Are you giving your kids the right fuel for school, or do their choices consist of PopTarts, Toaster Strudels, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or “leggomyeggo” waffles?
I have to admit, my mom really didn’t know a lot about nutrition when I was young. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted – none of which was healthy. Pop Tarts and sugary cereals with prizes in the box were a staple in our house. I wasn’t a big breakfast eater, and I’m sure my mom was just happen when I ate breakfast period – no matter what it was. However, she had no idea what it was doing to my day at school.
Ironically, my mom must have known a healthy breakfast had it’s advantages because my mom always made me a healthy big breakfast on test day. The problem is, no healthy breakfast in the world could help me get a better grade when I wasn’t paying attention all the other days I ate crap. What a child eats for breakfast greatly determines how they feel at school.
Fuel the Brain
You probably wouldn’t let your kid eat a piece of cake or some brownies for breakfast, but the majority of breakfast foods for kids are as equally unhealthy. They may taste good on the tongue, but they do nothing for the body.
Sugary, high-glycemic breakfasts set your child up for failure. They will get your child happily out the door, but in just a couple hours (if that), they will likely lose energy, along with their attention span – unless they are lucky enough to have a stimulating class (like PE) that gets their blood sugar back up mechanically from exercise or activity.
Your child needs healthy low-glycemic foods rich in fiber, with a little healthy fat. Lower glycemic foods deliver an IV drip-like affect of energy throughout the morning. Sugary foods hit the system fast, and also leaves the system fast. Lower glycemic foods and healthy fats take a slower time to break down in our system. The longer it’s in the tummy, the longer the energy will last from the meal. Meals high in fiber keep the tummy full too, as well as regular blood sugar (and a ton of other great stuff too).
As I look back, I remember eating nice big healthy breakfasts on Saturday mornings or on Holidays because that’s probably when my mom had more time to cook. Yet, that would be a good time to have a “treat” like waffles or french toast, because it’s not like I needed a lot of energy to watch cartoons all morning. But, for school, it’s a different story. Kids need all the help they can get to be alert, feel good and do well in school. A healthy breakfast is a must for your child’s brain – not to mention their waistline!
Eat This, Not That
This info graphic by HowManyCaloriesCounters.com shows what, and what not, to eat before exam day – but I think it’s how all students should eat to perform their best EVERY day.
Who’s the Boss?
I think back to my school days, and I can’t BELIEVE what I ate. Processed foods and coke were my go-to foods. I didn’t even know what oatmeal was. Whole grains? What is that? Eggs? Yuck! Yogurt? You mean frozen yogurt? Honestly, what kid is going to choose oatmeal over Captain Crunch or Pancakes!? Sure, there are a few kids who like eggs and toast, but most kids would prefer the breakfast that comes in a flashy fun package, complete with a toy.
I remember thinking Special K was for overweight women and Raisin Bran was for old people – I only knew what the commercials taught me. It’s time for parents to be parents. It’s time parents teach their children to eat healthy – and to help them understand why it’s important (other than just being about weight).
You want your child to FEEL good. You want your child to perform their best – and I’m sure you don’t want them to gain weight or struggle with weight related health issues like diabetes. If you wouldn’t let them take drugs in your house, or make other poor choices that are dangerous or unhealthy, don’t let them make poor choices with food. While one poptart won’t hurt here and there, a child who is allowed to eat whatever they want when they are young, could have serious repercussions later in life.
One article in the NY Daily News on this topic said, “Childhood is a critical period in which dietary and lifestyle patterns are initiated, and these habits can have important immediate and long-term implications,” says lead author Dr. Jianghong-Liu, associate professor at Penn Nursing. “Breakfast habits appear to be no exception, and irregular breakfast eating has already been associated with a number of unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, frequent alcohol use, and infrequent exercise.”
Top 10 Sugar-Bomb Cereals
Here are the top 10 sugar-bomb kids’ cereals, ranked by percent weight in sugar by the Environmental Working Group. NOTE: 26% is the recommended MAX.
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks: 55.6% sugar
- Post Golden Crisp: 51.9% sugar
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow: 48.3% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries: 46.9% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original: 44.4% sugar
- Quaker Oats Oh!s: 44.4% sugar
- Kellogg’s Smorz: 43.3% sugar
- Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: 42.9% sugar
- Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries: 42.3% sugar
- Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original: 41.4% sugar
FOLLOW my blog (located at the top right of my blog) for more healthy back to school tips this week!
My husband, Steve, LOVES him some meatloaf! It’s his favorite dish I make. And, for people who really don’t like the texture of meat, it’s a great way to get more protein in your diet when you are sick of chewing on chunks of meat. Even people who enjoy meat get sick of eating chicken sometimes you feel like if you have one more piece of dang chicken, you’ll SCREAM. That’s when it’s time to get your baking dishes out!
I would post more recipes, but the truth is, I rarely follow them. I make stuff up as I go. Monday I made Turkey & Quinoa meatballs and shirataki noodles with a sweet basal and spinach sauce. I have no idea what I put in it because I just added a dash of this, a dash of that and just played around until I liked what I tasted.
However, sometimes I like to follow recipes to get ideas. I rarely follow it to the T. Most of the time I double, triple or quadruple it (you would too if you were married to Steve Pfiester – that boy can EAT! haha). So, here’s the recipe I followed from Lazy LowCal Cookbook by Becky Clark to put Quinoa to the test. Result: SUCCESS!
I doubled this recipe, added a little more kick too it with the fresh jalapenos, and personalized the flavor with some of my favorite spices.
Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf (from the Lazy LowCal Cookbook)
- 1lbs Ground Turkey
- 1/2 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
- 1 Onion Diced
- 7 oz Green Chiles
- 2 Diced Jalapenos
- 6 oz Can of Tomato Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
- Seasonings (I used spices like Chili Pepper, Salt & Stevia to sweeten a little)
Cook your quinoa first, then add it to the rest of the ingredients. Mix it all together, put in your bakeware, and bake on 375 for 90 minutes. If you have your own favorite meatloaf recipe, use Quinoa instead of breadcrumbs. 🙂
People can normally handle looking up calories for whole foods, but it seems they “Lose It” when they start doing complicated recipes and casseroles. If you use a calorie management app (I like LoseIt) Managing calories from your favorite recipe is easier than you think. Simply add each ingredient (full amount for the whole recipe) into your lose recipe builder (located under More & Edit Foods & Exercises). The total calories will look huge – but remember, you have to set the number of servings for that meal.
So, divide the meatloaf into squares (or simply mark with a knife) when it cools and put the total number of squares in as number of servings to get the number of calories for each piece. It’s better to have smaller squares (and serve more than one piece), than to have large squares. This way you can have “snack-size” pieces that you can easily manage when you count calories. Also try using miniature cupcake pans instead of full baking dishes to make it even easier to serve and manage calories!
10 Servings: 153 calories, 1.4gm fat, 11.7gm carbs, 24.6gm protein, 2gm fiber.
8 Servings: 191 calories, 1.8gm fat, 14.6gm carbs, 30gm protein, 2.5gm fiber.
Turkey Meatloaf Wrap
- 1 Healthy Grain Flat Out Wrap
- Cold Meatloaf
- Romaine lettuce
- Lite Mayo
- Optional Burger style: Add onion, Mustard, Ketchup & pickles and heat the meatloaf
The lettuce adds a nice fresh crunch – and the whole thing stayed with me for several hours. Totally yummy!
I swear, everytime I go to say Quinoa I want to say Kuinoy. Keenwaw is how it is pronounced, and it’s a previously overlooked grain that is gaining popularity, and is a wonderful addition to a healthy meal plan. It was hard to find at the grocery store however. I searched several times before I finally found it. Mine is organic and it came in a bag and it looks like little round seeds. Some people have found it in the grain (rice) section, however, I found it by the flower, corn meal and stuff, in the Greenwise section at our Publix. If you can’t find it, find a grocery employee to help you locate it because I don’t think people really know where it is supposed to go yet. Also check the gluten-free section as a possibility.
Look at the Nutritional comparison between 1/1 cup of cooked quinoa (120 calories) and 1/2 cup of cooked instant long grain rice (180 calories).
In this particular brand of white rice, the protein appears to be the same, but if you are counting calories and compared 120 calories of quinoa to 120 calories of rice, the protein would be less for rice (approximately 2.7gms). Not only do you get to eat fewer calories, quinoa has all the essential amino acids, plus lysine which aids tissue repair (great for helping repair muscles). Quinoa is even more nutritious than brown rice, which is pretty darn nutritious.
CLICK HERE for 20 Ways to Cook Quinoa from CookingLight.com
I recently got a new cookbook called the Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle Complete Cookbook (does that say something about me? hah), and I am loving the creative simple recipe ideas – one of which is this recipe for Reuben Quesadillas.
- 1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
- Spicy Mustard (I like light thousand island!!)
- 1/2 c Shredded Swiss Cheese
- 8 oz Can of Sauerkraut, drained
- Four 1-oz slices of pastrami
Spray 1 side of the tortilla with Pam and place sprayed side down on skillet. Squirt the mustard on the tortilla and start layering the ingredients on one half of the tortilla, and fold in half. Heat it on medium and then flip.
For more great low-cal recipes, check out Becky Clark’s book:
Picture of Reuben Quesadillas
In my experience, people don’t have trouble going on a diet – they have trouble sticking to it. It’s just too easy to get side-tracked and tempted. On top of just normal temptations, as soon as we begin a diet, we start obsessing over food. We are constantly thinking of what we can and cannot eat, what we should eat and what we want to eat. I even see people doing cardio watching the food network. Does that really make any sense at all?
I believe people don’t set enough boundaries – not just with food, but with their thoughts. We trust ourselves just a little too much. We put ourselves in stupid compromising situations and then wonder why we fail.
Personally, I think we think about food way too much. We “allow” our thoughts to explore territory our mouths should never go while dieting. Instead of thinking about our training and new fit bodies, we are dreaming and scheming up ways to create some “healthy” dish we can try to squeeze in our plan so we don’t feel so deprived – but are we really deprived? When was delicious grilled chicken and asparagus an example of being deprived? When was having abs and feeling great not worth going without pizza? Do you really want to taste pizza more than wear some kick-butt jeans without a muffin top? Let’s put things in to perspective so you can begin succeeding!
Before you explore these tips, first decide whether you are in maintenance or weight loss mode. If you are maintenance, you can be a little less strict – or you can follow these rules during the week, but enjoy a little more freedom on the weekend. If you are in diet mode, then these 7 tips should help you stay on the fast track to success.
7 Practical Diet Tips to Help You Stay On Track
1. Stick to a routine. Eating the same foods, like the same one or two breakfasts every day, helps keep dieting simple. The less you have to think about what I should eat, the easier it is to eat healthy. The more variety you have, the more excited your tastebuds will get – and they may want more. If you eat oatmeal every day, I doubt you’ll want to overeat or go back for seconds.
2. Avoid restaurant menus. Should an alcoholic spend time looking through the drink menu? Should they walk the isles of ABC liquor? Of course not! So why should a dieter spend time shopping a menu with pictures of food they shouldn’t eat. All it does is open the windows of our hungry mind. If you must eat out, either make your decision before you even show up to the restaurant, or have someone else help you order if you are tempted to go off plan.
3. Make rules and stick with them. In our house, dinners are always one meat and one green veggie. Period. Since we don’t need carbs to sleep, we save carbs (like a sweet potato) for lunch. Setting rules helps us stay on track. No rules, no boundaries, no success.
4. Prepare your food when you aren’t hungry. We cook a good bulk of our food on Sundays AFTER we eat lunch. When meals are made in advance, all we have to do is heat them up when you get hungry. If you wait to cook when you are hungry, you are more likely to focus on what you want to taste rather than what you need to eat – and you may whip up something higher in calories because you are thinking with your stomach, and not your new fit brain.
5. Rely primarily on whole foods. I love making turkey meatloaf and yummy meals, but Steve can’t control himself around them. So, 75% of our meals are whole foods, and only 25% are multi-ingredient dishes. This gives us just enough variety without sabotaging our diet.
6. Be patient when cooking. Rely on seasoning and slow cooking (like a crock pot or roaster) to boost flavor instead of sauces and added ingredients. Many times we add more calories than necessary simply because we cook too fast and don’t allow seasonings to be absorbed in the food.
7. Know what you can and cannot handle. No matter how motivated someone is in the morning, that motivation can be forgotten by the time you are standing in the pantry staring at the nuts at night. If you can’t handle having certain snacks or foods in the house, don’t let them past your front door. Sometimes it’s best to go without than to try to practice self-control (and fail over and over).
Remember, the only way you will be successful is to be honest with yourself. Some people are super disciplined and some people aren’t. Be honest with yourself and set goals accordingly.
Results Taste Better
Whatever your goal is, whether it’s to lose a few pounds or compete (like this chick below), spend more time thinking about your training, and less time thinking about food. If you want abs more than you want ice cream, then put a set of abs on the freezer door to remind you what you want long term. Because, honestly, 10 minutes of pleasure isn’t worth ruining a reward you can enjoy all day every day – because I’m pretty sure this chick is not the least bit upset about the foods she missed out on while she stands fit and proud on stage.
Since we didn’t do a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, I ended up roasting a turkey after the Holiday. Before I completely gobbled up the turkey, I decided it was time to put the rest of the meat to even better use. Being the soup loving fool that I am, I couldn’t wait to turn that turkey into a liquid pot of low-calorie gold – and it didn’t take long to decide to go Mexican! My favorite! Here’s what I did…
2-3 pounds turkey or chicken
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3-4 teaspoons of fajita seasoning (a mix of ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne)
1 large onion
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
2-3 fire roasted tomatos (I grilled them)
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
Juice of 2-3 limes
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 small diced tomatoes
1/2 head of cabbage (small)
salt & pepper to taste
avocado and fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Pull chicken or turkey and put in a large stew pot with chicken stock and seasonings.
Sautee green onions and peppers in coconut oil (and salt)
Compine all the ingredients together and cook slowly on low heat.
Top with fresh avocado & cilantro and serve.
Approximately 215 calories for 2 cups
(Calories for optional avocado not included)
DIET TIP: I eat a lot of soup – almost one serving per day. Soup is a great food to eat while dieting. It’s tasty, it takes longer to eat (so it satisfies my taste buds longer, it can have a ton of flavor without a ton of calories) and the liquid base is super filling.
Are You Eating Backwards?
People who struggle with their weight often find their evening meal to be the most challenging. When it comes to dieting, most people don’t have much of a problem watching calories throughout the day. Then they come home and BAM! They eat more calories in one sitting than they did all day long.
One reason this happens is we’ve been conditioned to eat big meals for dinner. Normally that means a meat, a couple of sides, and sometimes bread or dessert – but who said a meal has to be a 7-course meal? It must have been the same person who invented the Pop Tart for breakfast – and they have it all backwards.
Let’s look at food as fuel. Do you need a lot of fuel to power you to sleep? No. Do you need fuel to power you to work? Yes. So why would we have a small breakfast and big dinner? It’s completely opposite from what our body needs.
5 Healthy Food Habits for Weight Loss
1. Eat a 300-400 calorie breakfast with a nice balance of fat, protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Stock up on breakfast foods like Egg Beaters, oatmeal, bagel thins, low-carb wraps, grits, Chobani greek yogurt, Designer Whey vanilla protein, peanut butter, granola and fruit. Plan ahead and be creative. Cooking breakfast in advance and utilizing leftovers (like spinach, asparagus and meats) can really help create fast fixings.
2. Splurge for lunch. Instead having your biggest meal at dinner, schedule cheat meals at lunch. At least you will have several hours to burn off what you ate, instead of eating at night and hitting the sack on a full stomach. Even if you are eating healthy, try to save your high-carb meals, like sandwiches, pastas and potatoes, for lunchtime.
3. Simplify dinner. Don’t over-think your evening menu. If you are trying to diet, limit meals to one white meat and one green side. Use a little olive oil or natural fats, like avocado, to help the meal stay with you longer. Green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, zucchini, collards, cabbage and salad greens are normally lower in calories. Be very sparing with beans, even the green kind. Peas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and kidney beans are all higher in carbohydrates and calories. One green bean that’s an exception is the soy bean (edamame). Edamame has a excellent balance of carbs, fats and protein. YUM!
4. Just skip it. Sometimes people eat just because they think they are “supposed to”. Just because it’s meal time, you don’t always have to eat a traditional meal. If you come home late at night, or you really aren’t that hungry, sometimes it’s OK to just make a protein shake and call it a night – especially if you just left the gym. Or maybe you decide to just have a few almonds and a piece of fruit, or some yogurt to curb your appetite. Although you do need to keep a steady small amount of calories coming in to keep your metabolism revved, they don’t have to be anything fancy or complicated.
5. Choose only one 100-200 calorie evening snack. If you are like me, you can snack the entire night away if you let yourself. Instead, choose your snack wisely. Do you crave sweets? Then a sugar-free fudge pop, jello pudding or fruit may be the way to go. Do you crave salty snacks? Then you may prefer 100-calorie popcorn as your go-to snack. Whatever you choose, try to limit your calories to only one 100-200 calories, and only choose one item – that includes drinks. Even if you WANT to snack, you won’t die if you go without snacking – and those little after-dinner calories add up quick so be stingy with them.