Happy New Year friends! After our time away in the mountains we came back about as refreshed as you can be skiing with 4 kids (my husband is seriously passionate people!). My husband had lots of work trips as soon as we got back, and I have had almost constant solo parenting which is why he is sending me away this weekend with my best friends. The spa appointments are made and that point of relaxation with girlfriends and wine is what I am thinking about during this LONG stretch of cold winter weeks.
I am trying to bring that Spa-like mindset into our days despite the cabin fever tendencies. Long books, bubble baths, essential oils, spa-like food and music playing. Something to make up for the void from all the delights of the senses in December. Plus I hate feeling deprived as I get healthy and so do my kids. So I am trying to find things to add to our surroundings that make us feel better instead of reminding us of what we are going without, you know, like sunshine and sugar.
So here is the list I’ve come up with of things that are helping me – and the kids. I can’t believe how much each one of these things has been met with great results with them! I hope they help you and your family too.
1. Afternoon Snacks –
The window after school is a tough one for me. I feel like I have the same conversation over and over again about sugar and nutrition. I was on a mission to find things they wanted but weren’t horrible. Mostly they ask for ice cream and cookies.
So here is our substitution for Ice Cream – we keep these stashed in the freezer. All flavors work but they loved this one. (They still get real ice cream sometimes after dinner).
They are loving both of these! The muffins are made from this pancake mix which is full of whole grains and protein, and I add fruit in too.
1b. Honorable Mention: We also got a Sodastream and they are loving it! I can get healthy-ish flavors or a little juice to add to the water and we don’t have to have a conversation about sugary drinks. Target sells them along with the flavor enhancements and it has been a health and $$-saving bonus.
Ok, next up, let’s talk about vehicles for Veggies.
Soup is winter’s answer to all those salads and raw veggies we eat all summer.
My kids love this soup – something about the comfort food factor I think. They totally forgot they were eating cauliflower. But the key to this soup is you can use ANY VEGETABLE and it will still taste good.
Think of this recipe below as a templet, and then improvise.
You can throw handfuls of the bottom of your veggie drawer and it will still taste good if you sauté onions, add broth, simmer for 20 and puree. I just tried this one Skinnytaste’s Cookbook, and it is a gem. (I actually just went to get you the link to her website and her latest post is almost this exact recipe + some Brussel sprouts thrown in.) So experiment and have fun. Tweak it to any diet you are doing – Whole30 or Gluten-Free, leave out the flour, leave out the onions, if you do the other things, trust that warm salty veggies in pureed form will still taste good.
Skinnytaste’s Cauliflower Soup (printer version here):
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp unbleached flour (all purpose is fine too)
1 medium head cauliflower – chopped
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 cups fat free chicken broth (veggie broth or chicken bullion + water work too)
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter on low heat. Add the flour and stir about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, onions and cauliflower and set heat to medium. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. (from skinnytaste.com)
I like it with some of the whole roasted veggies on top so I will make soup with one head and roast another at the same time for salads etc.
Here are some other soups and salads we love:
- Lemon and Dill Soup from A Life From Scratch (Hi Courtney!)
- Crockpot Lentil Detox Soup from A Pinch of Yum (and prayers for their sweet baby’s passing).
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Chicken Tortellini Soup – this is a go to for us, since I buy rotisserie chicken every other week. I make a broth with the bones, cut up the meat for the soup, and just add tortellini and whatever veggies are in the drawer.
- Giada’s Creamy Artichoke Soup – I live on this soup. Especially when I am PMSing since I crave salt and potatoes. Leeks are a diuretic so they help flush out water retention too.
This Cannellini Bean Tuna Salad is my go to since I always keep everything on hand. It is everything canned + some fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. This concept can be stretched in a million ways but this is my favorite: cannelloni beans, artichokes, tuna, and red onion, with some parsley, evoo and lemon juice, s&p.
- Winter Spa Salad with Lemon Chicken
- Lentil Quina Salad
- I can’t wait to try this gorgeous beet salad from Manger. (At the end of the post).
- Making this Bahn Mi Salad (or maybe this Bahn Mi Bowl) tomorrow night.
- Every one of these 10 salads from Real Simple look amazing. I am just loving dressing greens simply now with lemon juice, olive oil and vinegars, salt & pepper too.
4. Other Greens:
Now that my herb pot is covered in snow, I always make sure I keep lots of herbs on hand (you can wrap them in damp paper towels and put them in ziplock to keep them longer.) I use them up in making stock, but I hate having everything on hand for a recipe except for fresh cilantro and rosemary. It keeps reminding me that the winter will thaw, and we will have herb pots again.
I also try to buy some fresh new houseplants to make up for all the greens we take down after Christmas.
5. Isagenix –
I know there are a lot of diet companies out there, and I was SO completely skeptical about this program when I first heard about it. But then I had the luck of having my whole circle of friends try it, and now it is spreading through my kids school. And moms are just losing weight and feeling great. I feel like the nutrition in their shakes is just the best, though I know people who love Shakeology and Arbonne, which I have tried and are good too, so do whatever works for you. I also know some people who swear by not drinking their meals, and more power to them too. I just had the best results with being able to grab nutrition in a jiffy sometimes and this shake makes me feel the most nourished out of all the ones I have tried.
I didn’t stress about holiday eating because I knew after vacation I was just going to hop back onto my shakes for breakfast and with the hope of clean eating most of the time. The reality was we had pizza and fast food last weekend. But this program has 2 day cleanses that really reset your brain and your belly, and let you get back on track. I am on my second day of fasting (with specially designed drinks and amino-acid rich chocolate wafters that make your brain feel like you are getting a boost) and I feel great. Mental clarity + loose jeans after a holiday is why I love this program!
What are your favorite ideas when you try to get your family healthy? I am all ears.
Happy (Healthy) Eating!