Holiday Survival Tips

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As the holiday season is upon us and your schedule gets extra busy! Here are some tips to help you through the holiday whirlwind.

  Holiday Preparation Burns Calories

Holiday Preparation Burns Calories

Schedule time and sneak in time to stay active throughout the holidays! Although, also embrace the other ways that you will burn calories during the holiday season preparing for gatherings. For example, one hour of wrapping presents burns about 90 calories, one hour of cleaning burns about 150+ calories, one hour of cooking burns about 240 calories.

Calorie counts based on 150-pound person. Click here for a calorie calculator.

  Stock up on healthier snacks!

Stock up on healthier snacks!

Sure there will be extra snacks and treats around throughout the holidays. Also stock up on healthier staples like: almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, etc. They are perfect to put out at holiday gatherings or grab to take with you to keep your energy up while running errands.

Other quick and easy ideas to have on hand: clementines, bananas, fruit and nut bars (opt for lower sugar varieties), popcorn, whole grain fig bars

  It’s all about balance!

It’s all about balance!

Holiday celebrations often come along with drinks! Balance out alcohol by mixing in a glass of water or club soda between drinks. It will help to keep your overall intake in check, hydrate you, and leave you feeling better the next day.

Plus remember the calorie count that comes along with drinks to help balance out your intake! For example: long island iced tea (8 ounces) 780 calories, eggnog with rum (8 ounces) 370 calories, gin and tonic (7 ounces) 200 calories, light beer (12 ounces) 95 - 135 calories, red or white wine (5 ounces) 120 calories,

If you are throwing a party, serve up a fun non-alcohol “mocktail” like a Sparkling Holiday Mule! See the recipe below.

  Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Sparkling Holiday Mule Mocktail

Ingredients:
Ice
Poland Springs Ginger Lime Mule Seltzer
Fresh Lime Slices
Whole Cranberries (for garnish)
Sprig of rosemary (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Muddle a lime slice in a copper mug (or other serving glass).

  2. Add ice and fill with ginger lime mule seltzer.

  3. Garnish with whole cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Cheers!

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Quick Dinner Recipe: Coconut Skillet Chicken

coconut skillet chicken

Coconut Skillet Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon sea sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (adjust to taste preference)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon corn starch mixed into 1 tablespoon water
2 cups cooked brown rice

Directions:
1. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over a medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook each side for 5-7 minutes or until browned on each side.
3. In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes to soften. Add the vegetable stock, lime juice, cilantro and chili flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, continue to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes to let the sauce reduce down.
4. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to simmer again for another 5 minutes. Add the prepared corn starch and bring to a boil to thicken the sauce.
5. Add the chicken back to the skillet and let the chicken continue to cook until it is cooked through (about 5 – 10 minutes).
6. Serve over the brown rice.

Click here to watch a the recipe video.

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Lunch Ideas to Switch it Up!

Tired of the same old lunches? Here are some nutrient-rich ideas and product tips to switch up lunches either for yourself or the little ones in your life! Happy lunch packing!

Crunch + Protein

When you are looking to add something crunchy to a lunch, rethink-it and add-in roasted chickpeas. They come in a wide variety of flavors and some treat-like flavors too (e.g. milk chocolate!). What I love about these - each serving is about 130 calories plus it delivers 6 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. The fiber is important because it will help to slow down blood sugar level increases, in turn providing better long lasting energy.

Click here to buy some today or check your local stores like Target or Wegmans for them as well!

  Click here  to buy roasted chickpeas!

Click here to buy roasted chickpeas!

Add a Protein Boost

Pack along a milk box to add a boost of 8 grams of protein to lunch! I love these Horizon Organic milk boxes, they are also available in flavored options like chocolate and strawberry, which are perfect for refueling after practices, workouts and games. Plus for an added bonus these milk boxes are shelf-stable and they don’t have to be refrigerated, which makes them really portable and easy to bring along.

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Salads for Lunch

If your little ones are tired of sandwiches, switch it up with a salad! They can be really quick and easy to make. Start with a base of leafy greens, then top it with sliced veggies or fruit, sunflower seeds for crunch, and some sliced cheese. Or even add some baked chicken or tofu for a protein boost. Drizzle it with your favorite salad dressing.

Note - also pictured here is a mini yogurt parfait, which are great to pack along with a salad or even with a sandwich. Check out the Back to School Lunch Favorites for more on parfaits - click here.

Warm Up with Soup

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Soup can make a great addition to lunches. Plus choosing a vegetable-based soup like Tomato Soup, is a great way to squeeze in extra vegetables. Remember to send the soup warm in a thermos style container so it will still be warm to enjoy at lunch time. Send along the soup with a half of sandwich, salad, or a parfait to complete the meal.

Pictured here is Pacific Foods roasted red pepper & tomato soup, a favorite at our house! Also check out the Pacific Foods new line of bone broth soups.

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Roasted Beet + Cauliflower Fall Salad

 Fall Salads are the best!

Fall Salads are the best!

Roasted Beet + Cauliflower Fall Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

2 medium beets beets, peeled and chopped (1/2-inch pieces)*

2 cups cauliflower, chopped into florets

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/4 cup Biena Snacks Sea Salt Chickpeas

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (shells removed)

Salad dressing of choice

*Short on time? Try Love Beets - all you will have to do is cube them up! They will be ready to go. Look for them in the produce section of the grocery store.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Place the cubed beets on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap up the beets into a packet and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, until the beets are tender.

  3. Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned.

  4. To assemble the salads - divide the lettuce among two serving bowls. Divide the toppings evenly among the salad: roasted beets, roasted cauliflower, roasted chickpeas, and sunflower seeds. Finish with your salad dressing of choice (my go to is balsamic vinaigrette!)!

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Product Picks

I'm on a constant quest to try new foods, and products! Here are a couple of recent options that were a hit. 

 Cotton Candy Grapes from the Grapery

Cotton Candy Grapes from the Grapery

UNIQUE + DELICIOUS CANDY GRAPES

These Cotton Candy grapes from the Grapery are full of flavor and delicious. They are super sweet and definitely have a cotton candy-like taste. 

In my opinion they are worth putting on your shopping list and can even double as a dessert. 

The Grapery website explains more about the way that these grapes get their unique flavor, its really interesting and worth a read, click here! And don't wait, they are only available for a short period of time, according to their website now through September 20. 

 Pressed By KIND Bars

Pressed By KIND Bars

ON-THE-GO FRUIT

Sometimes schedules call for on-the-go options and Pressed by KIND bars are a perfect way to add in fruit on busy days or in lunch boxes! Plus the bars have a simple ingredient list and each has 2 servings of fruit per bar.

For example, the Cherry, Apple, Chia bar ingredient list is literally - cherry, apple, and chia. There is not any added sugar or sweeteners, which is great! Each bar has 130 calories and delivers 3 grams of fiber. 

They are also available in additional flavors including: Mango Apple Chia, Dark Chocolate Strawberry, Dark Chocolate Banana, Strawberry Apple Cherry Chia, and Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach. You can order Pressed by KIND bars direct from KIND Snacks website or look for them in grocery stores, Target, and more.  

 Green Giant Riced Veggies 

Green Giant Riced Veggies 

INNOVATIVE VEGGIES

One of the newest ways to enjoy veggies is 'riced' veggies. The texture of veggies when they are chopped fine is so interesting and especially cauliflower, takes on the texture of almost being rice-like. 

You can make your own riced veggies but these frozen bags are super convenient! Plus they come in great flavor combinations like pictured here, Cauliflower with Lemon and Garlic. 

Once cup of riced veggies has only 30 calories and is a perfect side dish! Or try plain riced cauliflower as a stand-in for rice with stir-fry or even made into a fried 'rice' dish. Look for riced veggies in the freezer section of the grocery store. Click here for more information on Riced Veggies from Green Giant. 

Note: These product picks are not an advertisement, just products that Creative Nutrition Solutions owner and registered dietitian, Molly Morgan loves! 

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Back to School Lunch Favorites

Packing lunches is back on the to do list of many people! Here are some tips and products to help keep school lunches interesting! 

Opt for Fun Lunch Boxes

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Lunch boxes like Yumbox (pictured here) are perfect, especially for little guys and girls. These would be best for ages K - 5 as far as portioning and the amount of food you can fit into the box. 

One of the best parts of this design is there is just one easy to use flap that they need to open to get into their meal! And the Yumbox is truly is leak proof; we have been using this style lunch box for two years without any leaking issue.

Check out the Yumbox site for different styles, colors, and designs, visit: https://www.yumboxlunch.com/

Wrap it Up

Wrap it Up!

Wraps for lunch are a great way to use up leftovers and have a lot of variation in a lunch. For example, grill extra chicken the night before, then cube that up for lunch the next day.

Opt for whole grain wraps and also load the wrap up with plenty of veggies for filling!

To make lunch preparation easier in the morning, start the week with a container of chopped wrap fillings like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, onion, and spinach. This will help lunch come together quickly in the morning. 

Pack a Parfait

Yogurt Parfait

A fruit and yogurt parfait can make a filling lunch or addition to a lunch! Fill reusable containers with layers of Greek or Icelandic yogurt (e.g. Chobani, Siggis), fruit, and granola (e.g. KIND Snacks Healthy Grain Clusters).  Even consider a drizzle of Barlean's Omega Swirl Oil for a boost of healthy fats. 

Try parfait combinations like:

Vanilla yogurt + blueberries + oats & honey granola
Vanilla yogurt + banana + peanut butter granola
Mango yogurt + diced mango + maple granola

On the Go Lunches

Fueling the Athlete

Creating a winning combination for lunch to fill and fuel up an athlete can be a challenge! Check out the Fuel2Win for On the Go lunch ideas! Click here to download the handout. 

Also check out delicious recipe ideas like PB Chip Energy Bites which could be a great addition to a lunch! 

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Dinner Idea: Mango Ginger Chicken

Are you in need of quick dinner ideas? Grab this delicious Mango Ginger Chicken recipe from my Olum's Cooking project. Click here for the recipe video and recipe. 

 Mango Ginger Chicken - Quick and Easy! 

Mango Ginger Chicken - Quick and Easy! 

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Quick Salad: Mexican Quinoa Salad

This salad recipe has a homemade jalapeno vinaigrette dressing that is absolutely delicious and not too spicy! Plus it is really beautiful and colorful. 

Grab this recipe and watch the recipe video from Molly's cooking project with Olums: https://youtu.be/oJPCQnuarBQ

 Mexican Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

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Game Day Snack: Red Hot Chicken Fingers

Looking for an appetizer that is perfect for game day snacking? Try this Red Hot Chicken Finger Recipe with Greek Yogurt Blue Cheese Dip from Molly's cooking project with Olum's. 

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Meatless Monday Recipe: Falafel with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Eating meatless at least one day a week can help the environment and better your health. If you have never tried falafel, it is worth a try! Falafel is a Mediterranean dish that is chickpea-based or sometimes made with fava beans. 

Serving up falafel with whole grain pita bread, veggies (e.g. lettuce, tomato, kalamata olives, cucumber), feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce! 

Making your own tzatziki sauce is easy and tastes even better if you can make it up ahead of time, at least the night before! It will allow the flavors to come together better, although if you are short on time you can make it with the falafel, the flavors will just be a little less intense. 

 Falfel (Photo Source: iStock)

Falfel (Photo Source: iStock)

Falafel with Homemade Tzatzki Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients - Falafal:
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 teaspoons garlic, minced (about 4 cloves)
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 medium shallots
2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (plus more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil (for cooking) 

Ingredients - Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cucumber (pressed to remove water)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
 

Directions: 
1. In a food processor add: chickpeas, parsley, shallot, garlic, tahini, cumin, salt, pepper, and coriander. Pulse to blend and scrape down the mixture as needed. The dough should be crumbly.

2. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time (you may not need the full 1/4 cup), until the mixture is somewhat firm and you can shape into a ball. 

3. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or more). 

4. After the falafel dough is chilled, scoop about 2 tablespoons worth of the mixture and gently form into patties (makes about 12).

5. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Working in batches, add 3 - 4 of the patties cook for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from skillet and then repeat for the remaining falafel patties. 

6. In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the tzatziki sauce ingredients. Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate.. 

Serving suggestion: Serve falafel with pita bread, chopped veggies, kalamata olives, and homemade tzatzki sauce. 
 

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