ask the nutritionist: breakfast on the go

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Breakfast is often times the first meal that we neglect, whether we are trying to skip meals or would prefer to spend the extra time sleeping. But as we’ve been told since we were young, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and there really is some truth to that. We’ve been “fasting” all night and we need some energy to focus and perform our best, whether it be at school, work, or play.

When I was in high school, eating breakfast, was like, totally not important to me. I was focused on the essentials: finding the perfect Abercrombie & Fitch outfit and making sure my bangs were curled just so.  My mother being oh-so-wise would make fresh waffles for my brother and I, which if we couldn’t eat whilst getting ready for school, we could take along in the car with us. Very Pleasantville of her, don’t you think?

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Abercrombie & Fitch is no longer cool (I don’t think?), my bangs no longer need curling and I’ve fully embraced breakfast. My day just wouldn’t be the same without it, nor would you want to be in my presence if it was missed.  Here are some of my breakfast staples – I often eat my meals in courses- an egg at home first thing and then something a little more substantial at work. I prefer splitting my meals up a bit, but obviously everyone will have different preferences!

Normal Breakfast:

  • First Course: Coffee and Coconut Creamer
  • Second Course: An Organic Egg (fried or hard boiled)
  • Third Course: Oatmeal & Peanut Butter, Hemp or Sprouted Bagel or Smoothie

Oddly enough, I rarely find the need to switch up my breakfasts, I love having a combination of proteins, fats and carbs. On weekends at home the taster will often make some omelets or something a little more exciting! (ie. bacon) But if you like some variety, here are some other ideas:

  • Cedarlane’s ready-to-go omelette
  • hard boiled egg and slice of sprouted bread
  • fruit, bread and peanut butter/almond butter
  • greek yogurt, cereal and peanut butter/almond butter
  • smoothie: almond/coconut milk, juice, spinach, fruit, amazing grass and/or protein powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.

Do you eat the same things for breakfast or do you have to switch it up?

blue cheese & olive pasta salad

My Mother is the Queen of pasta salads. Literally. She has enough pasta salads in her arsenal to get through the whole summer without repeats. Many of them are worth repeating however, so she’ll find a way to squeeze them in.

As a child, I remember being fond of some, like chicken curry pasta salad, and not so fond of others, presumably this one as I hated both blue cheese and olives at that young stage of life. Now I’ll take the blue cheese & olive combo anyway - fried, in a salad, a martini or preferably all three at the same time. :)

I’m finally starting to understand the great meal that is the pasta salad. Easy to throw together, tastes even better the next day and no oven required. Just thinking about pasta salads reminds me of summer dinners as a kid, eating on the porch. While I rarely eat on my balcony these days, I may just serve up a bowl of this and head out to the sun for a summer lunch worth dreaming about.

Blue Cheese & Olive Pasta Salad - 6-8 servings

  • 2 cups farfalle pasta (I used Barilla PLUS)
  • 6 oz can of black olives, halved
  • 2 cups green grapes, halved
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbled
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt & pepper

Cook pasta as directed. Set aside in large bowl and let cool.

Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt & pepper until smooth in small bowl. When pasta is cool, add other ingredients and dressing to bowl. Toss to combine.

Refrigerate overnight if possible. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Foodbuzz 24×24: Kids Cooking Club

Last week, I told you that there was something exciting happening soon at Camp Endeavor. My Kids Cooking Club proposal  was chosen to be a part of this months 24×24, sponsored by Foodbuzz, and our meal was Saturday night! The concept was to have a group of kids at camp come up with a menu for our Saturday night cookout. Once the meal was decided on, they would help prepare the meal for their fellow campers. Reminded me a bit of Dinner Impossible, but I was hoping for a little less stress.

Planning:

There was no problem in finding enough campers to help, in fact so many of them wanted to be involved that we decided to hold another Kids Cooking Club in a few weeks. I just can’t turn down kids who want to cook! After the group was decided on, it was time to get to work.

Armed with some cookbooks and a handout on planning a menu with a few ideas, we discussed how to build a menu, pick a theme and prepare food that everyone will like. They decided to go with an Italian theme and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the menu they decided on. Whoever says that kids will only eat mac & cheese hasn’t met these kids. The only steering I had to do was suggest a vegetable side instead of a starch – the spinach in the salad? Entirely their idea.

Menu:

  • Grilled Pizzas with Fresh Herbs and Veggie Toppings Bar
  • Romaine & Spinach Salad with Home-made Croutons & Dressing
  • Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Berries or Grilled Fruit

Shopping:

Most of the campers opted to go to the pool instead of to the store – a choice I would have made myself if given the choice – it was a hot day! Fewer people allowed for a quick and easy trip, just what we wanted considering what was ahead of us.

I even learned something new at the store from Emily! She taught me a way to tell if pineapple is ripe –  if the leaves pull out easily, the pineapple is ready to eat!

We also had an interesting dilemma in the pizza aisle. When comparing the whole wheat pizza crust vs the white pizza crust, I expected to show Emily the reasons why whole wheat is a better choice – more fiber, protein, vitamins, etc. Oddly enough, the nutrition stats were exactly the same and the ingredients? Essentially the same as well. I’m not sure if there was a mistake in the ingredient list, but the only difference in the crusts seemed to be the color. I let Emily decide which crust to go with and she decided on the Thin & Crispy because, “we’ve had enough whole-wheat.” Ahh, you can’t win them all :)

Preparing:

The plan of attack – with about 3 hours before dinner- was to make the ranch dressing first, in order to let the flavors meld together. We would then make the croutons, move on to the pizza toppings, which were all going to be sautéed, and finish up with the salad and dessert preparation. The actual pizzas would be prepared and cooked once we got up to the grill and right before dinner.

We chopped more fruits and veggies then I’ve ever done in an afternoon and also sampled a lot of fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits along the way. A few of the kids had never had fresh pineapple before and they were shocked at how delicious it is!

We sometimes overhear campers longing for certain foods – typically fast food and pop, but on our walk over to the grilling/lake area, I overheard them saying, “when I get home I’m going to have my Mom buy me 7 pineapples!” I can’t be certain, but I think I had a huge grin on my face at that moment. This is what I’m here for, to introduce kids to fresh foods and have them longing for pineapple, not pop.

The Meal:

When someone asks for the recipe to a salad, you know you’ve done something right. But I can’t take the credit for this one – the campers came up with this salad idea. The fresh herbs added some flavor they weren’t used to and the home-made croutons and ranch dressing made the salad a definite crowd-pleaser.

Our grilled pizzas were served along with a “toppings bar” where everyone could choose what toppings they wanted to add to their pizza slice – sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms and olives were the choices and it was up to the campers if they wanted all or nothing, and everything in between. The pizzas turned out fabulous, the crispy crust was a perfect base for a mound of toppings.

The boys were still talking about the salad the next day and while not all of them were fans of the feta or fans of the dressing, they all tried it, and most loved it.

Dessert was a hit too, I often forget how good ice cream is with some fresh berries and I was introduced to how good it is with grilled fruits as well. Grilling the pineapple and nectarines caramelizes the sugars and turns it into an amazing treat!  It truly was the perfect ending to the perfect cookout.

Will we do it again? We just might have to. I don’t want to stop introducing cooking, fresh & wholesome foods to kids, one delicious meal at a time. Thanks to Foodbuzz for a wonderful evening!

grilled vegetable crostini

A recipe for a grilled vegetable flat bread caught my eye while paging through Martha’s Everyday Food and like most recipes that catch my eye, I added it to the never-ending “list.”  But with my recent grocery bill woe’s and a loaf of bread already in the cart I decided that this would be a situation where a carb is a carb and it would be just as good on bread as it would a tortilla. I’ll end up with the tortilla version eventually because it just looks too delicious to pass up, but this was just as good on some chewy/crunchy bread and also made a great salad topping the following day.

The concept, like most of my recipes, is a simple one: grill a bunch of vegetables, top some great, grainy bread with them and finish with some feta crumbles if desired. Or, if you’ve already got some leftover grilled vegetables you know just how to use them!

Grilled Vegetable Crostini

  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 Portabella mushroom caps
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 small head of radicchio
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • loaf of bread

Cut up vegetables in pieces to grill. Spritz with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables in batches, flipping over after a few minutes one one side and removing after a few minutes on the other side, until slightly charred. Set aside to cool and then chop up vegetables in about 1 inch pieces.

Slice bread and spritz with olive oil. Grill bread if desired. Top bread with vegetable mixture and sprinkle with feta cheese.