Good health for you and your family is as close as the kitchen. With planning, you can avoid such traps as skipping breakfast or ordering high-salt, high-fat lunches at a drive-through restaurant. There are endless ways for putting together quick and easy meals that will satisfy your appetites and provide the nutritional balance needed throughout the day.
With the convenience of wraps, smoothies, yogurt parfaits, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and leftovers from the previous night, you can boost your energy, clear your thinking and charge through the day without feeling unfocused, tired and jittery. Eating well is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and well-being.
Paying A Penalty
When you make the mistake of skipping meals or choosing such nutrient-poor foods that you a aren’t giving your body what it needs, you pay a price. You may actually gain weight because your body goes into starvation mode. Your metabolism slows down to conserve energy, which means fewer calories will be burned.
“When you go for long periods without a meal or snack, you feel a drop in energy, a reduced ability to concentrate, irritability and even some shakiness,” says Adrienne Hartley, dietitian at the Hy-Vee in Springfield, Missouri.
The cure is simple. Prep fresh, wholesome food ahead of time for grab-and-go meals.
Jump-start your household with these easy take-along breakfast ideas.
- Make enough homemade Maple-Almond Granola, page 28, for your family by layering yogurt, granola and fresh fruit into small canning jars. Wrap a folded napkin around each jar, secure with tape and slip in a plastic spoon. These yogurt parfaits are so convenient they can be eaten on the way to school or work.
- Make eat-and-go wraps by stuffing tortillas with scrambled eggs and herbs, page 29. Wrap each in parchment paper and secure with a string.
- Try a lunchtime wrap filled with fresh veggies and cheese, peanut butter and fruit, or chicken salad with walnuts and dried cranberries, page 29.
- Stock your kitchen with a selection of prepackaged foods, such as baby carrots, string cheese, individual servings of hummus or cottage cheese, whole grain crackers or fresh fruit. Just toss these into lunch containers and go.
- Energize quick noodle bowls by adding no-hassle ingredients, such as cooked shrimp, rotisserie chicken or frozen stir-fry vegetables, page 30.
- Pack leftovers from dinner or a weekend barbecue for a hearty microwavable meal. Increase the amounts you make of pastas, casseroles and other dishes for next-day lunches.
TIP: Lunch bags with good insulation allow you to feast on a chilled asparagus salad. Carry homemade vegetable soup or other hot foods in a thermal container.
More Breakfast Ideas
- Enjoy granola with milk as you would a bowl of cereal. If you’re under a time crunch, grab a handful of granola to eat on the run.
- Top halves of a whole grain bagel with cream cheese and let kids cover it with favorite veggies and fruits.
- Break out the panini grill and make a ham and egg sandwich on whole grain bread. Or skip the egg and add low-fat cheese.
- Layer fresh berries, nuts or granola and unsweetened yogurt in a parfait glass. Drizzle the top with honey.