RSS

Tag Archives: healthy eating

Monday Musings on a Wednesday – Balanced Eating

Balance . . . it’s about balance.  At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself the last day or so.  We spent the last weekend with family, attended a wedding and finished up at my mother-in-law’s house.  She is the best mother-in-law ever, but when we visit it’s kind of like a continuous food feast.  Add to that a wedding and travel time, and my quest for healthy eating seems to vanish. Do you have a place like that?  A place where your determination to eat healthy just disappears?  In its place is a ravenous appetite for the snacks and meals you normally don’t have at home.  You know, like wedding cake or kettle corn – two of the temptations I faced this weekend.

As I thought about it, and talked it through with my husband since he’s trying to maintain a healthy diet too, the word ‘balance’ came to mind.  Years ago, during my time as a wellness dietitian, I often encountered people who would totally avoid anything like, well, wedding cake or kettle corn . . . until they had a weekend like mine. Then they went overboard, eating everything in sight.  It was all or nothing, up or down, with no room for anything in between.  Sometimes they would come back from such a weekend and get back on track – but feeling guilty.  Many times, however, they felt like they failed and went right back to their old eating habits.  Two steps forward, three steps back – not a healthy way to eat.

So what can be done?  Is it possible to have a healthy diet when faced with temptations? Let’s think this through.  What options are there?  For our family it was important that we attend the wedding and visit my mother-in-law.  Those relationships are important, so not attending wasn’t an option.  That meant we’d be faced with all kinds of not-so-healthy, but appealing, choices.  Some we indulged in, like sharing a piece of wedding cake or having a  small brownie.  Others we didn’t, like going back for a second piece of cake.  We brought watermelon, bananas, and water for snacks during the drive – a good choice.  I also made use of the treadmill in the hotel’s workout room – another good choice.  At my mother-in-law’s we both had some of the kettle corn she offered, but didn’t go overboard.

So back to balance. While we made some choices that others would deem unhealthy, we also made some good choices.  And really, there’s much more to eating than the nutritional value of food. The food itself should be appealing to the eye and have good flavor.  The eating experience is important too, should be enjoyable, and includes the people we dine with, the conversations that occur during a meal, and celebrations that call for feasting.  And a wedding is a celebration.  Should we throw caution to the wind and eat everything in sight? No.  But we shouldn’t feel guilty either if we choose items we wouldn’t normally eat because of the sugar or fat or whatever.  The weekend was only a couple of days, not enough to throw us off our healthy lifestyle, just a curve in the road that adds a little interest to the daily drive.  If our everyday diet is a healthy one, then weekends like this won’t take us off-road.  We can turn right back, without feeling guilty, and continue our healthy lifestyle.

Now if I or my husband had to follow some type of therapeutic diet things would be a little different.  We would be more diligent in following the guidelines of the specific diet.  But that’s a post for another day.  For now, our goal is to take care of ourselves with a healthy, balanced, lifestyle.  And that sometimes includes a curve in the road.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Family, General, Health, Nutrition

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Summertime Salsa – Tomatoes and Mango

Tomatoes and mango, technically both fruits, but one savory – the other sweet.  Pair them together with onion, peppers, and garlic, and it’s a great start to a healthy, tasty salsa.

Tomatoes and mangoes are both a wonderful addition to any healthy diet.  Tomatoes are rich in potassium and vitamins C and A, but low in calories.  Mangoes are also a good source of vitamins C and A, and have a fair amount of fiber too.  Together they create a savory-sweet salsa that’s visually attractive and pleasing to the taste buds.  Add some hot peppers and you’ll get a little heat as well.

This salsa is another favorite for my family.  My oldest son even helped in the preparation – an added bonus!  Here’s the how we made it:

Tomato and Mango Summertime Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced

7-8 small Roma or paste tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 small jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

1 Ancho pepper, diced

1-2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. grd cumin

1/2 tsp. coriander

juice of 1 fresh lime

Mix together the mango, tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and diced ancho pepper.  Sprinkle with salt.  Season with cumin and coriander.  Mix all together and squeeze lime juice on top, stirring gently to mix.  Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips and enjoy!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Cooking, Health, Nutrition, Recipes

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Musings on the Question: “What’s for supper?”

“What’s for supper?” This has to be one of the most common questions uttered in homes everywhere.  At least, that’s my opinion on it.  Of course I may be biased – feeding a family of six and all.  Surely it ranks up there with “Are we there yet?” or “What time is it?” or my all-time favorite –  “Why?”  At least for my family it is.  I have no data to support my thoughts, just my experience as a mom and primary cook for my clan.

In fact, it’s a question I frequently ask myself – all too often at the same time my hungry kids make their way to the kitchen to ask the very same question or my husband calls to say he’s on his way home and was wondering “What’s for supper?”

I’ve pondered this question lately – probably as a result of listening to a reading of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. In it, he speaks of the choices we have in selecting our food, and how that’s changed over time. While I don’t agree with everything he writes, it did cause me to look at how our family answers the question: “What’s for supper?”  Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Taste and food preferences
  2. Availability
  3. Nutrition
  4. Cost
  5. Convenience

All these factors influence our food selection in one way or another.  But I think for my family taste and food preferences trumps them all.  If my family doesn’t like it and won’t eat it, it really doesn’t matter if it’s healthy, cheap, and convenient.  Are they ungrateful? No. I still try including those foods on our menu once in a while – usually as a side dish – just to see if I can expand their tastes a little.  And they usually humor me by trying it, and sometimes even liking it.

After taste come availability.  After all, if it’s not available in the store, pantry, freezer, or garden – it’s not likely to be found on our supper menu.  With today’s transportation abilities, however, that’s quickly becoming a weaker influence.

Nutrition and cost tie for the next slot. I realize others may think differently.  I’m all for eating healthy, and as a dietitian I’m always encouraging a healthy way of eating.  But there are times when a nutritionally superior food is just, well, too expensive. I love salmon, and it’s super healthy for you, but in the middle of the midwest in the middle of winter it’s just too much – at least for our budget.  So instead of the fresh salmon, we might have tuna or another type of fish that’s not so hard on the wallet, but still a healthy choice.  Suffice it to say that there is a balance.  For our family I will pay a little more for something that is healthier it if fits in our budget.  To me that is an investment in the lives of my family.  I just can’t fit in everything.

Last, but not least, is convenience.  This is not as high on my list of influencers, but it may be for others.  And truthfully, there are certain times of the year when convenience moves up the ladder a bit.  Baseball and basketball seasons come to mind – when quick meals and sandwiches seem to reign.

So that’s it. “What’s for supper?” All things considered, if it tastes good and my family likes it, it is reasonably priced, nutritionally healthy, and is available it will most likely make it to our menu at one time or another.  Convenience is icing on the top. So now, I’m curious.  What influences your food selection?  I’m sure there are other things I’ve missed or just don’t apply to our family.  How do you answer that question “What’s for supper?”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Cooking, Family, General, Health, Nutrition

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

But They Just Won’t Eat those Fruits and Veggies

How do I get my kids to eat fruits and vegetables?  Usually the question deals with toddlers and preschoolers.  But this question came from a friend whose child is in the “tween stage.”  And at this stage, toddler tactics don’t work.  After all, her child might just complain if she straps that child into a high chair with a five point harness.  No, at this age there is an amount of freedom with food choices that weren’t always there before.  But I believe there are still things you can do to encourage a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables for your child.  Here are a few that I suggested to my friend:

1.  Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to feeding your family.  If you believe fruits and vegetables are important, but your spouse doesn’t, your children will notice. And if they are inclined to refuse those good-for-you rainbow colored food items – well, all the more reason to not even try.  After all, if dad or mom won’t eat them, why should I?

2.  Take stock of your refrigerator.  Have a good variety of fruits and vegetables ready to eat.  Convenience goes a long way.  If the carrots are cleaned and cut, the grapes washed, and the peppers sliced, it’s one less step for your child to prepare a snack; and the odds of them choosing one of those items over an easily accessible bag of chips increases.

3.  Provide a variety of fruits and vegetable at meals, but don’t push or force them on your child.  Nagging never works, and you will never win a food battle.  Your job is to provide.  Their job is to eat.  For more on this see Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility.

4.  Don’t be sneaky.  It just adds an air of suspicion to your child’s dislike of these foods.  Certainly don’t be afraid to put these things in foods, i.e. shredded carrots in muffins, pureed vegetables in soups, etc., but be open about it and comment on how it makes the food item a little healthier – don’t hide it.

5.  Make it interesting.  Try celery with peanut butter and raisins, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas, frozen grapes, apple slices with caramel, or strawberries dipped in chocolate.  Some may say doing that adds excess sugar or fat.  But let’s think of the goal – getting our kids to eat some of these fruits and vegetables.  Eating strawberries with chocolate is better than eating no fruits at all and may just replace a snack that lacked any resemblance to a healthy food item.

6.  Let them choose.  Take your child to a farmer’s market or local grocery store that allows you to sample some of the produce they have a available.  They may find something they like that they’ve never tried before.

7.  Educate them.  Talk about the benefits of eating healthy, and the possible consequences of an unhealthy diet.  Why is it important?

8.  Enlist other adults.  If your child has a favorite teacher, coach, or other mentor, explain your goal and ask if they could reinforce it in their own teaching.  For example, if your child is on a swimming team the coach could encourage a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables and relate it to performance.

9.  Be a good example.  Take a look at your own eating habits.  Do you eat the foods (fruits and vegetables) that you’re encouraging your kids to eat?  Or maybe you have a fruit or vegetable that you don’t like.  Why not try eating it while your child tries something they don’t like.  You may both be pleasantly surprised and find they’re not as bad as you thought.

Those are just a few ideas I had for my friend.  How about you?  If you have or know of a child who dislikes fruit and vegetables, how do you get them to try and eat these healthy food items?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Family, Health, Nutrition, Parenting

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,