As a subscriber to Clean Eating magazine, I get lots of good ideas from their pages for meals, snacks and healthy living in general. I thought I would post a few of my favorite snack finds from their pages for my other Megacool and Megahealthy mamas, just in case you hadn’t heard of some of these brands. I plan on ordering up a bit of each of the items listed…let me know if you do and how you like it in the comments section below! Start your new year right and get to snacking healthy! (Look for my new page coming soon…”Mega fit & healthy mama”).
All-natural, gluten free cookies that boast ingredients such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, raisins, walnuts, almond meal and honey…yummy for you and your body! Just 65 calories a cookie, too! Order on their website.
*Mary’s Gone Crackers
These crackers include a mix of ancient grains, such as quinoa, flaxseeds and sesame seeds. They work great for serving with dips or for just a snack on their own. Find them here or here
*Lundberg Organic Rice chips
No GMO’s (genetically modified ingredients) and nice flavors like Spicy Black Bean, Cracked Black Pepper and Pico de Gallo…more bang for your buck with more fiber and protein and less fat than the traditional chip or rice cake! Order here
They have snacks such as granolas that come in flavors like Apple Crisp, Banana Nut and Cacao Nut (awesome for us chocolate lovers!). They also use ingredients that are natural and that would have been found in nature when our paleolithic ancestors roamed the land…pretty cool! Order here
I will be adding more snacks regulary, so be sure to check back. These are just some new ones that I have come across recently (besides already mentioning lots of snacks for kids in posts like this one). Have fun experimenting with these healthy snacks! .
Being the health freak that I am (well, not really a freak, just “vigilant”), I am constantly looking for good deals on healthy items. Well, here is one that you will not want to pass up! Vitacost.com is currently offering a $10 credit if you sign up through my link! Just take a look below at some things you could find for $10 or less!
Jim’s Organic Coffee Whole Bean Colombian — 12 oz for $9.57 (28% off retail!)
Avalon Organics Gentle Baby Tear-Free Shampoo and Body Wash — 8 fl oz for $6.24 (48% off retail!)
Clif Kid™ Organic ZBar™ Chocolate Brownie — 6 Bars for $3.45 (33% off retail! My 2-year-old daughter LOVES these for a chocolate snack, especially the chocolate brownie flavor!)
There are so many more products- everything from organic groceries and foods to vitamins to homeopathic remedies and personal care items! I LOVE this site! Go here and sign up to get your $10 credit today and start shopping online the healthy way!
(FREE shipping on orders over $49…you could wait a while to place your first order and see if a free shipping coupon pops up between the time you sign up and the time your credit expires. Just make sure to watch your emails for the daily deals from Vitacost and check them out!)
Do you know what exactly is in the food you are eating? You probably think you do if you read the list of ingredients, but, chances are, those ingredients may not be exactly as they seem. In the United States, it is not required that companies label foods that are genetically engineered. So, basically, you think you are eating a tomato, but you are really eating a tomato that has been genetically altered with flounder genes to be more resistant to the cold. Not so appealing now, eh? You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well, the more genetically engineered foods we create and eat, the more chance we have for creating more food allergens and sensitivities within our population. And, to top it off, no long term studies have been done to show the effects of genetically modified food on the human body. Bottom line- wouldn’t you like to have the right to choose whether or not to eat this kind of food? Go here to Just Label It, a website where you can sign your name to a letter that will be sent to the FDA, urging them to force companies to label genetically engineered foods. Let’s let it be known that we deserve to know exactly what we are eating!
All of us wish that we could take the time to be a little healthier, I’m sure. There are some little things that you can do that take very little time to make your day as healthy as possible. When you are healthy, you feel good. And when Mama feels good, don’t we all? Here are some tips that I gleaned from a few resources, as well as some I threw in myself. Follow these and your day is sure to end with you feeling mega-great!
In the A.M.
- Wake up to natural light. Your body likes it. This could be as simple as waking to an alarm and then throwing open the blinds. You will definitely wake up faster with the natural light pouring in!
- Do some stretches to get your blood flowing- just a couple minutes is enough.
- Sit down and eat a nice breakfast, full of protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fruit. This will give you the energy you need to get your day started and take you through mid-morning.
- If possible, only have one cup of coffee so that you avoid a crash later on in the morning. If you have to have more than one, try one cup of regular and one cup of decaf.
- Get moving right after breakfast for at least 20 minutes. Just sitting there is doing nothing for you or your metabolism. Your nice breakfast will have given you energy to get up and going, so do it! 20 minutes of light to moderate activity will give you even more energy to start your day (this could be cleaning up the kitchen, taking the dog for a walk or running around getting the kids ready, too!)
- Eat a mid-morning snack. Pick from one of the recipes below, or just have a piece of fruit to hold you over until lunchtime. Going into lunch ravenous will only cause you to overeat, which in turn causes mega after-lunch crashes in the afternoon…not fun!
From noon to evening
- Eat a lunch rich in protein, balanced with veggies-a-plenty and a serving of whole grains or nuts. This will keep your mood and energy up throughout the afternoon.
- Be briefly active after lunch (take a quick stroll, go grab your mail upstairs, etc.)
- The after-lunch afternoon slump is brutal. Instead of falling into that slump, focus your attention on doing a different task than the one at hand or get up and walk around a bit. Also, some breathing and stretches will do the trick.
- Have a snack that is balanced in protein and carbs, such as one of the options below.
- Have a light dinner. Eating a big meal right before bedtime can make digestion more difficult and can lead to sleep problems.
- Instead of a rich dessert, have some herbal tea and some fresh berries with yogurt or a frozen fruit/yogurt bar.
- Get some movement in right after dinner by making a point to clean up the kitchen immediately after eating. By getting moving, you aid both your metabolism and digestion.
- Try to hit the sack before 11 p.m. Those who go to bed later and wake up later have been proven to gain and retain more weight over time.
- Do some meditating or light yoga before going to bed to get into a relaxation state. Taking a warm bath infused with lavender is also a nice way to get your body into sleep mode. You could even rub some lavender oil on your pulse points to get the fragrance on you.
- Try to stick to the same routine every night- washing your face and brushing your teeth at relatively the same time. Your body will be trained to fall asleep around that time every night, making it easier for you to get some quality z’s.
SNACK RECIPES (one of these in mid-morning and one in the afternoon is ideal):
- Coconut Celery- Fill 3 celery ribs with 1 tbsp. peanut or other nut butter; sprinkle with 2 tbsp. each shredded coconut and dried blueberries
- Apricot Supreme- Slice open 4 dried apricots and stuff with 2 tbsp. low-fat cream cheese (I like the whipped variety). Top each with half a walnut or pecan
- “Peppy” Popcorn- Blend 3 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 tbsp. Parmesan and a pinch of cayenne pepper
- Yummy Yogurt- Top 1 small container of low-fat Greek style vanilla yogurt with 6 mandarin orange segments and 1 tsp. chopped pistachios
- Try to get in about 30-45 minutes of cardio about three times a week, along with a few brief resistance training sessions (about 25 minutes per session is sufficient). Also, yoga at least once a week aids in strength, flexibility and balance.
- Never go more than three hours without eating something (healthy, that is!).
- Drink LOTS of water!
With the crisp coolness in the air, October is the perfect time to start making my turkey chili (also perfect for a hearty winter soup)!! As a matter of fact, today I made a batch that I will get about three meals out of (for a family of four). I found a recipe some time ago for turkey chili on the Internet, but, of course, modified it to make it even healthier! My recipe for healthy turkey chili is below (highlighted ingredients linked to coupons!) Enjoy!
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. ground turkey (Perdue ground turkey often goes on sale)
- 1 (10.75) ounce can low sodium condensed tomato soup
- 2 (15) ounce cans of dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 (15) ounce can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 (15) ounce can of white beans (like Northern beans) (drained and rinsed)
- about 11 ounces of organic chicken broth or chicken stock
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1 c. pureed butternut squash
- 2 tbsp. chili powder (Target has great deals on their Archer Farms spices- this also goes for all of the spices listed below!)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (you could add up to a teaspoon, depending on your taste. I wanted my kids to be able to eat it, so I stuck with 1/4 tsp.!)
- 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 pinch ground allspice
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place turkey in the skillet, and cook until evenly brown; drain.
- Pour condensed tomato soup in a small bowl and mix with chicken broth/stock until evenly mixed in.
- Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray, and mix in turkey, tomato soup, kidney beans, black beans, white beans and onion. Mix in pureed squash. Season with chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, allspice and salt.
- Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High.
Now, you might think that adding squash to chili is a little strange, but it gives it such a nice texture and flavor that I am sure you will love! My family loves this recipe…I serve it with crumbled blue tortilla chips and a sprinkle of shredded cheese on the top.
Let me know if you try it! YUM!
Below you will find a sample week-long menu of healthy, kid-friendly lunchbox menus. I actually got an email about this from Circle of Moms, but I modified the menu to make it “megacool” healthy! Anyway, I hope you can infuse some creativity into your kiddos’ lunches and help them see that eating healthy can be fun and delicious!
Monday: Bento Box or Snack Lunch
- Peanut butter or hummus (coupon in Oct. 2 SmartSource insert for Tribe hummus) with “dippers” (apple slices, carrots, celery, bell pepper, whole grain crackers, etc.)
- Boiled egg
- Cherry tomatoes, snap peas or any other favorite fruits or veggies
OR try the following menu…
- organic cheese slices (COUPON for Organic Valley cheese slices)
- turkey or “veggie” pepperoni
- whole grain crackers ( COUPON for Kashi brand!)
- grape tomatoes and carrot sticks
- strawberry slices and a few raspberries (try buying these organic if possible)
- whole wheat pretzels
- piece of dark chocolate for dessert! (COUPON for Ghirardelli dark chocolate!)
Tuesday: One-color lunch (I don’t recommend doing this a lot since it is important to see lots of color from the different fruits and veggies in one meal, but kids seem to be fascinated by things that are grouped by color! Why not lunch?)
- Annie’s cheddar bunnies
- organic cheddar cheese chunks
- dried apricots (COUPON for Sunsweet dried fruit)
- orange slices
- bbq flavor Popchips
Wednesday: Deluxe Bagel lunch
- whole wheat bagel (make sure there are no high fructose corn syrups!) with sun butter and raisins sprinkled on top
- organic string cheese
- fresh pineapple chunks
Thursday: Leftover Chicken lunch (use leftovers from dinner the night before to whip up this fun lunch!)
- fruity chicken kebabs, made with chicken chunks, grapes and strawberries
- whole wheat mini bagel with cheese
- sliced cucumbers
- Apple and Eve juice box (COUPON)
Friday: PB & J lunch (a twist on the classic lunchbox staple!)
- sandwich with whole wheat (no high fructose corn syrup!; COUPON for Aunt Millie’s all natural bread) bread, natural peanut butter (Smucker’s is good), and all-natural fruit spread (we like Polaner)
- organic cheese sticks or Babybel Laughing Cow cheese wedges (Coupon for $1/2 Babybel cheeses in Aug. 7 SmartSource insert)
- fresh fruit
OR try swapping the fruit and cheese for more veggies and a little bit of dessert, for example
- same sandwich as above
- all-natural tomato soup (COUPON)
- broccoli florets or baby carrots
- one square of dark chocolate
Did you try any of the menus above with your kiddos? How did they like it? How easy/hard was it to prepare?
Have a “megacool” lunchbox week!
Here is a recipe that I got as a recommendation from a friend (thanks, Amber!) that is originally done by Giada De Laurentiis. I have modified it just a bit and then added links where possible to coupons. Let me know if your little ones like it! (or if the big ones like it, too)!
- 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (COUPON)
- 1 cup buttermilk (Go here to see how to make a substitution for buttermilk if you don’t have it)
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenders (about 18) (COUPON)
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt (COUPON)
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (COUPON)
- ground black pepper (freshly ground, if possible) (COUPON)
- 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, mixed with basil and oregano for flavor
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Brush 1 tablespoon of oil over each of 2 heavy large lined baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mash the garlic with the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and then the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with pepper. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small serving bowl.
- Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the chicken tenders and bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken tenders to a platter and serve the vinaigrette alongside for dipping. You could also serve with Hunt’s all natural ketchup for the little ones!
World Vegetarian Day is October 1, and the North American Vegetarian Society is sponsoring a contest in which you could win $1000 just for pledging to try going vegetarian for at least a day! Easy enough, right? Just follow this link to find out more!
Why go vegetarian, you ask? Well, I have actually said that if I could keep up with maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle, I totally would! Honestly, I don’t think I would miss meat that much; I have never been much of a meat-eater. I have noticed on days that I do not eat meat (or only 1 portion of meat/chicken/fish), I feel better than when I eat more meat. There are a wealth of resources outlining the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Here are some that I found after just doing a Google search:
There were many more, but these were ones I felt were really worth looking at and took a little bit different approach each time to explaining the vegetarian lifestyle benefits.
If you decide to try going vegetarian for a day, let me know in the comments section how you did! Was it more/less difficult than you expected? Would you try it for more time? Would you consider completely switching over to becoming vegetarian?
Fall is the perfect time to bake with the freshest apples you will find all year! Some day soon, after you have returned from apple-picking at your nearest apple orchard, try out this recipe. This cake will freeze quite nicely if you don’t use the entire cake after baking. Just plastic wrap it and freeze!
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 3/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 1/2 c. all natural applesauce
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. flaxseed meal (found easily at Trader Joe’s or Costco…I think even Walmart and Target sell this in the baking sections now)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 c. finely chopped unpeeled apples
- 1 c. chopped walnuts
- Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.
- In large bowl, beat sugars, buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 20 to 30 seconds or until blended. Add all remaining ingredients except apples and walnuts; beat on low speed about 1 minute or until blended. Stir in apples and walnuts. Spread batter in pan.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack 1 hour.
Do you have your own twist on the recipe or a “cool” way to serve this apple cake? Leave me a comment so I can try it out!