Oh, the smell of winter is in the air. The colder temperatures, snow, ice, winter coats, skiing, sledding and root vegetables. Can you tell this is an enjoyable time for me?
No, actually it isn’t. I don’t like cold, I don’t like skiing, and I’m not a big fan of snow. Yeah, yeah I know, I live in Illinois, but I’m still not use to it! However, I do love root vegetables because you can roast these vegetables and they are fabulous to eat. They are like a guilty pleasure, almost too good to be good for you! Plus, it is super, super easy to do.
Happy National Nutrition Month! National Nutrition Month has evolved from a one-week celebration in March to a month-long observance. This year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The idea behind this is to enjoy all aspects of food: taste, temperature, smells, texture and color. Many of us are busy and our food choices get put on the “back burner,” whether that means we skip meals entirely or we don’t take the time that we should to make healthy food choices. So many of us eat at our desk or while driving in our car. We do not stop and actually enjoy what we are eating!
A huge component of the theme this year is “mindful eating.” What exactly does that mean? Mindful eating means eliminating distractions and enjoying the food in front of you! We have so many distractions on a daily basis—TV, phone, computer, etc. It is important to be aware of those distractions and eliminate as many as possible to be able to return to food and focus. Mindful eating can provide the opportunity to make changes in what we are eating and how we are eating. It can also help us change our relationship with food. Are we seeing food as a type of pleasure and comfort, or are we seeing food as fuel—nutrients that the body needs to function? Mindful eating provides us with an opportunity to become more “in tune” with physical hunger versus emotional hunger (stress, boredom, sadness, etc.).
A great goal for Nutrition Month (and every month!) is to make as many meals at home in the company of those in your home! Be mindful of what you are eating—McDonald’s hamburger and fries or shredded Italian Chicken and fresh veggies at home? Choose whole foods, like fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and proteins. Use olive oil, shallots, green onions, garlic, ground black pepper, and/or red pepper flakes to bring out robust flavors and smells in healthy dishes!
Hello, my name is Megan Klemm and I’m so glad to be writing this guest blog post, but more so, I’m finally here as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator for Springfield Clinic! I’m also a very busy mom. So how do I manage to put a decently healthy meal on the table with my hands full and working part-time? My secret is a crock-pot! I love to make all sorts of meals in the crock-pot, and many times you can make a complete meal all in one.
In our house we follow the plate method (¼ plate carbohydrate, ¼ plate protein, and ½ plate non-starchy vegetables) to plan our meals and make sure we get in each food group, especially at dinner time. The recipes I use ones where you can throw everything in the night before or the morning of, set the crock-pot and walk out the door. If the recipe takes too much prep time, you can be assured that I will not use that recipe. Additionally, if the recipe says to cook less than 4 hours, I’m not going to use it either. It would be burnt by the time I got home.
I’ve gone so extreme as to have a crock-pot meal almost every night of an entire month. I did allow 1-2 nights a week for leftovers and if the leftovers can be frozen, I will do that to stretch the meals for another time.
Trick or Treat! When we think of Halloween, yummy and sugary treats such as candy bars and caramel apples usually come to mind. Rightfully so, this is definitely a day to indulge! However, the amount of sugar in these delicious snacks can be astronomical!
Just a few examples of the amount of sugar in some of our favorite treats:
Snicker’s Fun Size: 17 g, Blow Pop: 13 g, Skittles: 42 g, Dots: 21 g, Reese’s (2 cups): 21 g.
For comparison, this is how many sugar cubes are in 2 Reese’ cups:
Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!
Cheese is a good source of protein and does not contain any sugar. Cheese sticks will be ok unrefrigerated for 2-3 hours, so kiddos may eat these later if needed.
If you have clementine’s (“Cuties”) and celery, you have a pumpkin! Peel each clementine and leave in its whole, round form. Cut celery into 1 inch pieces and place in the middle of the clementine as a stem. Clementine’s are a good source of vitamin C and can easily fit in a Ziploc baggy.
If hosting a party, make a tray of witch’s fingers! Simply take baby carrots or carrot sticks and place ½ of an olive (black or green) on the tip as a nail. This can be served with dip or by itself. Carrots are high in vitamin A and a great, crunchy snack.
To help keep kiddos (and parents of trick-or-treaters) hydrated, buy mini or full-sized bottles of water. Create labels out of construction paper or use Halloween-themed paper to cover original water bottle label. Many drinks such as juice and punch are high in sugar. These spooky bottles will help quench their thirst!
Place eggs in a large pot with cold water, covering eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a full boil; boil 1 minute. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the eggs. Crack eggs and let sit in cold water 10 minutes or until cool. Drain, then peel eggs.
Cut eggs in half lengthwise, then carefully remove the yolks, leaving the whites intact. Place yolks in a bowl; mash with 1/3 cup mayonnaise, avocado, mustard, shallot, lemon juice, and salt until blended. Using 2 teaspoons or a small ice-cream scoop, scoop yolk mixture into small balls and position in hollows of whites to resemble eyeballs.
Press an olive slice into center of each yolk eyeball. Stir together 3 tablespoons remaining mayonnaise and a few drops of red food coloring in a small bowl for the "blood."
Transfer colored mayonnaise mixture into a small sealable bag and snip the corner to form a pastry bag. Decorate eyeballs with bloodshot veins. Cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
Make Ahead: Egg yolk mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Fill egg whites, decorate and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
Baby Figge has been so blessed already to be surrounded by so many amazing friends and family members. I was honored to have three baby showers thrown for me and I can’t wait to wrap my little boy in his snuggly blankets and adorable clothes! With all the amazing showers came amazing sweet desserts! While I did enjoy all the treats, my body is telling me it’s on sugar-overload and we need to scale back a bit! This low-sugar side dish was a perfect solution to bring my eating habits back to normal.
Earlier this week I gave you my meal planning tips for beginners; today I’m going to share a resource I found very helpful. There is a plethora of meal planning websites out there! I did some research, tested a few sites, and Gatheredtable was by far my favorite.
Why use a meal planning website?
Time saver. I don’t have time (or I don’t want to make the time) to pull out all my cookbooks and scour Pinterest to pick my recipes for the week, go through each one, and create my shopping list.
Change up your diet. Sometimes I would get stuck in a rut and cook the same 8 meals over and over, but trying a suggested recipe once a week or so can help you change up your chef game!
Connectivity. Your family can share the same account, so try having each member go in and pick a meal they would enjoy.
Convenience. Since you share the account with the family, anyone can go grocery shopping— just pull up the list on your phone and go!
↓↓↓Watch this video….then we will talk more.
Now that you are a little familiar with Gatheredtable, I’ll share my thoughts.
I love that they have a free, 10 day trial and you DON’T have to give them a credit card number to start your free trial like some other websites. I took time to play around and get familiar with Gatheredtable and the settings. I also love the Gatheredtable Web Clipper function. I have a good chunk of recipes on a Pinterest board that I’ve always wanted to try, and the Web Clipper pulls all of the details and even adds ingredients to my grocery list.
I started off small, only planning 3 dinners. I have roller derby practice on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and Friday nights the hubby and I are busy—so Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday it was! Everything we had was amazing. Three recipes were ones I pulled from my Pinterest board, and three were offered by Gatheredtable. We had some leftover steak that we cut up and used in omelets on Sunday morning!
I got a little ambitious this week, but once again skipped Wednesday and Thursday. Last Thursday at the farmers’ market, I picked up some green beans and sweet potatoes. I was able to find recipes that included my fresh veggies from Gatheredtable’s recipe library. With tomorrow’s leftover pulled pork, I’ll save it to use with my Sunday pita chip recipe for Pulled Pork Nachos!
All in all, I really enjoy Gatheredtable. When you start your free trial you are assigned a personal coach who contacts you via email. Mine is super nice and answered any questions I had. My biggest issue would have to be you can only begin planning your meals 2 days before the new week starts, but my coach said they will be changing that soon. Also, when you are looking through recipes, you can only add them to the current week, but my coach said, “we’re working on making a more robust date picker soon.” For now you just have to go to the week and select the “add recipe” button to search through recipes (see image above on Wednesday the 2nd). So the two “issues” I have are already being addressed.
So the big question…how much does it cost? For this company, an annual plan breaks down to a little over $7 a month. If I can spend that or more on my Netflix and Hulu accounts, I should be able to justify spending it for meal planning!
Like I said, there are so many resources out there! Take some time and research your options. If you have a favorite site, please share it here in the comments so all our readers benefit from your great suggestions!