Dining Out with My Children

After adopting my girls my whole world changed even my view of food, which I am sure is natural and necessary. I started paying closer attention to what I was eating, how often I skipped breakfast and even portion sizes. My little girls were absorbing my love for food and it added a new layer to my culinary interest. They willing ate everything I put in front of them from steamed mussels to gremolata. They loved vegetables; I started searching out the ones I didn’t eat often just to see if they would eat them. They devoured Brussel Sprouts and demanded “more kale, please” 

kids menu image            I love to dine out, I love to see what other Chefs are cooking, I am always exploring food. Suddenly this adventure too was changed by my girls. I quickly became aware of the kids menu and all too often I left some of my favorite restaurants totally disappointed in what they were expecting me to feed my kids. No matter what style of restaurant I went to the kids menu usually featured the same fare; chicken nuggets, macaroni & cheese, hamburgers, and spaghetti. We quickly stopped ordering off the kids menu, why should I make my kids eat this when they preferred what we were eating. Yes, it cost more than the $3.00 bowl of mac, but I felt better about taking them out to dinner with me and my husband. I want to share my love for food with everyone I meet and the same is true with my girls. I see their food education as just as important as their math and reading skills. As I introduce them to new foods like Pho or sushi I see their passion in food growing as well as mine. It’s always a treat to get to see the world through your child’s eyes and food is no exception.   

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1) Plan your meals in advance this will help cut down on bad food choices.

2) Drink plenty of water. This keeps you from blindly snaking.

3) Follow the 80/20 rule. If you eat 80% nutrient dense foods you can then eat 20% simple foods to cut down on cravings. It’s all about cravings.

4) Avoid empty calories they are often addicting and give you more calories and no nutritional value.

5) Eat more complex foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories naturally.

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The number of calories you need to consume is based on gender, age, and activity level.

Roughly if you are a male with a sedentary life style (no exercise) you need to consume only 2400 per day.

If you are active (30- 60 minutes of exercise a day) you need 2800 per day.

If you are very active (more than 60 minutes a day) you need 3000 per day.

Roughly if you are a female with a sedentary life style you need 2000 per day.

If you are active you need 2200 per day.

If you are very active you need 2400 per day.

Now these are general numbers to maintain weight not to lose. To get a more precise measure use Harris Benedict Formula.

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Several easy to spot traits of healthy food labels.

  • Calories from fat should be less than half of the total of calories. This lets you know the food is not made up of just fat.
  • Grams of sugar should be less than half the total of carbs. This lets you know the food is a complex carb.
  • Look for low percentages in daily value of fats, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Look for high percentages in daily value of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Watch for serving sizes they are not always the same on like foods. They are usually smaller than what the average person will consume.
  • Foods that mention low fat, non fat, sugar free, or low sugar can sometimes have higher calories and sodium. Be sure to read the whole label.

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If you are eating out at a friend’s or a restaurant it can be easy to over eat and make poor choices. Here are some helpful tips to make eating healthy easier.

1 Don’t skip meals that day in anticipation of dining out.

2 Eat at restaurant with lots of options, ask the waiter for healthy options. Have all sauces and dressings put on the side

3 Ask for a box to be brought out with your food, they always serve large portions. As soon as you food is placed in front of you divide the portion in half and place one half in your to go container, now you have lunch for the next day.

4 Don’t go to “all you can eat” or buffets, you will over eat.

5 Order unsweetened tea or water so you don’t have wasted calories in a beverage

6 Tell them not to give you bread or chips why you wait for your food.

7. At parties do not stand near the food, you will unconsciously eat more food.

8 Avoid the high fat condiments, instead eat the salsa.

9 Consume alcohols in moderation there are a lot of hidden calories there.

10 Concentrate on the conversation instead of the food.

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