Lettuce wraps

Okay so I have had lettuce wraps in several restaurants but had not made them at home until this past week. They were SO good!!!  My husband loved them and was giving me ideas for other ingredients we could try. I didn’t follow a recipe but if you are interested in giving these a go, here is what I did…

  1. Cook up 1 pound ground chicken in a fry pan. Add small bits of water if needed.
  2. Once chicken is cooked, add in 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil, diced onion, red pepper, yellow pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms. Saute everything together until veggies are cooked/softened.
  3. Add in 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup water chestnuts, 1 cup white beans (black beans would be great too!)
  4. Stir in 2 tsp. sesame oil and 2-3 Tbsp. peanut sauce. Simmer on low stirring regularly until all is cooked through.
  5. Serve in large pieces of romaine, bibb, or ice burg lettuce.

A great variation for this would be to put a Mexican twist on it. Instead of the peanut sauce, you could use salsa or a fajita seasoning.

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Enjoy!!!

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Tip #5: Planning Ahead

Okay so now that we are eating breakfast, drinking water, making our food look good, and preventing blood sugar lows with our apple in reach strategy, let’s kick it up a notch. Planning ahead is huge for success in on-going healthy eating. How can you do this? Here are my top 7 strategies for planning ahead…

1) Make a healthy food bag/set of containers the night before. This is for moms that work out of the home and at home. Portion out almonds, walnuts, grapes, berries, Greek yogurt, and other snack foods that aren’t “grab and go”. Choose a whole fruit too! Put any Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chia seeds, hemp hearts etc. into containers too. Make a large container of fresh veggies (peppers, cucumber, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, etc.) that you can munch on all day long. These are especially helpful for the car ride home from anywhere before a meal.

One fun idea for the lunch part that I was introduced to recently were these amazing mason jar salads.

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You can actually make them on the weekend with a few variations in each and then enjoy all week long. See more ideas about these here.

2) Buy veggies that are easy to grab for a snack when you are getting your family’s meal ready. In addition to the cut up veggies mentioned above, it’s great to have additional “easy to grab” ones on hand. This will help you avoid overeating at the next meal. Ideas that I use are: baby carrots, snap peas, and baby tomatoes.

3) Make a meal plan for the week for your whole family for all meals and snacks. You are more likely to eat healthy food if you plan for it. Think about who will need lunches and supper at home vs. out of the house. Can you plan suppers that provide leftovers for lunch the next day? Would “breakfast for supper” work best for any of the nights? Can you cook in bulk one of the nights to freeze for one of next week’s meals? Also, I always plan to make extra veggies at supper so that if anyone is still hungry after the first course, they can fill up on antioxidant rich veggies.

4) Think about your food needs for the week (based on #3) and make a grocery list for once (or twice) per week that allows for you to have everything you need in the house. If you plan to stop on the way home from work or with the kids after school, you may bail from fatigue or lack of time and end up with a less healthy meal. Within this remember to think beyond supper and plan for enough veggies and lean proteins for lunches too!

5) Don’t leave supper meal prep to the last minute. You are tired and hungry. The kids are tired and hungry and likely bouncing off the walls or having a meltdown. You can be less stressed in the kitchen if you have sliced up beets, peppers, sweet potatoes, onions etc earlier in the day. Maybe you cooked the quinoa or rice at breakfast time. Maybe you made the salad during their nap time.

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6) Plan for a healthy evening snack at a specific time that will prevent you from mindlessly eating in the evening. Some of my faves are Greek yogurt and berries; smoothie of coconut milk, frozen pineapple, and a banana; or an apple cut up with all natural peanut or almond butter. Remember, for most days, avoid eating anything at 9 pm that you wouldn’t eat at 9 am.

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7) Make your favourite “treat” foods part of your planning. Do you love ice cream? Choose to have 1/2 cup ice cream in a small bowl one evening. Do you live donuts? Plan to enjoy a timbit at some point over the week. Do you like chips? Plan for a small bowl one time over the course of the week. But don’t necessarily do all three of these.  The important strategy to enjoying treat foods is to pick your favourite and go with that. I like to call them your “10 out of 10 foods”. Don’t waste consumption of empty calories on foods that don’t wow you.

Hope at least one of these ideas sparks some new planning possibilities for you and family on your journey to a healthy 2016. Until next time….stay healthy!

Recap of tips 1-4

Okay so before we head into tip #5, lets recap.

We are eating breakfast within an hour of waking up to get our metabolism started for the day.

We are drinking water as soon as we wake up, every hour throughout the day, and before we go to bed. We are adding extra water in for activity time and pregnancy or breastfeeding.

We are making our food look great by choosing colourful fruits and vegetables and putting them on a plate or in a bowl to look at before we eat.

We are eating an apple (or other crunchy fruit) to avoid blood sugars from dipping to low between meals.

Please keep practicing these and doing your best. They are not rules, but rather tips. Rules set us up for failure. Goals and tips set us up for striving for the healthiest we can be.

I am going to step it up a notch with the next set of tips this week. Get ready! Tip #5 is on its way this week!

Until next time…keep healthy!

Tip #4: An Apple a Day….

…keeps the HANGRY away!!!

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A while back I realized how incredibly useful it is to always have a bowl on my counter stocked with crunchy apples AND to take one (or more) of these apples with me when I am out and about. I cannot tell you the number of times that I catch myself becoming frustrated with my kids or low energy at work and reach for that apple to get me through to the next time I can have a full snack or meal.

There are many foods that would fill this gap but the great thing about apples is that they are crunchy and take a while to eat so our brains have time to catch up with our GI tract. A beverage does not allow time for this to happen and we may overeat. Apples are also full of nutrients, including soluble fibre which helps with satiety (staying fuller longer).

So whether you are busy at home or out and about, don’t let the hangry monster get the best of you and don’t impulsively reach for unhealthy “treats” between meals. Grab an apple and be on your way!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Tip #3: Make it Look Good

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I am little behind on blogging my tips from IG. Tip #3 was making food look good. We taste first with our eyes, then our nose, then our mouth. So it just makes sense to use lots of fun colours and decorate our plate to make our food look as appetizing as possible while super nutritious!!!

See below for some suggestions of colourful salads and soups to make your plate irresistible and your body super healthy.

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 pounds peeled Sweet Potatoes, cubed

1/2 Tbsp olive oil or Becel margarine (optional)

4 cup Soymilk (or other milk)

1-2 tsp Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp each brown sugar and maple syrup (or less depending on how sweet you want it)

1 tsp pureed garlic (Optional)

1 540mL can of no salt added White beans (rinsed very well in a strainer)

Instructions:

  1. Roast sweet potato cubes in the over at 375 for about 45 minutes.
  2. Once done, puree roasted sweet potatoes with soymilk and add remaining ingredients to desired thickness and taste.
  3. Add White beans and enjoy! You can also puree the while beans in if you prefer a smooth soup.

You can also add in other roasted or steamed veggies if you wish to!

Coconut Curry Soup

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots (or you can use sweet onions)

2 tsp. red curry paste

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 can light coconut milk

2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (bake chicken breasts at 375 for 35-45 minutes (until done and juices run clear) then shred into pieces before adding into the soup)

1/2 cup chopped green onions

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

Fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and crushed red pepper (all optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, red curry paste, curry powder, tumeric, coriander, and garlic to the pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add chicken broth to pan, and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk to pan; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken, onions, and fish sauce to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and chiles. Serve with lime wedges.

You may wish to pour the soup over rice noodles and/or add more veggies.

 

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

¾ cup uncooked Quinoa (follow package instructions for cooking)

1 Tbsp. grape seed oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 red onion, diced

1 cup diced orange pepper

1 large handful of baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 cup diced cucumber

½ cup black olives, diced

1/3-1/2 cup pesto sauce

1 cup diced tofu or white beans

1 cup diced feta

 Instructions

  • Rinse and cook quinoa according to package directions.
  • Sauté onion and pepper in grape seed oil until softened. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and then turn stove off and let vegetables cool.
  • Take 1 handful of baby spinach and slice into smaller pieces. Toss this will peppers and red onion, balsamic sauce, cucumber, and tomatoes.
  • Toss vegetable mixture with pesto, then black olives, then tofu (or white beans), then quinoa.
  • Once all ingredients are mixed, add crumbled feta to that top of the salad and serve.

Variations to this Recipe:

Additional vegetables will only increase the nutrition of this salad.  For example:

  • You may also wish to sauté zucchini and eggplant with the peppers and onions.
  • You may wish to add cooked or fresh mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, or snap peas.
  • You may wish to add fresh basil in addition to or instead of the spinach.

 Caesar’s Heart Tomato Salad

Ingredients: (per 1-2 people)

 1 cup baby tomatoes sliced in half

½ cup chopped hearts of palm

1/4 red onion sliced

1 Tbsp Low fat Caesar dressing

Mix ingredients together and serve

 

Tomato and Feta Salad

Ingredients: (per 1-2 people)

1 cup baby tomatoes sliced in half

30 grams Feta Cheese (15% M.F.)

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1-2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and garnish with parsley.

Fun and Healthy Salad Combos to add to a bed a spinach or mixed greens…

 Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, feta, black olives, and diced chicken with Greek dressing.

Sliced strawberries or pears, walnuts or almonds, and feta or goat cheese with Balsamic Vinegar dressing.

Tuna and salsa mixed together with a few green olives and diced avocado.

Chickpeas, diced tomatoes, crumbled feta, diced avocado and balsamic vinegar mixed together.

Snow peas, baby carrots, tomatoes, and cottage cheese.

Cucumber, red peppers, diced ham, and pineapple with Honey Mustard dressing.

Steamed broccoli, pineapple, and almonds, with Calorie Wise Creamy Poppy seed.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, goat cheese, and smoked salmon with Lemon Poppy seed dressing.

Hope this give you lots of fun and healthy inspiration.

Until next time….stay healthy!!!

Tip #2: WATER!!!

Okay so my next tip for you to add to your day on top of eating breakfast soon after waking up, is to drink water ALL DAY LONG.

Did you know that if you are thirsty that you are already dehydrated?!?! Water makes up 6–70% of our body weight and has many roles. It participates in reactions within the body, transports nutrients to the cells and waste away from the cells, lubricates and cushions our joints, helps maintain our body temperature, protects our spine, and so much more! Maintaining water balance is governed by the brain and kidneys. We can take in water through actual water, as well as other beverages and some foods. It is recommended that women consume 2.5-3 litres of fluid per day and men 3.5-4 litres per day. This will generally meet about 80% of our water needs and the rest can come from food and metabolic processes. Having said that, there are many factors that may increase our water needs. For example, exercise, spending time in forced air environments or hot climates, pregnancy/lactation, etc.

So do you drink enough water? Here are some things to watch for that may be signs you need to drink a bit more: thirst, fatigue, irritability, hunger (when you just ate), dry lips or skin, headache.

If you think that you might be on the side of dehydration and not meeting your water needs, here are a few tips to help remedy this:

  1. Drink a cup of water as soon as you get up in the morning.
  2. Fill a container in the fridge at the start of each day with 2-3 litres of water.
  3. If you do not like the taste of plain water, try adding fresh or frozen fruit to a jug of water in your fridge or to your personal water container. Some of my favourite combos are strawberries and raspberries, pineapple and cucumber, or lemon and lime.
  4. Another alternative to water is hot or chilled herbal tea. Herbal tea is caffeine free so it does not have a diuretic effect and can be consumed as an equivalent to water.
  5. Find a cup or reusable bottle (or a few) that you really like and would be willing to carry with you wherever you go throughout the house, as well as out of the house. Never leave the house without water.
  6. Set a timer on your phone for every 30 minutes to remind you to drink some of the water in case you have been busy and forgotten.
  7. For every cup (8 oz.) of caffeinated coffee or tea that you consumer, consume an extra 1/2 cup of water.
  8. For every hour of housework or exercise that you do, consume an extra cup of water.
  9. For breastfeeding mama…every time you nurse your baby, consume and extra cup of water.
  10. Drink one more cup of water before you go to bed.

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Okay, so for the next few days, continue to have breakfast within an hour of waking up and hydrate yourself well. If you have been struggling with cravings or low energy, both of these tips should be helping to alleviate these issues.

Until next time….stay healthy!!!

 

 

Tip #1: Break(the)fast

Okay ladies…here we go! My first tip for being the healthiest you can be this year is to commit to “break(the )fast” of overnight within an hour of waking up. As moms it can be very easy to get caught up in the rush of the morning and before you know it, it’s been hours and you haven’t had more than a coffee (or two). So why does this matter so much? Well, your body relies on stored glucose in the body (glycogen) overnight and when you wake up in the morning, your glycogen stores are depleted and you need energy! Carbs get a lot of bad mouthing these days, but the reality is that your brain and central nervous system NEED carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) to function. So, in the morning this glucose can come from consuming carbs or from the breakdown of muscle in the body which allows for the body to glean glucose from protein and then excrete the unused portion of the protein in our urine. I don’t know about you, but I hate the idea of losing muscle. Why? We work hard for any muscle that we build so losing it when we could prevent that loss is so sad! Also, when we break down muscle in the body for energy, our metabolism goes down, which means that we burn fewer calories and store fat more readily. The body does this as it thinks it will not be fed and will need reserves to survive. So the easy solution to retain your muscle and help support a good metabolism is to eat within one hour of waking up (and keep eating small meals every few hours throughout the day…we will get to that step later tho…let’s start one focus at a time).
So, what are some good breakfast ideas??? Lots of options but here are my top 5 favourites….

1) Whole grain cereal with berries and low fat milk. Here is my breakfast from today. I go back and forth between Coconut milk and lactose free skim milk. For tips on how to get enough protein in if you are not drinking cow’s milk or soy milk, see this post.

2) Whole grain wrap or toast or English muffin with natural peanut butter or almond butter and a banana
3) Eggs (or egg whites) scrambled and served with diced feta, tomato, and avocado and whole grain bread product.
4) Greek yogurt with berries and a low sugar granola
5) Smoothie with greek yogurt, fruit/veggies, and milk of your choice

Okay let’s try this for a few days and then we will add onto it.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Here we go 2016!!!!

Okay ladies, so after 17 months of full time mommy duties I headed back to work last fall. It was such a crazy schedule but the balance of work/home life is really a beautiful thing…most of the time. Sometimes I just long to hold my babies and not think of anything in the outside world. And other days I am so thankful that I can be out of the house speaking with adults and educating others about the amazing world of nutrition!

Having said that, mid fall I was so crazy busy with everything that I was not able to get very much sleep. Something had to give…and it was this blog. I have so many ideas and things I want to share, but I had to put my family, my work, and my health/sleep as priorities before blogging.

Over the Christmas break I took time to work ahead on some ideas and now I hope to be able to balance everything better moving forward. I will do my best!

There are so many food fads and health fads that come and go but one constant that remains: making “lifestyle changes” rather than “quick fixes” will always serve you better both physically and psychologically. It is so important to choose guidelines over rules and use your resources of time, energy, and money to the best of your ability.

Starting tomorrow (January 11th) I am going to post tips on instagram every few days that you can practice and layer on each other for optimal health. I have 30 tips to share with you over the course of 90 days and at the end of that time period , we will see how things are going. They will be realistic and attainable tips, meant for busy moms. I hope that you find some useful and I will pop on here to blog as well as time permits.

Until next time…stay healthy!