Tag Archives: lunch

Find something healthy AND delicious!

One meal I really try to be conscious about what I’m eating is lunch. For me, lunch is an easy meal to just eat junk or graze through random leftovers. It is also an easy meal for me to get some servings of vegetables in, if I make a conscious effort.

I’ve found lots of easy ways of putting veggies in my lunch.

-Having carrot and celery sticks for dipping in peanut butter or ranch ready to go.
-Throwing leftovers on top of a bed of greens for a salad.
-Microwaving some spinach down and mixing that into whatever else I’m eating.
-Mixing some microwaved frozen mixed veggies into my noodles or soup.

However, over time, I’ve realized something very important. It has to taste good! If it doesn’t, I won’t eat it. Today, I mixed a random assortment of stuff from my fridge onto some lettuce. I was trying to clean out my fridge, so it was an odd mix. Usually that works out ok. Today, not so much. And guess what? I ate about half and threw the rest away.

My point is: don’t buy a bunch of food you don’t like just because it is healthy. Find the “healthy” foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains) that you enjoy and focus on those. Eating healthy should still be delicious and enjoyable!

Happy eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition

Hummus Pasta

Today is a quick post about a quick, delicious lunch I discovered last week. I was looking at a fridge full of random leftovers and needed something new to eat. I gave this random idea a try, after some googling to make sure I wasn’t insane, and it was crazy good. And it got tons of veggies in me, which always makes me happy at lunch.

Hummus may sound like an odd “sauce” for pasta, but it works really well. It gives flavor and creaminess with no added work. This is more of an idea recipe than exact instructions. And as the idea was for lunch, I’m giving a single serving. Feel free to scale up each portion for more people.

Please pardon the slightly blurry picture. Apparently I was in a hurry to eat!

Hummus Pasta

Hummus Pasta

1 ½ cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, grated carrots, zucchini, etc)
1 cup tortellini pasta
2 tablespoons hummus (I used roasted red pepper, but use whatever flavor you like)
2-3 ounces shredded meat, optional
handful of cherry/grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons feta cheese

1. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes or until basically as tender as you want them.

2. Add in pasta and meat. Cook according to pasta package directions.

3. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Mix hummus into pasta and vegetables. Add cooking water a teaspoon at a time as needed to thin the hummus to coat everything. Top with tomatoes and cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. A frozen blend would work well here as well. Just make sure it isn’t something that will cook for a long time, like big hunks of carrots. You could also use regular pasta, rather than tortellini. I’d just put the noodles in at the same time as the vegetables then. You want everything to finish cooking at about the same time.

Source: original recipe

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Sugary death match: Jelly vs Nutella

_74914115_nutella_624

 

I have a confession to make. I only started eating peanut butter about 4 years ago. That may seem really strange, but it’s true. Hope glimmered in my life back in 2011/2012, and I have since come around. I still am not as big a fan as many people, particularly of peanut butter and chocolate. Which brings us to today’s topic.

We all know the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Most kids love them. Recently, I’ve had more and more mom friends talk about giving their children peanut butter and nutella sandwiches. At first, my nutrition mind screamed, “A chocolate sandwich?” But then I thought for a minute and realized jelly is basically pure sugar. Outside of taste, I wondered if there really is a difference.

Today, I’m breaking down the nutrition for you. Here’s the sandwich: 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter (because creamy is not delicious), and 1 tablespoon of grape jelly OR nutella. All nutrients are in grams, except calories. Ready:

Nutrients       Peanut Butter and Jelly             Peanut Butter and Nutella    
Calories 311 355
Carbohydrates           45 42
Sugars 15 14
Fat 10 16
Protein 12 13

To me, these numbers aren’t incredibly different. I have heard parents argue that there is less sugar and more protein in nutella. While that technically is true in the numbers, one gram either way doesn’t get me excited. The biggest difference is really in calories, which also isn’t huge. In the end, it really comes down to what your child will eat. Either is a decent, if not perfect choice. But don’t try to justify that one is better than the other. Just own it for what it is, the sandwich your child prefers. Happy eating and parenting!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition

Cauliflower Quesadillas and Happy Registered Dietitian Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian Day!  The second Wednesday of March is this special day we get to celebrate the RDs in our lives.  So hug or high five any RDs you know today.  To learn more about what it means to be an RD, read here.

At first glance, this recipe sounds like something only an RD would eat.  Who would mess with delicious, cheesy quesadillas by adding cauliflower?  Even I was skeptical, but I was curious enough to try them.  Besides cauliflower was on sale that week, and my little girl was on a huge quesadilla-eating streak.  If this got some veggies in her in the process, it seemed like a win.

These quesadillas were quite possibly the best veggie quesadilla I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot.  It struck the perfect balance between “this tastes like vegetables and being good for me” and “yummy quesadilla”.  Even my daughter was fooled for a few bites, although the game was up once a few pieces of cauliflower fell out of her tortilla.  Enjoy!

Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas (Makes 6 quesadillas)

IMG_6281label

1 poblano chile
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ½ cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
12 whole grain tortillas

1. Heat broiler on high. Char poblano under high heat, rotating as skin blisters. Transfer to a bowl once all sides are blistered. Cover bowl with foil tightly, and let rest for about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off as much skin as will come off easily. Remove stem and seeds. Place on cutting board.

2. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat a large, heavy fry pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add cauliflower, and let it cook until beginning to char, but not mushy. Turn pieces to char all sides evenly. Total cooking time will be about 10 minutes, depending on heat of pan and size of cauliflower. Add to cutting board.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil. Saute onion for 3-5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add garlic and tomato. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add spinach and continue to cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

4. On cutting board, coarsely chop cauliflower and poblano together. Cauliflower chunks should be no bigger than ½ inch. Poblano pieces need to be small enough to be incorporated throughout. Add to onion mixture. Stir in green onions and lime juice. Mix until combined.

5. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Working in batches, make quesadillas. Place one tortilla on skillet. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese evenly over the surface. Top with 1/6 of vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese (you will use ¼ cup cheese per quesadilla). Top with another quesadilla. Flip when bottom tortilla is browned and cheese is melting. Cook on other side until browned and all cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per quesadilla):

Calories: 423
Protein: 16 g
Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 10 g
Cholesterol: 27 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 708 mg

Recipe Notes: I added onion, tomato, and spinach to the original recipe. I did make some quesadillas without that, to test the original. While the original was good, this version was much better. The onion and tomato really brought home the “mexican” flavor and helped hide the “vegetable” flavor.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle – Lunch

I find lunch is the hardest meal to make healthy choices. We frequently eat out for lunch, which can limit healthy choices. Or if you are at home or packing a lunch, you want something that is quick and easy. I know many people have a “no cook” lunch rule, which I admire and find too limiting at the same time. When I worked full time, many of my coworkers relied on frozen meals for their lunches. It’s the time of day when we are hungry, but not in the mood or mode to spend a lot of time or energy.

One of my goals for the past several years has been to get at least two servings of vegetables in at lunch most days of the week. That way I know I have gotten something good in me, even if dinner ends up being an “I only have energy for pancakes” affair. But that goal hasn’t been as easy as it would sound. I’ve documented here several of my lunches and some of my tips for getting more veggies in at lunch. All of these take 5 minutes or less and can be done very affordably.

IMG_6225

-Have cut up veggies ready to go. I cut up a big bunch of carrots and celery every week. Then, if all else fails, I can grab a handful of each and go.

-Along with those veggies, have some dips for yourself:  hummus, baba ganoush, ranch dressing, peanut butter, or whatever your poison is. Make sure to keep the dip portion in control, as you don’t want to eat a ton of fat. But do what it takes to get those veggies down!

IMG_6311

IMG_6219

-Be creative. You don’t have to eat something the way it was “intended”. I had some leftover marinara sauce, which I had packed full of extra carrots and chunky tomatoes, but nothing to eat it with. Ramen noodles minus the seasoning packet to the rescue. Or a leftover naan bread with a little barbecue sauce, tomatoes, and some cheese becomes a pizza.

IMG_6393

-Stock your kitchen with easy “add-ins”. Here, I added frozen broccoli, a few spears of broken up asparagus, and chopped tomato to some leftover pasta. A little jarred pesto stirred in made it a yummy lunch.

-Mix veggies into other things. I love having frozen broccoli or fresh spinach on hand. A quick microwave and they mix in to whatever else I’m making, be it soup or macaroni or whatever.

-Embrace salads. I’m sorry if you don’t like salad. I like salad, but can easily get sick of it. Here are a few tips I’ve found for making salads more palatable and still a quick option.

IMG_6276

-Pick your green and your dressing. For me, I can eat a pretty simple salad of just spinach and poppyseed dressing. Give me lettuce or any other dressing, I need a lot more toppings to enjoy it. Find what works for you and stick with it.

IMG_6277

IMG_6404

-Add fruit. Grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, and many other fruits lend themselves very well to being a salad mix-in. The sweetness and the juiciness can help tone down the bitter, crunchy veggies.

IMG_6301

-Use your salad as a base for something else. This salad was one of my favorites. I had some leftover filling from quesadillas the night before. I just put that on top of a small bed of spinach. It was so yummy, and I almost forgot I was eating salad.

-Don’t eat only salad. As you can see in the picture above, I had a quesadilla with that salad. I often have a sandwich or something else with the salad. But I always eat my salad first. Then I can savor and enjoy my other items, knowing I got the healthy things in first.

I hope some of these ideas help you. Lunch is a tough meal to conquer. I’d love to hear your lunch go-to ideas in the comments.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

There is something magical about burritos for me. I can always eat a burrito, even if I just ate one yesterday. I don’t really get sick of them. Shortly after I got married, I kept hearing people talk about sweet potato burritos. They sounded strange to me, but I love burritos with regular potatoes and figured I should be open minded. These burritos are among my favorites to make.

This recipe makes a lot of burritos. You could scale it down, obviously. I always make the big batch, because these freeze well for a quick lunch or dinner. It doesn’t take much longer to make a full batch, and the rewards later are definitely worth it. These are one of my favorite lunches when I am sick of the sandwich grind.

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos (Makes about 18 burritos)

IMG_5897label

5 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (about 3-4 potatoes)
2 teaspoons canola oil
3 medium onions, diced
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 jalapeños, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons chile powder (more to taste)
4 ½ cups cooked black beans (or 3 15 ounce cans low sodium beans, rinsed and drained)
⅔ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
18 whole wheat flour tortillas (fajita size)

1. Place sweet potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté about 5 minutes, until tender. Add garlic powder, jalapeños, cumin, coriander, oregano, and chile powder. Saute for 1-2 minutes more, until spices become fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Place sweet potatoes, beans, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl. Lightly mash to desired consistency. (I prefer smooth potatoes with some whole beans, some mashed beans). Stir in onions and spices.

4. Place about ½ cup of filling in center of tortilla. Roll up, folding in ends as you go.

5. If eating immediately, place seam down in a baking dish. Spread salsa or enchilada sauce over the top. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and hot.

6. If freezing, place burritos seam side down on a baking sheet. Place sheet in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Once burritos are cold, wrap each individually in plastic wrap or foil. Place in big bags and freeze until ready to eat. When ready to reheat, poke burrito with fork a few times. Microwave for about 2 minutes. Flip burrito over, pour on a little salsa, and cook for 1 minute more.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Burrito):

Calories: 227
Protein: 8.5 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 38 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 323 mg

Recipe notes: I haven’t really cared for these with enchilada sauce personally, although the original recipe suggested it. Salsa and little bit of sour cream is perfect. Or just plain.

Recipe source: adapted from epicurious.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Back to School: Lunches

IMG_4231

With school starting soon, many of your lives will become busier and full of scheduled activities.  Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips to help you keep feeding your families nutritious foods during this time.

First stop:  lunch.  Packing a balanced, healthy, and interesting lunch for your kids can be a huge challenge, especially getting them prepared in the morning while serving breakfast and getting everyone out the door.  Here are some tips to help get more fruits and vegetables in your kids’ lunches that hopefully get eaten, too.

-Vary up the sides.  Even the same sandwich seems more interesting if the sides you send are different.  There are tons of different fruits and vegetables you can send.

-Prepare in advance.  I buy big bags of carrots and bunches of celery every week and get them all prepped that same day.  It takes me 15 minutes, start to finish on grocery day.  (See picture above for my finished product.) Then, I only have to grab portions out every morning. As an added bonus, I can serve these veggies in a pinch with dinner, too.

-Try convenience produce if needed.  In the produce section, apples, carrots, blueberries, and many other fruits and vegetables come packed into individual portions already.  You’ll pay more for these items than buying and prepping yourself.  But if that is the only way you can get them into the lunch box, it is worth the price.

-Add a sauce.  Many kids love to dip foods into a sauce.  You can buy individual packages of salad dressing or peanut butter to throw in lunch boxes.  Or buy little reusable containers to send little portions for your tike.  The few extra calories for the dip are not as important as all the nutrients they would miss out on if you skip the produce.

-Try dried fruits and vegetables.  Dried fruits are often sweeter, making them more appealing to kiddos.  Veggie sticks, crisps, and chips abound on the market.  Many of these contain quite a bit of sodium and are not as healthy as regular vegetables.  But they can be a good way to mix up lunch time while still focusing your child’s taste buds on vegetables.

-If you must, try juice.  Juice is not the best way to get your kids fruits and vegetables.  But if that is the only way they’ll eat them, it is better than nothing.  Just make sure it doesn’t have added sugars.  If it is a vegetable juice, check the sodium content.  And again, using juice for variety can make lunch time more interesting for you kids.

Hope this helps!  Happy lunches everyone!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition