Monday, March 18, 2013

Healthy Eating For The Family part 2

Hi Ladies,

It's Rachelle again. This week I want to share some of our favorite lunches, plus some lunch box ideas for the family on the go. I also thought I would share some tips that I have used to help my family embrace eating healthy. I won't say it has been easy, but it has definitely been worth the effort. I hope that you find some of these helpful for your own families (or yourself!) as well.

Drink Water

I think most of us have heard by now that a lot of the time when we think our body is asking for food, it is really dehydrated and asking for water and that most of us walk around severely dehydrated all too often. If we are not getting enough water, it is so easy to start craving (and eating!) things we shouldn't or things that we don't really need!  Make sure you are getting lots of water on a daily basis—the rule is, at least half your weight in ounces—especially in the summer, when you are more likely to become dehydrated. Water will help you not only deal with those pesky cravings, but will also help you lose weight quicker, stay healthy, look young and feel amazing!


Give Yourself a Day to Prepare
I like to do this on Mondays. The kids and I spend much of the day in the kitchen, preparing foods to make the rest of the week much easier. We chop vegetables, cook beans, which we start soaking late the night before, make tons of rice, homemade vegetable broth (I will teach you how to do this for just pennies later on), make sauerkraut, and anything else that needs to be done. This saves so much time later on in the week. If you follow this one tip, everything will be that much less chaotic for you.

Don't Always Offer Them What You Are Eating

I know what you are thinking, “But if I don't offer it to them, how will they ever learn to eat it?” Sometimes instead of offering something to my kids that I want them to eat, I sit and eat it by myself and talk to my husband, or someone else, about how delicious it is. Now, you have to be careful with this, kids are very smart and, if they feel like you are trying to trick them, they won't fall for it. In fact, when I do this, I am not trying to trick them necessarily, I just know that if they don't get some, at least one of them will probably come over and ask if they can try it, and if one of them tries it then I can bet that the others will follow.

Let Your Kids Make Their Own Creations
 
I remember when I was little I loved to “cook.”  What I mean by cook is that I loved to get a big bowl of water, and put all different kinds of spices together.  I will never forget the time when my cousin and I made carrot soup in her fort. It was just cut up carrots in water, but, boy, did we eat them up!  Or, how I came up with a “recipe” for milk cake—not exactly the healthiest one—where I would take birthday cake on people's birthdays, put it in a cup with some milk, cook it in a microwave for 30 seconds, stir it, and then freeze it for five minutes. In all reality it was probably horrible tasting, but to my young, creative mind it was the best dessert I had ever tasted.

Think about how powerful this step can be for a minute. How often had I had carrots in my childhood before and even after I made that soup with my cousin?  But this one experience left a huge impact on me. So great, that I still remember it today, a good twenty years later. Kids love to create!

My kids will come to me asking for ingredients to make things all the time and I try to say “yes” as much as possible. My son, Chaz, has particularly gotten very good at this. The other day he rambled off his ideas for homemade bread, measurements and all. I remember thinking, “Holy smokes, I think that might just work!” He then sent the recipe to his uncle on the other side of the country because of how proud he was.

Give your kids healthy ingredients and let them have at it!  It's tons of fun, and, who knows, they might just come up with something fabulous one of these days! (Be sure to check out the recipe for Cream of Wheat Pie on week four).

Know Your Favorite Meals
When I say your favorite meals, I mean the whole family's favorites. My husband loves my garlicky lentils and tomatoes, so that has become a staple meal at our house. For Chloe, it's potato angels (Google this one), Chaz loves baked sweet potatoes and chickpeas, Paige loves oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins and almond milk. The baby loves green smoothies, and I can't imagine life without homemade rice and beans.

Once you know your family's favorites—create a go-to list! You now have things to eat when you don't know what to eat! As important as it is to try new things and seek out variety,  it is equally important to have a list of foods that you know you already enjoy to fall back on when you need something comforting.

Know Their Favorite Fruits and Vegetables
 Going along with the last tip, it is equally important to know what fruits and vegetables your family members enjoy, so that you have healthy snacks on hand for when someone needs something extra special.
Offer Options, NOT alternatives!
At our house we do not give another meal (cold cereal, for example) to a child who does not want to eat what we are having. We do however give options. What I mean by this is that if we are having tacos for dinner I might put all of the ingredients into separate bowls so that the kids can choose how they want theirs made, but they cannot choose to have another meal. This is SO important! I have such a hard time with people saying that their kids won't eat a certain food if they are, in fact, feeding into this (no pun intended) by making picky kids separate meals. If your family is having a big taco salad for dinner, do not give your toddler a peanut butter sandwich!   (Unless of course they are too little for a certain food, or have allergies). 

People tell me all the time, “Oh, you're so lucky your kids will eat those vegetables; my kids won't eat them!  They hate the stuff.” So lucky? I think not!  In our home dinner is dinner, and, if they are hungry, they eat it!  It may sound mean to some, but I think it is meaner allowing your child to be picky and not giving him the opportunity to “learn to like it.”

Learn to Like It
”Learning to like it” is something that you will hear around our house quite often. There will always be foods that members in your family do not enjoy, but in our house we do not say, “I don't like this,” we say, “I am still learning to like this.”  We do this because I truly believe just that. Some things taste strange to us because we haven't had enough opportunity to learn to like them yet, or, perhaps, the way that they are being prepared is not our favorite. If you allow your child to say “I don't like this” you are allowing him to give up on a food that he may in fact grow to love.
I hope that you find those tips helpful. I know I tend to ramble. :P And now, on to recipes.

Veggie Tray and Hummus Dips
I think that it is SO important to make sure that your family is getting enough raw vegetables. People always look at me as if I were crazy when I tell them that we quite frequently enjoy a HUGE vegetable tray as our lunch. Period! The kids love it! Afterward they like to get a spoon and finish off any hummus that I had hoped to have saved for the following day.

Vegetables don't have to be dull, though personally I don't feel like they are with all of the different flavors they pack!   Homemade hummus, with no oil, and minimal salt is a great way to enjoy them! And the good news? You choose how hard you make this recipe by either cooking your beans yourself, or buying them in a can, though homemade always tastes better!

I will give you five hummus recipes that we love: Original, Spinach, Tomato and Basil, White Bean, and Roasted Red Pepper. I hope that you enjoy them all!

Original


 Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

Preparation
1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.


 Spinach and Cheeze

Makes 6-8 servings
Ingredients
• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• 2-3 cups spinach
• 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

Preparation
1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.
Makes 6-8 servings

Roasted Red Pepper

Ingredients
• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 roasted red peppers, peeled (for those of you who don't know how to roast a red pepper, Google it, it's super easy in the oven)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

Preparation
1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

Tomato and Basil

Ingredients:
• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1/2 cup dried tomatoes, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup fresh basil
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste


Preparation
1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

White Bean Hummus

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
• 1 can white beans, drained, reserve juice for later.
• 1 clove of garlic
• Italian seasoning to taste

Preparation
1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.



The GLT

Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients
• 8 slices of bread
• 2 large tomatoes
• head of red lettuce, or any other green of your preference
• 2 avocados
• juice from one lemon
• 2 garlic cloves
• salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Guacamole
1. In a food processor, add avocado, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Process until thick and creamy.
3. Toast bread (optional).
4. Thoroughly wash lettuce and tomatoes.
5. Tear lettuce into sandwich size pieces.
6. Cut tomatoes into THICK slices.
7. Slather guacamole all over one of the slices of bread.
8. Top with as much tomato and lettuce that you would like and cover with another slice of bread.
9. Serve with a veggie tray and hummus.

*Jalapenos from a jar are also really good on this!


Quinoa Salad with Rubbed Kale and Beans
I love quinoa. It is probably my favorite grain and is so incredible for you. In this simple salad, the kale and quinoa pair up perfectly together and the beans add a nice, almost sweet flavor.

Serves 4

Ingredients
• 2 cup uncooked quinoa
• 3 cups water (for cooking quinoa)
• 2 cups washed kale, stems removed, cut into bite sized pieces
• 1 cup cooked white beans or garbanzo beans
• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
• 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener of choice
• salt and pepper to taste
• Optional toppings: red pepper flakes and slivered nuts of your choice

Preparation
1. In a large cooking pot, bring water to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer.
2. Cook for 15 minutes.
3. While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, mustard and agave until well combined.
4. In a large bowl, put kale and vinegar dressing and rub kale with your hands until the kale is wilted and evenly coated.
5. Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.
6. When quinoa is done, remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes with the lid on.
7. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork.
8. Combine quinoa with the marinated kale, add in your beans and mix well.
9. Salt and pepper to taste. 
10. Garnish with nuts and or red pepper flakes.

Avocado Potato Salad
I love potato salad. It is one of my favorite summer time meals. In this potato salad, avocado is used to replace the mayonnaise in traditional potato salad, making it a much healthier, more delicious meal! One word of caution though, prepare this one right before you are ready to serve as the avocados will start to brown after a bit and take away from the beauty of it.

Serves 4 sides or 8 Main course
Ingredients:
   8 medium sized potatoes
• 1 cup corn, cooked
• 2 large tomatoes, diced
• 1/2 cup olives, halved
• 1/4 cup chopped pickles (optional)
• 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
• 1/4 chopped parsley
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 avocados
• juice from 1 lemon
• salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover potatoes at least an inch or two.
2. Bring to a boil.
3. When boiling turn down heat to medium high and continue cooking for about 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are tender but not mushy.
4. When they are ready, pour out the hot water and replace it with cold water to cool.
5. When potatoes are cooled enough to work with, peel the potatoes and chop into cubes.
6. In a large bowl add chopped potatoes, corn, tomatoes, olives, pickles (optional), green onions, parsley and garlic and carefully mix together.
7. Cut open the avocados and remove the fruit and place it in a medium sized bowl.
8. Add lemon juice and mash until there are no lumps left and it is creamy in consistency.
9. Add to the bowl of vegetables and add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Carefully mix together.
11. Serve immediately.


Lunch Box Ideas
Here are a few ideas of what you can put in your kids lunch boxes.

• Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
• Veggie Tortilla Wraps
• Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich
• Hummus and Veggies
• Veggie Sushi
• Pasta Salad
• Large Salads
• Chickpea Sandwiches
• Pasta or Brown Rice in a Tomato Sauce
• Scrambled Tofu
• Summer Rolls
• Quinoa Salad
• Any Cooked Whole Grain with Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste
• Pita Wraps
• Soups
• Burritos with Lentil Filling

*Serve all of these with plenty of fruit (fresh or dried) and vegetables.

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