Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quick and Easy Snacks and Lunches

With three kids in the house, I have to plan ahead on lunches and healthy snacks.  I try to include a protein and a fruit or vegetable with each one.   I like the idea of bento boxes and I have a few styles of divided Tupperware style containers that you will see in this post. Here are some of the combinations I have used.  These can work for adults as well as kids.  Hopefully they will spark some ideas for you.

Triscuits, cashews, and strawberries.
Whole wheat crackers, blackberries, and Daiya (dairy free) cheese for my youngest.
Cut up banana and peanut butter.
The bananas will start going brown within a couple of hours,
so this needs to be eaten pretty soon after the banana gets cut up.
Grapes and cashews.
I put the cashews in a cupcake liner.
Every day, my daughter takes a bag of fruit to preschool to eat with her breakfast.
I usually make at least 3 ziplock bags at a time.
I wash and peel all the fruit to fill the bags.
These contain strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and cuties.
Goldfish crackers and carrots.
I would have preferred to use hummus instead of the goldfish, but I ran out!
Pretzels and cottage cheese.
My oldest likes to dip the pretzels in the cottage cheese for lunch.
I like these divided containers to keep these 2 parts seperate.
These Justin's almond butter packs are great for travel.
You can squeeze them on a piece of sprouted bread.
Enjoy with a banana.
Triscuits with 2 spreadable cheese wedges.
Good to add a plastic knife for spreading when you are on the go.
Carrots and celery with hummus.

Peanut butter with a scoop of Nutella and graham crackers.
Pretzels, cheese, and turkey sticks.
Each child gets their favorite cheese in their container.
Deli ham, strawberries, and animal crackers.
I used one of those sandwich style containers to construct this one.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Patriotic Banana Splits

On my morning run, I thought about the significance of Memorial Day and how proud I am to be an American.  I also thought about what to fix for breakfast for the kids when I got home.  These two parallel thought processes combined into what I called Patriotic Banana Splits!

1. Take a banana and split it in half lengthwise.  I also split each length in half.

2. Spread peanut butter or almond butter on top.

3. Sprinkle cashews on top.  This is my sons favorite nut.

4. Sprinkle a few white chocolate chips, to make this fun and also to represent our country's white stars.

5. Sprinkle blueberries and raspberries on top.  You could use strawberries.  I didn't have any because they were quickly eaten after purchases yesterday.  You may have to chop up your berries to fit them in!  And there you have all of your red and blue to complete the US colors.

These were easy and a hit!

Friday, May 27, 2016

My Favorite Breakfast

This morning, I made my favorite breakfast.  Three (or four, if you choose) ingredients make up this ~400 calorie meal.  Sometimes I like to have it for dinner.  It is packed with protein and I find it to be very satisfying.  

I grab the following items: 
1. Four Eggs - I have bought many different kinds from the store - organic, store brand, brown, white.  But my absolute favorite are fresh eggs from a farm.  Now that the farmer's market is open, I go once or twice a week to buy eggs.  In the off season, I found some local chicken owners who I am hoping to buy from.
2. Two Slices Bread - there are so many on the market and always a struggle to understand which breads are really "healthy".  Just because they say gluten free does not mean that they don't contain added sugar. My favorite is sprouted bread.  The Ezekiel bread is a favorite of mine.  Below you can see a couple slices of sprouted bread from Aldi.  I don't eat a ton of bread during the week but this bread freezes well, and Ezekiel bread already comes frozen, so it is easy to maintain and use when needed.  Another favorite of mine are Amy's Organic Sandwich Rounds, which is pictured up above.
3. Avocado or Guacamole - it depends what I have on hand.  If I have a ripe avocado, awesome.  I will take 1/4 to 1/2 of it and chop and then smash it up for this recipe.  Otherwise, I like the 100 calorie guacamole packs.
4. Optional 4th ingredient: Salt and Pepper.  I used to season my eggs as part of this recipe, but have found that when I use the freshest eggs that there is no need to.
Here are my ingredients, staged for the recipe.

Here are the recipe steps:

1. Scramble 1 egg and 3 egg whites.  This is the combination that I like.  I like a soft scramble.  Sometimes if I want to change it up, I scramble 2 eggs, or I do 4 egg whites, or 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites.  Just depends on my mood.

This is what I call "soft scrambled".
2. Toast bread to your liking.  To me the better toasted the bread it, the better it will hold its toppings.
Another plug for sprouted bread.  Whole grain, high vitamin, and low glycemic, meaning it is easier to digest.

3. Spread smushed up avocado or guacamole on the bread.  
Sometimes just having avocado on bread is a great snack to enjoy as well.
4. Top the bread/avocado with egg.  You can season with salt and pepper at this point.  Enjoy!
The final product.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quick and Small Breakfast - Peanut Butter Banana

This is my favorite breakfast when I am not very hungry.  It also makes a great snack.

Have you ever stopped to read the ingredient list on a jar of your peanut butter?  When I started label reading, I was shocked at the amount of sugar that are in many peanut butters.  I actually wound up throwing out a couple of jars of peanut butter in our cupboard and switched our family to organic peanut butter.

It took some exploring for me to find one I liked.  That is because organic peanut butters, which are typically just comprised of roasted peanuts and maybe sea salt, are liquidy.  You have to stir them before scooping because oil separation occurs.  Not a big deal, but I did find some brands are more oily than others.  My favorite brand of organic peanut butter is from Aldi.  It is their Simply Nature brand.  The price is right and the quality is great.

Do I use organic bananas?  Yes and no.  I am more concerned about the condition of the banana.  Our family will go through about a dozen bananas in a week.  But I usually only grocery shop once a week.  So I typically will purchase one large bunch that is super green, and one large bunch that is just turning ripe.  If they are organic, great!  But if not, I have gone with what is available.  

On to the recipe.
1. I take one tablespoon of peanut butter and scoop it on a plate.
2. I take one banana, peel it, and place it on the plate.
3. I then eat the banana and peanut butter European style.  That means I use a fork and knife to take one piece of banana at a time and spread a bit of peanut butter on that piece before I eat it.  That's my style - you can modify to create your own. 

 If you would like an added protein boost or make this a bigger breakfast, add another tablespoon of peanut butter.  You can also spread the peanut butter on toast and then cut the banana on top!

Only 2 ingredients for this delicious mini meal.
I use a big plate so I can really spread out my banana and peanut butter.
This sweet and salty taste is the best.  You don't need dessert when you can eat this.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Breakfast - Power Yogurt!

For around 400 calories you can have a simple to prepare and fulfilling breakfast!

I will share a new idea over the next week for you to consider, starting with my quickie option for work or on the go travel.  Here is all you need:

1. Greek yogurt.  I use either Chobani or Fage brand.  Only plain!  The ones with fruit on the bottom contain lots of unnecessary additives and sugar.  What I use has 1 ingredient: cultured pasteurized nonfat milk.  That is it, but it is nice to add some sweetness or else it kind of tastes like sour cream!  Which is why I have ingredient 2.

2. About 1 ounce of berries.  I rotate between blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  I put these in a ziploc bag (you will understand why in a moment).

3. 1/4 cup mixed nuts.  You can choose your favorite or a mix.  Personally, I love the variety of
Brazilian nuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, and peanuts.  I am nuts about nuts!  I put these in a small container or ziploc bag.

4. 1/4 cup granola.  I would like to make my own one day but for now, I buy the Udi brand as they are gluten free and not too sweet.  There are only 3 ingredients in the simple Udi brand that I buy.  As a general rule of thumb, I try to consume products with 5 or less ingredients if I can.  I add the granola to the nuts.

I do measure my ingredients to make sure I am hitting the right portions for myself and hit the right split of carb/protein/fat.  If you don't want to stress yourself counting or measuring, don't worry about it!

Once I get to work, I first smash the heck out of my ziploc bag of berries.  I spoon the yogurt into a bowl and add the smashed berries.  You can really mix it up too, to get that sweetness all around.  Then I sprinkle the nuts and granola on top.  Voila!  Sometimes if I am starving and short on time I will eat this breakfast in phases: first the bag of nuts and granola and later the yogurt and fruit.  The key to me is to always match a protein with a carb.  I avoid having a carb by itself wherever possible.

This is the before picture.  I will prep up to 5 of these at a time for the week and stick them in a tupperware in the fridge, then pull out a set each day to put in my cooler to take to work.  They also can make a good lunch if you are on the go and do not have access to a microwave.  I have done that in a pinch as well.

Yogurt with smashed berries.
Adding the granola and nuts topping.
The final product!  I mix it in just enough!
I do not like soggy granola.