Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fast Food That is Smart!

Have you ever left work at the end of an insanely busy day and felt like the last thing you wanted to do was cook dinner?  Do you open your freezer in those moments and grab whatever frozen lump of preservatives, hormones or empty calories might be lurking in there?  Or maybe you call out for pizza, or chinese, or hit a drive thru on your way home.  I know I have been guilty of all of the above. 

We have been programmed to believe that because it is packaged and sold as "convenience food" that this somehow makes it easier than buying and preparing a more healthy option.  For example, frozen pizzas, chicken strips and french fries take an average of 10 to 20 minutes to prepare in a conventional oven.  Even a box of macoroni and cheese takes at least 10 minutes.  Some brands offer microwave versions, but in addition to being destroyed at the cellular level, microwave food tastes totally disgusting.   

Now lets think about how long it takes to prepare fresh fish, steak or hamburgers under a broiler.  About 10 to 20 minutes.  Thats right, just as fast!  And it takes even less time to dice up a fresh salad or steam some fresh vegetables. 

These things may seem like more work, but in reality, are you really going through that much trouble, taking twenty minutes out of your day to prepare something that is going to nourish your body?  Besides, even microwave packaged food can be quite a chore to prepare.  Lid on, lid off, now stir and now sit there and wait.  You get the idea. 

In the time that it takes to cook a frozen pizza or wait in line at a busy drive thru, you can have steak with steamed vegitables and a garden salad with fresh fruit for dessert.  How much better would that be for your family tonight?!

Now, being a mom, I know it is not always easy to get kids to want to eat dinner at all, much less eat a wholesome one.  They want hot dogs and they want them now!  But if you are patient you can easily encourage them to eat nutritious food and even make it fun! 

I love making up recipes for my son.  Last week I created what I called a "banana boat" by cutting a wedge along a banana and filling it with natural peanut butter.  Then he helped sprinkle the dried cranberry "people" into the boats.  My whole family loved them! 

When I wanted my son to eat fresh vegitables, I got him to try them by offering him different "dips" like all natural salad dressing or honey mustard and "sprinkles" which were usually just salt, dried kelp or herbs.  Kids love grated cheese sprinkled on their cooked veggies, or melted butter to dip them in. 

A great grain choice to try when you are running late is quinoa.  This unique little seed takes only 20 minutes to prepare and is often used as a side dish or mixed with steamed or stir fried vegitables.  It has a light taste and is easy on the digestive tract.

Many soups can be prepared mostly from scratch in 20 minutes as well.  Use an organic free range chicken or vegetable broth and you can add fresh or frozen veggies.  Lentils will cook in 20 minutes or you could use canned beans.  Read the labels on the beans you buy in a can.

I know it is a challenge, but try not to think of dinner as just one more thing on your to do list.  Allow yourself the joy of doing something for your family that will improve their health and happiness for the rest of their lives.  Dinner is not just what you eat today.  It literally does become a part of you.  Make it the best part you possibly can!

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