Fueling Your Body with Nutritious and Delicious Foods
Every day, we’re bombarded with information about what foods will do a body good and which ones won’t. What is a healthy meal? It seems complicated, but the simple truth is, not much has changed since humans first walked the earth. We need proteins, vegetables, fruit, calcium-rich foods, and grains—all elements from Mother Nature—in order for our bodies to maintain optimal health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 68% of Americans were either overweight or obese in 2008, with rates even higher among specific ethnic groups. The high prevalence of overweight in our country can be attributed to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets. We tend to reach for the instant and easy, which, increasingly has come to mean an oversized portion loaded with sugar, salt and fat.
How do we begin to relearn the basics? The first step is referring to reputable sources such as The American Heart Association Cookbook, and Eating for Life that employ common sense guidelines of nutrition, focus on appropriate portion sizes and highlight the ways in which eating healthy meals actually saves us time and money in the long run.
Easy, Nutritious and Delicious—Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Desserts
Your arsenal of healthy foods should include:
- Lean meats, poultry and fish—buy in bulk to wrap individual portion sizes to freeze
- Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits
- Nuts, legumes, beans, tofu
- Whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, and pasta
- Milled flaxseed
- Peanut butter (or other nut butters)
- Fresh or dried herbs, sodium-free seasonings, and sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil
- Organic, low-fat dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk (or dairy-free calcium-rich alternatives like soy milk)
Below are a couple of examples of delicious and healthy meals (including snacks and desserts!):
- Oatmeal with berries and a drizzle of honey.
- Smoothie: Combine half a banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a sprinkling of milled flaxseed, half a cup of plain yogurt, ice, a drizzle of honey, and a splash of soy milk. Blend until smooth.
Mid Morning Snack:
- Part-skim mozzarella string cheese with an ounce of almonds and a sliced pear.
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries, granola, and flax seed.
- Salad with sliced veggies, one boiled egg or 2-3 ounces of lean meat such as turkey or chicken, a sprinkle of raisins and almonds with honey Dijon dressing (tablespoon of honey Dijon mustard and olive oil). Drizzle over salad. Small apple.
- Cooked whole grain pasta with grape tomatoes, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté garlic, onions and mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes and pasta; stir until heated through.
Mid Afternoon Snack:
- Toss garbanzo beans, garlic, olive oil, pepper, paprika, and herb seasoning in a blender and blend smooth. Serve with baked pita bread cut into pieces and celery sticks.
- Wheat crackers with lean turkey and sliced Jarlsberg and an orange.
- Spinach and feta chicken breast with roasted potatoes and onions. Pound chicken breast until thin and lay spinach and feta cheese on chicken, fold and secure with toothpick. Season with pepper and herb seasoning. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Drizzle olive oil over chunks of two medium potatoes and one medium onion and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pepper and a dash of sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Skillet salmon with roasted zucchini, squash, and tomatoes. Marinate salmon in a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and dash of lemon juice. Sauté in a skillet (about 5-6 minutes each side). Toss chunks of zucchini, squash and tomatoes with olive oil and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.
- One serving of sorbet with fresh berries.
- Baked pear drizzled with honey and cinnamon and small serving of low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt.
Once you adapt a lifestyle of healthy eating and cooking, you’ll see and feel the results within days. Eating healthy may require more trips to the market, but the time and money saved on trips to the doctor is well worth the effort.