Most people think of meal planning as some elaborate, hours-long event. In turn, the idea of meal planning itself can be exhausting. Instead of grocery shopping, meal planning for hours, and then making dinner on a Sunday, consider breaking tasks up into smaller, more manageable, and more effective steps.
The grocery store frozen section is wildly underrated. This is especially the case as food producers are heeding consumers’ demands of healthier on-the-go options. Compared to years ago, both food product and packaging boast better-for-you materials and ingredients. Single serving and resealable packages are standard offerings as well, making cooking for one or many easier. When shopping for bagged vegetables, grains, and protein blends, consider choosing those options with whole ingredients and little else. You can add your own seasonings for a boost of flavoring while maintaining the integrity of your healthy choice. If you’re looking for entrées, again, seek those that offer whole ingredients and lower sodium content. Some studies show that frozen foods can boast even more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. This is due to the ability to lock in both nutrients and flavor by picking foods at their peak ripeness and freezing shortly thereafter.
For a must-have green items on St. Patrick’s Day, try a protein-based pancake. A few of the highest rated protein pancake mixes include Birch Benders and Kodiak Cakes brands. Follow the cooking instructions listed on whichever brand you have chosen. Once the batter is made, you will add two drops of your green food coloring followed by one drop thereafter until you’ve achieved your desired green batter color. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of Lucky Charms cereal!
Hunger is the body’s physical signal to eat to maintain the energy you need to fuel your day. Hunger signals can come in a variety of forms from a growling of the stomach to a headache. Appetite is more about a desire to eat. Appetite can be stimulated from hunger, but it can also be prompted by environmental or emotional circumstances. Satisfying both hunger and appetite is important to improve signals of satiety, or the feeling of fullness.
You can eat well on any budget! Shop in season, especially regarding fresh fruits and vegetables. Oftentimes, what is on sale is also what is in season when it comes to produce. Be aware of convenience costs, such as higher priced precut vegetables, where you are paying a significant amount for labor. Consider store brands, but don't get sucked into not price comparing in the moment. While private label brands have historically been less expensive, it is still prudent to do quick price comparisons as it’s always possible your favorite same brand item is on sale.
Next, check out the unit price of items as compared to the overall cost. For example, comparing per ounce pricing of various granolas can aid you in getting the largest volume at the lowest cost, which is typically hard to do with packaging varying so drastically Finally, most grocery stores allow and encourage customers to divide produce, such as heads of broccoli, into only what you need so long as it doesn't say "by the bunch" or "per each."
Celebrate a world of flavors this March as nutrition professionals gear up for a uniquely themed National Nutrition Month. You can participate by incorporating your favorite cultural foods and traditions into your rotating menu planning. Reach out to a more distant relative who has that special family recipe and invite some friends over to share in some culturally rich traditions. Trying new flavors from around the work is another great way to celebrate. Making time to plan and try new meals is a great tool to incorporate year-round. You can find more ways to get involved with National Nutrition Month at EatRight.org.
When parents use food as part of a rewards system, it sends confusing messages to children. Kids need to know that integrating a variety of foods into their diets is important. Parents’ main mode of communicating healthy eating habits to kids is by providing family meals that include balanced plates. Integrating treats and play foods into this overall plan is easily accomplished through special family restaurant outings, homemade desserts when time permits, and weekend birthday parties. When things like desserts or candy are offered as rewards, this can begin an unintentional foray into emotional eating. For instance, if candy is offered repeatedly as a reward, then a child may associate feelings of happiness with that food and reach for it during other bouts of happiness outside of being rewarded.
Make February fun, yet simple by employing a simple heart shaped cookie cutter. From lunch box hacks to easy classroom hacks, you will love these ingenious uses for such a simple kitchen tool. Don’t be afraid to start early and pack lunches with heart shaped cucumbers, cheese and meat slices, and sandwiches. For those classroom parties, use your cookie cutter to make heart shaped pieces of fruit to make a fresh contribution to the festivities. Finally, if you’ve decided to make it a family night on Valentine’s Day, opt for heart shaped quesadillas, hand pies or mini meat loaves. Crafts abound using a simple cookie cutter, from heart shaped pin cushions to candles.
Asparagus is a non-starchy vegetable containing fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. When buying this green and stem-like vegetable, look for firm stalks and compact buds that will ensure desired tenderness. Note that size does not affect tenderness. Asparagus is typically available year-round at U.S. grocery stores, but it is at its peak seasonality during the spring. Including asparagus into a rotating meal plan can afford many benefits such as easy prep with multiple cooking options. Notably, between twenty and forty percent of the population has the genetic disposition to smell sulfur byproducts that are excreted following a meal that includes asparagus. While everyone emits the generally same byproducts, not everyone has the gene allowing them to smell them.
Belching or having mild pain in your upper GI tract may be caused by the swallowing of air, known as aerophagia. On average, individuals swallow two quarts of air a day where half is expelled in the form of some type of gas. If someone swallows a relatively excessive amount of air, there may be some discomfort. This discomfort may be like heartburn that is caused by reflux or GERD, but the consideration of aerophagia may be helpful in managing uncomfortable symptoms. Anxiety or OCD, heavy breathing from exercise, the gulping of water, and even seasonal allergies may all be causing an individual to swallow more air than normal. General lifestyle practices that may help limit aerophagia symptoms include things like the cessation of smoking, eating slowly, and not chewing gum. Therapists can assist with anxiety or OCD associated aerophagia behaviors and physicians can assist with other possible breathing issues.
Instead of setting those typical diet-based New Year’s resolutions, opt for something a bit more sensible. There are non-diet, yet food specific, declarations you can make and feel good about this year. If you’re already comfortable in the kitchen, try perfecting a recipe. If you tend to get bored of your weekly meal routine, try a new food or food group totally outside of your comfort zone. Budgeting in a food luxury, such as a couple of grocery deliveries or a more expensive pasta every now and then, is a fan favorite. While sleep may not seem related to food, there is no denying that catching enough shut eye can affect a person’s quality of nutrition. Maybe you need to spruce up your kitchen. Perhaps a full-blown kitchen remodel is not in your future, but instead a deep clean or a new table runner. All these ideas can help set the tone for healthier nutrition in the new year.
Kwanzaa is an African American holiday celebrating family, community, and culture. Specifically, its name signifies the harvest of the “first fruits.” This holiday spans seven days, highlighting seven principles. The seven principles are umoja (unity), kujichaguila (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamma (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity), and imani (faith). Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st and has ample traditions including aspects of food, music, poetry and more. Some core foods traditional to a Kwanzaa feast include sweet potatoes, collard greens, peanut stew (West African is origin), curry or jerk chicken (Caribbean influences).
While it is a blessing, it can certainly be a challenge to have a birthday that falls near a major holiday. To kick each birthday off with a bang, remind your kiddo that everyone will remember their big day, seeing as how it’s so close to the holidays! This will help get them and your family in the spirit. It’s also nice to get a little sliver of normalcy during the holiday months. Dedicated birthday cake and birthday gift wrap goes a long way for both that special person and the family as a whole. Oftentimes, there may be extra special outings or activities that are available during these times only. For example, if your child’s birthday falls near Christmas, you may be able to take a trip to the local ice-skating rink or go for a carriage ride in a nearby park.
If you’re getting tired of the same holiday fare, there are several new stomach-worthy untraditional holiday meals ideas. The hors d’oeuvres only theme is perfect for nights like Christmas Eve when a crowd may be large and perhaps heading out the door for a night church service. Messina catering has a great guide on hosting appetizer only events. Homemade takeout is also a crowd pleaser. Even going semi homemade works. Simply stop by your local Chinese restaurant for rice to go and throw together something like this instant pot sesame chicken recipe. Fondue is a fun dining experience that is a sure-fire conversation started. While everyone is having fun, they’ll also be getting a variety of things to nibble on. You’ll be able to satisfy everyone!
During November and December, Holidays meals certainly are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. These holiday spreads have more things to consider when planning and prepping. From number of guests to dietary needs, it’s no wonder we spend a lot of time thinking about holiday dinners and brunches. Beyond these few meals, we have unwavering daily nutritional needs and thus other meal preparation and cooking to consider. Try making the most of the cooler temperatures and food seasonality by making soups and casseroles. Collards, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, apples and many other fruits and vegetables are available during the winter months. Winter squashes are the perfect base for Meatless Mondays, like this vegetarian stuffed acorn squash recipe. Hot sandwiches never disappoint, either! Check out this basic tuna melt recipe by Simply Recipes.
The holidays are meant to be a special time of year. Oftentimes, though, the added undertakings from travel to hosting, can become overwhelming. Luckily, food does not have to be one of the added stressors. Start by focusing on other aspects of the holidays apart from food. This will help reinforce balanced eating that we strive for on any typical day. Ultimately, we can avoid things like skipping meals for fear of overeating later. Set yourself up for success by remembering that enjoying and savoring special meals is a part of culture and tradition that is meant to be enjoyed. In addition, you have the right to either enjoy seconds or say, “no thank you” if you are full. After all, leftovers are the best!
No matter what their age, it’s never too late to help your kids develop healthy mealtime habits. Offering a variety of foods helps kids develop more flexible preferences. If you have a picky eater, start by incorporating new items alongside things your children are already eating. If you are concerned that your child may have an unhealthy habit, avoid talking about food as if it is “good” or “bad.” Instead, you can validate their likes and ensure them those things will be incorporated into their overall intake. Parents can help kids talk through how it feels to eat too much and help them discover how to eat to satisfaction without discomfort, as another example. There are great resources available today such as Jennifer Anderson’s “Kids Eat In Color” resources.
Remove, clean, and dry your pumpkin seeds overnight. For this recipe shoot for about three cups of seeds. Preheat your oven to 325°F and use cooking spray to grease your sheet pans. In a bowl, mix 4 Tbsp of sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp of salt. In a separate bowl, mix 2 Tbsp melted butter and add ½ tsp vanilla extract. Add the pumpkin seeds to your wet ingredients, coat well and then add the dry ingredients while mixing. Once well incorporated, spread evenly in a single layer on your sheet pans and bake 25-35 minutes. Cool on parchment paper.
Body image is the perception that someone has of their physical self. This includes any thoughts and feelings associated with that perception. For many individuals, there is a combination of positive, negative, and neutral experiences and thoughts related to their body image. It is important to understand the affective, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of body image. The affective aspect of body image is how one feels about their body in terms of satisfaction or self-esteem. The cognitive aspects of body image encompass what one believes or thinks in relation to their body. For instance, one might believe they will look better with more muscle mass. Finally, behavioral body image is when one engages in a particular behavior because of their affective and cognitive body image. Self-acceptance can be particularly challenging in a time of heightened social media use where comparison to others is at an all time high. Understanding how our thoughts can drive our behaviors is the first step in creating healthy mind body experiences. Some key things to engage in at home include avoiding negative self-talk and body comparison, especially in front of children. It is also important to be aware of what is read and looked at, especially online.
Salt substitutes have been a dietary means used to help maintain healthy blood pressure in at risk individuals. As of late, the use of herbs has become more popular in general leading to better health management overall. Sodium can raise blood pressure and cause health issues. NaCl, or table salt, does contain sodium; however, studies indicate that over 70% of dietary sodium comes from prepackaged foods versus table salt added during cooking. Moreover, the increasingly trending use of sea salt has spurred some iodine (an added element to table salt) deficiencies that is notable given its need for proper thyroid function. Overall, a more careful approach to buying prepackaged foods may be the best line of defense for maintaining health. In more severe cases in which as individual has kidney disease, for instance, monitoring table salt may also be required. In these cases, salt substitutes can be used to enhance meals. Salt substitutes come in a variety of options from potassium chloride salts to herbs and spices, depending upon the individuals’ needs. From garlic to lemon zest, onion powder and nutrition yeast, the options are endless.
Stretching is critical to maintaining good range of motion in the body’s joints. Without stretching, the muscles become shortened and tightened. Thus, adequate range of motion is one key to injury prevention. Both stretching before an activity, as part of a warmup, as well as after to increase blood flow and flexibility are important. Dynamic stretches help warm up the muscles as they are movement-based such as a heel-to-rear jog or side shuffle. Static stretches that are typically held for 10-30 seconds each can be done after a workout. Stretching is also a great way to build positive mind-body connection. Stretching releases endorphins - an added benefit of an already beneficial tool that allows you to carry your body with greater ease and confidence.
While it is true that a food’s appearance can have an impact on its consumption, social media platforms have taken the concept of food styling to an entirely new level. An actual food stylist showcases food for photography, video or film according to CareerExplorer.com. Combine easier than ever access to technology with a pandemic and you get a new group of amateur lunchbox stylists creating bento boxes that look like executive chefs from Disney World put them together. Don’t sweat! A few tips to increase the appeal of meals includes offering bite sized portions (e.g., cubed cheese blocks and mini muffins), adding easy whimsy with mini cookie cutters (e.g., making star shaped cucumbers) or creating funny food names on labels such as Planet Box’s reusable magnetic labels.
Tahini has really only made its pointed U.S. debut within the last five years. Seen more frequently in middle eastern cuisine, this sesame seed paste is oftentimes found in hummus and salad dressings. As it has become a more popular household staple there is demand for recipes beyond just sauces. This is especially the case as tahini is relatively inexpensive, comes in a sizeable amount, and packs an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Try using tahini in a no bake nut butter bar mix like this one from Trader Joe’s. MyRecipes.com offers up a great tahini chicken marinade recipe that is simple and nutritious. Using tahini in cakes and breads is increasingly popular. Broma Bakery has a delicious tahini banana bread recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Tahini is also a fantastic nut butter substitute for those with nut allergies. No bake cookies afterschool can still be on the menu even for those children with peanut allergies.
Packing well balanced, varied lunches can help your child establish a healthy eating pattern over time. There are so many ways to interpret "balanced" these days. Does a meal need to be "plant-based" or always have something green included to be healthy? In short, the answer to all these questions is a resounding "no." While there are many plate infographics that represent a healthy plate, a general rule of thumb that anyone can follow is to aim to get at least 2-3 food group each time you build a meal. With all of today’s trendy and useful lunchboxes (e.g., Bentgo to Planet Box) this should be an easy rule to follow. Do not overcomplicate things by assuming all items needs to be fresh or homemade, either. Sit down with your kid and ask for feedback on what they would like. A good question prompt may be, “Is there anything that a classmate of yours packed last year that you would like me to buy?”
Kids Eat Right Month is a national campaign that helps families focus on healthy meal planning and active family lifestyle choices. On the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website, families can find varied resources like this yummy apple cinnamon baked oatmeal recipe by Registered Dietitian Taylor Wolfram.
Make-ahead Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
1½ cups fat-free milk or soy milk
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup egg substitute or egg whites
1 tablespoon melted trans-fat-free margarine
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chopped apples
Serving size: 1 square
Calories: 160; Total fat: 3g; Saturated fat: < 1g; Sodium: 80mg; Total Carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 18g; Protein 4g; Vitamin A: 248 IU; Vitamin C: 1.5 mg; Calcium: 56mg.
Recipe retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/recipes/apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal-recipe