This week I'm playing with the Thai Basil that I am growing in my herb garden. We're going to run a late #testkitchen this week (today rather than yesterday if all goes well!), making Thai salad rolls for dinner tonight and a Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken and vegetables for dinner tomorrow.
But why bother? Why change to a different kind of basil? Why not stick with the old one that is known and loved?
Over the years I've observed there are 2 basic kinds of eaters in the world: people who can eat the same thing all the time and be perfectly content, and people who want to eat different things all the time and rarely eat the same thing twice. I don't think either extreme is healthy or sustainable. In our family, we encourage a bit of both for a few different reasons:
By now you all are used to me talking about incorporating a variety of different colours into your food but we don't usually emphasize reasons for different flavours. I'm going to hone in on one reason this morning: "...waking up your taste buds".
Raising a family of picky children with a husband who came pretty picky himself has been a journey for us. At the beginning of parenting small children I was completely unprepared for picky eaters. The idea of it was as foreign to me as living in full darkness half a year. When I was a child, if my mom put food in front of me, I ate it. To be suddenly faced with gagging, vomiting, tears, and the rest was bewildering.
However, I firmly believe food should not be a fight. Ever. We determine what foods go on the table so we fully control what response we will get. We can talk more about this a different day.
Suffice it to say, providing different flavours to ourselves and our families can allow us to enjoy different foods while we are out and about at various times in our lives. Like it or not, most of us enjoy meals at places other than home. We can't always control what's for dinner, and so it makes sense to train our taste buds.
And that is it for today, friends. If you enjoyed this post, share it! Help me grow my business by getting my name and brand known! Tune in tomorrow on Facebook for a discussion on reverse meal planning and if you haven't "liked" my page yet, please do so- I don't want you to miss anything!
All the best!
This is my all-time favorite food group! We have so much to choose from, and the methods to prepare them are endless.
Luckily, this is the food group we can pretty much eat as much as we want from; unfortunately, most of us don't eat enough of them. If you're hungry, reach for some fruit or vegetables. Your body will thank you.
Today, we focus on Fruits and Vegetables.
First, why worry about it?
Fruits and vegetables provide a plethora of beneficial vitamins and minerals. They are naturally low in fat, high in fiber, relatively low in calories, and have no added sugar- and for all that they are nutrient dense, the perfect kind of snack or basis for your meals.
The key to this food group, like others, is variety. No single fruit or vegetable contains exactly the same kind of nutrition, so your best bet is to change them up, and change them often.
Fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing certain kinds of cancers and heart disease, can assist in maintaining healthy vision, and can help assist with weight loss.
The Canada Food Guide determination for servings of Fruits and Vegetables is age dependent. From 2-3 years old, both boys and girls need 4 serving of fruits/vegetables per day. From 4-8, that jumps to 5 servings per day for both sexes. From 9-13, they recommend 6.
From 14-18, girls need 7 and boys need 8, and while it varies slightly with adults, it basically hovers around the same as you age, with an extra serving or two for men until age 50, and drops to an equal 7 per day for both sexes after that.
What constitutes a serving?
Simply put, a medium fruit or a half cup of fresh, frozen, or canned is considered 1 serving. For those times of life when you don't have much fresh in your fridge, it's good to know that canned or frozen counts, right? Just try to buy food that's not canned in syrup- fruit juice or water- and watch for added sodium on canned vegetables. I find frozen fruit works best in smoothies, and frozen vegetables taste best if they're steamed before serving.
Some specific examples include:
One thing to note about dried fruit- because it's been dehydrated, it's very calorie dense, for a fruit. Try to eat dried fruit with some protein to help lessen blood sugar spikes. Sometimes commercially prepared dried fruit also contain added sugar, so do keep an eye on the labels.
In this picture, 1 peach, half the bowl of cubed watermelon, 2 plums, half that huge gala apple, the strips of bell pepper, all those green grapes, 1 banana, all the cucumber or zucchini, grape tomatoes, or carrots, or all that cantaloupe equals one serving of fruit.
For your school lunches, pick one fruit and one vegetable. Serve fruit and vegetables with every snack and meal, and make it easy and quick to eat when it comes to school lunches- remember, if they don't have time to eat it, they'll likely throw it out. When I was a lunch supervisor at school, I used to see all sorts of food hit the trash can.
Well friends, that's it for the school lunch series. What do you think? What do you want to see more of? There will be some blogging later in October on how you can pack multiple food groups into school lunches. In the meantime, I wish you healthy and happy lunches, and look forward to hearing how lunches are making a healthier shift.
Please like and share! Peace, friends.
This food group, along with fruits and vegetables, comprises of what we most need to eat in any given day. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation lately with all sorts of diets designed to get rid of them, but in truth, carbs are a necessary component for our bodily functions. Our cells use them to fuel our daily activities, and when we don't eat them, our bodies take what they can from elsewhere, to our detriment.
The caveat I want to stress, however, is that whole grains are the ones you need to eat. Processed grains, also referred to as refined, don't really do much for our bodies. They give us calories without the health benefit, and really, what's the point of that? They also tend to be high in sugar, which our bodies deal with by over-producing insulin. Not only that, but they lack fibre, which means that hunger will strike more quickly given the rate at which the foods are digested. It leads to an unhealthy cycle of spikes and crashes. These are referred to as "high GI" foods. Examples include white bread/rolls, cake/cookies, short grain rice, bran/corn flakes, crispy rice cereal, soda crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, cheesy fish shaped crackers, and so on.
Today, we focus on Breads and Cereals.
First, why worry about it?
As briefly stated above, our bodies use the nutrition found in whole grains, such as fibre, to reduce cholesterol, keep hunger at bay, keep our body's waste system working optimally, and reduce the risk of colon cancer. We also get several other vitamins from whole grains such as several B vitamins- riboflavin, folate, thiamine, and niacin- known to help our metabolism do its' job- and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. Here's a great article about some of the other benefits of whole grains.
I'm going to take a detour from the Canada Food Guide, now, because it suggests that half of our daily consumption from this food group be comprised of whole grains. My personal opinion is that this food group has a great opportunity for us to make or break our health. It makes very little difference to eat a few whole grain servings in a day but spend the rest of the day eating high GI, low nutritional value foods such as macaroni and cheese, waffles, most store bought granola bars/snack foods, and white bread toast.
There is a certain segment of the population that absolutely cannot eat gluten, found in all wheat products, that have a disease known as Celiac Disease. They cannot process gluten, and with continued ingestion, can do long-term damage to their small intestines. Fortunately, there are other foods they can eat that satisfy the whole grain requirement, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats. The most important thing to remember is to read the food labels. Cross contamination can occur.
The Canada Food Guide determination for servings of Breads and Cereals is age dependent. From 2-3 years old, both boys and girls need 3 serving of breads/cereals per day. From 4-8, that jumps to 4 servings per day for both sexes. From 9-13, girls and boys need 6 servings.
From 14-18, girls need 6 and boys need 7, and while it varies slightly with adults, it basically hovers around the same as you age.
What constitutes a serving?
Note: Look at ingredient labels! You are looking for the words "whole grain", whenever possible!
So what does this look like in a typical school lunch?
Here are some ideas that you could send in your typical school lunch. Luckily, gluten intolerance doesn't extend to people by being in the same room as gluten, so unless kids share their lunches with a celiac friend, there shouldn't be a problem.
I've got a homemade chocolate banana bran muffin, some sliced whole grain pita bread (about half a pita), a plain slice of whole grain whole wheat bread cut into quarters (my second son likes plain if he can't have peanut butter!), some original triscuit crackers, shreddies, cooked brown rice, cheerios, and popcorn. Rice is a terrific base for school lunches. You can send it as leftovers from dinner the night before- think rice pilaf or fried rice- or as dessert- like the rice pudding I'm putting in the slow cooker tonight.
Most of these are full servings- the pita bread and triscuits are just over and just under one serving, respectively.
Out of all of these, just pick one! For my second son, he only needs 4 servings in a day- my first son, 6 servings. If we think about a typical breakfast involving (usually) toast or cereal, the usual dinner involving some sort of starchy side like rice or buns, and there's always a bedtime snack in our house (because we eat dinner really early) I know they're getting their recommended servings.
I just want to say, I don't completely limit my kids' food choices when it comes to breads and cereals...or anything, actually. From time to time I'll buy the Presidents Choice version of those little fish crackers. When we travel, I usually bring a box of granola bars. We do eat really well, most of the time. I don't generally buy what I consider junk food, because if it's in the house, we'll eat it, and I'd rather spend our grocery budget on nutrition. I try to make my own desserts (like banana bread, zucchini loaf, cookies, etc). I feel that sometimes we really do want a cookie- so I'll try to make them. But life is busy, and sometimes I will buy them. I still try to buy the better of the processed snacks- keep reading food labels! And I will limit how much we can have in a day- and always, overall, choose nutrition over calories.
Please like, comment and share as you like! I can't wait to see our kids mobilized to making healthier choices even when we aren't watching! And as always, if you have some suggestions to add to this list, I welcome them. Please add your voice to my blog posts!
All the best,
And that means, for those of us with kids, back to school lunches. Is anyone ever really ready for it?
I've seen this same photo circulating on Facebook for years now. It's a great idea, and has generated a lot of excitement on getting your kids ready to accept some empowerment and having them to choose their own lunches.
The biggest issue I have with this particular example is the vast quantity of heavily processed, nearly nutritionally void foods. Many of them are high in sugar, fat, and.or sodium. The only items I see basically unprocessed are the cheese strings and the cucumber.
I totally understand the frustration with building a lunch for your kids. The schools my children attend have so many restrictions on what can be brought in their lunch- and when you add a picky child to the mix, as we have lived through with both, options become extremely limited. Take heart, though. My first defined picky, but he's a great eater now. I have high hopes for the second.
That being said, there are things we can do as parents and caregivers to provide healthy, balanced lunches for our kids. We can give them the choices needed to build their own lunches, still. It just requires a little bit more planning and preparation on our part. I promise, a balanced diet will do wonders for your kids and their health, both now and into the future.
Because my boys are finally going back to school tomorrow, this blog post will be spread out over the week as a school lunch series. Please comment, suggest, and share! I would love to see school lunches transformed into something more than just stuff to fill an empty belly- make them the backbone of healthy bones, growing minds, and active bodies!
Today, we focus on Milk and Alternates.
First, why worry about it?
As a child I used to hate the "because I said so" answers. As an adult, I still do. So I'm not going to throw out a whole bunch of things you should do with no reason behind it.
Calcium is a mineral that is found in your bones and teeth. To simplify, the amount you get into your body as a child will directly impact your health as an adult. If you are deficient in your younger years, there will be bone density problems as adults. Calcium also impacts the health of your teeth and plays a role in disease prevention. We have such a short time, as parents, to make sure we are doing what we can to make our kids as healthy as possible not only now but long after they've grown. I think it's marvelous that we can take the reins and do this for our kids. For further information, check out this article!
The Canada Food Guide determination for servings of Milk and Alternates is age dependent. From 2-8 years old, both boys and girls need 2 servings of milk/dairy/alternates per day. From 9-18, that jumps to 3-4 servings per day for both sexes.
What constitutes a serving?
So what does this look like in a typical school lunch?
At our school, students get about 20 minutes to wash their hands, eat their lunches, use the bathroom if needed, and clean up after themselves. As you can possibly imagine, this is not an easy task for some kids who would prioritize social time and play over eating. I advocate easy-to-open and easy-to-eat lunches, so that we can hopefully get some nutrition into our kids for the afternoon session of classes.
And here's how easy it is...just pick one. This is the dairy I had on hand today, but there are many more options you can use.
If you don't want the added sugar, skip the flavoured yogurt and eat unflavoured. Our school has a milk program you can opt into. Assuming that most kids won't guzzle a whole 1 c. of milk plus eat lunch in their 20 minutes, if you opt into a program like that I wouldn't worry too much about sending additional dairy, unless you want to. They'll probably drink half of their milk in that time.
If it is easier to think about, for the younger kids, 2 servings of dairy a day can be broken up into 4 half-sized servings.
For example, the Activia is not a full serving- just over a half serving. And the cheese string is just under a half serving. So combine those in your day, and that is one serving of dairy. That's a half serving of milk, and just over a half serving of feta cheese (not that my kids will eat it!). If you make sure they are drinking milk or eating yogurt with their breakfast, having some for lunch, some after school, and some at dinner or at bedtime, they're likely going to hit all their nutritional needs for the day.
Bigger kids, well, are bigger- my experience this summer with my first son is that he's always hungry. Getting him to eat an extra serving or 2 of dairy is not a problem.
Hopefully these ideas will help you figure out what's for lunch this week. Over the course of the next week we will be examining all the food groups, and then a series of put-together lunches will follow after that.
Enjoy the rest of your day, friends!
It's about 20 minutes until dinner is ready. I can't make the potatoes cook any faster, and I'm so hungry. The kids are whining and hungry, and trying to sneak crackers. I'm tempted to join them. So what's a person to eat that won't spoil the appetite but help stave off junk food noshing?
After staring in the fridge and pantry myself for longer than I'd like to admit, I decided on a spoonful of peanut butter, and figured that I can't be the only person and have the only family this is an issue for.
So here's a little list of something you can offer yourself and your family. My criteria is pretty simple: it can't get in the way of dinner prep- I don't want to be washing and peeling and cooking something when dinner's almost done. It has to be nutritious- there needs to be more than a "good source of vitamin e" label, like you'd find on a bag of potato chips. It needs to be easy, so the kids can help themselves. And it needs to be something that's going to offer them a quick hit of nutrition without filling them up before dinner. I'm not looking to supply them with a full portion from a food group, just a little bit, in order to help offset hunger and prevent overeating, and also to top-up the main food groups in case they're a bit short on servings.
In case you're wondering, we're having minestrone soup for dinner tonight, and it will be delicious. A bit of a warm meal for summer, but I'm in the mood for soup. Everyone in our family enjoys it, and I need my second son to eat more well-rounded meals. Minestrone has loads of vegetables and protein sources. In fact, every food group is represented, if I grate a little fresh parmesan on top, which I will. Fresh fruit for dessert will help the iron from the beans and beef to be better used by their bodies. Mmm. What are your dinner plans tonight?
This week, like all of them at the end of the school year, was an exercise in determination. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep slogging on. Just 3 more weeks to go! I can't wait. I mean, I can, because my kids are growing up too fast for my comfort. On the other hand, I'm feeling pretty desperate for a break. And because there's no such a thing as a pause button on life, I'll gladly take the summer break.
My husband and I went out for a late lunch one day this week, so the kids got peanut butter sandwiches, baby carrots, and fruit for dinner that night- we weren't hungry enough to eat, ourselves. The rest of our week looked like this: pan fried chicken thighs with frozen vegetables and fresh spinach on watermelon, roast pork with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed russet potatoes, fresh vegetables, and fresh pineapple, and bbq'd pacific red snapper served with frozen vegetables and fresh carrots.
Now, I've seen a lot of discussion online about fresh fish being mislabeled and sold under improper names. It seems like a pretty common problem. I'm not actually certain we ate red snapper for dinner- I think it was possibly Pacific Rockfish. Keep that in mind when you're shopping! If you want more information about sustainable seafood, things to avoid, and so on, I found this excellent Seafood Watch program through the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The MB website also has some great live cams - from jellyfish to penguins!
I created a couple of mason jars for the start of my baking experiment. I've been too busy to bake much this week, but I hope to get some done next weekend. I did experiment with my pear/pecan/vanilla muffin recipe. I think it could be better, so I'll keep adjusting. Once I think it's perfect, you'll find my recipe under "breakfast". Unfortunately I ran out of flour, and haven't had time to get to the grocery store, so I had to stop at my 2 prepared jars. And because I'm storing them in the cupboard next to my dishwasher, which gets pretty hot, the ground nut portion of my recipes will be added when I actually bake- I don't want the nuts to go rancid.
How are the last few weeks of your school year going? Or are you lucky enough to be done with school already? Do you have some exciting summer plans lined up? We're pretty excited to be seeing my brother and his family. We're going camping (tenting) for a week, and I'm taking my Advanced Diploma in Nutrition course.
Today I'm planting my herb garden. I can't wait to start using my own fresh herbs in the kitchen. I have a feeling I'll be planting more than I actually can use, so in a few weeks (once they start to take off in growth) if you're in the area and want to pick up some fresh herbs, just drop me a line!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, friends!
Last week I submitted our bbq'd salmon and asparagus to gastropost, and they featured me this week! Here's a look at the gorgeous meals prepared by many Edmonton and area home chefs, this one is mine, and click on the photo to see the pdf!
I can't believe we're into a month of soccer already. Granted, the first week was all practice and no games, but still. Time flies. I have just enough sports commitment in me to be a spring soccer mom. I do enjoy going to the practices and games. I love watching how my first son has unfolded his confidence and grown into his role, and it is hilarious watching my second son learn to play. And while spring in Alberta has its' definite downsides, such as snow, windchill, and brutal sleet/rainstorms, this year has been relatively easy.
I've been working on my book this week, playing in my #testkitchen, working up recipes and experimenting.
Along with appointments and soccer, we had a friend over for dinner and I enjoyed travelling on a field trip with my second son's class to The Muttart Conservatory. Check out this gorgeous picture of that place:
This is the place to go when winter is squeezing the joy out of your soul. I look forward to spending many days here next year when both boys are in full time school. That is, if my car can make it out of my driveway. There were days last winter when we had so much snow no one could drive down our street.
I hope you have all enjoyed your week! What was the best part?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
All in all, this was a surprisingly productive week. Surprising, because I had a few unexpected hoops thrown at me, but I managed to keep from tripping on them. Woo Hoo! And if you look at all my dinner plates, you'll notice a lot more colour in them when compared to last week's dinners! I tried to really up the ante on fruit and vegetables this week. The more nutrition the kids eat when they're young, the better equipped they'll be as adults. And although both of them don't love my dinners all the time, just being exposed to the flavours and foods is training them to be good eaters with an adventurous palate. I always try to put something on the plate that they'll enjoy- even, like in the halibut meal, it was only the peas and corn that passed approval from my second son.
I finished my last class of my Diploma in Personal Nutrition, and now aside for the final exam I have a month off until my next begins. Both boys had their soccer games, I managed to keep my river valley walking commitment, I actually did the paper filing from my kitchen counter, and even managed to surprise the kids with a doubled recipe of their favorite muffins. I worked in my #testkitchen- a couple of recipes for my cookbook, too. Like I said, surprisingly productive.
I actually did the muffins and some apple crumble on a soccer night because I had the oven on at the right temperature and the kids have been begging me to bake. I had some sad apples to cook and enough over ripe bananas too. Doubled their muffins, because I don't like baking. I left a few out on the counter and found space to freeze the rest flat in a ziplock.
The boys provided breakfast in bed for me on Mothers Day, which was pretty nice. They gave me a heaping portion of fruit with my toast and yogurt, and a nice big cup of coffee, and left me alone to enjoy some moments of peace.
What did your week look like? Did you accomplish something that's been bugging you for a while? My nemesis is paper clutter. I'm so glad to have just put it away.
If you're in Canada, I hope you're enjoying the long weekend! Have a wonderful week, friends.
Yesterday I made the slowcooker soup during the day (while it was actually snowstorming outside!) so that I wouldn't have to worry about cooking dinner tonight. Looking over these pictures I'm realizing that there are 2 major colours missing from our meals- red and green! My family picked up on that too, and asked for red and green after-soccer snacks. We ate strawberries and grapes, red pepper strips, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas. The Canada Food Guide suggests the kids eat 6 servings and we eat about 8, so there's always room for more veges and fruits at snack time. I do need to get more fresh fruit and vegetables though, because I'm now out of carrots, snap peas, and all fruit except oranges and apples. Keep it colourful in that shopping cart! You'll get a wider variety of nutritients.
I had an abundance of potatoes, mushrooms, and carrots this week in the fridge and pantry, so those were the first vegetables I turned to when prepping dinner. Plus it's been more like winter than spring, and I seem to turn to root vegetables when I'm cold.
Spring soccer's always a bit of an adventure when it comes to the weather. Tonight's game time forecast is rain, and lots of it. This is good for us, though, because our forest fire season has started early and in earnest. We had a brush fire about a month ago not far from our home. It's pretty scary when the smoke is close and the wind is blowing in your direction!
What food do you gravitate to when the weather turns wintery? Do you seek out the company of soups and stews, or do you like warm roasts with potatoes, or spicy and peppery stirfrys? I look forward to hearing about your favorites!
Have a great day,