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How To Make Your Thanksgiving Meal Healthier

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that’s lower in fat and calories but still thrills the crowd isn’t hard. All it takes is a few ingredient substitutions and some clever fat-busting techniques.

  • The Big Turkey
    If you’re hosting a small gathering, buy a turkey breast rather than the whole bird, as breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat. If you do buy a whole turkey, avoid “self-basting” turkeys, as they often contain added fat. And–it goes without saying–stay away from the deep fryer this year, and roast or smoke the turkey.

    Stuff the turkey cavity with whole or halved onions, halved lemons or apples, and sprigs of fresh herbs such as sage, marjoram, thyme, and/or rosemary.

    Rather than rubbing the skin with butter or oil, spray it with an oil spray and season it with salt and pepper.

    Good Gravy
    Gravy is one of the biggest calorie culprits on the table. Use vegetable oil rather than turkey drippings when making the gravy–it’s still fat, but oil is lower in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free.

    If you use turkey drippings to add flavor, use a gravy separator. Pour the gravy into a separator and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Some of the fat in the gravy will rise to the top of the glass where you can skim it off easily.

    Better yet, make a low-fat broth-based gravy or a vegetarian gravy instead.


    Instead of using butter and cream to mash potatoes, save the cooking water when you boil of the potatoes. The starchy water will give the potatoes a creamier texture than plain water would.

    You can also add turkey or chicken broth, evaporated skim milk, or fat-free sour cream. For extra flavor, stir in roasted garlic and herbs. For added nutrition, add pureed cooked cauliflower, parsnips, or turnips

    Dressing, not Stuffing

    Bake the dressing in a casserole dish rather than in the turkey, where it absorbs fat from the turkey as it bakes. It’s hard to slim down a stuffing recipe, so take a small serving if it’s your Thanksgiving favorite. Avoid recipes using sausage or bacon; wild rice and grains are more nutritious than bread stuffings.

    Slimmed-down Sides

    Scrap the traditional dessert-style candied sweet potato casseroles in favor of a low-fat, naturally-sweetened dish. Try a cranberry relish or cut down on the amount of sugar in your cranberry sauce by adding fruit juices or apple sauce.

    Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie
    Most of the fat in a pie comes from the crust. Try a reduced-fat graham cracker crust or our crust-free pumpkin pie recipe


BBQ Recipes You and Your Family Will Love

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Make some time to spend outdoors with family. Plan a picnic, and prepare these delicious and BBQ recipes for a healthier take on some of your BBQ favorites.

Stuffed Pizza Turkey Burgers

People are always looking for the ultimate burger recipe to prepare at family barbecues. Why not prepare a recipe that is not only tasty, but also filled with a surprise? This recipe calls for turkey burgers instead of the traditional beef and has a hidden tomato-and-cheese center.


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (soak in water briefly to rehydrate)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Mix turkey with Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Divide turkey into four even portions. Divide each portion in half to form two patties.
  3. Sprinkle each of 4 patties with 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons cheese. Top with remaining patties.
  4. Pinch the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed. Season with salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  5. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Makes 4 burgers.

Feta and Basil Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

Who doesn’t love fries with their burger? Here’s a healthier alternative to regular french fries. These grilled sweet potato fries are topped with feta cheese and basil to complement the flavors in the turkey burgers.


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot of cold water, and cook until potatoes are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and let cool slightly. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Then slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges, depending on the size.
  3. Brush the wedges with the grapeseed oil. Grill until lightly golden brown and just cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  4. Remove to a platter, and top with basil, feta cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Peaches with Frozen Yogurt and Pecans

BBQ recipes need to include a delicious dessert, and why not one straight from the grill? This dessert combines two southern favorites: juicy peaches and crunchy pecans. The ingredients are warmed through and paired with chilled nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt.


  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 pint-sized container of nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  1. Slice peaches in half and remove pits.
  2. Brush the cut side of the peach with maple syrup and place on grill. After grill lines begin to form, rotate the peaches 90 degrees to create cross-hatch grill marks.
  3. Place two halves in a bowl, cut side up. Place a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt on top, and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Makes 4 servings.

I hope your family enjoys these BBQ recipes!

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

7 Fantastic Watermelon Recipes

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Watermelon is the juicy fruit that often makes an appearance at barbecues and family reunions. But don’t limit watermelon to fruit salads. There are many alternative watermelon recipes that are simple to make and delicious.

Watermelon Health Benefits

  • Prevents dehydration: Watermelon has a high water content, which helps keeps you hydrated on hot days.
  • Rich in nutrients: As a Florida State University study shows, watermelon is chock full of nutrition. It contains vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Low-calorie and low-fat: Watermelon has about 50 calories per cup and zero fat, making it an ideal food to incorporate into a healthy eating plan. However, most of watermelon’s calories come from natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation.
  • Benefits blood pressure: The Florida State University study linked watermelon to lower blood pressure. It is believed the benefit is due to watermelon’s high content of L-citrulline, which your body converts into L-arginine, a key amino acid that supports healthy blood pressure.
  • High in lycopene: Lycopene is responsible for watermelon’s pinkish-red color. It is an antioxidant carotenoid that helps protect cells. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has linked lycopene to a decreased risk of heart disease and prostate cancer.

Watermelon Recipes

  • Watermelon popsicles: These are a great summer treat for kids of all ages. To make, puree 3 cups seedless watermelon, add 1 tablespoon honey (more or less to taste), pour into popsicle molds, and freeze. You can also make watermelon ice cubes by adding the puree to ice cube trays and freezing. These are delicious added to water or lemonade!
  • Watermelon salsa: Eating Well offers this salsa recipe that combines watermelon with jalapenos, fresh cilantro, red onions, and lime juice.
  • Watermelon salad: Give life to a green salad by adding watermelon chunks. Or try this refreshing spinach and watermelon salad recipe by Cozy Country Living. It features fresh spinach, watermelon, blueberries, blue cheese, and chopped walnuts. Make it a meal by adding grilled chicken.
  • Grilled watermelon: To make this easy side dish or dessert, lightly sprinkle both sides of 1″ thick slices of watermelon with sea salt, place in colander, and drain for at least a half-hour (this helps remove excess water before grilling). Rinse the watermelon slices, and blot gently with paper towels to dry. Brush both sides of watermelon slices with a mixture of honey and lime juice, and grill on high approximately two minutes per side or until lightly browned and caramelized.
  • Watermelon pie: No list of summer watermelon recipes is complete without a pie. This cool and creamy watermelon pie recipe from Taste of Home can be prepared in minutes. Make it lighter by using low-fat frozen whipped topping and a low-fat graham cracker crust.
  • Watermelon granita: Sweet and slushy watermelon granita looks elegant, yet is simple to make. Add six cups seedless watermelon, 1/3 cup sugar, and the juice of one lime to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Pour puree into a 9 x 13 baking dish (preferably metal) and place into the freezer. Freeze for about an hour and use a fork to scrape the granita—this helps give it a snow cone-like consistency and helps prevent large chunks from forming. Repeat the process two more times, scraping after an hour. Serve immediately or cover with foil and store in the freezer.

Watermelon recipes shouldn’t be boring. Impress your family and friends by preparing one of the above dishes at your next summer gathering.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

Celebrate National Hot Dog Month

Monday, July 14th, 2014

July is National Hot Dog Month. Regardless of whether you slather your hot dog with your favorite blend of condiments or experiment with a new combination of flavors this month, you won’t be alone. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), Americans consumed 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July alone.

How the Hot Dog Got Its Name

Hot dogs are a favorite American comfort food that makes an easy and delicious choice for grilling, steaming, or boiling. Some people even like them fried. These treats go by several names, including red hots, frankfurters, footlongs, and wieners. Though the German city of Frankfurt is usually credited with originating the hot dog (hence the name “frankfurter”), the NHDSC notes that others believe it was originally created in the late 1600s in Colberg, Germany, by a butcher named Johann Georghehner, who later brought his product to Frankfurt.

The more common name “hot dog” is credited to a sports cartoonist from back in the early 1900s. As the story goes, cartoonist Tad Doran attended a baseball game in New York at the Polo Grounds where venders yelled, “Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!” Because Doran was unsure of how to spell the word “dachshund,” he just called them “hot dogs,” and the name stuck. However, as interesting as this bit of folklore is, no copy of the cartoon has been found. The NHDSC notes that there is evidence that the term “hot dog” had been used to describe the sausage-in-a-bun combination as early as the 1890s.

Most Popular Condiment

Condiment preferences vary by region. For instance, those eating a Chicago Dog wouldn’t even think of adding ketchup to their dog. Instead, the recipe for a Chicago Dog is topped with mustard, onion, bright green relish, onion, tomato slices, and dill pickle. It is sprinkled with celery salt. A New York Dog is served with steamed onions and a lighter mustard. In Atlanta, try this recipe for a dog topped with cole slaw. In celebration of National Hot Dog Month, you may want to try one of each.

Baseball and the Hot Dog

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the NHDSC, hot dog and sausage consumption at US major league ballparks is expected to number 21,357,361 hot dogs this season. This love baseball fans have of hot dogs is reflected in the fact that the top ten hot-dog-consuming cities are home to MLB teams—including Atlanta, which came in number 3 last year.

National Hot Dog Month Selfie Contest

In celebration of Nation Hot Dog Month, the NHDSC is holding a selfie contest. Just snap a selfie of you with your choice of mouthwatering hot dog and enter to win.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

Make Homemade Pizza a Fun, Healthy Tradition

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Homemade pizza can be a healthy alternative to delivery varieties as well as a fun family activity. While delivery pizza has earned its place among unhealthy food due to high sodium, fat, and calories, the homemade variety can be nutritious and packed with healthy foods.

Fun Family Activity

Get the family involved in making pizza from scratch. Choose one night of the week for pizza night. Before you know it, your kids will look forward to making and eating lighter, healthier pizzas each week. Younger children may enjoy choosing and sprinkling toppings, and older children can learn to knead and spread the dough to create the crust.

Healthy Crust

Build a healthier pizza from the crust up starting with a whole-wheat recipe. Try this recipe for whole wheat crust made with 100 percent whole wheat. It’s quick, fuss-free, and a perfect recipe for little helping hands. It is easily mixed in a food processor and requires only a little kneading and rising time.

If you’re not ready to go with a 100 percent whole-wheat crust, you can use a flour blend that’s three-quarters regular flour and the rest whole-wheat. Once your family’s taste buds get used to the crust, you can gradually increase the amount of whole-wheat in the blend.

Healthy Pizza Toppings

After deciding on the ideal crust for your family pizza night, build on that healthy foundation with healthier toppings. To start, make your own sauce, or choose a low-sodium variety. Think beyond red sauce; give pesto, olive oil, and fresh garlic a try. Sprinkle with low-fat cheeses, such as part-skim mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, which is naturally lower-fat. Then, add your favorite toppings.

Veggie toppings add flavor and texture. Try including tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and dark greens. Let the kids experiment. You never know; you may come up with a new family favorite.

For those who enjoy meat on their pizza, turkey ground with Italian seasonings makes a delicious low-fat topping. Other lighter options to consider include lean steak, grilled chicken, and shrimp.

For a creative twist to traditional pizza, try this recipe for a pie with a Southern barbecue flare. Instead of an Italian sauce use barbecue sauce. Top with chicken strips, cheese, and a tasty onion mixture. For those who like spice, substitute a spicier barbecue sauce. The possibilities are endless.

Portions Matter

No matter which kind of homemade pizza you decide to make, it’s important to pay attention to portions. When something tastes good, it’s easy to mindlessly eat another piece. Instead, decide ahead of time how many portions to eat for your size and activity level. In most cases, 2 or 3 slices of pizza is enough.

Kids love pizza night. Learning to make healthy homemade pizza is a great way to spend time together. Plus, it is an opportunity to teach them how to make healthier choices that taste good.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

Beach-Friendly 4th of July Recipes

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Celebrating the 4th of July holiday at the beach is a great way to experience summer living at its best. Make sure you and your family have plenty to eat seaside by preparing delicious 4th of July recipes ahead of time. Some recipes can be made directly on the beach using a hibachi or small grill; others you’ll need to prepare in advance and keep on ice in a cooler until ready to serve.

July 4th Beach Recipes

  • Infused water: Give summer beverages a refreshing 4th of July makeover by infusing patriotically colored fresh fruit: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries. The fruit’s flavor will infuse throughout the drink.
  • Cold crab salad: Natasha’s Kitchen features this recipe for crab salad made from imitation crab meat, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, and mayonnaise. Use light mayonnaise to cut calories. The salad can be served on its own or as a filling for pita bread or hot dog rolls.
  • Perfect pasta salad: Cook 16 ounces of fusilli or penne pasta according to package instructions, and drain well. Next, boil and drain one 16-ounce package of frozen cut broccoli until crisp and tender. Combine pasta and broccoli in a large bowl. Add one diced cucumber, two finely diced tomatoes, and 16 ounces of low-fat Italian dressing. Mix thoroughly. Top with 1/2 cup pine nuts. Chill.
  • Grilled shrimp kabobs: Marinate deveined, fresh shrimp in Italian dressing in a large zipper bag for at least one hour. For each kabob, alternate and skewer marinated shrimp with red and green pepper, onion, and fresh pineapple. Grill for three to four minutes per side or until shrimp is opaque.
  • Flag fruit salad: Show your patriotism by arranging fresh fruit into the shape of a flag. Use halved strawberries or whole raspberries for the red stripes, and pineapple chunks or angel food cake cubes for the white stripes. Use blueberries and cake or pineapple for the blue field of stars.
  • Red, white, and blue parfait: This parfait is perfect for beach eating because it’s served in a small mason jar. Cover the bottom of a small mason jar with granola; add 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt, and top with a layer of halved strawberries and whole blueberries. Repeat layers.

Other Patriotic Beach Eats

Having fun in the sun stirs up an appetite. When you’re not ready for a heavy meal, these snacks should fit the bill:

  • Make a patriotic snack mix by combining mini pretzels, your favorite cereal, peanuts, and raisins in a large bowl. Stir in red and blue candy coated chocolate or carob drops. Package in individual zipper bags.
  • Red and Blue Shortcakes: Fill store-bought shortcake cups with diced strawberries and blueberries.
  • Dip pretzel rods in melted white chocolate and roll in red and blue sprinkles.

Whether you’re burrowing your toes in the sand or enjoying fireworks, the right 4th of July recipes can make your holiday memorable. To enjoy a stress-free day, plan your menu ahead of time and arrive at the beach prepared with plenty of ice for premade foods that needs to stay cold, napkins, plates and eating utensils.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

3 Homemade Ice Pop Recipes to Beat the Summer Heat

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Ice pops are the perfect end to a day of fun in the sun, but many contain unhealthy, artificial ingredients. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own frozen treats for your family using the following delicious ice pop recipes:

Fruit and Yogurt Ice Pop (makes 4)

This ice pop recipe turns low-fat yogurt and fruit into a cool and creamy treat.


  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, peaches, or bananas)
  • 1/8 cup sugar


  • In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients to desired consistency (chunky or smooth).
  • Pour the mixture into ice pop molds or three-ounce paper cups. If you are using paper cups, fill each cup about 3/4 full, cover each mold with foil, and poke a wooden craft stick through the foil.
  • Freeze for several hours, and remove from molds.

Watermelon Ice Pops (makes 4)

Watermelon is a summer staple. Putting it in an ice pop makes it especially and refreshing.


  • 2 cups seedless or deseeded watermelon
  • Up to 1/8 cup sugar, depending on the watermelon’s sweetness


  1. Combine watermelon and sugar in a food processor.
  2. Pour mixture into desired molds.
  3. Freeze for several hours, and remove ice pops from molds.

Berries and White Grape Juice Ice Pops (makes 4)


  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups white grape juice with no sugar added


  1. Place about 1/4 cup of fresh fruit into each mold.
  2. Pour white grape juice over the fruit until it is covered.
  3. Freeze for several hours, and remove ice pops from molds.

Get the Kids Involved

Making ice pops is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen. Here are some easy things they can do:

  • Instead of using a blender or food processor, have kids crush ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
  • Kids can pour the ice pop mixture into the molds, and if you’re using paper cups, poke the popsicle stick through the foil covering.
  • Older kids can help slice fruit.

Ice Pop Tips

Making ice pop recipes is fun and easy, but the following tips can help the process along:

  • To remove ice pops from molds, hold them under warm tap water until the pop loosens.
  • After unmolding, poke the ice pop handle through the middle of a paper cupcake liner to catch messy drips.
  • To make smaller ice pops, pour the ice pop mixture into ice cube trays; cover with foil, and poke toothpicks through the foil covering.
  • Leave 1/4 inch at the top of your mold to allow for expansion during the freezing process.
  • For a healthier option and an interesting taste twist, try substituting honey for sugar in the ice pop recipes. However, to avoid infant botulism, DO NOT give honey in any form to children under one year.
  • When you’re short on time, you can quickly make ice pops by pouring your favorite fruit juice into molds and freezing. Options include grape, orange, apple, or pineapple juice. Use products that are 100 percent juice with no sugar added.

Delicious Summer Treats

Eating a frosty ice pop is a great way to end a busy summer day. The desserts also add fun to summer barbecues and outdoor birthday parties.

Whether you make the ice pop recipes above or create your own using your family’s favorite fruits, you’ll feel good about serving something homemade and refreshing.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

Make Homemade Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

It’s almost summer. Keep your cool this season by making homemade ice cream with your family after dinner. There’s nothing better than cooling off with this sweet treat with a healthy twist! Don’t have an ice cream maker? Don’t worry! You can still make ice cream treats at home.

Making Ice Cream at Home with a Blender

You don’t need a fancy ice cream maker to make this decadent dessert recipe. With a little—very little—preparation before dinner, you can be snacking on homemade ice cream this evening.

Step 1: Peel bananas, and slice one banana for each serving of ice cream you’d like to make. If you have a family of five, use five bananas. Keep the slices about 1-inch thick, and spread them out over a cookie sheet. Place the bananas in the freezer.

Step 2: After the bananas have frozen, which takes 30 minutes to an hour, remove the cookie sheet from the freezer. Let the bananas thaw for a few minutes. Then use a spatula to remove them from the cookie sheet. Scoop the frozen banana pieces into a blender or food processor.

Step 3: Add a splash of dairy, soy, or almond milk to the bananas. Blend the bananas and milk until you get a creamy, thick consistency. Use a spatula to periodically scrape down the sides of the machine.

That’s it! Now serve the creamy homemade ice cream or freeze for later. Of course, you can add your favorite toppings to make the treat extra tasty.

Flavorful Ice Cream Add-ins

There are lots of toppings that complement banana ice cream. Try sprinkling one of these extras on top of each bowl of ice cream:

  • shredded coconut
  • chopped peanuts
  • dark chocolate chips
  • sliced strawberries
  • blueberry puree
  • pomegranate seeds

More Frozen Treats to Try

Summer is just getting started! There’s plenty of time to try making more homemade frozen treats. Here’s a few recipe ideas that will have the kids begging for dessert, even though it’s good for them!

Fresh strawberry granita: If you love strawberries and icy desserts, this simple recipe is a must-try.

Low sugar mango sorbet: When mangoes go on sale, stock up to make this refreshing dessert recipe featuring zero-calorie stevia as the natural sweetener.

Homemade peach ice cream: Serve up local peaches with this low-fat dessert recipe that contains only 58 calories per half-cup scoop.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your nutrition in mind.

Become a Grocery List Master

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Planning meals ahead of time has benefits for both your health and your budget. You’re less likely to choose unhealthy items that don’t fit into your meals when you have a plan. A well-organized grocery list and shopping strategy can help you stay on track. Here are some tips for good organization:

Go Electronic
Try Wayfield Foods’ online grocery-shopping list to keep you organized. You can also keep a list on the family computer or mobile device and print the document before you head to the store. Add to the list throughout the week as you run out of kitchen staples, such as flour or eggs. Make sure to update the list as soon as you use up an item. It’s no fun to get home from shopping only to realize you still don’t have butter.

Keep on Track

Segment your list so that it follows the layout of the store. Start your list with all produce, for example, and then cluster items you need from the meat section, then the dairy section, and so on. This saves you from zig-zagging through the store, which saves time. But more importantly, it will help you avoid straying into the snack aisles.

Add Alternatives
Although you need to stick to your list, there is some room for flexibility. Being flexible can save you money and make following recipes easier. If a meal you plan to make has alternatives and substitution options, note that on the grocery list. For example, perhaps you’ve chosen a recipe for stir fry, and it calls for green peppers. You know that red or yellow bell peppers can be substituted, so make a note next to green peppers on the list. If green peppers are unavailable or if other peppers are on sale, choose the other peppers.

Let Kids Help

Older kids and teenagers can be a big challenge when you want to stay focused on your healthy list — as they beg for sugary snacks, you might find your resolve crumbling. To keep them from wandering off and returning with cartons of ice cream, put them to work! Create a separate list with easy-to-grab items, such as toilet paper, paper towels, or canned foods, for them to gather while you shop. This lets them be part of shopping and saves you time at the store.

Fruit and veggies make a healthy snack for kids, and your children will be more likely to reach for them if you let them be part of the selection process. Set parameters and let kids choose what they want to eat. Shopping with your children also allows you to be a good nutrition role model as they see you choosing healthy foods.

Note Discounts

Estimate the total price of the items on your list before you go, so you won’t be surprised at checkout. This way you’ll know if you can afford to splurge on a treat without breaking the budget. Add reminders to your grocery list. Write a small “C” next to items you have coupons for. Carry the coupons in an envelope along with the grocery list. Label sale items with an “S” so you’re sure to stock up.

Get more out of each dollar by spending wisely. A well-organized grocery list can help you do just that while helping to keep your family healthy. Keep an ongoing grocery list based on the week’s meal plans and quantities of food needed. And always use sales and coupons to get more groceries for each dollar spent!

Photo credit: morgueFile

New School Lunch Ideas

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

If you’ve fallen into a habit of including a bag of chips, candy bar, and lunch-meat sandwich in your child’s school lunches, it’s time to try something healthier. Not sure where to start? Always pack fresh produce, a protein, and a little something sweet. Here’s a list of ideas to keep your kid healthy and ready to learn.

Kid-friendly Produce
Because fresh produce perishes quickly, stick to fruits and vegetables that keep well for hours without refrigeration. Try packing a handful of red and green seedless grapes, sweet red bell pepper slices, easy-to-peel clementines, or crispy baby carrots. If your children don’t like to eat their vegetables, pack an individual serving-size cup of low-fat vegetable dip to make eating veggies fun. For fruits, try including a small cup of sugar-free yogurt.

Beyond Lunch Meat
Although sliced lunch meats are convenient, they’re very high in sodium and not friendly on the grocery budget. Instead, buy whole meats and make them lunch-friendly. For example, follow this recipe to roast a turkey on the weekend and use slices for school lunch sandwiches during the week. Or bake a ham and include bite-size cubes in the lunch box. Always pack meats next to a cold pack.

Healthy Crunchy Snacks
Kids like to pick at their food. Always include a few crunchy snacks for them to munch on during the meal while they sit at the lunch table with their friends. Air-popped popcorn, a few whole-grain tortilla chips, and banana chips keep well in packed school lunches.

Better-for-you Sweets
Just like grownups, kids need to satisfy their sweet tooth from time to time. Keep desserts child-friendly and take care that portions stay small. Include one homemade cookie created with whole-grain flour. Or, pack a small bag of granola made with sweet dried fruits, toasted whole-grain oats, and chocolate chips. A few small pieces of candy are often just enough to end the meal on a sweet note without allowing for a sugar binge.

Don’t Forget the Drink!
It may be tempting to just pack a soft drink or juice box, but those drinks are packed with sugar and artificial ingredients. Instead, pack a thermos to fill with water; it will wash down a tasty lunch and keep your child hydrated on the playground. But if he or she begs for juice boxes, compromise by occasionally packing juices that are 100 percent fruit juice and low in sugar. If the nutrition label shows that the drink’s ingredients are just one long list of chemicals, it’s not a good idea to put that in your child’s lunchbox.

On your next grocery shopping trip, start by browsing the perimeter of the store for items to put in school lunches. Opt for fresh, healthy foods found in the outer aisles in lieu of expensive, prepackaged options tucked away in the inner aisles.

Visit the Wayfield Foods free shopping list organizer and start planning meals with your health in mind.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons