As a working mother of two teenagers, I understand full-well the temptations to eat out or order take-out. On the flipside, as co-owner of Camp Shane (www.campshane.com) I have witnessed first-hand the trials and tribulations of thousands of kids and young adults struggling to lose weight.
When many of our campers first come to us, eating out has become a habit. We try to educate them that cooking at home doesn’t have to be an onerous task. In addition to saving money, preparing meals at home can be a simple route to weight loss and to building a healthy lifestyle for the whole family.
In order to encourage more families to cook healthy meals at home, I have put together the following five tips to help you say no to eating out and yes to cooking in!
1. Make frozen veggies your friend. Stock up on frozen veggies like spinach, peas and broccoli florets to add to main dishes or serve as sides by themselves. In addition to lasting longer, research shows that today’s “flash frozen” vegetables can be just as healthful as their fresh counterparts.
2. Choose longer-lasting lettuce. Sure, the triple-washed bagged lettuce is easy, but it costs a fortune and it doesn’t last very long. Try seeking out lesser known types of fresh greens that last longer than the traditional green leafy lettuces. Examples of nutrient-rich lettuce types that last a long time—and are very inexpensive–include things like chicory, romaine, radicchio, kale and dandelion greens.
3. Get technical. Subscribe to an e-newsletter that will email you healthy and quick recipes each week. There are thousands of them that you can sign up for on sites like FoodNetwork.com and RecipeNewsletters.com.
4. Leave the skins on. Not only will it save you tons of time from peeling, if you leave the skins on vegetables such as potatoes and carrots when you are cooking it helps them to retain more of their nutrient value and fiber, which keeps you full longer.
5. Make it a family affair. One of the best ways to prevent childhood obesity is getting kids into the kitchen. Encourage your kids to ask questions and help out while you are preparing the meal.
Posted below are two of my favorite quick and healthy recipes, “1-2-3 Simple Pea Soup” and “Rush Hour Rainbow Primavera.” They are both high in nutrition, low in fat, and take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
1-2-3 Simple Pea Soup
4 cups (two 10 oz. packages) frozen peas
2 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes or 2 teaspoons powder
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Add oil and scallions to a saucepan over low-medium heat. Once heated through, add frozen peas. Stir well. Add three cups boiling water and stock concentrate. Cover and cook until peas tender, 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into blender. Add cheese and puree until smooth. Serve or reheat.
Serve with a slice of crusty, whole wheat bread and a salad.
Rush Hour Rainbow Primavera
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
½ lb zucchini – sliced lengthwise and then in discs
½ lb broccoli, broken into florets
½ lb cauliflower – broken into florets
2 carrots or ½ lb baby carrots – sliced
1 red or yellow – cut into strips
2 scallions – sliced
½ lb cherry tomatoes
½ grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sauté vegetables for 5 minutes in olive oil, adding cherry tomatoes in last two minutes, until lightly cooked. Cook pasta and rinse, adding back to sauté pan with vegetables. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh salt and pepper.
Ziporah Janowski is the President/Founder of Shane Diet & Lifestyle Resorts, a weight loss program for adults and young adults. She works alongside her husband, David Ettenberg, Director/Owner of Camp Shane weight loss camp for children and teenagers. Together, they aim to fight obesity while encouraging a healthy lifestyle.