6 Nutrition Trends of 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

These seeds are gaining even more popularity and are being called the “new flax seed”.  You can even find them in single serving pouches like you can nuts, etc. to make them easier to add to your meals and snacks.

Natural sugar “alternatives.”

Coconut sugar and coconut nectar are leading this battle. Coconut sugar comes from the nectar of coconut tree blossoms, but doesn’t taste like coconut. The sugar is simply the dehydrated form of coconut nectar. It may have slightly more vitamins and minerals (magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and B vitamins) than white sugar.

Self Monitoring

Once again, fitness apps will influence consumers to utilize technology for tracking progress, motivation and guidance. Apps such as Nike Fuel and LarkLife are becoming vital parts of health and wellness for all ages as they offer not only personal fitness tracking but calorie counting and menu ideas as well.

Gluten-Free Foods

With over 11% of the US population suffers from a gluten allergy, becoming even more popular and common are gluten-free food products. Based on a survey from over 1,800 members of the American Culinary Foundation, the National Restaurant Association predicts annual menu trends, with gluten-free securing the same spot as in did in 2012, at number 8 on the list. Perhaps gluten free is not a fad but here to stay. Sorghum is a gluten-free whole grain with a neutral, slightly sweet flavor. It’s extremely versatile; it is expected to be in many products and on many restaurant menus in 2013. Experiment with naturally gluten-free grains like amaranth, brown rice, millet, oats, polenta, and quinoa, which have a variety of nutritional benefits and are delicious!

Juicing

With $5 billion in revenue this year and projected growth of four to eight percent, healthful, all-natural and raw fruit and vegetable juices (Organic Avenue, Cooler Cleanse, even Jamba Juice) will explode into the isles of mass supermarkets to offer customers the option of purchasing fresh pressed juices. Small shops are popping up everywhere, like Organic Avenue and Cooler Cleanse, specializing in fresh pressed juices.

A Simpler Life

School. Work. Family. Kids. Dating. Fitting in physical activity. When life gets busy, simple meals are a must. As consumers become more health conscious and saavy shoppers, companies are producing less processed and more wholesome ready-to-go foods. Grab and go items will have fewer ingredients to appeal to consumers, providing more fresh and simplistic meal and snack options. Natural and simple menus with few ingredients are going to gain in popularity as consumers are starting to realize that strict low carb and low fat diets are not always best.  Choosing high-quality calories and carbohydrates with more nutrition per bite, will be most important for achieving a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just about total calories, it’s about where those calories come from.

A Plant Powered Lifestyle

Sharon Palmer, who is also a Registered Dietitian, recently sent me a copy her new book, The Plant Powered Diet. (We’re also giving away one copy to a lucky reader.. for details read on!) While incorporating research studies, an array of informational charts and recipes, Sharon’s book comes down to one main point:

EAT MORE PLANTS!

After a few pages and a chapter or two in, it became clear that despite the title, this is not a typical “how-to diet book.” In fact, the author does a great job of not labeling any foods good or bad, but does an excellent job of providing an abundant amount of information, allowing readers to make his or her decisions about which plant-based foods are best to eat. From shopping organic, cooking, dining out, and teaching you how to calculate your protein needs, Sharon has covered nearly every topic or question you might have about eating more plant-based foods.

Nearly every holiday is centered on the 4 F’s: family, friends, fun and food! Quite often, the day is centered on the latter. For many, a turkey, chicken or roast beef is a focal point of the holiday meal. This year however, I challenge you to power the holidays with a more plant-based approach.  Whether you’re a committed omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, try incorporating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains into the holiday festivities! With family gatherings and parties, take advantage of this holiday season by using it to expose your loved ones to more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

A great takeaway from this book is that vegetables, fruits and whole grains can be incorporated into many dishes, savory or sweet. They can act as substitutes in your favorite dishes or shine on their own. The important thing to remember is that this shouldn’t be view as a temporary diet, but rather a lifestyle change. Change doesn’t begin overnight but it can be a start! Begin by trying one new vegetable every week, or simply ensuring you are eating vegetables throughout your day, whether in your meals or snacks.

Here are 3 of our favorite tips from Sharon’s book, that can help steer you in a healthier direction:

1. Stem-to-Root Eating — One of our favorite sustainable tips from the book, Sharon emphasizes consuming every part of the plant. Sometimes we lose site of the best parts of a plant that are very much still edible. Instead of tossing out your broccoli stalks, kale stems or beet tops, give it a second chance to become a tasty part of your meal!

2. For any favorite recipe, try substituting a whole plant fat like avocado for refined oils — In cakes, you can substitute half the amount of butter or even a mayonaise-like spread with pureed avocado.

3. For dessert recipes, try substituting whole fruit for added sugar instead — “Use the natural sweetness of fruits to sweeten breads, cookies and desserts while gaining a serving of antioxidant-rich fruit.”

For a chance to enter into our giveaway for a copy of Sharon Palmer’s The Plant Powered Diet, click here!

A Soy-licious Dinner

Last month, Solae hosted a dinner created by Chef Peter Berley, former executive chef at Angelica Kitchen NYC and author of The Flexitarian Table. Held at The Kitchen NYC, the event provided for a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, learn more about soy protein isolate, and try  Chef Berley’s soy-licious dishes!

Prior to the dinner, we learned about a few soy-based products that work with Solae. Now if you aren’t familiar with Solae, it is a company that produces soy protein isolate, which can be found in some foods like energy bars, soy milk, and protein shakes. In the first hour, Chef Berley prepared hors d’hourves made with Morningstar Farms. The chicken-less nuggets and soy-based bacon wrapped in lettuce were both crunchy and unexpectedly flavorful! As a vegetarian and fan of meat-less products and chicken-less nuggets included, I was amazed at how Chef Berley had transformed these foods into an elegant bite.

When it came time for dinner, we were intimately seated around Chef Berley, who demonstrated how each dish was prepared. With volunteers, the demonstration quickly turned into an interactive and lively dinner, where we learned how soy was incorporated into the dishes in very different ways. The 4-course meal consisted of:

Lemon Tofu Ricotta with Parmesan and Mint – The “ricotta” was actually Morinaga Silken Tofu (Firm) that was mashed with a regular potato masher, and sautéed with garlic, lemon zest, parmesan and mint. Served over a thin-crusted bread, don’t let the simple ingredients fool you–this tofu ricotta was packed with bold flavor and the just the right texture to recreate a “ricotta-like” mouthfeel.

Romaine Hearts with Creamy Soy Miso Vinaigrette — With the consistency of Caesar salad dressing, these romaine hearts were dressed in a vinaigrette contained no eggs or mayo, but tofu!

Miso Vinaigrette

Three Bean and Bell Pepper Chili with Chipotle Soy Sour Cream — As his cookbook suggests, Chef Berley chose to incorporate a bit of meat into this dish using 1/2 organic beef and 1/2 tofu. With the tofu thrown into the blender, it became a smooth consistency and acted somewhat like a thickener that helped the chili come together.

Three-Bean Chili

Maple Sweet Potato Tart with Ginger Soy Ice Cream — As you may have noticed, Chef Berley is quite the fan of substituting half of the main ingredient with half soy. But which component of the dessert was made with soy? If you guessed the less obvious—potato tart—then you are soy-ly right!

Sweet Potato Tart and Ginger Ice Cream

From start to end, the dinner was excellent. At the end of the event, we received a copy of the Chef’s book along with a backpack full of Solae goodies. Now after learning about several innovative ways to incorporate tofu in just about any food, perhaps it may inspire you to try new ingredients or use an old favorite in a new way. In fact, you can even get inspired by recipes from your very own copy of The Flexitarian Table–which we will be giving away to one lucky reader! Check out the entry details here.

Veggie Burgers: How They Stack Up

Are veggie burgers really meatless? Yes, it is exactly as the name suggests—no meat. Yet in the eyes of many meat lovers, comparing the taste and texture of veggie burgers just does not stack up to its meat counterpart. While some are made to mimic the taste, texture color and feel of meat burgers, veggie burgers aren’t just a meat substitute. Veggie burgers are available for those who may not like the taste of meat (but still want something hearty and healthy), have dietary restrictions, share different beliefs or simply just prefer the flavor and ingredients that make veggie burgers stand on its own.

Veggie Burgers

Gone are the days when veggie burgers were the lonesome, meatless option at a backyard barbecue. With the rise in vegetarianism and veganism in recent years, came an increase in consumer demand for more veggie burgers. In turn, the market for veggie burgers has also become widespread. They have successfully made their way on to fast-food menus like Burger King and McDonald’s and are even served by upscale restaurants.

For many vegetarians/vegans, people who are watching their intake of saturated fats or simply prefer the taste of it over a beef or turkey burger, veggie burgers can be a great option! However, if you have ever tried a veggie burger and are still eating veggie burgers today, odds are that you’ve probably tried many. There are dozens of varieties and flavors. Some are too dry or beany, too salty or contain fillers and tastes like cardboard. Then there are some that contain a long list of ingredients that you’ve never heard of before and probably can’t pronounce. On the other hand, there are those that contain less than 5 ingredients, contain wholesome ingredients like vegetables and grains like quinoa, which make it flavorful and savory. Let’s see how these meatless burgers stack up!

How These Veggie Burgers Stack Up

Veggie burgers can be quite delicious, and make for quick go-to lunches. But with so many options in the grocery aisles many are left to wonder, “Which brands are the best?” Not all patties are vegan or soy free. As some of the more familiar ones on the market are Amy’s Garden Burger, Boca, Morning Star, we thought we’d point out some of the ones that are lesser known and reason why we like them (in no particular order).

De Cantos

Vegan: Yes
Dairy, gluten and soy free
Fairly new to the market, these burgers deserve some spotlight.
Each burger contains 5 raw veggies and no fillers like wheat, gluten,
soy, dairy or added sugar. It is “meaty” in the sense that it is fulfilling,
but does not have a “meaty taste.” While the company delivers
locally in New Jersey, if you’re having trouble finding this product,
try looking at Whole Foods!

Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers

Vegan: Yes
Soy Free: No
Certified Kosher
Ingredients: Carrots, Onions, String Beans, Oat Bran, Soybeans,
Zucchini, Peas, Broccoli, Corn, Soy Flakes, Spinach, Expeller Pressed
Canola Oil, Red Peppers, Arrowroot, Corn Starch, Garlic, Corn Meal,
Salt, Parsley, Black PepperSome people prefer the taste and texture of “just vegetables” in their
veggie burgers. If that’s the case, then Dr. Praeger’s is just that. Only
downside is that it may be flimsy and may not hold up as well if you’re
throwing it in the microwave. To make sure the patty holds its shape,
it’s best prepared on a grill or flat pan.

Hilary’s Eat Well

Vegan: Yes
Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, yeast free, egg free,
and nut free.
Plus side: They’re packaged in biodegradable plastic pouches!
Ingredients: Water Millet Quinoa Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil
Spinach Onion Garlic Psyllium Husk Powder Arrowroot Sweet
Potato Real Salt Apple Cider Vinegar Sunflower Seed OilThis burger is packed with great spices and tastes close to a fresh
veggie burger. For those who are big on texture and don’t like to
be left wondering “Is this a veggie burger??” Well this one holds
its shape and has a balanced texture, not too chewy or soft.

 

Sunshine’s Organic Quarter Pound Original Veggie Burger

Vegan: Yes
Soy Free: No
Gluten free
Ingredients: Organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw
sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic spices, sea saltThis burger is rich, savory and packs a slightly nutty flavor. If you
are a fan of sunflower seeds, this is the burger for you.

Are Veggie Burgers Better for You?

When dining out, be mindful that the nutrition content of a veggie burger may vary depending on its cooking process. While the veggie patty itself may be a healthy option, as with ordering any burger at a restaurant, any fixin’s like cheese, condiments, or a side of fries alongside the bun can sometimes stack up in terms of calories and fats.

Our Favorite Veggie Burger

What’s our favorite veggie burger? Ideally, it is the one we can make ourselves!  While making veggie burgers from scratch can call for a bit of time and preparation, if you make them in big batches, you can simply freeze them and voila! You’ve got veggie burgers on the ready, made with your favorite vegetables and grains… ingredients that you yourself know and can pronounce! With a little research, you can find tons of recipes on the Internet. Or, if you want to start with an easy but homemade classic, try Portobello mushrooms. With light marinade, they can be hearty and mouthwatering.

If you haven’t found your “perfect veggie burger” and making one from scratch doesn’t sound very appetizing, don’t give up just yet! With a little patience and perhaps a lot of tastings, it’s possible to find a veggie burger that is more flavorful and delectable (if not more) as its counterpart!

A Desert Where Shopping Matters

From comparing grocery store prices to analyzing a product’s nutritional label, a weekend trip to the grocery store can turn into stressful and overwhelming task. Many of us want to eat healthier, but how can we shop for healthy foods while on a limited budget? Although price often plays a major role in influencing what we buy when we go food shopping, buying healthy foods doesn’t have to be expensive.

Many organizations are making an effort to tackle this nationwide issue by teaching nutrition education, but one organization’s unique efforts is City Harvest’s Shopping Matters, which takes place right in local grocery stores. And just like many other Americans, if money is what is keeping you from making healthy food purchases, I challenge you to think again. What if you could learn to stretch your budget, to buy and eat healthy foods? Read on to learn about the awesome efforts made by City Harvest, and the programs’ tips to get the most healthful bang for your buck.

What is Shopping Matters?

Shopping Matters is an initiative created by City Harvest in partnership with Share Our Strength. The two-hour grocery store tour is led by a qualified facilitator, who teaches the participants how to shop on a budget, read food labels, how to identify whole-grains and stretch your budget to create more than just one meal. After one hour, participants are presented with a $10 challenge to put what they’ve just learned into practice. Participants must follow specific guidelines, i.e. grain must be whole-grain bread or cereal, to buy at least one food from each food group totaling no more than $10. This part of the tour is particularly fun and exciting for the participants because it not only tests their knowledge but it offers motivation to try new foods like 2% milk rather than whole milk.

Another Kind of Desert

Can you imagine travelling 15 miles to buy a head of lettuce or some fresh fruit? Many of us are fortunate to be able to call Whole Foods or Trader Joes, our local market. With organic foods and fresh produce so readily available to us, it can be easy to forget that for many Americans, this is not the case. Imagine if the closest grocery store was too far to get to without transportation. An area where grocery stores are scarce or missing, this is called a food desert. Although there may be bodegas or take-out restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood, it would still be considered a food desert since many atimes only highly processed foods are offered. It is in these areas that poverty, obesity and health related diseases are at an all time high. City Harvest considers these factors and implements the Shopping Matters Tours in only specific neighborhoods. The tours currently take place in the following neighborhoods: 1) The South Bronx, 2) Stapleton, Staten Island 3). Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. By conducting the tours in the actual neighborhood markets like Key Foods, not only places the participants in a realistic environment, but makes the food culture relevant.

Build the Skills To Make Healthy Choices While On a Budget

A Shopping Matters Tour may not be taking place in your local market but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the tips City Harvest has to offer! Here’s the inside scoop on the skills you need to build to stretch your budget and make tasty, healthy meals for you and your family:

  • Buy Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables – Not only will your produce taste better, but during peak season fresh produce costs less.
  • Fresh, Frozen and Canned – People tend to think fresh produce is the “best” form. However, keep in mind that fresh produce often needs be used quickly and if not in season, can be expensive.  A more economical alternative is to buy frozen fruits and vegetables, which can cost less and is available year-round. If canned foods are on sale, they have a long shelf life and can be a good purchase. If opting to buy canned products, choose items without added sodium, low in fat, or 100% juice. If there is sodium in it, simply rinse off canned produce to reduce the sodium.  Surely every packaging has its pros and cons but by opening yourself up to fruits and vegetables in all their forms, in terms of prices, you’ll have more options to choose from.
  • Compare Prices – Use unit prices to find the best bang for your buck. The unit price shows ounce for ounce or pound by pound just how much you are paying for a particular item. For example, when comparing two bagged items of different sizes, it can help you identify just exactly which costs less.
  • Read Food Labels – Take a few seconds to check the serving size. If considering your family meals, this can be especially helpful in meal planning. Look at the calories, sodium and nutrients you will be getting from the product.
  • Read the Ingredients – Just because the bread is brown or says “multigrain” or even “100% wheat” doesn’t mean it is actually made with whole grain. Be a smart and saavy shopper and check for the first ingredient on the list. Some examples are: Whole wheat, bulgar, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice
  • Organic vs. Non-Organic – Some items need not be purchased organic. If you wish to purchase organic, check out this Dirty Dozen list for a better understanding of what items are better off organic and which ones you can do without. If cost is a factor however, getting your fruits and vegetables should be at the top of the list, even if its not organic.
  • Cut coupons and checkout weekly specials

Hemp Hearts for A Heart Healthy Diet

Written by Laura Iu, Nutrition Student and Assistant to Laura Cipullo

Flax seed and chia seed may have found its competitor. It seems like everywhere you look, there is a new seed-based product hitting the market shelves. So what’s the latest seed craze? Hemp seeds. (No, it’s not what you’re probably thinking!) Although hemp seed belongs to the same family as it illegal cousin, Marijuana, hemp seed is the “food” part of the plant and not the “drug” part that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There is a big difference in the level of THC found in marijuana (3-15%) and in hemp seed (0-0.3%).  Hemp producers are certified to have less than 0.3% THC levels and many guarantee there is 0%. As a food very similar to flax seed, hemp seed is one of the most healthful and nutritious foods one can eat. Yet despite hemp seed gaining popularity and making its way in bars, cereals, milks and even ice creams, many skeptics still raise an eyebrow to this superfood. Read on to find out what these seeds are, their nutritional value and how they can contribute to a heart healthy meal structure!

Hulled Hemp Seeds Vs. Whole Hemp Seeds

Hulled hemp seed, hemp seed, hemp hearts, and hemp nuts—one can surely go nuts keeping track of this food’s many nicknames!  Although sometimes called a “hemp nut,” hemp seed is not actually a nut.  To better explain the anatomy of a hemp seed, it is very similar to that of a sunflower seed. “Hulled hemp seed” refers to the whole seed removed from its hard outer shell, while “hemp seed” simply refers to the seed and its shell. Although the hard exterior is edible and contains a lot of fiber but can be difficult to eat, when you purchase “hemp seeds” typically the seed is already removed from the outer husk.

What are the nutritional benefits?

For thousands of years, hemp fibers have been used to create clothing, paper, rope and canvas. But aside from manufacturing textiles, there are far more uses for these hemp seeds than just growing more hemp plants! They also provide a wide range of heart healthy benefits.

There are very few complete protein sources that are plant-based. Like chia seeds though, hemp seed is one of the very few plant based complete dietary proteins.  It contains all of the essential fatty acids in the form of Linoleic and Alpha-Linoleic Acid, and a complete source of essential amino acids. A few weeks ago, we discussed how important it is to maintain a healthy, balanced ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Recall, maintaining a balanced ratio of fatty acids can have a positive effect on the body. While our bodies need more Omega-6’s than Omega-3’s, a good balance means keeping an overall 1:3, Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio. Hemp seed, having a favorable ratio, can provide cardiovascular health benefits, help control inflammation and lower blood pressure. For those whose ratios are a bit off, hemp seed isn’t the immediate answer to flipping your ratio around, but it is a good start to balancing it out again.

For those who follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, this seed is an ideal source of protein. High in fiber and a gluten-free protein, this seed is easily digestible.

How to Eat Them?

Just like any other seed, hemp seeds can be eaten raw, added to baked goods, strewn in tea, grounded or made into hemp milk.  Toss them on salads, sprinkle them on yogurts and smoothies or enjoy them straight from the bag.

Perhaps the most popular hemp-based product on the market is hemp milk. But for those whose palates just don’t align with its nutty flavor and still want to reap the health benefits of hemp seed, these sources are worth trying:

  • Flour
  • Cereals
  • Tofu
  • Nut butters
  • Protein powder
  • Ice creams 
  • Oil

 

How to Grow a Pest-Free Organic Garden

.

As grocery store produce prices continue to soar, more and more people are looking elsewhere to get pricey organic produce. One way of doing this is by growing your own organic garden. However without proper preparation you can end up spending ample amounts of time and money battling bugs and pests that want your produce just as much as you do. The problem? They can be very efficient at getting what they want. The solution? Planting the right plants to keep your garden as pest free as possible. When you start your organic garden keep these things in mind:

 

 

  1. Plant basil and oregano: Both of these plants have very heavy, potent scents that repel garden pests, making them the perfect addition to an organic vegetable garden. They also are both found frequently in recipes and are usually expensive to buy in small quantities at the store, so having them in your garden will help it remain pest free and will help your wallet from taking a heavy hit in the herb section of the grocery store.
  2. Plant marigolds: If you plan on planting fruit in your garden then beware that flies will flock to the fruit plants and destroy them. Unless, of course, you decide to arm your fruit plants with their own weapons, which can be found in the form of adding marigolds around the plants. These bright flowers will help keep the flies away and add a nice pop of color to your garden.
  3. Plant rue: To keep worms and other leaf-chewing pests at bay plant rue in your garden. Rue is a type of subshrub that is well known for its robust scent, feathery leaves, and yellow flowers. Without proper repellants, leaf-chewing pests can wreak havoc on gardens.
  4. Plant onions and garlic: When planting your vegetable garden consider adding onions and garlic into the rotation as well. Bugs aren’t keen on their powerful scents, and will stay away from these types of plants, keeping your other vegetables safe as well.
  5. Plant citronella:Mosquitos may not eat your plants, but they will eat you as you work out in your garden. If spraying yourself down with bug spray every few hours or lighting citronella candles throughout the day doesn’t seem feasible then plant citronella in your garden to naturally repel mosquitos.

    .

Growing your own organic garden will help save you tons of money at the grocery store each week if you are able to actually produce the fruits and vegetables without them getting eaten by pesky bugs, caterpillars, snails, and other garden pests first. To counteract them, however, you don’t need harmful chemicals and sprays; you just need to plant the right types of plants in between and around your produce. Use this list as a guide for arming your garden with natural defenses.

Author Bio

Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to hire a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.

Low Cost, Effortless Lunches

Healthy and Effortless Pack Ups

By Carlo Pandian, Guest Blogger

I’m not sure how Japanese mothers find time to create the mini-masterpieces for their children called Bento. To us that means packed lunch – but the Japanese take the cultural tradition of ‘presentation’ to the extreme with these works of art. Shaped to resemble teddy bears, pandas or cartoon characters kid’s packed lunches in Japan not only manage to look incredible but they’re even full of all kinds of foods to fuel healthy, energetic kids. I could probably knock together a Telly-Tubby mashed potato sculpture if I was pressed, but this level of dedication is beyond me, especially at half six in the morning! In my case, I’m afraid that quality, not presentation, is difficult enough to achieve on a daily basis. For those of you who sympathize, here are three packed lunch ideas to turn the kids away from crisps and chocolate. These are focused on three essential ingredients for mums; cost, effort and vegetarian/healthy options.

Vegetarian, Low Cost and Low Effort Ingredients

A vegetarian packed lunch is a good idea to include in your weekly pack-ups even if you and the kids are not full-time vegetarians. With health warnings about the risks of too much red meat in our diets ringing in our already overloaded brains, it makes sense to include a vegetarian choice now and then. It also adds variety to the menu – which is half the battle.

• Hummus is great source of protein and energy and can be added to wholesome pita bread with green salads. Tasty and slightly messy this should appeal. Add chunks of cucumber for additional sources of five a day. A fruit Fromage Frais can be included for dessert along with grapes and a milk.
Cost is on everybody’s mind at the moment and pack ups are the original money saving lunch idea, which have been common for centuries. Low cost doesn’t mean unhealthy. The following are useful ideas:

• Toasted sandwiches fall into the low cost options. Tuna with canola oil mayo or low fat cheeses are excellent fillings. The toasted effect keeps the bread from getting too mushy for our picky kids. Whole grain pasta is another great, low cost buy to keep handy. Beans or vegetables can be added to make a tempting pasta salad and this can be prepared and packed in advance.

As mentioned, half six in the morning is not a good time to design and implement a food sculpture. Half six in the morning is the time for battling with the cat over the familiar issue of her food and your coffee. For those with several kids to coax downstairs as well, effortless pack ups are a godsend.

• Pita breads are an excellent pocket lunch and unlike bread they don’t need cutting! I use them a lot. Fillings can include bean salads, or egg salads and green salads. Teach your kids to love dried fruit like apricots, at an early age and brook no resistance; they’re healthy and preparation is limited to taking them out of the packet. String cheeses are just as easy and a great source of protein and calcium.

These of course are just a few ideas, but some of the ingredients, particularly pita bread and pasta are fantastic basics for a range of easy lunches. Your imagination is the only limit. Keeping packed lunches varied can be a chore of a task, but using staples as mentioned above and varying the ingredients daily can help to break away from the boredom of meat based sandwiches! Keeping kids interested is, as we all know, more than half the battle.

 

Author

Carlo is a freelance writer and blogs about food, culture and technology covering everything from grocery shopping to contemporary art. He loves gardening and can’t stay a week without his fruit boxes and Italian wine. Carlo loves to eat with his niece, Clotide.

Recipe of the Week: Fast Fajitas

This fajita recipe is one of my favorite recipes to make a quick, healthy, and well-balanced dinner.

Fast Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas via survivalcommonsense.com

 

Fast Fajitas
1 tbspn canola oil
3 scallions sliced along their width
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed
3/4 lb. thawed thin cut chicken breasts – sliced
1 cup frozen unsalted corn
1 bag frozen mixed peppers
6 whole grain tortillas (~ weight ~59 grams/wrap, 30 grams carb and 4 grams/fiber)
½ cup sour cream (dairy or non dairy)
1 cup salsa (bean salsa or a tomato salsa)
Makes 6 fajitas – 2 adults and 2 kids

  1. Heat 1 tbspn canola oil over low heat. Add scallions. When scallions are tender can add the chicken slices. When the chicken is slightly pink in the center, add the frozen corn, peppers and garlic. Sauté until the veggies are cooked and warm.
  2. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds or over the sauté pan.
  3. Spread 1 tbspn sour cream down the center of each tortilla. Then spread 1 -2 tbspn of salsa over the sour cream. Then spoon the chicken pepper combo down the center of the tortilla. Roll and serve while hot.

Laura’s Favorite Tools: Williams Sonoma All Clad 12-18” sauté pan and Pampered Chef Garlic press

Spring Pickings

Celebrate Spring with Fresh Fruits and Veggies!


CSA Box
New fruits and vegetables are coming into season. Eating local and seasonal allows you to get the freshest and most nutrient dense produce. Visit your local famer’s market to see what looks bright and crisp. Many farms offer one day opportunities to pick your produce for fun. NJ/NY residents can even pick their own produce at farms like the New WIndsor Farm in NJ. If you don’t want to pick your veggies, you can find out what is in season by searching online.  NY/NJ friends can learn more here. To truly get back to wholesome basics, start your own garden or consider joining a Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) Farm. CSA Farms are great for city dwellers with busy schedules and minimal planting space. CSA’s are located throughout Manhattan or deliver your seasonal produce weekly to your door. You can find out more about CSA’s in the Metropolitan area here and here.

What’s in season for Spring in New York?

Early Spring Fennel, Garden Peas, Parsnips, Snow Peas,Turnips

Mid Spring Asparagus, Lettuce, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach

Late Spring Apricots, Broccoli, Cabbage, Strawberries, Summer Squash

Here’s a nutritious kid-friendly recipe using one of my favorite Spring fruits: Whole Wheat Strawberry Pancakes

Strawberry Whole Wheat Pancakes via TasteSpotting/Adventures in Cooking
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup diced strawberries
(Serves 2)
Directions: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the oil and milk, whisking until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. Fold in the strawberries. Heat frying pan over medium-low heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and cook until there are bubbles on the surface and the edges start to firm up, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is nicely browned, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with a glass of low-fat milk and extra strawberries for a delicious breakfast the whole family can enjoy! 
Recipe adapted from Savvy Eat