5 Meal Prepping Hacks That Save You Time in the Kitchen

 

meal preppingOne of the most common excuses for not eating healthy is lack of time. With people busy between work and their families, the easiest thing to do is to pick up dinner instead of cookie. Active families like mine need to eat healthy, so it’s important to do everything you can to eat at home as often as possible (we eat at home at least five to six nights a week). Meal prepping is the best way to make meals at home when you have a hectic schedule. Here are meal prep hacks that will keep your family eating healthy.

1. Meal Plan

Meal planning is an extremely important part of prep. Create a calendar that has every meal planned out until your next grocery shopping trip. While some people like to plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, that can be planning overkill for some families. Planning dinners is the most important part, so at least plan those, and then wing the rest if you don’t feel the need to plan every small detail. Once you have planned each meal, add all of the ingredients that you need to your grocery list to make each dinner.

food prepping

2. Cook in Advance

Cooked meals stay fresh in the fridge for several days, so you can cook several meals to reheat during the week. Choose items that won’t try out when they’re reheated. For example, you can cook spaghetti, enchiladas, a casserole, and a few other meals all in one day. Let them cool at room temperature, label them, and then place them in the refrigerator until the day you plan to eat them.

crock pot meals

3. Crock Pot Meals

Prepping crock pot meals is another great way to prep in advance. You can take all the ingredients to make one crock pot meal and store it in a one-gallon Ziploc freezer bag.  Placer bag in the freezer, uncooked, and pour it in the crock pot the morning of the day that you want to eat it for dinner. Having about five to six crock pot meals prepped will give you more options and allow you to have something easy in the freezer that will make very little time to prepare. Put everything in your slow cooker during breakfast and it will be ready after work. If you don’t know many recipes, you can dress up the same ones with different sauces and dressings. Hampton Creek is popular for creating the Hampton Creek mayo. They also have healthy ranch, chipotle, and other delicious sauces and dressings that you can add to your dishes.

healthy snacks4. Prep Snacks

Prepping snacks is just as important as prepping dinners. Do you find yourself running to the gas station to grab snacks on the go? Instead of getting stopping or trying to figure out what type of snacks to eat, prep some snacks. Fill Ziploc bags with an apple and a handful of strawberries. Fill other bags with some crackers and some sliced cheese. As you get some meal prepping practice, you’ll find yourself coming up with more combinations. When it’s time to run to to tennis tournaments or dance practice, everyone can grab a bag full of the snacks that they enjoy.

5. Re-Organize Your Fridge
 
Fridge organization is one of the biggest problems when it comes to prepping foods. Most people have a row of yogurt, a drawer of apples, and so on. Basically, all of your foods are grouped together. What’s wrong with that? It makes it more difficult to prep for the week. Dedicate different areas of your fridge for each week. Many people use baskets to organize their shelves around their home. Using them for your fridge can help too. Put all of your Ziploc bags full of snacks for Monday in one basket. Put the snacks for Tuesday in another basket and so on.

Meal prepping is the best way to make sure your family eats healthy every day. You’ll save money and time.

7 Ways to Eat Green on St. Patrick’s Day

Green apples copy

Drinking green beer and savoring a green cookies aren’t the only ways to eat green on St. Patrick’s Day. I am so thrilled that Nutrition Expert, Patti Wooten Swanson has shared with all of us her healthier plan for celebrating St. Patrick’s day. Here are 7 ways to eat green this St. Patrick’s Day:

1. For breakfast, sauté chopped spinach, kale or Swiss chard in a little olive oil, then add a beaten egg to make scrambled eggs. Dark green vegetables are among the most healthful of vegetables, Wooten Swanson said. They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, iron and dietary fiber. The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend adults eat 9 to 13 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, with most of those being vegetables.

2. Mid-morning snack, grab a green apple. Not all apples are red; you’ll find several green varieties in grocery stores just right for St. Patrick’s Day. Light green Golden Delicious apples are sweet, plentiful, inexpensive and easy to find. Granny Smith apples are deep green, tart and very crunchy. Granny Smith are often used for apple pie, but are also great to eat out of hand. 

3. At lunch time, prepare a crisp salad with a blend of romaine lettuce, baby kale, spinach or mixed greens. For crunch add sugar snap peas, slices of green bell pepper and pieces of celery. Artichoke hearts, avocado and healthy green goddess dressing add gourmet flair. To make the dressing, blend 2 green onions, ½ green jalapeño pepper, 2/3 cup Greek yogurt, ½ cup cilantro, juice from 1 lime, ½ cup olive oil, salt and a teaspoon of sugar or honey. (Recipe adapted from Oklahoma State Extension.) “When you put a lot of different green ingredients in your salad you get a lot of different nutrients,” Wooten Swanson said. 

4. For an afternoon snack, blend a green smoothie. Put a handful of green leafy vegetables in the blender with non-fat yogurt or almond milk. Add half a banana and any kind of fresh or frozen fruit. 

5. Cabbage and corned beef are traditional St. Patrick’s Day foods, but Wooten Swanson has suggestions that are greener, healthier and just as festive. Mix cooked spinach fettuccine noodles with prepared basil pesto (made with olive oil), fresh spinach leaves and green olives. Add cooked chicken and some feta cheese.  “The meal will offer a balanced blend of whole grains, vegetables, protein and dairy,” Wooten Swanson said.

6. A healthful and simple green drink to accompany meals is cold tap water with a squeeze of lime. 

7. For desert, there’s no reason to punish your body with sugary green jello shots. Treat it right with a healthy and delicious green desert. “I layer non-fat Greek yogurt and kiwifruit. Sprinkle pistachios and drizzle a little honey on top,” Wooten Swanson said.  Kiwifruit are high in vitamin C and pistachios are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Both are great sources of antioxidants.  

Of course, eating a green diet shouldn’t be limited to St. Patrick’s Day. “Once you start enjoying these green vegetables and other healthy foods, you’ll probably want to eat a lot more,” Wooten Swanson said.

Smoothie copy

Wooten Swanson is the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for UC ANR Cooperative Extension in San Diego County. She manages the county’s federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, in which staff members visit schools and community sites to provide lessons on healthy eating to low-income families and children. Thanks for sharing your nutrition knowledge with me and my readers!!

5 Calming Herbs to Help You Sleep

RL_Herbs Misc_2014 copy

As winter drags on and cold/flu season kicks into high gear, sleep is essential to ward off illness – but getting to sleep with the sniffles is easier said than done. While sleep is one of the most deeply healing and revitalizing experiences known, lack of a healthful, restful sleep, or insomnia, is a common problem experienced by as many as 20% to 30% of Americans. Try a solution to sound sleep that can be found right in your kitchen cabinets. Switching to a cup of herbal tea and eating the right foods can naturally soothe and help you catch some much needed sleep.

Dr. Christopher Hobbs has created his go-to list of 5 calming Herbs to help you sleep. He is an herbalist and Director of Herbal Science at Rainbow Light with over 35 years of experience in herbal medicine, Dr. Hobbs’ go-to list is sure to help everyone sleep soundly this winter while providing essential nutrients – whether you constantly struggle from insomnia or just need a little nudge at bedtime.

RL - Herbs for Sleep pitch - 1.13.15 copy

1. Chamomile is a time-honored sedative herb which can be safely used by children and adults alike. Chamomile tea is commonly used in Europe, South America, and Mexico for insomnia and restlessness combined with irritability, particularly in children. Chamomile oil can also be put in bath water (5-6 drops) to soothe overwrought nerves, diluted to 2% to make an excellent massage oil, or used as an inhalant.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30 drops 3 x daily.

2. Lavender is a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system. A few drops of lavender oil added to a bath before bedtime are recommended for persons with sleep disorders. Additionally, the oil may be used as a compress, massage oil, or simply inhaled to alleviate insomnia.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Essential oil–oil may be inhaled, massaged into the skin (use 10 drops essential oil per ounce of vegetable oil), or added to baths (3-10 drops).

3. California Poppy is my favorite sedative and sleep-promoting herb which can currently be found in a variety of herbal remedies sold in the United States for promoting sleep, helping one to relax, and easing mild anxiety. Because of its mild sedative and analgesic properties, it can be given safely to children.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 2-3 x daily; Tincture, 30-40 drops 2-3 x daily.

Note: Since the tea is mild, a tincture is recommended when a stronger dose is desired.

4. Passion Flower is considered by herbalists to be an important herb for insomnia caused by mental worry, overwork, or nervous exhaustion. In England it is an ingredient in forty different commonly-sold sedative preparations. Passion flower is used for minor sleep problems in both children and adults, and is safe even in large doses.

Dose: Tea, 1 cup 3 x daily; Tincture, 30-60 drops 3-4 x daily.

5. St. John’s Wort is a common yellow-flowered weedy herb from Europe that is quickly becoming an important part of modern herbal therapeutics. Modern scientific studies show that it can help relieve chronic insomnia and mild depression when related to certain brain chemistry imbalances. Because this herb can sensitize the skin to sunlight, if you are taking a full dose, avoid direct skin exposure to bright sunlight.

Dose: Tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 2-3 x daily; powdered extract, 1-2 tablets or capsules 2-3 x daily. Allow 2-3 weeks for the full therapeutic effect to develop.

Note: If you experience light sensitivity or other unpleasant symptoms, reduce or discontinue the St. John’s Wort and consult a qualified herbalist for a total program.

Eat Smarter and Snack Brighter

IMG_3810

 I just discovered a healthy new product, and I could not wait to share! It’s an awesome healthy snack or dessert option that my 3 kids and I love. Outshine Fruit & Veggie Bars are a way to eat smarter and snack brighter! These bars are made with a blend of fruit and vegetable purees and juices, with each bar containing at least 25% vegetables. They combine a delicious blend of real fruit and vegetables in every bite. Outshine Fruit & Veggie Bars are available in five refreshing flavors, including: Blueberry Medley, Tangerine Carrot, Apple and Greens, Peach Mango Medley and Strawberry Rhubarb. This is a sponsored post for Outshine Fruit & Veggie Bars, but I couldn’t wait tell you how amazingly good these are! I was wowed when I tried these bars, and my kids are hooked! My oldest son, Alec said, “I am not typically a fan of frozen desserts, but from the first bite, I really enjoyed it. I really liked the Tangerine Carrot the best!” My daughter, Leigh, told me she could almost eat the entire box 🙂

Outshine Fruit and Veggie Bars

Besides the great flavor, these bars have some important health benefits. They are nonfat, non-dairy, kosher and contain no artificial colors or flavors. The 2.5 ounce bars are just 60 calories, and the 1.5 ounce bars, in the variety pack, are only 35 to 40 calories each. They are so perfect for a snack on-the-go for my family.

Health Benefits:

1. Edy’s Outshine Fruit and Veggie 2.5 fl oz bars are all an excellent source of Vitamin C.

2. The ingredients in these bars are all natural fruit, juice, veggies and coconut water.

3. The Apple and Greens bar is a good source of Vitamins A & K.

4. The Tangerine Carrot is an excellent source of Vitamins A & K.

5. Peach Mango Medley is also a good source of Vitamins A & E.

6. Vitamin A is great for bone growth, vision and your immune system. Vitamin C is important for skin and bones and helps promote healing. Vitamin E helps make proteins for healthy bones and tissue and Vitamin K plays a role in the immune system and metabolic process.

7. The bars are gluten free and have no high fructose corn syrup.

IMG_3812

I loved all of the flavors, especially the Tangerine Carrot! I would love to try the Apples and Greens so I am on the hunt for it!

Outshine Bars

Leave me a comment and let me know , which flavor would you want to try?

IMG_1410

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Outshine Fruit & Veggie Bars. 

Print

 

Tracking Pixel

Health Benefits of Plums

health benefits of plums

Did you know plums are incredibly super healthy? The health benefits of plums are truly endless from indigestion relief, flu fighting properties, and even relief in anxiety-related problems. The antioxidant power of plums can even help osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cancer, diabetes and obesity. They also help promote healthy levels of cholesterol, cardiovascular health, cognitive health, immune system strength, cellular health, electrolyte balance, the nervous system and aids in skin care and blood clotting. Need I say more? One of the unique things about plums is that there are so many varieties available. Did you know this picture (above) was of plums? I purchased these at a local famers market. I honestly didn’t know that over 2,000 varieties of plums exist, and over 100 are available in the United States alone. Check out some awesome looking plum recipes below.

instant-party-plum-coolers-med108749-001b_vert

Plum Coolers via Martha Stewart

2219902_QFSSe03_049

Glazed Pork with Fresh Plums via Southern Living

74e6d71b5c506a50b9ce9c8cf676bfb6

Grilled Plums via Diabetic Living

8 Awesome Watermelon Recipes

 

Watermelon-Sorbet-watermelon

My kids and I LOVE watermelon, so I wanted to share a few of my latest favorite watermelon recipes along with the health benefits of watermelon! Drum roll please!!

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.43.25 AM

recipe above is Watermelon Sorbet by Ingredients Inc

IMG_1828 watermelon salad

Watermelon Salad by Ingredients Inc

watermeloncaprese-2

Honey Grilled Watermelon by How Sweet It Is 

Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade by Gourmande in the Kitchen

watermelon-feta-bites

Watermelon Feta Appetizer Bites by Add a Pinch

tomato-watermelon-salad-l

Tomato Watermelon Salad by Southern Living

watermelon-popsicles

Tequila Watermelon Popsicles b  Love and Olive Oil

Watermelon-Peach-Cooler-13

Watermelon Peach Cooler by the Recipe Critic

Mushrooms at California Pizza Kitchen

Did you know that mushrooms are only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle? Luckily, my 3 kids and I love mushrooms, and they are adventurous eaters. They are truly willing to try almost anything, especially with mushrooms. Last week we dined at  California Pizza Kitchen, and we were so thrilled to see the new menu items with mushrooms such as the Shaved Mushroom and Spinach California Flatbread with Cremini mushrooms (see photo below) with sautéed spinach, California olive oil with Romano and Parmesan cheese. Also, we loved the Gluten-Free Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage Pizza (see photo above) with Cremini mushrooms, rustic pepperoni, mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage, torn basil, Mozzarella and wild oregano. We could not taste the difference in the gluten-free pizza crust (there was not one piece leftover). If you’re a mushroom lover, they also have Mediterranean Spring Rolls and, of course, regular mushrooms pizza. Read on for some important reasons to eat more mushrooms…

Why to eat more mushrooms: numberswiki.com

1. Mushrooms are hearty and filling. Research suggests that increasing the intake of low-energy-density foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-density foods, like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily energy and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated after a meal.

2. Mushrooms are the leading source of the essential antioxidant selenium in the produce aisle. Antioxidants, like selenium, protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases and help strengthen the immune system

3. Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins. B vitamins include riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. They also play an important role in the nervous system.

4. Mushroom contain potassium. Potassium is an important mineral that many people do not get enough of. It aids in the maintenance of normal fluid and mineral balance, which helps control blood pressure.

5. Like all fruits and vegetables, mushrooms are naturally gluten free. Mushrooms are low in calorie, low in fat, low in sodium and naturally gluten-free.

This post is sponsored by Mushroom Council, but all opinions are my own.

Are you Lactose Intolerant?

February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month so it’s the perfect time to learn more about lactose intolerance and the questions and misconceptions related to it. I was so fortunate to be a part of the National Dairy Council’s (NDC) Lactose Intolerance Google + Hangout discussion in December with 4 parent bloggers besides myself and experts Karen Kafer, registered dietitian with the National Dairy Council and Bob Murray, pediatric gastroenterologist with a background in Geriatric GI and nutrition. The reason for the discussion was to learn the difference between lactose intolerance and a milk allergy and the proper questions to ask our children’s pediatricians or our own doctors as well as how to diagnose lactose intolerance and diary management strategies. It was fabulous information! I have been thinking for over a year that my youngest son, Zachary, is lactose intolerant, but after this conversation, I don’t think so. Here are the videos for our conversation on how to test for lactose intolerance and well as many other questions we covered (look for me on the second video :)).

Testing for Lactose Intolerance:

  • What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a sensitivity to lactose, the sugar in milk. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the lactase enzyme, which normally breaks down lactose during digestion.

  • What is the difference between lactose intolerance and a milk allergy?

Lactose is not a milk allergy, which is a reaction to milk protein trigged by the immune system. Another way in which lactose intolerance differs from an allergy is that lactose intolerance is a dose effect: a milk allergy will manifest if any milk is introduced, and can be life-threatening; whereas lactose intolerant individuals can usually tolerate the equivalent of up to one glass of milk with no or minor symptoms

  • Who is affected by lactose intolerance?

All people are born with the lactase enzyme and successfully digest lactose provided by human milk or by infant formulas. However, sometime after weaning, in the majority of the world’s children, there is a genetically programmed decrease in lactase. This decrease in lactase affects a high but variable proportion of diverse populations in the United States, including Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.

  • How do you diagnose lactose intolerance?

The breath hydrogen test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance. When lactose is not broken down by lactase, it passes into the colon where bacteria break it down and produce hydrogen gas, which may cause the cramping and discomfort that is symptomatic of lactose intolerance. General pediatricians, family doctors and internal medicine physicians can all order a breath hydrogen test. You usually don’t have to go to a subspecialist to get the diagnosis, however it may be worthwhile to consult a gastroenterologist with additional questions or concerns.

Dairy First Management Strategies:

  • How can lactose intolerant individuals maintain dairy in their diet?

For some children who experience discomfort, it may be because they are consuming large amounts of liquid milk. If liquid milk is a staple in your family’s diet, consider serving smaller quantities of milk per feeding or serve milk with other foods, such as soup or cereal, to help slow digestion and allow the body more time to digest lactose

Yogurt is one option that many lactose intolerant people may tolerate because of live active cultures in the yogurt that help to digest lactose.  Natural hard cheeses, like cheddar, Colby and Swiss are lactose intolerant-friendly, containing less than .01 grams of lactose per serving. Lactose intolerant individuals can also use enzyme treated dairy milk or pre-digested milk, which do not contain lactose. Today, there are products like lactose-free cottage cheeses and lactose-free ice cream as well.

  • What is the last word when it comes to lactose intolerance?

The simple message is that whether or not you have lactose intolerance from your lactase insufficiency, the goal is to talk with your doctor, get tested, and maintain low-fat and fat-free dairy products in your diet to the extent possible. They are a nutrient powerhouse for all populations; they contain potassium, calcium and vitamin D – three of the four “nutrients of concern” in American diets as determined by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Consuming dairy is a way of managing health disparities that we really struggle with and we can’t afford to give up calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, quality protein sources and B12.

Visit National Dairy Council for additional information about lactose intolerance.

This post was written while participating in my partnership with National Dairy Council, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Top Tips to Lose Weight the Healthier Way

When people think about losing weight they instantly think of always feeling hungry, being exhausted from excessive exercise and having no social life due to turning down those nights out with cocktails and appetizers.

When you are trying to lose weight you should think of it more as a lifestyle change; not only will you lose the weight, you will also feel better in yourself. Crash diets are a waste of time as you will just put the weight back on and they could also be harmful to your health, by following these top tips you could lose the weight in a healthy and safe way – and keep it off! Here are some tips to lose weight:

1. It’s Not A Race – You will see the best end results if you go slow and steady. Trying to lose weight too quickly can be dangerous and can also make you feel like you are working too hard. M any people want to give up before they’ve even started.

2. Exercise – Many people think that cutting down on food will instantly help them to lose weight but that’s not true. It is a combination of regular exercise and healthy eating that gives you the best results. When carrying out your exercise however, you do need to push yourself. When you can feel the burn and are tired you should then push yourself more as that is when you will start to burn more fat.

3. Healthy Eating – To lose weight you need to be burning more calories than you are consuming. This does not mean you skip meals. You should have three main meals a day with two snacks. By swapping unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives, you could instantly make a better change to your diet.  You should also spread your calories out throughout the day to make sure you are having smaller portions over a longer period of time. This will help to speed up your metabolism.

4.  Keep Up The Good Habits – Once you have reached your target weight don’t stop, simply amend your eating and exercise habits slightly so that instead of burning extra calories, you are only burning off enough to maintain you current weight.

 

If you have been trying to lose weight for a while, be sure to check out Revival Boot Camp.

I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.

8 Health Benefits of Mangoes

Mangos are known for their superfruit status and strong nutritional profile—bursting with antioxidants and over 20 different vitamins and minerals. Mango is also an excellent source of Vitamin A and Folate, and a good source of Fiber and Vitamin B6.  One cup of mango is only 100 calories, an excellent source of vitamins A and C, copper a good source of fiber and an amazing source of tropical flavor. But recent studies indicate that there’s more to mangos than just vitamins and minerals. Check out these health benefits of mangoes below:

1. Mango consumption associated with lower blood sugar Levels

2. Some polyphenolics in mangos may possess cancer-fighting properties

3. Preliminary research on the possible effects and correlation between mango and bone density

4. One cup of mango is an excellent source of vitamin C and provides our daily Vitamin C requirements great for collagen formation and cognitive and neurologic function.

5. Mangoes are an excellent source of Vitamin A critical for vision and immune function.

6. Mangoes are high in folate which is important before and during pregnancy and helps the body make red blood cells and DNA.

7. Mangoes are a good source of B6 which helps with immune function and cognitive development.

8. One cup of mango is a good source of copper which helps form red blood cells and support healthy immune function.