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Posts Tagged ‘balanced’

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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Apple-Mint Bean & Grain Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 21, 2013 at 6:19 am
bean & farro salad ingredients

Salad ingredients sans dressing.

I’m kind of on a pink kick these days. I find myself drawn to pink food in pretty jars: pink Himalayan salt, raspberry jam, cactus fruit kombucha. This Sunday, at the La Jolla Open Aire Market, my pink preference seemed to migrate to produce as I chose watermelon radishes and pink lady apples for this recipe.

salt and lemon

Pink Himalayan salt and Meyers lemons.

This delicious salad was served to me while at a friend’s house for dinner otherwise it’s rare for me to attempt  a recipe with this many ingredients. I really like to keep things simple when it comes to healthy eating and I don’t think more is better. This is exactly the kind of recipe I would have skipped while searching for a new idea. Too many ingredients, too many instructions. But…it’s really not so bad and the outcome is fantastic! Do not become overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients in this salad. Besides the prep for radishes and apples, it is actually quite fast and the dressing gets quickly processed – super easy! I used a filet knife when trying to ‘paper thin’ those radishes and almost sliced the tip of my middle finger off!

Crisp, soft, chewy, creamy, bitter, refreshing, filling – the beautiful texture and flavors in this irresistible salad make for a well-balanced meal complete with healthy, whole-grain carbs, plant-based proteins, and ample fat for satiety.

Here is the original recipe which uses cilantro and Greek yogurt instead of my substitution of mint and coconut kefir. Also, avocado doesn’t hold up well overnight and, since this salad just gets better over time, I decided to leave it out.

watermelon radishes

Watermelon radishes.

1 cup pearled farro (or short-grain brown rice, if gluten-free)

1 cup black beans

1 cup cannellini beans

5-6 radishes, sliced paper thin (good luck), then half-mooned

1/2 apple, sliced into matchsticks (the thinner the better), then halved

Salt & Pepper

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

Dressing:

bean & farro salad w kale

Served on a bed of marinated kale.

3 TBSP rice vinegar

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

1/2 apple, cored

3 TBSP olive oil

Handful of mint

1/4 of a shallot

Pinch of sea salt & fresh-ground black pepper

2 TBSP coconut kefir

Place 1 cup farro and 2.5 cups water in rice cooker. Press ‘cook’ button (I love rice cookers!). Or pot-boil with 3 cups water for about 15-20 mins and drain excess water when done. Drain and rinse beans, if using canned beans. Place beans in large bowl with salt & pepper. Thinly slice apples and radishes. Add radishes to bowl with beans. Place apples in separate bowl with lemon juice. When farro is done, cool in refrigerator. In the meantime, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in the food processor. When farro is cooled, add to large bowl of beans and radishes. Add in the sliced apples, remaining mint leaves, and dressing. Mix well.

Enjoy on a bed of kale (marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt) or wrapped in a romaine leaf or just as it is.

Nutritional Info: 8oz (~1 cup) serving = 288 kcals, 8g fat, 40g total carbs (8g fiber), 8g protein. With 60% carbs, 30% fats, and 10% protein, I think this salad is perfectly balanced.

Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 10, 2013 at 3:52 am
Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew

Curried Sweet Potato & Kale Stew

This stew debuted at SoupAsana and was a hit (even with the picky eaters!). The combo of hearty veggies in a light, deliciously-spiced broth was a perfect post-yoga meal. Prep is minimal and the slow cooker does all the work for you!

Ingredients (Serves 6):

2 cups onions – diced

2 large celery ribs – finely chopped

2 14oz cans of garbanzo beans – drained & rinsed

1 14oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes

1 can coconut milk

4 cups vegetable broth

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cayenne (if you like heat!)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 large sweet potato – peeled and diced

1 bunch kale – chopped

Place all ingredients except kale and sweet potato in slow cooker on high for 2-3hrs. Add kale and sweet potato and cook for another 1-2hrs (until sweet potato is soft). Season to taste with tamari. Serve over short-grain, brown rice.

Easy Smoothie

In Nutrition, Recipe on March 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

A balanced meal on it’s own, this smoothie is the perfect way to get much needed nutrients and calories into kids, athletes, and picky eaters. Packed with protein, healthy fats and hidden greens, it makes a nice meal replacement. I used pineapple for the smoothie pictured below which is why it’s so pale in color. Pineapple is a good choice for kids and picky eaters b/c its sweet, not seedy (like berries), and naturally contains enzymes which add digestion. However, if you are looking for the most nutritional value, I’d recommend frozen mixed berries.

Silken tofu, flax oil, and coconut milk make this vegan smoothie a perfect meal replacement.

Silken tofu, flax oil, and coconut milk make this vegan smoothie a perfect meal replacement.

Ingredients:

1 banana

3/4 cup frozen fruit

1/4 cup canned coconut milk

1/2 cup silken tofu

1 TBSP flax oil

2 handfuls of kale leaves

Add water to improve consistency as desired.

8oz = 203 kcals, 10g fat, 4.5g fiber, 7g protein. High in vitamins A, C, & K and omega-3 fatty acids. Good source of manganese, potassium, and copper.