Cultural Food for Hanukkah: Meal Planning Monday Week 12

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. You may know I’m not Jewish, but I do love eating my way around the world and enjoying traditional foods of other cultures. I think it’s the best way to get to know people who are different than ourselves while relating–because in many ways we are the same.

Whatever our culture, we all have values and beliefs that are important to us…and we all eat. It makes the world feel a little smaller when we are able to respect others’ values and beliefs even if we don’t share them. (As the original melting-pot culture, we could do this more often!)

And when we show interest in others, share a table together, and try new things, we are making ourselves vulnerable and well, life meaningful!

Frankly, sometimes what we eat isn’t even all that different–I find that so comforting! Or maybe it’s just the carbs…but take bread, for example. I love how many cultures have some version of a food that is traditional and similar, yet different.

  • Pita bread (Greek or Middle Eastern),
  • naan (India)
  • Italian bread,
  • baguette (French),
  • the spongy (Ethiopian) flatbread called injera
  • and of course, America has corn bread…or Wonder bread (kind of embarrassing, but it’s probably most representative of our culture)?

Well, then there’s also Jewish challah bread. My daughter has a new friend from school who is from Israel, and her mother shared this delicious freshly-baked loaf of challah with me last Friday! And these new friends also invited us into their home this week to share a meal to learn more about how they celebrate Hanukkah…such a generous invitation and I am really looking forward to it!

Of course you may have noticed I don’t eat a lot of bread because I try to avoid overly processed and refined carbohydrates.  So when I do, it has to be worth it…this is worth trying and I’m hoping I have time to make French toast out of it for “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) on Friday (because my kids have been asking for French toast for a while).

But if you don’t have time for breadbaking this week, try these easy salmon potato cakes! The are a new, higher-protein take on potato latkes, a traditional Hanukkah food. Latkes are fried traditionally to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil lasting 8 days. So, these are still pan-fried in olive oil, because they taste best that way! But they come together quickly with canned sockeye salmon and you can use frozen hash browns if you like (I prefer fresh, but if I don’t have time I use Trader Joe’s brand because they are preservative free).

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Salmon Potato Cakes with sour cream, roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Tuesday (a busy night): Leftovers (Holiday concert night!)

Wednesday: Out for dinner (to a Hanukkah celebration with friends who are from Israel)

Thursday (a busy night): Instant Pot Chicken Soup (Not a Hanukkah food per se, but it’s easy and warms the soul like new friends! Plus I am making extra to have on hand for the winter.)

Friday: Cinnamon French Toast (with homemade Challah bread if time permits), and fruit

Buon Appetito! And Happy Hanukkah!

Creative Leftovers: Meal Planning Monday Week 11

Ah, Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone and now it’s Cyber Monday.  If you’re too busy shopping online today (or just living your regular life) to plan this week’s meal–let alone cook–here’s hoping you still have leftovers.  But if you are sick of turkey leftovers or even the turkey-stuffing-cranberry sandwiches (my favorite), creative leftovers can make you extra thankful…for the Thanksgiving meal that keeps on giving throughout your busy work week!

I am weirdly satisfied when I am able to use up foods I have in the fridge. Is that a dietitian thing?! Or can you relate? Here’s my thinking:

  • Part of it is about making the most out of the meal to use up natural resources (i.e., the turkey and the vegetables).
  • Of course I’m also happy to create more meals from one holiday meal to stretch out the food savings.
  • But mainly I find it rewarding to create new meals–that my family members love and look foward to–out of tired, boring leftovers.

So, this week’s Meal Planning Monday inspiration is creative leftovers. Feel free to leave a comment about how you love using up your turkey and leftovers!

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Leftover Shepherd’s Pie (Gluten Free)–a new recipe!  I froze half of this pie I made last week, but you could also use up leftover mashed potatoes and/or vegetables with this recipe.

Tuesday (a busy night): Leftover After-Thanksgiving Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup (new instructions for Instant Pot turkey bone broth!) Usually my husband makes this soup the Friday after Thanksgiving, but I waited till I got home to make it on Sunday so I could use my Instant Pot to speed up the broth step (while also being able to leave the house–win-win!)

Wednesday: Instant Pot Chicken/Turkey Enchilada Casserole  Use turkey if you have it, or chicken. You make the meat filling and enchilada sauce for this casserole in the Instant Pot and then assemble it into a casserole. It can be made ahead; just keep it in the fridge till you bake it. Leftovers freeze well, too.

Thursday (a busy night): Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie This is a family favorite with chicken or turkey and even when we don’t have leftover cranberry sauce, we serve it with the pot pie–a guilty pleasure! I feel a little better only using one crust on top.

Friday: Leftover leftovers?! Or if you’re fed up with fowl, it may be time for this easy Sheet Pan Italian Sausage, Pepper and Zucchini Bake

Buon Appetito!

Week of Thanksgiving: Meal Planning Monday Week 10

There are two kinds of people in America.  Those who stay home this week and have to clean house, host guests and cook a feast…and those who have to travel, but don’t have to clean or cook!

I’m not sure which is worse. I’d say it depends on which day you travel and how far you’re going! Of course, both are good problems to have…

While my husband is deployed on a humanitarian mission this holiday season (aboard the USNS Comfort hospital ship in South America and Central America), it’s never been more evident to our family that we have too many blessings to count! However, being able to travel to my mom’s this week is definitely one of them.

Thanksgiving Abundance

We have lived overseas many years (seven) and we haven’t always been able to spend holidays with family. But for the 4th year in a row we are close enough to drive to my mom’s and that is a gift!  Mostly because she’s family and we love her. But also because she makes an awesome Thanksgiving meal! And even though my trip likely will take longer than the usual 4 1/2 hours on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving…I’m super thankful I don’t have to clean my house or cook; it’s definitely a mini vacation for me!

Our Thanksgiving Food Traditions

My mom makes the full spread:

  • a roasted turkey,
  • from-scratch gravy from the drippings,
  • traditional stuffing,
  • mashed potatoes,
  • candied sweet potato halves,
  • mashed rutabaga (but we always call it turnip for some reason),
  • steamed green beans (for something green), and
  • creamed onions.  (I remember being surprised when I learned my husband’s family also had this tradition, but I believe it is a New England thing.)
  • And then we always have the choice of whole berry OR jellied cranberry sauce (but only from the cans! Are you “team Ocean Spray” or “team homemade”? LOL)

Roasted Turkey

Since we’ve been married, my husband started a new tradition for our family making a delicious spiced pumpkin pie and a heaping apple crumb pie. (I’m not a pie person, but the apple pie is especially amazing…not that you need help finding amazing desserts!) He’s not a baker, but the nostalgia of his grandmother’s holiday pies were his inspiration. (And conveniently enough after he perfected the recipes, somehow I’m the one who makes them most years…)

But my favorite of his creations is his After-Thanksgiving Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup. He loves using up “the rest of the turkey” and creating another hearty meal so much that he doesn’t mind spending Friday afternoon cooking while my sister and I usually visit an annual holiday craft fair. Several more blessings in all of that!  (This year, I will be enlisting my girls’ help!)

Pre-Thanksgiving Meals: K.I.S.S.

Random tangent:

Did you know that the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) acronym originated in the Navy in 1960?  Not sure if that explains a lot or begets more questions…but gotta love the Navy! And I am a fan of keeping things simple.

Back to my point:

For those of you cooking and even for those of us traveling, usually Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving needs to be E-A-S-Y! Pace yourself. Think minimal thoughts. Don’t be an overachiever on the pre-game meals!  But as always, you don’t have to cut corners with processed foods to have convenient meals either. As inspiration, I usually try to use up things I have in the fridge before a big holiday and in this case, branch out from poultry!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you slow down to enjoy your family, your food and your good fortune. I’m grateful for your support and honored that I’m able to encourage you in your healthy lifestyle efforts!

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Cauliflower Fried Rice with Chicken

Tuesday (a busy night): Shepherd’s Pie (working on a recipe with ground beef, mushrooms, beef broth, veggies and garlic mashed potatoes)

Wednesday (traveling): Dinner at Mom’s when we arrive (or I would plan on leftovers from Shepherd’s Pie)

Thursday:  MOM’S THANKSGIVING FEAST!

Friday: After-Thanksgiving Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup (no photo yet, but here’s the recipe. “What can I say, except you’re welcome?!”)

Buon Appetito!

Cooking Down: Meal Planning Monday Week 9

Are you a moody eater?  I am–and honestly it makes meal planning extra challenging sometimes!  But my freezer is full and it’s time to focus on “cooking down.”

Hoard much? I don’t know about you, but every now and then I need to reorganize the freezer and make a list of what needs to be used up.  I keep the list on a white board on the fridge, which helps hit me over the head with it.  Sometimes (most times) I need that…

If you’re not familiar with cooking down, you can read more about it in this post. Chances are you do it already, but if you don’t, check out my tips to get you started!

In a nutshell:

Cooking down is using up what you have on hand to minimize waste while still preparing easy, real food for your family.

So, this week’s meal plans are inspired by my need to:

  • prepare mostly from-scratch easy, real food for my family (as usual),
  • cook down and make room in the freezer,
  • catch my breath from the “birthday sweeps,” and
  • brace myself for Thanksgiving and the holiday season!

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (no school, M’s birthday): Out for a sushi birthday dinner (fitting for my daughter who was born in Japan!)

Tuesday (a busy night): Leftover Instant Pot Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, creamed spinach (with frozen spinach), and leftover roasted root vegetables

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken (from the freezer) with Seasoning Salt, caprese salad with fresh mozzarella (from my The Neighborhood Harvest delivery), and whole green beans (from the freezer)

Thursday (a busy night): Brunswick Stew (from the freezer)

Friday: Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas (from the freezer), served over lettuce and topped with shredded cheese, chopped avocado and sour cream

Buon Appetito!

Easy, Real Comfort Foods: Meal Planning Monday Week 8

Well, in case you were worried about me…I made it through my hectic week and I can honestly say that dinner never caused me stress, because I had a realistic plan.  Well, that…and the fact that I had other people making dinner a couple of the nights. Heh. Back to reality this week.

But despite a loud sleepover birthday party with eight 7th graders Saturday night, my Sunday was relaxing enough to figure out the week’s meals. Winning! For now…but I’m definitely in the mood for some easy, real comfort food this week!

What Is “Easy, Real Comfort Food”?

The holiday season is here (as indicated by the arrival of Starbucks’ holiday drinks on Nov. 2, and no I haven’t had one yet)!  And so is some cooler weather (in Virginia anyway)–so, bring on the easy, real comfort foods!

You know “comfort foods,” but you may not know “easy, real comfort foods.” I’m talking about foods that are:

  • easy enough to make during the week,
  • made from real food, not processed foods,
  • warm and hearty for the chilly weather,
  • and particularly nourishing to your body and soul.

Maybe you’ve eaten particular comfort foods throughout your childhood. Perhaps you ate a particular comfort food only one time, yet associate it with the memory of something positively wonderful in your life. It could be that you associate particular comfort foods with a particularly challenging time in your life. Or it’s possible you associate particular comfort foods with the seasons.

Either way, I believe comfort food is an integral part of life’s ups and downs–events or temperatures! But when did “comfort food” become synonymous with “guilty pleasure”?

Here’s the thing:

You don’t have to overindulge in overly processed foods to thoroughly enjoy your food.  Easy, real comfort foods are guilt free, wholesome and real-food based, but most importantly they are easily enjoyable.

So, my meals this week include some of my favorite easy, real comfort foods that I hope you will try!

A hearty beef stew, like my mom used to make
An Italian Tuscan bean soup that reminds me of friends we met in Japan and our time in Italy
A Mediterranean frittata that reminds me of my Greek heritage

 

 

 

 

 

And my version of a chicken pot pie that my friend Kathy shared after the birth of my second daughter on Nov. 12th, 11 yrs ago

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Instant Pot Beef Stew (leftover from Sunday)

Tuesday (no school, but a busy night): Instant Pot Tuscan Bean, Vegetable and Bread Soup (adapting this recipe to make a bread-free version)

Wednesday:  “Brinner”–Mediterranean Caramelized Onion, Zucchini, Tomato and Feta Frittata 

Thursday (a busy night): Leftovers (Tuscan soup)

Friday: Chicken Pot Pie (with a single top crust)

Buon Appetito!

Week 2: Meal Planning Monday

Happy Meal Planning Monday!

It’s that time again–time to get easy, real-food meals planned to stay sane this week…through the rest of September.

I, for one, am taking it one week at a time. We survived our first full week of school last week (it was delayed with 4 days off school, thanks to Hurricane Flo.) Of course, this week promises to be just as busy. So, bring on the slow cooker and Instant Pot meals!

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry. Most Instant Pot meals can be slow cooked and vice versa. If you have both, decide whether you want to be fixing the meal early in the day or later in the day.

Personally, I also don’t like to slow cook in my Instant Pot, because, for whatever reason, it is a lot slower than my slow cooker. So, since I am accustomed to my trusty slow cooker, I’m not parting with it–even though I have an Instant Pot and my slow cooker handles have fallen off and the lid has been replaced once). It has earned its keep.

Hoard kitchen appliances much? Maybe…but only the useful ones. Haha.

Meal Planning This Week:

Monday (a busy night): Fresh-caught grilled tuna (from a neighbor), Asian peanut cole slaw, and brown short-grain rice (I’ll post a recipe/photo of the cole slaw on the recipe page after tonight!)

Tuesday (a busy night): Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot) Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash (you can use zoodles or pasta, if you prefer.)

Wednesday: Dinner at church and then packing 30,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger (I would otherwise be making enough meatballs to have leftovers.)

Thursday (a busy night): Sheet Pan Italian Sausage, Pepper and Zucchini Bake

Friday: Trying out these vegan, gluten-free Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers (from Running on Real Food) with Roasted Vegetables (I will separately roast eggplant and tomato, so eggplant gets nice and crispy!)

Buon Appetito! As always, please leave your comments or questions. Did you try any recipes from last week? Do you have any special requests or dietary restrictions you need to work around? Let me help!

Meal Planning Mondays Start This Week!

Weekly meal planning is near and dear to my heart. You’ve heard me say I feel strongly about the meal-planning process, and you can read more about my tips for meal planning in this post.

So, meal planning for dinner is something I do pretty regularly, although never 100% of the time.

But when I don’t do it, I always regret the chaos that ensues. I’m left scrambling during the busiest time of day (3 to 7 pm for me) to make sure what I’m eating and feeding my family is as nourishing as possible. Can you relate?

You could say there are two kinds of people in the world (actually, I think this trick works for most topics, LOL):

  • those who have realistic menu plans, and
  • those who don’t (meaning, either they’re not realistic OR they didn’t bother at all!)

I care about you, so I’d really like us to be in the “realistic menu plan” camp together–which is why I’m always talking about my easy, real food recipes.

But even as an RD, it’s still hard to pull meals together every week, so I’ve decided to share my personal weeknight meal plans with you on “Meal Planning Monday.” I don’t want you to follow it exactly, but rather use it as a tool (along with my recipes) to get ideas for planning your own easy, real food weeknight meals.

Bonus: sharing here will help keep me on track for my own family!

Meal Planning This Week:

Monday (a busy night): B’s “Gonna Get Through This” Chili (from the depths of the freezer, found thanks to Hurrican Flo!)

Tuesday (a busy night): leftover Brunswick Stew from the weekend, and a simple salad

Wednesday: Simple Salmon Cakes with Tatziki, and a simple salad

Thursday (a busy night): a Tofu Stirfry (sorry no recipe yet, creating a new recipe and testing it on my family!)

Friday: Homemade pizza with Califlour Foods plain crust (sampled these crusts at the AADE Conference–yum! And no, I don’t get any financial compensation!)

Buon Appetito! And don’t forget to let me know which recipes have inspired you in the comments! Next week I’ll be sure to include an Instant Pot and/or Slow Cooker option…

How to Crush the Back to School Rush

Back to school means “back to business as usual” for many of us–whether you have school-age kids or not!  During summer, we all tend to embrace a subtle circadian shift to allow for more daylight, relaxed schedules, and well…fun! But suddenly in September, the shift back to a typical schedule seems drastic as we are swept up in the back to school rush.

In addition to our new, usually busier fall routines, we can find ourselves bombarded with messages of impending change, which circulate in advertisments, the media, and of course schools. That’s because after New Year’s, September is one of the most popular start dates for making positive changes!  But when you ride the wave of popular change, sometimes you can get carried away with goal setting and expect too much of yourself.

Simply put, don’t do that! It sets you up for failure!

If you want to really crush the back to school rush, and be able to sustain any changes without becoming overwhelmed, plan ahead and be realistic!

I’m sharing FOUR simple ways I’m planning ahead to crush it–as an often distracted, sometimes overwhelmed, work-at-home parent of school-age kids–in case it helps you.

#1: My kids are packing their own lunches in the evening. 

Back to school is synomonous with the dreaded task of packing lunches, am I right?  So, ahhh, what a relief, my kids are now doing it for themselves!  And honestly, they are really enjoying it, even my youngest, who is six.

Bento Box Lunches

We are entering “year 4” of using these bento lunch boxes from Yumbox.  Each section serves as a template for packing lunches, which makes it easy. (They are a little small for older kids, so we usually also add some popcorn, pretzels, or crackers in a small separate container.) They really hold up, which makes them more economical (and you save by not buying pre-packaged items, which is also “green”!) There are many other bento-style boxes, but these are my favorite because they are leak proof between each section, which is harder to find.  Yes, this matters!  Because if juicy fruit leaks on bread or crackers, then your well-planned healthy lunch is ruined! That’s a preventable Mom fail…

#2: I am meal planning on Sunday (or Monday) and shopping once for at least 4 dinner meals at a time.

I need to get back to well-planned, easy weeknight meals, but still keep them homemade and healthy. And I really need to waste less time shopping. Honestly, I found myself in the store EVERY DAY the last week of summer.  Each time I was annoyed at how slow the cashiers were and really it’s my own fault for not sitting down for a few minutes and planning ahead to avoid wasting a ridiculous amount of time.  I may even embrace that it’s 2018 and try grocery delivery this month!  Seriously, am I the only one who hasn’t tried it yet?

#3: I am recommitTing to bullet journaling (and renouncing the chaos).

In January, I began creating my own weekly calendar in my spiral notebook planner. I fell off the wagon in June with the distractions of summer, so I’m getting back on now. It’s NOT fancy. I DO NOT doodle or create beautiful spreads like you see on Pinterest. It is pencil and ruler-drawn columns for each day, with “to do” boxes to check, and includes my meal planning for the week.

(I also write our weekly menu plan on a white board on the fridge to keep it handy and it lets the family know what’s for dinner, but the written record has become helpful to page through for repeat ideas over time.)

I use bullet journaling in conjunction with my phone calendar for appointments and reminders. It is simple, organized and customized to me and I am less scatter-brained and better off when I do it every week. Honestly, I’m starting next week when the after-school activities ramp up…

#4: I AM SCHEDULING 30 MINUTES EVERY DAY TO WORK OUT. 

I’m usually active every day, but I tend to give up time for myself when things come up or I get busy and stressed, so I really want to work on this. I’ve definitely had more time in the morning now that I’m not making lunches! But I prefer to wait till the kids are off to school, so I’m not designating a specific time. I just want to literally schedule some type of exercise for myself each day and treat it like any other commitment I make to other people.

Have I mentioned Planning Ahead is Key?

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. Planning ahead is the best way to make positive changes to your lifestyle, such as eating more real foods and fewer processed foods. And it can and should be the simplest of plans.  To overstate the obvious, when we prioritize things that are most important to us, and have a way to stay organized, life is less overwhelming. Anything we can do to simplify things and create healthy habits helps our brains work for us, not against us, sort of on autopilot.

So, that’s what I call crushing it–planning ahead, doing the important things well, consistently. (That is, most of the time, with some grace for yourself!) I’d love to learn more about how you’re planning to crush the back to school rush, too.

Save Time With Easy Real Food

Save Time with Easy Real Food: Mission Behind this Blog

Ahhh, summer’s here. It’s Week 2 and my kids act like we have all the time in the world. During any downtime, they’re lounging on the couch, trying to put off for tomorrow (or never) what they could do today. Then September sneaks up on them. Every. Year. And they wonder where the time went and why they didn’t do more during summer break. The point? It doesn’t appear to matter how old you are; everyone wants more time–that’s why it’s my main mission to save time with easy, real food!

I actually feel I should confess. I have a nutrition and food blog, but I usually hate reading food blogs!  Although I do love searching for new recipes to try, it’s a real time suck when bloggers share blow-by-blow random thoughts speckled with as many as 10 photos of the same food taken at different angles.

Pretty food is nice to look at, but dinner doesn’t make itself, am I right?!  I just don’t have time for that and neither do you, I suspect.  (And frankly, as a blogger I prefer to firmly plant myself on the side of the proverbial fine line where I am helpful, rather than a narcissistic oversharer.)

So, I instantly scroll down recipe posts, skipping all the commentary, to do my 10-second unofficial check of the recipe to see if it meets my criteria before I consider trying it.

My Recipe Checklist

What are my criteria, you may wonder? Well if you look at my Recipe Index, you’ll get the idea pretty quickly. But here is the unofficial checklist:

  • All real-food ingredients
  • No (or very minimal) sugar
  • Grain free/gluten free (if possible, to minimize refined carbohydrates)
  • Lower in total carbohydrate
  • No highly refined oils (such as seed and vegetable oils, including corn and canola)
  • Easy instructions
  • Minimal time commitment (bonus points for under 45 min)
  • Will My Family Eat It???

Perfection Is Impossible

Not too surprisingly, few recipes meet these criteria!  I realize my checklist is discriminating, but you should know I don’t follow these criteria for everything I eat. Technically, I do not have food rules; I eat everything.  And I don’t feel guilty when I choose to eat something that is outside of this list!  You shouldn’t either.

However, I don’t eat everything every day.  Most people’s idea of moderation is likely not cutting it for health.  I choose to eat lower carbohydrate, real (from nature) foods, 9 times out of 10, because I feel better eating this way—and believe it is the most evidenced-based way to eat for optimal health (more on that very soon, a blog post series is in the works!)

Plus eating easy, real food creates a path to simplicity in this overabundant, distracting life.  Literally–I don’t walk up and down the majority of grocery store aisles.  Figuratively–I try to concern myself with what’s important and disregard the rest because it’s how I keep my head above water!  I am known for saying, “I’m on a need-to-know basis and I just don’t need to know!”

So, when I am creating and sharing recipes to help you live a healthier lifestyle, these are my strict criteria to help you focus on what to eat more often than not.  Because anyone can easily use meal plans, order meal delivery kits or look up convenient, sugar-laden, highly processed recipes online.  But it is so much harder to find homemade, easy, real-food recipes that you can rely on for your day-to-day, non-diet meal planning for a healthy lifestyle.

Mission To Save Time

Because it is my number one mission to save time, I designed my site (which affects how you choose to get connected, see below) mainly to avoid wasting your time (and mine).  After all, if you don’t feel you have enough time, you won’t prioritize your family’s meals.  It is hard enough trying to cut through scientific jargon, mainstream media and popular culture to figure out what’s legit. So, when you take the time to pull up a chair to my table, I promise to always serve you the following:

  • Easy, real food recipes that are as brief as possible.
  • Recipes that are continually added to the Recipe Index, but are not posted—mainly so you are not emailed (read: bothered) every time one is added!
  • One photo per recipe, just enough to whet your appetite (but not within the printable recipe; I’m saving your printer ink!)
  • Evidence-based blog posts on a variety of nutrition topics relating to a lower carb real-food lifestyle—always summarized with a meaningful, practical “bottom line” and/or tips for moving forward.

Choose How to Get Connected

If you’re ready and willing to learn more, there are several ways to get connected with www.thewanderingrd.com, depending on which question(s) you want answered!

“What to Eat?”

If you want to cut to the chase and figure out what to eat (that is, what’s for dinner tonight?) here are some ways to get connected with www.thewanderingrd.com so you don’t miss when there are new recipes to try.

“Why Eat Real Food?”

If you are looking for the “why” behind a lower carb, real food lifestyle (for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or anyone else) of course you’ll also find that at www.thewanderingrd.com! The best way to stay connected for this type of information is to subscribe to the blog via email, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss a post.

(On a computer, from the homepage, look just under my photo to subscribe to the blog via email. Or on a mobile device, click on the faint square with 3 bars at top left, click “Contact Me” and scroll down to subscribe to the blog via email.)

What’s Next?

A new blog post series is in the works starting in July to cover some big topics and make them easier to digest. Don’t wait–get connected so you don’t miss a thing!

Real Food Picnicking

Today is National Picnic Day! It’s probably no coincidence that National Picnic Day is in April. Spring picnics timed right practically guarantee the warmth of the sun on your face, a soft breeze stirring your hair, the rustling of leaves in the trees, and the fresh smell of new blossoms and cut grass. Mother Nature is rejuvenating herself and it’s hard not to notice and feel inspired!

There is nothing like eating natural (real) food in nature–that’s al fresco dining at its best! My family loved the cultural norms of eating fresh foods “in the fresh (air)” while we lived in Italy, but this time of year always takes me back to Japan. Cherry blossom season in Japan elevated picnicking to an artform–the sake is freeflowing, the delicacies are intricate, and both are to be enjoyed with friends under a canopy of beautiful sakura blooms celebrating the start of spring.

But you don’t have to leave the country to enjoy a spring picnic. Even in your own backyard, your real food picnic can be relaxing and provide nourishment well beyond the food. Because being outside just makes you feel better, doesn’t it? Why is that?! I think it’s partly because being outside makes you feel small in a big world; seasons come and go and weather changes daily and we are not in control. Yet, the fact that many aspects of nature function in an orderly way, without our input, is predictable, and therefore, comforting! Plus there are all those pretty views.

So, a picnic is the marriage of two of my favorite things: being outside and eating real food! But it can be stressful to feel pressured to make fancy foods and to literally haul a bunch of stuff outside to enjoy the meal. It doesn’t have to be stressful, if you keep things simple.

Three Tricks to A Stress-free Picnic

  1. Use real foods you have on hand or items you usually make.
  2. Finger foods are easiest for everyone (and may even eliminate the need for plates and utensils–hey, every day is Earth Day)!
  3. Sometimes you just need to find a different way to transport (i.e., mason jars or skewers) the same easy, real foods you usually enjoy!

Here are some of my favorites:

Real Food Picnic Ideas

Happy picnicking! Grab a blanket and get ready to embrace some serenity today, even if it’s in your backyard or on the floor of your living room (kids love that!)