If you are a parent, most likely you want what’s best for your child. You probably do everything from ensure your child’s car seat is secured correctly to making sure they brush their teeth twice a day. So what if there was one family activity that you could do that would make your child 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12% less likely to be overweight? The good news is that such an activity does exist. By simply eating dinner together as a family you can offer all of these amazing benefits to your child!
That sounds so simple, right? Just sit down to a dinner together and your family will be healthier for it. But family dinners aren’t always as easy as they sound. I’m a working parent myself so believe me, I understand the struggle. Between juggling work commitments, evening activities, childcare schedules, and grocery shopping, it can be hard to find even ten minutes to prepare a family meal. As a dietitian, I am always on the lookout for healthy foods and products that can help me save time in the kitchen while providing a nutritious meal to my family. That’s why I was beyond excited to find the delicious line of wraps from Flatout. They are essentially a blank canvas in which you can create a large variety of healthful meals quickly and easily. And the meals you can create are so simple you can even let your children get in on the action!
When I plan out a family dinner, there are four essential components it must have to ensure it is a well-balanced, nutrient rich meal:
The Four Components of a Healthy Dinner
Adequate dietary protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Proteins serve many critical roles in the body. For instance, they act as the building blocks to muscle tissue and also help to regulate appetite and stabilize blood sugar levels. But high fat animal proteins, such as sausage and bologna, are rich in saturated fats, which may have a negative impact on overall health. Although a good source of protein should always be provided at dinner, you should try to have it come from either a plant based source or a lean animal source. Options such as fish, chicken breast, eggs, beans, and lentils are all great sources.
Grains provide a significant source of energy to our body, but you need to take care when selecting grains that you are choosing 100% whole grain options. Refined grains contain little fiber and often have nutrients removed (although they are sometimes added back later on). Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat wraps, are rich in filling fiber along with B vitamins such as folic acid, helping to promote overall health and steady levels of energy.
It’s no secret that eating enough produce is an important component to overall health, but the majority of us just don’t get enough. The most recent research from National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance shows the majority of adults and children in the US fail to reach the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables. One of the easiest ways to boost your overall intake is to make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable at every meal and snack. And dinner is no exception! Whether you mix in diced tomatoes with your pasta, add stir-fried vegetables to your rice, or enjoy a side salad with your meal, just make sure you add them in at each and every meal!
Fat often gets a bad rap, but plant-based fats offer many health benefits such as increasing your ability to absorb certain nutrients to decreasing inflammation and boosting heart health. Adding a good source of healthy fat into your dinner meal is a great way to ensure you get enough each day. Healthy fats are found in plant-based oils such as olive oil as well as in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives. You can top a salad with chopped walnuts, cook up your vegetables in olive oil, or toss a handful of sesame seeds into a stir-fry. There’s so many ways you can add in healthy fats to your family’s meal when you get creative!
If you follow the above list, in just four easy steps, you can provide your family with a well-balanced, nutritious meal. But if you are looking at these steps and thinking that you do not have the time to whip up a meal with all of these components, think again. You can pull together a delicious and healthy meal in minutes. To show you how simple it can be, I created this easy Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Chicken Vegetable Wrap recipe. It’s literarily a set it and forget it sort of a meal that almost cooks itself. All you have to do is toss the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning. When you come home at the end of the day, just quickly shred the chicken (which takes almost no time at all thanks to the slow cooker), wrap it up in a Flatout, and serve. It’s that easy!
Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Chicken Vegetable Wrap
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup red pepper, sliced
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 Tbs walnuts, chopped
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 ½ cup strawberries, sliced
6- Flatout ProteinUp wraps
non-stick cooking spray
- Spray the bottom of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray and evenly space chicken breasts out on the bottom.
- Pour vinegar, honey, garlic, and cornstarch over top of chicken.
- Add in the red onion and pepper, cover, and set to high for 4 hours (or place on a low setting to cook for 6-8 hours).
- After chicken has been thoroughly cooked, use a fork to shred evenly.
- On a large plate, spread ½ cup of spinach leaves evenly over the Flatout ProteinUp wrap. Top with 1 ½ tablespoons of feta cheese and 1 tablespoon of walnuts.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup sliced strawberries over top of spinach. Then top with the shredded chicken and vegetable mixture.
- Roll into a wrap and repeat with the remaining wraps.
- Serve warm.
- Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Carbohydrates 27 grams
Fiber 20 grams
Protein 33 grams
Fat 10 grams
 Fiese, B. & Hammons, A. (2011). Is frequency of shared family meals related to the
nutritional health of children and adolescents? Journal of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, 127, 1565-1574.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Flatout Flatbread. All opinions are my own.
If you set a resolution to lose weight this New Year and are finding your motivation and results are not what you had expected, you are not alone. One in every three individuals who sets a resolution ditches their vows by the end of January. I see this struggle with clients in my practice year after year. The desire to lose weight is there, but boredom with food choices, hunger, or lack of planning derails the effort. Here’s the thing, weight loss doesn’t need to be complicated or something that you have to focus on every minute of every day. In fact, it can be simple if you have the right tools. Sometimes, it’s as simple as just using the right lunchbox to get the pounds falling off and staying off. To help you stay on track with your weight loss goals year round, I created a list of my top three ways the right lunchbox can help you to lose weight and keep it off.
#1 Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
This quote holds through for many things in life, including weight loss. If you don’t plan ahead to have the right food on hand or to know what you will be eating and when, you will most likely have little success with dropping the pounds. Failing to plan ahead can result in excessive hunger, eating on the run, or being at the mercy of choosing whatever food is available to you whenever hunger strikes. To prevent this from sabotaging your efforts, start getting in the habit of planning your meals in advance. One easy way to do this is to pack a lunch at night for the next day. One suggestion would be a compartmentalized lunchbox like Yumbox. The leakproof bento box is perfect for taking on the go no matter where your day brings you. And when you have your meal ready to go in your Yumbox, there won’t be any guesswork needed on what to eat when hunger comes calling.
#2 Select Hunger Fighting Foods
Sure, you can lose weight simply by cutting calories, but not all calories are created equal. Some calories can help to satisfy hunger while others may actually stimulate appetite! In order to be successful with any weight loss plan, you need to prevent excessive hunger. Fueling your body with foods that keep you full for hours is key to weight loss success. Foods rich in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy plant-based fats are among some of the most slowly digested, satisfying options. Balancing out each and every meal to include a combination of these food groups can help you to stay within your calorie goals without hunger or cravings. Using a Yumbox lunchbox, you can easily balance meals using the portion-controlled compartments to help you incorporate a variety of nutrients that will help you feeling full and satisfied.
#3 Don’t Deprive Yourself
Deprivation is a sure way to trigger cravings. Cutting out everything you love from your diet will not help you to lose weight faster and may even sabotage your efforts. Instead, treat yourself, but just make sure to do so in a portion controlled way. One of the reasons I love recommending Yumbox lunchboxes to my clients is the portion controlled compartment including the small, circular slot. You can use this section for dips or dressings, but it also makes a great way to add in a favorite treat to any meal without overdoing it. Adding an ounce of dark chocolate chips or another sweet treat can help you indulge your cravings while still staying on track with your calorie and weight loss goals.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Yumbox. All opinions are my own.
Cake pops are a popular trend in the foodie world today, but what about sticky bun pops?! In celebration of National Sticky Bun Day, this mini sticky bun recipe will satisfy your sweet tooth and incorporate the importance of portion control. Everyone should be able to enjoy his or her favorite foods as long as everything is in moderation! These mini sticky bun pops are fun, creative and delicious! They are great party favors and fabulous décor. Enjoy these little desserts and celebrate National Sticky Bun Day in a fun, sticky bun way!
Mini Sticky Bun Pops
Yield: 16 servings
• 1 (12-ounce) Original Pillsbury Crescent Roll can
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
• ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.
3. On a flat surface, separate and lay out crescent rolls. Sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture and finely chopped walnuts.
4. Roll crescent rolls from small end in. Cut in half.
5. In a greased mini muffin pan, place halves face up (with swirl side up). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until brown.
6. While sticky buns are baking, prepare icing. In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and orange juice. Mix well.
7. Remove sticky buns from oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes. Top with icing. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Stick with a bamboo stick and enjoy your mini sticky bun pop.
Per Mini Sticky Bun: 104 calories, 18 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g protein, 106 mg sodium, 11 g sugar
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but instead of gifting your Valentine with an expensive store bought treat packed full of added sugar and unhealthy ingredients, why not make them something they will really love? This simple treat is so easy to make even my 2 year old can do it (really! he loves to ‘cook’ this with me). It only takes minutes to prepare and it looks so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it! It doesn’t get much easier than a recipe that uses just two ingredients! You can’t mess it up. And it tastes so good you won’t even realize it’s packed full of antioxidants.
Guiltless Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bark
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (70% cacao or higher)
- ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries
Melt dark chocolate and spread evenly onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. **My easy tip for melting chocolate: Add the chocolate into a plastic zip-lock bag and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Rotate and heat for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all of the chocolate is melted. Then, cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag and squeeze the chocolate out onto the parchment paper.
Next, sprinkle the freeze dried raspberries evenly over top. Allow tray to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours until dark hardens. Break into pieces and serve. This treat is best enjoyed within 1-2 days as humidity can cause the freeze dried fruit to soften over time (it still tastes great, but the texture will be less crispy)
Makes 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
52 Calories, 7 grams Carbs, 0 grams Protein, 3 grams Fat