Keep on keeping healthy!

With that first month of the new year under my belt, I’m also starting to feel those resolutions slipping from my mind. Here are a few little hints and tricks that help keep my family healthy eating all year round, enjoy!

#1 Cook with love!

I’ve never had an awesome meal after I spent hours slamming pots and pans and muttering about the days grievances. Enter your kitchen with your loved ones in mind and remember what you are preparing for them now is what will sustain them. A good healthy meal/snack shows how much you care and when it’s made with love it tastes that much better!

#2 Start early…in life.

We are what we eat, or so they say. If we encourage our kiddos to eat mindfully at a young age, it stands to reason they will grow up to be healthy eaters. Or at least you can feel good that you gave a great foundation.

#3 Get everyone involved- in all of it! The menu planning, the shopping, the cooking and plating.

It’s actually eye opening to ask for input on some of these things once in a while. Why should I have to be the only one coming up with ideas and being creative when it comes to meals? I love writing things like “2 side veggies” on my husbands grocery list, I’m often surprised with something I would have walked right by without noticing. I’m also a fan of establishing meal nights for each member to plan. It’s fun to see a recipe that hasn’t been made in months or a new one added to the menu, it’s also a good way to gauge what everyone is “craving” or “into” at any given time.

#4 “Mix it Up” and don’t quit trying!

This is quite literal. Mix it, blend it, puree it, dice it, shred it, slice it and don’t quit trying! A ton of foods that are so good for us, aren’t our favorite when prepared in different ways. It’s fine to not like certain foods, but its a disservice to not give everything a fair shot. I love the challenge of learning new ways to prepare the “same old” ingredients.

Something like spinach is very versatile and often disliked by kids. I never hated it but it wasn’t until I was a nanny that I learned I loved it cooked, thanks to a 3 year old girl who requested it daily. Spinach is awesome blended in a smoothie, makes a great salad raw, can be added into pasta sauces and soups.

Cauliflower is another sneaky guy. As a dairy sensitive gal with a love for all things mac and cheese, this is my latest and greatest find. Cauliflower can be substituted as rice, mashed into “potatoes,” pureed into “Alfredo” sauce. It takes on flavors similar to tofu, so it’s pretty amazing roasted with your favorite herbs or spices. It’s also fairly easy to turn this veg into a thickening agent for chowder soups or to half the “dairy” in homemade mac and cheese.

#5 Make it a “treat”- once in a while.

Don’t tell any one but healthy food can also be super yummy. Ever heard of brownies made with beets? How about making your own trail mix, sure you can add chocolate bits but also dried fruits and protein packed nuts! What about a fruit packed Popsicle or making your own fruit roll ups? Here’s a new one…shredded carrot in the cake?!? What? Just kidding on that one, haha.

 

 

I can’t help myself…he made me do it!

So…

On the heels of my “healthy” sandwich post, my husband graciously offered to make us lunch and I enthusiastically said “yes!”

He does not follow the same recipe I do. I love him dearly but couldn’t help but share this lunch made with all sorts of love…and mayo, mustard, hummus AND cheese. I do love that he added this amazing arugula, pear, and quinoa salad along side with a homemade Dijon dressing. Yum! hubby sandwich

Sometimes, you just gotta splurge and have ALL the condiments.

 

 

Lunch time!

Hey all!

Another week is upon us and I volunteered to tackle the lunch making. I know it isn’t much but here’s my take on a quick and easy lunch.

On the menu? Sandwich, sour fruit gummies, and baby carrots. I know it isn’t earth shattering or mind blowing but it is simple, healthy, a little fun, and targets nearly every food group-sorry dairy but we aren’t the best of friends so you aren’t represented.

 

lunch 3
Sneak peek

Here’s my break down and a couple tips along the way:

Today’s sandwich is: ham, pepperoni, greens (from the garden!!!) with hummus spread.

lunch 4 I use hummus as a substitute for mayo/mustard and cheese. It’s my way to cheat some healthy points into the meal and subtract unneeded/unwanted calories.

 

For my family, eating fruits and veggies isn’t a problem at home, we love most anything!  Getting them in outside of the home seems to be our problem. Too many choices get squished or bruised and look unappealing before lunch even starts! I’ve found that if I pop a few that are easy and mindless to eat while at a desk such as carrots, cherry tomatoes (when in solid container), apple slices, etc, they actually disappear by the end of the day- score!

Here’s a handful of carrots, a sweet treat for dessert (or save for the bus ride home) , and a little “love note” hidden under the sandwich.

lunch 1

Wrap your sandwich with your napkin- that way you know you’ve got one on hand at meal time AND it helps to hold your sandwich together (without using plastic)! I used the snack pack as my divider for carrots and sandwich- we’ll see if we end up with a soggy mess or crumby carrots…

 

 

lunch 2I try my best to avoid plastic baggies so I love these boxes from our favorite Thai takeout. I gave up baggies as a personal challenge this year to reduce my plastic use and instead opt to reuse these containers as my “bento” box go to. They are super sturdy, stay closed, and help ensure lunches aren’t smashed before lunch.

With so little in the way of trash, it’s quick and easy to put the lid back on, put back in your bag and still have time to play a game or read your email! That’s what I call success on so many levels!

Voila! Lunch is served!

 

 

 

Back to School – Let’s do Lunch (and more!)

Image result for school bus

It’s official.

School is really knocking on the door. My question is, are you ready?

If you are anything like me, these things always sneak up on me and I find myself scrambling to be prepared on time. Even more often, I’m left with a heavy heart as I brainstorm awesome ideas- after the fact.

To make back to school time one of excitement for the learning that is about to occur and the social experiences our children will encounter, we hope and pray that everything goes smoothly, everyone enjoys their first days of adjusting, and dinner around the table is met with laughter, not tears and fears (for both kids and parents).

So…

In effort to kick of the 2017-2018 school year on the right foot, I’ve cheated and used my best friend pinterest to come up with a few ways to alleviate some stress and still feel like a rock star parent/caregiver.

To start off this school year, I’ve decided to go with some ideas of how to capture the memories of those first day cuties. How often are you wishing you had spent two more minutes getting that picture instead of rushing to the car/bus?

Back to school photo sign- Chalkboard/reusable

Another chalkboard photo opportunity

 

chalkboard

I’ve included some lunch making tips (for you or your “growing more independent daily” child) that aims to hit the healthy mark and gives multiple days of ideas! When the work day is too long and making lunches seems more like climbing a mountain, let these guys point you in the right direction.

Make your own school lunch

lunch.jpg

Build a healthy lunch

You’ll also find some fun notes and affirmations you can sneak into your kiddos lunch or back pack to let them know you are thinking of them…always!

Free printable lunch notes and jokes!

Printable lunch notes

Affirmations

 

Be warned, if you enter the world of “pinning” without a timer, you may find yourself doing more pinning then living. It’s a slippery slope but full of awesome time saving, parent helping, kid loving hints and tips.

 

What to do with last weeks groceries…

Growing up dinner was often decided by a quick glance in the fridge, followed by an inventory of what was most in need of being used. Recipes were referenced but I really wouldn’t say “used.” When I was learning to cook, I was taught using a method of waste nothing, don’t follow the rules, and measurements are for suckers. Of course while this was going on, I was under the impression this was how everyone prepared a meal.

Waste nothing is still one of my favorite “rules” of my kitchen. Every weekend I like to open the fridge and clear it out…but not into my compost bin (the horror!), instead I pretend I’m on one of those cooking shows with mystery baskets and I’ve got to use every item. This week I was incredibly impressed with that came out of my kitchen (and my fridge) so I just have to share!

This week my fridge was an “odd” mix for me. Items I generally don’t have on hand were inching toward their expiration dates (guess that’s why I generally don’t have them, haha) and I was thrown a little of my game. I had french bread for sandwiches I never made, too many cherries, sour cream, mushrooms, and eggs for days. Now when I play my version, I’m allowed research so pintrest and allrecipes are top on my list and almost always save the day.

Yesterday my husband got busy doing man stuff aka the stuff I don’t really want to do (hang shelves and wash the car) and I got busy in the kitchen.

To my delight, I found a recipe for an overnight french toast that not only tackled most of my bread dilemma, it also used almost half my eggs! Even better, I got to use a pantry item that has also been sitting on a shelf way to long without a purpose (bye bye pumpkin butter, love you but you’ve got to go)! Eggs -check, bread-check, breakfast for this morning made before I open my eyes-check! 🙂

I finished of the bread by slicing thin and spraying each side lightly with olive oil, popped them in oven for 10 minutes per side at 350 and made crostinis. Snack for this afternoon-done (we always have some hummus or cheese on hand for easy snacking).

The mushrooms and sour cream got turned into a hearty dinner of beef stroganoff…only 5 ingredients and soooooo tasty.

And finally the cherries. I made the most amazing sauce for pork chops. A sweet twist for the taste buds and the menu. I’ve heard they pair well and was so pleased with how well they truly play together. Yet another reason to support the local fruit farmers.

With my fridge now back to the basic staple items, my tummy full and my heart content I can look forward to another wonderful week without any unpleasant fridge finds.

 

Snack lunches aka the Bento Box

Here’s to another week of trying to come up with some clever lunches to pack for the family. It’s a big task to come up with something everyone will enjoy, that is quick and easy, and will also have the nutritional value I want to see in my meals. I sometimes just give up, through up the white flag, and say “I surrender!”

When this happens, there is only one solution for my family. Snack lunches! No, not sack lunches…snack lunches. I’m sure you’ve seen the cute boxes that are coming out for lunch packing. Compact boxes with multiple compartments and tiny little tubs that fit inside. These are known as bento boxes and I love them! I am seeing them packed into more kids lunch boxes and am thrilled by the outcome.

These boxes, if packed correctly (aka to your likes) is like opening a treasure chest! Inside each of these boxes can usually fit 4-5 small items and are easy to arrange. The idea is to have multiple snacks that make up a complete meal. A few nuts, a spot for carrots and hummus, a couple crackers, a small tub peanut butter day one. Day two: some grapes, cubes of cheese,  cucumber, pretzels, and a little chicken salad.

I am still floored that i can prep a handful of fruits and veggies on the weekend, make a quick stop by the bulk bins (nuts, dried fruit, granola, etc) on my grocery run, and mix together a simple salad  and have my weeks worth of lunches done. I also don’t mind that on my lazier days, I can tell the family to fill up their own boxes and know they will be eating healthy of their own accord.

I dare you to go and pick up your own box (these aren’t just for kids) and try it out for a week. If you are anything like me you will get a natural high from knowing you’ve cut down on waste (no more little plastic bags), improved the nutrition value while controlling the portion sizes of your meals, and can have lunch ready in under 5 minutes!

Tip of the day: These little guys also work wonders on hiking trips or outings to the park. If there is one thing that quickly ruins my day, it’s the hunger factor. Having one of these prepped and ready to go on any adventure ups the enjoyment factor without upping the hassle.