Sunday, August 24, 2014

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Last school year I did a blog post on school lunches your kids can pack themselves.  This started out great. The kids loved making choices and I loved that, except for a sandwich, I didn't have to 'make' lunches.  After awhile, I discovered a few problems with our system.  1) The kids got bored with the choices. 2) Buying pre-packaged snacks got pricey and wasteful. 3) I always felt guilty that they were not eating enough fresh foods in their lunches.  A few months into this system, I went to bento box type lunches for the kids. They loved them, but it was very time consuming each night.

This year I'm changing things up a bit. It's basically the same idea I posted last year, but with fresh choices. This takes a little more prep time (about an hour), but it's worth it knowing my kids are eating healthier options that they like.

I am still using lunch bins that they can choose from. I take them out every morning and choose what they want from each bin.
Main Course (Bin 1)
This week, for the "main course" I made wraps and froze them.  I pop one in each lunch box before school, and by lunchtime, they are thawed.  I have 3 kids so I made 15 wraps.

For other main courses I plan on making a variety of sandwiches and subs, pasta salads with added protein, chicken salad, and sometimes dinner leftovers of their favorite dinners.
I bought these containers on Amazon for $13.99 for 40 for non-sandwich items.  They are 8 oz deli containers. Perfect size for a lunch.  I like these because they are re-usable, but if a kid accidentally throws one away, it's not that big of a deal.

Fruits and Veggies (Bin 2)
I make them choose 2 out of this bin.  This week I have cut broccoli, mini-carrots, strawberries, apple slices, and yogurt.  To keep the apples fresh, I soak them in pineapple juice before bagging them.  This tastes better than lemon juice. The yogurt can be used as a dip for the fruit.

Other items I plan on putting in this bin are : string cheese, various berries, orange slices, grapes, melons, sliced peppers, sugar snap peas, and celery.
 I made veggie dip out of Greek yogurt and used smaller containers that I also purchased on Amazon. I have to tell them to take only one because my daughter would take SIX.

Treat Bin (Bin 3)
This last bin contains treats that they like. This week they have mini-cheddar rice cakes, peanut butter filled pretzels, whole wheat fig newtons, and fudge stripe cookies. I have them take only one of these, because they would take ALL of them.  I know I would. My lunch would be all Fudge Stripes.

My other plans for this bin include: beef jerky, trail mix, cookies, yogurt covered raisins, dried fruit, brownies, tortilla chips and salsa, etc...

I make only 15 of the main course.The other two bins will have extras so they can have a snack for sports and other after school activities.  The kids really enjoy choosing their own lunches and I feel better about giving them healthier choices.  If you have some ideas I could add to my bins, please let me know in the comments.

Monday, August 11, 2014

How to Wake Up Early for a Workout

In the past, I tried to save my workouts for the evenings.   My day would be packed with work, errands, kids' practices, and rehearsals and I would put everyone else and their needs before mine. All day long I would tell myself over and over "I'll workout tonight. I'll workout tonight". Evening would roll around and there would be dinner, homework, clean-up, and getting ready for the next busy day.  By the time all of the kids were in bed I was too exhausted to work out and I'd tell myself "I'll do it tomorrow night", but of course I never did.
I decided that if I wanted to exercise, I would have to start getting up early. I'd sacrifice some sleep to make room for something I love.
It's not always easy to lose some of that delicious sleep, but here are some things I do to get my butt out the door:

1) Prep the night before. The night before I will lay out all of my workout clothes, socks, and shoes. I will fill my water bottle and put it in my gym bag with all of my other needs and put my gym bag right by the front door.  Lastly, I will set the coffee pot and lay out my breakfast so it's all ready to go when my feet hit the floor.

2) Put your alarm clock/phone across the room. If I have to walk across the room to shut it off, then I am less likely to hit snooze.  I put mine right next to my gym clothes as a reminder of why I am up so dang early.

3) Go to sleep early. It's hard to stop everything and go to sleep earlier at first, but after a few mornings of waking up early, your body will naturally want to sleep earlier.  Avoid having electronics on for at least 30 minutes before bed. I also avoid caffeine or exercise after 4 pm.

4) Be accountable. Set up a date with a friend to work out.  If I know someone is counting on me, I won't leave them hanging. I have made a lot of friends at my gym. When someone who comes regularly, we notice and make sure they know we missed them.

5) Do something you LOVE! Make sure you pick an activity that you love. If you don't love running, then you sure aren't going to get out of bed early to do it. I LOVE my current training schedule or Krav Maga classes and conditioning for KM, so I get excited about getting up to do it.  Find what you love and schedule time for that!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Easy Weeknight Curry Recipe

You know those nights that you have nothing planned for dinner and you don't feel like cooking? You are tired, you have nothing thawed from the freezer, and if your anything like me, you stall until a kid complains that they are "soooooooooo hungry". Then you panic a little and consider feeding them pancakes for dinner...again. 
I have been working hard at coming up with some very easy, but still healthy recipes for nights like this.

My family loves this brand of Curry Powder. They also love coconut milk, so I threw together this easy and somewhat healthy recipe that everyone enjoyed.
I cook large portions so that we have them for lunch during the week instead of grabbing something less healthy. Go ahead and cut the recipe in half if you need to.


 2 lbs ground turkey or lean ground beef
-1 large chopped apple
1 medium chopped onion
1 14 oz bag of frozen peas
salt and pepper

1 can coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
cilantro (optional)
2 tablespoons curry powder (adjust for your taste)

In a large pan, brown the ground meat. Drain if you need to. Add apple, onions, peas, salt, and pepper.  Cook until onions are soft. The apples should still be a bit crisp.
Add the coconut milk, lime, cilantro, and curry powder.  Stir together and bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Serve over rice, brown rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain.

This is very quick and easy. If you cook this for your family, I'd love to hear back from you in the comments.