My Food Diary

‘Thoughts’ Articles

Sweet 16 Season!!

  1. Never say Die(t)!! This is just an ugly negative word that makes grown-ups and kids feel bad. Do whatever you can to avoid it and you’ll all feel better about the healthy habits you’re adopting!
  2. There is no ‘I’ (or ‘U’!) in TEAM!! Never single out any one player on your team. Eating well and exercising are things EVERYONE can benefit from. Make sure you’re working as a team!
  3. Let team members dish up their own plates. Set your meals out family style on the counter and let kids dish up their own servings. You’ll be amazed at how much more likely they are to eat what they put on their own plate. Encourage them to try at least a little of everything. This nifty little trick is also a great way to control portion size- kids seem to naturally know just how much they need. Just be sure to set the bowls on the counter instead of the table to avoid grazing and picking!
  4. Eating well is just a bowl of cherries (or grapes, or carrots, or cauliflower)! Make sure to set out a bowl of fresh fruit or cut veggies at every meal- and even between meals. They’ll gobble ‘em right up without you having to say a word (and DON’T say a word- we’re being sneaky, here!)
  5. Get in the game & play with your team! You need to get in the game! You set a good example by DOING, not just SAYING! Plus, you’ll all have more fun and be more likely to stick with your plan.
  6. Put in Your Subs! Substitute unsweetened applesauce or pureed fruit for eggs & oil, or ground turkey breast for ground beef…..but PLLLEAZE do not tell anyone!!!! And while you’re at it, make up a really decadent name for your healthier treats. Think ‘SUPER CHOCOLATE BROWNIES’ not ‘REDUCED FAT CARDBOARD CHEWS’, only you have to know that the SUPER stands for Super healthy!!
  7. Eat a Rainbow (and I’m NOT talking Skittles)! Challenge your team to eat as many natural colors as they can in a day. Keep track and reward colorful eating habits.
  8. Go Green & Get Fit! Taking care of the Earth also means taking better care of you! Picking up litter is great exercise and eating locally means fresher, healthier foods with less processing.

  9. Walk, Run or Bike for Charity! Find a fun event that is raising money for a good cause and train for it together. Collecting pledges and raising money will give you a common goal & a reason to stick to your walking plan. Check out to find events in your area.

  10. Laugh at yourself! By all means, try new things and have fun! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or look a little silly. The only way kids will find a lifelong activity they love is by trying them all out. Maybe you’ll even find a new passion for yourself!

  11. Keep your team involved in designing the gameplan! Let all family members take turns planning healthy meals. Makes everyone feel like they have a say in what’s being served and they will be much more likely to eat what’s on the menu.

  12. Revamp your refrigerator! Make sure the healthy snacks are washed, ready to go and stored at eye level so they are the first things your family spots when they open the fridge. Keep sweet treats and snacks in harder to reach and see spots.

  13. QUIETLY use new exercise equipment in front of your kids. When the whole family is parked in front of the TV, walk in with your stability ball or balance disk and start using it. DON’T say a word! Then, when they ask to try it (believe me they will!) reluctantly let them. That should keep them busy for awhile!!

  14. Grow some of your own food, or buy fresh at farm stands. I don’t know what it is about eating foods they’ve grown themselves, but kids love this! If you’re like me and gardeningly-challenged, at least get them to a farm stand or farmer’s market to pick out fresh veggies.

  15. Teach kids about portion size. Matter of factly, point out how many chips or crackers are in a serving size of a snack they’re eating. Keep it neutral, just giving some interesting information here so they know what is considered a reasonable portion size. You won’t believe how much interesting little people find this!

  16. 60 Minutes a Day is the way to play! Kids (and adults!) need to be active at least 60 minutes per day to stay healthy. The main way kids stay active is to play. Make sure your team has plenty of opportunities to get moving each and every day. It may help to keep track on a simple activity log- like the one you can print out at in the gameplans section.


Latest Addition to the FFC Kitchen Line-Up!

Arnold’s Sandwich Thins are the latest must-have for a complete summer line-up!  A great alternative to nutrient depleted white hamburger buns, these 100-calorie first-stringers are packed with a nutritional punch including 5g of fiber and 4g protein and, just to really blow your socks off, a measly 2g sugar!  Some of FFC’s favorite ways to work Arnold’s Sandwich Thins into the roster include:

The obvious substitution for blah burger buns and wimpy white bread

Top with marinara, cheese and turkey pepperoni and/or veggies for a healthy make-your-pizza!

Spread with BBQ sauce, chicken and cheddar cheese

Sloppy (turkey) Joes, anyone?

Natural PB and strawberry fruit spread….mmmmmmm!

Toast and top with an egg and Laughing Cow for a speedy, healthier Egg F(f)c Muffin!

the Multi-Grain version wins the FFC gold medal, but for the brown bread challenged, Arnold’s can ease your team into the game with a pretty decent whole grain white version.

Now go get in the game!!


Look at THIS!

OK, technically, this isn’t fitness gear. But this book is such an excellent tool for families, I just had to write (and rave) about it!!  David Zinczenko’s Eat This, Not That for Kids! Is an awesome tool to help you decide not only between the lesser of two evils but also to pick the best of the best.  He gives us the scoop on all the traditional kid fare plus the low-down on what to order at their favorite restaurants. He’s got suggestions on what to serve at holidays and birthdays plus recipes for healthier versions of kid classics.  He even rates ice cream, pizza and holiday candy from best to worst!  Now that is advice for the real world, my friends.  Whether you’re looking to keep your healthier gameplan top secret, or just want some suggestions and ideas on where to start, Eat This, Not That for Kids! is a must-have!


Write It Down!

A great way to keep kids moving is to show them how to set goals and take responsibility for the amount of activity they get.  Of course, we’re not going to explain TO THEM that way!!!!  Tell the troops you’ve got a fun new challenge for the family.  Explain the upsides of keeping active and by all means, make sure to focus on the positives- things like feeling happier, having more energy, being stronger & healthier, able to keep up with other kids, not getting sick, etc.  Kids need to be active at least ONE HOUR every day.  If you’re not even close, you can start with a smaller goal but remember that activity does not have to equal sports.  Swimming, dancing, walking the dog, playing active games, gardening and cleaning are all examples of activity that can be non-competitive.  Be creative and HAVE FUN!!  We’ve even created a Get Moving Log in our gameplans section for you to print out & hang on the fridge.  No thanks necessary- we love this stuff!!  Print one for each family member (YES- this means YOU, too!) and give a small reward for the family members who meet their goals for the week.  You might also want to do a little team building by setting a family goal as well.  Just have fun & keep on movin’!

Tis the Season to Stay in the Game!!

Days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder and finding ways to squeeze in sixty minutes of activity for the kids (and us!) is getting tougher and tougher.  When 5 o’clock feels like 8, it can be way too easy to spend prime time vegging in front of your family’s favorite shows!  But, never fear, there are plenty of easy and fun ways to stay active this winter!


Play active games- try Hyperdash, Wii Fit, Wii Active, or other games that keep your crew off their posteriors!


Give back and get fit!  Tis the season to give back!  Volunteer to box items at a food pantry or pick up canned goods from local collection sites and you’ll all stay active while giving back to the greater good!


Commercial Break Boot Camp- instead of speeding through the commercials of your family’s favorite programs, why stay active by using those two or three minute intervals to create a mini boot camp?  Have each family member do as many push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks or squats as you can during each break.  The winner gets to name the exercise you do at the next break!


Embrace the season by trying something new together!  Go cross-country or downhill skiing, rent ice skates, snow shoe or spring for a new sled.  The weather may be cold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find ways to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors.


Take a hike!  Trails take on a whole new look as the seasons change.  Bundle up, put on your boots and check out the views.  Load the kids AND Fido in the car for a trip to your local dog park.  Walk through your neighborhood to check out holiday decorations.  There’s a lot to see out there!  Get moving already!


Fresh air is great any time of year but let’s face it, sometimes the weather is just down right ugly!  When Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, you’ve got to find fun things to keep your team moving.  Try an indoor rock climbing gym; join the Y (and remember to GO!); check out open swim at your local high school; lace up your skates and head to an indoor skating rink; or visit an inflatable playground and bounce around. 


Take advantage of all the season has to offer!  Get involved, stay active and have fun with your family being a part of the action!


Now, Go Get in the Game!

Double Duty Dinner!

Trying to get kids to eat healthy meals is challenging enough without worrying about finding the time to create complicated recipes. The truth is if we don’t find a way to make eating (and preparing) healthy meals a breeze, we’ll never be able to make them a regular part of our crazy lives. So, are busy families everywhere destined to be drive-thru junkies? Of course not!! To keep my family eating healthy on crazy week nights, I do more ‘assembling’ than cooking. By keeping a few, key ingredients on hand I’ve always got a healthy meal just minutes away! I also prepare what I like to call the double duty dinner! I make a simple meal and then use the leftovers to prepare (notice I can’t call this cooking…it’s too simple!!) a quick casserole or soup to eat another night, or pack in lunches!

Here’s one of my favorite double-duty dinners!

Night One_

Turkey Tacos

1 lb. ground turkey breast

1 Can Mexican Seasoned Black Beans (optional)

Reduced sodium taco seasoning

Low Fat Mexican Cheese Blend

Fat Free Flour Tortillas (this is one fat-free where you CANNOT tell the difference! Look for a brand with under 100 calories and a decent amount of fiber)

Salsa and Shredded Lettuce

1 Box Spanish Rice (FYI…Our family love, love, loves the Archer Farms brand Lime Cilantro rice!!)

Brown the ground turkey breast (if you haven’t been using lean ground turkey, you may want to start with that first.  Just be sure its 7% fat or less and drain off any excess fat) and prepare with taco seasoning as directed on the package.  Either mix in the black beans with the turkey meat, or serve warm on the side.  Spoon one or both of the fillings into the fat free shells and top with salsa, cheese and lettuce.

While the turkey is cooking, prepare the rice according to the low-fat directions usually found next to the regular directions on the back or side of the box.  Often, this just means substituting 3T. water for the oil.  Serve a half cup of rice as a side to the taco.

After dinner combine the leftover taco meat, beans, salsa and rice in a large pot with the following ingredients to make a delicious Taco Soup:

8 c. Chicken Broth

1 bag frozen southwestern style veggies (or 1 can fiesta corn and a can green chiles)

Heat to boiling and remove from heat.  Cool and pour into storage containers for an easy re-heatable dinner for Night 2, or lunches for the week!

Quick & Healthy Cold Lunch Ideas!

Well, it’s back to school and you know what that means….  Time to go crazy figuring out how to possibly come up with fun, quick and healthy cold lunch ideas that will make us moms AND our kids feel good!  The usual choices are a hot lunch menu that reads like a child’s nutrition nightmare- corn puppies, pizza and hot dogs- OH MY!  …or the convenient yet disgusting, pre-packaged, non-foods!  What’s a mom to do???  I’ve found a few ways to pack a fun and quick, yet healthy cold lunch that my kids actually WANT to take.


Five Tips for Packing a Delicious and Nutritious Cold Lunch


1. READ LABELS- Lots of nutritious sounding packables are really NOT!  Stay away from anything with long lists of ingredients, high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.


2. INVEST- I strongly suggest investing in a thermal food container and an ice pack, or one of those cool containers with an ice pack built right into the lid.  A couple of these sneaky tools help make packing a healthy cold (or hot) lunch a real breeze.


3. MAKE A LIST- Ask your child what healthy items they like in their lunch.  You’ll know what to buy at the store and have a few ideas to choose from.  This is also creates an opportunity to talk with your kids about what foods are and are not healthy.


4. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX-  If your kids don’t like sandwiches, try slices of turkey or ham spread with low-fat spreadable cheese and some pickles and rolled up for an easy non-sandwich alternative.  Soups and pastas are also easy alternatives to the basic sandwich.


5. INCLUDE DIPS AND SPRINKLES- We know kids love dipping and sprinkling!  If a small container of low-fat ranch dressing or a container of parmesan cheese gets em to gobble up more of the good stuff- GO FOR IT!!


Here’s just a few of our fav’s to get you started:


Pump You Up PB&J

Natural PB (Skippy makes a great no stirring necessary version) & spreadable fruit on whole wheat- or whole grain high fiber white, if needed


Ham, Roast Beef or Turkey rolled up with a slice or REAL cheese in a high fiber tortilla.  Add lettuce, tomatoes or cucumber slices for extra crunch and nutritional punch!


Cooked Pasta with marinara or Healthy Mac & Cheese

in a thermal food container-

throw in a little container of parmesan to sprinkle on, too! YUM!


Soup in a thermal food container

            Think chicken noodle, beef stew, tomato or ????

            Get creative and make your own to serve all week!


Pizza on the Fly

Pack a tortilla or pita bread with a container of pizza sauce, part skim mozzarella and some turkey pepperoni- kids can pile it on like a pizza, or roll it up


Leftover Lasagna, Casserole or other baked dishes in a thermal food container



Don’t forget the sides


Cooked pasta with a little light ranch or Italian dressing and cubed cheese makes an easy ‘pasta salad’


If your kids don’t love salad, try packing just leaves of fresh spinach with some low-fat dip


Baked pita chips with hummus


Pirate’s Booty or Chedd-Air


Cut up soft pita with a cup of natural PB


Watermelon, strawberries, blueberries or grapes- mix em all together for extra fun


Healthy Yogurt Cups


No sugar added fruit cups


Green beans right out of the can pack great and are easy to eat



Where’s the Treat??  Hot lunches almost always feature a sweet treat so, to satisfy a sweet tooth and keep your troops in the game, toss in one of the following


A low cal candy-bar type granola bar (think 100-calorie Kudos bars or Kids Chocolate Brownie power-bar)


A small piece of chocolate


A serving (count it out & let the kids help!) of organic animal crackers or ginger snaps


Home made trail mix- large on the almonds and dried fruit, light on the candy pieces!!


Happy Packing!  Now go get in the game!!

The Off Season is OVER, people!

Spring is in the air and everybody’s ready to head outdoors!  Take advantage of the enthusiasm and get your team MOVING!!  Set a family goal for the summer and you’ll all reap the benefits!  Here are a few fun suggestions:

Walk (or Run!) 100 miles- keep a chart of your progress, only dedicated walking or running time counts!

Bike Across Your State! (ours is 260 miles wide)  Not all in one day, of course!  But print out a map of your state and mark off the miles you ride together as a family throughout the summer! Hint; you can find this info easily on the internet through a quick Google search!

Let every team member pick a new veggie to plant & care for!  Discover new recipes to use them in!

Take up geocaching!  I haven’t tried this, but looks like a FUN family ACTIVE-ity!!!

Or, come up with your own fun and active goals!!  Just be sure to share them with the coach ; )! Make sure to establish a healthy reward for achieving your goals, too!



Our buds at Zoe have been featured on Hungry Girl!

Hey, team!  Check it out…. our friends at Zoe who make the awesome granolas have just been featured on the famous Hungry Girl website with some stunning deals on their delicious and sneakishly delicious granolas!!  CLICK HERE to see what all the buzz is about!  (FYI- Hungry Girl is a pretty darn good site to add to your favorites, too, as she features tons of sneaky substitutions and sawps that rock!!)

Congrats, Zoe friends!  We couldn’t be happier for you- and your award winning granolas!!

Let’s Talk Turkey….

or veggie crumbles or soy!!!  One of my most favorite (and sneakiest!) tricks is to substitute turkey or veggie crumbles for the ground beef in ALL of our team’s favorite recipes.  Its super simple to do, AND the greatest part is that you can EEEEEEEEEEase your team into this drill!  To start, just go halfsies~ that is, replace half of your usual ground beef with LEAN (make sure it’s labeled lean- no more than 15% fat, or you might as well stick with beef) ground turkey.  When no one notices (and for goodness sake, don’t give away the game here!) switch over to substituting the whole caboodle!  After your squad has adjusted to the switch, you may even want to go for gold by working in ground turkey breast, beans or veggie crumbles!!  I’ve even found some absolutely deLISHous frozen turkey meatballs to plop in pasta sauce and turkey pepperoni for home made (and MUCH more fun and healthy!) pizza!  Experiment- you’ll be amazed at how great these healthier alternatives can taste!!  A word of caution: don’t be tempted to reveal your game plan after your first success~ instead wait until your team is completely accustomed to their new favorites before you spill the beans!!