When you're a mom, time is a precious commodity. You may feel like you barely have enough time to take a shower, let alone prepare a healthy "adult" meal. But if you tend to skip meals or rely on fast food, you've probably experienced that "walking in sand," "I have no energy to play" sluggish sensation — not to mention the brain drain. It's time for a re-charge! Maximize your time and well-being and set a healthy example for your kids with these practical, easy tips:
- Don't let more than 5 hours go by without eating (set your cell phone alarm to go off if you need a reminder). For times when a meal is out of the question, keep "emergency" nutrient-rich items on hand, such as dried figs or apricots, almonds, mini boxes of dry cereal you can eat with your hands, or energy bars. Be sure to select bars that are made with "whole" ingredients, such as oats, nuts, and fruit, that provide about 250 calories and 5 to 15 grams of protein. Great choices include Odwalla, Larabar, and Bumble Bars.
- Make veggie side dishes in minutes. Stock the freezer with frozen broccoli florets, French-cut green beans, and veggie mixes. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh, but require no washing, peeling, or chopping. Next, invest in a quick-mist oil sprayer. These can be found at any kitchen store and allow you to lightly mist veggies with an herb-infused oil. Sprinkle on some salt-free seasoning mix and place the veggies in the microwave. Another option is to toss plain microwaved vegetables with a small amount of jarred tapenade, pesto, or bruschetta topping. Perfect combos include sun-dried tomato pesto with broccoli, artichoke red pepper tapenade with yellow wax beans, or green olive pesto with French-cut green beans. One tablespoon per cup of cooked vegetables adds loads of flavor and minimal calories.
- Go halfway homemade (half from scratch and half pre-made). Heat up a can of lentil soup and serve it with a salad made from ready-to-eat field greens and freshly sliced Roma tomatoes. Toss your salad with a store-bought, light balsamic vinaigrette and serve. Pair a store-bought rotisserie chicken with a sweet potato you bake yourself.
- Save time during the week by preparing extra servings of whole-wheat pasta, couscous, and brown or wild rice on the weekends. They'll keep in the fridge for about 5 days. At dinnertime, prepare an adult-sized plate by tossing a half cup of pre-cooked pasta with a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a few handfuls of thawed frozen veggies, a cup of marinara sauce, and a pre-cooked grilled chicken breast (or drained, canned tiny shrimp) in a portion that's the size of a deck of cards.