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Posts Tagged ‘avocado’

Healthy Lunches for Kids

In Nutrition on October 21, 2015 at 4:20 am

“Time’s fun when you’re eating flies.” – Kermit the Frog

healthy lunches

Nobody likes packing school lunches. I used to put way too much pressure on myself to make it balanced even though my kids would rather run around during lunch time than eat (they consistently tell me they “don’t have enough time” to eat lunch). I am fine with this BUT kids do need nourishment to make it through the long school days that, honestly, seem pretty intense compared to what I experienced during my childhood. I wish they had more time for both playing AND dining. I find these two things to be most essential to life and wouldn’t it be nice if our schools could reinforce that? To that end, at my home, I’ve focused more on providing a solid, balanced breakfast than putting all my energy into lunch but that’s another post.

For some guidance in packing a healthy, balanced lunch that a kid might actually eat…see below:

  1. Three main elements to a healthy meal: protein, healthy (plant-based) fats, carbohydrates (mostly from fruit & vegetables). Proteins: tofu squares, hard-boiled eggs, lunch meat (nitrate-free), leftover meatballs, breakfast sausage, grilled chicken, hummus, edamame/other beans. Fats: olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, cheese, hummus. Carbs: whole fruits, raw or roasted veggies, whole wheat pasta spirals, mini whole wheat pitas, whole grain crackers, hummus, edamame/other beans.healthy snack
  2. Aim for fruits and vegetables making up 1/2 the meal.
  3. Evaluate the “healthy-ness” of the lunchbox, by noting the ratio of pre-packaged foods to whole foods that you have packaged yourself. Skip almost any food labeled “kids” or specially packaged for kids as they are usually loaded with sugar (think yogurt squeezers and fruit chews) and/or heavily manipulated to not resemble the whole food’s origin.
  4. Dip It! Besides ranch, try smashed avocado alone or mixed into mild salsa, nut butters with a drizzle of honey or mixed with fruit-sweetened jam, or hummus (do some taste-testing to find a hummus your kids will love!). Hummus covers all 3 healthy lunch elements so it’s worth finding a favorite brand.
  5. Easy on the candy bars masquerading as granola/energy bars. Good choices are salmonberry barLarabars, Kind Bars (without chocolate), and GoMacro Bars. These bars are both heavy on the nuts which provides plenty of protein and satisfying fats as well as fiber which is important for regulating blood sugar and energy. Kind and GoMacro have added sweeteners but sugar grams are reasonable and are balanced by the high fiber content.
  6. Facilitate the eating of less popular fruits & veggies by combining them with favorites that you know they will eat. Examples: pineapple & blackberries, carrots & apple slices, cucumber & orange slices, bell peppers & sliced grapes. The flavors mingle making veggies more palatable. Obviously, this strategy won’t work on the “separatist” children!
  7. WATER, WATER, WATER. A hydrated child is focused and calm within a healthy and cooperative body. There are no good reasons to give your child a juice box or even milk. If you must pack milk, give them whole, plain milk. Flavored, as well as low fat or 2%, milk, is piling on the carbs. Whole milk is more satiating and allows for a balanced metabolic response.
  8. Resist packing your child a dessert (at least not daily). Yes, sweet is one of the five flavors that, if included within a meal, will lead to palate satisfaction; however, this flavor can be addressed using fruit as opposed to a cookie. The habit of needing something sweet after every meal contributes to a life-long sweet addiction, potential future weight issues, or other health concerns such as an imbalance in the gut microbiome affecting mood, hormones, and nutrient uptake.

For accessible, evidence-based nutrition guidance that is current, check out The Nutrition Source by Harvard School of Public Health. Great resource website and they have a better version of the Healthy Plate (a graphic your kids may be familiar with…).

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Avo-Kale-Kelp Noodle Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on June 19, 2013 at 11:03 pm

kelp noodle salad - makingAs the days get hotter and longer, my body is craving cool, raw foods and I find myself drawn to raw kale & kelp noodle salads. This combo certainly works your jaw – both kale and kelp noodles are crunchy and chewy – but the longer you massage and marinate those 2 ingredients in lemon, salt, and a healthy fat like avocado, the more gentle this salad tastes and feels. I will admit that I’m still not totally sold on kelp noodles. I keep trying them in different capacities and I don’t know why. They add almost zero nutritional benefit and very little energy to a meal. Kelp noodles are popular with raw foodies well…b/c they are raw. But since eating raw is about maximizing the nutritional benefit of the food, perhaps raw foodies are just looking to experience a different texture while sticking to the rules of a raw food diet? Not sure, but I keep trying them out anyway. kale & tomato salad

The best part of this salad is the way the avocado, lemon, and salt make a creaming dressing for the kale and kelp noodles. Additional toppings are just icing. Try adding: mangos & sunflower seeds, tomatoes & hemp seeds, nectarines & pine nuts, or  strawberries & sesame seeds. Pairing a sweet fruit with the bitter kale and salty-lemony avocado is a great balance for your palate and will leave you feeling more satisfied…i.e. not craving a dessert!

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, lacinato or dinosaur

1/2 large avocado

pink Himalayan salt

Meyer lemons, juiced (1 for salad, 1 for soaking noodles, if needed)

1/2 of a bag of kelp noodles, cut into smaller strands

kelp, kale, mango saladDirections: I soak kelp noodles before using them b/c I like them a bit softer. Place in a bowl of water with juice of 1 lemon for 2 – 24hrs. When you are ready to use (soaked or not), cut the noodles into shorter strands using kitchen shears or a knife. Slice kale into skinny strips. Mash the avocado, salt, and lemon juice together. Add the kale to the mashed avocado and massage greens with your hands! After some good massaging, toss in the kelp noodles and massage more. Add diced mango and sunflower seeds. Mix well and enjoy. This salad holds up great for a couple of days in the fridge; however, keep in mind that other fruits may not hold up as well as mango.

Chakra Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm
photo (42)

Chakra Salad

Springtime is the perfect time to gorge on fresh, sun-soaked vegetables. Raw veggie salads are high in fiber, water, and antioxidants, especially colorful ones like this salad of purple cabbage, red peppers, and carrots. It’s important to dress your salads with healthy monounsaturated oils which allow fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) to be fully absorbed and utilized by your body. The fats in this salad come from a perfect combo of nuts, seeds, and avocados. High fiber will keep you feeling full and fats will keep you satisfied. Don’t be shy with the dressing. Its only 30 calories per tablespoon so dress it up and enjoy this power-packed salad that is perfect for hot weather. Sweet, nutty, crispy, crunchy…YUM!

Peanutty Dressing

chakra salad dressing

Sesame oil, tamari, apple cider vinegar, peanut butter.

Whisk together:

1/4 c raw peanut butter + 1/4 c coconut water + 1/2 c apple cider or rice vinegar

Then add:

3 T honey

1 t salt

1 T tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos

1 T raw sesame oil

Raw Shredded Salad 

(high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, and folate and manganese and phosphorous)

chakra salad ingredients

Purple cabbage, red pepper, green onion, orange carrot.

Toss together:

4 cups purple cabbage – finely shredded

1 red pepper – thinly sliced

5 scallions – green parts, chopped

2 carrots – grated

Top salad with:

raw sunflower seeds

unsweetened coconut flakes

avocado

2 cups salad mix + 1 T coconut + 1 T sunflower seeds + 1/4 diced avocado + 3 T dressing

= 295 calories, 19g of fat, 9g fiber, 16g sugar, and 9g of protein.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm
avocado and chocolate

Avocados and chocolate. Together at last.

Last night I was chatting on Facebook with friends from my childhood in Alaska while I was trolling the web for what to do with avocados that doesn’t include guacamole or smoothies. It’s Hass avocado season (Apr to Sept) here in San Diego County, the largest grower of avocados in the U.S., and I’ve got friends leaving bags of rich, ripe avocados on my doorstep. In an effort to use them before they go south, I discovered chocolate mousse with avocado – genius. I quickly whipped it up (5 ingredients, 10 mins) and a love affair between Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Salmonberry began. Move over Chia Pudding, there’s a new dessert in town! The reaction from my childhood friends was less than enthusiastic which is hilarious because these are the same kids who grew up eating various parts of marine mammals and caribou.

mousse ingredients

Ingredients: avocado, cocoa, coconut cream, honey, vanilla.

Since I’m a healthy eater who rarely eats dessert (not much of a sweet tooth), my motto used to be “If I’m going to have dessert, I’m going to go big!”. On those rare occasions, I thought, why modify dessert – eat real butter, eat real sugar. But I’ve discovered that as I eat less and less animal foods and refined sugars, my taste buds just can’t handle traditional desserts. I’m now highly sensitive to such strong inputs and quickly become overwhelmed. As my son stated recently, when we made a key lime pie for St. Patty’s Day (complete with sweetened condensed milk!), “Whoa, this is so intense!” I’ve now begun to delve in and embrace healthier dessert options. Not so I can eat more volume or more often but so I can actually swallow more than one bite without succumbing to the ‘food hangover’ that’s very often a result of too much sugar and animal fat.

For this recipe I used local Hass avocados. I don’t recommend using out-of-season avocados and, depending on where you live, you may only have access to Hass but do you really want a jet-lagged avocado all the way from Chile in your delicious dessert? Check out this blog post from Avocado Diva for which avocados to eat year-round.

knife in cream

This coconut cream is not for wusses.

I also used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream, Extra Thick and Rich, because, well, look at the picture, and Valrhona cocoa because its darker and richer than other baking cocoas.

Here’s the recipe from MySanFranciscoKitchen.com:

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1/4 cup coconut cream

3 TBSP honey

1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend with hand mixer until smooth and creamy – no lumps. Top with nuts, coconut flakes, fruit, nothing…

1/2 cup serving (4oz) = 273 kcals, 17g fat, 26g sugar, 5 g fiber, 2g protein.

Let’s not be fooled. This is still a dessert that’s high in fat, albeit a healthier fatty acid profile than animal fat, and sugar, so, please, slowly savor and revel in the deliciousness but don’t overindulge.

Choco Avo Mousse

Chocolate Avocado Mousse