Archive | January 2012

Practical Weekly Tips

I’ve been posting mostly dinner meals lately and I thought it would be good to give you some quick healthy options for during the day.  These are just two simple things I’ve been doing this week that help me to eat healthier and can help you too!  This weekend I spent $3.50 on these veggies:

Got home from the store, spent about 5 minutes chopping them up and tossed them in this Tupperware.  So far, every night when I come home and make dinner I’ve taken them out to snack while I’m starving.  It’s really been saving me from reaching for the goldfish, and then I get my half plate of veggies in before I even eat dinner.  I dip in hummus, but feel free to eat them plain or use a different dressing.  Doing this is a great way to keep healthy, because lets be honest, when we’re starving for a snack, we’re not going to take the time to chop up veggies.  So take 5 minutes to do this on the weekend and you won’t be sorry!

Another thing I wanted to share was my newest breakfast creation..

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

3/4 cup water (NOT 1 cup like package suggests- I find it wayy too runny)

1 apple diced

1 spoonful of reduced fat peanut butter

Directions: Combine water and oats, cook for 2 minutes and 10 seconds in the microwave.  Mix in spoonful of peanut butter.  Add sliced apple.

Delicious!  I love this breakfast (or lunch) because it is not soupy like oatmeal typically is, it includes a fruit, a protein, and a whole grain, AND it keeps me full for hours.  As I said, oats is a whole grain and a fantastic source of soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber “supports heart health,” as you also may know.  Sounds great, but what exactly does it do?  Well, what it actually does is it binds with the cholesterol in our blood and excretes it for us.  This is fantastic because we do not want extra cholesterol in our blood, it can lead to heart disease.  If your doctor has told you that you have high LDL levels, this is exactly what I’m talking about.  You want those down in normal range and oats can help! :) Oats also help control the movement of our digestive system.  I hope these tips are helpful!

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Pad Thai

New to Thai food? Over the last few years I’ve adventured into Thai food and while I’m not the hugest fan of Chinese food, I really do love Thai.  I think sometimes it gets a stigma of being really spicy or “weird” for those who aren’t too adventurous but I’ve found that not to be true at all!  In fact, most of the ingredients are common to other Asian cuisines, they are just mixed together in a way that we might not have thought of before.  This recipe was inspired from a great blog that I read, although her version was Vegan, so I switched it up a little to better fit my preferences.  I hope someone will give it a try because it really is a delicious, non-spicy, EASY weekday recipe, and a famous one in Thai restaurants (but half the price to make it yourself!).  Also feel free to switch out the vegetable for something else or replace chicken for shrimp, or leave out the meat all together.  Whatever you prefer!

Pad Thai

You will need:

8 oz dried rice noodles (buy the brown rice noodles if you can find them, I only had access to the white ones at the time, but brown are definitely healthier if you can get them.. here is a picture if these are new to you.  $2.89 a box but you only need half the box).

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 tbsp. brown sugar

3 tbsp. lime juice

4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce (soy sauce can be VERY high in sodium, so shoot for as low as you can.  Anything with a “daily value” of 20% or above on the label is considered “high”, and in my opinion, too high to buy).

2 tsp. canola or olive oil

3 scallions- thinly sliced

1 garlic clove- minced

1 bunch broccoli

1/4 cup peanuts

What to do:

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water
  2. Steam broccoli-if you don’t have a steamer, you should get one because they are cheap! but you can also just boil the veggies :)
  3. Dice chicken breasts up with knife or scissors into bite size chunks.  Lightly salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large non-stick pan, saute chicken for a few minutes until white all the way through.
  4. While chicken is cooking, whisk together brown sugar, lime and soy sauce in a small bowl
  5. When chicken is cooked, add scallions and garlic to the pan.  Stir until fragrant, then add broccoli, noodles, and soy sauce mixture to skillet.  Toss until everything is coated with the sauce.  Remove from heat.
  6. Mix in peanuts and serve.

Plan Your Meals

In this post I want to talk about the value of planning your meals (particularly dinner) on a weekly basis.  Not only will you save money by buying only the ingredients that you need, but you’ll also avoid figuring out what to eat after a long day of work when your starving to the point that you might strongly consider taking down and eating an entire cow if it happened to cross your path.  Personally, I sit down for about a half hour (yup, that’s all it takes!) once a week and make my menu. Then from the menu, my shopping list, and voila! We are all set to go.  The dishes that are more involved I leave for the weekend days, and quicker meals are planned for during the week when I know I won’t feel like putting in an hour of active cooking time after a long day of work and school.  It truly helps you to eat healthier when you are planning your meals in a sane state of mind and your stomach isn’t aching to be filled.

Here is the template that I use from Inspiring Nutrition: weekly_dinner_planner

Just fill it out and pop it on your fridge with some magnets!  Although, just today while I was browsing through Target, I found a great notepad for $1 that has Mon-Sun listed with the magnet built-in.  It was so cute, I decided it had to be my new menu planner.

Whatever you prefer, put it down on paper, so you and everyone in the house knows what to expect at dinner time.  I bet you are less likely to stop for a late afternoon snack when you can envision the delicious dinner that you’ve planned! :)

Turkey-Orzo “Casserole”

Today I’m going to share a new recipe I tried out tonight.  Due to the cheese, this recipe isn’t completely healthy, but, it does use lean turkey meat which is a plus!  I titled it “casserole” because it really didn’t resemble that to me (see picture below), but despite that I still enjoyed it.  I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I was asked to do nutrition training for the after school program staff at the school district I work for part-time.  It is a great opportunity to learn more about pediatric nutrition, and share its importance with my co-workers, but I have been hard at work on it and blogging took a back seat!  I’m shooting for three posts this week, so we’ll see how it goes!

In addition to the recipe, I saw a really eye-opening show last night and I feel like it is important to share.  The show was on the food network and it was a special about how much food is wasted in our country.  Bobby Flay’s team and Anne Burrell’s team competed opposite each other to prepare a gourmet meal from entirely “wasted” food.  They had to travel to local farms, or slaughterhouses, or sift through supermarket “garbage” to collect ingredients to make the dishes.  It was amazing to see that a perfectly good tomato with a slight dent in it, or a chicken egg that is too small to be graded are among many food items that are just simply thrown away.  Especially in a world where thousands of children go to bed hungry every night.. it was really disturbing.  The dishes made of “trash” turned out to be fantastic, and the hundreds of guests couldn’t believe the fact that it had all been heading for the landfills.  Although not all of it is within our control as consumers, I feel like it’s important to think about.  So maybe next fall when you go apple picking, do your part and don’t throw a slightly bruised one on the ground.  Eat it! There’s nothing wrong with a safe, imperfect piece of produce.  The ugly duckling still needs love to!

Now for the recipe:

Turkey-Orzo Casserole

(source: newsday)

Ingredients:

1 cup orzo (uncooked)

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. dill

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a 11-by-7 or 13-by-9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook the orzo according to package.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Combine turkey, onion, oregano and dill in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook, breaking the turkey into crumbles, until it is browned and the onions start to soften, 5-6 minutes (but for me it took more like 10 minutes).  Add the tomatoes and simmer over medium heat until thickened, 13-15 minutes.
  4. Toss the orzo with the mozzarella and about half the feta, stir in the turkey mixture and transfer to the baking dish.  Top with the remaining feta and bake 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Makes 4 servings.