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Monday, December 4, 2017

Meal Prep Kits- Why? When? Never?

Seeing the last post I made was over a year ago...shows you I probably hadn't been cooking from "scratch" much at home!

Since my job as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist has always, in one way or another, involved menu planning- I do not always enjoy it "after hours."  Yet, a shock to most of my friends (and my husband), I actually DO like to cook!  There are numerous meal kits on the market, and my food geek and science brain has done (maybe a bit too much) research trying to figure out which one to try...

I settled on Blue Apron.  
What I like:
  • delivered to my door
  • you can "skip" deliveries
  • you can have a meal for 2 or 4
  • you have 4 recipes to choose from EVERY time
  • you can pick one or two meals/recipes on the weeks you accept delivery
  • food quality is great
  • sauces and such are in tiny, very easy to handle and use "bottles"
  • the app is SLICK
  • the presentation in the box is fun and awesome
  • you can try it for FREE!
  • instructions are great with photos
  • my family has been much more adventurous with food
  • they send you EVERYTHING except salt, pepper & olive oil
  • Image result for blue apron one egg
    they will even send you a SINGLE egg - in this adorable carton
What I don't LOVE about Blue Apron:
  • not cheap - but I think the shopping, delivery, food quality and THINKING they do for me makes it worth it for 1-2 x per week
  • time consuming- recipes take a decent amount of prep and chopping (& sometimes pan washing!), it is good to have a sous chef (my husband) on hand
  • not enough special diet possibilities- especially with gluten free - it would be easy for them to have that as a preference and then they could swap out pasta for rice, cauli-rice for some things...and so on...
I also tried HEB Meal Simple - Simply Prep
What I like:
  • a little less per serving in cost compared to blue apron (the one I compared was $1 less per serving)
  • FASTER to make....vegetables were already chopped - so ALOT less prep time
  • good recipe & easy to follow
  • good food quality
  • several to choose from at store, probably at least 6 varieties
  • *calories were easy to find when comparing which recipe to buy/cook
What I didn't love:
  • sauces/marinades/spices came in packets and pouches that were MESSY
  • vegetables weren't cut in a uniform manner to cook at the same rate
  • you have to park, walk in and BUY it in the grocery store
    • well, unless you use their awesome CURBSIDE delivery!
HEB                                                 Blue Apron
    So, my conclusion?  I will probably keep using Blue Apron as I plan ahead better for the WHOLE week when I  know it is coming.  I will also try a few others from HEB, as I will be using their curbside and shopping inside ANYways....
    The best part, my little family of 3 eats together more often...and if this is what it takes during this "season" of our lives...I'm all for it.

    *I received a free try for Blue Apron from a fellow RDN food geek Ms. Shelly #laaserdinnertonight but you can too...just ask a friend who uses their service!  This entry's intention is to inform my curious friends, not influence.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ode to Spaghetti Squash

Pardon me if I have professed my love of spaghetti squash in the past.
oh and a few on here................https://www.facebook.com/Working4Wellness1/

It is sad that I did not learn of it until a few years ago, but it was worth the wait!  When I started eating gluten free, it was hard at first without any pasta.
I am used to "no pasta" now, but every once in a while...a plate of comfort (aka spaghetti dinner)....was all I could think of...

Image result for spaghetti squashEnter stage right... the awesome star of my weekly menu, the spaghetti squash.
A cup of white spaghetti noodles has around 220 kcals and 42 carbs, while a cup of spaghetti squash has around 42 calories  (yes, I said 42 C A L O R I E S - NOT carbs) and around 10 carbs.
One WHOLE squash might have around the same calories as a cup of regular spaghetti noodles.
It really DOES have a similiar consistency and neutral flavor like a regular pasta spaghetti noodle!

How do you cook them?  Well, you can bake, microwave, and....drumroll please...use a CROCKPOT.
I just found this on www.familyfreshmeals.com !  Basically, you puncture the squash a few times, throw it in the crockpot on low, come back 5 hours later and scrape it out!
For those of you that may have tried to cut or handle a raw spaghetti squash to prep it for cooking, well....it is not the safest kitchen prep exercise.

How do I like to eat it?  Let me count the ways....
On my pinterest page (https://www.pinterest.com/ifuthinkucan/)- I have many of the recipes I've tried...and I love them all.  The Tomato Basil Squash Bake is a favorite as a gift to new moms or for other neighbors in need of an easy and healthy casserole meal. 
Yet, my favorite is an old school plate of spaghetti - no recipe needed - for a quick weeknight meal - my favorite jar of spaghetti sauce (with or without added cooked ground meat or chicken) plus Spaghetti Squash.

Not only does it fill you up with WAY less calories, but it gives you Vitamin A, Potassium and other naturally occurring nutrients.
How do you like YOUR Spaghetti Squash?  I'd love to hear...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fresh, Fast..Hot or Cold ...Side or Main Dish

photo & recipe cred to joyfulhealthyeats.com

Possibilities are endless with this one....
I wanted to be sure that my friends had this recipe to try....you know it is easy if I tried it!
With my husband playing sous chef, (while I played taxi driver)- he finished roasting the asparagus and cooked a 1/2 cup of quinoa.
Upon my return, we tossed:
  • roasted pecans
  • roasted asparagus cut into 2 inch bites
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • drizzle of balsamic and olive oil
  • cooked quinoa
What would I change?
  • more vegetables:  maybe roasted brussels sprouts, sun dried tomatoes- etc
  • steam the asparagus vs roast
  • grilled chicken?
Really- this recipe is a base for so many possibilities- let me know if you try your own version ....
p.s. such a good balance of nutrients in this dish including healthy fats from the pecans (especially high in omega 6 fatty acids) plus olive oil, lots of fiber, gluten free

photo & recipe cred go to

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sleeping Less? Gaining Weight?

How did you sleep last night?  How healthy are your food choices going today? Are they related? YES!  

NIH has recently shown by yet another study, that sleep deprivation will decrease your ability to choose your foods wisely the next day. Although a small sample size, they believe it is tied to the endocannabinoid (eCB) system.  Does cannabinoid sound familiar? The eCB system is the same one that is activated by chemicals found in marijuana.  If you do not get enough sleep, the eCB system can alter your brain's decision circuit pathways and have you reaching for more "fun" food.  This system plays a major role in appetite and energy levels.

Source:  NIH Tying Sleep Deprivation & Food Choices

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Artificial Sweeteners Backfired

The artificial sweeteners saccharin, sucralose and aspartame may raise
blood sugar by changing the makeup of the gut bacteria in the intestines.

These intestinal microflora play a major role in nutrition and your immune 
system and account for 4 POUNDS OF YOUR BODY WEIGHT !

Originally developed to reduce obesity and metabolic disease...studies show artificial sweeteners may due directly the opposite!
They may not DIRECTLY increase blood sugar, but the 
disruption of the intestinal bacteria MAY increase fasting blood sugar and 
impair blood sugar tolerance

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Importance of Ingredient List....

Currently food labels are required to list sugar, but they do not differentiate between ADDED sugar and naturally occurring sugar....

Example:1 cup of skim milk has about 10 grams of naturally-occurring sugar, and 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt has about 12 grams. These amounts, along with any added sugar, will appear on the Nutrition Facts Label.
The protein in the dairy will slow the absorption and your blood sugar level will not spike like it would with added sugars.

The 4 grams of sugar in this unsweetened greek yogurt comes from naturally occurring lactose.

Be sure to pay attention to the ingredient list for the many other names sugar can be listed.  In addition, if trying to eliminate artificial sweeteners, there are generic names for the sweeteners you are more familiar with....sucralose=splenda, aspartame is nutrasweet and saccharin is sweet n low (to name a few).
Hopefully, plans to revise the nutrition facts label to differentiate between natural and added sweeteners will come to fruition.  In the meantime, be a smart shopper and read those labels!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie Deliciousness
(recipe for 2)

  • 2 very small apples or one large one
  • 1 med/large banana (frozen if you have it)
    • (add 5-7 cubes of ice if the banana is not frozen)
  • 1.5 scoop of Isopure 100% Whey Protein Powder (http://www.theisopurecompany.com/product/isopurewpi.html)
  • 8 oz unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 8 oz unsweetened coconut water
  • 1-1.5 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh spinach (at least)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (unsalted/raw is what I use)
Nutrition PER smoothie (makes 2):
Approximately 225 calories, 21 g protein + lots of fiber