“Christmas” and “cookies” are words that should always be together, right? But sometimes with all the cookies we make and receive around the holidays, we want something a little healthier to offset icing and sprinkles! Try out these apple “cookies” for something nutritiously sweet!
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Using an apple corer, remove the core of the apple.
Slice the apple into thin rings.
Spread peanut butter over one side of the apple slice.
Sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips on the peanut butter.
Back to school they go! On top of shopping for school supplies, arranging schedules, and all that goes in to preparing our kids for the new school year, it can be challenging to put together quick, easy and healthy breakfasts and lunches. Today, I’m going to share with you my dietitian breakfast tips.
In my household, we are not morning people. We push getting up until the last possible moment, hit the snooze button 6 times and then say, “CRAP, we are late!”. You would think after the first week of doing this, we would start to change our habits, but unfortunately, that is not the case. This all leads me to why quick, easy and healthy breakfast tips and tricks will make back-to-school mornings a breeze.
I know you are wiggling in your chair right now trying to figure out what I feed my kids. Let me preface by stating I can’t make this happen without PLANNING and having the food available. If the food isn’t there, we can’t eat it! Here are some things I like to keep on hand for breakfast and 6 of our go-to breakfasts.
Vegetables: salsa, tomatoes, frozen peppers and onions
Substitute: peanut butter or chocolate hazelnut spread
optional: mini chocolate chips or coconut shreds or raisins
Peel the banana, cut in half and insert popsicle stick.
Dip the banana in yogurt, or coat with a knife.
Roll in cereal and optional items.
Place on parchment or wax lined cookie sheet and freeze. Keep in the freezer until ready to eat.
‘Pop Tart’ Toast
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tsp. butter or peanut butter
Substitute: chocolate hazelnut spread or cream cheese
1 Tbsp. jelly/jam
Lightly butter/peanut butter both pieces of bread.
Spread the jam/jelly onto one slice of the bread leaving about a ½ inch border. Then top with the remaining slice of bread.
Cut the crust off the bread and seal the 2 slices of bread together using the tines of a fork. Put in the toaster and then the ‘pop tart’ is ready.
You can also add fresh fruit for more flavor and nutritional quality.
1 egg (can be whole egg, egg substitute or egg white)
Fillings: cheese, avocado, tomato, salsa, jalapeno, etc.
1 whole-wheat tortilla
Scramble an egg.
Mix in cheese, avocado, tomato, salsa, jalapeno—really whatever you like mixed with a scrambled egg.
Place this inside a tortilla, wrap as a burrito and eat.
Freeze up to one month. Microwave to thaw and cook.
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
These are a treat in our household, and what is fabulous is the kids don’t even know there is a vegetable in it.
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1-3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups shredded zucchini
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a bowl, mix together eggs, oil and buttermilk.
Add in all of the dry ingredients, including spices. Mix thoroughly.
Stir in zucchini.
Fill the prepared muffin tin liners about 3/4 of the way.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the center muffin comes out mostly clean. Let cool.
Divide into freezer Ziploc bags and freeze or leave some in fridge for the next few days.
Serve a fruit or yogurt.
Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray miniature muffin pan thoroughly with cooking spray or grease with butter.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and pepper.
Pour egg mixture into prepared pan, filling cups about 2/3 full.
Sprinkle cheese evenly among the cups.
Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until eggs set.
Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack. When completely cooled, muffins can be wrapped in plastic and frozen.
When ready to eat, simply microwave each mini muffin for 15-30 seconds, or until heated through.
Serve these with fruit.
Freezer Ready French Toast Sticks
1 loaf bread
1 1/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
Slice each slice of bread into 3 sticks.
Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.
Heat griddle to a medium-low temperature and heat butter on top of griddle.
Put slices of bread into the egg mixture and place onto the griddle until griddle is full.
Cook on each side until browned.
Remove and set on a plate. Repeat cooking steps until all are done.
To freeze: Lay cooked sticks on a greased cookie sheet. Freeze for at least a couple of hours. Then put in a freezer bag. Microwave for about 10-15 seconds when ready to eat. I don’t typically serve with syrup when in the car, as it can make a big sticky mess.
Food storage tips
We have a 30-minute drive to town so we are typically eating our breakfast in the car. Rubbermaid TakeAlongs square food divided storage containers makes it great to have multiple items at breakfast without meshing and getting all over the car.
Summer is just around the corner and that means weekends will soon fill up with beach trips, pool days and afternoons in the sun. As a dietitian, I often get asked on what are some slimming secrets and increasing confidence tricks for being in a bathing suit all day. Consider some of these tips the next time you are packing up your sunblock and beach towels and heading outdoors!
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast/Meals.
Nothing good will come from this action so please do not consider it. Skipping meals or going long durations without eating signals your body to prepare for starvation and will slow down your metabolism. Just like your computer, your metabolism will go into “sleep mode” when not being stimulated for an extended period of time. This causes your body to aggressively store calories and will also offset your body’s hunger hormone levels. Basically, you will find yourself extra famished by the end of the day and will be more likely to overeat.
2. Avoid carbonated beverages and salty snacks.
Both carbonated beverages (even sugar-free ones) and salty snacks such as crackers, pretzels, Chex mix and the like can cause water retention and extra bloating. This is definitely not the recipe one wants for feeling svelte and confident all day in a swimsuit.
3. Do pack lean protein sources.
Foods that are high in protein will help you stay fuller longer. This will allow you to spend more time splashing and playing in the water and less time breaking to eat. Protein go-to’s can include eggs, lean meats, protein bars/shakes, low sugar Greek yogurts, unsalted nuts, white cheese varieties. Another perk to frequent protein intake is that it can also help ward off sugar cravings.
4. Focus on water for hydration.
Believe me, I know nothing sounds better than ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day but fueling your body with liquid sugar isn’t the best recipe for staying fit and trim. Confession: I’ll be the first to admit that plain water isn’t the most exciting thing in the world to drink. Take advantage of fresh produce this summer and create natural flavor enhancers by putting fresh cut fruit, herbs or vegetables in your water.
5. Fresh fruit and vegetables make great hydrating snacks.
Fresh produce is naturally high in water, fiber and antioxidants. Choosing fruit and vegetables as snacks help boost your nutrient intake. Natural foods do not have any added chemicals or junk in them, which can often be the culprit for bloated, upset stomachs. Save yourself some time preparing fruits and vegetables and purchase pre-cut bags and containers from the grocery store to be beach-ready in a snap.
6. Above all- kick back and have fun.
Despite the season of being more active, I understand summer can amplify body image issues with wearing a swimsuit. With constant reminders of magazine covers touting to have the perfect bikini body, even the most confident of women can become over critical of themselves. Try not to let worrying thoughts about how you look overpower the fun you could be having with your friends, family and kids. Summer always comes and goes too fast anyways, so grab your shades, sunblock and let out a big “cowabunga”!
I recently read an article about the declining sales of soda and the beverages that are taking their place. Bottled water sales have increased as people try to shy away from sugar-sweetened beverages, which is great news! Another beverage that is quickly taking the place of soda is tea. Although tea can be a healthier alternative, sweetened tea can be just as harmful as soda. Two cups of sugar (or more!) is commonly added to 1 gallon of iced tea! Hot teas and mixed tea drinks can be a source of added sugar as well. Two types of tea that have become popular are matcha and chai, but do these always have the health benefits we think?
A tea that has been “trending” is matcha, which is a type of green tea. It is stone-ground into powder from leaves and can be added to drinks or solid food. Many places have started adding it to drinks but it is also added to soups and even brownies! It is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which are linked to a variety of health benefits including anti-aging, reduction in the growth of cancer cells and improved blood pressure. Matcha combined with fruit and cow’s milk or plant-based milk is becoming a popular alternative to many sugar-loaded drinks that provide little nutritional value.
Another popular tea is masala chai, also referred to as chai tea. It is commonly brewed with black tea, although it can be made from green tea as well. It is rich in antioxidants and certain ingredients are thought to help digestion and reduce inflammation. Common ingredients and flavorings include: cardamom, chili, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Some or all of these are combined with cow’s milk or plant-based milk. This can be a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, however, this type of tea drink can have excessive sugar added as many are made with a premixed solution that has sugar. Unsweetened and lightly sweetened versions are generally available and provide about 1/3 the amount of caffeine of coffee.
Tea can be a healthier alternative used for much-needed caffeine in place of a fancy coffee drink or soda, but it can still be a concentrated source of added sugar. Key words to look for that generally mean very little to no sugar added: “unsweetened”, “fresh-brewed/steeped”, or “lightly sweetened.” When in doubt, ask when ordering!
I’m starting to shed tears thinking about school starting back up again. I’m sending my first born off to kindergarten this year. I cry anytime I think about it, and believe it or not, I’m shedding some tears while writing this post.
We did everything to prepare for the first day of school: final registration, school physical and immunization, dental visit, eye exam, purchased backpack, school supplies, gym shoes, new school clothes…but then my son comes to me and asks me about his lunchbox. Light bulb! I am going to have to start packing a lunch. Now don’t get me wrong, he can learn to eat a few school lunches, but I’m still going to be packing quite a few lunches to make sure he is nutritionally sound at lunch. I have put my dietitian mommy hat on and put together 9 tips to help pack a nutritious school lunch.
1) Get your kids involved by asking them about their favorite foods they would like to see in their lunch. I know you may get some off the wall ideas and candy cannot be an entrée, but a treat every once in a while won’t hurt.
2) Have your kids help you pack their lunch the night before. The more you get them involved, the more likely they will eat the food! Bonus, you have one less item on your morning to-do list.
3) Think of quick, healthy foods like fruit smoothies, whole grain crackers and string cheese. If Here’s a little trick to make smoothies last, make enough smoothies for a couple days –then just drop in ice cubes in the thermos the next morning.
4) Remember the #plategoals (Half the plate is non-starchy vegetables, ¼ is whole grains/fruits/starchy vegetables and ¼ is lean protein). Use this as an opportunity to teach your children about the food groups and fruits and vegetables. There is no parent fail if you don’t get a veggie in their lunch, however, encourage them to snack on some after school and to include them at dinner.
5) Try to include at least 2 colors of plant-based foodsat lunch. For example: orange carrots and frozen pineapple tidbits, plum tomatoes and green grapes, black bean dip and frozen mango chunks. Not only does this boost the nutritional quality, but it also makes the meal more colorful and fun!
6) Invest in a fun new lunch box, an ice pack, and some food containers your kids help pick out. I’ve learned that younger kids often times have to see the food through the container to be interested in opening it, so clear lunch food containers may increase the odds of it being opened and eaten. Big on the market are Bento boxes.
7) If you have an extra minute, which I know we don’t usually, try and label a containeror two with little post it notes, like “magnificent mango” or “tasty hummus” –it may help the lunchbox come home empty.
8) Offer variety,but remember to keep portion sizes small. Try 5 pieces of sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, a small turkey and cheese wrap and a small square of black bean brownie with an 8oz carton of milk. With small different options, you are increasing the chances your child will get a balanced meal at lunch.
9) Add fun shapes to the sandwich by using sandwich cutters or even a cookie cutter. Shaping foods make meals more appealing, and doesn’t take much time.
There is no fool proof way to make sure your kids will eat their lunch while at school, but you can at least know you are doing your part for their health. Happy Back to School!!
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently released the “Dirty Dozen” list of vegetables and fruits for 2016. The EWG analyzes test results of thousands of samples of vegetables and fruits taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the amount of pesticide residue.
The list looks a little different this year as strawberries have moved into first place, meaning the majority of samples were found to have pesticide residue. The EWG found that 98% of the non-organic strawberry samples had pesticide residue. Findings like this can be controversial, and other government agencies refute that the pesticides identified are harmful. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded by saying that the pesticide levels found are not harmful for consumption and they perform dietary assessments to establish tolerance and safety of pesticides. It is important to note that even organic products may have some pesticide residue.
We know a higher consumption of vegetables and fruits promote better health. Organic is usually more expensive, which leads many to purchase non-organic fresh, canned, and frozen vegetables and fruits. Regardless of buying organic or non-organic, both should be washed thoroughly. Incorporating vegetables and fruits on a daily basis promotes better health and a longer life, so we just need to be as knowledgeable as possible about where they are coming from, how to wash them, and how to prepare them safely.