Thursday, August 24, 2017

Back to School Lunch Tips (Plant-Based)

Summer is coming to a close and before you know it, school will be back in session. Although school lunches have come a long way in terms of healthful options, some may still choose to brown bag it due to limited lunch options or long lines at school. No matter if you choose to buy or pack a lunch, nutrient-dense foods should still be at the forefront of your menu. After all, a nutritious lunch will help to fuel your child’s growing body and give them the energy they need to focus during the school day.

If you are planning to have your child buy lunch, review with them the school lunch menu so they can pick healthy and well-balanced options for each day. When packing a lunch, it is important to get your child involved since they are more likely to consume what they helped pack. You will also help to eliminate food waste when taking into consideration their food preferences.

When choosing or packing a lunch, try to aim for a balance of lean protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Some plant-based protein options could include tempeh, tofu, beans, nuts, or seeds. High-fiber carbohydrates can include whole fruits, whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, unsweetened applesauce cups, or quinoa. Healthy fats could include nuts, seeds, avocado, or low-sugar almond yogurts. Keep lunches cool and at a safe temperature by sending ice packs, insulated lunch boxes, or frozen waters.

Check out some of the sample lunch options below for inspiration!
-Fresh fruit salad using cookie cutters for fun shapes.
-Hummus and veggies (baby carrots, broccoli, celery sticks, cucumbers)  with whole grain pita.
-Apple slices and peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter) with whole grain pretzels
-Homemade veggie soup in an insulated container with whole grain crackers.
-Salad topped with roasted chickpeas and mixed veggies and served with fresh fruit.
-Whole grain tortilla wraps stuffed with veggies and lean protein.
-Healthier PB&J made with chia jam, natural peanut butter, and whole grain bread.
-Homemade granola bars with fresh fruit.
-Brown rice bowls (or quinoa) topped with sauteed veggies and chickpeas (or tofu).

Posted also available at EatRight

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tips for Cooking Healthier

Healthy meals, whether they be for one or a family, can often be the biggest struggle my clients have. Knowing what to serve. Knowing how to cook. Having the time to cook. All of these can be barriers in the way of you and your family's health. We don't want to spend hours in the kitchen; however, we still want to make sure we (and our families) have the best nutrition available.

Check out some of the healthy cooking tips below to see what you can incorporate in your daily routine!

Try one new, healthy, recipe per week (or month)
Feel like you make the same things over and over again? Try cooking one new healthy recipe once a week or once per month. Start weeding through your stacks of paper recipes, cookbooks, or Pinterest saves. You may even find something that becomes apart of your weekly meal rotation!

Try better-for-you cooking methods
Instead of frying try baking, roasting or steaming for your veggies and protein sources. Baking can be a simpler way to get a meal on the table, since it is a bit more hands off once you get the food in the oven. Roasting is a great way to bring out the natural sweetness in veggies! Steaming can help to retain the nutrient content of your foods (versus boiling).

Leave sauces/dressings on the side
We often think about dressings or gravies on-the-side for eating out; however, try the same strategy at home. If you need to, cook with a small amount of the sauce you need and leave the rest on the side to use sparingly.

Swap it out
Do you normally use mayo? How about swapping in avocado instead? Normally use a lot of oil? Try swapping or cutting the oil with a low-sodium vegetable broth. Use white breads or rices? Try whole grain or brown rice options. Look at your typical meals/recipes and see where you can swap in a more nutritious item!

Use more herbs and spices
In place of high-salt, high-fat sauces or seasoning blends, try using fresh or dried herbs/spices - basil, parsley, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika. etc. Read through the label of your favorite seasoning blends to see if you can replicate a healthier option.

Cook once, eat twice
When cooking grains (rice, quinoa, barley, etc), cook in larger quantities. Use leftovers for the next day's meals so you can reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.

Add at least 1 cup of veggies
Most Americans are not eating enough vegetables. One way to boost your intake is to commit to choosing at least 1 cup (2 servings) of veggies with each meal. Alternate with fresh, no-salt-added frozen or canned veggies. Try a variety of herbs and spices or sprinkle fresh lemon or lime juice on cooked veggies. The veggies will add a variety of nutrients (including fiber) to the meal and help to keep you fuller for longer.

How will you plan to cook healthier this week? Do you have a healthy cooking tip to share? Leave it in the comments below!