Sunday, September 8, 2019

Stuff this

Well. Summer's done. I mean, not technically, but in my mind once school starts, FUN TIME IS OVER.
We have a kindergartener.
We are going to have a gazillion raspberries and I am so excited. Berries are my JAM.
Get it?
Every few days I have another two dozen cherry tomatoes to pick.
Our peppers, which of course I neglected to take a photo of, are super prolific as well. One of our favorite recipes is stuffed peppers. I never actually had stuffed peppers until I started dating my husband. An easy healthy meal cutely packed in a whole pepper? Yesssssss.
Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeds removed
1 small onion, diced
1 lb extra lean ground beef
2/3 cup instant brown rice, cooked to package instructions
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried parsley
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Add hollowed out peppers, cover and cook for 10 minutes. While they cook, heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onion. Stir occasionally until browned. Turn heat to low. Add tomato sauce, rice, and seasonings.
Remove peppers from boiling water. Let cool slightly in order to handle. Arrange in an 8x8 pan or two loaf pans. Divide meat-rice mixture between the four peppers. Top the peppers with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
Per pepper: 371 calories, 30 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams fat, 39 grams protein, 584 mg sodium
Even though summer in the traditional sense might be over, I think we're going to be just fine.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Snack attacks

I think my kids must be going through growth spurts because not only are they sleeping 12 hours each night, but they're also requesting 27 snacks a day.

Historically I've kept the fridge filled with apples so they can just help themselves, but I can concede that they need a bit more variety.

I am ALL FOR Amazon Prime delivery and so I've been trying out a few kid-geared snacks. My criteria is simple: it has to be nutrient-dense (good source of protein and fiber rather than low calorie), it has to be affordable, and it has to taste good!

Here are some picks:

Image result for hippeas chickpea puffs

Hippeas chickpea puffs

My kids like the white cheddar and the barbecue flavors. The sriracha, as expected, is spicy but perfect for me. They have 200 calories per individual bag with 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Chocolate Chip packaging

Buying these on Amazon is so much cheaper than buying them in store! I was at Target last week and noticed a box of six was selling for over $7. Amazon's price is $10.28 for 18. My kids LOVE these- even my 16-month old twins! One bar has 140 calories with 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

MySuperCookies Organic Whole Grain Cookies, Variety Pack, 1oz, 24 Count

Okay these are just so cute- individual packs of super-kid shaped cookies. I buy the variety pack which has honey, blueberry vanilla, and chocolate. Each pack is 110 calories with 3 grams of fiber. If we have a long morning of errands to run, I'll give each kid/baby a pack of these for an easy morning snack.

If you're in the same boat and hearing "I need a snaaaaaack" as much as me, try these out!

You are the sunshine of my life

I spent the first 9 years of my dietetics career in a clinic setting. One of my responsibilities was to ensure my patients were getting enough nutrition. How did we check? Blood work, of course.

I ordered huge panels of labs that patients were expected to complete yearly. Hands down the MOST common vitamin deficiency was vitamin D. It felt like 99% of patients were low, if not very deficient. 

Most physicians don't routinely check for vitamin D so it's very important to know if you're really getting all the vitamin D you need. The main function of vitamin D is to help you absorb calcium properly- your bones would suffer without it! It's also believed that vitamin D has a role in your immune system's functioning as well. 

A new study from the University of Michigan found that vitamin D deficiency in elementary school age children may be linked with behavioral problems in adolescence. Children with deficiencies were almost twice as likely to have aggressive and defiance problems. Is this alarmist? In my opinion, no, but it goes to show that there is so much we do not yet know about vitamins and minerals. 

Since vitamin D is so important- for bone health and possible mental health- how can we get enough? You've likely heard that the sun is a source of vitamin D. How does that work? It's not like the sun is spewing invisible molecules of vitamin D, but rather when the sun's rays hit our (un-sunscreened) skin, the cholesterol in our skin produces vitamin D. 

I live in Minnesota- a fairly northern climate. Sure, on a sunny summer day we can get enough sun to help us produce vitamin D...but what about, oh, October through April? Research indicates that we likely need 13-30 minutes of sun exposure to bare arms and legs at least a few times a week to produce optimal vitamin D. 

Aaaaaand that is why I take this:

Make sure you discuss the proper dosage YOU may need with your doctor. For me, it's 2000 IU most days of the week during fall/winter/spring months. Current recommendations are for children ages 1-18 take in 600 IU per day. 

Seeing as we have a little bit of summer left, might as well roll up your sleeves and take your lunch break outside- your excuse is truly that you need to get some of that vitamin D!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

If the shoe fits...

I make no secret that I LOVE a bargain. I'm all about shopping discount stores, consignment stores, and thrift stores. Even when I thrift, I only go on days when members get 25% off.

When I learned that women can wear kids shoes I got maybe a little toooooo excited. Kids shoes are ALWAYS cheaper than the women's equivalent.

I got these brand new Nike shoes at Burlington Coat Factory for $17. They are a girls size 7.

The conversion rule is to subtract two from the women's size. I typically wear an 8.5 or 9 in sneakers, so the 7s fit me perfectly. I am ALL FOR THIS.

Next time you're in the market for new shoes, consider price comparing the girls' version!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

In the news

Here's a blast from your past- remember TV trays?!

Image result for tv trays

We had these exact kind growing up- a set of four that we happily busted out to eat our Kid Cuisine frozen meals in front of "Ghostwriter" every Sunday night.

My husband and I joke about how when we were first married, prior to kids, we would routinely eat dinner in front of the TV. Watching "The Office" never gets old!

This isn't exactly a great habit though, and as a dietitian, I strongly discourage it. Why?

Research shows that people are significantly less likely to be aware of their portions when they are in front of the TV or playing a video game. The specific study linked found that 25% of meals were eaten in front of the screen. When we are distracted, we're less likely to pay attention to what goes in our mouths and when we've hit our satisfaction point.

It may sound simple, but eating at the dinner table with either peace and quiet, or pleasant conversation, can be a great starting point for sticking with healthy habits. I've had several clients admit that their kitchen table has become a dumping ground for mail, papers, and other clutter, rather than be a place to eat. Some of my patients hadn't eaten at their kitchen table in years!

If you're one of those who would rather settle into the couch, I challenge you to move to a table and take a break from the screen. A healthy way of life is a collection of mini habits- this being one!

Oh hey, August

We've been away from home the past two weekends, you know, doing our summer duty and camping/grilling/swimming/not showering.

The four loads of laundry I'm currently tackling are proof.

Every year I am SO eager for summer to roll around, and then also inevitably come this time of summer I start kind of sort of looking forward to summertime's closing.

Garden harvests...

crisp sunny days....

beautiful sunsets that aren't so late that I'm already in bed....

...and seeing the Asian beetles fornicating on, then eating all my plants.

Ahh, late summer.

While it's always fun to be in vacation mode, we are in high need of reincorporating some veggies into our meals this week. One thing I recently made that was SO easy and SO healthy and went over SO well with the kids is baked salmon with lemon and dill. I made a simple quinoa and spinach to go with it. This is the epitome of a nutritionally balanced meal- the salmon is full of protein and heart healthy fats. The quinoa is a whole grain full of fiber with a little protein too, and of course spinach is a great source of vitamins and fiber. Bonus? The whole meal takes less than 30 minutes to make.

Lemon Dill Salmon makes four servings
-1 16-oz fresh salmon fillet cut into four strips (the scales will be on the bottom- it's best to keep them on)
-1 lemon, cut in half
-1 teaspoon dried dill
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the four fillets scale-side down on the foil.

Using half of the lemon, squeeze juice evenly over the four pieces. Combine the dill, pepper, and salt, then sprinkle evenly over the pieces.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Make sure internal cooking temp at the thickest part is at least 145 degrees. The salmon should flake apart easily with a fork.

Cut the remaining lemon half into quarters and serve a quarter with each fillet.

Quinoa Spinach Pilaf makes four servings
-2 1/2 cups water
-1 1/2 cups quinoa
-2 cups spinach
-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
-1 teaspoon dried parsley
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium sized pot, bring water to boil over medium high heat. Add quinoa, cover, and turn heat to low. Stir occasionally until quinoa has absorbed most the water and is fluffy when stirred with a fork- about 15 minutes. Add seasonings, then spinach. Turn off heat and cover until spinach is wilted. Stir to combine.

Nutrition information per serving as shown in picture: 470 calories, 43 grams carbohydrates (including 5 grams of fiber), 20 grams fat (vast majority is heart healthy unsaturated kind), and 32 grams of protein.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Beans, beans, the magical fruit!

I finally taught my kids that (slightly) naughty rhyme! And they giggle every time.

I cook with beans..a lot...'cause they're cheap and easy and good fiber and protein. Who doesn't love a big ol' bean burrito?

Chop up an onion and a bag of sweet baby peppers.

Saute in a tablespoon of olive oil.

Drain and rinse a can of pintos and a can of black beans.

Add a packet or low sodium taco seasoning + 1/2 cup water. Let simmer until bean mixture has thickened.

Serve on a whole wheat tortilla with a sprinkle of shredded Colby or cheddar.

Easy Bean Burritos
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 large yellow onion, diced
-1 bag baby sweet peppers, seeded and diced
-1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
-6 whole wheat tortillas
-1/2 cup shredded cheese
-Salsa of choice
-Plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add diced onions and peppers. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
2. Add beans, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water. Turn down heat to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until mixture has thickened a bit.
3. Spoon about 2/3 cup bean mixture on a tortilla, then sprinkle on about 2 tablespoons shredded cheese.
4. Serve with your favorite salsa (it counts as a veggie so load up!) and plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Per burrito (with yogurt and salsa): 330 calories, 51 grams carbohydrate (including 10 grams fiber!), 6 grams fat, 20 grams protein, 707 mg sodium

Try these soon, you know, because the more you ( : o ) the better you feel, so eat some beans for every meal!