9 Tips On How to Eat Healthfully
Life can get crazy. Days can be busy.
It can all seem like a whirlwind, a non-stop race and before we know it, the clock strikes 5, your tummy’s growling and you’re in need of a healthy dinner. What to do? Nothing is ready. No food in the fridge. A bare pantry. No energy to food shop or prepare a full meal. Sound familiar? I hear this story from all of my clients who are looking for an easy answer, a go-to option for their on-the-go lives.
What’s that you say? Don’t have time to prepare a healthy, fresh meal or snack? It’s easier than you think and simply takes a quick whirl through the produce aisle or the farmer’s market, a few chops in the kitchen and then storing in the fridge n’ freezer for a week chock-full of grab n’ go options to fuel you from dusk ‘till dawn. It’s about eating great ingredients in a relaxed setting and savoring each bite of food. Remember, meals and snacks are meant to enrich our lives and our bodies.
Don’t shovel the bagel into your mouth in 30 seconds while driving, steer clear of the drive-through chocolate donut when you’re running late for a meeting, nix the mocha frappachino when you’ve got a sugar craving and instead sit with your feelings and hunger. What is it that you really want? Is it something sweet? If so, enjoy a morsel of dark chocolate, a cup of freshly brewed tea with fruit or a fresh smoothie. Realize it’s not the sweetness that you’re craving? Get to the heart of the matter and find out what’s fueling your yearning for something sweet in the first place and solve it. Get creative. If it’s something crunchy that you’re in the mood for, try carrot sticks with hummus. Longing for a savory nibble? Try a toasted pita spread with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and baked garlic. Something smooth? How about some Greek yogurt with ground flax seeds, fresh strawberries, basil and macadamia nuts? If it’s something sweet you’re after, create zucchini boats filled with nut butter, dried cranberries and cinnamon — sounds pretty good to me. These snacks are naturally sweet, high in fiber and protein and easy to prepare and eat anytime of the day. See how easy it can be?
Here are a few of my strategies for how to eat healthfully anytime, anywhere:
1. Spice Up Your Plate
Add some red pepper flakes, chili powder or freshly ground white pepper to your meals. These spices may reduce the amount of food you consume later in the day and they’ll add lots of flavor with minimal calories.
2. Fresh is Best
Fresh herbs that is. Include a new herb in each meal. Try fresh basil in your morning omelets, cilantro in your afternoon salads, rosemary on your grilled chicken, tarragon in your soups, parsley in your salsa and mint atop your yogurt parfaits. You’ll be amazed at the flavor boost you’ll reap with each fresh herb; you can say good-bye to those fake sweeteners and additives by simply adding fresh herbs to any beverage or meal with a bit of planning ahead, chopping and organizing into sealable plastic bags. This way you’re ready for the week ahead and can quickly grab a few snippets of each herb to toss into your seltzer, salads, rice pilafs, sandwiches or tacos in a pinch!
3. Zest It
That’s right. Lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange zest are powerful and calorie-free ways to add a bang to your beverage or food. Purchase a handy-dandy zester and you’re on your way to creating a rainbow of color and flavor atop grilled fish, tofu, pizzas, salads, pastas and oatmeal. You can even toss extra zest into your homemade iced teas, lemonade or seltzer.
4. Get Dippy
Hummus, guacamole, salsa, Greek yogurt, nut butters….the options are endless. Create a tasty appetizer with whole grain pretzels, pitas, baked tortilla chips, fruit and vegetable kabobs to dunk into these dip options for a fun finger-food snack.
5. Perfectly Pureed
Puree berries, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, zucchini and sweet potatoes, then add to smoothies, spread atop whole grain pitas, serve with crudités, add into baked goods or store in a sealed container in the fridge to serve with tuna salad, oatmeal, and yogurt anytime of the day for a boost of antioxidants and naturally sweet flavor without the added sugar.
6. Go Nuts
Hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios…you name it, there’s a nut out there with your name on it. Get creative and toss some macadamia nuts atop your salad or a few peanuts in your stir fry. How about toasted almonds in your smoothie or a few chopped Brazil nuts in your whole grain pancakes.
7. Seltzer is Your Buddy
Gulp it, slurp it, and drink it up. A glass of chilled seltzer with a few slices of orange, cucumber, ginger and cilantro can be incredibly refreshing. Toss that can of diet soda and opt for some clear, healthy bubbly instead.
8. Make Ahead
Dust off your food processor or blender to create a new guacamole recipe each week…it’ll keep your taste buds happy and add a new flavor punch to your meals n’ snacks. Combine a ripe avocado with your choice of savory or sweet ingredients, then place in the fridge to use all week atop your breakfast eggs, lunchtime sandwiches in lieu of mayonnaise, atop grilled dinners and spread atop pitas and crackers for mid-afternoon snacks. Savory choices include: chili powder, olives, edemame, zucchini, chickpeas, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, canned pumpkin and spinach. Sweet choices include: cinnamon, berries, grapefruit, carrots, apple sauce, dried fruit, fresh herbs, honey and nut butters.
9. When in Doubt, Add Beans
Whether you’re making meatballs, burgers, tacos, burritos, chili or stir-fries, add these tiny protein power houses for a great dose of protein and flavor. There are so many great varieties of beans in the store to try; you can easily find one that suits your taste buds and palate with every meal. White beans pureed in your morning omelet, black beans stuffed into your tacos, chickpeas in your stir-fries and red beans in your risotto; doesn’t that sound delish?
Amie Valpone, HHP, AADP is a culinary nutritionist and author of The Healthy Apple.
Photography by Celine Steen
Food, we love you.