Posts Tagged: Nutrition

School Lunches

Making school lunches seems to be an energy drain for most families. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some ideas to help you make 2015 a stress-free school lunch year:

1. Delegate

Sign them up for pizza lunch and accept all “bring a friend home for lunch invitations” they can wrangle!  Not every meal has to be as healthy as the menu at Canyon Ranch Spa. Balance their need for nutrition with your need for sanity.

2. One list & one rotation

Create a list together with your children of 5 lunches that they enjoy.  Most of our stress comes from thinking “WHAT CAN I MAKE FOR LUNCH TODAY?”  It’s the need to think creatively that exhausts us.  Well, I say forget creativity! You’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest. Go for a pragmatic formula instead. Research shows most families eat the same 4 or 5 meals over again and again for dinner. Why not apply the same principle to lunch?  Once you have the lunch list, your only work is in making sure the items are on the grocery list, and packing it.

3. Pack strategically

Don’t forget to label!

Mornings are a pressure keg. Take some of the stress off by packing lunches at some other time of day – maybe the most low-key time of your day is right after kids go to bed? Or pack them while you simmer dinner on the stove. Heck, why not pack three days worth of lunches at once?

4. Let the kid’s solve the boredom problem

If your kids complain they are tired of getting wieners and beans for lunch, explain you will happily remove them from the list of 5 lunches, once replacement school lunch recipes have been discovered. Have them scout out lunch options by looking at what their friends are packing. Imitation is the highest form of flattery isn’t it?

5. Pass the torch

Eventually, you’ll want your kids doing this job for themselves. That means you should spend time teaching your children to pack their own lunch, so you can pass the torch on to them.  Kids tend to eat better when they pack their own lunches, so the earlier the better!

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

Your Weekend Superfood Prep Plan

What if time is the barrier between you and your superfoods? Maybe it isn’t that you don’t want them or don’t like them but that you don’t have the time to work them into your routine. Your schedule is stretched to the max and it just won’t allow you to eat well, though you know that you should and believe in the benefits of a better diet.

What if I told you that there is a way to have it all at your fingertips when you need it? And that “way” would take you less than an hour on a weekend? If you knew that it would help improve your health, kick start weight loss and shrink your waistline, decrease stress levels and ease your schedule…would you do it?  Read on to discover how.

Here is the superfoods list of the top 10 performers in the category of anti-aging, anti-cancer foods:

(chicken bones)

Onions

Sweet Potatoes

Beets

Fennel

Red Pepper

Broccoli

Leeks

Watermelon

Kiwi

Blueberries

It is simple to have them at the ready as the foundation for every meal you will have this week. You are about to embark on a one hour journey of readiness and healthy meal plans using only your slow cooker and your oven. Store everything in the fridge and watch them all come together into multiple meals with minute effort.

Slow cooker:

(or stovetop but you have to watch it simmer for 3-4 hours)

  1. Place chicken bones and one onion halved (skin and all) into a slow cooker, cover with water, set on high. Walk away. 8 hours later, divide into 2-3 cup portions and place into fridge or freezer.

Oven:

Turn oven on to 400 F and pull out two large cookie sheets:

  1. Rinse sweet potatoes and beets under cold water, poke with a fork and place them whole into the oven on the bottom shelf for 45-60 minutes. (rinse and reserve greens)
  2. Chop two onions, spread onto cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp grapeseed oil. Place into oven on top rack for 30 minutes, stir once. Store empty into containers. (do not wash cookie sheet, reuse for bread croutons)
  3. Cut fennel in half, remove core and discard fronds. Slice bulb into strips and lay onto second cookie sheet.
  4. Chop or rip 3-4 slices of day old whole grain bread into crouton sized chunks, sprinkle with dried herbs and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Empty onto onion cookie sheet and place back into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature before storing. Use for salads or soups.

Fridge:

Wash and chop and store in the fridge:

  1. Red peppers, broccoli and leeks. Store each in separate baggies to use as veggies and dip or within meals as below.
  2. Carve watermelon into cubes to use as a fruit snack or in smoothies.
  3. Peel and slice kiwi as above.
  4. Rinse and store blueberries likewise.

Now. What to do with all this prepped super food?

Chicken broth:

  • Sauce: simmer to evaporate into a jus for grilled fish or chicken. Stir in 1 clove of garlic and 1 tsp fresh herb as desired
  • Soup: 4 cups broth + 1 cooked sweet potato +1/4 cup cooked onion +1 tsp curry powder or 4 cups broth + 2 cups chopped broccoli + ¼ cup cooked onion + ½ cup cream
  • Pasta Sauce= ½ cup broth + chopped cooked fennel + can white beans + ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Side dishes:

  • Salad=Cooked fennel + sliced leeks + red pepper + balsamic vinaigrette
  • Mashed sweet potatoes = 2 peeled sweet potatoes + 1 tsp butter + salt and pepper
  • Pan fried beets with beet greens = peel and chop 3 beets, warm in a skillet with 2 tsp butter + chopped leeks + chopped beet greens.
  • Vegetarian= Leeks + oil + canned lentils pan fried

Healthy snacks:

  • Broccoli and Red Peppers with hummus
  • Fruit salad of kiwi, watermelon and blueberries + vanilla yogurt + cinnamon
  • Smoothie blend above ingredients
  • Freeze fruit on a cookie sheet to preserve for future smoothies

 

You want to be ready for anything that the week throws at you! Having all of these items prepped and in the fridge makes those decisions that much easier.  Do you do something similar? What tips can you share to get healthy foods into your diet easily and quickly?

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Why did the Chicken Last a Week? Because it wanted to make life easy for you

By Theresa Albert www.myfriendinfood.com

Many of us are trying to get more high protein foods in our diet. Chicken is a great way to get it. It’s a family favourite that lends itself to all ethnic dishes, provides lean quality protein and with a little planning, easy weeknight meals.

With some simple planning you can take one whole chicken, prep it on Sunday and enjoy it all week long with leftover chicken recipes.  All you need for a family of four is two whole chickens, cut into pieces, (or for a few extra pennies, you can buy the cut pieces and save on time) then creatively prep everything on the weekend. It should take under an hour, and if you can coerce the family into helping, even less. You will find everything you need for the easy chicken recipes listed below. Get ready to be organized, well fed and serene beyond your imagination.

Step 1: Getting prepared-Sunday

Cut a whole chicken into pieces and divide into breasts, tenders, legs, drums and wings.

Step 2: Recipe #1: Marinated Chicken Breasts

Place four breasts in freezer bag #1 and add marinade.  There are some fabulous chicken breast recipes on www.chicken.ca or you can use a bottled sauce to add some flavour to the meal.  Be sure to use a no sugar sauce if you intend to barbeque as the sugar will burn.  If you are going to bake, simply empty the contents of the bag into a baking dish and pop it into the oven. Serve with steamed broccoli.

Step 3: Recipe #2 Chicken Prima Vera

Place eight chicken tenders in freezer bag #2 and add 1 tbsp of Italian Seasoning and ½ tsp garlic powder. This can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or frozen for up to three weeks. When ready to cook, simply thaw in the microwave (if necessary) and place chicken and red peppers in a large pan. Simmer in your favourite bottled tomato sauce until chicken is cooked through.  Serve over whole grain pasta and dinner’s ready in 15 minutes!

Step 4: Recipe #3 Mango Thai Chicken Legs

Peel the skin off of four chicken legs and place into freezer bag #3.  Add 1 tsp grated fresh ginger and one minced clove of garlic and place bag in either fridge for three days or freezer for three weeks (thaw in fridge before using).

On the night of…feel free to use a tinned or jarred Thai chicken sauce or gather together a few basics:

1 mango, 2 orange peppers (or sliced zucchini), 14 oz coconut milk, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp hot-garlic chili sauce and one bunch of fresh basil cleaned and chopped.

Mix together everything except the fresh basil and pour over thawed chicken, bake for 45 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 F. Stir in basil.

Serve over brown rice with a crisp salad.

Step 5: Recipe #4 Shaked and Baked  

Place all four drums and wings into freezer bag #4. Add ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, ¼ cup cornmeal, ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese.  Shake. Pour off any mixture that did not stick and store chicken, as is, in the fridge for three days or freezer for three weeks (thaw in fridge before proceeding).  Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a baking sheet and pull chicken pieces from bag. (Do not dump out as crumbs will burn.) Bake for 45-60 minutes until cooked through.  Serve with carrot sticks, celery sticks and dip.

Step 6: Recipe #5 Chicken soup

Place carcass in freezer bag #5 along with: 2 chopped sticks of celery, 1 onion (quartered, skin on), 1 carrot, cut into 6 pieces, 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp of white vinegar.  Place in the freezer for up to three weeks.  Empty this entire bag, frozen into a slow cooker filled with 8-12 cups of boiling water.  Cook on high for 8 hours then strain the broth and discard the scraps.  (If you are really keen, you can pick through the bones to find some nice pieces of chicken!) Add some frozen peas and corn and a nice baguette.  Here’s a video to give you step by step help. http://chicken.ca/cooking-tips/videos/slow_comfort/

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

 

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