As May comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of this being National Salad Month. As the whether heats up, it’s normal to want to cool down with your food choices. Salads offer a nutrient-packed way to cool down while helping you pack in your daily fiber and vitamin needs. One of the reasons I love salads so much is that they offer constant variety. By changing the vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and protein options you incorporate, you can have an entirely new meal option each and every day.
All salads are not created equal, however. Some restaurant salads can pack in a full days worth of calories and sodium if you aren’t careful! Additives such as crunchy salad noodles, creamy dressings, cheese, and sugar coated nuts and fruit can drive the calorie content of your salad up while reducing the nutritional content. To gain all of the benefits of salads without unnecessary amounts of added sodium, sugar, or saturated fats, follow a few simple tips:
Top Tips for a Nutritious Salad
- Make the focus of your salad vegetables and fruits
- Choose to have your dressing on the side to control your portions
- Select a plant-based oil for your dressing, such as vinegar and olive oil, over a creamy variety
- Watch your toppings! Crunchy noodles, cheese, and candied nuts can add large amounts of calories, sugar, and fat. Opt instead of dry roasted nuts, seeds, and no-sugar-added dried fruit for a crunchy topping.
- Add protein. A veggie only salad will leave you hungry after a short period of time. By incorporating a protein choice such as grilled chicken or fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, or edamame, you can ensure you salad will keep you full for hours to come
Salads can include a variety of ingredients such as meat, nuts, vegetables and fruit and can be served as a lunch/dinner snack. Eating a salad is a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet while also enjoying some of your favorite foods in one bowl. It can also increase your vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein intake as well as satisfying your appetite with a light and flavorful meal. So in honor of National Salad month, here’s three salad recipes that are simple, delicious and packed full of nutrients!
Strawberry Feta Salad
- 12-ounce package of Spring Mix (or your favorite leafy greens)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
- 2-ounces crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- Wash spring mix and place in large bowl.
- Add strawberries, dried cranberries and walnuts. Mix well.
- Sprinkle feta cheese and dressing over salad and toss until evenly coated. Serve and enjoy!
Tropical Fruit Salad
- 1 cup pineapple, diced
- 1 medium apple, diced
- 1 papaya, seeds and scooped
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- shredded coconut
- Cut fruit ingredients into bite sized pieces.
- Add cut fruit to large bowl and pour honey and shredded coconut on top.
- Mix well and enjoy!
Grape, Celery and Walnut Salad
- 2 cups seedless red grapes
- 3 celery stalks, washed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt
- In large mixing bowl combine red grapes, sliced celery, walnuts and yogurt. Mix until grapes and celery are evenly coated with yogurt. Add walnuts to the mix and stir until evenly coated or enjoy walnuts on top of salad.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to meal planning. From the moment you learned of your diagnosis, friends, family members, and even healthcare professionals have probably been telling you what foods to avoid. But with all those restrictions in place, you may be left wondering what, if anything, you can actually eat. Well, as a diabetes educator and registered dietitian that has been working with individuals in this same situation for over a decade, I have a secret to share with you. You can actually eat anything with diabetes! That’s right- there’s really no such thing as ‘off-limit’ foods. You just have to know how to eat them!
There’s a secret weapon I use for meal planning that almost instantly insures blood sugar will stay balanced after a meal. What is it? A bento box! A compartmentalized lunch box, such as a Yumbox lunchbox, makes the ideal tool when it managing carbohydrate servings, overall portions, and balance. Research has found that when individuals were educated on the portion size for various foods over the course of a few weeks, these same individuals were more likely to be able to successfully replicate correct portions on their own than those who did not receive any guidance. A bento box serves as a portion control tool, allowing you to visually see the appropriate serving size of each food you add into your lunchbox. When you see these servings size repeatedly over time you become quite familiar with what is and is not an appropriate serving size. This skill then translates into improved portion control at all meals, whether you are eating out in a restaurant or at the office from your lunchbox, which can help you to stay within your daily calorie goals promoting a healthy body weight.
A bento box not only helps you to better understand portion control, but it also is a great tool to help promote a balanced meal. With diabetes, having too many carbohydrates at one sitting can lead to unhealthy increases in blood sugar levels. With a standard food contain that is not compartmentalized, it’s easy to pack a few cups of leftover pasta for lunch without much thought. However, having this much pasta at one sitting is a surefire way to spike your blood sugar. Instead, a bento box, with it’s varying compartments, allows you to fill one portion-controlled slot with pasta, leaving room to add in lean protein and non-starchy vegetables in the remaining slots. This balance helps you to consume a satisfying meal without exceeding your per-meal carbohydrate goals.
The key to long-term success with diabetes is education. Increasing your nutrition knowledge and understanding the impact individual foods have on blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to manage diabetes and prevent complications. This is one of the main reasons why I love to recommend Yumbox lunchboxes to my clients with diabetes. Not only are these lunchboxes compartmentalized, but they go one step further. They offer food trays with 4 or 6 compartments that include fun graphics and texts, instructing you on how to fill each compartment, helping to promote a balanced meal that is not excessive in carbohydrates. There’s even a small slot for ‘treats,’ which is the perfect way to incorporate those ‘off-limits’ foods in small portions to satisfy cravings without sacrificing your health. These lunch boxes make fun learning tools for the whole family. For children with diabetes, they can gain independence in selecting their own meal choices while adults will enjoy the visual reminder to incorporate a variety of food groups into each meal.
If you are looking for a simple and fun way to effectively manage blood sugar levels and body weight, a bento box is a must-have essential. Learn to eat what you love without the guilt while still meeting your blood sugar goals – it’s as easy as packing your lunchbox!
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Yumbox. All opinions are my own.
Food battles can often been a source of great stress for parents, especially if you have a picky eater on your hands. It may seem like your child lives on just one or two food choices. You may worry that your child will never grow with such minimalistic eating habits. But before you stress too much, know that picky eating behaviors can be overcome. Even the pickiest child will eventually come around to sampling new tastes and textures with a little creativity and patience. Before long, you may find your picky eater actually looks forward to trying new foods- imagine that!
Research suggests that it can take as many as fifteen to twenty exposures to a food before a child is willing to accept it. And ‘acceptance’ can have a broad meaning. A food may be ‘accepted’ by a child if they allow it to be placed on their plate, if they touch it, or if they take a small bite. That means your child may need to be exposed to a carrot 15-20 times before they even allow a small portion to share space on their plate. Although this can sound tedious, an exposure can be as simple as your child seeing you enjoy the food.
Being a role model of varied eating is one of the best ways to help your child overcome picky habits. Allow your child to see you eating the foods you hope they will eat, have the food available during meals, and place a small portion on your child’s plate if they allow it. But remember not to stress over the food or even call attention to it. If your child eats it, that’s great. If they don’t touch it, that’s okay as well. It still counts as exposure. Fighting with your child to eat a new food or bribing them to eat it can be stressful for a child. If your child starts to associate stress with new foods, they may become more resistance to eating a variety of foods- which is exactly what you are trying to avoid!
Get them in on the action
Some studies suggest that when children are involved in the food preparation process, they are more willing to consume the food. Depending on the age of your child, you can involve them in food selection and preparation in a number of ways. Start by taking your child with you to the store and allow him to select a new food to try. Or you could even flip through a cookbook and let your children select a recipe they would like to sample. Older children can help in the kitchen a well. Let them try their hand at washing and chopping produce, assembling ingredients, and assisting in the actual meal preparation when appropriate. You can take it one step further and start a garden where your children can watch their fruit and vegetable selections grown right before their own eyes. However you chose to do it, the more involved your child can be in the food selection and preparation, the more likely she will be to actually eat it.
Keep it fun
Trying new foods and eating a well balanced diet shouldn’t be stressful. The more fun you make it, the more willing your child will be to try it. One easy way to make meal preparation fun is to give your child his own colorful compartmentalized lunchbox, such as a Yumbox lunchbox. There’s something magical about opening a brightly colored box and discovering what’s inside. This is how your child will feel every time he sits down to a meal with his own special lunchbox. Opening it up to discover a box filled with his favorite foods, and a small sampling of new foods scattered within, can be a simple way to get him excited to eat.
One of the easiest ways to get your child to accept a new food is to make sure it is combined with familiar favorites. Fill the majority of the compartments in your child’s Yumbox lunchbox with foods you know they will eat and enjoy. Then, offer just one new food in small compartment. And remember, when it comes to kids, presentation is everything. The more appealing, colorful, and fun a new food looks, the more apt they are to give it a try. Get creative with your child’s meals by using food stamps on sandwich bread, placing foods in fun-shaped silicon cups, or trying your had at simple food art creations. With the compartmentalized Yumbox lunchboxes, the lunch creation options are endless. You can even allow your child to help fill his own lunchbox for an even greater chance of acceptance and variety at mealtime.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Yumbox. All opinions are my own.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, its time to show our children just how important it is to love your own heart. February is American Heart Month, which makes it the perfect time to raise awareness of heart health for your entire family. With heart disease being the number one killer of both men and women in the US, and child obesity rates on the rise, every member of the household from toddler to elder can benefit from adding heart healthy nutrients into their meal plan.
Boosting the heart health benefits of meals doesn’t have to be boring or cause those much dreaded food battles. With a few easy tricks, you can have your children excited about their meals, willing to try new food, and most importantly eating a nutritious, heart healthy diet and enjoying it!
#1 Make Fruits & Vegetables Fun
The research is clear. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to be protective to the heart by helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels while promoting a healthy body weight. But as any parent with a picky eater is aware, just telling your child to eat their veggies does not always work. So how can you get your little ones to start gobbling up their greens without a fight? Make it fun!
The more creative you can be with your little one’s food, the more likely they will be to try it. Try cutting fruit and vegetables into fun shapes, calling them fun names such as broccoli ‘trees’ or carrot stick ‘swords,’ and allowing your child to take a stab at creating food art will have them begging to eat produce. A simple activity of arranging fruits and vegetables into funny faces can increase your child’s exposure to new foods, which over time has been shown to increase acceptance and intake. And you don’t have to be an artist to make food art fun. Just be creative, silly, and have fun with it. Your kids, and your whole family, will love it. Who wouldn’t want to eat food that looks this fun?
#2 Say No to Fat Free
If you were under the impression that all dietary fats are damaging to the heart, think again! Plant based fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been found to provide multiple health benefits such as improving cholesterol levels, decreasing inflammation, and even promoting a healthy body weight. Incorporating a good source of these nutritious fats daily may aid in nutrient absorption while promoting heart health. Great sources include nuts, seeds, avocado, hummus, and plant-based oils such as olive oil.
To help your children incorporate more healthy fats into their meal plan, aim to add a healthy fat source to every meal and snack. Try topping cereal or yogurt with chopped walnuts, snacking on a handful of almonds, or using hummus or guacamole as a dip. Cooking in plant-based oils such as olive or avocado oil can be another great way to add these healthy fats into your family’s diet.
#3 Hello Whole Grains
Grains are a staple in many meals and snacks and include foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and pretzels. Although most of us eat plenty of grains, we aren’t always choosing whole grains. On average, most people consume just one serving of whole grains per day. That means that the majority of grains we are ingesting are the refined, rapidly digested forms, which can have a negative impact on overall health. Whole grains on the other hand can promote a healthy heart. These nutrient-dense foods are packed full of soluble fiber, a form of fiber that has been found to decrease unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.
If you worry that your child will never become a whole wheat bread covert, there’s no need to be concerned. Whole grains don’t just have to be just whole wheat. One hundred percent whole grains include options such as rye bread, brown rice, quinoa, and even popcorn (and what kid doesn’t love popcorn?!). Try introducing your child to a variety of whole grain options to find out what they love. You can even use whole grain flours, such as oat flour, to create family favorites such as pancakes and muffins.
#4 Embracing Balance
Teaching your child the important of balancing a variety of food groups at each meal is a fantastic way to get them started on the path to good health. Research has shown that visual cues are one of the best ways to educate portion size and meal planning. Using a compartmentalized lunchbox such as Yumbox, you can help illustrate what a balanced meal looks like to your child. The individualized compartments with graphics and text help to make meal planning fun and educational. Younger children can use the visual images to help them identify food groups, while older children can begin to understand the basics of meal planning and portion control. Providing a balanced meal rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy, and healthy fats at each meal is the perfect combination for a healthy heart. Using a tool like Yumbox can help to take the stress out of meal planning and transform heart healthy eating into a fun activity the entire family can join in on together.
Disclosure: This blog post has been sponsored by Yumbox Lunchboxes. All opinions are my own.