Healthy Eating Begins with Good Planning

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Have you ever felt sluggish after a meal and then scolded yourself for overindulging or choosing the fries over a side salad? Those spur-of-the moment choices often are what get us in trouble. We all know that when you eat healthier, you feel better, have more energy and a lot less regret. We also know that it’s easier said than done.

One of the best ways to be successful is to plan ahead. Plan what you’re going to eat before you eat it. Think about it while you’re cooking. Think about it while you’re shopping. Better yet, think about it while making a grocery list. Planning is the best way to make better choices. Make sure that includes stocking up on vegetables. That should be the staple of your grocery list.

Tips to get more nutrients into your diet:

  • Fall is perfect for soups, and I like to add finely chopped carrots or sweet potatoes to chili. This gives a more complex flavor without adding sugar.  Onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers are all great in chili, whether you’re making white or red, chicken or beef.  Add fresh herbs and greens or chopped root veggies to just about any stew or soup.
  • Add veggies to your favorite breakfast dish or casseroles. Broccoli slaw is easy to make and helps spice up scrambled eggs and omelets while also adding more nutrition at the start of your day.
  • Don’t love the taste of veggies? Think about hiding them in a fruit or protein smoothie. A handful of spinach adds lots of nutrition but won’t change the flavor, especially if you are adding frozen fruits as well.
  • Pump up a salad with purple cabbage, orange carrots, red grapes or dark green lettuce.  Use baby lettuce for a more mild flavor. Puree veggies in your salad dressing if you make it from scratch.
  • Try roasted veggies for a side dish. Cut up carrots, onions, peppers, zucchini and sweet potatoes and toss them in a little olive oil and your favorite herbs, such as thyme, rosemary or sage. Arrange the vegetables on a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and roast them 30-40 minutes in a 425-degree oven. Make a big pan of veggies, and then eat them throughout the week.
  • To save time, I chop a couple extra vegetables every day, and toss them in a freezer bag. At the end of the week, I have a bag full that I use for soup or stew.
  • Add some shredded cheese to vegetable soup to increase calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • Instead of spreading butter or mayo on toast or on wraps for sandwiches, use a smashed avocado, lime and cilantro. It’s also great on a cracker for a simple, healthy snack.
  • When you want something sweet, reach for dark chocolate, which will give you a burst of antioxidants and other minerals.
  • Eat the whole egg. Yes, eggs contain cholesterol, but they are one of the most nutrient dense foods, so skip the bacon and sausage, and eat the whole egg. Want to save some time? Boil eggs at the beginning of the week, and snack on an egg, which not only is good for you, but will help keep you fuller longer than junk foods.

Making better choices doesn’t have to mean you completely overhaul how you cook. Look for small ways to make better choices, which can make a big difference in your health and maintaining energy throughout the day.

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