CURE FOR THE “SEE FOOD” DIET

Beet greens, washed and ready / momskitchenhandbook.comYou know the old joke, “I’m on a seafood diet. I see food, and I eat it.”

I’m a See Food diet kind of gal. What grabs my eye in a moment of hunger is often what I go for. I imagine many of you can relate. Companies like Frito Lay and Burger King count on it. Watch TV on an empty stomach and the next thing you know, you’re speed dialing Dominos for an order of Stuffed Cheesy Bread.

I find this is especially true for kids. If I set out a plate of colorful sliced fresh fruit and vegetables when they walk in the door from school, they’ll dive right in. If I don’t, they’re sniffing around the snack cupboard and complaining that I never buy Goldfish.

So, the trick to being healthy on a See Food diet is to make sure the food you SEE is what you really want to EAT. It’s about keeping nutritious food front and center. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a handful of the healthy convenience foods I try to keep in rotation so my cooking is more nourishing and the lure of the Cheesy Bread less tempting.

Veggies ready for kids' snacks / momskitchenhandbook.com

I do my best to keep fresh, cut up vegetables at the ready in the refrigerator, sometimes relying on pre-washed ones from the market, such as snap peas or carrots. This simple measure makes it easy to add vegetables to school lunches and is especially handy when kids complain that they’re “starving” as the dinner hour approaches.

Starving…Really? Have a radish.

Beans and Grains, Organized / momskitchenhandbook.com

After investing some time at the bulk bins of my local food coop this week,  I did an overhaul of my beans and grains, which used to be squirreled away in the cabinet. Instead, I’ve put them in plain sight on the kitchen counter for inspiration. I limit the variety to three or four beans/legumes and a handful of grains, rotating in new options when they run out.  I’ll keep the quantities small, particularly for the grains, to ensure there is plenty of turnover and food stays fresh.

Beans and Farro, prepped and ready to eat / momskitchenhandbook.com

Getting some of those beans, legumes, and grains cooked and within reach in the fridge makes it easy to have a healthy See Food diet. Convenience is everything. I’ll toss farro or rice into scrambled eggs for breakfast, add grains or beans to lunch box salads, or combine the two and top with grated cheese for a simple lunch or supper. You’ll find my crock pot beans here and some more about farro here.

Beet greens, washed and ready / momskitchenhandbook.com

The key to eating plenty of dark leafy greens, which we know to be nutrient-packed, is having them washed, dried, and easy to use. Best for me, is to get the job done before the groceries get put away and then quickly forgotten about. I also regularly buy pre-washed kale, arugula and other dark greens when I’m short on time. Here, I’ve got beet greens ready to be sauteed for a quick side dish or chopped and stirred into soup or stews.

Lettuce, washed and ready / momskitchenhandbook.com

Washed lettuce is a refrigerator staple. My kids have taken to making their own salads for school lunch, so fresh, crisp lettuce is key. Enlist their help getting the job done, particularly since what kid doesn’t love a salad spinner?

dandelion greens, washed and ready

On a good week, I’ll mix in another green or two to add interest and expand our ingredient repertoire. Here, we’re giving dandelion greens a go because they arrived in our CSA box. Washed and ready, they get added to salads or tucked into sandwiches.

Fruit bowl / momskitchenhandbook.com

A fruit bowl has been a fixture on our kitchen counter since before the kids were born. It’s the first thing they see when they walk in the kitchen and its contents evolve with the seasons.

Fresh cut melon I also do my best to have refrigerated fruit such as melon, grapes, and pineapple cut up and easy to eyeball.

Hard boiled eggs

For quick, affordable protein, nothing beats a bowlful of hard boiled eggs for out-the-door breakfasts, sliced onto lunch salads or vegetables, transformed into simple deviled eggs, or for straight up snacking.

Rocky Road Bars / momskitchenhandbook.com

Lest you think it’s all black beans and beet greens around here, we also keep home baked treats in rotation, such as these Cooking Light S’mores Bars. If you’ve got all your healthy See Food diet options in place, there’s room for some goodies, too.

What are your See Food Diet tips?

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10  Comments

Comments

  1. Mary Frances
    03.07.2014 at 8:19 AM #

    I love all of these suggestions – I already incorporate some of them into my family’s routine, but I’ve just picked up some new ideas from this post!

    I also go the extra step of putting out the healthy options within easy reach – we love the tiny mandarin oranges available this time of year, and I just divided up a mesh bag of these “cuties” into three smaller bowls … one on the kitchen counter (for breakfast / lunch packing), one on the dining room table (for dessert) and on the coffee table in the living room (for TV time snacking).

    Same goes for crudités (with the wonderful Green Goddess Dip recipe I got from your blog) – with 2 hungry teenaged kids in the house (plus all of their friends who drop by), who are definitely on the “see food” diet, I certainly try to ensure that they see the healthy options first … otherwise, they’re scavenging in the cupboards for the not-so-healthy options that are supposed to be the occasional treats!

    • katiemorford
      03.07.2014 at 10:43 AM #

      I agree, with teenagers especially, the need to fill bellies tends to be “now!” so having healthy convenience foods means fewer trips to the 7-11 and more nutritious snacking.

  2. Cynthia
    03.07.2014 at 10:18 AM #

    That is all so true Katie; having veggies and fruit cut up and in easy sight is the surest way to make sure everyone in the family goes for those items for snacks. When my daughter was young and had a hard time waiting for dinner to be fully prepped, I always gave her the vegetable portion of dinner first which served to both tide her over and ensure that she ate every bite. Thanks for the reminder, and those pre-washed cut up options at the market may be pricey but definately help working moms.
    Cynthia

    • katiemorford
      03.07.2014 at 10:41 AM #

      I love that trick of giving hungry kids the veggie portion of the meal while they wait for dinner. Thanks for the reminder on that one.

  3. Pam
    03.07.2014 at 10:20 AM #

    Great ideas, all. I need to work on having prepped fruit and veggies at hand. All the satsumas and cuties available now make it easy, but when those are gone it’s more challenging. How long does the washed lettuce stay usable – more than a day?

    • katiemorford
      03.07.2014 at 10:40 AM #

      I find it holds up for about a week. The key is to get it really dry and don’t crowd it too much in a container or bag. Dark greens like kale and chard tend to last a longer.

  4. 03.09.2014 at 11:50 AM #

    So, so smart Katie! I love this, and I’m sharing with everyone I know. We do this at home, unintentionally I suppose. I thought it was because I have a jar fetish. :) But it is probably, truly, because I’m a visual learner and eater! What a smart way to raise nutritionally literate kids, too.

    • katiemorford
      03.09.2014 at 9:01 PM #

      food healthy is key for me.

  5. 03.09.2014 at 3:02 PM #

    Though I don’t do it as much as I should, I’m always surprised how much more fruits and veggies my kids eat if they are cut up and ready to go when they get home from school. Otherwise, like you said, it’s “Can I have a cookies, please?”

    • katiemorford
      03.09.2014 at 9:02 PM #

      I find it’s really no different for us adults as well.

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