My Food Diary

‘At the Training Table’ Articles

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!!

 

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!!

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!!

Flagrant Foul!!

OK, I am peeved people!  Just read the following article on MSN about how the food industry bamboozles us into thinking certain snacks are healthy when they’re so NOT! and about how much money is spent convincing our rookies to load up on processed, junky NON-FOOD!!  It’s crazy….click the link below to read the article.  Mad?  don’t play THAT game!  Be a keen label reader and teach your troops to do the same- and no amount of flashy advertising will defeat your winning gameplan!!

http://health.msn.com/nutrition/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100220456&gt1=31036

Are You Smarter than a 3rd Grader?

Here’s a wonderful idea from of my very cool and tricky friends to get kids excited about trying healthy new foods.  Have your grade schoolers select one new fresh fruit or vegetable they want the whole family to try.  Let them do a little research on the computer to pick a few they’re interested in and then take them to the supermarket to find one of their selections.  (You may want to have 2 or 3 options since not all stores will carry some of the more exotic varieties!)  Let them choose how the new food will be prepared and served, and have everyone try it together at a family meal.  The person who chose it might even like to give the rest of the team a little team briefing on where the food comes from, and how it’s most often enjoyed.  EVERYONE must try at least a little bit, then talk about how you like it- or not!  At least you’re finding a fun way to try new stuff that will keep the team involved!  And sooner or later, you’re sure to find some one or two healthy foods to add to your family’s menu.  Bon Apetit!  (By the way, Thanks for this awesome trick, Chris!)

Scary Good ‘Caramel’ Apples!

Remember when a caramel apple was a regular sized apple covered in a thin layer of caramel on a stick~ and you could actually eat it off the stick?  Those delicious and relatively innocent treats of yesteryear have recently morphed into ginormous apples slathered in inches of caramel which are then rolled in full sized nuts or candies and often drizzled with more chocolate!  They’re usually sliced for eating because not only are they impossible to eat without becoming engulfed in caramel yourself, but they’re also often large enough to feed a small dinner party!  I miss those reasonable caramel-y treats!  So, imagine my delight when my Aunt Patty told me about the wonderful recipe she found on FamilyFun.com!  This fabulous recipe is not only the perfect treat to serve at Halloween, but also makes an excellent birthday treat for school or party pleaser.  You can see the original recipe by clicking HERE, but we FFC’d it up by using natural peanut butter instead of those plastic-y peanut butter chips and it worked great!! The basic idea is to use a melon baller to creat mini-apples, dip them in the peanut butter and then sprinkle with a few festive jimmies.  Just microwave the peanut butter for a few seconds, and be sure the apple balls are dry before dipping and you will not miss!  These ‘caramel’ apples were a huge hit with adults and kids alike.  Everyone wanted to know where we got those adorable little apples!!
 SNNNNNEAKY~ I love it! 

Spooktacular Halloween Treats!

Soon, little ghouls and goblins from all over your neighborhood will be standing at your door shouting that famous Halloween phrase, “Trick or Treat!”  So, let’s all vow to stop tricking our kids into thinking candy is the best kind of treat and instead give them some REAL treats we can all feel good about!  Here are the 10 best ideas we’ve heard…

FFC’s personal fav- Jump Ropes! (check out www.smalltoys.com for some great deals!)

Coupons for Apple Dippers or low-fat ice cream cones from McDonalds

Temporary Tattoos

Fruitabu or Stretch Island Fruit Leathers (www.fruitabu.com)

Pencils

Stickers

Snyders Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches

Sticky Eyeballs (gross!)

Individual instant hot cocoa or hot cider packets

Mini note pads or trading cards

….don’t be AFRAID to use your creativity to come up with your own REAL treats! (and remember to share your fabulous ideas with all of your freinds at Family Fitness Coach!!!)

100-ful Snacks!!

These little magic packs really bring the noise!  100 calories of just about every fabulous snack known to man- or at least known to kids!  From super chocolaty brownies to gummy bears to potato chips and crackers, you can find your players’ favorite weaknesses in a reasonably sized, super convenient pouch.  These little wonders may be slightly more expensive than their bulk counterparts- but the built-in portion control makes them worth every penny!  Stock up on these smart little snacks and be prepared to tame your team’s fiercest cravings the sane way.   A word of caution:  if one pack won’t be enough, it may be best to forgo these tasty little devils.  Remember…..they’re still TREATS and thus not really full of good stuff~ just an easy way to keep portions under control. 

 

 

100

All-star Muffins!

This yummy recipes comes to us from one of our loyal readers!  YAY~ and thanks, Gwen, for this FAB & EASY PEEZY muffin ditty (that was supposed to be some sort of rhyme, but didn’t quite turn out).  The muffins are GRRRRRREAT though!

INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs, beaten
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup milk

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease or line 10 muffin cups.

 

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and bananas. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture. Fold in walnuts if desired. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.

 

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

 

Here’s another little sneaky suggestion, if I may:  How about throwing in a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips for a helathier alternative to cupcakes for birthday treats or soccer snacks?!

 

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm~ yummers!