“We never seem to have enough time.”
At least that’s what most people say. I always think that it’s one of the few things I’ve got lots of. (HA!)
But when I am pressed for time, I look for things that will make my life easier. For example, recently my wife had an engagement she had to attend and therefore wouldn’t be home for dinner. So it was up to me to collect our little one from daycare and then make dinner before someone has a “meltdown” (that would be my daughter, not me). In anticipation of needing to make dinner as fast as possible, I planned on spaghetti for the night. The sauce is defrosted, the water is in a pot and on the stove, the colander is in the sink and the pasta is measured out.
This may seem like small potatoes but now when I get home and NEED to have dinner ready in 10 minutes, I can do it. It took me a whole 5 minutes that morning to organize things for dinner and now all I have to do is turn on the stove and wait for the pasta to cook as I am reheating the sauce. Toddler tantrum avoided!
This just shows the importance of healthy meal planning.
On another evening we had pork chops with white beans. I like to use dried beans rather than canned so I must plan ahead if I want the family to eat at a decent hour. Hence, I soaked the beans the previous Sunday night and then on Monday morning before heading to work, while showering, getting our daughter ready, I had time to cook the beans. I drained them, let them cool and then placed them in the refrigerator.
Once I got home the next evening, all I had to do was turn the oven on, sauté the pork chops and then reheat the beans. As the pork chops cooked, I had plenty of time to add whatever vegetables I wanted to as the beans reheated. I had some leftover roasted carrots and beets from Sunday’s meal which I chopped up and added to the beans as well as some wonderful fresh spinach one of the local farmers gave me…dinner in 20 minutes!
How? Because I planned ahead. Planning ahead can save time on every type of meal plans, including diabetic or gluten free meal plans. (It is especially important to plan for the latter because it is very important that gluten free meal plans are truly gluten free.)
This guest blog post is brought to you by Dorothy Kato.
Below are 10 of the most well-known truth, lies and facts that you need to know about diabetes and diabetic meal plans.
Misconception 1: Overeating sugar causes diabetes.
What makes diabetes happen? The reasons usually are not totally understood. What exactly is known is that simply overeating sugar is not likely to cause diabetes. Instead, diabetes begins when something disrupts your own body’s capability to turn foods into energy.
To know what goes on when you’ve got diabetes, keep these things in your
mind: Your system reduces most of what food you’re eating into glucose, a form of sugar necessary to power your cells. A hormone called insulin is created inside the pancreas. Insulin helps cells in your body use glucose for fuel.
Listed here are the most frequent kinds of diabetes and what researchers know about:
* Type 1 diabetes takes place when the pancreas cannot make insulin.
* Diabetes type 2 happens when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, the insulin doesn’t work properly, or both.
* Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnancy in certain women.
Misconception 2: You can find a lot of rules in diabetic meal plans.
For those who have diabetes, you will have to plan meals. However the general principal is not hard: Following a “diabetes diet” means choosing food that may work together with your activities and any medications to help keep your blood sugar as near to normalcy as it can be.
Misconception 3: Carbohydrates can be harmful for diabetes.
Actually, carbohydrates are great for diabetes. They make up the foundation of a normal diabetes diet.
Carbohydrates possess the greatest influence on blood sugar, and that’s why you are required to observe the number of carbohydrates you consume when following a diabetes diet.
Misconception 4: Protein is superior to carbohydrates for diabetic meal plans.
The major problem is the fact that many foods abundant in protein, for example meat, can be stuffed with fats. Overeating those fats increases your risk of coronary disease. Inside a diabetes diet, protein should account for about 15% to 20% of the total calories you take in every day.
Misconception 5: You’ll be able to adjust your diabetes drugs to “cover” anything you eat.
If you are using insulin for your diabetes, you could possibly learn to adjust the quantity and type you take to complement the quantity of what you eat. But this does not mean you can eat just as much as you desire, then just use more drugs to stabilize your blood glucose levels level.
Misconception 6: You will need to quit your preferred foods.
There isn’t any reason to remove your preferred foods from meal planning on the diabetes diet.
Misconception 7: You must quit desserts when you have diabetes.
Not the case! It is possible to develop many methods for including desserts inside a diabetes diet. For example:
* Use low calorie sweeteners in desserts.
* Scale back on the quantity of dessert. For instance, rather than two scoops of soft ice cream, have one. Or share a dessert with a friend.
Misconception 8: Low calorie sweeteners are dangerous if you have diabetes.
Low calorie sweeteners tend to be sweeter compared to the equivalent level of sugar, therefore it takes a reduced amount of them to receive the same sweetness present in sugar. This could cause eating fewer calories than when you use sugar.
Misconception 9: You should eat special diabetic meals.
The real difference from a diabetes diet as well as your family’s “normal” meal planning regimen is this: for those who have diabetes, you’ll want to monitor everything you eat a little more closely. Including the total of calories you take in and the amounts and varieties of carbohydrates, fats, and protein you consume.
Misconception 10: Diet Foods are the most useful options for diabetes.
Just because a meal is defined as a “diet” food does not always mean it’s a better option for those who have diabetes. In reality, “diet” foods could be expensive and no better than foods found in the “regular” areas of the supermarket, or foods you prepare yourself.
And you? Still looking over this article? Move out and enjoy meal planning your daily diet!
The author: Dorothy B. Kato is currently writing for the menus for diabetics web site, her personal hobby blog that shares ideas to help individuals to prevent/manage diabetes and help spread the comprehension on healthy eating.
With spring here and summer looming, my thoughts, like those of many others, turns to the birds and the bees.
No! Not like that…I think about pollination and the startling fact that 40% of our honeybee population is dying off each year. I know what you’re thinking…”Good! Then I won’t get stung. Besides, I’m allergic.”
But what many of us don’t realize is the VERY important fact that without bees our whole ecosystem and more specifically our food system suffers irreparable damage. In fact, roughly 30% of our food gets brought into the world by honeybee pollination.
Bees don’t just make honey: from apples to lemons, much of the food we eat may disappear with the bees. Even milk and beef production could be threatened: guess what makes the plants that feed the cows? Our friend the honeybee.
And that’s not all, bees add $15 billion to the annual US economy, and their loss will have a devastating impact on food production and food prices – healthy meal plans would not even be possible at that point.
So what’s happening? What’s killing off all the bees? Mounting scientific evidence suggests agricultural pesticides are one of the culprits. Here is yet another example where large scale industrial farming is damaging our future.
So what can we do about it?
Firstly, you can contact your local member of government and express your concern over the disappearance of the honeybee and the prevalence of pesticides in our agricultural system.
You could plant a bee friendly habitat in your garden or windowsill with pollen- and nectar-rich flowering plants like sunflowers, berries, gourds, and most herbs.
You could reduce your usage of insecticides and herbicides around the home. They may get rid of pests, but they can also harm “non-target” insects such as honeybees.
You can support your local beekeepers, and producers of rare honey. Learn about honey varieties in your area.
And most importantly, you can BUY LOCAL ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTS! I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Mix up your regular vegetarian meals by including some fresh produce grown locally. Or, just start eating more vegetarian meals in general with the help of locally grown foods! We need change and we need to make it happen…and we can do it by supporting our local farmers and buying their products.
Just another blant! (Blog rant)
Everybody is talking about the cost of food these days…or more specifically, how to save money on food bills.
The average North American spends about 15% of their household budget on food. That’s a big chunk of change. Recent reports indicate that the price of food will NOT be going down anytime soon…if ever. So, how do we cope with higher food costs when it comes to healthy meal planning?
There are many ways my family is dealing with this food price hike. This past weekend, my wife purchased several seeds that we’ll be starting under our grow lights that sit on a shelf I built in the basement…tall enough that the cat can’t reach it. We’ve got some Swiss chard, basil, lettuces, beets, carrots, beans, tomatoes, zucchini and probably a few more I’m forgetting. Once they’ve germinated and reached a certain height, we’ll be able to transplant them outside. Now, I realize not everyone has grow lights or enough outdoor space for a larger garden, but you’d be amazed at how little space you need to grow some vegetables. You could even consider transforming your front yard to garden space…who says it has to be all grass?
We purchased our home in mid March about 10 years ago and after having lived in apartments for 20 years before this, I remember thinking “I’ll have to buy a lawn mower now”. We were both shocked come spring as the snow melted to discover that our entire front yard was planted perennials and not grass! My wife then quickly purchased some gardening books and visited the local gardening store to learn how to cope with this. The front yard then became her domain while I was relegated to the back yard (self imposed)…and because the backyard was dominated by a HUGE garage (torn down last spring…FINALLY) and a massive red maple tree, there was little opportunity for grass, let alone vegetables to grow.
A few years on now and a major backyard renovation later (the tree is still there but the garage has been replaced by a much smaller shed), we’ve built ourselves several garden boxes and transplanted about half of the front yard with vegetables. Now amongst our rose bushes and lilacs are beautiful Swiss chard, vibrant green basil and even a few broccolis.
Yes, we’re lucky enough to have the space to plant vegetables but there are many ways to grow veggies indoors as well as in confined areas…don’t let apartment dwelling stop you from growing some of your own food.
Now, growing your own vegetables is not the only way to save money on food costs. Planning your weekly meals ahead of time is a must. If you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market with a list and (here’s the important bit) STICK TO THAT LIST, you’ll definitely save money. Don’t believe me? How many times have you had to head back to the grocery store to pick up that red pepper you forgot only to leave with $20 less in your wallet? And it wasn’t all spent on really expensive red peppers either. We plan out all our weekly meals and buy foods accordingly (this is especially important if you have a certain diet you have to stick to, such as diabetic diets or gluten free diets). We’ll go through our fridge, freezer and pantry area and make sure we’re planning meals that use up any items we already have before purchasing more.
We also try to buy everything we can from the farmer’s market. When it comes to vegetables it is very important to buy fresh even if the cost is a little bit more. When we buy our $2 head of lettuce at the farmer’s market, we know it will last a week. Often, especially in winter months, you might pay less for a head of lettuce at the grocery store but you end up throwing half of it out…is that really saving you money? The closer it’s grown to your home, the longer it will last and the cheaper it becomes in the long run.
Whether you’re planning for gluten free diets or just a heart healthy diet, MealEasy can help you with recipe ideas and grocery lists.
Spring has to be my favourite time of year as a cook. I look forward to the arrival of asparagus to the farmers market…a sure sign of spring. Asparagus will be followed soon thereafter by fiddleheads and then…the flood gates open! Buying fresh local produce is a must. Not only will it last longer, the taste is just that much better. For my lunch today, I packed myself some spinach for a salad. As I’ve said previously, I wash and spin every green or vegetable that requires it when I get home from the market. Well, today’s spinach salad will feature spinach purchased nearly two weeks ago! There is NO WAY a bag of spinach from the grocery store would EVER last that long…often the spinach is half turned to liquid by the time you get it home. Luckily our fresh spinach lasted for the low fat recipe we concocted this afternoon.
Soon there’ll be a huge variety of fresh produce at the market: lettuces, tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy…
And then fresh fruit arrives! Is there anything better than a sun ripened strawberry? Still warm and oh so juicy! It’s all still a little ways away, probably a few weeks yet until asparagus arrives. It’s almost like Christmas for a chef…Christmas that lasts all summer long and has plenty of vegetarian recipes.
By the time asparagus season has run its course, we’ve usually had our fill.
Here’s a low fat recipe for an asparagus classic:
The scourge of every lawn, the ubiquitous dandelion is seen as a pest by almost everyone…everyone except us cooks. While I’m not about to dispense lawn care advice I can tell you how you can get back at the dandelion for ruining your lawn…EAT THEM! That’s right! Include them in a meal planning recipe!
One of the first greens of the season every year is the dandelion. That lowly weed packs a nutritional wallop. One cup of dandelion greens contains 188% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K; 54% of your Vitamin A and lots of Calcium and Iron.
Dandelions help with digestion, reduce swelling and inflammation, and treat viruses, jaundice, edema, gout, eczema and acne. A relative to the sunflower, the dandelion boasts potent medicinal properties with laxative and diuretic properties (in French we call them pissenlit, which translates as: “wet the bed”).
These bittersweet greens are usually plentiful and affordable but must be picked before they flower or they’re just too bitter to eat. Now, I’m not suggesting you should go outside right now and dig up your lawn to create a meal planning recipe; you can often find dandelion greens at the farmer’s market or health food stores.
As I said, they are quite bitter tasting and therefore not everyone’s cup of tea. Dandelions can be used in vegetarian meal plans, like a salad either mixed with other greens or on their own or even in a stir fry. Because of their bitterness, most people tend to use a sweet-ish dressing with them. I like to dress them with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Be careful when tossing them in a vinaigrette, they tend to clump together very easily if you add too much dressing. Add a bit at a time and taste as you go.
They’re nutritious, plentiful and if you pick them out of your own lawn, free! And, you get a nice lawn out of the deal! What more could you ask for?
No one in our household is a vegetarian but we do make vegetarian meal recipes on a regular basis. We have vegetables with every meal but we also almost always have meat too. Like many non-vegetarians we were initially concerned that we would not get enough protein, mostly because we were “afraid” of tofu. More accurately, none of us liked eating mushy flavourless tofu.
But there are many tricks to making your tofu flavourful and it doesn’t have to be mushy. What I’ve been doing is marinating the tofu I will use in a stir fry before I leave for work in the morning. It takes about 5 minutes to cut it up and make the marinade and then I place it in the refrigerator until I need it. I always buy firm or extra firm tofu for my stir fries. Then when I get home, I strain the tofu reserving the marinade. I heat up a pan and cook the tofu separately until browned and crisp. Meanwhile, I’ll cook the other stir fry ingredients in a wok adding the marinade at the end. I’ll serve the stir fry on either a bed of rice or with noodles and topped with the crispy fried tofu. This is just one of many ways to enjoy tofu in healthy meal plans.
But tofu isn’t the only source of vegetarian protein…not by any means. Legumes (beans and lentils), nuts and whole grains such as quinoa, one of the best foods you can eat by the way.
So give it a try even if you’re not a vegetarian. Not only on meatless Monday’s but maybe even a couple times a week. You’ll save money, feel better and who knows, you might actually end up liking tofu enough to incorporate it into your regular healthy meal plans.
There’s an easy and proven solution to higher food costs…EAT MORE VEGETARIAN!
Without a doubt, reducing our consumption of meat products will not only lower rates of heart disease, lower rates of diabetes but will also lower our food bills. I know it’s not easy for us North Americans that were raised on a steady diet of meat and potatoes. I can hear the protest cries now: “But my husband/wife/child will not eat vegetables”. Well, if you’re serious about saving money and are concerned for your health, you need to make certain sacrifices…and eating meat every night of the week is one of them.
I don’t expect everyone who reads this to automatically stop eating meat tomorrow and nor should you. What you can do is begin gradually. Start by creating one vegetarian meal plan a week. Make sure that whatever meal you choose has enough proteins, enough calories and enough flavour to appeal to everyone. Meals with legumes (beans, lentils etc) are a good place to start. Odds are you already serve beans every now and again with pork chops so next time…don’t add the pork chops. At MealEasy, we’ve developed over 600 vegetarian meal plans that are not geared solely to the vegetarian but were created with the meat eater in mind as well. A balance of nutrition and flavour is essential to every vegetarian meal plan, especially if you’re trying to convert the die hard carnivore.
It wasn’t that long ago that a meal at our house that didn’t feature some sort of meat was unheard of. But then we started omitting the chicken from our weekly stir fry. Then pizza night became veggie pizza night when the Bee had me making a special pizza for her because she didn’t like the sausage on it…turns out, my wife and I actually prefer it without sausage too. Now, we easily find ourselves having a vegetarian meal plan three times a week all the time and saving money because of it too.
So give it a try. Start by cutting out meat once a week and go from there…who knows, you may like it and you WILL SAVE MONEY!
Making lunches throughout the week can be both stressful and time consuming. Quite often you’re left with little choice but to grab something on the go. This often means you’re spending money you shouldn’t and eating something that’s not healthy.
That’s why it is so important to plan your meals ahead of time. And, while planning ahead, plan for leftovers. Leftovers are the easiest lunch there is. What could be more convenient than taking some leftover supper and eating it for lunch?
That’s why at our house I always plan on a big dinner for Sunday evenings even though there are only 3 of us in our family. This week, even with my dad and his wife visiting, we still had plenty of vegetarian meal plan leftovers for lunches for me and my wife as well as some chicken that we used for our dinner on Monday night. I decided on a whole roast chicken which I cooked on the rotisserie and a quinoa salad with as many vegetables as I could cook. Sure it took a couple hours to cook the chicken but as it roasted away, I leisurely prepped the veggies for the quinoa salad while chatting to my dad as we sipped our wine.
This week’s quinoa salad featured a whole bunch of fresh seasonal vegetables such as fiddleheads, asparagus, beet greens and spinach from our own garden. It was great! I highly recommend quinoa salads as a starch for dinner and as a lunch item on its own; so filling and nutritious. I’ve included a recipe from our healthy meal plan collection here but feel free to experiment and add whatever vegetables you may have on hand.
By now we’ve all heard about the obesity epidemic that has hit North American and by all accounts, many places around the world. We’ve all heard the staggering statistics and the huge costs associated with obesity; we’ve read about how unhealthy eating is causing a huge increase in diabetes and heart disease among other ailments.
But will it really take a 20% tax on junk food to force us to change our eating habits? According to the British Medical Journal this just might be the only way to get people to eat healthier. This, they argue, would hit people where it hurts the most…their pocketbook. But is there really a price on good health? Do we really need a government tax to wake us up to the fact that junk food is bad for us? Unfortunately for many folks that is the case. Often people don’t take notice until it affects their budget. If the price of a bag of chips is suddenly $0.60 more per bag or the fast food combo is no longer under $4?
At MealEasy we’re thinking about your budget and your health. We’ve created healthy and affordable meal plans that suit just about any tastes. From our Heart Healthy Meal Plan, Gluten Free Meal Plan to our Vegetarian Meal Plan, we know there’s something there for you and your family. You can eat well and save money by planning ahead with a vegetarian meal plan or gluten free meal plan. Don’t wait until the government imposes a tax on junk food to start eating right…do it now!