here is what I cherish to eat every morning, well,  most mornings let’s say . . .

Super duper simple and so very filling!  Eggs and toast!  Yep, you  got it, just real eggs and toast with a little bit of real butter, yum!  No egg substitutes, no soft-tub margarines and no low-calorie breads! These last few years, I have jumped on the real-food bandwagon and have been devouring real wholesome foods in proper portions.  I used to be so freaked out by the amount of calories and fat in butter that I decided that soft-tub margarine spreads was a better choice.  But have you ever done a taste test between margarines and real butter?  Umm . . . yeah real butter wins by a landslide. I only use a half tablespoon (maybe less) on a slice of bread, so yes – keep the serving small.  I see more and more new research claiming that fat may be not as bad as we think it is after all, hmm . . . (BTW, I hear Jillian Michaels has the same breakfast – eggs and sprouted toast!)

As for the eggs, I am not against egg substitutes and I actually do use them in my egg protein wrap when I am trying to really bump up the protein grams!  But I like the fact that eggs are good for you and are an excellent source of protein!  Egg are packed with essentials nutrients such as vitamin D, choline (aids in brain function), vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, (promotes eye health) and many more!  Don’t fret the fat and cholesterol, eggs can be apart of a healthy and balance diet everyday! Eggs & Heart HealthBreakfast & Weight Loss

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Side note : here is my new coffee that I am in love with . . . Starbucks Via is an instant coffee that tastes wonderful!  This is how I pass on the flavored creams – by drinking really good coffee!

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The egg puffs up so pretty!  I crack two egg and place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave on HIGH for two minutes.  Then I top the eggs with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and pop it back it back in the microwave for an additional 12 seconds for the cheese to melt. Or sometimes I cook the eggs on the stove in a skillet. I make 2 eggs because I (lesson learned)  usually have some little munchkin coming to me asking, “Mama, can I have some egg too?” 

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Now let’s talk bread!  Back in the day when I worked at the grocery store, I used to stock these frozen Ezekiel breads and think “Why in the heck would someone pay $5 for  loaf of frozen bread?”  Well, honestly I was not aware of how this bread was made and did not know that it is packed full of nutrients.  Now, I know why and love the taste of this bread toasted with a spat of butter! 

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Okay, let me explain . . .this bread contains sprouts of different grains and then used to make bread.  The process of sprouting grains actually increases the level of different vitamins and minerals, therefore increasing its nutritional profile!   This bread is also a low-glycemic food, meaning that after you eat this bread your blood sugar does not spike as high as it would if you would have eaten a slice a bread made with flour. 

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I adore this bread toasted!  I will admit the bread is a little dry when eating plain so I have found that by toasting the bread and topping it with a little butter is pure heaven!  My kids also love, love the bread toasted but I add a little bit of cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar to their toast for snack or breakfast! It tastes like a cinnamon roll, omg!  Did someone say cinnamon roll? 

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So here we have it folks, cheers to eggs and toast, the breakfast of rock stars!

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How To Make The Perfect TO-GO Lunch

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Heeellloo!  You got it, if I haven’t been posting I have been crazily organizing and cleaning. There is still more to do but I have went through the girls’ closets, pantry, coat closet and onto the dreaded storage room, ahh!  I have realized (like most people) that when I am super, super busy I eat whatever is in sight,aka, meaning whatever is left of my kids’ meal and snack plates.  That’s right, my diet is now consisting of chicken nuggets (all-natural brand), pretzels, apple slices, bits of broccoli and dip, popcorn and the best yet, left-over ice cream cones, times three, ha!  Yep, just call me the human garbage disposal. Uuuugggghhh, how do I get out of this cycle and still try to get a 101 things done?  Well, I thought about making up my own ready-to-go lunches on the weekend and hopefully it will be a no-brainer for me to reach into the frig, open container and eat.  Hmm . . . . 

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Here is my option #1, I hope to make up a gizillion more ready-to-go lunches, so I won’t get bored and keep up this great idea!  I know, it is not a new idea but I am motivated to make this happen, hopefully every week!  I have made up four lunches (all the same) and this week has been going great, except that some of the lunches got pushed back in the back of the frig and now some of the vegetables froze a bit, grrr! Lesson learned! Anyway, here is my format for each lunch.

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Note the largest section will have me eating more vegetables! Let’s see if I can do it?  For this lunch option I did not actually include the protein source in the container because I thought it might ruin my vegetables.  Above my container, I have two options for protein sources.  These sausages are very tasty and lean on the high side of sodium, therefore the rest of the meal is almost very little or no sodium at all.

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I love, love, love guacamole but do not buy it that often because it is a bit pricey and sometimes it goes bad before I am able to finish the container.  I did find a huge container of homemade guacamole at Hy-Vee for a pretty reasonable price. Oh my, is this stuff goood! Next time I think I am going to look for a container half the size.  The price is not bad considering the name-brand versions contain about half the amount of guacamole for about $4! I was able to finish all the guacamole this time around.

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Now like I said my goal is come up with more creative lunch ideas and maybe have a different ready-to-go lunch each day! But for now I thought I would test this idea out and see how it goes for the week. 

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Estimated nutrition facts: 281 calories; 18 g carbohydrate; 10 grams fat; 16 g protein, 740 mg sodium; 7 g sugar

Now my biggest questions I ask myself, “Did these lunches fill me up? Yes, and no . . .the first day I think I was too busy to find anything else to eat but on the second day I was ravenous to find something else and I did, a kind bar and a glass of milk.  I think they make a wonderful nutritious base for my meal and I may have to include a couple things to complete them but for now I love it!  Definitely room to improve!

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Easy Beef Stir-Fry

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Happy Friday!  This week is flying by and the kids and I are having a great summer.  I was a little worried about having all the kids home for the entire day but our trips to the pool, zoo, library, science center and more sure help make the day go smoothly!  Well, here’s to a super simple meal that can made and put together in just minutes.  Perfect for those busy nights when you get home and everyone is hungry now!  Don’t ya just love those night, ha, when the kids go straight to the freezer and grab a popsicle or cookie right before dinner, ugh! A big huge ugh! Anyway . . .

First I browned some cubed stir-fry beef. Once it was cooked I set it aside and started sautéing onions with olive oil in a skillet. Then I added an entire bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables plus an extra can of water chestnuts because at our house we just can’t get enough of them!

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Next comes the special simple soy and ginger sauce.

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Cover the pan with lid and let it cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add beef to mixture and dinner is done! 

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Easy Beef Stir-Fry  (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pound cubed stir-fry beef

2 tbsp canola oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 bag frozen stir-fry vegetable blend

1 (8-oz) can water chestnuts, drained

Sauce:

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp water

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation

In a non-stick skillet sauté beef until brown.  Remove cooked beef and set aside (may use a separate skillet) Add oil, onion and frozen vegetable to pan and sauté vegetables until slightly tender.  Add water chestnuts.  In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, water, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over vegetables.  Add cooked beef and cover pan for 8 to 10 minutes until flavors have combined. Serve on a bed of your favorite rice!

*(Nutrition facts per the beef and vegetable mixture, rice not included)

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories: 240; Carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Fat: 2g; Protein: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Sodium: 600mg; Sugar: 3g; Trans Fat: 0g; Daily nutritional values: 10% vitamin A; 25% vitamin C; 4% calcium; 20% iron

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Getting Organized! My favorite food storage containers!

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Okay, I may be pushing it a little by writing an entire post on food storage containers but let me share a little secret with you . . . “these are my little tricks into getting my family eating better, shhh!”  Sounds crazy, I know but I have some very good reasons to my madness.

1) When I can present good-for-you-foods in pretty, organized and cute containers, a boxed lunch is waay more fun, right?

2) By having a designated and organized vegetable tray I keep up on providing fresh veggies on hand at anytime: lunch, snack, dinner,  . . .whenever!

3) My special vegetable tray looks very pretty so those little fingers just want to dig in! 

4) My special vegetable tray keeps my vegetables organized and therefore my frig is neat and I won’t forget about that bunch of broccoli stuffed in the way back of the frig because I cut it up and put in my container!  How many times have you had to thrown out fresh produce because it got pushed in the back of your messy frig and you forgot about it? 

5) I save the earth from throwing away a million plastic baggies! I used to always (and still do occasionally but try to reuse) put ever single item for lunch in a plastic bag.  Either I would throw them away after use or my child would at school, but now with my cute containers I do not use as many baggies!

Here is an example of my daughter’s lunch. I also pack many lunches for my other kiddos in this container, too!  Easy to clean, very sturdy and easy to for the little ones to handle, even in the car, which saves me from a going through a drive-thru! Making sure you have food on hand for a toddler is always essential!

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Okay, maybe now you understand my excitement!  I have been searching online trying to find reasonable food storage containers for lunches and especially find a handy vegetable container and I happen to just come across on these containers when I was shopping at TJ Maxx. Here is my vegetable storage container and I think I paid $7.99.  It has 4 plastic compartments that can be taken out separately.

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I like the separate containers because a few times I have noticed some veggies looking a little rough at the bottom and I am able to throw them away and wash that compartment separately, while keeping the other veggies fresh!

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My only con about this container is the lid takes in a little moisture and when you open up the container  I have to wipe the water off.  But I am totally fine with this little problem because it keeps my veggies so darn organized and I haven’t found anything better . . . .sometimes I have too many vegetables on hand and would like a bigger container but come to think about it, it is actually the perfect size for our family because by the time those few last veggies are at the bottom, it time to get fresh veggies again. 

Here are a couple other containers that I found.  Yes, once I found these containers I probably went a little crazy but let me tell ya, I use every single one of them daily!  The smaller containers are about $2.99-$3.99, gotta love that price!  Even though it is now summer and I am no longer providing lunch for my school-aged daughter, I actually make even more to-go lunches in the summer as we are off to swimming lessons, library, pool, zoo, science center etc.

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Look!  Even a cereal or yogurt and fruit container! It is nice to change lunch up for my daughter and send cereal or vanilla yogurt and frozen berries.   We have had no problems with mess either! 

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Here is another one: whole wheat crackers, provolone, cured turkey sausage, cauliflower, carrots and dip!

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I just love this picture, so pretty, it makes me very happy!

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Enjoy my friends! I may have to post again before school, huh?

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Half Marathon–Done! Check! Thoughts, Pre-Race Fuel. . . . Is carb-loading overrated?

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Hey, Hey! Still a bit sore almost three days later and totally miss my ranch house!  These stairs are killing me this weekend, especially carrying kids up and down, arg!  Dang, I swear practically every single race at about mile 9, I say to myself, “This is the LAST half marathon I will do this year, seriously!”  I finish the race and then say, “I think I can do better, I better start training for my next half for the fall this week, ha!”   This year definitely went much better than year last year’s race: my first Dam To Dam.  For some reason after baby number three,  my love for running diminished immensely, probably due to my lack of sleep last year, but now my baby is almost two-years-old and I have started to enjoy running again, ahh! First let me say, this post is not promoting any type of eating pattern but just bringing up a question that I have been thinking about these last couple of months.  I am not a specialized sports dietitian, but I am just using myself as my own personal experiment and trying to find what works best for me.

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Anyway, I think this is my 7th or 8th half marathon and I always seem to follow the same running program, eat the same pre-race breakfast, drink the same drink and carb-load as usual.  This year seems to be a bit different because my goals have changed. I have found that during these training times I tend to put on a couple more pounds, not a big deal but always nice to not have this happen, ya know? You would think I would lose a couple of pounds with the training but not, grr.   What I have found is that my body can actually run just fine on my typical diet consisting of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, some dairy and a sprinkle of whole grains.  During my long runs I am just fine with a couple of Smarties and water.  Seven years ago, I remember shoving down one or two gel packets at mile 6 and eating a granola bar at mile 10, and of course always getting in a good meal the night before of spaghetti and bread sticks.  Is my body adjusting or I am getting smarter at this whole refueling thing?  I also think I give myself a “free eating pass” when I am training too, hmmm . . . .

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Taking in good carbs . . .

During my training program (here the one I followed this year, 20 Week Training Schedule) I have shied away from simple carbs such as crackers and some breads and stuck with whole fresh fruits such as apples and berries and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and no-sugar-added Greek yogurts.  So I am not eliminating carbs I think I am just picking out better sources of carbs during these last couple of months, eh?

What did I eat pre-race?

Well, the night before I ate a bit differently than I have these last months and enjoyed some vegetable pizza, not greasy and loved the crust! I didn’t go crazy with carb-loading but nothing was off limits for me that night including a little bowl of ice cream, wink, wink. 

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In the morning, at the butt crack of dawn I choked down some peanut butter toast and grabbed an iced coffee drink, candy, race bib, phone, head phones and I am out the door, let’s do this, I think?!

I love having an iced coffee to give me a little edge early in morning. Oh and just in case took some meds (immodium (just in case) and aleve (ankle pain))  I felt pretty good during the entire race and came in just 40 seconds after my PR. I clocked in around 1:56, not too bad but always room for improvement! Every race is always an accomplishment and always fun to do, right?! Well, after it is over, it is definitely fun!  I figured out I am one of those weird looking runners with a smile on face when I pass the crowd.  Wanna know why?  Because, it is a mind game, if I smile, then I am happy and keep my mind positive!  I seriously enjoy seeing people on the route cheering with their funny signs, cowbells and cute kids high-fiving!  I always want to say, “more cowbell,”  you know from the SNL skit, makes me laugh just thinking about it!

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So anyway, what do you think about carb-loading? I am sure I will experiment again this fall but as for now this was a great experiment for me and 15% of time, I totally did give myself a “free eating pass” and the other 85% of the time I ate good wholesome, real food!

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Raising Healthy Eaters–Plus my trip to school!

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Hi Friends!  Well, last week I was lucky enough to go into my daughter’s kindergarten class and talk a little bit about nutrition.  Man oh, man let the fun begin!  This was actually my third time going into my kids’ classrooms and promoting healthy eating to the students.  In February, I talked to two preschool classes at my son’s school and had a blast!  I did have to step out of my comfort zone just a bit, ahh, it was tad stressful but worth it.

Let me tell you why I was a little nervous . . . my goal was to provide a fun and memorable event for the kids while instilling some great nutrition concepts for the little ones.  I wanted every child to go home and actually remember something about what they did in school that day.  How many times do we as parents here the answer to our question, “So what did you do at school today?” Child’s response: “Oh, nothing . . .”  Parent’s reply, “Whaatt?”   

I wanted to get the children excited about my message to eat more fruits and vegetables and always try new foods!  I wanted them to go home with pure excitement and say, “Mom, I need to eat lots of colorful foods! Can we go to the grocery store and buy some new fruits and vegetables?  I really liked the jicama Mrs. Mitchell brought can we buy some?”  Okay, I may be pushing it a bit but this might happen.  And if it was at my house, my kids would be more than willing to try new fruits and vegetables they picked in the produce aisle but then ask to go buy some candy, haha, right?

So, anyway, I decided that in order to get the attention of children ages 3 to 6-years-old, I had to come to their level, meaning I had to be somewhat funny, entertaining and that would be only possible with . . . .a puppet! This was totally out of my comfort zone but hey, I love teaching kids about eating better and if I have to be a little crazy just so a child will be more excited to try a new foods then hey, I am all for it! 

Here I am with Pirate Max talking about eating foods that are the colors of the rainbow.  Pirate Max thought we were going to eat the rainbow and the little leprechaun guy, too. I kind of look angry but I am desperately trying to  do my best pirate voice as you can see my straining vein, hahahaaahaa!

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I had some very generous friends let me borrow their awesome Melissa & Doug’s puppets.  I think I will have to invest in a puppet for years to come and perfect my skit a bit more for future events.  I wrote up a little skit where my puppet was crazy for donuts (just like my kids) and did not want to try any new foods but with the help of my persuasion (and the kids) our new friend tried some new fruits and vegetables (I used play food) and actually liked them (this may only happen in a perfect world but you get the idea).  I talked about eating the colors of the rainbow and the different types of foods: everyday foods and sometimes foods.  Pirate Max gets the idea that maybe he should only have his favorite donuts on his special Saturday with the family. We talked about how good-for-you-foods help us grow and give us energy.

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We also tried some new foods such as jicama, frozen mango, edamame, plus we made our own green smoothies.  The children loved seeing all the vegetables and fruits get blended up into liquid. Thanks to my pretty awesome blender I won (My first green smoothie, plus Green Smoothie Girls class).  I would say about 85% of the kids were loving the smoothie and eager to try all the new foods.  We had a couple kids in each class that were not so thrilled about the foods but that happens, I am just so happy the majority of the kids were excited to try everything! 

In my daughter’s kindergarten class, I also read this book, “The Gulps” written by Rosemary Wells  (author of Max & Ruby) and illustrated by Marc Brown (author/illustrates Arthur).  In a previous post (Kids Summer Snack Swaps) I also mentioned this book.   In this book, the Gulps family enjoys convenience food and sitting back and watching TV.  As they travel in their Dreamliner (RV filled with TVs and microwaves) they get stranded  near the Spratt family farm. 

Luckily the Spratt family takes them in and shows them all about the hard work it takes to  harvest food on the farm.  And they even learn to love green food! 

As told in the story, “Bit by bit they got out and got fit.”  “Bite by bite they began to eat right.”  They eventually slimmed down and learned to eat healthy food and enjoy doing physical labor on the farm.

A very cute story for children.

I also provided fruit and vegetable food trackers to the students, here are some super cute resources I found at Super Kids Nutrition.

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In addition to this resource I also included my tips for Raising Healthy Eaters.”

Feeding your child nutritious food can be one of the most challenging jobs as a parent but also very important to teach your child at a very early age. Here are some tips for any picky eater or great to use when times get a little tough feeding good-for-you-foods!

· Bring your child grocery shopping and have them pick out a fruit or vegetable according to the color of the rainbow. (This is a tough tip as I totally get the stress of bringing kids to the grocery store, trust me! But I try to do this occasionally when I don’t have huge list of groceries.  Sometimes we even sit down in the eating area and enjoy some new foods from the salad bar!)

· Rotate foods! Sometimes kids get bored with the same foods so try incorporating a new fruit or vegetable at snack or meal time.

· Get your kids involved in meal time! Maybe have them help you make a smoothie or even help dish out some of the food on each plate.

· Always offer a healthy option! When your kids are asking for junk, it is their way of telling you “I AM HUNGRY!” Make sure to offer some protein and fiber first and then they might forget about the junk. Check out the Kid-Friendly Snack Ideas!

· Have fun! Try making a monster face out of a whole-grain tortilla or even a slice of cheese. This is a wonderful distraction to get any kid to eat better!

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I also included these recipes that have been hits at my home with my kiddos!

Homemade Mini Pizzas and No-Bake Chocolate Chip & Oatmeal Cookies

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As always, enjoy my friends!      

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