Well Fueled Family Fun

Footloose and schedule-free sunny days are the hallmarks of summer living for many families. Your children and neighborhood friends bustle in and out of the house, you stretch out the evenings basking in the summer skies, and

you relish the slower pace of life and the longer daylight hours.

But then, you schedule a family vacation.

You work and re-work schedules, sleeping arrangements, entertainment, campsite reservations, and credit card points. You beg and plead with the powers above that no one will fall ill, fall injured, or fall out of favor with other members of the family.

We all want to get a good return on our vacation investment in the form of fond memories. One way to improve your chances of a fun-filled trip is to feed your family so they are well fueled.

Sure, vacations are the embodiment of leisure and indulgence, but our food choices may spoil our celebrations if they make us sick or over-indulged.

Here are a few tips to stay safe and well fueled during your summer travels:

Fuel for Fun

Hot dogs, s’mores, snow cones, and cheeseburgers are all essential parts of an American family summer. However, in between these “essentials,” fuel your family with nutrient-rich whole foods to keep them running at their best.

Here are a few nutritious on-the-go options:

Homemade or wholesome trail mixes – Think whole grain cereals, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. A bit of chocolate can top it off nicely.

Nuts and seeds – Seasoned, spiced, or plain, if trail mix isn’t your favorite.

Fresh veggies for dipping – Sugar snap peas, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery dip nicely in hummus, guacamole, homemade greek yogurt ranch dip, or any store bought dressing in small to-go cups.

Low sugar, high fiber granola bars – like Kind Breakfast Bars.

Hydrating drinks – Water, 100% fruit juice boxes, V8 vegetable juice,  Kefir, and ready to eat smoothies like Naked Juice. Be sure to watch portion sizes on beverages other than water. Without the bulk of fiber, a little juice goes a long way.

Yogurt cups – Aim for low-sugar alternatives. Try plain yogurts with fruit mix-ins and granola.

String cheese or cheese wedges

Homemade or Healthy Choice popcorn

Peanut butter and almond butter to-go pouches

Fruit cups and pureed fruit pouches – You can purchase ready-made or make your own at home with reusable plastic pouches and cups. Try mandarin oranges in a pop-top can. Aim for choices packaged in 100% fruit juice instead of heavy syrup.

Fresh fruit – Clementines and apples are resilient travel fruits. Wash your fruits, except berries, ahead of time for convenience. Bring along nut butter or fruited yogurt for dipping.

Low-sugar dried fruit leather – like the Stretch Island brand that Costco carries.

Whole grain pitas, tortillas, and breads – for spreads, rolls, and wraps.

Flavored tuna foil packets – like the lemon dill or Thai-style from Starkist.

Follow Food Safety Protocol

Avoid dreaded food sickness downers by abiding by these food safety rules whether you’re creekside in the canyon, car pooling with the kids, or curbside at the Ritz this summer:

  1. Separate

Keep raw meat…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Erica Hansen MS, RD, CD

Local Food: Good For You, Good For Utah

Since the 1950s, processed food has been touted as more convenient, easy, and,

in some cases, healthier for us.  However, as we’ve seen obesity surge in the U.S., many have started to question, “What actually is good for us?” The recent focus on local foods may provide an answer and a path for Americans to return to healthier eating habits. Local ingredients are almost always more fresh, less processed, and less likely to contain chemicals that none of us know how to pronounce, much less what they do to our bodies.

Beyond the health benefits of buying local ingredients, there are a number of benefits to not only our bodies, but our economies.  At Communal, we are glad that we can get really fresh ingredients, but we’re also happy to be supporting the local economy. Restaurants, consumers, and producers mutually benefit from buying local ingredients.  Most of these producers are small businesses owned by Utah natives.  Snuck Farms in Pleasant Grove, Christiansen Farms in Vernon, as well as Clifford Farm and La Nay Ferme in Provo are just a few of these smaller businesses that rely on local restaurants and consumers to continue to be successful.

In our restaurant, it is also notable to see the authenticity of the connection we have made to the ingredients we serve.  It is easier to treat an ingredient with care and respect when there is a real connection to the land.  I’ve been to these farms and met the families that run them.  When that connection exists, there is a certain thoughtfulness put into the preparation of an ingredient that has this sort of an origin story. In turn, that connection to the ingredient extends to the guests we serve. It’s a way to show that there are indeed lots of great local producers, and that Utahans have access to them.

At home, buying and using local ingredients is easier than most people think.  During the summer, head to your local farmers’ market, and you’ll find that the produce is entirely affordable and usually more fresh than what you’ll find in the grocery store.  Also, supermarkets like Harmons have been working harder to bring in local items.  Keep an eye out the next time you visit—local cheese, meat, and produce is available and usually marked. Making those thoughtful purchases to support Utah producers is good for our economy and good for your family.

As more businesses and local residents support the return to local food, we’ll see healthier communities, and we’ll also strengthen Utah’s economy.  It’s a win for all of us.

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Andrew Hansen

The Raw Truth About the Foods We Eat – Wendy Thueson, Certified Chef, Raw Food Coach, Master Herbalist

Gardening-864x510Suicide was a last resort in my mind. Just thinking of the heartache I would cause my husband and four children was enough for me not to go further; but I was desperate to escape the misery and debilitating pain I experienced on a daily basis. Constant neck and back pain, twenty eight years of chronic fatigue, hypoglycemia, Grave’s Disease, brain fog, stuttering, depression and many other symptoms plagued my body and mind. I felt like I was dying.

“Please God”, I begged. “Just put me out of my misery.” I sobbed uncontrollably.

Then a thought entered my mind, “Wendy, it’s not your time yet. Go to the computer and look up nutrition.”

I suspected nutrition as the underlying cause of my problems but couldn’t find the help I needed anywhere I looked. Taking my health into my own hands, I began an intense search for answers. Eventually the path led to raw food.

Eating simple meals like large salads with plenty of vegetables, fruit, green smoothies, and soaked nuts became my new routine. I remember waking up on the second day at 6:00 am with energy I’d never known and within one week, my symptoms were gone.

Removing meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, breads, and processed foods out of my diet was the best thing I ever did. I learned that these foods create inflammation in the body and make us tired. Enzymes are used to digest our food and for proper function of every system in the body. They are destroyed at heats over about 120 degrees F. For this reason, food cooked at high heats, which is most fast and processed foods, are void of life. The body then has to take from its enzyme reserve for digestion, which causes fatigue after a meal. Eating live, uncooked plants, however, gives us many needed enzymes resulting in more energy after a meal. This is what I was experiencing and it felt amazing.

Lasagna, wraps, spring rolls, and smoothies are just a few of the meals I created as well as delicious desserts like chocolate brownies, cakes, and puddings, all made from uncooked fruits, vegetables, sprouted nuts and seeds. I eat a high raw food diet year around. This helps me maintain amazing energy and a high quality of life…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right – Erica Hansen MS, RD, CD

Eating-Right-300x219

Why do you eat what you eat? If you are like most Americans, according to research, taste trumps all other deciding factors. Surprised? Probably not.

We live in a time and place where food is abundant and you have a lot of food choices to make, as many as 200 per day, according to researcher Dr. Brian Wansink. Can you think of a place where you can’t find food? It’s in movie theaters, malls, airports, your workplace, gas stations, and even available at sporting events. Each year about 50,000 new food products are introduced to your grocery store shelves. With so many foods to choose from, most Americans have the luxury of choosing to eat the very best tasting things.

Unfortunately, some of the foods that are packed with essential nutrients have been given a bad rap in the tasty foods lineup. According to national surveys, less than 25% of Americans eat the amount of vegetables we should (about 2-3 cups per day). When I meet with patients, the number one reason they cite for avoiding vegetables is, you guessed it, taste.

Vegetables are running up against some tasty competition. The foods you find on supermarket shelves are literally made to win; loaded with added fat and sugar they are created to taste great. Why? Because you buy things that taste good and we are hard-wired to enjoy the taste of fat and sugar, both high in life-sustaining energy. From a marketing and business perspective it makes sense for a food manufacturing company to add taste–unfortunately, even at the cost of compromising nutritional quality.

Vegetables are naturally low in fat and simple sugars, but you shouldn’t give up on great tasting vegetables just yet. When aiming to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables each meal, consider these three suggestions to add flavor and flair:

  1. Vary your veggies

Don’t get stuck eating the same vegetables night after night. While corn, peas, carrots, and potatoes are great, they aren’t the only veggies out there.

Consider writing out a list of all the vegetables you like eating by going through all of the colors of the rainbow. What are all of the red vegetables you like? Orange? Green? Sometimes having a tangible list of possible choices will help you realize how many you actually do like and give you ideas to add to your grocery list.

During your next trip to the grocery store, pick-up a new vegetable or one you haven’t tried for a while. I don’t recommend filling your cart with…(read more)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness