Jul 07

9 Foods You Shouldn’t Buy When You’re on a BUDGET (how many are in your fridge now?)

When shopping on a budget there are some foods that should be avoided for certain!  Living on a budget always has some give and take, but there are some things that should be more give and less take.  We talk a bit about fun food hacks here.

TV Dinners

These foods are usually high in fat and sodium and expensive.  Feed your family a balanced home cooked meal with rice, chicken, and a vegetable in season and you will save money and provide a healthier meal.

Soda

Soda has little to no nutritional value.  The calories, since in the liquid, form don’t tend to make us feel full.  This then leads us to consume more calories than we need.  It is unnecessary and has negative effect on our health.  Trust me I know it is tasty, but what else do I need to say.

Individually wrapped snack foods

It is much cheaper to buy one large bag of pretzels and bag ourselves then to buy the individually packaged snack food.  Take the time to portion snack foods out yourself and it will definitely help you to shave that grocery spending.

Brand named products

Generic versions of food are often made at the same plant and of the exact same quality as the name brands.  Slight variations in flavor may occur one product to another, but in general generic is a good tasty option.  This is a great money saver.  I make a few exceptions to this rule.  If the generic form is particularly higher in salt, fat, or any other nutrient you are trying to reduce then choose the least expensive product that meets your nutritional demands.

Candy bar

These incredibly tempting treats are impulse buys placed in the checkout line to tempt us into an unnecessary purchase.  They are high in fat and sugar and will not help with weight maintenance.  Impulse buys teach our children to make impulse decisions.  Impulse decisions don’t tend to be what’s best for us in the long run.

Gluten-Free

Unless you have an actual allergy to gluten, gluten free products are unnecessary.  They do not provide any nutritional advantage, and they usually cost more than their gluten-containing counterparts.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat.  It is strong and flexible and allows bread to maintain its integrity while it rises.  This is why breads made with wheat flower are soft and rise well.

Organic produce

Thoroughly washing produce will remove pesticides used during farming.  Produce with a peel that will be removed can be safely eaten.  Produce with small pores like berries may be best organic since it is difficult to clean thoroughly.  Always buy fruit in season to get the best prices.

Gourmet Pet food

If you can’t afford gourmet for you, you certainly shouldn’t be spending extra on a beloved pet.  They may deserve the world in your eyes, but your budget applies to your pets as well as you.  Find a product they will suitably eat that will meet their nutrition needs.  Don’t break the bank in the process.

Prime Rib

There are less expensive and lower fat ways to get protein in your diet.    Steak should not be a staple, but a special occasion.  Prime rib is a particularly expensive cut of meat.  Try a variety of fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and lean cuts of beef.

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Jul 01

4 Tips For a Healthy 4th of July

I couldn’t tell you where the traditions came from, but each year for the 4th of July I find myself watching fireworks and enjoying a BBQ.  A lot of our typical BBQ foods aren’t the healthiest choices, but I have some suggestions that will help you have a healthy 4th of July this year.

  1.  Make a smart meat selection.  The main entre of a BBQ is, of course, the meat.  Choose leaner cuts of meat for an all around healthier meal.  Fish, chicken or turkey breast, lean cuts of beef (less marbling), low fat burgers or hot dogs.
  2. Enjoy some fruit.  So many fruits are on sale and in season this time of year.  Enjoy some fresh watermelon, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries all at least half the price then they are the rest of the year.  Fruit is high in nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and low in calories.  Add more fruit to your BBQ by including a fruit platter with a low fat fruit dip or grilling up some pineapple while cooking your meat.
  3. Veggie time.  Vegetables are high in nutrients like fruit, but lower in calories and sugar.  You can’t go wrong with a great vegetable platter with dip.  Grill up kabobs with steak or chicken and throw on fruit and vegetables: mango, kiwi, pineapple, apple, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, bell pepper, shallots, or anything that sounds good to you.  Grill up some zucchini cut lengthwise and top with garlic powder and mozzarella cheese once cooked.
  4. Have fun enjoying the games, activities, or conversation at your BBQ and don’t fixate on the food.  A lot of social activities seems to revolve around food, but don’t let yourself fall into that pitfall.  Have fun and enjoy the company!

Follow the tips below for healthy grilling suggestions:

  • Adjust your grill so that food cooks evenly inside and out.  If the temperature is too hot the outside may get overcooked before the inside reaches proper temperature.
  • Make sure to use a clean plate for meat once it is cooked.  Don’t allow the juice from the raw meat to come in contact with any read-to-eat foods.
  • Clean your grill between uses to reduce exposure to bacteria and carcinogens.
  • Turn meat over at least once to allow more even cooking.
  • Avoid charring the outside of meats as it can produce carcinogens.  To reduce these substances marinate the meat, pre-cook it before grilling, or scrape off any blackened surfaces.
  • Cook poultry and fish until internal temperatures reaches target: 165F for poultry and ground meat, 145F for pork or fish.
  • Control coals to avoid flame flare-ups: trim obvious fat from meat first, drain high fat marinades, have a spray bottle of water.

However you celebrate the 4th of July make it a fun and healthy holiday.  Enjoy your favorite traditions and maybe start some new ones this year.  Happy grilling!

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Jun 16

9 Money Saving Tips in the Kitchen (How to Make Your Food and Money go Further)

Cooking for a family takes a lot of time and planning.  Add to that, it can be expensive to plan and buy food for the whole family.  These tips will help you save money and waste less food in the kitchen.

1. Freeze extra herbs.  Whether cooking for yourself or a big family you may find that you often end up with leftover herbs.  I love a little fresh basil when I am making spaghetti sauce, but you can’t just buy a few leaves at a time.  Several years ago I started chopping up the leftovers and freezing them in spare ice cube trays.  Just a hint, though, you may never want to use these trays for ice again.  Sometimes the flavors from the herbs stick around even after multiple washings.

2. Always use your fresh fruits and vegetables.  I love buying fresh fruits and vegetables, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned and they go bad before I get a chance to use them.  This always feels like such a huge waste of money.  Now I pay very close attention to the fresh items in my house.  First, I always put several fruit on display in the house.  They are more likely to be seen and eaten if in a basket on the counter or table.  Second, I move fruit that isn’t being eaten into the refrigerator.  If we still don’t use it there are a couple options.  Cut up and freeze for a smoothie,  blend up and dry for fruit leather, chop up and freeze for use in muffins, pancakes, or waffles.

3. Homemade freezer waffles.  Instead of buying frozen waffles make a bunch at once and freeze leftovers.  Reheat in the toaster when ready to use.  This can also be done with pancakes.  It is a great way to deal with leftovers, and it is less expensive and healthier than buying the pre-made waffles.

4.  Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.  Fruits and vegetables usually go on sale when they are in season.  During the beginning of summer strawberries will be on sale, but the rest of the year they will likely cost 4 to 5 times the sale price.  This is the same with peaches, mangos, and more.  Not only does this impact price, but it impacts flavor.  Green beans always look and taste the best when they are in season.  Your family may be more likely to eat the sweet cherries during the summer, then the bitter ones offered during the off season.  Bananas and apples are great fillers as they are usually a very good price all year round.

5. Find creative ways to use leftovers.  During a recent move we ended up eating pizza every day for a week and still had a lot of leftovers.  None of us wanted another bite of pizza, but I didn’t want to waste it.  I found a fun recipe online for pizza lasagna.  I made it up and stuck it in the freezer for a busy day meal.

6. Freeze leftovers.  When there are too many leftovers around and you are worried some may go bad, portion into little meals and freeze on a paper plate with a plastic bag around it.  It makes a great freezer meal later when needed.  In small portions it is easy to reheat in the microwave.

7. Plan ahead.  Make sure you know what you have at home before heading to the store.  This is particularly important for perishable items.  Do a quick inventory check and make sure to buy what you need.  For pantry items that don’t go bad as quickly try to buy when on sale, and buy extra.  The next time you shop you can skip that item, and try to buy it again next time it is on sale.  This saves money and also saves time.  If you do this regularly you will find that you are buying larger quantities of fewer foods.  This saves a lot of time as it is easier to pick up 5 cans of soup then to pick up 5 different items.

8.  Leftovers on the plate.  If you frequently have a lot of leftovers on your kids plate try serving up smaller portions.  It is easy enough to give them more when they ask, but a lot harder to take away extra after their sticky hands have mashed half the food up.  Don’t ever go so far as to not offer foods they don’t like.  It is always beneficial to offer at least a little.

9. Freezer meals.  Making meals ahead of time and freezing is a great way to prepare for life.  Homemade freezer meals cost less and give you control over ingredients.  It is great to have them around the house on really busy days.

 

I love to spend time in the kitchen, but I like to make sure that I am staying on a budget.  I am careful with the food around the house to make sure things don’t go to waste.  I try to make sure to use everything we buy.

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Jun 10

8 Milk Facts You Need to Know

I hear the most interesting things about milk all the time.  I have friends that don’t drink milk for various reason.  I wanted to set the record straight, and provide some information about milk that is both scientifically based AND information that I share with my patients as a Registered Dietitian.  I think milk can be a good part of a healthy well balanced diet and here is why…

 

1. Pasteurization:  Pasteurization Is the process of heating a liquid for a period of time then re-cooling.  This process does not kill all organisms, but it does reduce the number.  It has helped reduce spread of E. coli and Salmonella which can be present in raw milk.

 

2. Hormones:  The hormone bovine somatotropin is naturally found in cows and stimulates milk production.  A synthetic version of this hormone has been created and can be used to increase a cow’s milk production.  The pasteurization process destroys a lot of this hormone.  Once milk has been pasteurized milk from cows with the synthetic version of the milk hormone is the same as milk from cows without it.  In addition our digestive tract breaks down any hormones ingested.  This is why people with diabetes can’t take insulin as a pill.  If insulin was swallowed it would be broken down and would become completely useless.  Insulin is injected so that it can be utilized by the body.  The same process occurs with any natural or synthetic bovine somatotropin that is in milk.

 

3. Lactose intolerance: One interesting fact about lactose intolerance is that often people can tolerate yogurt and cheese.  They contain only small amounts of lactose.  For people that can have yogurt and cheese this is a great way to continue to get foods from the dairy group which are high in protein, calcium, vit D, and more.

 

4. Soy Milk vs Cow’s Milk:  Soy milk is naturally lower in Calcium than cow’s milk, however extra Calcium is often added to soy milk.  Soy milk is a great alternative for those that can’t tolerate other types of milk, however, calcium is better absorbed from cow’s milk.

 

5.  Organic Milk.  Organic milk, also known as raw milk, must follow specific guidelines.  For milk to be classified as organic cow’s must be fed organic feed with no animal or poultry products, no synthetic hormones or antibiotics.  They must be able to pasture during all grazing seasons.  Nutritionally there is no difference between milk and organic milk.  The same amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, calcium, etc is found in both.

 

6. Milk and Mucus: Milk thickens saliva, but it doesn’t increase mucus production.  There is no reason to decrease milk intake because of asthma or a cold.  It will not aggravate or make is worse.

 

7. Antibiotics in Milk: When antibiotics are used to treat animals there is concern that there will be increased drug resistant bacteria.  I personally am very concerned with all over prescription of antibiotics.  I am concerned that antibiotic use is abused in livestock, pets, and people.  Whether regular or organic, milk is tested regularly for antibiotics and pesticides with very strict standards.

 

8. Good source of Nutrients: Milk is a great source of many essential nutrients: Calcium, Protein, Magnesium, Potassium, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D.

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May 20

Every Kid IS Different BUT They ALL Like Vegetables (6 things parents screw up when their kids are born)

As children our taste buds are more sensitive, and so many foods are new in flavor and texture for little ones.

They have every reason to be hesitant around new foods while they are learning and growing. However, this is not an excuse to give up on a seemingly picky eater. Children do need time to accept new foods, but by 2 or 3 years old if you are introducing a variety of good foods repeatedly and choosing good foods yourself they will like a good variety of foods.

They may not like everything, but they will like a lot more than you might have thought. If your children won’t eat ANY vegetables there is a good chance there were things you should have done differently when they were growing up. . . . and you can start doing some of these things now to reverse their tastes.

Taz first impression of vegetables was not favorable. Now, 3 years later he loves them!

Taz first impression of vegetables was not favorable. Now, 3 years later he loves them!

  1. Introduce vegetables before you introduce fruit. When you are first introducing solids to a 4 to 6 month old start with vegetables first. Let them try all the vegetables before you start adding fruit to the diet. If they only take a couple bites then start spitting it out, don’t force it. Try some more vegetables, and continue to re-introduce the one they didn’t like. There is no reason to worry about quantity of food or to rush this process. You will still be either nursing or giving formula at this time so they will be getting all the nutrients they need.
  2. Offer baby foods multiple times. If there are certain vegetables that they aren’t as interested in as infants continue to offer the vegetable over and over. Don’t ever give up and black ball a food. Just because they don’t like a food initially doesn’t mean they won’t with time. Mix with fruit or rice cereal and continue to introduce. Do not force, but continue to introduce each week.
  3. Offer whole vegetable multiple times. If your baby didn’t like sweet potatoes from a jar no matter how many times you tried, still try a sweet potato when baby graduates to whole foods. Just as you offered baby food over and over, the same process needs to be followed when introducing the actual vegetable. Textures will be completely new, and they may love pureed peas but hate the actual pea because the texture is new.
  4. Offer at least 10 times, in the same way! A food needs to be introduced upwards of 10 times before you give up. It is very important that it is offered the same way each time, and not mixed in a casserole or other form etc. New foods take time to get used to and kids are learning about the entire food world all at once. You do not need to force a child to try the food item every time, but have it at the table and put some on your child’s plate.
  5.  Model behavior. If you won’t eat it they won’t either. It is very important that you are offering fruits and vegetables with every meal. They need to see you eating the foods on the table. If you never eat them they will pick up on your food aversions. If you don’t eat vegetables then the first place to start is with yourself. Allow yourself to try some vegetables you haven’t tried in years. Try the food several times, and try preparing a different way then you had it as a child.
  6. Don’t tell your children they must finish everything on their plate. You can ask them to try everything at least once, but food shouldn’t be forced. Parents should choose the WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE of meal times and food. Children should choose HOW MUCH and IF. Follow this rule and your children will have a great nutrition start. Young children naturally eat the number of calories they need each day. As they grow and are distracted with TV and forced to finish everything on their plate they quickly learn to ignore internal cues for satiety (the full feeling). Once we get good at ignoring the full feeling, it is so easy to overeat.

Children are so impressionable when they are young, and they roll we play in the first few years has lasting impacts. Help your children start with a strong nutritional foundation. Helping them like a variety of foods will make easy for them to eat a diet full of all the vitamins and minerals they need. It is never too late to start. If your children are older, focus on the last three suggestions to help them expand their food preferences. And most importantly, if you are a picky eater… start with yourself!

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