Main Nutritious Intent Website

Friday, March 27, 2015

Don't Let Nutrition Take a Back Seat During Soccer Season

Sports season doesn’t have to mean fast-food season, so don't let good nutrition takes a back seat.  Here are 4 ways to simply your soccer-mom schedule while keeping everyone nutritiously fed:

  • Kids are starving after school and need something on their way to practice or game that is easy to keep in the car - maybe a make-your-own trail mix (cereal, pretzels, dried fruit and nuts) & water bottles. about 100-150 calories  is all they need, make sure it is packed with nutrients not just empty calories.                                                                                                          
  • Your turn for team treats:  the bane of every soccer mom’s existence to find easy, healthy treats for the soccer team. Keep in mind, that game treats are more of a tradition than a nutritional necessity so keep them small and healthful.  Avoid anything but water bottles.  We drink WAY too much sugar in this country and I could to on and on for quite a while on that soapbox, but I'll save that for another post.  Go retro with the classic orange wedges, or a frozen yogurt tube or string cheese or Babybel.  Small, nutritious and avoid added sugar.

  • When an orange and water bottle don’t cut it: post-competition for those older, higher-intensity athletes (track, cross country, conditioning) whose extended, intense workouts require some recovery nutrition, think: milk - plain, chocolate or flavored and 1/2 pb&j.  That way with about 200 calories you can provide carbs to replenish their glycogen stores and protein to help rebuild muscle.  
  • Being the busy chauffeur doesn’t make the drive-thru a must: don’t skip the family dinner table.  Even a late family dinner is better than hitting the drive-thru. In this case, the crockpot is your friend.  

Try this simple 5-6 ingredient, 5 minute recipe that is versatile enough to provide 4 different meal variations.  

Mexican crockpot magic meal:
Dump into your crockpot: 
1 can drained, rinsed beans
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup or so of salsa
1 cup or so of frozen corn (can use canned corn, just be sure to drain and rinse)
1 lb. meat (chicken breast, stew meat, or pork roast)
Let cook on low 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  (I personally like to add a dash of chipotle chili powder, some smoked paprika and cumin, but that is completely optional and up to your personal tastes.)
Serve with tortillas as a taco, enchilada or tostada filling.  

Vegetarian variation: 
omit the meat and add instead a second can of beans of a different variety.

Soup variation:
Add 2 cups chicken broth and you have instant chili-type soup

Cowboy Caviar variation:
skip the meat and the crockpot and toss the ingrendients together cold, as soon as you get home.  In 5 minutes, you've got 
a great basis for hearty "macho" nachos  

Taco Salad variation:
Save your leftovers for another night and serve cold over a bed of lettuce for taco salad.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Painless Ways to Up Your Nutrition

Just as a few degrees in the navigation of an airplane significantly changes the flight's destination, so can a few tweaks to our nutritional habits lead us to the health outcomes we desire down the road. 

   Choose wisely when it comes to cereal. In all honesty, cereal is one of the main go-tos not only for breakfast, but snacks and other meals as well.   
            Swapping out your cereal for a higher fiber, lower sugar version is a simple way to get more bang for your buck nutritionally.  Aim for at least 3 grams fiber and 9 or less grams of sugar per serving.  If you have some cereals that you are loathe to abandon, try mixing them half and half with a healthier cereal. 

   Whole Wheat Pastry flour: We know that whole grain is better, but swapping whole wheat flour into some recipes just doesn’t turn out the way we intend.  Whole wheat pastry flour comes to the resuce. 
It provides fewer calories than white flour, and 4 grams of protein, compared to white flour’s 1 gram.  Because whole wheat pastry flour doesn’t contain as much protein, it doesn’t work as well for yeast breads, but it is perfect for any baked product using baking soda or baking powder as leaveners.  Cookies, muffins, waffles, quick breads all benefit from this simple, swap and because it has a fine texture and doesn’t have the same “wheat-y” flavor, it doesn’t alter the finished product.

   Dairy swaps:

  •                      Greek yogurt for sour cream: using plain greek yogurt instead of light sour cream gives you half the calories and twice the protein
  •           Sharp cheddar for mild.  This is a simple swap, but one that I love because I’m all about increasing flavor and food satisfaction.  Using sharper cheeses means you get more flavor while using less.  For example, a casserole that calls for 1 cup of mild cheddar cheese would taste just as cheesy and less greasy with 2/3 cup sharp cheddar.
  •                      Flavor your own yogurts: 6 oz lowfat, plain yogurt with 1 tbsp. jam (tip about reduced sugar pectins) provides 35 fewer calories and added sugars plus more protein, calcium, & B12 than 6 oz fruit-flavored lowfat yogurt

   Bacon.  Yes, we should definitely address the topic of sausage, bacon, and other breakfast meats that some may consider more of a dietary liability than asset. 
Compare bacon, sausage and Canadian bacon (fat, calories & sodium).  Generally the best solution is go with thinner slices of either bacon or Canadian bacon instead of sausage.  Or for every slice you eat, you have a serving of fruit to keep things in balance.

The last two tips are more swaps of habits than of specific products, and in all honesty will add more to your health long term because it involves a healthy pattern.

   Swap a processed snack food in your grocery cart for a produce snack food. 
This way you can keep your grocery bill the same, but improve your nutrition significantly.

   5 minute post-shopping, pre-portion.  Planning 5-10 minutes at the end of your grocery shopping trip results in some of the best health benefits all week.
Make the healthy choices convenient so you actually end up eating them (produce, nuts, cereals) prepped and visible, while putting the sweets and once-in-a-while treats more out of the way (freezer is a great place to store things like chocolate, cookies, etc. since you really have to search it out, and wait for it to thaw, it makes the decision to eat it more conscious instead of mindless grazing).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle: Forest vs. Trees

You've all heard the saying about missing the forest for the trees right? Well, a couple years ago, we took the kids on a family vacation to northern California and one of the highlights was the awe-inspiring redwood forests.  Not surprisingly, there were some pretty gigantic trees.  But that was just part of the charm of area.  The truly amazing aspect that sets these amazing forests apart is not a single or a few spectacular trees, but hundreds and thousands of them.  To walk among such an ancient forest was not to focus on merely one tree, but the ambience created by an entire forest.

So my take on this year's National Nutrition Month theme of Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle is just that - it is a whole, healthy lifestyle, not one single tree (or in some extreme cases one leaf).  In this country especially we have become very adept and conditioned to view food as a package of specific nutrients (trees) and often focus solely on one nutrient labeling it as good or bad, or therapeutic (leaf).  Instead, let's embrace and focus on the whole lifestyle (forest).

Take a step back and instead of agonizing over a nutrition label or the current count on your phone's diet tracker, instead ask yourself if you ate real food (not packaged, food-like products) that you enjoyed and savored.  This month I'll be posting more tips on how to see the forest instead of the trees when it comes to healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyle.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kids and Veggies Don't Have to be Mutually Exclusive Terms

93% of kids don't get the recommended amount of daily fruits and veggies. Come to think of it, adults fare slightly better. So how does one encourage your kid to eat more vegetables without resorting to sneaking them into foods. I'm not a fan of deceptive feeding techniques because trust is a fragile thing and you don't want to risk damaging the trust your child has in you or in food. So here are a few up-front tips to up veggie intake at your house:

  1. Take your kids shopping. Let them explore around the produce department and choose a vegetable to try that week. 
  2. Involve kids in cooking and preparation.  Whether it is just using the can opener, heating something in the microwave or garnishing with a little parsley, getting kids involved in the preparation makes them fell more invested in food and more willing to try it.  
  3. Be aware or preferences.  Just because they don't like string beans from a can doesn't mean they won't like them raw of freshly steamed.  Often food preferences are more about texture than flavor, so try raw, cooked and even frozen versions.  (My daughter loves peas, but only frozen or fresh in the pod).
  4. Be creative.  A cookie cutter makes turnips magical.  A simple "N" cut transforms broccoli stalk into entrancing eats.  Even offering your child a whole carrot - top and all - is more fun than the usual baby-carrots.  
  5. Be the example.  Nothing replaces the influences of your own parental example.  How many veggies do you eat every day?  How many do you serve at dinner each night?  When they consistently see you with half of your plate filled with veggies, that counts much more than any other gimmick.