Do Meal Plans Work?

Do Meal Plans Work?

Have you ever embarked on a meal plan, only to give up after a few short days? If so, you may be wondering, “Do Meal Plans Work?”

Have you ever heard the quote, “give a man a fish, and he eats for a day? Teach a man how to fish, and he eats for a lifetime?” Substitute “fish” for “meal plan,” and you have your answer as to why Registered Dietitians prefer to teach meal planning rather than provide their clients with a set meal plan.

In this blog post, we’ll answer the question “do meal plans work?”, meal planning vs meal prepping and how to stick to a meal plan while providing strategies to help you succeed with your healthy eating goals.

Let’s start with why meal plans can fail and how to identify common pitfalls.

Why do meal plans fail?

Meal plans can fail for a variety of reasons. Here are seven of the most common reasons meal plans fail:

  1. People stop following them. This is the most obvious reason. If a person chooses to stop following a meal plan, it will not work for them.
  2. Meal plans don’t teach how to make healthy choices. Meal plans can act as a band-aid solution to provide healthier eating options, but they don’t actually teach you how to make healthy choices on your own. This means that as soon as you’re off the meal plan, you’re back to where you started.
  3. Meal plans do not teach how to listen to your body and cues. When you’re following a meal plan, you’re at the mercy of what the meal plan tells you to eat. This means you’re not able to listen to your body’s hunger, fullness, and satisfaction cues.
  4. Following a meal plan can reduce satisfaction in meals. Let’s face it – following a meal plan can get pretty boring if you’re eating the same foods day in and day out.
  5. Following a meal plan often leads to cravings and overeating of restricted foods. Meal plans often fail to incorporate “fun” foods like chips, chocolate, and ice cream. By avoiding these foods completely, you may start to develop cravings and binge on those foods when you’re around them.

 

Meal Planning Vs Meal Prepping

You may be wondering about meal planning vs meal prepping – after all, they sound pretty similar. But there are a few key differences.

Meal planning is simply the act of planning out your meals for the day or week. It can involve using a calendar to plan out your meals and grocery lists to ensure you pick up all the required ingredients at the store.

Meal prepping, on the other hand, involves the act of preparing and portioning out your meals ahead of time. Many people will choose to meal prep based on their meal plan so that they’re prepared for the day or week ahead.

 

How to Stick to a Meal Plan

Knowledge is power, and understanding the common pitfalls of meal plans is the first step toward successfully adhering to a well-structured and balanced meal plan. To stick to a meal plan, it is essential to set realistic and achievable goals, taking into account personal preferences and nutritional needs. Begin by creating a diverse menu, incorporating a variety of ingredients and flavours to avoid boredom and monotony. Prioritize meal prep, making it a weekly ritual to facilitate adherence to the plan. Finally, be prepared to adapt your meal plan as needed, allowing for occasional indulgences and recognizing that flexibility is key to long-term success. By being proactive and strategic, you will be well-equipped to maintain a meal plan that supports a healthy lifestyle.

 

5 Reasons Why Meal Plans Should Be Personalized.

When creating a personalized meal plan, I keep the following five principles of successful meal planning in mind:

infographic with the 5 Principles of Successful Meal Planning

1. Adequacy. 

Does the meal plan meet your caloric and nutrient needs?

2. Balance. 

Does the meal plan provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat?

3. Variety. 

Does the meal plan provide a variety of different foods?

4. Moderation. 

Does the meal plan provide enjoyable foods such as dessert in moderation?

5. Nourishment. 

Does the meal plan nourish both your body and your mind?

“When You Have a Meal Plan That Works, You Will Be Much More Likely to Successfully Reach Your Health Goals.”

My job is about far more than just creating recipes for meal plans. I match clients’ goals, lifestyles, schedules, and actual needs to a nutrition and meal plan that is based on each client’s individual caloric and nutritional needs.

Along that process, I coach my clients on how to make it fit into their schedule and lifestyle so that they can sustain the plan, feel good doing it, and continue to see great results.

Meal plans can assist you in reaching your health goals. You will know you are working with someone who is interested in your individual needs because they will not only develop a personalized meal plan but will also:

  • Provide a recipe book to go with your meal plans for added variety and appropriate substitutions.
  • Learn and pay attention to your meal patterns so that your meal plan is flexible.
  • Look for a meal plan that allows you to assemble food on your own with portions and guidelines.
  • Make sure your meal plan is 100% tailored to your unique preferences, lifestyle, structure, formula, culture, cuisine, likes, dislikes, health, and family life.

As an expert in nutrition, it is my job to eliminate the struggle of healthy meals for my clients. I do this by breaking down what’s not working first. If a lack of cooking skills is an issue, then I research and recommend cooking classes that can build my clients’ ability and confidence. If time is an issue with my clients, then I discuss their schedules, routines, motivations, and goals. I work collaboratively with my clients to devise a meal plan that works for everyone. In my blog on 8 ways to make healthy eating easy, you will find additional solutions to the challenges that occur from thinking about eating to actually finishing a satisfying meal.

 

Is the Lack of Customization the Biggest Reason That Meal Plans Fail?

Lack of customization is often an issue for people following a meal plan – especially in the long term. I encourage all my clients to share their recipes with me so we can discuss the overall nutritional value and make healthy substitutions and tweaks.

I enjoy tweaking recipes, including adjusting the number of servings and portion sizes to teach my clients how to make appropriate substitutions for food allergens, sensitivities and dislikes. We also focus on enjoyment and the quality of their meals.

When considering your healthy eating goals, ask yourself if you need to talk to a nutrition professional or another nutrition app? Is meal planning what you need to eat well and nourish your body?

My meal planning and nutritional coaching services help clients become educated and organized, keeping them motivated and held accountable. I am your “best nutrition friend” who will help you navigate a healthier, happier, more organized, less stressful, less time-consuming, and more delicious future with food.

Now that you understand why meal plans fail, it’s time to start looking at a meal plan that will work for you. If you’re interested in changing your relationship with food and creating new habits, schedule a call.

Healthy Meal Plan

Healthy Meal Plan

Having a fulfilling career, achieving a work-life balance and getting a healthy meal on the dinner table can be defined as achieving perfection as a parent. As the Family Manager, you are always thinking of food.

Like you, parents are overwhelmed with the physical and mental energy involved with cooking a healthy meal for their family. Having a healthy meal plan for your family complete with recipes, ingredients and time for meal preparation is a luxury that you do not have right now.

Your primary job as a parent is to provide a home and keep your children safe, clothed and fed. You work all day to provide an income for your family to live. Your schedule revolves around your family activities. You run from one activity to another and often multi-task to get through the day.

But one thing you must do at the end of each day…

Staring at your refrigerator at the end of the day is daunting. Your mind starts to race with many questions:

  • Do I have ingredients for a meal?
  • Will there be leftovers after my effort?
  • Will everyone like this?
  • How many pots do I have to clean?
  • Do I have time?

And if you answer “NO” to the last question, you are most likely on your way through a fast-food drive-thru or browsing through a meal delivery app on your phone.

There are several ways that you can simplify healthy meal planning.

Five key steps to a Healthy Meal Plan

There are five key steps involved, from thinking about serving a healthy dinner for your family to actually sitting down and enjoying that meal together. The five steps represent pain points in your journey to a healthy meal plan. The food industry knows this and is organized around solutions to help you reduce these pain points.

  1. Planning. The first step is having a plan or committing to making a healthy meal plan. There are many different meal planning applications to help you create a healthy meal plan complete with a grocery list. I have personally tried several for my family and have found some that provide great tools. The drawback to using a healthy meal plan application is that there is no real one size fits all option. Healthy meal plan websites and apps are useful for the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kind and have time to browse through the recipe lists. People with no health concerns or food issues will find them helpful in finding easy healthy meal plans. People or families with multiple food intolerances, allergies or intolerances will have difficulty finding the right solution to their unique situation.
  2. Shopping. What if you have a plan but have no time actually to shop for the ingredients? Today we are fortunate that we have “click and collect” or home delivery options available to not step into a grocery store unless you want to. Online grocery shopping is a good option for the organized person with limited time available. You prepare the grocery list in advance, and then you decide when to complete the order and schedule a pickup or delivery time. The other fantastic benefit is that your shopping list is saved in your profile to make it simple to re-order when your stock is low. Online grocery shopping is a huge time saver for time-starved people. The limiting factor is having the time or technology savviness to create your profile and your first grocery list. I have helped many clients get started with overcoming this barrier and have set up many virtual grocery lists for clients.
  3. Meal Preparation. Once you have all the ingredients in your home, it should be easy to execute that healthy meal plan. Well, this is a challenging step for many busy parents. Planned meals often go unmade and perishable ingredients go bad when you have no time to prepare the meals. This step is where Prepared Meal Kit boxes, like Good Food, can become extremely helpful. Meal kit boxes eliminate the frustrations of planning, shopping and meal preparation in one easy step. Meal kit boxes are an excellent option for the busy weekday schedule, but it is not a one-size-fits-all option. Families with food intolerances, allergies and special diets will find it difficult to find meals that fit their needs.
  4. Cooking. The total meal preparation time will depend on the recipe, ingredients, and cook time. When you only have less than 30 minutes to get dinner on the table and get out the door, you need to have an excellent plan. Your cooking success will depend on your plan in the first three steps listed above, planning shopping and meal preparation. If the options that I have shared above have limitations for you, then some services will deliver ready to eat fresh or frozen prepared meals straight to your doorstep. I ran a successful meal preparation business that provided time-starved professionals ready to heat, chef-prepared meals. This service is a game-changer for many busy professionals, but it is costly and only works for the non-fussy, non-diet, no allergy person or family.
  5. Eating. Mealtimes must be protected at all costs. I fundamentally believe that life lessons and family values are shared when families eat together. I think parents need support to make sharing a meal together happen. Not only is eating together a critical step, taking time to eat healthy balanced meals is crucial for your health. I have outlined time-saving supports above like outsourcing meal planning, shopping and meal preparation; however, you cannot outsource precious family time or, more importantly, your health.

If prioritizing your health and protecting your family time is essential to you, I can suggest three other options to save time and be more organized.

  1. Hiring a nutritional coach– A consult with a Registered Dietitian nutritionist who can assess, review and identify your particular menu needs and challenges can help you start your healthy eating journey. In a one-hour consultation, I can diagnose the missing link in your quest to provide your family with healthy meals. I can help you identify which of the above solutions or other solutions available are right for your unique family needs. Like you, I help parents create a routine that incorporates healthy foods while eliminating foods that aren’t good for their dietary restrictions or lifestyle.
  2. Hire out your meal plan – As a professional meal planner, I design meal plans around your nutritional needs and dietary restrictions. Weekly balanced, delicious and nutritious plans are available to take the work out of menu planning. Healthy meal plans that based on your needs and not one size fits approach. I offer plant-based, anti-inflammatory based plans, as well as other custom plans.
  3. Professional Chef Services – If you have the money, you could outsource to a personal chef service. Whether culinary trained or nutritionally trained, a chef comes to your home for a specified number of hours to fill your fridge or freezer with meals for you and your family. The chef can plan, shop, cook, portion, and leave your kitchen spotless as if no one was there. The benefit of this is that you can control the type of food, ingredients and menu prepared for you.

You know that planning a week of healthy meals can alleviate your stress. You start looking for recipe ideas on Pinterest but then get overwhelmed by all the choices. Recipes without a healthy meal plan have a low chance of being prepared and less chance of getting eaten. Pinterest is a great place for recipe ideas; however, it is also a great place to become so overwhelmed that you give up.

I demonstrate to parents that healthy eating as a family can be easy and free of angst. I provide parents with tools and resources to plan easy healthy meals in less than 30 minutes with at the very least 10 minutes to sit and be present as a family.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and Contact.

I offer all new clients a free 15-minute consultation appointment to ask questions and to assess whether I can help.

5 Nutritional and lifestyle upgrades for your health

5 Nutritional and lifestyle upgrades for your health

Changing one or two aspects of your diet or life may not have the same effect as a holistic approach to improving your overall nutrition and lifestyle. Last week’s blog discussed Anti-Inflammatory diets and the impact of these diets on chronic inflammation. In this blog, I will go a little deeper and share with you five nutritional and lifestyle upgrades for your health. These five upgrades have a synergistic effect when combined. By synergy, I mean that all five of the nutritional and lifestyle upgrades together have a more significant impact on your health than if upgraded individually. 

 

1. Reduce your intake of sugar and starch

 

Excess sugars and starches put stress on our blood sugar levels and increase your risk of chronic diseases. They also promote inflammation in the body.

 

Studies have shown that animals who eat sweets and white bread and drink a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages have higher levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is considered one of the “markers” of inflammation. This “inflammatory marker,” when found in a blood test at high levels, indicate that there is inflammation in the body. Studies in people also show that diets low in sugar and starch have lower than average levels of CRP.

 

High blood levels of inflammatory markers like CRP are associated with increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Some researchers believe that levels of inflammatory markers in the blood can predict whether someone is going to develop diabetes or heart disease eventually. 

 

You can upgrade your nutrition in this area by eating fewer sugars (especially “added” sugars) and starches (especially “refined” carbohydrates).

 

2. Change your fat intake from saturated fats to unsaturated fats

 

Some lab and animal studies show that increased levels of saturated fats can increase the production of inflammatory markers like CRP and free radicals (oxidants), which are the molecules responsible for adverse chemical reactions in the body. Meals with unsaturated fats seem to reduce the inflammatory response after the meal. 

 

Unsaturated fats like omega-3’s from fish seem to be particularly healthful. People who eat more fish tend to have lower levels of atherosclerosis and heart disease. 

 Fish-based omega-3 unsaturated fats reduce inflammation in several ways. They reduce the source of inflammation, as well as increase the amount of anti-inflammatory “radical” and “oxidant” molecules.

 

Tree nuts are another excellent source of unsaturated fats and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. 

  

Why don’t fat-containing nuts promote weight gain?

 

While nuts do contain a fair amount of fat, many studies show that people who regularly eat nuts do not tend to have a higher BMI (body mass index) or more body fat. Even adding nuts to the diet doesn’t seem to promote weight gain compared to the number of calories they contain. Many studies show no weight gain after adding nuts to the diet. 

 

Several studies show an increase in the resting metabolic rate in people who eat nuts – they seem to burn more calories even when they’re not active. This may be because of the type of fat (unsaturated), protein, fibre and/or the polyphenol content in the nuts.

 

You can upgrade your dietary fats by eating more fish and nuts. Fish and nuts contain unsaturated fats that have anti-inflammatory effects. They can also improve insulin sensitivity and even enhance the health of insulin-producing cells.

 

When it comes to fish oil supplements, many studies show a reduction in risk factors for heart disease by improving the way our bodies metabolize fats and its ability to “thin” the blood. However, fish oil supplements have mixed reviews when it comes to reducing inflammation. They can be helpful for some, but I recommend eating the fish itself.

 

3. Eat more dietary fibre

 

People who eat more fibre tend to have lower risks of diabetes and heart disease. There are a few ways this is thought to work; one is from reduced inflammation. People who eat more fibre, fruits, and vegetables tend to have lower levels of CRP.

 

Animal studies show that eating fibre reduces the levels of inflammatory markers and also reduces excess body fat.

 

This effect can be because fibre slows down the absorption of food from the body, reducing blood sugar spikes. It can also be because of its interaction with the friendly microbes in our gut.

 

Foods that are high in fibre include whole grains, legumes (i.e. beans and lentils), cocoa, seeds (e.g. sesame), tree nuts (e.g. almonds), avocados, raspberries, and squash.

 

Canadian women need 25 grams of fibre per day and men need 38 grams of fibre per day. Most Canadians are only getting about half that much. Following a Keto diet or a low carbohydrate diet, makes it very difficult to reach your daily fibre intake. 

  

4. Get moving every day. 

 

Regular exercise helps with many chronic diseases, as well as helping to reduce inflammation.

 

Levels of inflammatory markers are lower in people who exercise regularly than those who do not. Plus, the people who exercise at a higher intensity tend to have even lower levels of CRP.

 

Adding regular moderate exercise to a nutritious anti-inflammatory diet has benefits beyond the dietary benefits, like even lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood (i.e. like CRP).

 

I encourage you to reduce the amount of time you are sedentary and take active breaks. If you haven’t made it to the gym yet, read and watch Laura Parson’s inspiring TEDx Talk on Snacking on Exercise. 

 

5. Cout your zzz… Sleep

 

Both acute and chronic sleep deprivation causes an increase in inflammatory markers in the blood. 

 

Sleep loss is a risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes. When healthy volunteers have restricted sleep, this causes decreased insulin sensitivity. 

 

Upgrade your health by making a good night sleep more of a priority.

 

And there you have it — three ways to change your nutrition habits and two ways to improve your lifestyle.

 

Diabetes and heart disease are serious conditions. They have a few things in common, namely excess body fat and increased levels of inflammation. Inflammation can be healthy if it is fighting an infection or healing a wound, but chronic inflammation is associated with many severe conditions.

 

There are a lot of nutrition and lifestyle issues that can contribute to chronic diseases. There are several ways they can do this; inflammation is just one of them.

 

The good news is that there are are several nutrition and lifestyle factors you can improve. These include eating fewer sugars and starches, eating more fish, nuts and dietary fibre, and getting regular exercise and quality sleep.

For a custom menu and coaching, I encourage you to book a free 15-minute consultation. I work with individuals, couples and families who are looking for ways to integrate healthy and nutritional balanced meals into their life. During our discussion, you can ask questions and discuss whether nutritional coaching or a meal plan is right for you. Book a time that works for your schedule by clicking here.

 

 

 

Help Me with Meal Planning!

Help Me with Meal Planning!

Many of my clients find me after feeling overwhelmed with meal planning and feeling stressed about where to begin healthy eating. A client conversation typically starts with, “help me with meal planning!” Their lives are busy with work, social and kids activities, and with summer finally here, they want to spend more time outside and less time in the kitchen. Thinking about the time required for planning, shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning is enough to stop them before they even begin.

 

The prepared food industry knows this, which is why the prepared meal category and meal kit business is growing each year. Sadly, as the prepared food category is growing in our food stores, so is our weight. As of 2017, research done by the Public Health Agency of Canadafinds that 64% of Canadian adults over the age of 18 are overweight or obese, and 60% of children aged 5-17 are overweight or obese.Not only is weight gain the problem, but obesity is linked to many undesirable health conditions.

 

In my blog post, eight ways to make healthy eating easy, I outlined the steps involved in meal planning and offered some suggestions on how to save time. In this post, I share with you options to solve the “help me with meal planning” problem.

 

To begin, ask yourself the following:

 

  • What do I dislike doing: Planning, shopping, or preparing meals?
  • Where do I breakdown in the process: Is it before buying the food or after grocery shopping, leading to food waste?

 

Depending on your answers, I offer some suggestions to overcome barriers in the planning, shopping, and preparing steps with the result of healthy eating.

 

Planning

 

Planning can be a time-consuming step for some because of the abundance of choices available. I will venture to say that the amount of options availableis enemy number one. Keep an inventory of regular food products in your pantry and refrigerator for easy planning.

 

When I begin working with clients, we work through a list of foods so that I can determine what foods they like, dislike or have intolerances. We then start the meal planning process with up to three meals for the first week. I plan the meals around the clients’ needs, experience and time available. I do this because it’s better to make less and strive for success than to over plan and fail to reach your goal!

 

If seasonal inspiration is important to you, read the newspaper. I enjoy the Ottawa Citizen Wednesday edition; the YOU section recipes showcase what is fresh and in season. You can also find these recipes online.

 

If keeping track of recipes and items is overwhelming for you, then you should consider trialling the Plan to Eat system. I have helped clients set up this system, and they have had lots of success with staying consistent with healthy eating at home, and with trying new recipes and flavours.

 

Shopping

 

Grocery shopping is a chore that most working parents dread. It is often left to the weekends and, when the sun is shining, the grocery store is the last place they want to be. Utilizing a click and collect service or online grocery shopping app is a great way to save time. Once your grocery list is created, you need to do an inventory check before placing your order online. If you don’t know how to do this, contact me, this is one of the services I help my clients set up to save time.

 

If you are short on time, you can use Instacart for repeatable grocery items and get them delivered to your door.

 

Helpful hacks are to keep a standard grocery list around your inventory of “usual” foods that you always want available. Remember, to minimize waste, always check your inventory and shop with a list.

 

Waste

 

Home delivered meal kits are a great way to explore new recipes and minimize waste. Many people think meal kits are wasteful because of all the packaging. I was surprised to learn that meal kits are greener than grocery shopping. While they may be more ecological from the emissions point of view, I would encourage consumers to reuse the packaging whenever possible.

 

Your food waste will be reduced with proper meal planning and ingredient purchasing. Sometimes, buying less may seem more expensive, but it is less wasteful and will cost you less in the long term.

 

If the idea of implementing these suggestions overwhelms you, let’s chat. Simplifying meal planning for busy people is exactly what I do! Reach out to me to save time each week on healthy eating, minimizing your stress and getting healthy meals on your table.

 

Meal Planning: Healthy Mac and Cheese

Meal Planning: Healthy Mac and Cheese

If you’re thinking, “I just want you to give me a healthy mac and cheese recipe, can you write me one that is low fat, dairy free, and gluten-free?” Then you need to understand that personalized meal and recipe planning is a process. To ensure sustainable change and maximize the impact on your health, we need to spend time getting to know one other and exchanging information.

 

At the beginning of our meal planning relationship assumptions are made on both sides. You assume there is a perfect way to healthy eating and way to lose weight. I assume I know your likes, dislikes and preferences from a questionnaire and your commitment to follow my prescribed plan.

 

The trial and error menu

 

But in reality, the first menu I write for you is a trial and error menu. I spend at least an hour reviewing the consult notes. I then put together the best plan for your success based on the information you have given me as well as from my nutritional expertise. When I send you your menu, you will look at it and see unfamiliar recipes or ingredients and may be uncertain about my choices for you. You need to be open-minded to try some meals that may fail your expectations. I need to be open-minded that you may not like my suggestions.

 

For lasting change, meal plans need to consider likes, dislikes, allergies, cooking styles, time management, and desire for change and commitment.

 

Not all recipes will be instant favourites. Some will need modifications after the first attempt. This is why recipes often state that when adding spices, “adjust to taste.” Throughout our coaching relationship, I will teach you the skills on how to adapt a recipe to your taste.

 

Developing a healthy substitute for a favourite meal

 

Recently, a meal planning client asked for a “healthy” macaroni and cheese recipe to substitute for their child’s favourite boxed kind. Now, that is a tall order because kids will always know when you are trying to trick them, and it is tough to replicate boxed macaroni and cheese.

 

When I curate recipes, I compare several ingredient combinations and read reviews. I look for non-processed ingredients that are healthy and a recipe that does not have many steps. I try the recipes before I send them to my clients so that I am confident that it will be a good fit, but I can be wrong sometimes.

 

When I prepared this new “healthy” macaroni and cheese, I kept doubting myself. Was I going to sway kids away from boxed mac and cheese?

 

First, it was the Dijon mustard in the recipe…why? I decided to leave it out, but when I tasted the sauce something was missing. When I added the Dijon mustard into it, something magical happened – the taste of the sauce improved significantly! Why is that? Well, at first the sauce was sweet, but when I added the Dijon mustard, which has a kind of vinegary taste to it, it balanced out the flavour. Dijon mustard is also found in salad dressings because it acts as an emulsifier creating smoother sauces. I learned that it is a must in this healthy mac and cheese recipe.

 

Midway through the recipe, I had the feeling the recipe was going to be a disaster because it did not taste like a cheese sauce. To cut down on fat content and up the protein, this recipe called for nutritional yeast, which is an inactive yeast and not even related to baking yeast despite sharing the same name. Nutritional yeast is typically found in vegan recipes as a cheese substitute because of its nutty, cheesy flavour. This interesting yellow flaky ingredient is considered a “superfood” because it is a complete protein, an excellent source of B-vitamins, and a good source of fibre. Most brands are also fortified in Vitamin B12, which is typically only found in red meat products. Complete proteins and Vitamin B12 are essential to our health and therefore makes nutritional yeast a perfect ingredient in plant-based meals.

 

So, here I am with a not so cheesy macaroni and cheese and terrified of my kids’ judgement. As a last-ditch effort, I placed the mac and cheese into a casserole dish and covered it with a layer of mozzarella cheese because no one in our family is allergic or intolerant to cheese. I baked the casserole in the oven until the cheese was golden on top. When the kids came home and asked what was for dinner, I confidently told them it was my new mac and cheese recipe and showed them the casserole. I was shocked when they got excited about it because it reminded them about the one they had at summer camp. Remember when I wrote about summer camp and how my kids had to make their own meal decisions, eat what was in front of them or skip the meal?

 

The result…the kids loved it! They polished off the entire casserole and even asked me to make more!? I have since made this recipe several times perfecting it, and each time it does not last more than 24 hours in our house.

 

Through careful research, testing, and modifications, I was able to make this recipe low fat, dairy free, and gluten-free. My goal as a meal planner is to help you expand your confidence and skills with your nutritional intake and to help you reach your health goals. One way I do this is through recipe development, such as this healthy macaroni and cheese recipe, that can be adjusted and quickly become a part of your easy-to-follow meal plan. For more information on my customizable meal plans as well as for more amazing healthy recipes, click here.

 

Recipe for Healthy Mac and Cheese

Keren's kids approved Healthy Mac and Cheese recipe

Keren Reiser
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
5 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 9 Servings
Calories 302 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups macaroni, enriched, elbow GF option: Quinoa Macaroni
  • 1 cup milk, skim V option: Almond milk
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled, cubed, steamed
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cheese, mozzarella, partly skim V option: Daiya Shreds

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook macaroni as per the directions on the package. When finished cooking, strain and run under cold water immediately to prevent from overcooking.
  • Add milk, cornstarch, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, and steamed butternut squash to your blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds until all mixed and uniform. Add in salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix well. 
  • Place half the macaroni in a greased 9x13 casserole dish. 
  • Layer with half the mozzarella cheese. 
  • Add the remainder of the macaroni. Cover with the remainder of mozzarella cheese. 
  • Bake at 350F uncovered for 30 minutes. Until cheese is melted and golden brown. 
  • Portion pan into 9 servings and enjoy!
Keyword dairy, gluten-free, healthy mac and cheese, kid approved, options, vegan
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