Most nights, I serve salad with dinner because I find that it's easy to toss organic greens into a bowl and top it with chopped veggies and a vinaigrette. I've been finding lately though that I'm getting sick of the same old salads.
In other words, I'm in a salad slump.
It's easy to get stuck in a "recipe rut," whether it's salads, main dishes or sides; rotating through the same three or four week after week. When you are a busy mom, it can sometimes seem daunting to experiment with new recipes because it's just easier to throw together an old stand-by dish that you know your family will like and eat. But adding a fresh new recipe to the mix can brighten up a meal, pleasantly surprise your family members and give you that culinary confidence boost that you need.
March is Nutrition Month and this year, Dietitians Of Canada has chosen the theme "Simply Cook And Enjoy." I love this theme because I find that too often, people are turning to processed, ready-made foods or ordering food in because cooking seems too time consuming or difficult. The truth is, cooking healthy meals for your family doesn't have to mean creating pin-worthy, fancy and complicated dishes day in and day out. The messages that we're sharing as Dietitians will hopefully encourage Canadians to just get cooking. It's a simple way for the whole family to connect, eat better and enjoy.
A great place to start is by making a new salad, which is what I did last month to get out of my salad slump. I have to admit, before I tasted this recipe, I had never really eaten zucchini raw or in a salad. I had always grilled it or added it to a stir-fries or roasted it along with root veggies at Christmas. My sister-in-law made this delicious zucchini salad while we were in Hawaii last month and I fell in love with it. I tried it again when we returned home and we now can't get enough of it. The zucchini is sliced with a carrot peeler lengthwise so it looks looks like beautiful green ribbons piled on top of eachother when you're done.
With a carrot (or potato) peeler, peel zuchini lengthwise while rotating zucchini until you reach the seedy middle part (stop there)
Top peeled zucchini ribbons with sun dried tomato, feta, nuts
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad right before serving.
Recipe adapted from Chatelaine Magazine's "Zucchini Pasta Salad"
Dear person who is about to talk to a pregnant woman,
A friend of mine who is pregnant—and might I add, looks beautiful—has had the misfortune of being spoken to by complete morons who have no regard for her feelings and clearly don't understand (or choose to overlook) the fact that it requires some weight gain and body shape changes in order to grow a baby. And that this all happens at different rates and stages, depending on the woman. Being someone who has housed two humans myself (one of which was only 7 short months ago), I thought it appropriate to send out a reminder of how not to speak to a pregnant woman about her body.
Please think about the fact that the woman you are about to talk to is growing a human being inside of her. A HUMAN BEING. Also, remember that this woman has feelings—no wait—her feelings are on steroids and her emotions are on a hormonal rollercoaster that doesn't stop until long after this human being that she is growing all by herself comes out in an intense and painful way.
Please do not say the following:
This is just plain rude. Who says this ever to anyone?
Just don't even go there. Even if you truly think this person is having twins, they're likely not, so just don't.
No shit! There's a baby in there!
Gotta love this little gem. I heard this many a time when I was pregnant with both of my babies. Do you have a magic ultrasound machine that you carry around with you at all times that can measure and weigh babies in utero? No? Then shut up.
Who do you think you are asking this question? It is none of your business no matter who you are!
Who says this? No really, who says this?!
Translation for a pregnant woman: Wow, you are WAY too big to only be 4 months along, so just imagine how humongous you're going to become later in your pregnancy! Would you say that to this same person?! No, ok then zip it.
What does that even mean?! It sounds like what you're trying to say is that she has gained weight all over her body and she really should only be carrying a basketball of a baby out front. You've just squashed this woman's already vulnerable self-esteem.
But what if she's not close at all? What if she's only just entered her second trimester?
Really encouraging words to a woman who might be a bit nervous of labour.
Yep, this was actually said.
Really? Are you kidding me? This is so insulting and mean. Who would say this?!
Everybody starts showing at different stages of pregnancy, and this is dependent on many things. Why make this woman feel awful and as though it is wrong to be showing a little bump earlier than someone else?
Translation: You are HUGE!
This was said right after my friend made the announcement of her pregnancy. I kid you not. A nice "congratulations" would have sufficed I think.
Here are some more appropriate things to say to someone who is pregnant:
You look great!
How are you feeling?
You look fantastic.
I bet you can't wait to meet your little sweetheart.
Or... just smile.
Interested in learning about proper nutrition during pregnancy? Here's some great information on how to manage digestive issues during pregnancy and here's another one highlighting the six most important nutrients during pregnancy.
Image Source: FreeImages.com
Ever notice yourself wandering into the kitchen, opening the pantry, and grabbing a handful of crackers or cereal—without even noticing what you're doing? Or do you ever catch yourself eating chocolate chips out of the bag when, really, you were going to the kitchen for a drink of water instead? This happens to all of us. The mindless eater in us can surface anywhere and at any time, but it most often rears its ugly head in our food headquarters—the kitchen.
The term "Mindless Eating" was coined by a Cornell University professor, Brian Wansink, author of the book, Mindless Eating. His book explains how food psychology and the food environment influence when, where, and how much people eat. There are countless environmental cues, such as a candy jar on an office desk, an open potato chip bag on the counter, or a McDonalds commercial on TV that can lead you to eat when you're not hungry.
We are all born mindful eaters. This is why our babies and small children have no problem leaving food on their plate or in their bowl. After about the age of 4 or 5, though, we shift from trusting only our internal cues to eat, to being influenced by external cues, as well. If you allow yourself to mindlessly eat often, unwanted weight can creep on and negative health issues can ensue. Some of these cues you cannot control, in which case you need to learn how to control your actions and tune into your natural hunger cues instead. But to make it easier to eat mindfully (instead of mindlessly), it's best to start by controlling your surroundings, such as your house, your desk, or your car. By removing mindless eating cues wherever possible, you're cutting out unneeded calories without realizing it and learning to trust your natural hunger cues more.
A great place to start is your kitchen. Here are five quick and easy ways to transform your kitchen into a healthy haven instead of a mindless eating trap:
Take the muffins, cookies, chocolate, and whatever else you have lying on your counter and put them in freezer bags and pop them into your freezer. If you enter the kitchen and see something tasty, you will most likely eat it—regardless if you're hungry or not. I call this the see-food syndrome.
Instead of lazily putting your cereal and cracker boxes back in the pantry without closing the tops, make sure to fold down the bags and close the boxes. This makes it much more unlikely that you'll open the pantry and reach in for a handful. It's amazing that going this extra step can prevent a mindless eating moment. It may sound silly, but make sure to close milk cartons and juice containers in the fridge, as well—this will stop you from taking a swig when you open the fridge to get something else. Similarly, make sure that bags of trail mix, chocolate chips, and any other tempting foods are always secured with a tie or tied in a knot when you put them back in the pantry or cupboard. If you find yourself going for any food in particular regularly, go an extra step and put them up top where you can't see them.
Store your large plate and bowls in the basement or at the back of your cupboard and reserve them for fancy dinners or when you have company over. Buy some smaller dinnerware that you use on most nights and keep these at the front of your cupboard. Having smaller plates, bowls, and cups will give the illusion that you're eating more food (because it appears more plentiful on a smaller surface area), yet you will likely be serving yourself less food. We've become accustomed to filling our mammoth platter-like dinner plates with food, which makes it more likely that we'll overeat. Over time, this contributes to unhealthy weight gain.
If you find yourself munching on frozen cookies or banana bread every time you enter the kitchen, do yourself a favour and move these foods down to your deep freeze where they aren't as easily accessible. This way, you won't see it every time you open the kitchen freezer, which will limit the times that you see the tempting treats (if you see treats, you'll likely fall victim to the "see-food syndrome"). If you're really craving a treat, you know that you can always go down and grab it, but removing it from your immediate surroundings makes you work a bit harder to get it and may dissuade you from indulging.
Removing mindless eating cues can also work the opposite way, too. When you intentionally place healthier foods at the front of your fridge or on your counter top and make them more convenient—such as having veggies ready-to-eat in your fridge—you will likely eat more of them. I make a point to rinse and chop my veggies as soon as I get home from the grocery store, and store them in clear containers at the front of my fridge so that they are visible. If you have a hard time drinking enough water, try keeping a clear glass jug of lemon or cucumber water in the fridge (at the front), as well. I also always have fresh fruit in a basket on my counter. This encourages me, my husband, and even my preschooler to choose healthier options when hunger strikes.
Want to read more about how to become a more mindful eater? Here is Why Babies and Toddlers Can Teach Us a Thing or Two About Mindful Eating, and here is an article about how to stop mindless snacking.