Whether you have certain family members with special dietary requests such as low-carb, vegan, keto, or something else… you know that there are a few different ways to approach calorie intake, and some are more healthy than others.
Below, find some tips, hints and friendly reminders on how to maximize the nutritional value of the foods you eat, no matter what kind of food fad you’re embracing this month.
Limit the amount of processed foods your family eats. Even though we all love boxed mac and cheese, did you know it’s so easy to make from scratch? Just boil up some noodles, then drain.
Add butter (grass-fed is healthier), organic milk or half and half, and some easy melting cheese like cheddar, American, and even Parmesan if you want a little more tang in your mac.
Turn the heat to low, and stir until everything melts together into a yummy, gooey, cheesy sauce. There are plenty of other convenience foods, like instant oatmeal, that you can make the long version from scratch without batting a brow. So much healthier… plus, cooking from scratch is good for the soul.
Eat yogurt with everything. Make plain yogurt a permanent item on your grocery shopping list, and learn how to cook with it and serve as a side with breakfast, lunch, and even dinner.
Yogurt contains active cultures which give the gut flora a healthy boost. You can eat yogurt in the morning with fruit, nuts, and/or granola.
If you’re dipping cut-up veggies with lunch or as an afternoon snack, add a dollop of plain yogurt to your favorite ranch dressing.
At dinner time, sub in plain yogurt for sour cream, and serve with Mexican favorites like tacos and burritos, or add a spoon or two to your favorite vegetarian soup. Chicken tenderizes beautifully in yogurt and spices. What else can you think up to make with yogurt?
Consider seasonal foods for the highest nutritional value and freshness factor. Do you enjoy gardening in the spring and summer?
Cool to warm seasons like spring and fall bring nutrition in the form of cold-loving veggies like lettuce, kale, broccoli, carrots, turnips, collards, and spinach. Hot weather yields fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant, to name a few.
Even if you can’t find time for a backyard garden, you can make pit stops at the local farmer’s market on your way home from work or running errands. Stock up for the 5-day work week, and keep a mental (or physical) checklist of what veggies are in your crisper so you won’t let anything go waste.
Avoid any food that’s been processed into a powder and can fit into a box, pouch or carton. For example, those powdered gravy mixes that come to life when heated with water.
Powdered lemonade or ice tea mixes are easy to replace by squeezing a few lemons into a pitcher of water or brewing iced tea at home.
Even those trendy designer “good for you” chips and crackers sprinkled with mysteriously addictive, flavored powders, should be minimized. The exception would be if you read the list of ingredients and find there’s only salt, pepper, and natural spices and herbs.
Don’t overcook. Red meat should be cooked medium-rare to medium to ensure that pathogens are destroyed on the surface but the nutritional content remains intact on the inside. Cooked vegetables should retain their color and be crisp.
Stir-frying is better than boiling veggies, as vitamins and minerals leach into the cooking water which we usually toss instead of drink (consider drinking the cooking water next time you cook some spinach!). Soups should be simmered slowly rather than boiled rapidly, to retain the nutrients.
Grass-fed trumps feedlot every time. More people are becoming aware of the crowded and disease-ridden conditions that animals on feedlot farms must endure before they become food on our table or at the drive-through window of your favorite fast-food establishment.
To get the most nourishment from meats, invest in a bulk meat share where you can freeze a large quantity of grass-fed beef, pork, or free-range chicken in the name of your family’s health. To save money, eat smaller portions of meat, subbing in healthy veggie and fish alternatives.
Make your own stock and broth. Bone broth is trending right now because people are once again realizing something that the old-timers have known for generations.
Animal bones contain important minerals that help strengthen our bones, protect our immune systems, and nourish our bodies overall. Even better if the animal comes from a small local farm where it was permitted to graze on grass outside in the healing sunlight.