Tuesday, September 22, 2015

20 Things to Do with an Apple - Solving my post-apple picking dilemma

My family went apple picking with Tarala's new school this past weekend. It was a gorgeous fall day and we took home a boat load of apples. One dad jokingly said he would rather pay $20 and drop his family off at Wegman's for apples, but I gladly shelled over the money to watch my daughter devour two apples. Now that they're home, she wants less to do with them so I'm forced to use some creativity before these bad boys go bad. While apples are my favorite fruit (probably because they are a perfect carrier for peanut butter), even at two a day my stash will last a while. Therefore, I hunkered down today and came up with a game plan. In case you are in the same pick-your-own dilemma, I thought I'd share my 20 Things to Do with an Apple.
  1. Eat it fresh off the tree
  2. Slice and add to a sandwich – turkey or peanut butter. Being the weirdo dietitian eater that I am, I LOVE me some apples on my grilled cheese.
  3. Crock pot applesauce – good for baby food too! I pealed and chopped about 6 apples, added a splash of lemon juice and a cinnamon stick and cooked on low for most of the day. We enjoyed it warm with dinner and I blended it for little man. I received lots of smiles from both kiddos on this one. I might use leftovers for baking, freeze to mix with other baby foods for little man, or add to oatmeal for Tar-buddy.  
  4. Bake or microwave topped with brown sugar and a touch of butter
  5. Shred into pancakes and muffins. While my shredded carrot and zucchini sneaking has been noticed lately, apples are still my stealthy secret to get more fruit in my three-nager (and husband, for that matter). They also keep the baked goods super moist. Make sure to store extra muffins in the fridge or freezer so they don’t mold with the extra moisture.
  6. Cut with apple cutter and keep it together with a rubber band to prevent browning. I’ve seen another rendition of this
    where you stick a string cheese in the middle where the apple core used to be. Cute!
  7. Chop into oatmeal
  8. Add to smoothie (tastes great with plain Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice). I was obsessed with these apple smoothies last year when I was pregnant. Add some spinach or other greens if you’re feeling really adventurous.
  9. Dip into peanut butter or make apple peanut butter sandwiches. Slice the apples long ways and use as “bread” with peanut butter and raisins in between.
  10. Sauté with onions to top pork chops or turkey burgers
  11. Roast with butternut squash and Brussels sprouts
  12. Add to broccoli slaw with some raisins and cashews. For the broccoli slaw dressing, use Greek yogurt, light olive oil mayo, and apple cider vinegar. We had this the other day on ground chicken burgers. It was fantastic and I even got Tarala to try some. 
  13. Top a pizza – brings me back to my U of I days. Za’s had a Big Apple Pizza with chunks of apples and sausage. 
  14. Dehydrate into apple chips. Full disclosure: I have not made these yet. All the rest of the apple ideas I have tried, but this is on my to do list for the week. Based on reviews of the recipe, it’s worth a try.
  15. Add to a pumpkin or butternut squash soup
  16. Bake into a crisp
  17. Add to a fruit salad. My grandmother’s recipe for fruit salad is my favorite combining frozen strawberries, canned peaches, and fresh fruit. The juice from the strawberries and peaches helps keep the other fruit from browning as quickly.
  18. Mix with yogurt or cottage cheese and top with sunflower seeds or a low sugar granola for a fall inspired parfait
  19. Swirl into noodles
  20. Use with a dip as an appetizer at a get-together. I’ve made a pumpkin dip with peanut butter and served it with apples and pretzels – yummo!  
    We were definitely more focused on having fun than
    being photogenic!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pumping up the Jam

I started traveling for work about four weeks ago when my little buddy was 3.5 months old. I breastfed/pumped with his older sister for a year, so this again is my goal. I was lucky the first time around to have my own office and supportive co-workers who blocked my clinic schedule to allow me to pump during the work day. This time around, I’m learning on the job as I travel for work. In the last month, I’ve traveled to Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut, and throughout Massachusetts and have picked up a few tips.

First off, I couldn't find many suggestions for coolers, but I ended up finding one that I love.

My husband surprised me by purchasing "backpack fridge" and it has worked out fantastically. The
evrgrn 24 Pack Backpack has a giant slot to fit my laptop and can store my milk, tons of ice packs, my bottles as I pump throughout the day, and my lunch. Plus it's great for traveling through the airport. I take my cooler and my pump with me as carry ons and check my suitcase. And I look real cool, especially because the cooler is big enough for both my kids to fit in.

I’ve found it easiest to wipe down the bottles and pump pieces after each pump with the Medela Quick Clean Wipes and throw them in a large plastic bag. Then I keep the bottle refrigerated or in my cooler until the next pump. Once or twice a day, or when I have access to the microwave or a clean sink, I’ll scrub the bottles or steam them in the Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags. These bags are the best thing ever! I don’t know if they were around when I pumped with my daughter and if they were, I didn't know about them. I’m pretty sure they are better than sliced bread.

I quickly realized that it’s a good thing that I’m not shy as I pump on the road. I’ve pumped in my car twice using the nursing cover and hands free pumping bra, which by the way is my favorite prize to buy new nursing mamas. I’ve asked random people where the best place to pump and have discovered some not so bad spots. Yesterday I pumped in the surgical changing room at a hospital and I’ve taken advantage of empty office while making sales calls. I’ve also found the family bathrooms at airports to be pretty good because they have electric outlets. I’ll put toilet covers or paper towels down on the changing table to make a counter and I’m set. I also asked for a few extra sub bags and borrowed some ice from a Subway when I didn’t have cooler packs on me.

At hotels, I make sure to request a fridge and microwave if not already available. Most of the time, the mini fridges don’t have a freezer and if they do, they’re too small to fit all my freezer packs. Hotels are required to allow space in their freezers for milk and I’ve felt no shame in storing my freezer packs and milk. When I’ve been gone for more than one day, I freeze the milk before taking it back with me. Depending on how long it’s been out, I either keep it frozen when I return home or use it as soon as possible and freeze the newly pumped milk. According to the Mayo Clinic, pumped milk can be stored in an insulated cooler for up to one day. 

Another tip that I’ve found helpful is packing food. When I have 3-4 meetings scheduled per day and need to allow time to drive from location to location, any extra time in between meetings is used for pumping. Therefore, carrying a PB&J, Justin's Nut Butter packets, fruit, whole grain crackers, protein bars (I like Clif and Larabars personally) and yogurt, string cheese, or cottage cheese with me is super helpful. 

I have also discovered that I need to carry more water with me. I always have my 32-ounce CamelBak but I go through that in an hour when I’m talking a lot. I usually count on refilling it but have found water fountains a dying trend. I ended up buying 3 water bottles yesterday...I hate spending money on water.

In my experience so far, this is what I’ve discovered as my go-to pump packing list:
  • Medela Pump in StyleⓇ Advanced
  • Picture of the kiddo (I keep one in the pump to help me smile when I feel like I'm running around like a crazy person to fit the pumping in)
  • Permanent marker to label pumped milk (include name if storing in a public place)
  • Mini soap container
  • Large ziploc bags
  • evrgrn 24 pack backpack
  • Medela Quick Clean Wipes
  • Hands free pumping bra
  • Freezer packs
  • Extra batteries
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Nursing cover
  • Milk storage bags (my favorite is Lansinoh)
  • Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags
  • Bottle brush
  • Travel soap dispenser

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kiddo Snacks

I recently had my second child (4 months ago this week!), and my health and fitness goals are drastically different. While I still make it out the door to run five days per week, my focus has been balancing providing the healthiest (although far from perfect) meals for my family while working full time and traveling for work and pleasure. While my almost three year old has never been a big eater, she’s not picky. She eats like a bird so snack time is a huge opportunity for nutrition. I’ll admit that my daughter has had M&M’s for breakfast and French fries for dinner (I did cry inside while this was happening), but I try to avoid these on a regular basis.  I always have snacks with us (for her and myself – I’m ALWAYS hungry since I’m breastfeeding) and I’ve noticed if I only keep healthy ones around, my daughter will eat them. She sometimes whines and refuses them and as soon as she realizes the healthy snacks are her only option, if she’s really hungry, she does cave. Here are some of my staples:

Fresh fruit – I’ve found that if I bring some cut up fruit with us while out and about, it helps curb hunger or round out a restaurant meal. As a family we do like to eat out, and my daughter’s all time favorite food is Chipotle’s quesadillas, so I grab some fruit as we head out the door and she’ll munch on it in the car or while we wait in line. She’s thrilled to get a quesadilla, and I’m happy she ate more than cheese and white carbs for dinner. I usually keep cut up mango, melon (made into bite size pieces with my melon baller), grapes, or clementimes (when in season) around. She’ll also eat whole fruit – small apples, pears, and peaches - as well. I’ve even snatched leftover veggies (roasted Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and roasted broccoli are a fav in our house) for an appetizer while we wait for food at a restaurant. 

Dried or freeze dried fruit – Little boxes of raisins are in the diaper bag, my purse, the car, pockets, nooks, and crannies. We’ve also had good luck with freeze dried blueberries (with a side of wet ones) and freeze dried broccoli and pea pods (from Trader Joe’s). They add crunch like chips but maintain the fiber and nutrient benefits of fruits and veggies.

Kid-friendly bars – Bars are not ideal, but for our lifestyle and for my kid, they work. We oftentimes have to weave around meltdowns in the morning, so a Z-bar (Clif bar for kids) or a Larabar make a easy grab-and-go breakfast. Washed down with a glass of milk, the peanut butter cookie Larabar does the trick. My husband let’s the chocolate chip ones sneak into the grocery cart once in a while too. When I’m really planning ahead, half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich accomplishes the same goal. This has worked well as an early morning breakfast on the way to the airport.

Yogurt – My kid loves yogurt. She could spend hours in the yogurt aisle in the grocery store and thinks all the different shaped containers are actually different food groups. She usually hones in on the ones with candy or cookie toppings and after some arguing, we agree upon Chobani kids pouches (I love the pouches because they’re not too messy) or Stoneyfield tubes, drinkable yogurt, or cups. Obviously these snacks require refrigeration, but some yogurt pouches are shelf stable. Cheese sticks or Cabot cheese bars are also great to grab when a cooler is available. Last time we made a picnic lunch, the cheese bar made it into the middle of the PB&J sandwich….

Peanut butter or nut butter – Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t have a nut allergy or she’d never have grown out of her 12-month clothes. She’s tiny and as I mentioned before, not a huge eater, so I am a fan of this healthy fat to pack in some calories with not a lot of bites. She’s been know to double fist peanut butter spoons and loves almond butter as well. The peanut butter and almond butter pouches from Justin’s are a mainstay in our house. Sometimes the peanut butter gets on an apple, but most of the time it gets squeezed right into the mouth. Another messier snack, but they’re worth it for her enjoyment and my piece of mind.

Pouches – I always travel with baby food pouches. While these fruit and veggies pouches don’t still have the benefit of fiber, they still are full of vitamins and minerals and make a great snack on the go. We travel a lot to visit family, so the pouches help us in a hunger pinch or to round out a meal on the road. It’s also an aisle in the grocery store where my daughter gets to have some control; I’ll allow her to pick the pouches and she's in heaven.

What are your go-to snacks for your kiddos? What foods are always in the car or diaper bag? I'd love to hear more ideas!