Weekly Meal Plan 1/26-2/1

As we get another week between us and the holidays, the kids’ resolve to detest everyday living is slipping. There have been some admissions of enjoying school sometimes and the occasional act of unexpected graciousness between siblings. As the weeks pass, we are also entering yet another season of activity. Ms. Picky Pants has started a new dance class and the Gentle Giant is poised to start basketball. They are both clamoring for more activities, but I’m holding steady at one. They also get piano at home. And when’s a kid supposed to play with all those great new Legos anyway?! So it’s a contained kind of chaos, which I’ve concluded is the best kind. ūüėČ

Regardless of what kind of chaos we find ourselves in, however, we still have to eat. At least I do. I’m sure some people can just skip the occasional meal now and then, but unless I’m doing it for a REALLY good reason (and I can’t think of an example), I am not one of those people. So as we sit, waiting for this snowstorm to actually become something, I better get my act in gear and figure out what we’re having. They are out in the centimeter of snow playing. If it does keep up, they’ll be in it tomorrow too, and they will be hungry. What’s the weather doing in your neck of the woods? Are you planning your meals with the weather in mind?

Monday:  a dairy free version of Broccoli Meatballs with Garlic Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian Times), served in whole wheat mini pitas, with sautéed green beans and a green salad

Tuesday: Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Soup,  No Fear Homemade Whole Wheat Bread, chopped veggies

Wednesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, steamed broccoli, green salad

Thursday: Warm¬†Asian Noodle Salad (a variation on Big Sis’ version), crispy tofu, chopped veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Potato Pancakes (a la Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), homemade slow cooker applesauce, sauteed spinach, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with red sauce, green salad

Lunchbox Treat:¬†Date Chewies (I’ll share if this works ;-))

Adult Lunches:¬†Leftover miso soup from last week, leftover homemade pizza (yes, It’s DF)

  

Well, there it is, and I’m pretty sure we even have what we need to do this plan until Thursday or so, so if it does snow more than a centimeter and state of Maryland goes into weather related lockdown we should be alright. Hope the weather is giving you joy, or at least not getting in your way. Have a great week! Eat well, be well friends.

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Don’t Diet. Eat Real Food. Let Us Help.

At the end of 2012, we had a few things to say about the annual dietary revolution that so many people attempt in honor of the new year. We revisit those thoughts now, when yet another year is approaching at a breakneck pace…

So here we go. ¬†The New Year approaches and the diet chatter is increasing. ¬†Everybody’s choosing plans, making resolutions and getting ready to start measuring their bits and counting their stuff. ¬†If you are one of these folks, I’m going to ask you to reconsider. ¬†I’m going to ask you to do something completely radical. I’m going to ask you NOT to go on a diet.

When we decide to go on a diet, we are committing to a temporary state of restriction, usually in an attempt to achieve some sort of numerical change Рa smaller waistline, a lower reading on the scale, a smaller clothing size.  When we commit to a temporary state of restriction, we are admitting to the foregone conclusion that the results of that restriction Рthe number drop Рwill also be a temporary phenomenon.

You cannot return to the way you normally eat and maintain those lower numbers. ¬†It doesn’t work. ¬†If you’ve made this particular resolution in the past, you already know this is true. ¬†Simply restricting what you eat also doesn’t guarantee that the food that you DO eat will actually nourish you.

BSNewYearWhen we decide to change the way that we eat, we are committing to a higher level of consciousness about what we eat in an attempt to eat food that is more healthful, that provides our bodies with more of what they require; a body that is getting what it needs is far less likely to torment us with the cravings that often drive us to eat unhealthy foods.

When we decide to change the way we eat, we are committing to caring for our bodies and our health, and are therefore also committing to caring for those around us who love us and cherish us.  When we decide to change the way that we eat, we open ourselves to the joy of living healthfully and the adventure of eating new and abundant real foods.  And so I ask you, on this auspicious occasion, NOT to diet, but to change the way you eat.  Eat Food, Real Food.

Big Sis and I have spent a lot of time this year talking about¬†Baby Steps to Better Health. ¬†Maybe you missed it; maybe you weren’t ready; maybe you already think you eat well and weren’t interested in making a change. ¬†But now it’s coming – that resolution moment – that moment when so many of us get a little honest about our habits and find a little motivation to make some change. ¬†If that’s you, and you’re ready, we’d like to invite you to join us taking¬†Baby Steps to Better Health.

We’ll do a recap of the steps we’ve already covered. ¬†We’ll get you started. ¬†We’ll help you figure out what to eat and show you how to make it super yum. ¬†If you’re ready, we’ll help you take those steps that will get you eating and feeling great in a way that works for YOU, with changes that YOU choose according to YOUR timeframe.

This is YOUR plan; it’s YOUR body. ¬†YOU should be the one to decide what to put in it, thoughtfully and consciously, using ingredients that aren’t invented in a lab. ¬†And you will find that the food you put in that body can be both succulent and healthful, both sublime and invigorating, both yummy and nourishing. ¬†Because real food is delish and it does your body good. ¬†Don’t diet;¬†Eat Food, Real Food.

If this sounds like the way you’d like to start 2015, rather than kicking off the year with a glass full of nutrasweet and a package of freeze dried low cal low fat air filled nothing, maybe this is your year. We’ve put all our baby steps in a book for you,¬†Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals, so you can work your way through them with a little encouragement from us. Let 2015 be your year, the year that you do it different and things actually change. Let us help.

An E-Book for Real People about Real Food

Normally I would be posting a meal plan today, but frankly my meal plan is all over the place. As so many of you are, we are entering an extended period of celebrating. The hitch for us is that we’ve been under siege of illness for over 2 weeks now. It looks like we’re nearly done, but many of our guests are iffy. ¬†We’ve admitted to ourselves that a certain amount of flexibility is going to be required in the days to come. My larder is full of a variety of options and we’re just going to roll with it.

With that said, we fully intend to roll with it in style because we have a big reason to celebrate around here. A few years ago Bigg Sis and I started this whole crazy blog business as a way to get some practice writing, to write together and to each other, and to begin to consider how we could write a book that would help regular folks improve their health by eating real food. And at long last, we have reached that goal.

Our e-book,¬†Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals,¬†is a labor of love, of effort, of humor, of cooperation, of irritation, and most of all of Bigg Sis’ dogged and relentless determination. We are so delighted to share our own food journeys with all of you and hope that you can find some inspiration, so guidance, some advice, some help, and the occasional laugh while you construct your own path. The book is based on our Baby Steps series from the blog, with expanded explanations, examples and stories. If you are ready for a change or if you know someone who is ready (or almost ready) for a change, check it out. What better time than the present to give the gift of better health in easy realistic steps from hilarious (okay, nice and amusing) sisters?

While you contemplate that, I’m sitting on the couch, big dog at my side, next to the glow of the lit Christmas tree¬†taking this last little opportunity to rest before I finally get to see my sister again. We’ll start our holiday celebration feeding our families together, singing a bit, cooking a bit, taking a walk or two and laughing laughing laughing. I can’t wait. Here’s hoping your holidays are whatever you need them to be, that your company is warm and caring, and that your meals are delicious and satisfying. Eat well, be well friends.

Sugar in Cereals – New Information from EWG

Well friends, Environmental Working Group, the same folks who bring us the annual sunscreen report, have done an analysis of boxed cereals, and as we’ve suggested in the past, the news is not good.¬†The worst of the bunch are 12 cereals that are more than 50 % sugar. Let me say that again, cereals that are more than 50% sugar.

Take a moment and picture a bowl of say, Rice Krispies or Cheerios. Now picture that bowl with a line down the middle, cereal to the left and sugar to the right, in equal measure. That is what a bowl full of Froot Loops with Marshmallows or Honey Smacks is. All of these cereals that EWG places in the “Hall of Shame” are marketed with animated characters, bright colors, and some even make nutrition claims about high fiber and other benefits that are drowned in half a bowl of sugar.

If you or your tribe members eat boxed cereal, give this writeup a look, see where your favorites are. If you need to make some changes, EWG has made some general suggestions on how to cut back on the morning sugar rush. In our house when the sugar numbers on cereals started creeping up (meaning above 5g per serving), we began insisting that the kids mix that cereal with one that is MUCH lower (like 1g). We also limit the quantity and will offer them other food if they are still hungry. I found that the kids would continue eating cereal long after they were satisfied. When they asked for more and I offered an alternative, they’d say “No, I’m full.” The sugar keeps them coming back, long after their appetites are satisfied. Part of the magic of that sweet demon I suppose, but one over which we have some control.

Not sure why all the fuss over sugary cereals? Take a look at this on what sugar does to your brain. Or read about the insulin response produced by eating the sugar regularly included in processed foods that researchers believe may be the leading cause of obesity here.

Thank you EWG for looking at this serious issue and helping to shed some light on the giant and ridiculous cereal aisle.

For more information about teaching children about healthful morning choices, see Lessons From the Cereal Aisle. For more information about reducing the sugar in your diet, see Big Sis’ post about Reducing Sugar One Teaspoon at a Time.

Don’t Say Diet

OR…

A Real Change for the New Year.

So here we go. ¬†The New Year approaches and the diet chatter is increasing. ¬†Everybody’s choosing plans, making resolutions and getting ready to start measuring their bits and counting their stuff. ¬†If you are one of these folks, I’m going to ask you to reconsider. ¬†I’m going to ask you to do something completely radical. I’m going to ask you NOT to go on a diet.

When we decide to go on a diet, we are committing to a temporary state of restriction, usually in an attempt to achieve some sort of numerical change Рa smaller waistline, a lower reading on the scale, a smaller clothing size.  When we commit to a temporary state of restriction, we are admitting to the foregone conclusion that the results of that restriction Рthe number drop Рwill also be a temporary phenomenon.

You cannot return to the way you normally eat and maintain those lower numbers. ¬†It doesn’t work. ¬†If you’ve made this particular resolution in the past, you already know this is true. ¬†Simply restricting what you eat also doesn’t guarantee that the food that you DO eat will actually nourish you.

BSNewYearWhen we decide to change the way that we eat, we are committing to a higher level of consciousness about what we eat in an attempt to eat food that is more healthful, that provides our bodies with more of what they require; a body that is getting what it needs is far less likely to torment us with the cravings that often drive us to eat unhealthy foods.

When we decide to change the way we eat, we are committing to caring for our bodies and our health, and are therefore also committing to caring for those around us who love us and cherish us.  When we decide to change the way that we eat, we open ourselves to the joy of living healthfully and the adventure of eating new and abundant real foods.  And so I ask you, on this auspicious occasion, NOT to diet, but to change the way you eat.  Eat Food, Real Food.

Big Sis and I have spent a lot of time this year talking about Baby Steps to Better Health. ¬†Maybe you missed it; maybe you weren’t ready; maybe you already think you eat well and weren’t interested in making a change. ¬†But now it’s coming – that resolution moment – that moment when so many of us get a little honest about our habits and find a little motivation to make some change. ¬†If that’s you, and you’re ready, we’d like to invite you to join us taking Baby Steps to Better Health.

We’ll do a recap of the steps we’ve already covered. ¬†We’ll get you started. ¬†We’ll help you figure out what to eat and show you how to make it super yum. ¬†If you’re ready, we’ll help you take those steps that will get you eating and feeling great in a way that works for YOU, with changes that YOU choose according to YOUR timeframe.

This is YOUR plan; it’s YOUR body. ¬†YOU should be the one to decide what to put in it, thoughtfully and consciously, using ingredients that aren’t invented in a lab. ¬†And you will find that the food you put in that body can be both succulent and healthful, both sublime and invigorating, both yummy and nourishing. ¬†Because real food is delish and it does your body good. ¬†Don’t diet; Eat Food, Real Food.

Go Back Jack – Baby Steps Check In

You go back Jack, do it again.

So says Steely Dan.  And so says the Baby Steps approach to healthy eating.

How are you coming along?  Successes?  Failures?

Build on the successes & Learn from the failures, and most importantly, do it again.

Make that choice again.

Making changes can be much easier with a buddy. ¬†Do you have a friend or relative (or maybe you’re lucky and have both in one like my Little Sis) who would like to eat healthier and look and feel better? ¬†Why not share the Baby Steps with him or her. ¬†Tell your Buddy what you are doing and invite them to come along. ¬†You can even post our Baby Steps button on your blog and invite friends that way. ¬†(The link is on the sidebar). ¬†The more the merrier and the more people eating healthier, the cheaper and more plentiful healthy food will become… in restaurants & schools, at events & practices and in the grocery store. ¬†But it has to start with us, in our homes, in our pantries and in our refrigerators.

And now is a great time to re-check Baby Steps #1 & #2

Baby Step #1 –The ol’ Switcheroo. ¬†What did you switch? ¬†I switched apple butter for maple syrup on breakfast foods. ¬†I’ve had some successes and a couple of failures… but the apple butter is in the fridge and I’ll have more chances to make the switcheroo. ¬†Time for another switcheroo? ¬†Did you find something in your pantry that you know you should live without? ¬†We found too many chips. ¬†We get the ‘healthier’ versions when they’re on sale (by this I mean natural ingredients, good oils, low calorie doesn’t mean healthy, i.e. read the labels), but we’ve begun mixing in more triscuits when making a snack of chips and also substituting popcorn.

Baby Step #2 – Be Fearless, Be Honest

Be conscious of what you are eating and why you are eating it. ¬†Is it for comfort? ¬†Is it for convenience? ¬†Is it for cost? ¬†What can you switch or eat less often on the list of things you know you’d be better off without. ¬†And again, it’s often time to go back to Baby Step #1. ¬†Switching, not losing. ¬†Replacing, by type of food and by function (comfort, convenience, cost).

If you haven’t checked on your pantry yet… give it a go. ¬†Here’s a refresher for¬†Baby Step #3. ¬†Below I’ll give you some links to recipes Little Sis and I use with¬†our standard pantry items.

Brown rice: Sweet potatoes and brown rice for breakfast?  Yes!

Brown rice and lentil casserole dirt cheap and kid friendly
Stir fry using rice
Lentil and oat ‘neatloaves’
quinoa main dish called kichadi – lots of room for variety!
another quinoa main dish with whatever veggies you’ve got¬†: When time runs out on dinner
My personal favorite sweet substitute РBrownie Bites and
an awesome sauce Little Sis came up with that will dress up whatever you’ve got! ¬†Pasta, grains, meat, veggies. ¬†Fabu Asian Peanut sauce

Please feel free to search our site, send us questions, ask us for encouragement. ¬†We’d love to keep your toes pointed in the right direction while you take those Baby Steps towards healthier eating. ¬†You might be behind us, or you might be in front of us but we’re all on the road together so make sure to wave and smile.