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Archive for March, 2012

Why Family Meal Times Are Important

March 29, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

The concept of the family meal seems to be something that belongs in and to the past. Interest in this tradition, however, is reviving, especially as research continues to point to the benefits of family meals.

What is the big deal about family meals, anyway? Are they really important? The research would suggest yes, they are. Here are some of the benefits of having regular family meals, and some reasons why family meal times are important.

Nutrition

Family meals are more nutritious than fast food, even if you use frozen vegetables and canned fruits in your food preparation. If you take a little time to research, you will find that healthy meals do not necessarily take any longer to cook than frozen, packaged foods. Healthy foods do not have to be very expensive, either.  Why not try to get a meal plan together and plan out some healthy meals for your family

Family meals help prevent spontaneous stops at unhealthy drive-throughs, and provide much better family nutrition.

Economics

Over and over the numbers show that eating at home is a lot cheaper than eating out. Even “cheap” food, such as $1 menus at fast-food restaurants, can be more expensive than an individual portion of a home-cooked meal. For the price of a fast-food meal – say $5 – you can buy (depending on local prices) a head of lettuce and a bag of potatoes, or a couple of pounds of apples and half a pound of cheese.  Click here for tips on saving on your grocery bill.

Communication

This is one of the key benefits to family meal time. Sitting around a table and talking is a way for families to engage each other and learn about what’s going on in each other’s lives. Experts agree that meal times should be as calm and peaceful as possible, so it’s not a good time to “grill” or pump your family members for information. It may be better just to let the conversation naturally grow from your time together.

Learning

If your children are engaging in the meal process – preparing the food, setting the table, helping clean up – then you are teaching them important skills. Children used to learn by helping grown-ups with chores around the house, and they still can! You are also showing them what’s involved in meal preparation, which may foster a sense of appreciation for those who prepare meals for them, both now and in the future.

Another important thing that children learn at family meals is manners. These important skills will serve your kids for their whole lives.

Validation and Security

When you take the time to have family meals, you are telling your family, “You’re worth it.” You are saying, in essence, that your family members are worth time, effort, and money. In fact, studies have shown that family meals can help boost children’s self-esteem, and may improve or prevent deviant behavior in teens.

Family meals establish a routine, too, that helps children feel more secure. Meals can provide a safe haven for youngsters who often find school, homework, socializing, and extracurricular activities overwhelming.

Calorie Cutting Tips

March 07, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Here are some great calorie cutting tips that will cut the calories but not cut the flavor of our meals!

When you hear about cutting back on calories, does it conjure up images of bland food and constant hunger? The good news is, flavor does not necessarily have to mean more calories.  Here are some calorie cutting tips that you can use while you keep – or even improve – the flavor of your favorite foods.

Drink First

It’s been said that hunger cues may actually be thirst cues in disguise.  The first calorie cutting tip is that when you feel hungry and it’s not time for a meal or healthy snack, reach for a drink.  Water is good, but if you can drink something flavorful without calories, it may be more satisfying in staving off hunger. Try lemon juice, water, and stevia (or your non-sugar sweetener of choice), or add sparkle to unsweetened juice with carbonated water. 

Pickled Vegetables

Did you know that most pickles have virtually no calories? Sweet pickles, of course, do have calories since they have sugar in them. But dill pickles, banana pepper rings, pickled green beans, and so forth are generally almost free of calories and they are full of flavor.  If you are looking to start your calorie cutting — be sure to snack on these when you feel the urge for something strongly flavored and salty.

You can also mince or slice pickles to add flavor or heat to food without adding calories.

Explore Calorie-Free Condiments

Mustard, hot sauce, and horseradish are just some of the strongly-flavored condiments that are almost calorie-free. Another option that is low in calories is salsa. You can buy jarred salsa or make your own using fruit or vegetables. The flavors can be quite varied and creative.

Lemon juice can be treated as a condiment. It’s very low in calories and adds bright, tart flavor to many otherwise bland dishes, such as plain rice. You can also toss steamed vegetables with lemon juice and a little olive oil.

Cook with Herbs and Spices

My favorite calorie cutting tips include the use of herbs.  Herbs and spices are just the thing to add flavor to dishes without adding fat or calories. Whether fresh or dried, adding on herbs like basil, oregano, garlic, and dill or spices like cumin, coriander, pepper, and cinnamon can really give your dishes a creative, flavorful kick. 

Clear versus Creamy

Many calorie cutters eat a lot of salad, and that’s good; but loading salads with thick, creamy salad dressings kind of defeats the purpose. Instead, use a simple oil and vinegar combination. You can add flavorful herbs like minced garlic or use dried, packaged dressing mix to add to your oil and vinegar. The flavor burst can be intense, especially if you go heavy on the vinegar and sprinkle on a little coarse salt…but the calories are still low.

As you can see by the many calorie cutting tips above, there are some ways that you can lower your calories while boosting up the flavor of foods.