Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Health Nut Food Faves (Page 1 of 2)

Taking care of yourself with Nurturico

Guess what I recently got to try? A bunch of amazing goodies and healthy snacks from Nurturico. Kiran, who has a beautiful 3 year old (who I have yet to meet!) sent me these from the Bay area, where she lives with her family. Full disclaimer here: Kiran is distant family, on Anil’s maternal side. However, you guys know how much I love startups, and cool, innovative companies . So, I would have done product reviews of her fantastic snacks regardless, really :-)

A few things to note about Nurturico: even though I’m not pregnant or nursing a whole lot, these are the categories that Nurturico’s snacks are designed for. Why? If you’ve ever had a child, you probably know how hectic that first year can be. You do the very best you can to take care of your new baby, but often forget to take care of yourself. You guys also know how much I hate that. Moms need to take better care of themselves. Period. They also have zero time to whip up something healthy in the kitchen. That’s where Nurturico comes in. Here’s what Kiran sent me:

Finger Millet Cookies – These are devoured in the first day. SO GOOD. I shared a few with the kids, but honestly mostly ate these myself. What I liked the most about these are that they aren’t overly sweet, nice and crunchy, and contain only 7 ingredients. Way more nourishing and healthier than any cookies you can pick up at the grocery store. Millet is also a great ingredient to use at it contains tons of vitamin B, calcium, iron, and much more great nutrients that are really helpful when pregnant or nursing.

Nut crumble – This was my second favorite snack. Made with ingredients such as ghee (clarified butter), pumpkin seeds, and organic raisins, these small balls pack a powerful and energetic punch. You could just snack on a few of these between meals and feel so much better than eating junk food. As a nursing mom, I would have loved to have this handy because like Kiran, I often struggled with trying to figure out what to eat right after giving birth.

Date muffins – These small goodies aren’t muffins in the traditional sense, but that’s actually a good thing. They’re not messy at all because they’re made out of mostly nuts and dates. After doing the Whole 30, you can imagine that I’ve been pretty weary of added sugar in all foods. The wonderful thing about these is that because of the dates, you really don’t miss the sweetness of sugar. Another great snack I would have loved while pregnant / nursing.

Peanut Butter Oats Banana Smoothie Mix – Are you kidding me?! A smoothie mix that tastes like chocolate – LOVE this! When I gave birth to Dilan, my mom was here for about a week to help me recuperate and take care of Dils. She would make me drink these nutrition drinks like Boost and one from Carnation, whose name escapes me now. They were wonderful after having gone through the exhaustion and exhilaration of child birth. This smoothie mix reminds me of that, except for that it’s completely natural and contains NO added sugar – hurray! A really great way to get some nutrients mixed in with your almond milk, coconut milk, or whatever type of milk you’re in to.

As I was saying before, one of my biggest pet peeves is being a mommy martyr. You shouldn’t have to suffer and give up your entire life just to raise children. I’m a firm believer in this. Taking care of yourself before and after you give birth is so, so important. And if that means taking lots of short cuts, then I say do that. Nurturico recognizes this and delivers on healthy snacks that make you feel human again. I’m so proud of Kiran for starting a company that delivers on this concept. Although Nurturico currently serves the Bay area, they will expand beyond that in the near future. I highly recommend giving them a try – you won’t be disappointed!

nurturico snacks

Whole30

Today is day 31 of the Whole30. You can read all about it here, but the gist of this program is that you eliminate any and all sugar, dairy, grain, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days to bring your body back into balance and figure out what effect these foods have on your body. I know, I know, fad diets don’t work, they’re so annoying because it’s all just marketing, eliminating anything from your diet will make you sick, you just need to eat healthy all the time, no matter how hard it is, you don’t need to lose weight, etc. etc. I’ve heard it all :-) and I’ll be honest, no one was more skeptical than me at the beginning of this program.

That’s exactly why it appealed to me more than any other fad diets out there, because 1) the goal of the program is not focused on weight loss in isolation, it’s much more than that and 2) it’s basically a giant experiment on your own body. Working for an analytics company, I HAD to try it because I love hypothesis testing :-). I started a day after our wedding anniversary and just finished the Whole30 yesterday. No cheats, no slips, no excuses. Here’s how it went:

What happened:

ENERGY – Probably the most significant and noticeable change for me were my energy levels, after about a week or two of strictly following the program rules. I would classify myself as a fairly energetic person, but not having any sugar or alcohol crashes in particular was amazing. I don’t eat much sugar to begin with, but I had a constant headache for the first two days of the program – that’s how much of an effect even a little sugar (or lack thereof, really) has on your body. I’ve loved the extra energy I have after work. I can play actively with the kids now without feeling completely defeated at the end of the day. Big win.

CLEAR NOSE – Another huge benefit for me is that my nose has been much clearer. I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies and a stuffy nose in general all my life. I don’t like taking medicine for this because, well, Claritin makes me feel like there’s a squirrel running though my head. Having a clear nose and not needing to reach for tissues all the time is huge. I love it.

CLEAR SKIN – I’ve fought minor acne all my life, and although I wasn’t completely in the clear this month, my skin did start glowing, blemishes disappeared, and the only few that are left are around my nose area, which is my main trouble spot. It was nice to know that something internally was causing things to clear up, since I didn’t switch out my skin products.

WEIGHT LOSS – I weighed myself this morning and only lost 4 pounds. I say “only” because I’ve seen much higher numbers from other people who have done the Whole30. You know what, though? Weight loss was never my goal. There’s so much more to being healthy than that number on the scale, which is why the Whole30 crew encourages you not to weigh yourself during the program and focus on the other health benefits instead. Great idea. My clothes fit better than they used to and I feel great, which means much more than a silly 4 pounds to me.

REDUCED CRAVINGS – Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and will always love chocolate. It’s quite possibly my first love when it comes to food. However, I do think I’ve successfully eliminated most of my sugar cravings. I no longer hanker for something sweet in the afternoons. I had been drinking my coffee without sugar for weeks before the program started, so that wasn’t a big change for me. But knowing that I can enjoy a piece of cake or a cupcake without feeling guilty or without wanting to “binge” is quite nice.

What didn’t happen:

ABS – Not that I was expecting this, but the Whole30 doesn’t magically give you abs or fix the extra “mom skin” around your belly. You still need to work out and tone up if you want some muscle…this is err, work in progress for me :-)

SICKNESS – I didn’t get sick because I eliminated some major food groups. This program is only 30 days people, chill :-). It was really helpful to me to read both “It Starts with Food” and the “Whole30” books ahead of time. They explain the science of why exactly foods like sugar are bad for you, in a very easy to digest (no pun intended) way.

What I didn’t like:

MEAL PREP – I’m a fairly decent cook, but the one thing I don’t ever have enough of (like everyone else) is time. Work, convincing a 3 year old that not all tacos are spicy, trying to get a 1 year old to stop throwing food on the floor, and way too much ambition is what usually gets me. I love spending time in the kitchen, but haven’t really enjoyed it ever since the kids were born. I’d much rather spend time with them than prep some fancy meal. That’s exactly the hard part about Whole30. No matter how easy the recipe, it requires some serious kitchen and grocery shopping dedication. Luckily, I took lots of short cuts, prepped meals ahead of time, and relied on Amazon to ship me things like Nutpods and Primalfoods Paleo approved mayo, since I just didn’t have the time to whip that up myself. Look for them on Amazon.

FOOD BOREDOM – I like variety when it comes to foods. There were at least 15 recipes in the Whole30 book that I could’ve made, but again, time wasn’t on my side. I got pretty bored with eggs. Eggs are everything on Whole30. Same with the meats. I’m not much of a meat eater, so that made the Whole30 a bit more tricky for me. All first world problems, of course.

So what’s next?

I’m not going to be that person who’s going to judge you for eating a slice of pizza, don’t worry :-). I will probably eat one myself pretty soon. I have learned a lot about what makes me feel crappy and am still trying to figure that out. I had some wine and chocolate today and both tasted extremely sweet to me. It was weird. I also now know how to (hopefully) get back on track, in case I fall off the wagon. And that, is a huge win for a girl who could previously down a large bag of potato chips without ever knowing how to stop.

Two more things: a HUGE thank you to my family, especially Anil, for supporting me all month long. He even made me this star chart and gave me one star for every successful Whole30 meal or snack. How sweet is that? When I visited Florida a few weeks ago, my mom and dad also went out of their way to make sure I had enough quality Whole30 food to eat. It was amazing.

Starchart

Lastly, I want to leave you with this quote:

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

 

Chilled Strawberry Soup

We’re nearing the end of strawberry season, but that’s not going to stop me from whipping up some chilled strawberry soup (post sleep regression, that is). Like many of my recipes, this one doesn’t have super clear measurements since I arrive at these concoctions through pure trial and error. Of course, with two beautiful rascals and less than 15 minutes to come up with a meal everyday, trial and error is no longer an option, so we’ll see how this year’s version of the soup comes out :-). If you do feel adventurous enough in the kitchen, here’s what you can do:

  1. Grab two pints of strawberries, remove the hull (the green, leafy parts), wash, and toss in the blender.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Here’s where the experimental part comes in. You may need some more or less of this, depending on how sweet you want the soup to be.
  3. Blend until smooth, adding a very small amount of water if you want the consistency of the puree to be thinner.
  4. Add a splash of your favorite dry white wine (leave this out if you’re serving it to kids), a dollop of whipped cream, some basil leaves, and cut strawberries as garnish.

Tadaa. That’s really all there is to it. Easy, refreshing, and elegant looking. How elegant? As kitchen art, I framed black and white photos of some of my favorite recipes / creations a few years ago. They are now hanging in our kitchen (I know, Pinterest would be so proud, right?). The left one is what the chilled strawberry soup looks like. Quaint, right? Enjoy!

kitchenart

Nine Ways to Fix a Toddler Dinner Rut

Hey, mom holding the box of mac & cheese with the neon yellow powder in it. Yes, you. I’m not judging. Really. Whether it’s time or money, I understand that you have to bust out the packaged goods from time to time. And maybe all your child will eat is mac & cheese and chicken nuggets. At least you’re feeding him/her. However, if you’re looking to break out of a toddler food rut and get your toddler on the road to healthy eating, I do have a few ideas in mind.

Anil and I are foodies, so we eat a wide variety of foods. We’re also health nuts, but treat ourselves to “naughty” food enough to the point where we don’t lose our minds or binge eat junk food. With that in mind, we’ve been feeding Dilan a wide variety of foods as well since he was about 5 months old. Different cuisines, textures, and tastes. It’s hard to say whether or not he’s just an easy going eater, or, if our efforts to introduce lots of variety paid off. Like most toddlers, he still has his days where all he eats for dinner is cantaloupe and black olives. Happened just this week. But in general, he at least tries to take a bite out of most things we put in front of him. Our meal policy is that he has to try everything. If he doesn’t like it, we don’t force him to eat it, but it will make an appearance again on the menu some other time. You can’t try enough with toddlers.

The biggest reason for not feeding your child healthy foods is often time. I can completely sympathize with that since I have under 20 minutes to cook dinner on a weeknight, with no one around to entertain Dilan while I cook. This often means my actual cooking time gets down to about 5 minutes. It’s beyond difficult, and that’s with only ONE child and an adequate food budget. However, somehow we still make it work. It’s usually thanks to lots of planning ahead on weekends and cutting and marinating ahead as well. Short cuts are a must for us too (hello, Trader Joes!). So without further ado, here are some of our best healthy toddler meals. Some cooked from scratch, some haphazardly thrown together, and some with a million short cuts…but none with preservatives or junk. Enjoy and please let me know what your favorite healthy toddler meal ideas are!

 

4 Ingredient Chia Pudding

We’ve come such a long way since the chia pet….or have we?! Chia seeds are back in style. You hear as much about them as you hear about kale and coconut-anything these days. With our juice is loose movement still going strong, we’ve been adding chia seeds to our smoothies every morning. Then I read this post and had to try out chia pudding. Four Ingredients and some minor stirring later, Dilan, daddy and I devoured most of this creamy goodness in one sitting. I followed this recipe almost exactly, but reduced the tablespoons of maple syrup to 1.5. The pudding was still fairly sweet, so I may even try to leave it out next time. I used Silk’s unsweetened coconut milk instead of regular milk, but I’m guessing if you use the vanilla kind that you can just omit the vanilla from the recipe. I also used black instead of white chia seeds. I have yet to hunt for the white ones.

Just to recap: stir together 1 1/2 cups of coconut (or any other kind) of milk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweetener (maple, agave, or other), 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla, and 1/3  cup of chia seeds. Pop in the fridge for 4 hours or so and you’re done! The pudding will take on a tapioca kind of consistency. Top it with your favorite fruit and you’ve got yourself a wholesome breakfast or snack.

Now one thing to watch out for are chia seed recalls. Lots of them lately. I found a good site to check for these: http://jillsjuices.com/recent-food-recalls/.

Overall, this was delicious, quick, easy, and so much more nutritious than any type of Jello you’ll find in the grocery aisles. As a bonus, I got to sing the chia pet song to Dilan, which cracked him up. Give this a try and please let me know if you come up with any cool variations!

4 ingredient chia pudding

The Juice is Loose

Yeah you read that right. We’ve been juicing! Anil really is the best hubs ever and decided to get me a belated Valentine’s day present last month. This is awesome for two reasons: 1) We don’t even exchange Valentine’s day gifts because there’s rarely a good sale on anything around that time and 2) I got a Breville juicer!! I feel like we’re the last people in the first world to get a juicer, but hey, it’s been amazing. Life changing is really more like it. So far, we’ve juiced mixes of carrots, green apples, kale, celery, sweet potato, cilantro, ginger, and zucchini.

The main benefit of juicing? You get nutrients delivered directly to your bloodstream. And you can feel this: every day that we’ve juiced, we have felt a jolt of energy and have not touched caffeine of any kind throughout the day. It’s so cleansing and you just feel so fresh and energetic. It’s also pretty cool to throw in an entire apple without having to cut it. It’s magic.

Breville Juicer

The main downside of juicing? Because a professional juicer takes out all the flesh and skins of fruits and veggies you lose out on fiber and need to make sure that you’re adding that back into your diet some other way. If you juice too many fruits, you may also be getting too much sugar directly into your bloodstream, which is why we stick to mostly veggies. Now the juicer is great, but it takes a lot of work to clean it up and we weren’t crazy about the fact that you’re not getting fiber from all the produce. So now, we mainly juice on the weekends, when we have a little more time to spare in the morning. For weekdays…

Blendtec

Enter the Blendtec. Smoothies give you the fiber you need and keep you fuller longer since they’re slower to digest. There’s also only one jar and lid to clean. Problem solved. We have an old (15+ years?) blender in our cabinet, but it’s no match for the Blendtec. When you start researching blenders, you’ll soon find that the Vitamix and the Blendtec are the top 2 high end blenders on the market. They’re both highly reviewed (and pricey), but we went for the Blendtec for several reasons: the Blendtec allows you to simply add your ingredients, close the jar, push a button and sit back. With the Vitamix, you may have to push down the food or may have to switch speeds. Small extra steps, but important ones. We also read some complaints about the jar being so tall that it did not fit under standard kitchen cabinets. This may have been fixed, though. The Blendtec also comes with a touch interface and is touted as “the iPhone of blenders”. Switches may last longer, but we’re suckers for clean designs. We were sold and have been making smoothies almost every single day since. Even soon-to-be 18 months Dilan participates. We usually feed him a protein or non-GMO cereal alongside the smoothie or juice, but as soon as he hears the sound of the Blendtec, he wants in. It’s a great way to sneak in extra fruits and veggies. As health nut and foodie parents, we just love this. We cut up fruits and veggies the night before and ta daa, breakfast is done in minutes. I used to bake breakfast breads for the week on Sundays, but smoothies and juice have now replaced these.

Stay tuned for our favorite smoothie and juice recipe making their way to the blog soon. Cheers!

The Post-Baby Body

I’m a firm believer in not following any fad diet. I simply try to eat as healthy as I can. I know, I know, that sounds SO annoying  and vague, but I’m a foodie and I just don’t like to deprive myself of anything. I have a simple rule: load up on as many fruits, veggies, and lean proteins as you can and eat as few processed foods as you can get away with. It works pretty well for me, but those two dark chocolate truffles with sea salt in the break room yesterday? Yeah I downed those. No other sweets for the day, but those suckers disappeared faster than your co-workers on the Friday before Christmas.

I also have a few other guidelines that I go by. I don’t buy every single fruit and veggie in organic form. I usually follow the Dirty Dozen and base my organic purchases on that: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php. You usually can’t find every single one of these in a single shopping trip either, so I pick my battles. I love farmers markets and local food and try to incorporate as many of their products into our diets. Never hurts and it helps to reduce your carbon foot print, since those products aren’t shipped from very far. Another great resource I use is the 7 Scary Food Additives to Avoid: http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/7-scary-food-additives-to-avoid. I read every single label when I go to the grocery store and try to avoid these.

scary7

I’m finally getting back into somewhat of an exercise routine and it feels awesome. Exhausting, but awesome. Not because I’m losing much weight, but because I love the way it makes me feel. I don’t pay attention to numbers, but look at how my clothes fit and how healthy I feel. At the same time, I know my body will never be the same. That’s just what happens after you give birth and don’t have a personal trainer following you around, or grandparents available to help take care of your child  while you exercise. Even if you do, your body may still not bounce back to exactly the way it was before. Do I care? Hardly. I’m eating healthy and making sure my family does as well. Sure, my thighs could use some more toning and I wouldn’t mind less skin in the belly area, but I will never agree with the saying that babies ruin bodies. That’s bull crap. You grew an entire human being and some things have changed. You’re a tiger that earned your stripes. Be proud. Oh and eat healthy :-)

Health Nut Food Fave of the Month – April

Stove-popped Popcorn

This week’s health nut food is one of my absolute favorites because popcorn is a great source of whole grain, yet it always feel like you’re indulging and eating something “naughty”, doesn’t it? Well, depending on your source of popcorn and how you pop it, you actually might be taking in some terrible chemicals. It’s pretty widely known that microwave popcorn could contain carcinogens. A quick Google search and you’ll find many articles and research supporting this. So, this month, we decided to go au naturel. Here’s what we found:

What I love: Stove popped popcorn actually tastes much better and it’s way cheaper than those microwave popcorn bags! I also love that you can “customize” your popcorn, by picking what kind of oil you want to use and what flavors you dust your popcorn with. Having complete control about the amount of salt isn’t all that bad either.

What I don’t like: Let’s face it, microwaves are convenient and quick. No need to wash pots or clean up, since all the mess is contained in the bag. In today’s busy world, this is a definitely plus, but only if you’re not considering your health…

The verdict: I will likely never eat microwave popcorn again and probably won’t ever feed it to my children either. It’s a bit more work, but it’s just way healthier to pop your own and have complete control over the ingredients (minus the kernels). Definitely try popping your own at some point and I bet you won’t ever go back either.

Health Nut Food Fave of the Month – December

Lärabars

Lärabars are delicious fruit and nut bars that make for an excellent snack or breakfast. If you’ve never had them before, here’s why they’re worth a try:

What I love: These bars don’t have more than nine ingredients, which usually include a type of fruit such as dates or apples, nuts, and spices. They truly are all natural and have no added sugars, high fructose corn syrup, or anything artificial. They are pretty filling and with amazing flavors such as cashew cookie and peanut butter chocolate chip, they are extremely tasty as well. They’re also great for people with food allergies and definitely provide sustainable energy throughout the day.

What I don’t like: Lärabars can get pretty pricey since they’re well over a dollar at most stores. I found the lowest prices for them at Trader Joe’s and Target. Some of the bars can be pretty high in fats as well, although the type of fat is generally the good kind since many of the bars contain nuts.

The verdict: Considering how many junk products are on the market today, I absolutely love the Lärabar and think it’s well worth the price. It’s an excellent healthy snack for those times when you don’t have access to fresh fruit or veggies. It’s also great for a quick breakfast on those days when you just need to run out and don’t have time to put something nutritious together. I would love to hear what your favorite flavors are (mine include peanut butter chocolate chip and chocolate chip brownie), so let me know when you try these out!

Health Nut Food Faves of the Month – August

Stonyfield Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt – Peach Mango

It’s been a really busy summer for us, but the great thing is that we’ve been eating really well. We’ve taken full advantage of summer produce, which is why I actually don’t have many packaged food faves for the last few months. Here is one that I recently discovered and absolutely fell in love with:

What I love: This yogurt, like many other types of greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein – it’s got as many as 13 grams of it. It’s a pretty good source of calcium as well, is fat free, and has this amazing blend of peaches and mango bits on the bottom of the container. It’s refreshing, light, yet keeps me full for quite a while. Excellent nutrition that tastes fantastic.

What I don’t like: As with many fruit flavored yogurts, the main problem from a nutritional standpoint is the sugar content. A container of the good stuff sets you back 19 grams of sugar, which is quite a bit. The other slight negative is the price, although I don’t mind paying a little extra for organic dairy that not only does the body good, but helps the environment as well.

The verdict: If you’re looking to get the maximum amount of nutrition out of your yogurt, want it to taste fabulous, and want to keep things as natural as possible, this is your yogurt. Extremely refreshing for summer, but bound to be a fall favorite of mine as well. Pack one in your lunch box, I promise you won’t regret it!

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén