Author: Registered Dietitian Megan Hall
As consumers, we’re constantly bombarded with messages about fad diets and the different healthy foods we should eat. We see these messages on magazine covers, social media postings and TV.
So what makes this article different? It’s written by a registered dietitian – an expert in food in nutrition. As an expert in nutrition, I have seven tricks to share to make eating right easy and enjoyable.
- Don’t cut out temptation completely. I don’t know about you, but when I’m told I can’t have something, it makes me want it even more. So instead of cutting out your favorite treats completely, shoot for once or twice a week, and try to find healthier alternatives. If you have a sweet tooth, try fulfilling your cravings with fresh fruit or smoothies.
- Use healthier dressings and dips. It’s amazing how fast calories, fat and sodium stack up when using the wrong dips or dressings. Choose dressings that are oil-based like vinaigrettes or brands that are yogurt-based. Also, utilize healthier dips such as hummus or guacamole in place of mayo and butter on sandwiches or to add flavor to raw veggies like carrots, celery and bell peppers.
- Snack smart. Snacking may help boost energy between meals and, if done right, can be a great way to supply your body with more vitamins and minerals. Another way to snack smart is being mindful of portions. Purchase “snack-sized” foods that are pre-portioned for you or buy in bulk and portion into baggies at home. Choose between options such as nuts, string cheese, popcorn, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruit.
- Transform pasta night. Pasta can be part of a healthy diet as long as you get a little creative. Instead of traditional boxed white pasta, use a spiralizer to make noodles with zucchini. Or try using pasta made from beans, peas or lentils. Lastly, load up on veggies including mushrooms, spinach and broccoli, or add a side salad to your meal and cut down on the portion of pasta you eat.
- Use shortcuts. Take advantage of pre-cut fruits and vegetables that are ready to grill and bake. These are perfect for busy weeknights. Combine with eggs for an omelet, use the steam-able bags as a quick side dish, or add to cooked steak, chicken or shrimp for a fajita, quesadilla, or stir-fry like the Asian veggie stir-fry recipe below.
- Use pre-cooked protein. Rotisserie chicken is a quick and simple solution to dinner. It’s extremely versatile and can be used as a base for sandwiches, wraps, pasta, enchiladas, quesadillas, pizza toppings and more. Have canned salmon, tuna and chicken on hand to add to salads and entrees.
- Utilize herbs and spices to please your palate. Life’s too short to eat bland food and there are so many ways to add flavor to your meals without additional sodium or fat. Fresh herbs are a great option, but you can also try frozen herbs from your local grocery store. I like to keep these on hand in case I don’t have fresh.
I hope these seven tips make managing your diet easy and more enjoyable. If you’re looking for a healthy recipe to try, I recommend the Asian veggie stir-fry below. It’s easy to whip up on a weeknight and you can easily add some protein such as chicken or lean beef.
Asian Veggie Stir-Fry
All you need:
- 2 peanut oil, divided
- 1 finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 6 cups assorted fresh vegetables, thinly sliced or chopped, such as carrots, broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, red onions, bell peppers and snow peas
- 1 tbsp. thinly sliced green onion
- Kosher sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 1 sesame oil
- 1 toasted sesame seeds, optional
All you do:
- Heat 1 tsp. peanut oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook and stir for 10 to 15 seconds or until they become fragrant.
- Add carrots and broccoli, if using; cook and stir for 3 minutes.
- Add remaining 1 tsp. peanut oil, green onion and vegetables; cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in sesame oil; toss to coat. If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 60 calories, 2.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 20mg sodium, 8g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g sugar, 2g protein.
About the Author
Megan Hall is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Medical Nutrition Therapist. She attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Health Science and Nutrition Science and Dietetics with a minor in Psychology. She completed a Dietetic Internship in Augusta, Georgia, through the Augusta Area Dietetic Internship program.