My oldest son recently turned 8 years old. Along with that birthday has come a growth spurt. Clothes that fit him a month ago are now too short and too tight. He is hungry all the time! Our pantry and refrigerator are emptying out more quickly than before.
This has made me realize that I need to re-think my typical grocery shopping trip. I shop for groceries weekly and, depending on the store, the foods I purchase are pretty much the same from week to week. This helps me stay on track with my budget. Unfortunately, an increase in appetite does not mean an increase in food budget. I need to look more closely at the foods I plan to make in the coming weeks to make sure my son (and the rest of my family) get the nutrition they need while staying within our food budget.
As I plan my next grocery shopping trip, here are three things I am going to look at more closely:
- Protein. I need to spend more time looking at the grocery ads before I go shopping to make sure I am choosing protein foods that fit my meal plan and my budget. For many recipes, I can substitute a less expensive protein choice.
- Stir-Fry is a great recipe for this – I can use beef, pork, chicken, fish, or tofu.
- Vegetables. I need to add more vegetables to my recipes. My whole family likes canned beans and frozen vegetables. These are choices that can add nutrition to a recipe without putting me outside of my budget.
- Snacks. I have gotten into a habit of buying pre-packaged snacks. Yes, they are easier, but they are more expensive. I think I can save myself money by reducing the number of pre-packaged snacks I buy and packaging snacks into reusable containers myself.
- Trail Mix is an easy snack to make and to package into small containers that will travel easily with us to the park or the pool this summer.
Stick with me on this one! When it is my turn to blog this summer, I will give you updates about how I am doing with my grocery shopping changes.
As a mom, I want to make foods for my family that taste good and are good for them. Sometimes I do this by altering a recipe to make it a bit healthier but still taste good. For some recipes, I reduce the amount of an ingredient. In others, I substitute one ingredient for another. Small changes can make a big difference in the amount of fat, salt, sugar and fiber in a dish.
Here are some ways I alter recipes to make them healthier:
- Reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3.
- Replace ¼ to ½ of refined flour with whole-wheat flour.
- Use plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Substitute skim or low-fat milk for whole milk.
- Use whole grains in place of refined grains.
For more ways to alter recipes for better health, use this guide by Purdue Extension. Try making one change at a time so you can see what works best for your recipe and what your family likes. And some recipes, like family traditions, might be best to enjoy as they are!
Our June recipe of the month, Black Bean Burgers, is sure to surprise you. My children love these burgers and eat them just the same as they would a burger made with ground meat.
I make these burgers for my family again and again, and here is why:
- They are inexpensive – using beans as a substitute for ground meat saves us money.
- They are quick in a pinch – on nights when we are busy or time gets away from me, I can make these burgers in about 15 minutes. I try to keep a can of black beans in my pantry for times like this.
- They are easy – mash the ingredients together with a fork, form them into patties, and cook them in a skillet.
This past month we’ve been talking all about fiber! Christine and Justine shared about the health benefits of fiber and how we can include high fiber foods in our meals and snacks. Today I’m going to share with you how to find high fiber foods using the food label.
The Nutrition Facts Label is found on food and beverage packages and is a helpful tool for increasing the amount of dietary fiber you eat. It shows the amount in grams (g) and the Percent Daily Value (%DV) of dietary fiber in one serving of the food. You can see on this label for brown rice that there are 2g of dietary fiber in ½ cup (or 2/3 cup after it is cooked). That is 8% DV. A good tip to remember is that:
- 5% DV or less of dietary fiber per serving is low
- 20% DV or more of dietary fiber per serving is high
When comparing foods, choose foods with a higher %DV of dietary fiber.
Another place to look is the ingredient list. Look for whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, rolled oats, whole grain corn, quinoa, barley, or bulgur. The ingredients on a Nutrition Facts Label are listed by weight, so the ingredients that make up more of the product are listed first. Look for products that have whole grain ingredients at the top of the list.
To get more fiber:
Has all of our talk about fiber this month got you thinking about adding more fiber to your meals? I sure hope so! Today I have two meal plans to share with you. Both include three meals, one snack, and 25-30 grams of fiber.
Meal Plan 1: (Fiber in grams)
- 1 1/2 cups Zesty Whole Grain Salad (5)
- 1 sandwich with
- 2 slices whole wheat bread (4)
- 1 slice cheese
- 3 ounces deli meat
Total grams of Fiber: 29 grams
Meal Plan 2: (Fiber in grams)
Total grams of Fiber: 25.5 grams
Note: If you need more or less fiber depending on your age and gender, adjust amounts of food up or down to meet your personal needs.
You may have noticed TV commercials and food packages that label a food as high in fiber or an excellent source of fiber. Have you ever wondered why fiber matters for our health? Over the next three weeks, we will focus on fiber including health benefits, how to get fiber and how to spot it on a food label. Women need about 25g of fiber per day and men need about 38g.
Fiber performs multiple functions in our bodies and it is an important part of healthy eating habits. Fiber can prevent constipation and keep your digestion moving. Think of fiber as the custodian of your colon – it sweeps everything along and keeps it moving. If someone in your house struggles with constipation try eating more high fiber foods. Fiber-rich foods also tend to be more filling than foods that are low in fiber and they are often lower in calories. This means that eating foods high in fiber can help you maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, eating more fiber may lower your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Here are some foods to try to boosts your fiber consumption:
- Vegetables (especially peas, broccoli, corn and potatoes)
- Fruits (especially raspberries, bananas, oranges and apples and pears with their skin)
- Beans and lentils
- Whole wheat products like bread, pasta or crackers
- Whole grain cereal
Next week Justine will share a sample weekly meal plan that includes meals and snacks with high fiber ingredients.
Talk to you next week!
Our May recipe of the month is Cowboy Caviar. This recipe is easy to make, tastes amazing, and packs a nutritional punch. All you have to do is combine some beans, chopped vegetables, and a chopped avocado with a quick homemade salad dressing. With that, you are ready to serve, or, in my case, eat!
I am not sure that I have mentioned this on the blog before, but, in addition to being a lover of great food, I am a dietitian. The food lover part of me drools over this recipe because it tastes so good and it is versatile. I can serve it as a dip for a party, I can scoop it into a tortilla and eat it as a wrap for lunch or supper, or I can simply grab a spoon and eat up (I have been known to do all three). The dietitian part of me loves this recipe because it is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In the coming weeks you are going to hear a lot from us about the wonderful nutrient fiber. Next week, Christine is going to tell us about what fiber can do for our bodies and foods that have fiber in them.
In the meantime, make a batch of Cowboy Caviar and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
What are the go-to drinks around your house? I am wrapping up our series on the 5210 campaign this week with a look at sugary drinks.
Our friends at the 5210 campaign encourage 0 sugary drinks and drinking more water instead. We at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. are big fans of enjoying food and it is rare for us to encourage readers to eat or drink ‘zero’ of something. However, sugary drinks do contribute a lot of calories and no feeling of fullness. They cost you money and really give nothing that your body needs in return.
Drinking sugary drinks like fruit punch, soda, lemonade and sports drinks in childhood is associated with overweight and obesity, less milk consumption and dental cavities. If you or your kiddos are big fans of sugary drinks, try looking at them as treats. Consider setting a goal of replacing one per day with water or milk. Having a sugary drink on occasion as a special treat is a way to enjoy them without the health problems associated with drinking them as a daily habit.
Have you been successful with reducing sugary drink consumption at your house? Share what worked for you on our Facebook or Twitter this week!
As a parent, it is easy for me to look at the 2-1 of the 5-2-1-0 Campaign and think, “That is not possible”. The 2 stands for 2 hours or less of screen time per day and the 1 stands for 1 hour or more of physical activity per day. However, the more I think about it, I know that this goal is possible for us.
We have just come out of a long winter and I am pretty sure that there were days when my children were watching TV or playing on the tablet for more than 2 hours and they were not physically active for an hour. However, as the weather has warmed up and as I have watched my children enjoy spring, I am realizing that we can meet this goal now, and that we have likely been meeting this goal in the past. It turns out that my children want to be active. Lately when they get home from school they ask to play outside instead of play a game on the tablet. This does mean that I need to set my things aside and go outside also because my youngest is not old enough to go out on his own yet, but this is ok because I need the fresh air and physical activity too. It is so fun to watch them run around, climb, and explore our neighborhood.
As the weather warms up, I hope that, little by little, our screen time will go down and our active time will go up. We probably will not be perfect on this goal, but I am looking forward to summer walks, bike rides, and trips to the park. Will you work on this goal with me to encourage all of our children (and ourselves) to be more active?
For some great ideas on reducing screen time and increasing active time, check out this section of the 5-2-1-0 Campaign website.
5210 is a catchy way to spread the message about healthy habits. The nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program began in Maine and has expanded to many states, including Iowa. The numbers remind us of the following habits we should do each day and help our kids to do:
- 5 or more fruits and vegetables
- 2 hours or less recreational screen time
- 1 hour or more of physical activity
- 0 sugary drinks, more water
Today, I’m going to focus on eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals, important for supporting growth and development, and healthy immune function in children. High daily intake of fruits and vegetables among adults is associated with lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and possibly, some types of cancers. And in addition to that, they taste good!
Boost your family’s fruit and vegetable intake by eating them on a potato, in a tomato, or with a toothpick.
Next week we’ll share how to reduce screen time and increase physical activity.