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Winner, Winner, (One-Pan) Fish Dinner!

Words like “fast,” and “easy” are convenient, but they don’t necessarily scream “HEALTHY!!”, especially when used to describe our food. But when it’s Wednesday night and the baby is crying, the other kid is clinging for life to your leg while you’re on the phone and trying to put dirty clothes in the washer because no one has clean ones, AND your husband is on his way home from work thinking dinner is waiting on him….fast and easy are just too good to pass up. Can anyone relate?

My equivalent of that scenario is “test week,” where I don’t understand the exam material no matter how much I’ve studied it, and I have meetings, work, extra-curriculars, church, and friends all pulling me in a thousand different directions. It’s those moments when I’ve spent the last 5 hours in the library, and I come home to a messy room and a bed I can’t wait to crawl into that I’m tempted to make fast, easy food and call it a night.

Whatever is your “fast and easy” moment, I have the answer to your prayers to not lose your mind on those crazy nights. It’s a One-Pan Fish Dinner! Or chicken, pork, or whatever meat you prefer.

This dish can be prepped in 5-10 minutes or less, and ready to eat in less than 30! Choose any meat (although chicken and fish work best in my opinion) and 2 or 3 different vegetables. Throw it all in a casserole dish and pop it in the oven. I used tilapia, broccoli, red bel peppers, and yellow squash (get them soon before they go out of season!), but feel free to make it your own and use what you and your family prefer!

When you’re [...]

Sugar and Its Contribution to Childhood Obesity

Indulge In Nutrition has been doing our part in helping spread awareness of childhood obesity during the month of September. Our September newsletter featured background information on Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, fit tips, and recipes. The month’s blog posts have also brought you back to school tips to keep healthy and active, along with a yummy recipe for Carrot & Oat Cookies!

This week, we wanted to educate you on the added sugars you may not even know you (and your little ones!) might be consuming.

“Added sugar,” as you could probably guess, is just what it sounds like – any sugar added during processing or preparation that is not naturally occurring.

The CDC reports that in 2008, boys consumed an average of 16.3% of their calories from added sugars, while girls consumed an average of 15.5% of their calories from added sugars. As kids age, that percentage goes up. These number have declined since 2008, but still remain higher than the recommended intakes by health organizations.

Some of the concerns of consuming so many added sugars is that our kids are replacing more nutrient dense foods with those high-energy added sugars (also called “non-nutritive calories.”) There are also studies that show there is a relationship between increased of consumption of added sugars and obesity. Not to say that sugars cause obesity, but they may contribute to obesity and all of its negative health effects.

You know the common places for added sugars- junk food, desserts, sodas, sweetened drinks, and candy. But what about all of that HIDDEN added sugar? Added sugars (and their non-nutritive calories) are hiding in all kinds of food we don’t even know about. Products like: dried fruits and raisins, ketchup, other sauces, and dressings, “fat-free” products, fruit and vegetable juices, and [...]

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    Childhood Obesity Awareness Month + Easy Carrot & Oat Cookies

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month + Easy Carrot & Oat Cookies

If you’ve gotten a chance to read our September newsletter (subscribe here), you know that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

Studies and statistics tell us that over 17% of the nation’s children and teenagers were considered obese in 2012- a figure that is increasing every year. These kids have an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart diseases, several types of cancers, joint problems, sleep apnea, asthma, and high blood pressure. They are also likely to experience a lowered self-esteem and social discomfort.

Those numbers and facts are frightening, to say the least. So what can you as a parent do to help fight childhood obesity in your own home? If your child is overweight or obese, it is important to scale back their calories (mostly from added fats and sugars) but to also allow them enough calories for normal growth and development.  Find ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and nuts and legumes into your daily menu. Kids aren’t famous for their vegetable intake, but there are ways to sneak it into their food without them knowing.

My mom is notorious among our friends and family for her Vegetable Cakes. She uses box cake mix, eggs, water, and tons of grated vegetables like squash, zucchini, carrots, and cabbage.  People LOVE them! The trick is that she doesn’t tell them what kind of cake it is until after they try it (and love it).

Today I want to share a similar recipe for a cookie chock-full of veggies with no sugar (besides that from natural ingredients).

I’m not sure if more of this dough went in my mouth or in the oven, but they taste great either way. This is one cookie you DON’T have to feel guilty about 🙂
Natural Carrot & Oat Cookies

Back In the Swing of Things

A new school year can also bring with it new stresses. And as we all know, stress can be one of the biggest preventers of weight loss and can increase your risk of hypertension and other health problems. More stress can lead to fast food meals, lower sleep quality, and overall compromised health. Here are a few tips to help you stay de-stressed this school year so you can enjoy and make the most of this new school year!

1. Take advantage of your school’s online menu. Most schools will post the month’s meal calendar for parents to view. You can then plan the days you want to pack your child a lunch accordingly. It will save you tons of time and energy by planning ahead.

2. Being a mom is the biggest job in the world in my opinion, so taking time for yourself is one of the hardest (but most necessary) things for moms to do. Whenever you can fit some “me time” in is wonderful– whether that be 15 minutes in the morning, a hot bath or shower after the kids are asleep, or a quick run in the afternoon while the kids are in school. Get a few minutes alone, for your sake as well as your family’s.

3. Make sure you are staying active.  Try clearing your schedule for a 20 or 30 minute walk with your kids after school. It can be a fun way to hear about their day and get a little moving in too! Walking your kids to the bus can also be a great way to incorporate physical activity and can also be used as your alone time in the morning.

4. Stock up on groceries at the beginning of the [...]

Got [Mom’s] Milk?

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. This campaign informs women of the multitude of benefits babies are armed with for life when they are breastfed exclusively for at least 6 months.

It’s no secret that breastfeeding has multiple benefits for both baby and mom, besides the incomparable connection that breastfeeding provides between the two. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop colds, viruses, and other illnesses as an infant, and less likely to develop certain chronic diseases later in life. It also reduces their risk of childhood obesity and cancers.

Mom’s milk is perfect. It contains exactly what your baby needs to get a healthy start in life and changes its make up right there along with your baby’s growth needs. First-time moms sometimes worry that they aren’t feeding their baby enough – the good news is that as long as he is gaining the appropriate amount of weight, he’s getting enough. Besides being tailored to meet nutrient demands, breast milk also has special enzymes in it that help babies digest the milk and absorb more nutrients and proteins than they would if they were formula fed.

Combine all of these benefits (and many more) with the benefits mom receives, such as a decreased risk of osteoporosis later in life, help with postpartum weight loss, and a reduced risk of breast cancer, and it’s easy to see why so many women make the decision to breastfeed. A large number of women begin breastfeeding, but only a fraction of those women are still breastfeeding by the 6-month mark. This can be due to unforeseen frustrations (breastfeeding can be hard!), a physical inability to produce enough milk, or even inconvenience. By making women more aware of the benefits, the hope [...]

Salty & Sweet Eats – Banana Pops

If you asked me what my favorite food is, chocolate or peanut butter would most likely be my reply. I try to have one (or both) at least once a day…sometimes more. (Hey, I could think of worse things to indulge in- the key here is moderation!)

Today I was digging through the pantry and fridge, trying to come up with something different from my usual concoction of oatmeal mixed with peanut butter and cocoa powder. I came across all of the ingredients I would need to make chocolate covered peanut butter and banana fudgies!

This treat is easy to prep, and you probably have most of the ingredients lying around your house, too!

The most important ingredients are:

2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 creamy peanut butter + 1 Tbsp
2 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate + 2 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
24 pretzel sticks

Additionally, you might enjoy:

Cinnamon
Small handful of chopped almonds, pistachios, or shredded coconuts
1 small Ziploc bag

 

Slice your bananas into slices about 1/2″ thick, like in the picture above. Then scoop your peanut butter into a Ziploc bag and snip the corner off (this way it is much easier to spread on the bananas.) Mine got a little messy!

Next, squeeze the Ziploc to squirt the peanut butter on half of the banana slices

         

 

Top each slice with the other half of your slices.

 

I would recommend popping these in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make them easier to dip in the chocolate (mine fell apart because I didn’t.) In my second batch, per request of my dad, I let them freeze the recommended amount of time, and it worked great!

In the mean time, we’ll make the chocolate dipping sauce!

Take your chocolate baking [...]

Are You Drinking Your Green Tea the Right Way?

When I was in high school, my mom started making me green tea lattes before school every morning.

It was a nice sweet treat, a little filling, and provided a little bit of caffeine to start my day out. I never thought much about what I was consuming, and then green tea seemed to be a hot topic in the health world- everywhere I looked, I saw a new article telling us to sip on green tea throughout the day for a number of different benefits that range from a revved up metabolism to clear skin to more energy. And while a hot cup of brewed green tea does have some great benefits, what if I told you that you were missing out on the best benefits of all?
When we brew a cup of tea, we generally steep the leaves in hot water and throw them away. But when we drink our tea this way, we are actually throwing away the most beneficial “part” of the tea— the leaves!

The benefits of green tie lie in the leaves and can’t be extracted by water. So what’s a girl to do in a situation like this, you ask? No, you don’t have to start eating your tea leaves…

I present to you, Matcha.
  

Matcha is a green tea powder, made in Japan from plants carefully grown and protected in the shade. At harvest,the leaves are collected and then steamed, air-dried, and ground into a fine, chalky, vibrant green powder.

Due to the careful growing, harvesting, and preparation processes (and the fact that Japan doesn’t import a lot of its tea) this powder can be somewhat expensive. However, it lasts much longer than a traditional box of tea bags because the serving [...]

Independence Day Yogurt Bombs

I hope you’re getting ready for a fun-filled, safe, happy Independence Day weekend full of family, laughter, and celebrating your freedom!
If you plan on celebrating outdoors, you might be looking for something sweet, fresh, and juicy to help cool off the little ones (and the grown-ups too!!) as they run around, splash in the water, or watch fireworks this holiday.
This recipe is sure to do the trick! Sweet, succulent strawberries and fresh, juicy blueberries are the stars in this simple, affordable recipe!
All you need is:
– 1 lb. of strawberries
– 1/2 pint of blueberries
– 2 cups of yogurt (I used Yoplait GreekVanilla Yogurt-                                                                                                                                             it is lower in sugar and calories than any other vanilla yogurt I have found)
-A handful of walnut pieces

First, chop off the tops of the strawberries. Go ahead and cut off the ends of the strawberries too, because you will want these bombs to stand up so your yogurt doesn’t spill out. Only cut off a tip a little larger than a pencil eraser, though.
 
Next take a small knife and hollow out the strawberries, but make sure there is still some skin left on the bottom to hold the yogurt.

Once that is done, scoop your yogurt into a small ziploc baggy. Seal it, and [...]

How To Bake Spaghetti Squash

I had never made spaghetti squash until this week — it’s now my new favorite meal when I don’t have time for a lot of fuss.
Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta and really allows you to enjoy the flavors in your sauce or topping you choose.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, grab your squash and check out this quick one minute video on how to prepare spaghetti squash.

 

 

What’s up Dog?

With warm weather FINALLY here (for good I hope!), and school soon to be out for the summer, I’ve had campfires and cookouts on the brain! Because what’s more fun than roasting hot dogs over an open fire? Not much- except maybe s’mores….but we’ll save that for another time. 🙂

Have you looked at the ingredient list on packaged hot dogs recently? If you research it like I did, you’ll find that they contain very little real meat (most of it is leftover pork trimmings), and are packed full of water, salt, and nasty preservatives to bulk the dog and hold it together. Can you say G-R-O-S-S? When I occasionally enjoy a hot dog, I buy National Hebrew. They are kosher and don’t have artificial by-product, coloring, or flavoring. Still not great, but better than other brands.

 

If you are attending lots of cookouts this summer and have met your quota of traditional all American hot dogs, then you will want to keep this recipe in mind! We just totally remade the hot dog into a nutritious banana dog that everyone is going to love!

I present to you- the Banana Dog!

This is a perfect way to still let your kids feel included in the campfire, while ensuring a nutritious meal. Or something to give them to do on a rainy day when they’re stuck inside like today.

Things you’ll need:

Bananas
Long clean sticks or wire coat hangers (if you’re roasting them- they are good plain too!)
Hot dog buns
Peanut butter
Plastic ziploc bags
Jelly, jam, or preserves
Yogurt
Apples

I didn’t have a campfire handy today, but all you would need to do for a “roasted” banana, is slide the banana onto your stick and roast it [...]