food blog

Healthy Eatin | Cooking with Kait | Personal

Alright y'all, we're gonna hold hands and get through this last stretch of gross wintery blues together-- but sanitize first because germs. Back in the fall my sweet sweet previous dietitian was kind enough to share some healthy eating tips. I often get asked for different ideas/recipes on things as I am always cooking, but ALWAYS on the go. I'm not even kidding. Forever traveling and working! Don't get me wrong, I still eat junk and cheeseburgers sometimes but I really try to balance it out. Life would be so boring if you didn't indulge in things right?  However, it's true what they say; eat like crap, feel like crap so I really try to behave myself. Today I thought I would share some very simple and easy make ya feel good tricks and ideas! 

Eating healthy isn't that expensive. I repeat, eating healthy isn't that expensive. I promise. BUDGET. I do have two jobs but I have to budget. There's no if ands or buts about it. I set budgets for everything based around my income, bills and what I will be doing that month (I.E. travel, concerts, birthday dinners). If you're interested in how I come up with a budget that works for me give this post a big ol like (or just ask me) and I would be happy to share! It's not something that I came up with overnight. It took me a bit of trial and error and eating ramen for a few days straight to learn from my mistakes. 

Moving on to the best part- FOOD. Ya girl loves to cook but I don't always have time to be slaying away making a bomb ass dinner every night.  My favorite go to is rotisserie chicken. 99% of grocery stores have them made hot and ready to go. There's so many things you can do with it and depending on your family size, it could potentially make a few meals/ snacks from it. On average they're around $5. You could also purchase a whole raw chicken yourself for around the same price and roast it if you have the time. I like to do this during my off season (winter) when I have a little more time on my hands. For me, I will pull the thighs/legs off of the chicken in addition to removing the skin. I use a very sharp knife and cut the breast off. The sharp knife is key here so you can get right against the bone and waste nothinnn (except the skin). If you're a little weirded out by getting down and dirty with the chicken I would recommend wearing a pair of gloves (you can get a pack of them at the dollar tree and save the rest for whatever other disgusting things come up in life that you have to touch). This will also help keep the lingering chicken smell off of your fingers too! 

Now you have 2 legs/thighs and a bowl full of chicken breast in a matter of a few minutes. You can eat the legs/thighs for lunch with a veggie. Boom TWO lunches right there. With the chicken breast you can eat it as is with a side, cut it up and make some chicken salad (my favorite), use it on top of some greens for a salad, make a wrap, or soup! I like to boil the carcass and make a homemade bone broth, toss in a bag of frozen mixed veggies and you have got yourself some tasty homemade chicken soup. If you want to add carbs feel free- sometimes I will pour the soup over white rice or add in some egg noodles if I am cooking for other people. Before you get your undies in a bunch, I'll share some recipes for all dis below. I got yo back. 

Another quick and easy favorite is stir fry. There's so many ways to making it and it's super easy and fast to throw together. I use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, an egg, organic stir fry sauce - I use the Wegmans brand- and some Jasmine or Basmati rice. Sometimes I'll omit the rice and just eat the veggies. I also cook up a few chicken breast to have on hand throughout the week and I will dice one up and toss that in as well. Another favorite is the Taylor Farms Stir Fry Kit. I found it at Walmart for around $3 (in the produce, by the salad and bagged veggies). It contains shaved veggies like broccoli, kale, bok choy, brussel sprouts, carrots, snap peas, etc. and comes with a sauce. They have a variety of options like teriyaki, pad thai and garlic ginger. It takes 5 minutes to cook and I dice up some chicken breast on top and call it a day. That's all I'm spilling for now. I can't give away all of my secrets at once. 

My on the go favorites! 

Chicken Salad:
Shredded chicken breast, mayo + a dab of mustard. I like to change it up between regular yellow and honey brown. I also don't measure because it depends on how much chicken you're using and your taste. I'd say 1 tablespoon of mayo/1 teaspoon of mustard per cup of chicken to start. It's easier to add more since you can't take it out. I add in finely diced red onion, sometimes celery, black pepper and garlic powder. If I'm feeling frisky I'll dice up some hard boiled eggs and toss that in too. Again, start small and add in as you mix. Taste as you go! Eat it as is, put it on some toast as a sandwich or put it in a wrap. 

Buffalo Chicken Salad:
All of the above but replace the mustard with hot sauce and omit the egg. Add Monterey cheese and love every second of it. 

BBQ Chicken:
Shredded chicken breast + your favorite bbq sauce. I use sweet baby rays but if you're hardcore dieting you may want to make your own or find one with less sugar. Add in your favorite shredded cheese (mozzarella or monterey are my go to), diced red onion and wrap it up! You can also again just mix it all together and eat it as is for a low carb option. 

Toss Salad:
Favorite greens (butter lettuce for me), shredded chicken breast, diced red onion, diced boiled egg, shredded cheese, maybe some tomatoes and your favorite dressing! A creamy dressing pairs best in my opinion with the egg added so I like Panera's Caesar (around $4 and lasts forever) or a ranch. You can mix in a little dab of BBQ sauce in with your ranch for a little twist. Trust- it's good. 

Option 2: Cook up a steak the way you like. Wegmans has the perfect portions (around $6 for the grass fed) and I like the Ribeye. For myself, one steak will be good for 2-3 salads depending on how big it is. You really don't need a lot. I add the steak, feta or gorgonzola cheese, diced red onion and one serving or less of dried cranberries (regular) with some blue cheese. Holy heck one of my absolute favorites! 

Homemade Stir Fry:
One whole bag of frozen mixed vegetables, steamed. Toss in a pan and mix in rice. I use Uncle Ben's Jasmine or Basmati. It's around $2 and takes 1.5 minutes to cook. Add in some stir fry sauce (organic Wegmans brand is around $3 I believe). I scramble 1 egg and then clear a spot on the side of the pan. Add in the eggs and mix as it cooks. Once it is cooked a bit add it into the rest of the mixture. I also add in about 1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce -- I think, because again I don't measure anything. Like if my life depended on measure out things while cooking I'd be dead. 

*Please keep in mind that I have a lot of pantry "staples" on hand. I always have onions, spices, mixed vegetables, eggs, and chicken breast on hand. I buy them in bulk and they last a while. A bag of organic yellow onions is around $4, red onions are the same, I buy cage free eggs around $3-4, frozen mixed vegetables are $0.75-$1 and I always have 1-2 bags on hand (I eat them with literally everything). I get my chicken from Wegmans and it usually around $20. I also always have minced garlic which varies on where you get it from. I purchase mine at Aldi for around $2. That's around $35-$40 for things that you can use in various recipes and will last around 2-3 weeks. 

- Top image: Taylor Farms Stir Fry with sliced chicken breast
- Bottom image: example of how much chicken breast you can get from a rotisserie chicken on the left (after taking a few pieces out) and the right a super quick chicken salad with mayo, mustard and onion! 

This is real life yall. I could have arranged some pretty plating of meals and photographed it to the best of my abilities but I'm about keeping it real. I definitely ate that salad right out of the pyrex dish and I use paper plates to eliminate the extra dish washing so I can spend my time doing other things.... like this...or eating. 

 

Healthy Tips For A New School Year

WELCOME BACK TO THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR!

It’s hard to believe that the new school year is right around the corner.  We all know how busy and hectic it can be adjusting to a brand new schedule, but your health and nutrition need not to be compromised. Whether you are a student, parent, or just looking to maintain your overall health, consider the following tips:

  1. Form (new) healthy habits. Quite literally, according to research and summed up by Psychology Today, “the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways.” It’s true: habits are often easy to pick up and hard to break. The good news is that we CAN make changes. It is believed that it takes 30 days to form a new habit. Do you struggle with drinking soda? Eating fast foods? Exercising? Start replacing soda with a sugar-free or reduced calorie beverage more often. Start packing a lunch from home instead of eating fast foods everyday. Start an exercise routine and promise yourself you’ll follow through. The more times you do this, the easier it will get and thus a new habit will be formed.

  2. Stop overcomplicating meals. Everyone thinks that in order to eat healthy, you need to spend a lot of time cooking fancy meals. In this fast-paced world, what can we do when we’re in a pinch? Instead of grabbing a burger and fries, consider a healthier alternative. For example, stop by your local supermarket and buy a rotisserie chicken. You can cut pieces of the chicken breast and pair with a bagged salad or a frozen vegetable for a meal that is ready in minutes and takes zero skill to prepare! If you are a parent on the go, consider using a pre-mixed refrigerated protein drink or a protein powder (1 serving) mixed with water, unsweetened almond milk, or a sugar-free beverage as a meal replacement. Pair with a serving of fruit. Your body will thank you.

  3. Do plan ahead. Okay, so not every meal should be a last minute thought. Pick 1-2 nights a week to prep ahead. Purchase meats or other lean proteins, fresh or frozen vegetables, and starches that are on sale for the week and cook in bulk so you can have leftovers. Prepare with different herbs/seasonings or light sauces so you don’t get bored. Being prepared allows you to remain in control.

  4. Get rid of the junk. No seriously, it will be so helpful to you and your family.  Do you buy soda, juices, and sweets? There is no reason you should be allowing that temptation to overpower you. If you had to choose between a piece of fresh fruit and a piece of candy, what do you think will win? I guarantee you’ll choose the candy every time if it’s always in front of you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with balance. You should treat yourself occasionally, but go out to have a treat and don’t bring it home. Allow your house to be filled with healthy foods and snacks so you and your family can stay on track together. Remember that certain foods marketed as “healthy” can add significant calories and sugar, such as juice (even if it says organic) or granola (1/2 cup alone can have 200+ calories). Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for resources on how much you should be eating of certain food groups, how to read a food label and more!

  5. Stick with an exercise routine. Don’t make excuses, just make time- at least 30 minutes per day. Whether it’s early in the morning, during lunch, or after school/work, get moving! Walk with family or friends, play a sport, or try a workout video (Youtube is a great FREE resource). If you experience significant joint pain, try something low impact such as water walking/aerobics. If you’re concerned, always reach out to your doctor for a list of approved exercises. There is something for everyone!

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Arica Fratarcangeli, MS, RDN, LD is a dietitian who specializes in weight management. She currently resides in Washington, DC and works for Kaiser Permanente.