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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Better Brown Bagging

Most people understand that packing a lunch saves time, money and your health and yet two thirds of the workforce still eats out at lunchtime.  Here’s a little food for thought to motivate your lunch-packing efforts.  

If you ate out every day for lunch and only spent $5/meal, that adds up to $1,250.  A more realistic estimate is spending $10/day including drinks, coffee, etc. and that adds up to $2,500.  If you could save more than half of that amount by packing your own lunch, you could start planning a fun vacation by the year’s end and would probably have dropped a few pounds in the process. 

Another consideration is time.  Think about not just how much time you spend going out to lunch, or waiting in the drive-thru, but how you are spending your lunch break. The extra 10-20 minutes it takes to go out for lunch, wait in lines and deal with traffic frustration could be much better spent on a relaxing walk, sharing some humor with a co-worker, or even using a mediation app on your phone.  Your blood-pressure would no doubt thank you.  

So what are some ideas to keep brown-bagging from becoming boring?
  • Vary textures.  Adding crunchy salad toppings can go a long way towards keeping you satisfied.  Maybe you need a little creaminess, so try a soft cheese.
  • Try breakfast for lunch.  Who says waffles are just for breakfast? Add in some seasonal fruit and maybe a yogurt and you’ve got breakfast for lunch.  
  • Mix up the protein.  It doesn’t have to be a ham and cheese sandwich everyday.  Consider packing some jerky to go along with some soup, or salad to provide a satisfying savory source of protein.  
  • Try grown-up spins on your childhood favorites.  Instead of PB&J, try a different nut or seed butter.  Spread some sunbutter on a tortilla, wrap around a banana and you’re set.  Or add some chili paste, chicken and basil for a thai wrap.  

When all it said and done, your wallet may fatten up, but chances are you won’t when you decide to become a brown-bag pro.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Back to School, Back to Good Nutrition

When a school-schedule-routine-change hits, some healthy habits tend to fall through the cracks. Here are some tips for after school snacks, quick family dinners on school nights and packing power-lunches that will ensure you hit the ground healthy and running when that school bell rings.

The classroom as well as the playground can be hot this time of year and hydration becomes very important. Make sure both you and your kids aren't going to school without something to drink.  Water is always a great idea and there's Sportwaters and natural-ingredient sports drinks to help kiddos stay hydrated.  Choose what works best for your kid's personal preference and if possible, choose a larger bottle with a larger opening to make hydrating or refilling simple.

Another challenge with busy school schedules is avoiding the siren-song of the drive-thru on busy nights. One simple, cost-effective and quick solution is to think inside the can.  We talk a lot about the nutrition of fresh produce, but there is a lot of nutritional benefit to be found in canned foods.  Kids and adults who use six or more canned foods per week are more likely to have diets higher in 17 essential nutrients. Remember that fresh fruits and vegetables are harvested at the peak of ripeness and canned within only four hours, sealing in their nutrition and flavor – as opposed to the produce liquefying in your refrigerator drawer.  Recipes like a chicken burrito salad bowl comes together in a snap with ingredients you can always keep on hand in your pantry and definitely beats any drive-thru fare.

Reinvent old favorites.  If your child starts to complain about the lack of variety in his lunchbox but you both know they are too picky to try the adventurous lunch ideas you find online and on Pinterest, come up with ways to reinvent old favorites.  There’s nothing nutritionally inferior with a PB&J paired with some fruit and veggies - just  get creative with the presentation.  Go ahead and roll out the slice of bread, slather it up with heart-healthy nut or seed butter, whole-fruit jam and roll it up into cute little cylinders.  

Keep kiddos involved in the planning and packing of their lunches.  Not only should they have some say as to which fruit they are willing to eat, but are also their own portion expert.  Don’t overdo the portion sizes.  Sometimes a mountain of baby carrots looks too overwhelming to even try, but 5 baby carrots isn’t so threatening and is easily eaten.  Use the handful rule to keep portions age appropriate.  Remember that small kids with small hands only need small portions. Keeping it small keeps it from being overwhelming and tossed uneaten into the garbage can.  Food is only as nourishing as it is appealing, because if it doesn’t make into the mouth, it doesn’t provide any nutrition.