Summer Feast: Fish Tacos


Spicy Beans!

– D the Intern

Are you sick of making school lunches yet?

For most families, at this point in the school year, kid  lunches are starting to get stale.  Well not literally, but  I’ll bet a lot of moms are starting to pack the same old boring lunches day in and day out.

I love making lunches for my boys.  For me, it’s a work of art.  I remember the lunches my mom packed us and they weren’t exciting (sorry Mom if you are reading this).  Back in the day when nut allergies were unheard of, I would get a PB and J daily with some slimy fruit and maybe a hard mandelbread.  In my opinion, an awesome lunch makes the day.  You have something to look forward to and once it’s been eaten you feel satisfied and well nourished ready to take on the rest of the day.

I don’t pack the same lunch for both boys.  They are individuals with different likes and dislikes and so I respect that.  While preparing for school to start in mid-August, I ordered some lunch supplies online at Fenigo and Noplastic.  I asked each boy to choose a lunchbox and a water bottle.  Trevor chose this one and Jason picked this.  The only criteria were that each lunch box had to be easy to clean.  Trevor’s can go in the washing machine and Jason’s cleans well on the top rack of my dishwasher.  In the past we had chosen lunchboxes that were difficult to keep clean and had to be thrown out due to the growth of mold.

I believe that kid sized food is the key to a successful lunchbox.¬† I picked up some small containers to hold bite sized food.¬† They are perfect for diced cheese, cucumber slices, a few baby carrots and even berries when they are in season.¬† It‚Äôs overwhelming for a child to open their lunchboxes and find large portion sizes of food, even foods they love.¬† Keep the portions sizes to ¬ľ cup or ¬Ĺ a cup.

I use tight sealing containers to pack applesauce (homemade or from a jar), yogurt and anything else that could spill out.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my plight with baking.  Well, over the Christmas holidays I finally came to terms with my dilemma.  A few more baking disasters ensued including a mixer that caught on fire (don’t worry nobody got hurt) but I did it! I am an official baker.  I realized I am a mom of 3 boys and I HAVE NO CHOICE.  I must bake.  So, I bake a cake or cookies or banana bread or muffins every Sunday night.  Then I portion everything out and freeze them each individually (this stops the Richard and me from devouring the yummy baked goods).  These are high calorie snacks but they contain no preservatives or artificial crap like the store bought Rice Krispie squares or Bear Paws I used to buy.  Most of my desserts contain eggs, flour, butter, sugar and chocolate. Eaten in moderation, I am happy to give these treats to my kids.

It’s important to pack some type of protein in your child’s lunch box.  Trevor likes chopped egg so I often give him that in a sandwich.  Trevor is maturing and so are his taste buds.  At 7 years old I can finally pack him leftovers from supper.  Here are some of the choices I have given him recently: fish stew, bean burritos, vegetarian meatloaf, carrot stew, meatballs with pasta, tuna casserole and cut up cooked chicken.  I heat up his hot thermos with boiling water for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, I heat up the leftovers in the microwave and then put it in the thermos.  I visited his school last week at lunch and the food was warm but not hot.

Jason is in Kindergarten which is a transition in itself.  Jason requires comfort food and so I pack him pasta with tomato sauce every day in his hot thermos. For protein, hard boiled eggs, cut up cheese or cottage cheese.

I use a cold thermos for their beverages which is either milk or watered down 100% apple juice.

I have noticed when the weather is warm their lunch boxes come home empty.  When it’s cooler they don’t seem to be as hungry.  I save any leftovers that come home for after school munching.

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

It’s that time of year where clients and¬†friends¬†start asking me for tips about holiday eating. ¬†Here are my top 10:

  1. Have a snack before going to your party. The ideal snack contains protein and a carb to keep you feeling full and energetic.  Have an apple with a stick cheese or a tablespoon of nut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread.
  2. Make sure you are well hydrated before going out.  Often people mistake thirst for hunger.
  3. Remember my motto? Always ask yourself “is this worth the calories?”
  4. Plan, plan and plan some more.  Plan to workout either the day of or the day after the Christmas party.  Plan your breakfast, lunch and snacks to allow for a few extra calories at the party.
  5. Alcohol contains a lot of calories.  The daily recommendation for alcohol intake is 1 drink for women and 2 for men (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor).  The caloric range for 1 of these drinks is between 110-150 calories.
  6. Keep a food diary over the holiday season.  Studies show that people who journal what they eat, consume less calories.  If you end up packing on the pounds a food diary is the best thing to bring to a dietitian come January.
  7. Everything in moderation! Have a little bit of this and a little bit of that but not a whole lotta this and a whole lotta that. ¬†For example, have 2 or 3 hors¬†d’oeuvres, 1/2 glass of wine, fill up on salad with a TBSP of dressing eat only 1/2 the main course and finish off with a couple of forkfuls of dessert. ¬†That’s it!
  8. Consider the fact that it is easier to avoid the extra 500 calories than it is to burn it off with exercise. ¬†(If you weigh about 150 lbs, it would take you an hour of jogging to burn off 500 calories). ¬†If you can exercise like a fiend during this season, all the power to you! However, if you really don’t have time or you are just not motivated then the easiest way to control your weight is to watch what you put in your mouth.
  9. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (frozen and canned have optimal amounts of nutrients at this time of year over fresh) and high fiber foods like whole wheat pasta, real multi-grain bread and high fiber cereals to help combat the effects of SAD.  Complex carbohydrates boost serotonin levels.
  10. Have fun and remember that mindful eating is where it is at!

Ernie’s Success Story

I have a friend that I have known since kindergarten. Let’s call him Ernie. ¬†As long as I have known Ernie, he has been on the pudgy side. ¬†He was never obese but could always stand to lose a few pounds.

Earlier this year he started asking me nutrition questions. ¬†He would call me, text me, email me and I started to realize that he was serious about changing his eating habits. Ernie is a bachelor and lives alone. ¬†He didn’t used to cook for himself . ¬†I am not really sure how he ate. ¬†All I know is he had an epiphany and new he needed to make some changes. He was always semi active with golf, tennis and skiing but he suffered from back issues. ¬†If his back was out then he was not active at all. ¬†Since losing over 20 pounds his back is better and he enjoyed a lot of tennis this summer. ¬†Actually, he is now active at least 5 times a week!

Ernie made and continues to make small dietary changes.  Each change that he makes is something that is manageable for him.  For example, he switched from white refined pasta to whole wheat.  He did the same for all breads and other grains like rice. He believes one of his keys to success was cutting out all refined processed white foods. Whole grain is more satiating than white resulting in less calories consumed which leads to weight loss.

Ernie started to scrutinize his portions.  This was a significant step in reducing his calories. Ernie started cooking more and learning how to prepare food in a healthier way.  He had a few cooking disasters along the way like burnt sweet potato fries but that is part of the learning process.  Cooking mistakes always lead to greater success later on.

I guess the biggest change that Ernie made was¬†developing¬†an awareness of what he put in his mouth. ¬†I don’t think he ever thought much about it before. ¬†He was at my house over the weekend and it got to be supper time but he didn’t want to eat with us because he was expected at his parent’s house for supper. ¬†I could tell he was hungry and Richard offered him some homemade wrap pizza he had just made. ¬†Ernie took 3 small slices¬†equivalent¬†to one bread serving just to tide him over. ¬†In the past, he probably would have eaten a lot more at our house and then gone for supper anyway.

Why is Ernie so successful?  You can read about all of his changes here in his own words. But, in my opinion the reason he doing so well is simply because he was ready!

In Ernie’s own words

-My LA friend told me about his weight loss experience and I immediately brushed it off as “undoable ” for me
-it helped to have bought a designer shirt that made me look pregnant and kept me motivated.
-One day, I was at a business lunch and people noticed I was eating salad… they said “what are you on a diet?” I said “yes, I just started yesterday”,¬†we all laughed and took it as a big joke, but it committed me to the idea and that day was day one!¬†Announcing your intention to people publicly keeps you committed to the cause (it’s a Tony Robbins thing…)
-My focus was purely on¬†eliminating¬†white carbs¬†and sweets also (not adding) sugars to my food…calorie count, etc… was not my focus.
-I think by focusing on one thing (in my case 2 ) I was able to keep disciplined.
-I have never been a “scale ” person, but did a weigh in¬†every 2-3 months….good things were happening and undoable became achievable
-Over the summer, I¬†was very motivated to keep a healthy lifestyle, the goal was 4-5 activities / week (tennis, ¬†swimming , hiking¬†, walks…keep it fun & light )
– I lost 20 pounds between Jan-June, then put on 7 pounds in the summer….and since September that weight is off !
-the weight loss was steady, nothing drastic, and except for the summer glitch (which was due to mom’s pasta, which I have since got her to buy whole wheat) everything is back on track.
-another friend recently came over and warned me about the dangers of sodium. He went through my fridge and cupboards and told me how everything was a killer! Now I can spend 5-10 minutes in a grocery store comparing sugars & sodium content in granola cereal!!!!
-As you take the first step and get a comfort zone with it, you will be ready to add to the mix…first sweets then carbs, then sodium, then calories…until eventually I’ll be a pure vegan one day, Never !!!
-I am reading more articles and more keen¬†to learning about nutritional/ health….and slowly you try to¬†implement those lessons learned
-I’m not that obsessive, nor consider myself a detail oriented person, but I started to get it
-nutrition is also a great ice-breaker conversation topic…I find people latch on to the topic and more often than not people are concerned and taking steps to improve their health through nutrition & fitness. People want to let you know what they’re doing and want to talk about it…
-cheats: at first I went “cold turkey , but came to understand that the body can take small doses and restrictions are negative, so on the odd occasions a¬†slice of cheesecake or tiramisu is in order, but a small piece !
-success leaves clues….people have noticed a change and are impressed, they want to know what I did , how I started and hopefully they find their own motivation and their own tricks for getting into better shape, for their reasons…