Back to School Nutrition

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As the summer comes to an end, it is back to school for those kiddos! Mornings become even more hectic, and meal planning may be low on your weekly to-do list. However, research shows that eating a healthy diet is key to a child’s development, school performance, and overall health.


You have probably heard the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Did you know that school-aged kids perform better on tests and have improved concentration when they eat a healthy breakfast? An example of a balanced breakfast may be scrambled eggs, fruit, and whole wheat toast. Some easy options for breakfast are hard boiled eggs, bananas or apples with peanut butter, yogurt, cereal (with less than 10g sugar per serving), and whole-grain toast. Make sure to incorporate both carbohydrates and protein into your child’s breakfast for energy and fullness that lasts.


One of the easiest ways to make your morning routine less hectic is to pack school lunches the night before. This also gives you more time to prepare a healthy breakfast in the morning. Try to incorporate each of the food groups in your child’s lunch – fruit, vegetable, protein, dairy, and whole grains. Instead of a standard turkey or PB&J sandwich, vary it up with a wrap, making a sandwich using leftover meat from the night before, using pita pockets, or making tuna salad with chopped grapes, raisins, or shredded carrots. Make it even more fun for the kids by cutting sandwiches into shapes with a cookie cutter. A few examples of some healthy side items may include clementines, grapes, bananas, no-sugar added applesauce or fruit cups, pistachios, peanuts, ready-to-pack raw veggies like carrots, celery sticks or cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks, or yogurt. Kids may be more open to eating vegetables if you include a dip like hummus, peanut butter, or Greek yogurt. Try to avoid packing sugary drinks, and instead send water bottles or milk cartons. If you do pack a juice box on occasion, aim for 100% fruit juice. An item like baked chips, a dark chocolate square, or a home-made cookie is a fun treat once in awhile.

Make after-school snacking easy and nutritious by having certain “snack stations” in your pantry and refrigerator. Designate one shelf in the pantry to have snack options like granola bars, dried fruit, cereal, applesauce, crackers with peanut butter, nuts, and trail mix. Kids (and adults) are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they are already cut up and ready to eat. Try chopping veggies one day of the week and placing them in an area of your refrigerator in plain site. If your children must have a sugary snack every once in awhile, set limits on the portion sizes (ex: 2 cookies only, not 4 or 5).


Make lists, organize, and plan for the week to make feeding your family healthy meals less stressful for you. As always, lead by example – if your children see you choosing healthy options, they are more likely to follow your example and develop healthy eating habits for life.

[author Courtney & her son James on his first day of Kindergarten this year]

Sources & Additional Back to School Nutrition Tips:

https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/back-school-nutrition-tips/

https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/back-to-school-nutrition-tips

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/kids-healthy-lunchbox-guide/

The Facts about Fad Diets

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We’ve all been there (yes, us too) – when the summer rolls around or your pants start fitting tighter, the temptations of a “quick-fix” diet for weight loss are hard to turn down. You know the diets we’re talking about – the 30-day detox cleanses, the diets that exclude or minimize whole macronutrient groups, the “quick-fix” diets that guarantee a certain amount of weight loss in a short amount of time, or the pills & drinks that promise fat loss and gut benefits in 7 days… We have all considered them, no judgement here – but we recommend skipping over these “diets” when it comes to your weight loss goals. In order to safely and naturally lose weight and maintain weight loss over time, your personalized nutrition plan should be a lifestyle change, not a “diet” that only lasts a certain number of days.

A healthy weight loss is about ½ to 2 pounds per week. Even a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can offer you benefits of less joint pain, enhanced sleep patterns, improved blood pressure and cholesterol, and lowered blood sugar levels. People who lose weight gradually and steadily are more apt to keep it off in the long-term. Yes, you may lose 15# in 1 month on a fad diet, but chances are you will eventually gain it back when you stop the diet – then all you are left with is memories of restrictive eating and few long-term benefits to show for it. You may have gained some healthy recipes and the realization that your body feels better without being fed so many processed foods, but this can also be achieved without going “all-in” on a fad diet. 

Excluding whole macronutrient groups – for example carbohydrates, from your meals can cause altered body functions and high lipid levels, stress out your organs, and leave you feeling tired and worn down. Carbs give your brain and muscles energy to fuel you throughout the day – do not exclude them from your diet! We recommend eating carbs in healthy amounts and choosing the types of carbs you eat wisely – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and low-fat dairy all contain carbohydrates and have different health benefits. It is important to vary up your diet in order to get all the different nutrients your body needs to function to the best of its ability!

If you MUST follow a certain “diet”, we recommend researching the Mediterranean diet. This diet emphasizes mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, and red wine for health benefits. The Mediterranean lifestyle stresses the importance of physical exercise and the social benefits of eating meals together. You can read more about the Mediterranean diet here: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/.

A healthy lifestyle includes good nutrition coupled with physical activity and exercise. It is no wonder people lose weight initially on some of these low-calorie, fad diets because most of the diets also call for an exercise regimen. If you expect to lose a lot of weight quickly with diet alone, you are in for a disappointment. We recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week (see our blog post on exercise: https://condrenfamilynutrition.com/2022/03/29/exercise-good-nutrition/). Getting enough sleep and finding ways to manage your stress level are also keys to successful weight loss. Losing weight is not easy, but it is doable. We advise recruiting a friend to join you on this weight loss/healthier lifestyle journey – it is easier when you have someone keeping you accountable and sharing their health struggles and wins alongside you.

It’s important to find a way of eating healthfully that you enjoy and can follow for life. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away! For a personalized weight loss plan that meets your individualized needs, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. Contact us today to set up an appointment to get you on track to a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition and real food – no “diet” necessary.

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Sources:

https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/fad-diets/what-is-the-ketogenic-diet

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9476-fad-diets

Strawberries Always

Who else loves strawberry season?! Last week we picked strawberries. We came home with buckets of berries, and have been busy in the kitchen making strawberry-filled creations.

Strawberries are not only sweet and delicious, but they are low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals. Strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C, an antioxidant necessary for immunity and skin health. A serving of strawberries (3.5 ounces) provides 2g of fiber, which is important for gut health. Strawberries are also a good source of Potassium, Manganese, and Folate. Health benefits of incorporating strawberries into your meal plan may include reduced cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

What is your favorite way to eat strawberries? Try adding strawberries this week to your salads, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, drinks, dips, and even desserts.

Below is one recipe we made using our fresh strawberries. At only 100 calories per serving, this delicious dessert is a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth without over-indulging. We love a low-calorie treat! Check out our Instagram @CondrenFamilyNutrition to see the full video here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cd_Kpcplmmu/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars:

Ingredients:
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups small-diced strawberries
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. granulated sugar 

For glaze (optional):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

See full recipe & directions here: 
https://www.wellplated.com/strawberry-oatmeal-bars/

Smart Snacking

Smart snacking is an important way to keep your body fueled throughout the busy day. A healthy snack should include both protein & carbs – the carbs give you that extra boost of energy needed & the protein will keep you full longer. My mom has been in the kitchen making protein balls this week, so I thought I would share this tasty recipe for all of our followers. If you are a client of mine, you have probably received this recipe as it is one of my favorites! I love the added benefit of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from the pistachios & the sunflower seed butter. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pistachio Protein Balls:

6 oz. Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

1.5 tbsp. Vanilla Protein Powder

2/3 cup Sunflower Seed Butter

1 cup Pistachios (removed from shell, divided)

1. Add the dark chocolate, cocoa powder, protein powder, sunflower seed butter, & half the pistachios to a food processor and blend until well mixed and sticky. Add more sunflower seed butter if the mixture is too dry, or more pistachios if too wet.

2. Transfer to a mixing bowl and form into even balls with your hands, roughly one-inch in diameter.

3. Crush the remaining pistachios and coat each ball evenly. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to enjoy.

Makes 15 servings.

1 serving = 1 ball.

For more flavor, add vanilla extract.

189 calories, 11g carbs, 5g protein, 4g saturated fat

-Courtney

We Belong

Courtney Byrum was recently featured on We Belong – an organization with the goal of connecting women in leadership positions throughout the state of Arkansas. Below is a portion of the dialogue – check out the link below to read the full interview!

What is the best piece of advice you can give to young women wanting to be in a position of leadership?
Do not let the fear of what someone else thinks about you stop you from achieving your dreams. You have to fight for yourself and be your own advocate when it comes to getting that leadership position. And you are never too old or set in your career to start a new dream!

What’s your favorite women’s empowerment quote?
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing that we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.” -Nikki Haley

Read the full interview here: https://www.webelongblog.com/interviews/courtney-byrum-co-owner-condren-family-nutrition

Exercise + Good Nutrition

Today we are focusing on exercise! Exercise is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. It may look like 30 minutes in the gym lifting weights before work or walking around the neighborhood after dinner with your dog. Make it work for you! Gardening, skiing, hiking, jumping on the trampoline with your kids – this is all exercise. Just get your body moving and your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week!

A few benefits of exercise:

-helps to control your weight

-boosts energy

-lowers blood pressure & improves heart health

-improves your mental health

-protects against many chronic diseases

-improves quality of sleep

-it can be a fun way to socialize with friends

Start by making a small, attainable goal – like walking on 3 days of the week. Then gradually increase your goals. Get a friend or family member on board to help keep you accountable – I have a friend I have worked out with for years who encourages me in this area. One of my goals for April is to get 30 minutes of exercise daily – so you may see me documenting this in our stories on our social medias next month!

Let’s choose to get moving & improve our health with exercise + good nutrition.

-Courtney

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Focus on Fiber

Focus on Fiber! 🥦🍎🍞🌽🥪🍇🥗

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Most carbs are broken down into sugar, but fiber passes through the body mostly undigested. It helps regulate blood sugar, keeps you feeling full longer (in turn helping with weight management), and supports gut regularity. Foods in fiber are generally lower in calories too! A high intake of dietary fiber has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol.

The recommended amount of dietary fiber for adults is about 25-30 grams every day. However, most Americans only consume about 15 grams daily.

The best sources of fiber are whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, & legumes.

Tips for increasing your fiber intake:

-Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.

-Add extra veggies to your sandwiches or noodle dishes.

-Choose whole grain breads, pastas, & rice instead of white bread, pasta, & rice.

-Mix beans & legumes into your soups and salads.

-Snack on fresh fruits & veggies instead of packaged chips or crackers.

Try adding more fiber into your next meal today!

For more information check out these articles:

https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/understanding-carbs/types-carbohydrates

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/fiber

#dietitian #condrenfamilynutrition #arkansasdietitian #nutrition #fiber #focusonfiber

Soup for the Soul

Who else loves a warm bowl of soup on a winter night?!

Vegetable-based soups provide plenty of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber while being relatively low in calories and fat. Homemade soups are the best option so you are able control the type and amounts of vegetables as well being able to choose salt-reduced stocks and fewer additives.

Here is a soup recipe we are trying this week!

Tomato Chickpea Soup

Ingredients:

4 c. Vegetable Broth (divided)

1/2 Yellow Onion (finely chopped)

1 Carrot (small, peeled, finely chopped)

2 Garlic (large cloves, minced)

1 c. Chickpeas (cooked, rinsed)

3/4 c. Diced Tomatoes

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 c. Brown Rice Fusilli

1 c. Baby Spinach (chopped)

Directions:

1. Add a few splashes of the vegetable broth to a large pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, & garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions have softened and the broth has mostly evaporated. Stir in the chickpeas, Italian seasoning, and salt. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more.

2. Transfer 1/2 of the chickpea and vegetable broth mixture to a blender along with 1/3 of the remaining vegetable broth. Blend the chickpea and vegetable mixture with the broth until mostly smooth. Transfer it back to the pot, along with the remaining broth, and stir to combine.

3. Bring the soup to a gentle boil and stir in the pasta. Cook the pasta for about 7 minutes or until al dente.

4. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Season the soup with additional salt if needed. Divide between bowls and enjoy!

Mayo-Dijon Chicken with Pear Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 10 oz. Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless)
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 Pear (medium, seeds removed, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Almonds

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise & dijon mustard.
  • Place the chicken on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken in the mayo-dijon mixture. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Arrange the sliced chicken breast and spinach onto plates. Top with the chopped pear and almonds. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Makes 2 servings. 1 serving equals approximately 5 ounces of chicken & 3 cups of salad.
  • More flavor: Top the salad with olive oil or your dressing of choice.
  • Additional toppings: Add feta cheese, raisins, or cranberries to the salad.

Nutrition Facts:

  • 440 calories per serving
  • 23g fat (3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 7g polyunsaturated, 3g monounsaturated)
  • 19g carbohydrates
  • 38g protein
  • 6g fiber

Recipe Credit: That Clean Life

The Benefits of Tea Time

One of our favorite night time rituals is drinking herbal teas. Chamomile, ginger, acai berry, and hibiscus teas are rich in flavonoids and help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and help prepare your body for sleep.

If you haven’t already, try adding a cup of hot herbal tea to your nightly routine to help relax and unwind you from the day. It can help reduce your overall caloric intake and strengthen your immune system, especially if you skip the refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. Instead, use a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized honey to sweeten your tea and to boost the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of your soothing drink.

May your night be peaceful and your sleep restful!