Powerful Lunches to Pack this Fall

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Fall is coming upon us in full force. I don’t know about you, but for me and all my clients, the first couple of weeks of school are stressful— trying to figure out new schedules and dealing with mishaps along the way. Fuel your children (and yourself) with hearty lunches and all will be well in the world. They will be able to focus at school and you will not be experiencing the 2-3:00 pm sugar cravings!

When planning lunches, think about the power of five: veggies, fruit, protein, whole grains, and hydration. You want your lunches to incorporate all of those five powerful fuels.

One way I like to incorporate many of the groups is through grain-based salads. On my website, I have two particular salads that are big hits, even with kids: Tabbuleh Salad and Quinoa Salad with Black Beans. Click here to check them out. With the Tabbouleh Salad, you get the veggies and whole grain components. With the Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, you get the whole grains, protein, and veggies, all packed together! You can make these salads on a Sunday evening and they will last through Wednesday, refrigerated.

Making sandwiches is another great way to incorporate multiple food groups. I love making my girls Turkey & Swiss Sandwiches with Sliced Tomatoes and Romaine Lettuce. I first select a whole-grain bread (when you purchase bread, make sure it has a few grains of fiber and NO high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS); some bread brands market their bread as healthy when a closer look at the label reveals that they have harmful chemicals like HFCS). I then choose a nitrate-free lunch meat; the brand I trust the most when it comes to nitrate-free meats is Applegate. All of their meat is natural, antibiotic-free, nitrate-free, and there are organic options as well. I turn to Applegate for the cheese I use on my girls’ sandwiches as well. For the final touch of the sandwiches, I add sliced fresh tomatoes (they’re in season locally right now so they’re especially delicious) and romaine lettuce.  A dollop of mustard and voila! My girls’ sandwiches incorporate three of the five power-foods: whole grains, protein, and veggies.

We haven’t talked about fruit yet. I sometimes make salads with fruit. Check out my Pomegranate-Citrus Salad or my Strawberry-Kale Salad on my website.

Don’t feel as though you have to stick to the traditional by packing sandwiches or salads. Get creative. Here are some ideas to fulfill the protein, fruit, and veggie groups without having to prepare anything.

I turn to Kind Bars often for protein. They’re so delicious, packed with protein, and contain less than five grams of sugar. Turn your kids onto them and they’ll rarely, if ever want candy bars—Kind Bars taste just as yummy. They have awesome new fall flavors too.

Another unique protein option is Beanitos Chips. Yes, chips packed with protein because they are made with beans!  They’re so tasty when dipped and guacamole. Don’t worry, you  don’t have to make guacamole—you can get it pre-packaged buy buying Wholly Guacamole.

 Some other quick protein choices include:

  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Hummus
  • 2% or Skim milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Nut butter (a little Tupperware of almond butter to dip sliced apples in—yum)!

Here are some easy fruit choices:

  • Apple
  • Applesauce
  • Pear
  • Raisins
  • Berries

And some easy veggie options, that can be dipped in hummus

  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Sliced peppers

Last but most important, let’s talk about hydration. Move over juice boxes, hello Motive Pure! Motive Pure is a little electrolyte drink that you mix with water. Dehydration harms your brain—when you are dehydrated, concentration goes through the window. Don’t reach for a soda, you may be tricked into thinking you are fulfilling your thirst, but really, you are dehydrating yourself even more because of all of the sugar or artificial sweetener. Fruit juice can be dehydrating too. Motive Pure has a wonderful selection of flavors and is sweetened with a natural sweetener called stevia.  Hydrate yourself with an awesome, flavorful calorie-free drink—choose Motive Pure. Your kids will like it too!

Let me know about your favorite healthy lunch ideas in the comments section below!

 

 

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Easy Go-Tos for Recovery after your Kids’ High-Intensity Sports Practice

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Fall sports are upon us! How do we get our kids to recover from intense practice and games? Even as the weather gets colder, hydration before and throughout the practice or game is paramount. Just as important is getting some high-quality protein in your diet and a colorful array of fruits and veggies for their antioxidant value. Protein builds lean muscle, helps with recovery, and improves strength and performance. Antioxidants help prevent inflammation, reducing the likelihood of injuries!

Here are some go-tos that I suggest parents pack for their kids to have after their sports practices and games; these are especially handy for away games when the food stop on the way home almost always is fast-food.

Protein Suggestions:

  • Make a yummy trail mix of raw nuts and dried fruit (a big favorite I find is raw almonds, cashews and raisins)
  • Another all-time favorite is banana and peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • A super easy protein-packed protein option is EAS’s 100% whey protein shakes. They’re pre-made and so easy to take with you. Each one contains a whopping 30 grams of protein. Whey protein is awesome because it is digested and absorbed faster than any other protein source.

Antioxidant Suggestions I especially recommend for Athletes:

  • Red and green bell peppers with hummus
  • Apples
  • Blueberries (they’re so tasty frozen too—keep them frozen using an insolate lunch bag with an ice pack)
  • Edamame (soybeans that you have to pop out of their pods…kids love the opportunity to “play with their food,” even teenagers love it!
  • Cherries

Find a way to incorporate these food choices in your kids’ post-practice or game repertoire and they’ll be at the top of their game for sure!

Nutrition Labels to Become Easier for you to Decipher

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So often, clients come to be confused about nutrition labels. What should they be looking for? What should they avoid? Some basics are:

  1. Be careful about serving sizes. So often you may think “Wow, this product is low in calories, but if you look at the serving size and it is 2.5, you have to multiply the calories by 2.5.
  2. Make sure your food choice has at least a couple grams of fiber. So many processed foods have 0-1 grams of fiber. Not cool!
  3. Be careful about the sugar content. Keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar equals an entire teaspoon.

I actually have good news to announce about nutrition labels. The FDA is making some changes that will make label reading easier for you!

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Old label vs. New label

Though the new nutrition facts label will not be fully implemented until July of 2018, it is good to have basic knowledge about the changes. Here are the major highlights to be on the lookout for.

  1. New format and larger font. The nutrition facts label will now make it easier to read the serving sizes and calories by increasing and bolding the font.
  2. “Added Sugars” will be clearly labeled.Grams and percent %DV of “Added Sugars” will be added to the label.
  3. “Calories from Fat” will be removed.Staying consistent with current research, the types of fat seems to be more important than amount; therefore, “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will stay on the label.
  4. Serving and Package Sizes adjusted.Serving sizes will now be based on amounts people are actually consuming. Packaged items that have 1-2 servings will now have a food label that represents the whole package and not just the serving size or have a two columns, one column for single serving and another for the whole package.
  5. Updates for %DV.Sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will have updated %DV according to recent research.
  6. Added gram amounts.Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium will now have gram amounts on the food label, in addition to %DV.
  7. No longer required on the label. Vitamin A and C will no long be required on nutrition facts label, but can be put on voluntarily.

Feel free to contact me if you need help in deciphering nutrition labels! I am looking forward to these new labels—especially the larger font!