Friday, February 28, 2014

Stop Sugar Now! Seriously! It's Friday so it's Tips, Tricks and Inspiration.

 Here's your tip:  eat local and eat seasonal when possible. I am believer in local foods. Not only does eating locally keep diversity in our food supply and preserving the environment, I think it has to be better for us. Have you ever noticed a craving for root vegetables in winter? I never crave them in summer! Seasonal foods have nutrients we need in those seasons. I make it easy on myself by getting a CSA box. We still buy produce at the grocery, but it is my purpose to eat as much seasonal, local food as we can. There are some great aids to help us. Here is a cool seasonal foods poster from the UK.  I also offer this pretty poster, put up monthly for that month's seasonal foods.  Sine we're enjoying all these cool kitchen print outs, I'm throwing in this very handy kitchen chart that covers all the questions I have on a continuing basis! I found all these amazing printouts (and many more) on Oh, the Lovely Things blog.

Is your eye tricking you? There is no better way to ensure you are eating the calories you think you then by weighing and measuring your portions. I made a pact with my good buddy Gina to weigh and measure everything through the weekend. I call it "Weigh and Measure Weekend." Isn't that original? The trick here is that over time, our ability to gauge our portions slips. Weighing and measuring ensures that we are eating what we think we are. My cereal bowl gets fuller over time and this morning I discovered my cup of milk is closer to 3/4 of a cup. It's particularly important to measure those calorie dense things like oils, alcohol and sugar.

To help me remember, I removed everything from my island except my scale, measuring cup and spoons. For on-the-go measuring, these collapsible measuring cups are cool. What's really good is to learn to eyeball your measurements. I can count an ounce of cheese very accurately because I do it all the time. Here is a helpful selection of tips to remember what a serving looks like of meat, pasta, dressing and etc. The importance of Weigh and Measure Weekend is to verify that your "eye" is still on the mark. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. Join us for Weigh and Measure Weekend!

I usually try to make my inspiration paragraph all about the inspiration: the joy, the results, the person we all want to emulate. Today, however, it's a bit of reverse inspiration. The more I read this article about the likely link between sugar and heart disease the more inspired I am to move sugar way, way into the corners of my life. This article is a must read -- must read. It's pretty startling. To quote directly:

"Over the course of the 15-year study, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar."

And it's not just overweight people who are in danger here, it's everyone who seriously loves the sugar rush. Here's a guideline from the article:

"(Dr Fung) supports the American Heart Association’s recommendation that women consume less than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons) and men consume less than 150 per day (about 9 teaspoons)."

That's not much when you consider that a soda contains 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of sugar per ounce of drink. The gig's up, folks. Read it for yourself, please.  

(Web MD also has also parsed the study in case you'd like another read.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Breakfast Tostadas, You Won't Miss the Meat Chili and other YUM! Menu Plan Monday!

Yep, it's been a while! Life here has been c-r-a-a-a-a-z-y for the past two weeks! On the 13th my youngest had a "simple" tonsillectomy that has been anything but simple and wow - am I behind on everything!

It's Monday, though, and time to get back to basics. This week we will be eating down our larder as the pantry and freezers are full to overflowing. We also may have a camping night so portable food is part of the plan:

Steel Cut Oats
Grits with poached eggs and veggies
Cereal day
Breakfast egg and avocado tostadas (recipe below)
Toast, bacon and boiled eggs
Baked orange rind muffins - we make ours with spice cake and use the juice from the oranges for some of the water

This week I'll be putting the contents of the snack box into plastic Easter eggs inside this carton so they won't slide around when the kids hold it by the handle.  They are really egg-cited about these snack boxes!
Leftovers Day
Chicken teriyaki, brown rice, purple carrots, spinach knots (bento)
Meatball subs, oranges, grape tomatoes
Mason jar salads (little kids salad goes in plastic!)
Build your own subway sandwich, purple coleslaw, fruit (camping food)

Skinny Meatloaf, roasted beets and sweet potatoes, green beans (meatloaf: I do half ground turkey breast, half ground beef)
Chicken breast, farro salad, something green (this is a summer recipe and I don't care! So tired of winter food!)
Swiss steak, noodles, sauteed cabbage
Baked white fish, quinoa with tiny veg, green salad

Breakfast Tostadas Recipe - a Fast and Fun breakfast
6 Servings (7 WW Points Plus)

(Prep all vegetables first)
1 zucchini, finely diced
2  large tomatoes diced
1 avocado, diced
6 egg whites
3 whole eggs, beaten with egg whites
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces low fat, shredded Mexican cheese blend or Monterrey jack cheese
6 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 375
Place corn tortillas on rack on jelly roll pan, bake 5 minutes then turn over and bake 3 more; watch carefully to make sure they do not burn.
Remove from oven.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan. Add the zucchini and saute 3 minutes, stirring as you go. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid is cooked away. Remove to plate.  

Wipe skillet with paper towels.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil
Soft scramble the eggs. When the eggs are nearly done, add the vegetables and cook until eggs reach desired consistency.

Remove from heat. Stir in half the cheese.
Top tostadas with egg mixture. Sprinkle with avocados. Top with remaining cheese.
Serve with salsa on the side, if desired.

I'm linking up to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday; check out all the great menus! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Love Week - Menu Plan Monday

Happy Valentine's Week!

This will be the first year since we've had kids that I've worked on Valentines Day! It's always been a bona fide holiday around here. As a result, I don't have any big food plans for our day, but I will be making "snack plate" lunches and I am sure some things will be heart shaped!

My favorite this week is the snack plate. I found a cute and fun way to make them portable and I am so pleased that they worked out just as I envisioned.

Valentine's Day Dinner will be a quick shrimp salad because we plan to continue our tradition of Valentine's Bowling after I finally get home from work. I'm sure it will be a beautiful Love Day nonetheless and we have healthy plans for the whole week:

Steel Cut Oats
Cinnamon WW Pancakes, baked apples
Cheesy Eggs, tortillas
Cereal day
French toast and bacon

I purchased these camping egg cartons to make finger-food snack boxes. They are so cute and the Littles love, love, LOVE them. I have a row each of starches, vegetables, protein and fruit. Not that it matters but this one is oyster crackers, pretzels, and whole grain cheezits; grape tomatoes, carrot flowers and broccoli; white cheddar, pepperoni, and cheddar: blackberries, grapes and blueberries.  Some future ones will contain goldfish, edamame, peas, baby pickle slices, ham or turkey cubes, tamagayoki, and raisins; the possibilities are endless!

Lemony hummus goat cheese pitas, Napa cabbage slaw, apple slices
Egg crate snack plate
Leftovers Day
Egg Salad with greens, bread slices and orange slices
Soboro Bento with turkey, carrots, egg and green beans (Our favorite bento)

Roast Turkey Breast, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Peas (Sunday dinner)
Cheese grits, blindfolded eggs, zucchini ribbons or zoodles, fresh fruit.
Pasta Thursday - spaghetti with meat sauce, broccoli, fruit for dessert 
Shrimp salad, toast and Mamaw's homemade jam
Weight Watchers Homemade Mac-n-Cheese (6), sliced tomato salad
Slow Cooker Brisket, (9)  coleslaw, whole wheat buns, homemade barbecue sauce

Linking up to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday; check out all the great menus!  The "real food" low-fat menus are hard to come by but I get tons of inspiration from what other people eat.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Vitamins, Slowing Down and Active (not) Kids: Friday Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

Happy winter Friday, fit friends!  Here are your tips, tricks and inspiration:

We all know that savoring our food leads to more satisfaction in eating and helps calm those cravings. It's also true that our brains need time to receive the message that we have had enough. The biggest benefit to slowing down though, is the social one. When we are savoring our meal, we have time for conversation, time to really hear our dinner partners and read between the lines. Even when dining alone, savoring that meal allows us time to think through our day (just past or just starting) and feed our souls as well as our bodies.  In that tack, let's start with these 5 tips to eat slowly from Fooducate. To these I would add two tips from Weight Watchers: Put your fork down between each bite -- it's harder than it sounds -- and/or take a small sip of water between bites.

This week's trick focuses on another way we may be tricking ourselves. As I've long suspected, yet another study seems to show that taking vitamins just isn't a good use of your money! We need to get as much nutrition as possible from our food, folks! If that isn't enough, this scary article from the New York Times demonstrates that some people have suffered real harm from dietary supplements. Please be both wise and cautious in your use of supplements.

Do you think your kids are active? I think mine are! Yet this new study highlighted in Obesity Panacea shows many are not as active as we think. My kids hate it when I read things like this because I start enforcing our hour-a-day-rule for exercise to earn screen time. I think teens and pre-teens are at the greatest risk because their school day is sitting-based. Hopefully this little bit of inspiration will get our kids moving and us, as well. I have started watching my own screen time since reading this study.

That's it for this week's news. If you are facing a weekend of inclement weather as we are, think of ways to get the whole family out for some fun and activity. Maybe a visit to a local skating rink or bowling alley will add some fun to your weekend! Have a great one!