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Ways to Save Money on Groceries!

1 Jun
Example of an American grocery store aisle.

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Let’s face it – EVERYTHING is more expensive these days – gas, food, utilities, entertainment, travel, etc.  So read the following article on ways to save money at the grocery store. 
One of the things we do in our house is plan meals – so with the groceries we just bought, my wife will write a list of the meals/entrees she will make and stick that list to the fridge and cross it off the list as she’s cooked it…this way we help ensure the food is used and not rotting in the veggies crisper.  Also, when we buy fruit, snacks, etc for our daughters we make sure it’s something we won’t mind eating as well, so if they get sick of it, we can have it for our snacks.  It always pains me to see food go bad, so we really try to just buy what we need/will eat.  Regardless of the super sale price…bananas or whatever that go bad and uneaten is a big waste of money!  So, be wise, shop smart and strive to save!

10 Ways to Save Money on Food Shopping

How to eat cheap – but healthfully – despite rising grocery costs.
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

We’re paying more these days not only at the gas pump but also at the grocery store. Blame it on rising oil prices, disappointing crop yields, global warming, and/or the weak dollar. Robert Earl, director of nutrition policy for the Grocery Manufacturer Association, says there are many factors affecting food prices.

What it all means is that shoppers are looking for ways to save money when they’re food shopping without sacrificing nutrition. WebMD asked some experts for tips and strategies on saving money on your grocery bill while still eating healthfully. 

Planning Can Help You Save Money on Food

Planning ahead is the most important step to getting more bang for your buck at the grocery store, says Katherine Tallmadge, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

“Take inventory of what you have on hand so you don’t overbuy, create a detailed shopping list based on your needs and weekly menu plan, and take into account how you plan on using leftovers,” she says.

Have a light snack before you go shopping, and stick to your grocery list to help avoid impulse purchases or costly mistakes like falling for the displays at the end of the aisles.

Before you plan your weekly menu, check the ads to see what’s on sale and use coupons to take advantage of sales and money-saving coupons. You can even sign up online to receive coupons and email alerts from your favorite grocers.

Healthy Food Is Cheaper Food

Eating healthier foods can actually save you money, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The researchers found that when families went on weight loss diets, they not only lost weight but reduced their food budgets.

The savings came from reducing portion sizes and from buying fewer of the high-calorie foods that tend to increase the amount spent at the grocery store, according to authors of the yearlong study. People tend to spend a lot on those “extras” — foods that add calories but little nutritional value, like sodas, bakery items, and chips.

You can get more for your money if you consider the nutritional value of food for the price.  For example, sodas and flavored drinks deliver mostly empty calories and could easily be replaced with less expensive sparkling water with a splash of a 100% fruit juice like cranberry.

“When my clients start eating more healthfully, their grocery bills plummet,” says Tallmadge, author of the book Diet Simple.

 She recommends comparing food prices based on the number of servings you’ll get, along with the food’s nutritional contribution. For example, a pound of peaches yields three to four servings. So when you divide the cost per pound, the cost is usually quite reasonable.

“The ideal food is nutrient-dense, not calorie-dense, and the least expensive may be fresh, frozen or canned,” Tallmadge says.

And if you’re craving something sweet?

“Save money by passing on calorie-dense cakes and cookies; instead, opt for seasonal fruit,” says American Dietetic Association president Connie Diekman, RD. “Fruit is fat-free, high in nutrients and fiber, and a natural energizer.”

Look for sales or coupons for light ice cream or nonfat frozen yogurt to enjoy with your fruit, and you have a delicious, fat-free, low-calorie dessert.

Here are 10 simple strategies to beat the rising cost of food and help your grocery dollars go further:

1. Buy produce in season. Check the food section in your newspaper to find the best buys for the week, based on fresh produce in season. Food in season is usually priced to sell. During the summer months, corn on the cob can cost as little as 10 cents an ear; at other times of the year, it may cost 10 times as much. Also, shop your local farmers’ market for great deals on local produce; the prices won’t include shipping costs.

2. Use sales and coupons. Planning meals around what’s on sale can lower your grocery bills, especially if you also use coupons (make sure they’re for item you would buy anyway). Sunday newspapers are full of coupons and sales circulars to get you started. It’s also a good idea to stock up on staples when they’re on sale. “Buy one, get one free” is basically a technique to get you to buy twice as much as you need at half the price. At some markets, though, the product rings up half-price — so you don’t have to buy more than one to get the savings. Use your freezer to store sale items that can be used at a later date.

3. Brown-bag it.  Making lunch and taking it with you is a great money-saver and an excellent use of leftovers for meals at work, school, or wherever your destination. “Packing your lunch not only saves you money, but you can control all the ingredients so they are healthy and low in calories,” says Diekman, who is nutrition director at Washington University. Pack a simple sandwich, salad, soup, wrap, and/or a hearty snack of cheese. Use freezer packs and containers to keep food at the proper temperature unless you have access to a refrigerator.

4. Think frozen, canned, or dried. Next time you’re gathering ingredients for a recipe, try using frozen, canned, or dried foods. They may be less expensive than fresh, yet are equally nutritious. Produce is typically frozen, canned, or dried at the peak of ripeness, when nutrients are plentiful. Fish and poultry are often flash-frozen to minimize freezer damage and retain freshness. With frozen foods, you can use only the amount you need, reseal the package, and return it to the freezer. If it’s properly stored, there’s no waste. Canned foods are often sitting in a bath of juice, syrup, or salty water, and usually require rinsing. Dried fruits are concentrated in flavor and a great substitute for fresh fruit. Also consider using powdered or evaporated versions of milk in soups, casseroles, mashed potatoes, or desserts. Buy the form that gives you the best price for your needs. 

5. Save on protein foods. When possible, substitute inexpensive, vegetarian sources such as beans, eggs, tofu, and legumes for more expensive meat, fish, or poultry. Eat vegetarian once a week or more to increase your consumption of healthy plant foods while saving money.  Eggs are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You could also try using a smaller portion of meat, fish, or poultry and extending the dish with whole grains, beans, eggs, and/or vegetables. 

When you do buy meat, choose smaller portions of lean cuts. For example, lean cuts of beef are those that include the terms “loin” or “round.” (You can tenderize lean cuts of meat mechanically or by marinating it.) You can also buy a whole chicken and cut it up instead of paying the butcher to do it for you, or buy the cheaper “family pack” and portion it into airtight freezer bags.

6. Waste not, want not. Before you toss perishable food into your grocery cart, think about exactly how you’ll use it. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year. Using leftover vegetables, poultry, or meat in soups, stews, salads, and casseroles minimizes cost and demonstrates your creativity in the kitchen. For example, have a roasted chicken for dinner one night, and use the leftovers for dinner the next night. Try topping a bed of fresh greens with vegetables, fruits, and slices of leftover chicken. Add a loaf of whole-grain bread, and presto! You’ve got a nutritious meal in minutes. You can also eat leftovers for breakfast or take them with you for lunch. 

7. Go generic. Consider buying store brands instead of pricier national brands. “All food manufacturers follow standards to provide safe food and beverage products of high quality,” says Earl. Many grocery companies buy national-brand products made to their specifications and simply put their own label on the products. Read the ingredient list on the label to be sure you’re getting the most for your money. Ingredients are listed in order by weight. So when you’re buying canned tomatoes, look for a product that lists tomatoes, not water, as the first ingredient. Also look for simpler versions of your favorite foods. For example, buy oatmeal or simple flaked or puffed cereals that contain fewer additives and are less expensive (and often healthier) than fancier cereals.

8. Buy prepackaged only if you need it. Unless you have a coupon or the item is on sale, buying prepackaged, sliced, or washed products comes with a higher price tag. Still, people living alone may find that smaller sizes of perishable products or bags of prepared produce eliminate waste and fit their needs best, despite the extra cost.  You can also save money (and boost nutrition) by passing up the aisles with processed foods, cookies, snack foods and soda.

9. Buy and cook in bulk. Joining a bulk shopping club, like Sam’s, Costco, or BJ’s, can be cost-effective if you frequent the club regularly. Bulk purchases can be a great way to save money — as long as they get used. You might also look in your community for shopping cooperatives that sell food in bulk at a substantial savings. Cooking in bulk can save both money and time, says Tallmadge. “Prepare food in bulk and freeze into family-sized portions, which saves time in the kitchen,” she suggests. For example, making a big batch of tomato sauce will less expensive (and probably tastier) than buying some.

10. Plant a garden. For benefits that go beyond cost savings, plant your own produce. There’s nothing better than a summer-fresh tomato from the garden. Tomatoes even grow well in containers if you don’t have space for a garden, and some neighborhoods offer community gardening spaces. Start small, and see how easy it is to grow fresh herbs or a few simple vegetables. And if you invest a little time in freezing or canning your harvest, you can enjoy summer’s bounty all year long.

20 Kid Friendly Veggies!

25 May

Want to switch things up from corn on the cob and steamed broccoli for the kids?  Check out the following article from Parents.Com!  My 5 year-old daughter likes to eat things that are “fancy” at times – to get the full effect we have fun and dim the chandelier in the dining room for “fancy” mood lighting!  Have fun with it – your kids can surprise you and really like a change!

20 Kid-Friendly Veggies

Cucumber Ribbon Salad
Week One: Make Familiar Veggies More Fun

Cucumber Ribbon Salad
Trim the ends off a medium cucumber, then cut it in half crosswise and peel into strips. Whisk 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon honey, salt, and pepper. Toss the dressing with the cucumber and some toasted sesame seeds.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

*All recipes make 4 to 6 servings.

Find the printable recipe here

Sunny Broccoli
Sunny Broccoli

Steam 3 cups broccoli florets for 5 minutes. Toss with 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 1 clove minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Spoon the broccoli mixture onto clementine slices arranged in the shape of a flower.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

Find the printable recipe here

Minty Peas
Minty Peas

Saute 2 cups frozen peas in 2 teaspoons olive oil on medium for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add 2 tablespoons fresh mint, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, and a dash of salt and pepper.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

Find the printable recipe here

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Puree a 12-ounce jar of roasted red sweet peppers packed in water (drain it first) with a garlic clove. Heat puree, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 3 tablespoons tomato paste on medium until warm, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh basil, a smidge of honey, salt, and pepper.

Tip: Double the recipe and freeze leftovers.

Find the printable recipe here

Crinkly Carrot Fries
Crinkly Carrot Fries

Slice 1 pound of carrots into 1/2-inch-wide sticks using a crinkle cutter. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, on a parchment paper-lined pan.

Tip: Great for toddlers 12 months and up.

Find the printable recipe here

Mini Vegetable Cakes
Week Two: Mix a Veggie Your Kid Likes with Something Different

Mini Vegetable Cakes
Combine half an 8-1/2-ounce package corn-muffin mix with 1 egg white and 3 tablespoons water. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped canned beets. Drop batter by the tablespoon into 2 tablespoons hot canola oil. Cook 2 minutes; turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until browned.

Tips: Double the recipe and freeze leftovers. Great for toddlers 12 months and up.

Find the printable recipe here

Roasted Veggie Medley
Roasted Veggie Medley

Mix 1/2 pound of tiny potatoes, quartered, and 1 cup small butternut squash pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons each balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil; roast, uncovered, at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Add red bell pepper pieces and roast 10 minutes more, or until tender. Garnish with 1 tablespoon fresh thyme.

Find the printable recipe here

Sweet Potato-Parsnip Mash
Sweet Potato-Parsnip Mash

Peel and cut 12 ounces of sweet potato and 2 parsnips into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Boil in lightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and return to pot with 1/3 cup apple cider, salt, and pepper. Mash until nearly smooth.

Find the printable recipe here

Fiesta Corn
Fiesta Corn

Saute 3/4 cup each chopped red and green bell peppers in 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups frozen corn and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

Find the printable recipe here

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Soup
Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Soup

Cook 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil on medium for 4 minutes, or until tender. Stir in a 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; heat through. Swirl plain yogurt on top of each bowl.

Find the printable recipe here

Breaded Asparagus
Week Three: Serve Up a Tasty Sauce or Dip

Breaded Asparagus
Dip 8 ounces trimmed asparagus spears first in all-purpose flour, then in beaten egg, and then in panko bread crumbs. Drizzle asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake in a single layer at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes, or until golden. Serve with honey-mustard dip.

Find the printable recipe here

Teriyaki Green Beans
Teriyaki Green Beans

Cook 3 cups (24 ounces) frozen whole green beans according to package directions. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons minced shallots, 2 tablespoons light teriyaki sauce, and 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

Find the printable recipe here

Butterfly Salad
Butterfly Salad

Use a small cookie cutter or scissors to cut a butterfly shape from firm whole wheat bread. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil; toast for 2 minutes, or until crisp. Divide 4 cups torn lettuce, 1 cup halved seedless grapes, and butterfly croutons among plates. Offer dressing on the side.

Find the printable recipe here

Honey Glazed Carrots
Honey-Glazed Carrots

Boil 1/2 pound of peeled baby carrots in lightly salted water for 5 minutes; drain. In same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium; stir in 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Boil 1 minute while stirring. Fold in carrots and 1 tablespoon Italian parsley.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

Find the printable recipe here

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash
Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Place half of a 2-1/2-pound de-seeded spaghetti squash, cut side down, in a baking dish with 2 tablespoons water; cover with wax paper. Microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly, then scrape strands from squash. Toss with 1 cup pasta sauce and 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese.

Find the printable recipe here

Week Four: Try Something Totally New

Cauliflower “Popcorn”
Toss 3 cups small cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast at 450 degrees F., uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once or twice. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

Find the printable recipe here

Bacon Brussels Sprouts
Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Boil 12 ounces of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, in lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, saute 2 slices turkey bacon in 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium-high heat. Remove the bacon and crumble. Add cooked brussels sprouts to the skillet; cook 2 minutes. Stir in bacon, salt, and pepper until heated. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar before serving.

Find the printable recipe here

Curried Acorn Squash
Curried Acorn Squash

Place 1 pound of acorn squash wedges in a covered dish with 1 tablespoon water. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 1/4 cup reduced-sugar apricot preserves, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, salt, and pepper. Spoon apricot mixture over squash and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more, or until tender.

Tip: Double the recipe and freeze leftovers.

Find the printable recipe here

Citrusy Edamame
Citrusy Edamame

Cook 2 cups fresh or frozen shelled edamame according to the package directions; drain. Toss with 1 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel, 1/4 teaspoon dried dillweed, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Tip: Ready in 15 minutes.

Find the printable recipe here

Greek Stuffed Mushrooms
Greek Stuffed Mushrooms

Bake 12 mushroom caps, with the smooth side up, at 425 degrees F. for 5 minutes. Saute 1/2 cup chopped mushroom stems along with minced garlic in hot olive oil on medium heat until tender. Remove from stove; stir in 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs, 1 chopped fresh Roma tomato, and 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese. Fill caps with mixture and bake for 8 to 10 minutes more.

Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

Find the printable recipe here


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

What to Buy Organic?

20 May
Official seal of the National Organic Program

Image via Wikipedia

With two daughters at home, my wife and I try to selectively buy organic food and the local farmers markets are wonderful.  It’s a great family outing to the farmers market to see all the fresh produce and meet the farmers!

Yes, organic food does cost more than non-organic food and not all food needs to be organic, but why put pesticides in our (and our children’s) bodies?  So, read the following article on what grocery items you really should consider buying organic – a cost saver is store brand organic products.  Look for them at your grocery store!

What to Buy Organic


Organic: If you’re a parent or you’re expecting, this word likely passes your lips regularly. It describes produce that is grown without potentially harmful pesticides. Sure, many experts insist such chemicals are safe. But with a baby in the house or on the way, you’re probably more vigilant about what goes into your body and your child’s, and with good reason. “Babies eat more than adults, pound for pound, and are more vulnerable to environmental toxins,” says Alan Greene, MD, pediatrician and author of Raising Baby Green.

To lower your chemical load, you don’t need to take an all-or-nothing approach. Start with a change or two based on what your family regularly eats. These seven staples are a good beginning.

organic milk

Organic milk can cost about 50 percent more than conventional milk costs. But, Dr. Greene says, “If you want to make just one change, this is it.” Conventional milk contains antibiotics and artificial hormones, as well as pesticides. Experts worry that all these hormones could kick-start early puberty, considering how much milk kids drink on a daily basis. Plus, recent research from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found that, compared with conventional milk, organic milk contains significantly higher levels of heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.


Potatoes make the Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit devoted to food safety, meaning that potatoes are one of the 12 most pesticide-contaminated fruits or vegetables (see slide 9 for the complete list). The EWG also found that 81 percent of potatoes still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled. Kids take in plenty of spuds as french fries — another reason to limit their consumption. Adults, too, love the taters: According to one survey, they account for 30 percent of all veggies eaten by adults.

jar of peanut butter

If PB&J sandwiches are a lunchtime favorite with your kids, it may be time to try an organic spread. “The pesticides used on peanuts are found to be especially toxic,” Dr. Greene says. What’s more, since 1996 there’s been a dramatic rise in peanut allergies. Genetically modified soy may cross over into the peanut crop, he adds, which could account for this upswing.

baby food
Baby Food

“Our body and brain grow faster from birth to age 3 than at any other time,” Dr. Greene says, adding that “if you’re going to pick only one time to go organic, it should be from conception to age 3.” Kate Clow, of Chatham, New Jersey, adheres to this rule: “I try to give Owen, my 10-month-old, all organic because he’s so young, but for the older girls, who are almost 3 and 5, I avoid just the Dirty Dozen.”


The average American consumed 94 pounds of tomatoes in 2006, mainly in the form of tomato juice, tomato paste, and ketchup. Kids love this condiment: It makes the perfect dip for everything from veggies to eggs. It’s superhealthy, too, as it’s the number-one source of lycopene, a nutrient that helps to lower the risk for cancer and heart disease. Research has found that organic ketchups are 57 percent higher in lycopene than their conventional counterparts and dish up double the antioxidants. Also notable is what most organic ketchups don’t have: sugar and artificial flavors — which is why Erica LePore, a Kingstown, Rhode Island, mom of three, buys the organic variety.

organic apples

If yours is like most American homes, the fridge is stocked with apples, applesauce, and apple juice. This fruit is the most commonly eaten after bananas and the second most commonly used in juices after oranges. However, apples are second on the Dirty Dozen list. What’s more, the organic version has been found to have higher levels of disease-fighting polyphenols and other phytonutrients, Dr. Greene says.

steaks on grill

Antibiotics are used to promote growth in livestock, and those drugs may make it into your system too. And most American beef comes from cattle that is corn- or grain-fed, which is not healthy for us. Organic, grass-fed beef tends to be leaner and has five times the omega-3 fats, which are good for the heart. Organic beef can be tough to find. To locate organic beef in your area, visit or your local farmers’ market.

The Dirty Dozen

These earn the distinction as the most contaminated by pesticides; buy organic when possible!
* Peaches
* Apples
* Sweet bell peppers
* Celery
* Nectarines
* Strawberries
* Cherries
* Lettuce
* Grapes (imported)
* Pears
* Spinach
* Potatoes

Source: Environmental Working Group

money in change purse
Be a Savvy Shopper

You can stay on budget and feed your family purer foods. “If you shop the sales and buy store-name brands, you can really keep costs down,” says LePore. While she’s loyal to some specific organic brands, she also stocks up on items from the Whole Foods Market 365 line. “Some of their products cost less than the nonorganic versions,” she says, “and they taste very good.” Other grocery stores are recognizing consumers’ demands for more affordable options, and stores like Albertson’s, Shaw’s/Star Market, and Cub Foods introduced the Wild Organics line this spring. It features items ranging from milk, eggs, meat, and fresh produce to cookies, crackers, and juice.

Originally published in the September 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Healthy & Fun School Lunches & Snacks!

9 May

Most kids (including my 5-year-old) can eat a rotation of Mac & Cheese, Pizza or Cheese Quesadilla for lunch and dinner everyday.  My wife and I enjoy lots of different ethnic cuisines and want our kids to have broader taste buds as well.  Sometimes it is hard to make the school lunch box and after-school snacks interest, different, healthy and fun – so when I came across the following article from Parents.Com, I found it fantastic!  Fun & Healthy recipies…and I’m a big fan of the bento style lunches – provides good variety for a balanced meal!  The article provides great “themed” bento lunches – give it a try and make a switch from Mac & Cheese!  Heck, these lunches look so good I want my wife to make them for me for work!  LOL! 🙂

Even though the school year is coming to a close soon, there’s still summer camp/school and early prep and ideas for the Fall!

Healthy School Lunches & Snacks

All Dressed Up

The simplest and healthiest foods look extra-yummy when they’re tucked inside colorful little compartments. That’s the idea behind Laptop Lunches, the company that sells these cute plastic sets (starting at $21; We filled the containers with a protein, some fruit, a vegetable, and a small treat — all in perfect-size portions for kids 5 to 8.

All Dressed Up

* 1 cup bow-tie pasta salad with veggies
* 1 cup baby greens salad with 2 tablespoons low-fat dressing
* 3/4 cup watermelon
* 2 fig cookies

Catch of the Day
Catch of the Day
  • Fish-shaped tuna sandwich with lettuce on whole wheat bread
  • 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dip
  • Small plum
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain Goldfish crackers
Pretzel Kabobs
Pretzel Kabobs
  • Ham, turkey, and cheese rolled up together, sliced, and skewered with pretzel sticks
  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 container (4 ounces) fat-free chocolate pudding
Early Riser
Early Riser
  • Sliced hard-boiled egg and 2 mini whole-grain waffles
  • Bell-pepper strips
  • 1 sliced kiwi fruit mixed with a few blackberries
  • Mini corn muffin
Finger Food
Finger Food
  • String cheese and a handful of whole wheat crackers
  • 1 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons light raspberry dressing
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Slice of banana bread
  • 1 cup bean salad
  • 1/2 cup melon wedges
  • Handful of whole-grain tortilla chips with 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 8 cubes of reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Hole New PB&J
Hole New PB&J
Pizza Party
Pizza Party
  • 1 slice leftover cold veggie pizza cut into squares
  • 3/4 cup cucumber moons with 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 1/2 cup purple grapes
  • 1/2 cup popcorn
Power Pita
Power Pita
  • 2 mini whole wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken strips and veggies
  • 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt with sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
  • 8 animal crackers
Sesame sticks, chopped cereal-nut bars, dried pineapple
After-School Snack Mixes: Sesame Sticks

These creative combos add up to one-of-a-kind after-school treats.

Sesame sticks + chopped cereal-nut bars + dried pineapple

Mini pita chips, soy nuts, mini chocolate chips
After-School Snack Mixes: Pita Chips

Mini pita chips + soy nuts + mini chocolate chips

Mini preztels twists, cashews, dried crenberries
After-School Snack Mixes: Mini Pretzels

Mini pretzels twists + cashews + dried cranberries

Low-fat granola, sunflower seeds, dried apricots
After-School Snack Mixes: Low-Fat Granola

Low-fat granola + sunflower seeds + dried apricots

Dried papaya, whole-grain cereal, golden raisins
After-School Snack Mixes: Dried Papaya

Dried papaya + whole-grain cereal + golden raisins

Almonds, M&Ms, dried mango
After-School Snack Mixes: Almonds

Almonds + M&M’s + dried mango

TrueNorth Peanut Clusters
Best New Snacks for School: TrueNorth Peanut Clusters

Round out your kid’s lunch with healthy, ready-to-go products.

These nuggets of freshly roasted nuts are ideal for slow eaters. Six pieces contain 170 calories and 5 grams of protein ($3.50 for a 5-1/2-ounce bag).

Backman The Puzzle Pretzels
Best New Snacks for School: Bachman The Puzzle Pretzels

Puzzle-shaped pretzels come in large and individual-size bags ($17 for six 12-ounce bags).

Lundberg Family Farms Baked Rice with a Twist
Best New Snacks for School: Lundberg Family Farms Baked Rice with a Twist

These crunchy twists in child-friendly flavors like white cheddar and ranch are made from brown rice and packed with whole grains ($3 for a 4-1/2-ounce bag).

Back to Nature Granola to Go
Best New Snacks for School: Back to Nature Granola to Go

Toss a mini bag of this granola — along with a container of yogurt and a piece of fruit — into your child’s lunchbox. Kids will probably like the honey-almond variety the best ($4 for five 1-1/2-ounce bags).

Originally published in the September 2008 issue of Parents magazine.


http://www.parents.comBringing together the power of respected magazine brands including American Baby and Parents, the Parents Network is your go-to destination for parenting information. From first kicks to first steps and on to the first day of school, we are here to help you celebrate the joys and navigate the challenges of parenthood.

Fast Food Alternatives – Make & Take!

28 Apr

Make and Take Meals: Fast-Food Alternatives

This is a great article from WebMD.Com on healthy alternatives to fast-food when you are super busy and/or on the road.  When my family is on a road trip we always use two cooler bags with freezer packs to keep things cool – one for drinks and one for food.  We have water and 100% juice boxes for drinks.  Then we typically have easy to eat fruit, sandwiches, nuts, granola bars, & baked chips.  Jiff-to-go, which is individual servings of peanut butter is convenient to dip apple slices or pretzels or spread on a bagel!  Hard boiled eggs that are already peeled and sprinkled with a little seasoning and placed in a zip-lock bag also make for an easy, on the go healthy protein snack!

Good nutrition and good fast food can go hand in hand.
It’s late, your kids are hungry, and you don’t have time to cook. Put down the phone and pass up the drive-through.  You can rustle up a number of fast-food alternatives in minutes.

Not only can you put together a faster, healthier meal — with fewer calories and less fat and sodium — but you can save money, too.

“Americans spend nearly half their food dollars on food prepared away from home, but that only accounts for about 21% of the meals they eat,” says Joanne Lichten, PhD, RD, author of How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road. 

Here are tips to show you how — whether you’re at home or on the road.

Healthy Fast Food: For the Road

When you want an alternative to the fast-food joints calling your name, think cool: an insulated cooler, that is. Then stock it with:

  • Water, low-fat milk, or 100% juice.  But beware of the calories in drinks other than water, says Lichten.  Take that cooled milk and douse it over whole-grain cereals that come in their own single-serve cups.  A great snack or part of a meal when you’re in transit.
  • Low-fat cheese sticks to go with rolls and fruit.
  • Tubes or cartons of yogurt.
  • Cut veggies or washed baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.  Add a container of low-fat dip.
  • Sliced bananas, apples, grapes and pears.

Other single portion items for portable feasts include:

  • Peanut butter in a tube or a small tub to go with crackers or bread sticks.
  • Single-serve cans of tuna with easy-open tops and crackers.
  • Cans or cups of fruit packed in their own juice.
  • Dehydrated bean soups (get hot water at a roadside rest stop). 

“Always have fruit and vegetables along for the ride,” Lichten recommends.  “They are the foods we miss out on when traveling.”

Trail mix made from dried fruits, nuts, seeds, pretzels, or cereal with a few chocolate chips thrown in for good measure makes a satisfying snack, adds Kerry Neville, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

And in a pinch — when you’re on the road with children and didn’t plan ahead — pull into the supermarket instead of the fast-food drive-in. You can pick up fresh fruit, cheese, and bread for a satisfying meal to go.

Healthy Fast Food: At Home

Stock Your Cabinets With Fast, Nutritious Food  

Planning helps you pull your own fast-food act together. Get out the calendar and figure out your food needs for the week ahead. Make a quick list. Now it’s time to shop. Consider stocking:

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals, pasta, and prepared pizza crust.
  • Milk, reduced-fat shredded cheese, eggs, canned tuna, canned beans, peanut butter, lean ground beef patties, chicken, and meatballs.
  • Fresh, frozen, or no-added-salt canned vegetables; fresh and dried fruit; and fruit canned in juice.
  • Quick-cooking grains such as 10-minute brown rice and whole-wheat couscous.
  • Cartons of 100% orange juice, milk, applesauce, peanut butter, and yogurt in your fridge and cabinets. These work great for road trips, too.



Work the Weekends

Just a couple of hours spent cooking main courses one or two weekends a month works wonders for whipping up fast and healthy food on hectic weeknights. Tips to try:

  • Let your slow cooker save you time. Throw the ingredients for chili or beef stew in and turn to other activities.
  • Roast a chicken or turkey. This frees you up to concentrate on projects around the house, too.
  • Put together a pan or two of lasagna.
  • Make double batches of anything you cook, and freeze half.

Super Sandwich Suppers

Sandwiches can help you get supper on the table super fast. For tasty fast-food alternatives, try:

  • Pre-formed lean beef burger patties or veggie burgers. Serve on whole-grain buns. Pair with cooked frozen carrots and peas; fruit; and milk.
  • Barbecue pulled pork served on whole grain buns with corn and fruit on the side.
  • Tuna melts with reduced-fat cheese on whole-wheat bread, and salad.
  • Quesadillas made with low-fat cheese, fat-free refried beans, and leftover chicken served with a green salad.

Breakfast for Dinner

“Eggs are the basis of several quick and nutritious dinners,” Neville says. For example, try:

  • Scrambled eggs served in whole-wheat pita pockets with salsa and low-fat grated cheese; salad; milk or 100% juice, such as orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Whole-grain French toast, applesauce for dipping, and milk.
  • Omelets made with leftover cooked vegetables and served with whole-grain rolls, fruit and milk.
  • Hard cook a half dozen eggs. Toss them in salads, or use them for grab-and-go snacks or lunch.

Healthy Fast Food: Half-Way Homemade

Supermarkets can save the day when you want fast food and great nutrition. Think of these quick grab-and-go meals as half-way homemade: 

  •  (Practically) No-Cook Chicken Dinner. Pick up two cooked rotisserie chickens (the extra is for meals to come); precut broccoli florets in the produce section or frozen “steamer” vegetable combos from the freezer case, and crusty whole-grain bread from the bakery department. Serve with canned pineapple or Mandarin oranges. 
  • The Salad Bar. Let your kids loose on the supermarket salad bar for a great fast-food alternative. Be sure they include a protein source, such as tuna, beans, eggs, cottage cheese, tofu, or cheese; dark leafy greens; and fruit. Keep dressings and toppings to a minimum. Buy whole-grain rolls to serve with the salad at home. You can also pick up shrimp cocktail or sushi, too. 
  • Fast and Health Stir-Fry. Combine frozen Asian vegetable stir-fry mix, leftover rotisserie chicken, precooked chicken from meat case, tofu, or shrimp and serve over quick-cooking brown rice. 
  • 20-Minute Pizza. Neville favors whole-wheat Boboli-type crusts, spaghetti sauce or prepared pesto sauce, and part-skim mozzarella cheese and veggies from supermarket salad bars for concocting a quick pizza. You can also use whole-wheat English muffins, tortillas, or pita bread for crust, she says. 
  • Soup-er Star Main Courses. Start with lower-sodium canned soup and add frozen diced vegetables, cooked macaroni or quick-cooking brown rice, and leftover diced cooked chicken or turkey or beans. Serve with fruit or salad and low-fat milk.

Several soups, such as tomato, lentil, and split pea, double as a serving of vegetables from the food pyramid, Neville notes. Prepare tomato soup with low-fat milk for extra calcium and vitamin D as well as a serving of dairy.

These ideas are just a few healthy alternatives to fast food. Next time you’re at the supermarket, shop with an eye toward fast and nutritious and you’re bound to come up with great ideas of your own.

Remember, says Neville: “In the time it takes to wait for take-out pizza or Chinese food you could put together a much healthier meal.”




Healthy Food for Under $1!

14 Apr

10 Healthy Foods Under $1

Even with rising food prices, it’s possible to shop for healthy foods without spending a fortune.  Read this article from WebMD.Com with 10 healthy and delicious foods you can get for $1 or less! 
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Most of us don’t need to hear it or read it … we have felt it in our wallets every time we’ve gone to the grocery store. But just because food prices are rising doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy food choices.

The good news is that many foods that are good for you are also cheap. Here is our list of the top healthy foods you can find in your grocery store for under a dollar.

Recommended Related to Food and Recipes

Peaches: A Sun-Kissed Summer Fruit

Bite into a juicy peach this summer, and savor a whole range of healthy benefits. This member of the rose family is not only low in calories (one cup, sliced, has just 60), it’s also packed with potassium — a medium peach has 285 milligrams (about 5% of your RDA). Potassium is essential for the proper functioning of the body’s cells and for maintaining a balance of fluids and electrolytes, important for nerve signaling, muscle contraction, and metabolism. Peaches are also an excellent source…

Read the Peaches: A Sun-Kissed Summer Fruit article > >

Prices may vary based on the store, location, and time of year.

1. Apples

Great for: Snacks, green salads, main dish salads, and fruit salads.

What’s a serving? 1 large apple.

Price per serving: About $1. Apples sell for about $1.99 per pound, and an extra large crisp apple weighs about 1/2 pound.

Nutrition Info per serving: 117 calories, 5 grams fiber, 17% Daily Value for vitamin C, and 7% Daily Value for potassium.

2. Bananas

Great for: Snacks and fruit salads, yogurt parfaits, and smoothies.

What’s a serving? 1 banana.

Price per serving: About 45 cents. Bananas sell for about $0.89 per pound, and a large banana weighs about 1/2 pound

Nutrition Info per serving: 121 calories, 3.5 grams fiber, 14% Daily Value for potassium (487 mg), 20% Daily Value for vitamin C.

3. Baby Carrots (in bags)

Great for: Snacks, casseroles, stews, veggie platters, and side dishes.

What’s a serving? About 1/2 cup or 2 ounces raw.

Price per serving: 19 cents. A 16-ounce bag costs about $1 on sale and contains about 8 servings (2 ounces each).

Nutrition Info per serving: 27 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 200% Daily Value for vitamin A, and 7% Daily Value for vitamin C.

4. Canned Beans

Great for: Green salads, casseroles, stews, and chili. Types of beans range from 50% less sodium kidney beans and black beans to white beans and garbanzo beans.

What’s a serving? Each can contains about 3.5 (1/2-cup) servings.

Price per serving: About 28 cents. You can buy a 15-ounce can for about $1 on sale.

Nutrition Info per serving: About 120 calories (for kidney beans), 7 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, and 6% Daily Value for calcium, and 10% Daily Value for iron.

5. Canned Tomatoes

Great for: Italian and Mexican recipes, chili, stew, and casseroles. Flavor options range from no-salt-added sliced stewed tomatoes to diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil.

What’s a serving? One can contains about 3.5 (1/2-cup) servings.

Price per serving: About 28 cents. You can buy a 14.5-ounce can for about $1 on sale (often less for store brands).

Nutrition Info per serving: About 25 calories, 1 gram fiber, 10% Daily Value of vitamin A, and 15% Daily Value of vitamin C.

6. Oranges (extra large navel oranges)

Great for: Snacks, green salads, and fruit salads.

What’s a serving? 1 large or extra large orange.

Price per serving: 40 cents for a large orange and 79 cents for an extra large orange. Oranges sell for around $0.79 per pound, and a large orange is about 1/2 pound, whereas an extra large orange is about 1 pound.

Nutrition Info per serving: (for an 8 ounce orange): 106 calories, 5.5 grams fiber, 10% Daily Value for vitamin A, 200% Daily Value vitamin C, 17% Daily Value for folate, 9% Daily Value for calcium, and 12% potassium.

7. Pears

Great for: Snacks, as an appetizer with cheese, green salads, and fruit salads.

What’s a serving? 1 large pear

Price per serving: about 45 cents for a large pear. Pears sell for about $0.90 per pound, and a large pear weighs about 1/2 pound.

Nutrition Info per serving: 133 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 16% Daily Value for vitamin C, and 8% for potassium.

8. Lentils (dry)

Great for: Soups and stews, cold bean salads, and casseroles.

What’s a serving? 2 ounces (dry)

Price per serving: 14 cents. A 16 ounce bag sells for $1.12 (on sale) and contains eight servings.

Nutrition Info per serving: 195 calories, 14 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 24% Daily Value for Iron, 10% Daily Value for magnesium and potassium.

9. Pearl Barley (dry)

Great for: Soups and stews, cold salads, and casseroles.

What’s a serving? 2 ounces (dry)

Price per serving: About 12 cents. A 16 ounce bag of dry pearl barley sells for about $0.94 and contains about 8 servings.

Nutrition Info per serving: 199 calories, 9 grams fiber, 2.5 grams soluble fiber, 6 grams protein, 8% Daily Value for iron, and 11% Daily Value for magnesium.

10. Yogurt (plain, lowfat, or fat-free)

Great for: Smoothies, yogurt parfait, dips, and dressings.

What’s a serving? An 8-ounce or 6-ounce container is usually a serving.

Price per serving: 60 cents. This is usually the price for an 8-ounce container of plain yogurt.

Nutrition Info per serving: (for 8 ounces of fat-free plain yogurt): 130 calories, 13 grams of protein, 45% Daily Value for calcium, plus active cultures such as acidophilus and bifidus.

10 Tips to Get Your Kid to Eat Fruit & Vegetables

4 Apr
Fruits and vegetables from a farmers market. c...

Image via Wikipedia

Introducing or re-introducing fruits and vegetables may be a challenge in your home…but don’t give-up!  This article provides 10 super tips to have your kids eat more fruit and veggies.  Read it and try the tips over and over.

In my house we have the “You have to try it rule”, “There’s a fruit &/or veggie requirement at meals” and my wife and I do “Lead by example.”  Making it fun, allowing my preschooler to be involved in the shopping or preparation of meals has been super helpful…just allocate more time to get the meal done – but if it gets them to eat better, take the extra time as quality time in the kitchen together!  Happy Eating!

10 tips to get your kids to eat vegetables and fruits

health tips.jpg
In a new study, children who ate the most vegetables and fruits had significantly healthier arteries as adults than children who ate the fewest. Here are 10 tips to encourage your children to eat more vegetables and fruits.

1. Make fruit and vegetable shopping fun: Visit your local green market and/or grocery store with your kids, and show them how to select ripe fruits and fresh vegetables. This is also a good opportunity to explain which fruits and vegetables are available by season and how some come from countries with different climates.

2. Involve kids in meal prep: Find a healthy dish your kids enjoy and invite them to help you prepare it. Younger kids can help with measuring, crumbling, holding and handing some of the ingredients to you. Older kids can help by setting the table. Make sure you praise them for their help, so they feel proud of what they’ve done.

3. Be a role model: If you’re eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables — and enjoying them — your child may want to taste. If you aren’t eating junk food or keeping it in your home, your kids won’t be eating junk food at home either.

4. Create fun snacks: Schedule snack times — most kids like routines. Healthy between-meal snacks are a great opportunity to offer fruits and vegetables. Kids like to pick up foods, so give them finger foods they can handle. Cut up a fruit and arrange it on an attractive plate. Make a smoothie or freeze a smoothie in ice cube trays. Create a smiley face from cut-up vegetables and serve with a small portion of low-fat salad dressing, hummus or plain low-fat yogurt. A positive experience with food is important. Never force your child to eat something, or use food as a punishment or reward.

5. Give kids choices — within limits: Too many choices can overwhelm a small child. It’s too open ended to ask, “What would you like for lunch?” It may start a mealtime meltdown. Instead, offer them limited healthy choices, such as choosing between a banana or strawberries with their cereal, or carrots or broccoli with dinner.

6. Eat together as a family: If your schedules permit, family dining is a great time to help your kids develop healthy attitudes about food and the social aspects of eating with others. Make sure you are eating vegetables in front of your children. Even if they aren’t eating certain vegetables yet, they will model your behavior.

7. Expect pushback: As your kids are exposed to other families’ eating habits, they may start to reject some of your healthy offerings. Without making a disparaging remark about their friends’ diet, let your children know that fruits and vegetables come first in your family.

8. Grow it: Start from the ground up — create a kitchen garden with your child and let them plant tomatoes and herbs, such as basil and oregano in window boxes. If you have space for a garden, help them cultivate their own plot and choose plants that grow quickly, such as beans, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and radishes. Provide child-size gardening tools appropriate to their age

9. Covert operations: You may have tried everything in this list and more, yet your child’s lips remain zipped when offered a fruit or vegetable. Try sneaking grated or pureed carrots or zucchini into pasta or pizza sauces. Casseroles are also a good place to hide pureed vegetables. You can also add fruits and vegetables to foods they already enjoy, such as pancakes with blueberries, carrot muffins or fruit slices added to cereal. On occasions when you serve dessert, include diced fruit as an option.

10. Be patient: Changes in your child’s food preferences will happen slowly. They may prefer sweet fruits, such as strawberries, apples and bananas, before they attempt vegetables. Eventually, your child may start trying the new vegetable. Many kids need to see and taste a new food a dozen times before they know whether they truly like it. Try putting a small amount of the new food — one or two broccoli florets — on their plate every day for two weeks; but don’t draw attention to it.