Foodie Friday: April Menu

I know I’ve mentioned before that I love grilling, especially in the warmer months. Unfortunately, our grill started leaking the propane at an alarming rate last fall. Fortunately, a new gas grill was Zach’s birthday present this year. As the weather is getting nicer and nicer here in central Oklahoma, I have updated my menu formula. Mondays are moving from soups to sandwiches and Saturdays are my grilling days. I’m so excited! I am also planning to try my hand at grilling lamb for Easter, which I have never done before. Wish me luck. If you’re looking for dinnertime inspiration, please feel free to print out my April menu for your own use. That’s why I post it on my blog. Of course, you might not like everything I have planned, so just cross out the meals that do not suit you and your family and write in what does.

Happy cooking!

April 2019

You can find recipes on my April 2019 Menu Pinterest Board. Have fun!

Here’s a pdf:

April 2019

QuickTip Tuesday: Choose Healthy Carbs

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Carbohydrate foods get a bad rap, but they are actually an important part of a healthy diet. What is important is that we choose healthy carbs with lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrate foods with lots of bang for your buck. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and while fruits contain natural sugars, there is no added sugar in fresh or frozen fruits.

Dairy products include some carbohydrate but also include 9 essential nutrients: calcium vitamin D, protein, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorus.

Whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, which is a heart protective carbohydrate. Fiber also helps keep you regular. Did you know popcorn is a whole grain? America’s favorite movie snack can be part of a healthy diet. Air popped or popcorn popped in a light, healthy oil is your best bet!

Foodie Friday: Toddler Snacks

Toddler having a snack - 4 Toddler Snacking Mistakes

Republished from: www.eatright.org

Toddlers are notorious nibblers. Their small bellies mean they can’t eat a lot at one time, and their go-go-go nature means they don’t want to sit at the table too long. Snacking can help add needed nourishment into a toddler’s day — as long as it’s done right. Here are 4 strategies to be smarter about snacks.

Strategy 1: Snacking on the Go

Many parents carry an arsenal of munchies to dole out when they’re on the go. But too often, snacks are given to distract or occupy kids while running errands or on long drives, not because the kids actually need food. Grazing on the go also makes it hard for children to focus on their food and listen to their internal signals of hunger and fullness. Eating in the car even can be risky. If your child chokes, you may not be able to help right away.

Smarter Strategy: Carry one or two small and easy snacks — such as a banana or small container of whole-grain crackers — in case hunger strikes while you’re out. Try other distractions first (such as a book or small toy) when you need to buy time.

Strategy 2: Timing Is Everything

It’s frustrating when toddlers come to the table at mealtime and don’t want to eat. It’s true that their appetites tend to fluctuate day to day, but snacking also may be to blame. Snacks before mealtime can make kids less receptive to trying new foods at meals. Toddlers also may learn to prefer “snack foods” — such as pretzels and gummy fruit snacks — over “meal foods,” which can make things even tougher.

Smarter Strategy: Space meals and snacks two to three hours apart. If your toddler’s hunger doesn’t seem to match up with your mealtimes, consider moving meals earlier or serving your child a portion of the meal, such as the veggies, while you finish prepping.

Strategy 3: Make Snacks Nutritious

Many snack foods that are marketed to kids are full of refined flour, added sugar and salt. Those foods are OK to eat occasionally, but they don’t provide the nutrients your child needs (such as calcium, iron and fiber) and they teach kids to associate “snack” with “treat.”

Smarter Strategy: During most snack times, serve the same kinds of foods you serve at mealtime, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains including whole-wheat tortillas and bread, sources of protein such as hard-boiled eggs and hummus and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.

Strategy 4: Establish a Snack Schedule

Letting kids nibble all day not only ruins mealtime appetites, but also can set up unhealthy habits. Like adults, kids can learn to snack out of boredom. Mindlessly munching also can lead to a pattern of overeating.

Smarter Strategy: Establish scheduled snack times. Most toddlers can go two hours between meals and snacks, so a mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening snack may work well. Asking your toddler to wait may be tricky at first if munching on demand is the norm. By sticking to dependable meal and snack times, your child will feel reassured that there are plenty of opportunities to eat.

Staying Away from Fad Diets

bowl of lettuce and measuring tape - Staying Away from Fad Diets

Reviewed by Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN
Originally published by www.eatright.org

With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn’t surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets and bogus weight-loss products. Conflicting claims, testimonials and hype by so-called “experts” can confuse even the most informed consumers. The bottom line is simple: if a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
 There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. Some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can be dangerous and even deadly for some people.Steer clear of any diet plans, pills and products that make the following claims:

Rapid Weight Loss

If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds. Instead, focus on eating in a way that helps you feel nourished, satisfied and energized.

Quantities and Limitations

Ditch diets that limit most foods and promote unlimited quantities of specific foods, such as grapefruit and cabbage soup. It’s boring to eat the same thing over and over and hard to stick with monotonous plans. Avoid any diet that eliminates or severely restricts entire food groups or macronutrients, such as carbohydrates. Even if you take a multivitamin, you’ll still miss some critical nutrients.

Specific Food Combinations

There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss. Eating the “wrong” combinations of food doesn’t cause them to turn to fat immediately or to produce toxins in your intestines, as some plans claim.

Rigid Menus

Life is already complicated enough. Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, distasteful task. With any new diet, always ask yourself: “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, the plan is not for you.

No Need to Exercise

Regular physical activity is essential for good health. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week.

If you want to build strength, the best path is a lifelong combination of nutritious eating and regular strength-building movement. For a personalized plan tailored to your lifestyle and food preferences, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. An RDN can help you find a realistic, flexible eating style that helps you feel and be your best.

 

QuickTip Tuesday: Reheating Leftovers

reheating leftover pizza

Source: www.eatright.org

Saving leftovers to eat later is a great way to avoid overeating while also saving money and fighting food waste. And between soccer practice, music lessons and other after-school activities, your children may be home late for dinner. If you’re saving dinner for later, make sure you properly refrigerate and reheat the leftovers.

Before you reheat and eat, follow these simple steps to reduce your risk of food poisoning

  • Do not let leftovers sit at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • Store leftovers that need reheating in the fridge (set at 40°F or below according to a refrigerator thermometer) in a clean, airtight container.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F. A food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure safety and determine the doneness of cooked foods.
  • Be sure to label leftovers to keep track of when they were made. And remember, when in doubt, throw it out!

What Type of Meal Reheater are You?

  • Refrigerator Raider. When it comes to refrigerating leftovers, Americans are losing their cool! More than a third of people typically keep their refrigerator set at 40°F or higher. And, 41 percent admit they don’t know the proper temperature to which their refrigerator should be set. Don’t let bacteria shorten your leftovers’ life — use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your fridge is always set below 40°F.
  • Repeater Eater. Nearly 9 out of 10 people reheat leftovers before eating them — versus nibbling them cold right out of the fridge. But 97 percent of leftover lovers do not use a food thermometer to ensure doneness of foods. Next time you reheat, use a food thermometer to make sure food reaches the proper internal temperature of 165°F before you eat.
  • Pizza Prowler. Believe it or not, 36 percent of people admit to eating leftover pizza from the night before… even if it hasn’t been refrigerated! Pizza, like all perishable foods, follows the two-hour rule: If pizza has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours, toss it!
  • Doggie Bag Diner. Who says you can’t take it with you? When eating out, nearly 40 percent of restaurant patrons leave at least some of the time with a doggie bag or leftovers to eat for another meal. If you’re a doggie bag diner, write the date of purchase on your take-out container — and remember to discard leftovers within three to five days.
  • Microwave Maniac. The most popular use for microwaves is reheating leftovers. If your microwave isn’t equipped with a turntable, you may need to take extra precautions to make sure leftover food is cooked throughout. Rotate food one-half turn midway through the heating time and give it a stir to eliminate cold spots where bacteria can survive. Then let food stand for one minute before inserting a food thermometer to ensure food has reached the proper internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Dinner Defroster. Nearly half of Americans use their microwaves to defrost frozen meat. Since juices from raw meat may carry harmful bacteria, dinner defrosters should take special precautions to avoid cross-contamination. Use separate plates — one to defrost meat and another to serve cooked meat — or wash plates in warm, soapy water between uses to eliminate bacteria.

Foodie Friday: Rainbow Yogurt Cups

Rainbow Yogurt Trifle Cups Recipe

Source: www.eatright.org

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust
9 whole graham cracker sheets (yields about 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon honey

Orange Yogurt
¾ cup orange pieces, segmented and membranes roughly peeled
¾ cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Blackberry Yogurt
¾ cup blackberries
¾ cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon honey

Strawberry Yogurt
½ cup strawberries, halved
¾ cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Chopped Fruit
1 whole kiwi, peeled and diced
1¼ cup small strawberries, diced
1 cup oranges, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
¾ cup blackberries

Directions

Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Loosely break graham crackers apart and place into food processor bowl. Pulse crackers until they become a uniform powder.
  2. Add vanilla extract, coconut oil and honey; pulse until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. The texture will be slightly moist, and ingredients will stick together slightly when pressed.
  3. Pour the graham cracker crust mixture into a separate bowl and set aside.

Orange Yogurt

  1. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  2. Peel one large orange; roughly peel the membrane from about six segments (or the equivalent of ¾ cup).
  3. Cut segments into thirds, and place them into the food processor.
  4. Pulse until the mixture is relatively smooth (like a slurry), but not pureed; it’s OK if there are small chunks of orange.
  5. Add yogurt and pulse just until combined. Do not over-mix.
  6. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to create a thicker consistency.

Blackberry Yogurt

  1. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  2. Measure out ¾ cup of blackberries and gently wash them.
  3. Place blackberries into the food processor and pulse until the mixture is relatively smooth (like a slurry), but not pureed.
  4. Add lemon juice, honey and yogurt to the slurry; pulse until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Strawberry Yogurt

  1. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  2. Rinse ½ cup strawberries, de-stem and cut them in halves.
  3. Place into the food processor and pulse until the pieces resemble small chunks (like a salsa).
  4. Add yogurt and pulse until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Chopped Fruit

  1. Wash all fruit under cool water.
  2. Peel kiwi and cut off hard ends; dice and place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. De-stem and dice strawberries; measure out 1 ¼ cup, place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Peel 6-8 orange segments and cut each segment into ¼-inch pieces; measure out 1 cup, place in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Cut blackberries in half; measure out ¾ cup, place in a bowl and set aside.

Assembly

  • For one 8-ounce cup, begin by putting 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crust into the cup. Level the crust with the back of a spoon and pat down to create a more solid base.
  • Spoon a little less than ¼ cup of the orange yogurt over the graham cracker crust. Smooth layer evenly.
  • Place ¼ cup diced strawberries over the orange yogurt.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker crust and pat down gently.
  • Add a little less than ¼ cup of the blackberry yogurt and smooth layer evenly.
  • Place 3 tablespoons of orange segments on top of the yogurt. Be sure they are visible on the outside of the cup!
  • Add 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crust and pat down gently.
  • Add a little less than ¼ cup of strawberry yogurt and smooth evenly.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kiwi and 1 tablespoon blackberries on top.
  • Eat immediately or chill and enjoy later!

Cooking Tip

  • The longer cheesecake cups are able to chill in the refrigerator, the thicker the yogurt will be and the better the layers will stay separated.
  • You may mix and match fruit and yogurt layers or try different fruits altogether. Some good combinations may be blueberry, raspberry and strawberry, or pomegranate, peach and pear!
  • Make a gluten-free version of the crust by substituting pitted dates and almonds for graham crackers.
  • Be gentle when patting down the layers, as the crust is prone to sticking to the yogurt layer.

 

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 8 ounces
Serves 4

Calories: 385; Total fat: 10g; Sat. fat: 5g; Chol.: 8mg; Sodium: 223mg; Carb.: 62g; Fiber 8g; Sugars: 37g; Protein 15g

Family Meals Small Investment Big Payoff

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Source: www.eatright.org

If you’re concerned about what your child does (and doesn’t) eat, the solution could be as close as your kitchen table. Gathering around the table to eat as a family has all kinds of benefits. Family meals allow parents to be role models who create a supportive environment that promotes healthy eating.

Family meals don’t just mean better nutrition. Children of families who regularly eat together also are more likely to have higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and have a healthy weight, and are less likely to have behavior problems or use drugs, cigarettes or alcohol when they get older. Plus, they’re closer to their parents. No wonder family meals are on the upswing.

Try these easy-to-follow tips to make family meals happen more often in your home:

  • Keep it simple: Attempting to make a meal with 20 ingredients is a recipe for disaster. Instead, build a small collection of go-to recipes to help you get in and out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes.
  • Choose ingredients that multitask: Ingredients you can use for more than one meal can be a major time saver. Instead of making just three chicken breasts, consider making six. This way, you can use the extras in other dishes such as chicken salad or fajitas.
  • Say “no” to takeout: A quick trip to the drive-thru might seem like a speedy way to get dinner on the table, but oftentimes lacks the nutrition your family needs. A simple meal made at home from lean protein, whole grains and fresh, frozen or canned vegetables is more likely to contain the nutrients your family needs without all the extra sodium and dietary fat.
  • Make it a habit. Make sure each family member knows that everyone is to be home for dinner at a particular time. When everyone expects to enjoy dinner at 5 p.m. on Sunday, they’ll begin to look forward to this family time and will arrange their schedules around it.
  • It’s OK to ask for help: You have a little army of helpers right at your fingertips. Asking kids to set the table, pour drinks or help make a salad doesn’t just make your job easier — it also teaches them that taking the time and effort to eat together as a family is important. Little kids can practice counting skills by getting the correct number of forks and napkins for the table. Teens love the independence they have when shopping for groceries. Hand them some money and a grocery list and let them pick out an extra vegetable or some whole-grain bread for dinner.
  • Make it fun. Add some fun and excitement with food themes. You can use a checkered tablecloth for an Italian-inspired meal, or prepare fresh Asian cuisine and eat with chopsticks. Throw a blanket on your family room floor and enjoy a family picnic. Let everyone choose a theme and you’ll see that your choices are endless. Now that you’re enjoying the meal, keep everyone involved in conversations by asking each person to share something that happened that day or week that was funny, weird, scary, good or bad.

Start your new family meal tradition today by making a commitment to eating at least one meal together each week. Many families look forward to and love their Sunday dinner tradition. Before you know it, family dinner will be a time that everyone looks forward to.