tips & info

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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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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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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Grocery Shopping with Kids

I actually love grocery shopping and although it can take a little extra patience, I enjoy grocery shopping with our kids. Although I may wind up spending a few extra dollars when the boys grocery shop with me, I think in the long run, it is actually a good thing and helps them to actually eat the food we serve at the dinner table. 

The boys at the Wegmans check out with veggie balloons that a produce department worker gave them because he observed them being such great helpers picking out fruits and veggies while we shopped. 

The boys at the Wegmans check out with veggie balloons that a produce department worker gave them because he observed them being such great helpers picking out fruits and veggies while we shopped. 

Not that I have it perfect, but here are some tips to grocery shop with your kids!

1. Have a plan AND a list - Talk with your kids about food for the week (breakfast, lunches, snacks, dinner). Of course, you can't say yes to all their ideas or requests - for example, our youngest would opt for pancakes or waffles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we let him - having their input can help helpful. Then build your grocery list because especially when kids are with you...  without a list it would be nearly impossible to leave the store with everything you need.

2. Give them mini jobs at the grocery store - While the 'job' may vary slightly based on their age, giving them little things to do while you are shopping can help keep them focused on the list and a little less likely to get distracted by things you do not need.

Examples:
Grab a bag and pick two bunches of broccoli. 
Pick which lettuce pack you think looks the best for salads this week.
Get 5 of the (tell them specifically which brand or color package) yogurts with the green label.
Pick two boxes of the little bunny crackers. 
Pick any bag of frozen veggies. 

3. Pick and choose somethings to say yes  - Our boys will ask for many things that we don't need in a shopping trip. I find if I tell them yes, to some things that are healthier choices, like a new flavor of KIND Snacks Bar, a different fruit than what was on the list, etc. It makes all the times I say no to the stuff that is sugary, too pricey, or that we just don't need. 

Happy grocery shopping! 

 

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Caffeine, Children, and CAUTION

Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Bliznetsov/iStock / Getty Images

As a mom and dietitian, it is scary to me the amount of energy drinks and caffeine that young children are consuming! Caffeine is a stimulant and it is finding it's way into a lot of products and drinks, way beyond the traditional coffee or tea - from gums, chews, and energy drinks.

While children and teens may be intrigued by these products, they do not have a place in their routine, even for teen athletes. Additionally beyond the caffeine the other additives like: guarana (a plant-based stimulant) and taurine (an amino acid) are equally if not more concerning to me as they are not tested on children.

On a given day in the US research shows, about 73% of children and adolescents (ages 2 - 22) consume caffeine (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014).  What was alarming to me is that caffeine intake was prevalent among all age groups in the study (Age ranges: 2 - 5, 6 - 11, 12 - 16, 17 - 18, and 19 - 22); while the intake amounts varied ranging from a low in the 2 - 5 year old age group of mean average intake of 15.9 mg of caffeine up to a high of 122.5 mg of caffeine per day in the oldest age group. Side effects from caffeine can range from insomnia to irritability to more serious health issues like irregular heart beats, blood pressure changes, and even death

If your child or teenager is interested in drinking energy drinks or other caffeinated products, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep. Two things we adults should remind ourselves of as well! 

Caffeine is not recommended for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. Additionally, adults are recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day. Although, keep in mind, some people are very sensitive to caffeine or may not be able to have any due to underlying medical conditions.

A big watch out is how much caffeine is in products, as it can vary greatly from the low of 5 - 30 mg of caffeine in a decaf coffee to 300 - 400 mg in a large coffee or 160 - 300+ in an energy drink. Check out this chart by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on the caffeine content in popular drinks and products. 

When your teen is asking for energy drinks, try these energy boosting ideas instead:

- Have then sip water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels

- Snack on filling and energy boosting snacks like: fresh fruit & yogurt, banana and almond or peanut butter, whole grain crackers with sliced cheese & fruit, or baby carrots and dip

- Get plenty of sleep!

- For athletes: focus on working hard and training hard

And again, remind them that taking products with caffeine can hurt them and are never a replacement for hard work or a good nights sleep.

References: 

Caffeine Sources for Teens more Varied Than before, via AAP.org, Accessed May 18, 2017

Branum, et al. Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents, Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014

Teen Dies from Too Much Caffeine, CNN, Accessed May 18, 2017

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