Sweet, healthy, easy breakfast options

All the nutritional knowledge in the world does nothing to combat my craving for sweets in the morning.

In heaven, I plan to eat a chocolate croissant and biscuits with honey butter every morning. (Heaven is calorie-free, right?)

In my current reality, most morning sweets will hold my appetite for a very short time, while holding the sides of my hips for a very long time. Also, I know that making healthy choices all day long starts in the morning.

Having seen the line at Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts each morning when I use to commute to work in Atlanta, I feel safe assuming I’m not alone, so I thought I’d share some of my sweet solutions.

There is a lot to love about the following options. They’re easy, yummy, healthy and kid-friendly. I don’t use exact measurements for any of them, so just make them each “to taste,” and ask if you have questions.

Sweet, healthy breakfast options:

Nutty Nana Oatmeal: Boil water, add old-fashioned oats, once boiling again, add banana and almond butter. Reduce to simmer and cook until mixed and absorbed. Add a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Ezekiel French Toast: Soak Ezekiel bread (regular or cinnamon-raisin) in mixture of egg, unsweetened vanilla almond milk and cinnamon. Cook in a skillet. Enjoy with a little butter and honey, if needed.

Nutty Cinnamon Prunes: Smear a bit of nut butter on a few prunes, sprinkle with cinnamon.

And, of course, there are always my healthy pancakes!

 

 

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Slow-cooker turkey breast over kale

As a spin-off to my slow-cooker turkey breast soup blog, I want to share a recent recipe I’ve been having fun with.

Like the soup recipe, I still coat the defrosted turkey breast in pesto and cook it in the slow-cooker. What’s different on this one is that I throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand (I’ve done onion and different squash varietals, red peppers, carrots, etc.), add in just enough broth to help their flavors mingle and keep them from sticking, then, I serve them on top of fresh kale. The heat from the meat and veggies wilts the kale just enough.

I add a little Israeli couscous for my son since he needs the additional carbs, but we don’t.

Using spinach or kale as a rice or pasta substitute is a great, easy way to completely revamp the nutritional profile of your meal. Between the fiber and the overall nutritional makeup of dark, leafy greens, you’ll stay full longer, and avoid unnecessary starches. You don’t have to completely change your diet to eat more cleanly; just make easy swaps like this one.

This meal is great all-around because it’s ready whenever we finish our whirlwind day and are ready to eat, and it’s family friendly. Eating well as a rule is easier than trying out a fad-diet. It’s just too hard to make a special, healthy meal for one person. You need options, like this one, that everyone can enjoy. Eating well should taste really good.


Health is a family affair

Actual conversation from last night:

Me: I’m trying to only have a glass of wine OR chocolate if I want a treat at night.

H: A good wife has wine AND chocolate with her husband.

Can you say spouse-pressure? Lucky for me, my husband was (half) kidding, but family intervening in healthy decisions is a larger problem than you think.

When you’re single, it’s easy to make a diet/lifestyle change, because it only affects you. The more people it affects, the more resistance you encounter.

Shockingly, even someone trying to lose weight and improve her health – changes other family support in theory – can be stopped in her path when other family members aren’t on board with how it affects them. It’s tough to stick to your guns and avoid temptation when it’s in the house, whether it’s there because you want it, or because someone else wants it.

If there is chocolate in the house, I will eat it, if there isn’t, I won’t. Period. If I decide to not have chocolate in the house, my husband can’t have any either. No chocolate for me equals no chocolate for him.

Removing processed, junky food from your diet means removing it from the house, just as going to the gym often requires encouragement from an entire household. If you are trying to eat more vegetables and hit the gym, but your partner is asking you to hangout on the couch with a bag of cheetos, he is not supporting you.

Ask your partner about his/her behavior. Maybe…

  • He knows he needs to make changes, too, but doesn’t want to, so your healthy behaviors are an unfriendly reminder/suggestion to him.
  • She doesn’t want you to lose weight because of the attention you’ll get. (Sad, but true story.)
  • He can eat whatever he wants and not exercise, and he never gains a pound.
  • She doesn’t realize she isn’t supporting you.

Making healthier choices is a lifestyle change for your entire support system. Just as people need support to fight addiction and remove negative behaviors, they also need support instigating new, positive ones. The people in our lives bring us up or down, and they aren’t always aware of it.

Make healthy behaviors a family affair, and speak up when you need better support.

 


Low sugar 1st birthday cake/cupcake recipe

I want to share the recipe I created (with suggestions from others, of course) for my son’s 1st birthday cake.

I fall in between the people who don’t want their children to have any sugar, and those who are fine with a little sugar shock. We wanted him to have a yummy cake with some sugar, but not the normal, full amount.

This recipe is mostly sweetened by fruit, with only 1 tbsp of brown sugar in the cake, and powdered sugar to taste in the icing. The batter doesn’t taste as sweet as the finished product because the sweetness of the bananas and carrots comes out during cooking.

We went the route of cupcakes, but the recipe can be used for either.

I can’t believe my baby is turning ONE!!!

Let Him Eat Cupcakes

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 ripe bananas (depending on size) – mashed
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine. I made my applesauce with no added sweetener and skin left on. I also put my bananas and carrots (raw) in the food processor for easy shredding and mashing.

Bake for 18-20 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

We iced our cupcakes with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting, but only added powdered sugar to taste.  It was roughly 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 stick of butter, 1.5 containers of cream cheese, and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.

Cupcakes


In the land of milk and honey, what can I eat?

The other day, a friend and I were discussing how hard it is to decide between all the kinds of milk available. Shockingly, although there are at least 10 varieties to choose from in stores, new opinions are suggesting going for what is not available at your local grocery chain; raw milk.

Without getting deep into the discussion, suffice that we concluded there are well-researched opinions to support both sides of every food story, and not only when it comes to milk.

Every time you get ready to make a food purchase, you have to decide between organic vs. non-organic, GMO vs. non-GMO, gluten-free, fat percentages, real or artificial sweeteners, etc., etc.. It’s easy to worry that you are making the wrong decision when there are so many options, and it’s even more stressful when deciding what to give your baby.

The good news is, you don’t need to think so much. Let me do my best to simplify it for you, and you can determine from there how much more or less you want to put into it.

  • Less is more: Choose whatever is closest to its natural state. Avoid added sweeteners (even the artificial kind), salt, etc.
  • Fat is okay, in fact, lactose goes down better with a side of fat, so skip the fat-free dairy.
  • When to go organic: When you are going to eat the peel, and with animal products, to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
  • What can’t be regulated should be questioned. Food that isn’t FDA approved may not be for a very good reason. It’s not because the government doesn’t want us to have what’s good for us. Be discerning.
  • Don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune. There are billions of families without the time or money to get picky about nutrition, and their kids turn out just fine.
  • A little salt and/or sugar won’t kill you or your baby. Just remember that sweet and savory cravings are learned, addictive behaviors. Learning to eat a little and be done is actually healthier than going without and then bingeing because it’s the forbidden fruit.

If you are obsessing about reading every nutrition label, although you are well-meaning, you have too much time on your hands. There are so many ways you are shaping your family, food only being one of them, and no one expects you to be perfect. Shoot to make healthy decisions 80% of the time, and don’t beat yourself up about the other 20%. Some families have no choice but to eat what they can get, so be grateful you lead a lifestyle that allows you to be picky.

My dad is forever telling me he learns new things everyday he doesn’t know how he got by without knowing for all these years. The same rule applies here. When we were kids, no one looked around for any of the labels that stand out to us now, and, for the most part, we turned out okay.

For more nutrition tips, click here.

 


Adventures in baby food

I’ve had people tell me they gained weight because they ate what they were feeding their children. What exactly are these people feeding their children?

The answer lurks in the children’s menu options at most restaurants. Typical fare includes a burger, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, or a hot dog. Does anyone else find this mix of brown, beige, orange and yellow food a bit boring and processed? Sure, they can each have a (small) place in a child’s food repertoire, but they hardly represent a balanced diet.

I’ve never dealt with a picky eater, food allergies, or a two-year-old going through a phase where she won’t eat anything but bananas. I’m not judging; I’m just putting it out there that parents play a large role in shaping a child’s food habits. It’s important not to project our own likes/dislikes on to them when making selections, or to assume they won’t enjoy vegetables like they will fruit.

Somehow, we’ve been programmed to think babies can only be served bland food, and they will only want sweet options. In reality, they often want whatever we’re having, so be a good role model, or fake it to make it.

When you go to the store, select a variety of options recognizing that babies are developing their palates from a blank slate. When you go out, ask for a side of something healthy, rather than ordering your little one something from the limited children’s menu. If you need something steamed longer so it’s softer or prepared without seasoning, just ask. Most restaurants are very accommodating.

I know I can order an adult entrée that includes salmon and potatoes, request a side of avocado, and share that with my son. It’s exciting for him because he gets to share with mommy, and I know he’s getting lots of good nutrition from it. Nutrition is a fun way to learn colors, too, seeing as how we should all eat a rainbow.

My 9-month-old has already enjoyed all of the following foods, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Oatmeal
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Lentils
  • Beans of many kinds
  • Raisins
  • Millet
  • Barley
  • Apricot
  • Potato
  • Salmon
  • Bison
  • Quinoa
  • Cauliflower
  • Mango
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Edamame
  • Hummus
  • Broccoli
  • Rice
  • Coconut Milk
  • Kale
  • Carrot
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Prunes
  • Tilapia
  • Chicken
  • Kiwi
  • Beef
  • Cherries
  • Apple
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond butter
  • Egg
  • Cheese
  • Strawberry
  • Spinach
  • Beets

I hope you read this as me suggesting fun options and ways to make food fun for your child. As I’ve said before, I consider myself very knowledgeable and able to advise on nutritional habits, but I’ve only got nine months in the saddle as a parent.

My son isn’t going to eat only perfect, healthy options all the time, but I want to teach him healthy food is just as fun as less healthy options, and there’s a necessary balance.

I’m always looking for new recipes to offer him, so please share your own fun family food options!


Do you need to cut out gluten?

With all the buzz about going gluten-free, clients are always asking me if they should cut it out of their diets. I’m not a doctor or an expert on the effects of gluten, but I’ll share my answer in hopes that it can help those of you wondering the same thing.

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein content in wheat. For a visual, it’s what makes dough gooey and stretchy.

Why do some people need to avoid it?

Celiac disease is the true, diagnosed intolerance to gluten. Anyone with celiac disease has to cut out gluten because it attacks their bodies.

There is a large amount of research suggesting harmful effects of gluten on the body, both mentally and physically; however, just as not everyone is allergic to peanuts, not everyone responds negatively to gluten.

Think of gluten as you think of dairy. There are reasons some people should not have dairy, and the reasons differ in severity. Some people will have a life-threatening allergic reaction, some are lactose intolerant so their stomachs will be upset by it, and some people have problem skin due to dairy. Then, there’s the whole slew of people who can eat all the dairy they want with no ill effects. 

How do I know if I need to cut it out?

Assess how you feel eating your current diet that contains gluten. If you feel well, have energy, don’t experience digestion issues and can concentrate easily, you’re doing fine and should keep up whatever you’re doing. If you can’t tick all those boxes, do a trial removal and see if any of them fall into place.

Things to consider:

Going gluten-free is not a fad diet to get you skinny, and gluten-free foods aren’t magically free of fat and calories; only gluten.

As with anything, too much of a something is not good, but if you don’t experience any ill effects, removal of it entirely isn’t necessary either.

Do your research, but also do a self-check. If you don’t have a negative response to gluten, eat it in moderation, just like everything else.