Rather than remember all the rules of the latest diet craze, healthy eating is best kept simple. We love simple - it’s in our name. With some good habits in place, you can easily reduce calories here and there that all add up during the day.
• Use Smaller Plates.
Big plates hold big portions - whether you need them or not. Going with smaller plates for meals is a great way to help judge portion sizes and curb overeating.
• Indulge Reasonably.
It’s ok to indulge every once in a while, just do so in moderation and everything will be fine. If you can’t stop thinking about chocolate cake, you’re likely to eat lots of other things to try and fill that void, but really, you’ll still just want chocolate cake.
• Use Less Sauce.
Bottled sauces can add 100 calories or more per tablespoon so try and be mindful of how much you add so you aren’t drowning your food in unnecessary calories.
• Drink Water.
The old standard of drinking 8 glasses of water a day is a good starting point but more is better. Your body uses water for a huge variety of functions and it could usually use a little more.
• Size Up Your Portions.
A serving size for meat and fish is 3oz, which ends up being about the size of the palm of your hand. You don’t have to obsess over measuring portions but at least get a baseline by sizing things up every once in a while so you know where you stand.
• Dip Vegetables Instead of Chips.
Try going with carrots/cauliflower/cucumbers instead of chips in your dip. This swap works for hummus, French onion dip, and even salsa.
Some of our recent menu items have included whole wheat pasta and there are plenty of good reasons to go with whole wheat over the typical refined white pasta when you can. Let’s take a look at why it matters:
• Whole wheat pasta has fewer calories than refined pasta. A one cup serving of whole grain can save you almost 50 calories over the refined stuff.
• You’ll get more fiber from whole wheat pasta. A typical serving has 6g, while refined pasta has 2.5g. Fiber helps you feel full, improves digestion, and has been shown to lower your cholesterol and help regulate your blood sugar.
• As far as nutrients go, whole wheat pasta wins again. It has more protein than refined pasta and also contains more potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
• The texture of whole wheat pasta is a little less smooth than refined, but some people actually prefer the difference. Try it out!
• To sum it up: whole wheat pasta has less calories and fat, but more fiber and protein and nutrients than the typical refined pasta. What’s not to love?
Also known as vitamin H or vitamin B7, biotin is important to keep your eyes, hair, skin, brain, and liver healthy. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, so it’s not stored in the body and needs to be consumed to keep your levels steady. Here are some foods that are good sources of biotin:
• Sweet Potatoes
It’s not uncommon for recipes to call for brown sugar instead of regular white sugar, but have you ever wondered where brown sugar comes from?
• Brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses added.
• This gives brown sugar its distinctive taste and color.
• There are dark brown and light brown varieties.
• Dark brown sugar contains 6.5% molasses and light brown sugar contains 3.4% molasses.
• Brown sugar tends to be softer and more moist than white sugar. This is because each crystal is covered by a thin layer of the molasses.
• If you don’t keep brown sugar in an airtight container, it will harden due to the moisture escaping.
• It’s possible to bring the moisture back to hardened brown sugar by adding a piece of bread to the container. The molasses will steal the moisture from the bread and become soft again.
• If your recipe doesn’t specify whether to use dark or light brown sugar, consider how much molasses/caramel flavor you want to come through in what you’re making. Light brown sugar has a lighter and more subtle flavor while dark is more rich.
Vitamin D is crucial for healthy bones and teeth as well as proper heart, immune system, and brain function. Unfortunately, there are very few foods that contain it and most of them are animal products so it can be hard for vegetarians to get this vitamin through diet alone. It’s not impossible though and here are some options:
• Egg Yolks
The amount of vitamin D in egg yolks greatly depends on the quality of life of the chickens that laid them. If they’re allowed to roam outside, their eggs can have up to 4 times the amount of vitamin D found in eggs from chickens that are kept indoors.
You can find small amounts of vitamin D in cheese, but the amount varies by type. Cheddar, Monterey, and Fontina contain the highest amount while soft cheeses like cottage and ricotta contain 0%.
Mushrooms have the distinction of being the only edible plant source of vitamin D. It’s been found that if they’re exposed to UV light during their growth, mushrooms can be as effective at raising your vitamin D levels as supplement pills. Check the packaging to see if the mushrooms you’re going to buy have these increased vitamin D levels.
• Fortified Foods
There are lots of options of foods that have vitamin D added to them including oatmeal, some dry cereals, milk, yogurt, and plant-based milks.
Joint pain makes everything more difficult and can keep you from enjoying your favorite activities. There are some foods that can help reduce this pain though. By providing antioxidants, polyphenols, and Omegas, these foods can help reduce inflammation and increase your mobility:
• Fatty fish - salmon, tuna, sardines, trout
• Nuts and Seeds - almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds
• Fruits - apples, blueberries, tomatoes, pineapple
• Cruciferous Vegetables - kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower
• Bone Broth
• Root Vegetables - garlic, onion, turmeric, ginger
• Olive Oil
• Lentils and Beans - black beans, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, soybeans
Cherries are a Summer favorite and can be enjoyed a variety of ways - baked in a pie, cut up and added to yogurt, or just eaten as they are. While they’re delicious and versatile, they also provide a wide variety of health benefits:
One cup of cherries yields 13% of your daily value (DV) of fiber to help keep you regular and increase healthy gut bacteria.
• Vitamin C
18% of your DV of vitamin C can be found in one cup of cherries. It’s useful for boosting your immune system and keeping your skin healthy.
You’ll find 10% of your daily potassium needs in the same one cup serving. This will help support proper nerve function, muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, and overall heart health.
• Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory
There are plant compounds in cherries that give them their red color but also provide you with benefits like protection against cell damage from free radicals as well as reducing inflammation in the body that can lead to chronic issues.
There aren’t many foods that contain melatonin, but cherries are one of them. This can help keep your sleep patterns regular and lead to a more refreshed self in the morning.
Recovery The multiple antioxidants and polyphenols in cherries have been shown to help speed up recovery from endurance and strength workouts so you can get back to the next session faster.
Vitamins & Minerals Vitamins A, B6, and K, as well as iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese can also be found in cherries.
There’s no shortage of options of oils to use in the kitchen, but if you’re looking at overall health benefits, one stands above the rest. Here are some reasons to reach for olive oil:
- Antioxidants & Vitamin E
Olive oil is a great source of antioxidants and Vitamin E, which provide numerous health benefits by fighting off oxidative stress, repairing damage done by free radicals, and reducing the likelihood of developing chronic diseases.
- Moderately High Smoke Point
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the fat molecules start to break apart and produce visible smoke. This breakdown creates harmful compounds, but olive oil has a high smoke point of about 400°F, which makes it a good choice for most cooking methods, even pan frying.
- Plant-based Source of Omegas
Olive oil is a good source of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in your body and reduce cholesterol. Additionally, plant-based fats like olive oil have been found to be healthier than animal fats.
- Antibacterial Properties
It’s been found that olive oil has the ability to kill harmful bacteria that can live in your stomach and cause ulcers.
- Healthy Fats
The main type of fat found in olive oil is monounsaturated fat, which is considered a healthy dietary fat. It’s been shown to lower your risk of heart disease and help improve overall cholesterol levels.
Fruit offers a variety of health benefits and is part of a healthy diet. If you’re having trouble working it into your daily meals, here are some ideas that can help make sure you’re getting some servings of fruit in.
1. Make your drinks fancy.
Adding fruit to water or club soda can be a delicious and refreshing way to switch things up. Raspberries, pineapple rings, and honeydew are good choices or consider cubing and freezing watermelon to use as ice cubes.
2. Add to salads.
You can add even more flavor to a salad by including fruit. Sliced apples, berries, and clementines compliment salad greens very well.
3. Make smoothies.
Fruit smoothies are great because they retain the fiber that comes from whole fruit. You can easily make a delicious smoothie with little more than a banana, some strawberries, and some milk. Try different combinations of fruits and consider adding Greek yogurt or peanut butter too. Just remember to watch the calories!
4. Grill your fruit.
We’ve been talking about grilling vegetables lately, but fruit should also be in the conversation. Pineapple is a great choice and if you’ve never grilled peaches, you’re missing out!
5. Make fruit salsa.
Adding some sweetness to salsa can take the flavor to the next level. Consider making your own salsa with Summer produce and try adding fruits like mango, pineapple, and apples for some sweet heat.
Earlier this week we went through some of the best vegetables you can throw on the grill. Now let’s take a look at some tips that will help you get them to grilled, smoky perfection.
1. Oil everything you’re going to grill.
This will keep things from sticking to the grill and also drying out. It makes seasonings stick better too.
2. Slice everything to the same thickness for each type of vegetable.
This will ensure all pieces of the same vegetable are done at the same time and you aren’t juggling more than you need to.
3. Pair similar items together when making kebabs.
Keep softer vegetables like tomatoes and mushrooms together and harder vegetables like onions and peppers on the same skewers to make it easier to manage everything on the grill for doneness.
4. Use foil to make things even easier.
Placing your veggies in foil will allow you to essentially steam them and require less attention when on the grill. You won’t get grill marks or as much smoky flavor, but it’ll still be delicious and easy to clean up.
5. Maximize surface area to maximize grilled flavor.
Keep your cuts big enough to avoid falling through the grates of the grill and remember that with more of the vegetable touching the grill, it’ll pick up more of that smoky caramelized flavor you’re after.