Planning healthy habits

Did you ever notice how difficult it is to eat healthy when hunger strikes? Your little one wants a snack; you go to the kitchen and start looking around. Often we find ourselves in this situation. The key to keeping it healthy is planning. I know! We’re all busy. In the spirit of spring cleaning and getting organized, consider organizing snacks with a snack station.

Inspired by Realsimple.com, today’s idea is a grab-and-go snack stashes.

Using a larger bin – consider Tupperware, something that can be cleaned easily – place a variety of snacks that can be mixed and matched for treats. You can use snack size sandwich bags to portion out orange slice, baby carrots, celery sticks, pepper slices. You can even rotate these treats to showcase whatever is seasonal, like berries. Include grapes, lunch meat roll-ups (like turkey and Swiss of ham and cheddar), yogurt, string cheese and, for dipping, a jar of peanut butter and hummus.

Make a habit of refilling your snack station one day a week, say Sunday night. Once it’s ready, you can tell your kids to grab something when you’re busy without worry. And, you can pick up a small bag on your way out to the many baseball and soccer games going on. Those chips are tempting, but not the best option for your little one – or you.

How will you personalize your snack station?

Super Strawberry Muffins

Being healthy is most attractive when it’s super tasty – right?

Bright red, juicy strawberries are the first sign of the spring and summer produce that will soon be filling farmers markets on hot evenings. California produces 1.8 billion pounds of strawberries a year, that’s 35,696 acres. This week we celebrated the fruit that offers antioxidants and boosts immunity with California Strawberry Day! For this weekend, we’re making strawberry muffins.

You can substitute strawberries for another berry – raspberries or blueberries for example – if you’re not a fan of, or are allergic to, the red berry.

What strawberry recipes do you love?

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Ingredients
2 1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned kind, not quick)
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sweetener of choice, (that measures the same as sugar), or 1/2 cup if you prefer muffins to be less sweet
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cup strawberries, diced, and patted dry

Optional ingredients
1/2 cup of strawberries diced (to be placed on top of the muffins)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with silicone or foil liners, (or just use a silicone muffin pan). Using a flour-less recipe means the muffins will stick to paper liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients (except the strawberries) in a blender or food processor, and blend until oats are smooth. Pour mixture into a medium-sized bowl, and stir in strawberries.
  3. Divide remaining 1/2 cup diced strawberries over the top of each muffin. (This step is optional, but it really makes the strawberries burst with color and flavor on top of each muffin!)
  4. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Scrumptious strawberry sweets

Some smells bring back memories. In that way, strawberries are like summer.

There’s a sweet smell that feels the air and regardless of what’s being made in the kitchen, adding strawberries makes it sweet and summer-like. Many fruits can be that way.

Funny thing about strawberries — they aren’t fruit. They’re part of a flower, the receptacle of the flower of the plant to be exact. Bright, red and delicious, strawberries have a very long history of over 2,200 years. They were found in Italy as far back as 234 B.C. In the 18th century, people in Argentina feared strawberries were poisonous. Early settlers in Massachusetts, on the other hand, grew fond of strawberries grown by local American Indians.

Strawberries are readily available in California, which is home to over to over 23,000 square acres of the plant. If all the strawberries produced in California in a single year were laid berry to berry, it would wrap around the world 15 times. California produces over 1 billion pounds of strawberries annually. But California is not the only place where strawberries are grown. Strawberries are grown in every state in America and all providences in Canada.

While eating the naturally sweet treat, point out to your little one some unique traits about strawberries like it’s the only fruit with seeds on the outside. On average, a single strawberry has 200 seeds.

Including fruit into the diet of you and your children can be as simple as offering snacks or as a healthy addition to nearly all desserts. Making those desserts does not need to be time consuming!

Twist the classic bruschetta with fruit, courtesy of allrecipes.com. You’ll need a baguette of choice, 1 tablespoon of butter softened, 2 cups of chopped strawberries and ¼ cup of sugar.

Cut the baguette into slices. Preheat the oven to broil. Spread a thin layer of butter on each side of the bread. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a large baking pan.

Place the bread in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes, until lightly toasted. Spoon some chopped strawberries onto each piece of toast; then sprinkle sugar over the strawberries.

Place under the broiler again until caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve right away.