So how does the meals maven fall off her meal plan?
Today was that day for me. I had a full day of errands and tasks, baking and studying, a great and tasty dinner planned. Then the words "Breaking News" flashed across the television screen while I was finishing my coffee and that stopped me flat. 2 horrifying instances just a few days apart in which Canadian soldiers were targeted and murdered.
The first soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was deliberately targeted and hit by a car driven by someone reported to be "radicalized". The second, an unarmed Honour Guard at Canada's War Memorial in Ottawa, was shot at point-blank range before the shooter took off to do more damage in our House of Commons. Corporal Nathan Cirillo died later in hospital; the shooter was killed during a gun-fight with law enforcement in the Parliament building.
I am so saddened by this. I'm not offering any opinions on motivations, religious convictions, or anything else on these murders. I'm sure the media will be full of passionate diatribes in days to come, and there will be plenty of people more educated in these manners than I am that can offer some sort of explanation. What I can see, what I can say with certainty, is that violence begets violence, that it spreads like a cancer and metastasizes around the world, no matter what part of the world we live in.
For today only, I drove through McDonalds to get dinner for the boys in my life. Today I am letting go of the kitchen duties and letting myself just mourn for the loss of our soldiers, our country's shattered illusion of safety, the evil found in everyone's hearts, and how much sorrow we will all have to face in years to come.
I know this has nothing to do with meal planning, but it's where I'm at today, and know that when you're at that point, it's ok for you to fall off the meal plan too. It happens.
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
Have you ever wondered how many servings of anything you should try to get your kids to consume in a day? Or what constitutes a serving? It's especially hard when you are serving something like soup, which my picky second son enjoys the most.
As a mom, I wonder about the best way to figure out if they're eating enough, or too much? Both kids from time to time seem to be constantly hungry, or full way too soon. I wonder if they're being creative at evading a meal that isn't their favorite by claiming they're full, or if they've actually had enough. I won't force them to finish what's on their plate- I figure it's their job to decide that they're done, and I don't want to plague them with a lifetime of overeating and related health problems. On the other hand, sometimes they seem to be hungry ridiculously close to the end of the last meal.
Enter the Canada Food Guide. I'm sure it's not perfect, and not without its' share of controversy, but this is a resource I turn to often, and as I am the meals maven, it's a very handy and useful resource to look to.
As an example in how to use this guide, I will think about how my second son ate today. His recommended foods are:
5 servings of vegetables and fruit
4 servings of grain products
2 servings of milk products
1 serving of protein.
Allow me to stop right here and tell you today was an atypical day. My fruit, veges, and dairy are getting low, so I'm definitely shopping tomorrow. I can tell you he ate more than enough grain products and (surprisingly, since peanut butter counts) protein. He only ate half the vegetables and fruits, mostly in the form of watered down juice. He had only about half his milk products today as well.
What constitutes a serving? Let's focus on fruit and vegetables, since most of us don't get or give enough. In his case, for vegetables and fruits he typically eats carrots and apples every day. A serving of those is about a half-cup each. Our apples this week are small, so I treat an apple as one serving, and a carrot cut up into strips or coins as about a half cup. Keep in mind, he needs 5 servings a day, so if we serve fruit or vegetables with every snack and meal, he meets his recommended servings.
A typical daily meal plan for him is this (don't judge me! He's so picky! I know he eats a lot of nutella!)
Breakfast: 1/2 c. milk + 1 slice of bread with nutella on it + 1 apple
Snack: 1/2 c, yogurt + carrot sticks and a water cup
Lunch: 1/2 c. of watered down apple juice + 1 slice of bread with peanut butter on it
Snack: Cheese String + carrot sticks or apple slices and a water cup
Dinner: whatever we're having
Bedtime snack: 1/2 c. milk + 1 slice of bread with nutella on it
I try once or twice a week to cook for dinner whatever he will eat, and the rest of the time cook whatever we all want to eat. Most of the time he'll at least take a taste, which is all I can ask for at this stage, and way better than he used to be. Dinner always includes vegetables and/or fruit as half our plate (his plate is divided), a small section for protein, and a slightly larger section for carbs. What he drinks for dinner is often water, but sometimes, if we're eating something with a high iron content, such as beef and bean chili, we'll serve dinner with juice so that the iron can be better absorbed with the added vitamin c.
If you don't feel like looking up what you should eat, here's what I should eat as a woman of almost 40. Feel free to compare your needs to mine. It's probably similar, as there are not that many changes in this age range until you hit 51. Men require 1 or 2 extra vegetable/fruit, grain, and protein serving.
Vegetables and Fruits: 8-10
If you're anything like me, chances are good you look at your prepared chicken thighs and wonder how many of those you should eat. The nutritional information on the back of the package gives you the 100g serving information, but it turns out that the Canada Food Guide says 75g is one serving. So how do you tell?
I make heavy use of our kitchen scale. I know, it sounds so geeky, but that's the only real way to tell, and I did marry a geek. Our eyeballs and stomachs usually tell us to eat more than we should, especially if it's really tasty and pretty. If you are serious about watching what you eat, you should definitely invest in one of these handy kitchen gadgets.
The other thing you can do is to input your recipe (exact amounts matter though, so take a picture of your packaging and nutritional info before you toss it) into My Fitness Pal. This website has a great recipe builder section where your favorite recipes can be stored, and you can just enter your recipe in your daily meal tracking. This also really helps keep track of where you're at in the day, so you can tell after dinner if you should splurge on something or just stick to apples and carrots.
Good luck to you as you navigate this tricky world of nutrition. Let me know what you're doing to figure out nutritional needs for your family, and how your meals compare to mine!
How was Thanksgiving, fellow Canadians? We were blessed this year by being hosted dinner at 3 different places! The great thing about that was we didn't have to cook. The sad thing about it is, no massive piles of leftovers to work with either. Oh well, Christmas dinner is coming fast!
In the spirit of turkey leftovers needing a new face, I bring you this list of dinner ideas. Using your leftovers will help stretch your food budget so much further, and you will have much less wasted food in the process. If you're completely "turkeyed-out" for now, you can always freeze your leftover meat in smaller chunks to use later, much as I do with my pork loin and chicken here.
You are welcome to contact me if you would like specific recipes. Most of these are things I toss together without following a recipe, so I'll do my best to comply!
Don't forget to toss your bones into your slow cooker overnight to make the best soup stock ever! You may need to break it up into 2 batches of stock, because turkey bones are pretty big
1. Turkey Fried Rice
2. Turkey Curry
3. Turkey and Vegetable Stir Fry
4. Turkey Soup
5. Turkey Pot Pie
6. Turkey Sandwiches
7. Turkey and White Bean Chili
8. Thai Turkey Wraps
9. Turkey Caesar Salad
10. Turkey Tacos
Please let me know what you do with your leftovers- I'm always interested in new recipes and ideas. Have an excellent week, and remember to stay thankful :)
How are your Thanksgiving Throw Down plans going? What ideas have you come up with, what action plans have you made?
I'm happy to say my first son is completely on board with this throw down- his sense of competition has come into play. I think one of the greatest challenges for me as a parent is to engage my kids into a wider world view. Life isn't just about our home and the daily dose of homework and video game time. Life's bigger- encompassing our schools, our city, or province, our country, our continent, our world.
We've given twice to the local food bank, and donated a couple of boxes to a clothing drive. My first son has been challenged to think of the next thing we can do as a family. I told him to "think big"- we'll see what he comes up with!
This is a photograph of a food bank somewhere in Canada, for those of us who need a visual to kick-start brainstorming.
And here's another interesting article about developing a better food system. Have a happy Tuesday!
I went for groceries yesterday, and it gives me such pleasure to have a fridge and pantry full of food again. It's a blustery, cold day today- in fact, it snowed overnight- so dinner tonight is a mix of leftovers and fresh food spun together in a hearty pot of soup. Leftover breakfast sausages, carrots, celery, spinach, chicken, onions, garlic, potatoes, brown rice, navy beans, rosemary, oregano, and fennel seed in a homemade chicken stock broth. Smells SO good.
This time of year there are many food drives. Just last weekend a local church picked up boxes of food from homes around town, and my son informs me that there's an ongoing food drive at his school, so he'd like to bring in some food tomorrow.
It seems a fitting time of year, just 2 weeks or so from thanksgiving, to remember to be thankful. I'm so grateful that we have what we have. We are blessed to have a regular paycheck, food to eat, a roof over our heads, and beds to snuggle into when the winter wind starts blowing. We have our health, opportunities to improve ourselves, and friends we can call up if we need someone to talk to. I challenge all of us to do what we can to help meet a need in our community- be it warm blankets, coats and other winter gear, food for the food bank, donations to homeless shelters, etc. Be creative, and share some of the good things we've all been blessed with. I'd love to hear what you've done. Please share this post and spread some love in a tangible way- if everyone who reads this made an effort to do something for someone, and challenged their friends to do the same, we could make a real difference this fall in our communities.
Who's up for the challenge? Will anyone stand with me?