by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE
A great habit or tradition to start in the kitchen and continue through the year is food preparation. A one-hour weekend food prep session yields multiple positive outcomes. First and foremost, it is time spent together, and in case you have not noticed, your children really do want to be with YOU. Secondly, it exposes kids to healthy food options and increases longevity. When compared to other high-income countries America cooks the least and lags in life expectancy. Cooking skills correlate positively with vegetable consumption and negatively with convenience food consumption, which re-emphasizes cooking and food prep as important life skills. Lastly, once a food-prep habit becomes established it is helpful for everyone because it takes the pressure off weeknight meals through kitchen collaboration.
Weekend food prep ideas: pick one to three of these to start a 1-hour weekend food prep habit.
• Peel and slice carrots. Place these in bags for lunches or in a large container to use as needed.
• Slice cucumbers (these will not keep as long as celery, or carrots— eat them first).
• Slice celery and bell peppers (if not using the bell peppers within a few day throw them in the freezer for later).
• Cut up broccoli (store this in a large zip-top bag with a paper towel inside— the paper towel absorbs extra moisture, helping the broccoli last longer).
• Wash fruit for easy grab-and-go options (apples, grapes).
• Cut melons for easy snacking.
• Boil eggs.
• Make yogurt parfaits.
• Make smoothie bags for healthy morning smoothies.
• Make a pan of baked oatmeal to use for a quick breakfast.
• Make snack bags of trail mix for on-the-go snacks.
• Make a simple slaw.
• Clean lettuce for salads (store in a zip-top bag with a paper towel).
• Roast tomatoes (slice grape tomatoes in half and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 300º for 30 minutes). Mix these into other veggies, or use on toast or rice.
• Make a big batch of rice or quinoa. Keep some in the refrigerator for this week and package some in the freezer for later.
• Marinate some meat for use in a couple of days (or freeze for use later).
• Cook a double batch of taco meat (use half for dinner on prep night and package the rest to freeze).
• Cook up some soup for tomorrow’s dinner.
• Make a batch of muffins.
Until next time: eat well, live well.
Stewed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes Dress up meatloaf or grilled chicken breast with this classy side dish.
2 medium zucchinis (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon canola oil
4 medium garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fat-free,
low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 tsp. dried
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons shredded or grated Romano cheese
Cut the zucchini into 1/2-inch slices, preferably with a crinkle-cutter. Pour the oil into a pan over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Toss in the zucchini. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender-crisp. Pour in the broth. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until the zucchini is tender, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes, basil and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes are warmed through. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: ½ cup)
Nutrient Breakdown: Calories 42, Fat 2g (0.5g sat. fat, 0.5g mono fat); Cholesterol 1mg, Sodium 32mg, Carbohydrates 6g, Fiber 2g, Protein 2g
Diabetes Plate Plan: 1 Vegetable
Cook’s tip on crinkle-cutters: You can find crinkle-cutters at gourmet shops and some supermarkets. They are easy-to-use gadgets that make attractive wavy cuts on vegetable and fruits.
Reprinted with permission from the American Heart Association’s No-Fad Diet, A personalized Plan for Healthy Weight Loss © 2005
Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/eatingwellwithkim. To search for specific recipes go to www.universityhealth.org/ewwk. You can also watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.
This article appears in the February 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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