Tag Archives: Food and Health

5 Simple Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

How would you rate your eating habits?  Good? Bad? Or somewhere in the middle?

Are you willing to change your habits to ensure a healthy, nutritious way of eating?

If so, you are in luck – below are 5 simple guidelines for a healthy diet.

Rule #1

First and foremost . . .  buy all-natural, whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid packaged, prepared foods that are loaded with additives, fillers, and preservatives.

Guidelines for a Healthy Diet
Image by Tijana

Rule #2

Cook from scratch using high-quality, fresh ingredients. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on instant foods and packaged meals, learn to create dishes using fresh and healthy ingredients.

Prepare highly nutritious dishes without all the harmful additives, excessive sugars, and fats.

For example – Create casseroles using brown Basmati rice, low-fat milk, fresh vegetables, and lean meats or chicken. I guarantee there will be fewer calories (and no additives).

Yes – cooking from scratch takes more time to prepare and requires developing a rhythm for creating healthy dishes on a regular basis.

With practice, you will become more and more efficient and dinners will go together quickly.

You need to be on the lookout for tips and tricks on how to cook ahead (making a portion or all of the meal the night before – or cooking several meals on the weekend that you can freeze.

Then, you can have dinner on the table in under an hour. (A good place to start is with my book, Cook Ahead – Freezer to Table,)

Rule #3

Keep only healthy desserts and snacks in your pantry and fridge.

Children (and adults) love a tasty snack after school (or work).

  • Keep a freezer full of frozen snacks such as fruit juice popsicles and frozen fruit – blueberries and grapes are especially good.
  • Always have a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter (or in the fridge) – ready for kids to grab, peel and eat.
  • Place a bowl in the fridge of sliced fresh fruit or vegetables – with a dip. Low-fat sour cream and powdered sugar ready for sprinkling (or vanilla Greek yogurt) are great for fruit; and guacamole or hummus for the veggies.
  • Have cans or bags of nuts available for little hands to grab and eat.
  • Offer string cheese to nibble on. This provides quick protein for energy and calms the appetite until dinner.

Rule #4

Buy lean meats – Leaner cuts of meat are the best choice. Always cook a little more than your family will eat and use leftovers for healthier lunches and to create new dishes for an easy weekend meal.

Rule #5

Use healthier oils – My preference is olive oil, which is great for making salad dressings and also for cooking (but not for baking) – use pure canola oil for baking, when required.

If you are watching calories try scrambling eggs or sautéing foods, with cooking sprays. (My preference is PAM® Cooking Spray.) But, having said that, a little butter goes a long way and is much tastier.

There you have it – five simple guidelines for a healthy diet.

All you have to do is choose to follow them, and you will be on your way to a healthier, happier life.

You will look forward to each day with greater enthusiasm, you will have the energy to meet the demands of your busy life, and you will enjoy a wonderful sense of well-being.

The next post will include more specific suggestions on types of foods  to fill your pantry that will make eating healthy easier. 

 

Healthy Desserts

People of all ages enjoy desserts at the very least and many actually love dessert.  An ordinary dinner is better when dessert is part of the menu . . . and when the dessert is healthy, tasty and satisfying, that is even better.

Fresh Fruit Cup
Image by Susan Smith

Why are desserts so appealing?  Parents often use the promise of dessert to get their children to eat vegetables, etc. As the children grow older, desserts become the reward for a job well done, or used as a way to feel better when the blues set in, or even become a delicious habit that is difficult to change (or there is no desire to change). Some desserts – especially sweets and chocolate – can become an addiction that feels impossible to break. As a result, the desire for desserts is often seen in a negative light. In fact, rather than enjoying every bite, many people feel guilty when eating dessert because it has been pounded into their heads that desserts are bad for the body.

The good news is that all sweet foods are not bad for you. In moderation, desserts of all kinds are OK.  Of course, that means smart choices must be made. For example, fatty desserts should be eaten in small portions.

How would you like to enjoy dessert more often without worrying about the sugar and fat content or the calories?  Contrary to general belief, desserts do not have to be sugary sweet and filled with empty calories. There are many healthy dessert choices that do not fit that description.

Healthy Dessert Ideas

  1. Fruit and nuts – Fresh fruit is naturally sweet and can be a satisfying finish to any meal. Fruit can be served plain (whole) or peeled and sliced.  For an extra flair, top the fruits with various mixtures of nuts and a little brown sugar – OR – try my family’s favorite – fruit lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar and finished with a dollop of sour cream. Sliced pears and peaches are particularly tasty when topped with sour cream and nuts.

Finely chopped walnuts, pecans, and almond slivers are popular choices. But all nuts are filled with nutrients that improve health, including the cognitive function of the brain. (For more information on the subject, check out my book, Power Up Your Brain.)

Baked apples filled with brown sugar, nuts, and raisins mixed with a little butter can be a taste-delight reminiscent of a mini-apple pie (but healthier).

Finally, offer a nice selection of nuts to nibble on as the family sits around the table after dinner with cups of  fresh hot coffee.

  1. Dark chocolate – Current research shows that dark chocolate in moderation has many health benefits. Melt your own dark chocolate into candy molds and create lollipop treats for yourself and the kids. Also try dipping fresh strawberries in dark chocolate for a sweet finish for any meal or a tasty after school snack.
  1. Fruit ice – Make your own shaved ice with fruit juice or buy low-fat lemon ice pops that can usually be found at the grocery store. They have fewer calories than ice cream pops and are filled with fruit sweetness.
  1. Strawberry shortcake – Angel food cake and fresh strawberries with a small dollop of fresh, lightly sweetened whipped cream is a treat for anyone. For an even healthier dessert, bake your own cake and top with fresh strawberries sweetened with Stevia*, which creates a sweet syrup from the strawberries.
  1. Parfaits – These are not only a treat to the palate, but a treat to the eyes.  They can be made with diced or sliced fruit and layered with lightly sweetened (with Stevia*) whipped cream or homemade vanilla pudding made with skim milk. For a yummy chocolate treat – layer the parfait with homemade chocolate pudding (made with skim milk), and top with a little whipped cream and a few chocolate cookie crumbs or granola.
  1. Fruit pizzas – Make sugar cookie dough and roll out like small pizzas.  The “sauce” is made with cream cheese lightly sprinkled with sugar. You can also try pure peanut butter, low fat cream cheese (or a mixture of the two) topped with slices of your favorite fruit (sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries, etc.).
  1. Gelatin – This is a long-standing family dessert that many of us remember from childhood. Make your favorite gelatin and add complementary fruit pieces  (strawberry-flavored gelatin with strawberries and bananas). Serve topped with whipped cream or light sour cream – sprinkled with finely chopped nuts or shredded coconut.

Keep your family healthier by making your own desserts from scratch for better flavor and fewer calories – without all the additives. ENJOY!

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”12″ size_format=”px”]*Stevia comes from a plant that contains natural sweeteners that are used in foods and has a negligible effect on blood glucose.[/typography]

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