Food Jags

Do you know what they are?

A food jag is a common behavior seen in children when they decide to only eat one certain food for an extended period in time. For example, we’ve probably all known a kid who would only eat grilled cheese sandwiches. Maybe we were that kid. Maybe we’re secretly still that kid.

Anyways, I contend that adults can settle into food jags as well.

green goddess enchiladas

That brings me to my current obsession: green goddess enchiladas from Joanne’s website. (I almost typed green ‘goodness‘ enchiladas here, which is a totally suitable name for them too. They are off the chain.)

There’s kale and Greek yogurt in the green goddess inspired enchilada sauce. I know. This might sound a bit weird, but let me tell you…it works. And it’s such a creative way to get some green leafy vegetables in! We’ve heard all about kale salad and green smoothies with kale, but I urge you to give some attention to kale enchilada sauce.

The dish is entirely vegetarian and such a refreshing change from the typical heavier Mexican or Tex-Mex style enchiladas.

I’ll gladly have a food jag for these. I’d eat them morning, noon, and night. And for a snack in between.

Follow the link for the recipe (and vastly superior photos).


Sugar Sugar

Today we’re talking about the sweet stuff.  A Facebook friend recently posted the above TedEd video, which the nerd in me found quite interesting.

It’s a new year.  I know so many of you might be trying to “detox” or “eat clean” or “eat sugar-free,” whatever those terms might mean to you.  The world of sweeteners is vast; I could write on book on it.  However, in this post I want to stick to some basics to keep you educated.

Sugar can either be naturally occurring or added.  For example, fructose naturally occurs in fruit; lactose naturally occurs in milk.  Added sugars are exactly that – sugar that is added to a food or products during processing or at your table (ex. adding sugar to your coffee).

Common sources of added sugars may be soda, baked goods, candy, and desserts.  But did you know added sugar can be hiding in some more unexpected foods?  Ketchup, deli meats, salad dressing, crackers, yogurt, smoothies… These are just a few foods that may contain added sugar.

Also, sugar isn’t always called “sugar” when you’re reading the food label.  Some other names you might see can include: brown sugar, corn syrup, powdered sugar, honey, invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, syrup, and the “-oses” (dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).

You might be getting more sugar than you realize!  But fret not.  There are some ways to cut back.

Read the labels.  Be aware of what you’re buying.  Make comparisons between products to make the best decision.

Taper.  Let’s say you add 2 tablespoons of sugar to your morning cup of coffee.  Try cutting back to 1 tablespoons, then 1/2, and so on.  If you’re determined to go cold turkey, right on!  But many people may need something a little more gentle.  Tapering allows you to retrain your taste buds to get used to less sweet foods (you can do the same with salt!).  Stick with it for a while and soon that 2 tablespoons of sugar may seems outrageously sweet to you.

Make your own.  Salad dressings, condiments, baked goods, FOOD… With some things, sugar is necessary for structure and overall balance of flavor.  When you make your favorite foods and condiments from scratch, you get complete control over how much of this or that you add.

Swap it out.  Instead of fruit-flavored yogurt, try plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit.  Same with cereal – add fresh fruit to a low-sugar cereal instead of sprinkling on sugar or buying the excessively sweetened stuff.  Instead of fruit juice, eat the whole fruit or drink some infused water.  Look for unsweetened alternatives of items (ex. unsweetened applesauce or no sugar added dried fruit).

Buy one instead of all.  If cookies are your downfall, grab one cookie from a specialty bakery or bakery section of the grocery stores (not the ones the size of your face, please) instead of grabbing an entire package in the snack food aisle.  If you have to buy a package, keep a couple for yourself and give the rest away!  On that same note…

Share.  Split a dessert with someone.  Eat half and save the rest for another day.  Maybe you’re a baker extraordinaire and cakes, pies, and cookies are a common fixture in your life.  Share that wealth!  Not only will it help in terms of your personal dietary intake, it might also make you the most popular lady/gentleman in town.

Do you have any tips or tricks for cutting down your sugar intake?

It’s impossible for me to NOT think of this song whenever I talk about sugar.

Eating Healthy While Traveling

Hello and happiest new year to you!

I just returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri and can I just say: I really dig that place.  The trip was brief, but I was able to eat some good food, meet some kindhearted people, and see some lovely architecture and scenery.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I, along with four friends, made the 12+ hour trip by car.  Some people might dread road trips, but I thoroughly enjoy them.

Anyways, I really don’t think that going on long road trips is for the faint of heart, especially when you desire to eat in a healthful manner.  I have to be honest: it requires planning.  If you’re not a planner, don’t worry.  I’m keeping it real simple.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

1) ALWAYS bring water.  Whether you bring an entire case, jugs, or a reusable bottle and refill it along the way, water is key.  It’s so easy to become dehydrated during road trips and you make it almost impossible to stay hydrated without packing some water with you.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.

2) Pack snacks!  Gas station stops accompanied by ravenous hunger are never a good combination.  Again, it’s about setting yourself up for success.  Depending on how many hours your trip might be, you will get hungry.  You might be sitting in car doing nothing but listening to music and gazing out the window, but your body still needs fuel.  When that hunger comes, I don’t want you sprinting for the gas station Cheetos and Mountain Dew and Slim Jims (wait… do people even eat those any more?).  The only thing I’d want you sprinting for at a gas station stop is the bathroom, because you’ve succeeded in keeping yourself well-hydrated and you need to pee.

I just mentioned pee on my blog.  Things are getting real.

I’m a huge fan of fruit/veggies, trail mix, and granola bars on road trips.  If you bring a cooler, you open up your options to more perishable items like string cheese or sandwiches.  What you want are things with staying power; things with protein and/or fiber to help keep you full so you’re not mindlessly chomping away on miscellaneous food you don’t need.

The next logical thing to think is about is what to do once you get to your destination.  There are a couple things to consider.

1) Try to find a local grocery store and stock up with your favorite healthy foods.  My friend and I roomed together in a hotel that had a refrigerator.  Our first day there, we walked about a mile to a grocery store and picked up a few items like Greek yogurt and apples to store in our room for the week.  We didn’t have complimentary breakfast at our hotel, so this was especially helpful for us penny-pinchers.  Eating out for breakfast every morning was just not an option for us.  Vending machine muffins and toaster pastries don’t cut it either.

// Side note: Finding a store within walking distance gives you the added bonus of some easy exercise!

2) I know eating out on trips is inevitable.  Eating out and trying local foods is one of my favorite parts about traveling!  In this sort of situation, you need to know how to navigate your options.  I attended a conference while I was in Kansas City, which ran basically all day with only brief windows for eating lunch and dinner.  I consistently has a couple snacks with me, but packing a legitimate lunch wasn’t very feasible, so I again had to find options for food within walking distance.  What ended being the go-to place for most of us was a local market called Cosentino’s.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

What was great about this place was their soup/salad bar.  This made it so easy for me because I could grab whatever I wanted in the amount that I wanted and be on my merry way.

A salad bar isn’t necessary, though.  The idea here is that if you can find a grocery store, you shouldn’t have an issue eating as you normally would.  This option usually ends up being less expensive than a dine-in restaurant, so it’s a win on all ends.

Maybe now you’re thinking, “Okay, that’s nice.  But what about if I go to a restaurant?”

Good question!  The USDA’s MyPlate website has excellent tips for eating out.  Instead of typing those out, I’ll let you follow the link.

At the end of the day, eating healthfully while traveling shouldn’t be too daunting as long as you do a little simple planning.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I’m going to leave you with this picture.  I couldn’t go to Kansas City and NOT get barbecue.  This was from Jack Stack – white meat chicken with roasted carrots.  I am by no means a barbecue connoisseur, but this was pretty darn good.  Nicely done, KC.

Are you a fan of road trips?  Do you have any go-to strategies for eating well while traveling?