Links on increasing protein, mindful eating, creative uses for a cheese grater, kids lunches, and a review of Blue Apron to inspire healthy living.
Links on picky eaters, serving others, kitchen appliances for busy families, grocery budget and diastasis recti.
How did your meal plan go last month? We had a few meals the kids would only taste and then they ate something else, but I felt pleased overall with our variety. I worked hard to offer/eat seafood twice weekly for the benefits of the Omega - 3's (check out my blog post on this) but it usually only happened once a week. I'll continue to work toward this but I will also be ordering some Omega 3 supplements. We spent one week on a beach vacation and enjoyed some non-typical food (blog post on this coming soon).
It's July: a new month and clean slate! Time to try again at planning a menu for you or your family. I've been working on my family menu the last several days so I can share it with you. I hope you find some ideas here that will work for you. Contact me if you want more information or a recipe. I'll be sharing more and more here on the blog, so stay tuned in. In the mean time, check out my Pinterest boards for some inspiration to get started. If you would like me to sit down with you and give you more specifics on how to meal plan just contact me.
Here is July's dinner plan. Clicking of the images should expand them to make it easier to read (the size not the handwriting :)
We have a two birthday dinners this month, a date night, and mom's night out. I don't plan to cook anything on these nights. I have easy food planned for mom's night out. My kids also have an evening Vacation Bible School this month, which makes dinner's tricky. I tried to plan very quick dinners with some more substantial lunches that week. Here is the detailed version for that week.
I've had a few questions about online meal planning services. I am checking a couple of the out for you so I can give you some reviews - stay tuned!
In the mean time here are a few more of my favorite kitchen products and tools I use to in the menus above. These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase from the link your price stays the same and I receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!
A book review of The Omega - 3 Effect by William Sears, MD. Read about my takeaways from the book and ways to get more seafood and Omega - 3's in your diet.
Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. If you looked at my family meal plan from last week's blog post you probably noticed it several times. I like to combine it with some nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) or dried fruit. I prepare my own popcorn (no microwave bags) and vary my seasonings to give variety!
If you prepare it properly it is a super healthy snack. Popcorn is a whole grain that is minimally processed. Popcorn contains many vitamins and some minerals (folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6, A, E, and K, iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc). It is full of fiber and polyphenol antioxidants. Polyphenols help protect our bodies from certain cancers and heart disease. In fact, the concentration of polyphenols is higher in popcorn than fruits and vegetables because of the low water content of popcorn. This doesn't mean we skip fruits and vegetables. They are still packed with other nutrients which popcorn lacks. A healthy diet includes both. The hulls of popcorn have the highest amounts of polyphenols and fiber. Hulls also contain beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, three antioxidants linked to eye health. Popcorn is on the upper edge of the lower glycemic index (GI) foods. Lower glycemic index diets help control blood sugar in people with diabetes and can help with weight control because lower GI food digest slower, delaying hunger.
You do have to prepare popcorn properly or it can become a health nightmare. Air popped popcorn has the lowest amount of calories. You can also pop popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag in the microwave. Use caution with store bought microwave popcorn bags. Some bags are lined with harmful chemicals and the butter flavoring has also been linked to health hazards. I personally like to prepare mine in a stove top popper with a little coconut oil in with the kernels. then I top it with a little olive oil and season it. The oils help the seasonings stick. Drizzle the olive oil immediately after popping. Then season and toss. Go light or without salt, most Americans get too much salt. Experiment with different herbs and spices. Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare it. Check my Pinterest popcorn board for more inspiration.
- Blood orange infused olive oil and a little orange zest
- Olive Oil, nutrition yeast (has a nice cheese flavor), and a tiny bit of salt
- Olive Oil and Herbs of Provence blend
- "Special" popcorn seasoning (I cut the salt way down in this recipe)
- Salt and Vinegar
- Cinnamon glazed popcorn mix
- Scallions and cilantro
- Turmeric and coriander
- Parmesan and black pepper
- Coconut sugar and orange zest
- Parmesan and oregano
- Spriulina **I have not tried this but want to, I don't know how my kids will do
- Grind up fresh popcorn to use as a gluten free substitute for bread crumbs
- Season it like croutons and use as a salad topping
Full Disclosure: these are not affiliate links. I just like these products or recipes.
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Popcorn also makes a fun gift! The picture above was my dad's birthday present. This would also make a great Father's Day gift (Sunday, June 21st this year). He got an air popcorn popper. I bottle of olive oil and some sea salt. I made four different seasoning blends from those listed above and put them in these wonderful Ball Spice Jars. I also included a book on Prime Time Health.
For Christmas, I gave my brother a stove top popper and some organic popcorn kernels. I gave extended family small bags of popped and seasoned popcorn with a cinnamon ornament. My kids helped stuff the bags and make the ornaments. They loved being able to help!
We have also given bags of seasoned popcorn to neighbors as a just-because gift. These would also make a a great housewarming or teacher gift. You could also fill a ball jar with kernels and include a recipe.
Here are some of my favorite popcorn products on Amazon. These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase your price stays the same and I get a tiny commission to support my site. Thanks for your support!
Meal Planning and I have a love/hate relationship. I (we/my family) eat so much better with a meal plan, but it takes time and doesn't always get done. I've decided to start sharing our family meal plans to give you guys some ideas for your own meals. I usually plan dinners a month at a time and lunches/breakfasts are either loosely planned by week, just spur of the moment or leftovers. I've decided to start planning lunch, breakfasts and snacks to try and be more intentional in what I eat and what I offer my family.
Planning ahead leads to healthier eating. It helps me remember (assuming I actually look at my meal plan) to thaw or prep foods when appropriate instead of after it is too late. I also am better about using up foods before they spoil. This is a just plan and things change. Life happens so I try to be flexible.
We live on a pretty tight grocery budget, so I shop at the beginning of the month with very few additional purchases later in the month. Planning helps keep our grocery budget on track. Sometimes I have to get pretty creative towards the end of the month. I try to budget my spending to keep some money in reserve for fresh foods and milk as the month winds down, but the majority of my shopping happens at the beginning of the month.
I use my crock pot a lot. I use it to "bake" potatoes - technically this is steaming them. I also will cook a whole chicken to use in future meals and then make broth from the bones afterwards. I cook beans (pinto, black, garbanzo) in the crock pot and them freeze them into portions equivalent to a can. I try to stay away from canned food as much as possible because of BPA - a chemical found in the lining of cans. (The Environmental Working Group just released their report on BPA in canned foods if you want more information.) Making my own beans is also less expensive than canned and is very easy and takes very little hands on time.
I am trying to feed my family a fish or seafood at least twice a week to increase our Omega 3 fatty acid intake. This is fairly new for us and the kids are hit or miss whether they eat it. I also try to have yogurt or kefir daily to get probiotics without a supplement. While I am not opposed to supplements, it is nearly always better to get nutrients from real food. The body can absorb them better and there is no risk of toxicity. I know I have only touched on a lot of things I do, without much detail, so please contact me with any questions.
Here is an example of a weekly plan for the week of June 8th. This month I have lot of prep work for camping and vacation so there are quite a few meals were we eat from the freezer and just add something fresh like salad, bread or fruit. The handwriting is horrible, I know, but this is the actual calendar I am using. So it doesn't have to be super professional.
Here is the June dinner plan.
Are you ready to get started? Decide how often you want to plan (weekly or monthly), gather a list of family favorite meals, maybe your Pinterest board of all those great ideas you never tried, and your calendar. You could start slow and plan just dinners for a week or plan several weeks and then just repeat. Keep in mind how much time you have to prepare meals and how often you go to the grocery. Start slow and make lasting changes rather than have a perfectionist attitude that won't last.
Teaching meal planning is another service I provide. As a dietitian I can plan menus, but I have found that people are more likely to stick with a plan long term if they learn to do it themselves. So if you are ready to learn meal planning, I'm happy to help. Just contact me.
Need some food ideas, check out the Health Happens at Home pinterest boards which I add to reagularly.
Here are some of my most used kitchen products on Amazon. These are affiliate links - if you make a purchase your price doesn't change and I get a tiny commission. Thanks for your support!
My favorite indulgence, chocolate chip cookies revamped into a healthier version.