It should be no surprise to anyone who has read this blog for any length of time that I adore bento lunch boxes. Every since my kids were wee little I used bento boxes for school lunches and picnics, and even recently converted tackle boxes into giant bentos for a long road trip. I love all the compartments and the ease with which you can pack a variety of foods and keep them separate for the picky kids who cannot allow food to touch. Years ago I started a web site dedicated to bento lunch boxes and I am still passionate about them.
Ten years ago a particular brand of bento (laptop lunch) caught my attention and became my go-to. All my kids had them and I had one as well. They have since rebranded and are now called Bentology. Same great product, new name. They still make my favorite lunch box of all time. Sure there are really cute themed bentos out there but for ease of use and function you cannot beat Bentology.
Introducing the Portion Perfect Bento
I was thrilled then when I found out they were making a bento box for adults concerned with healthy eating and portion control. This new product is called Portion Perfect and I love the concept and design. All the reasons I loved the kids boxes are the reasons I love the Portion Perfect boxes. I also think there is a real need for a lunchbox that reminds us about what healthy portion sizes are and also encourages diversity in our eating.
I idea behind this system is that you eat the right foods in the right portions, add in 30 minutes of daily exercise and voila, you have weight loss. You can use the bento pieces to help you with portion control on the go or even use them as guides for portion control at home.There is no need to weigh your food or count calories…you just eat appropriate amounts, and say no to oversized servings. Each container is sized to help you pack the right amount of lean proteins, whole grains (if you eat grains/gluten), vegetables, fruits and healthy fats.
The Portion Perfect Weight-Loss Kit comes with a frosty translucent outer container, 5 translucent inner containers (2 are open for easy access, and 3 have leak-resistant lids), and the Portion Perfect Complete Weight-Loss Plan booklet. Theses bentos are dishwasher safe, BPA free, phthalate free, PVE free, and lead free. They are also made in the US and since they are reusable for years and years they are a very eco friendly product in a world full of meal time disposables. Even after ten years this company gets my enthusiastic two thumbs up.
Find these bentos on Amazon.com
Part of the fun of juicing is experimenting with different fruits and vegetables until you find some delicious and nutritious combinations. It is an absolutely amazing feeling to take such healthy ingredients and turn them into something that is edible and mouthwatering. Who says healthy eating can’t taste good???!
However, doing this without any guidance can lead to you creating some pretty funky tasting juices which you simply cannot finish. It happens to the best of us. That’s why today I’m going to be sharing with you 10 of the top ingredients you should be juicing along with some recommendations for what goes best with what.
Beets are packed full of iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin B9 and vitamin C. Studies have shown that beet juice is a powerful cancer fighter and also does a great job of protecting against heart disease, cleansing the blood and boosting the kidneys. I think they kinda taste like dirt, so juicing helps me make this powerhouse veggie palatable. They go great when paired with sweeter fruits and veggies.
Juice Beets With: Apples, celery, cucumber and carrots.
The eyesight veggie! Mom knew what she was talking about when she told you to eat your carrots. They contain high levels of manganese, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C and vitamin K. In terms of health, carrot juice has been linked with healthy skin, strong vision and optimal liver health.
Juice Carrots With: Apples, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Cayenne is a hot, spicy pepper that revs up your internal engine and is packed full of capsaicin, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. It’s a great way to give your juices a kick and it also has lots of health benefits which include boosting your metabolism, reducing inflammation in your body and promoting healthy skin.
Juice Cayenne With: Carrots, red bell peppers and tomatoes.
Celery is extremely low in calories and a great addition if you’re trying to lighten your juice. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse and loaded with calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C and vitamin K. Celery juice has numerous health benefits which include calming your nerves, cleansing the digestive system, promoting restful sleep and protecting against gout.
Juice Celery With: Anything.
Cinnamon is both sweet and spicy and goes great with fruit juices. It contains high levels of calcium, iron, manganese and vitamin K. In terms of health benefits, it’s been linked with cancer prevention, improved blood glucose control and a healthier brain.
Juice Cinnamon With: Apples, blueberries and grapes.
Cucumbers are another light choice for light and lean juices. They are very hydrating and they are packed full of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B5, vitamin C and vitamin K. Studies have shown that cucumber juice can boost your energy levels, keep your skin and hair healthy, protect against cancer and support healthy joints.
Juice Cucumbers With: Carrots, celery, lettuce and spinach.
7) Granny Smith Apples
Granny smith apples yield a sweet, crisp juice. They’re also a top source of vitamin C. Research suggests that apple juice boosts both the brain and the heart.
Juice Granny Smith Apples With: Anything.
Mangos produce a sweet, refreshing, tropical juice and also provide you with lots of vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. The juice supports healthy growth, healthy skin and strong vision.
Juice Mangos With: Anything.
9) Mint Leaves
Mint leaves are packed full of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B9, vitamin C and zinc. Mint juice has a tingly, cooling taste and cleanses the blood, soothes chronic pain and stimulates digestion. It is great for detox juices and fasts!
Juice Mint Leaves With: Celery, cucumber, lime, lemons and oranges.
Tomatoes are packed full of copper, lycopene, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. They yield a mild but pleasant juice that studies have shown can protect against cancer and heart disease while also keeping your blood vessels healthy.
Juice Tomatoes With: Celery, carrots, lettuce and radishes.
As parents, we agonize over what’s good for our children and what isn’t. Some decisions seem easy, like ensuring your child eats breakfast every morning. Other decisions can get a little more complicated, like what they’ll eat for breakfast. As we all know, what children what and what’s good for them aren’t always the same thing.
Indulging is totally fine from time to time. But every day? Put these 10 foods on the back burner when it comes to your child’s regular diet.
1. Processed Lunch Meats
Nitrates and hormones and antibiotics? Oh my! These meats seem so easy to buy—they’re not too expensive and make sandwich making a snap. Honestly though, you’ll want to avoid giving your kids processed lunch meats on a regular basis. Yes, processed meats also include hot dogs, sausages, and other weird meats like bologna. Just don’t do it. Processed lunch meats contain high levels of sodium and bad fats in addition to preservatives. There have been studies done linking high consumption of these meats to various types of cancer. Not to mention the animals they came from were tortured and sick. So, they’re best avoided.
2. Snack Cakes
These too are cheap and easy to buy. Reading the ingredient list can put some bad thoughts into your head, though—partially hydrogenated oils, sugar (of course), high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and food dyes? Ouch! Your kids may beg you for these at the store, but make snack time more fun by making healthy versions at home and teaching your kids how to read the ingredient list.
3. French Fries and Potato Chips
The header for this one should have said “anything fried”, but fried eggs and such are ok compared to French fries and potato chips, both of which have one of the highest free radical contents of all food. The way they’re made (at high temps with oil and fat) make them some of the worst foods you can eat. Steer your kids towards healthier options. And remember, McDonald’s French fries are not gluten-free or vegetarian. (Don’t believe me? Google the ingredient list, please).
4. Frozen Pizza
Nearly every kid adores pizza. However, making pizza at home can be a lot of fun and much healthier than the frozen stuff you buy at the store. A typical frozen pizza is likely to contain BHA and BHT, two preservatives that’ve been shown to cause cancer in high levels. They also contain tons of fat, sodium, trans fats (the worst fats ever!) and words that you’ve no idea what they mean, such as “flavoring”. Get creative with custom pizza creations and teach your kids how to make their own food—avoid frozen pizza.
Juice in itself might not seem so bad, especially if you’re buying organic juice that doesn’t have any added sugar. However, there’s a reason that apples are apples and not apple juice: fiber. Taking the juice out of the fruit without the fiber means your body is going to suck up that sugar and have a sugar spike because there’s no fiber to help the body process it. Limit juices.
You knew this one was bad. High fructose corn syrup, enough sugar to inspire scary type-2 diabetes statistics, and artificial flavors? Your kids shouldn’t be drinking these. You can create your own sodas with carbonated water, herbs, and fruit juices. Or, you know, just pick up some kombucha at Whole Foods. That too.
Even organic candy still has sugar in it. Conventional candies contain sugars, artificial flavors and dyes, and other scary ingredients like preservatives. As many kids really enjoy candy, try to limit their consumption of it or again, make a fun project of making your own at home with raw sugar or sugar replacements like honey or dates.
8. Fast Food
Nothing terrifies me quite like the ingredient list of a fast food restaurant. Even the ones you might think are “better” (think Chik-fil-A and Subway) have really scary ingredients in there. Eating out all the time isn’t healthy to begin with, but if you’re going to eat fast food, go for something that’s a little healthier like Chipotle, which banned GMOs and has very minimal, healthy ingredients.
9. Cereal with a Cartoon Face on It
Many cereals and other brands that kids love are specifically marketed to them. This means putting ponies, pirates, or cute little animals on your kids’ cereal. Keep your kids away from breakfast cereals that have cartoon faces on them. I promise they’re not any better than eating a candy bar. Think fresh fruit for breakfast with home-prepared oatmeal. Really, you’ve got a lot of options besides Lucky Charms.
Dr. Jakob Taylor of True Weightloss Solutions understands the challenges that parents face. “Balancing what we should be feeding our children and ourselves with what we see on TV, read in the paper, or find in the grocery store can seem overwhelming. We are bombarded with messages from celebrities or colorful catch phrases pitching us products everyday. One easy way to help stay on course and filter the noise is to follow a simple guide:
F – fruits and vegetables
O – organic lean protein
O – omega-3 fatty acids
D – drink more water!”
10. White Bread
White bread (and white flour) is not doing anything for your kid’s body. It’s been stripped of its nutrients and left to give your body blood sugar spikes after PB & J time. Stick to whole wheat and make sure your child doesn’t have a gluten intolerance before packing on the bread. Eliminating white bread is best, no matter how “good” it tastes.
Your child’s health is one of the most important things to you. Take this opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating habits, reading labels, and learning about ingredients. Limit or avoid these 10 foods when it comes to your children’s diets. Make fun activities out of learning about new foods and making creations at home!
Guest post by Jenn Ryan
When the warm weather fades and the cool, crisp air of autumn arrives me may forget that the local farmer’s market is still going strong. As supporters of local food we need to remember that they still need our support and that fresh local food is still the best. So put down that baking pan, bundle up, and visit the market.
Every thursday afternoon we make the trek to see what the local participants are offering up at the Farmer’s market. It is a highlight of every week. We usually pick up some great seasonal items such as pumpkin pie, fresh squash, apples, and the last of the year’s sweet corn. This is something my children even enjoy doing; talking with the locals, getting sample apples, and helping me carry our finds to the car.
I also love Farmer’s markets for other reasons too. Farmers markets support a sustainable food system by offering regionally-grown produce. They also help small family farms (our neighbors) stay in business; the surrounding land is protected from development, and we get fresh food that does not travel far. Plus, many of the market participants offer organically grown produce!
Stock Up On Fall Favorites – There are plenty of crops that thrive in the cool weather and bonus…they are perfect for our fave fall comfort food recipes. Try some of these fall foods that your farmer’s market is likely to have:
Get Creative With Your Recipes – Okay you love potatoes but did you know that parsnips and Kholrabi can replace them in your beef stew? Yep, you can barely tell! If you cannot stomach salads in this cool weather than make a warm spinach salad. Try some new recipes and give those mystery veggies a try.
Preserve Your Bounty – You can dehydrate, pickle, can, ferment, and freeze all the bounty of fall so that it will last through the cold winter months. That way you can enjoy those last tomatoes, cukes, and apples long after the snow has driven them into the deep recesses of your memory. All it takes is a little planning and some storage space. Then you have healthy winter foods stocked up and ready to go.
When the the weather starts to turn cold we inevitably gather up the last of our warmer weather garden crops and this often includes bunches of fresh herbs…basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, cilantro, dill, raspberry leaf, lemon verbena, peppermint, oregano, etc. Farmer’s markets might also be selling these herbs in large quantities for the same reason. What do you do with this wondrous bounty so it won’t go to waste?? Preserve it!
Herbs can easily be preserved so you can enjoy their distinct and aromatic flavors during the cold weather months to come. The two best ways to preserve herbs is dehydrating and freezing.
Dehydrating Fresh Herbs
Lay your fresh herbs out on your dehydrator trays and process on the lowest temperature setting to preserve the flavor. Most herbs are dry and ready to be stored after only a couple hours. They are ready when they easily crumble and the stems snap.
After dehydrating you can store in sterile mason jars, in cool dry places.
Freezing Fresh Herbs
Just sticking a bunch of herbs in the freezer directly will usually result in discolored herbs. Blanching for a short period can help with color retention if that is important to you.
A much easier way to freeze herbs is to puree them in a food processor or Vita-Mix first. After you have made your puree put it in a silicone cube tray and freeze. Once frozen pop them out and transfer to a freezer safe storage dish. Now you can easily add them to soups, stews, and crockpot meals.
You can also chop up your herbs and freeze them in water, butter, olive or avocado oil, and even broth. Use the same method to freeze and store. Herbs and oil are great for stir frys and sauteed dishes. Herbs and water are good for soups and cocktails. Herbs and broth are great for soups, stews, and sauces. Herbs and butter equal herb butter for crusty bread or potatoes. Yum!
Don’t let those fresh herbs go to waste. Preserve them!