National Nutrition Month is an educational campaign put on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help individuals and families learn how to eat better for health and for life. Scientific research has shown that nutrition is one of the leading lifestyle factors in health promotion and disease prevention throughout life. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Taste preference is one of the strongest reasons for why we choose the foods we do. Sometimes, these menu items are not as nutritious for us and overconsumption of them can lead to health consequences.
Health food is often the punch line of many jokes. Even Oikos, a brand of yogurt, uses the tagline “too delicious to be nutritious.” It is common to accept that health foods and good-tasting foods are not the same foods. I am here to prove that statement wrong. Healthy foods can be quite delicious and all it takes is a tablespoon of patience, an ounce of adventure, a ¼ cup of prep-time and a dash of good seasoning.
Here are some quick tips to lead you towards making healthier and tasty meals.
Spice it up! Many of my patients state that they do not like vegetables. I agree; that frozen bag of mixed vegetables (you know what I’m referring to—the carrot, peas, green beans, corn and lima bean mix) typically does not excite my taste buds either. However, we know that vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods for us and we should be consuming them on a daily (even meal-y) basis. This is why when I prepare vegetables; I am constantly adding new flavors and textures to them by using different cooking methods and a variety of spice combinations. Vegetables aren’t the only foods worthy of getting the spice treatment. Meats and nuts are also excellent candidates for experimenting with new spice and herb blends/marinades. Here’s a sample of how I like to flavor my vegetables :
- Cut carrots and zucchini into 4 inch sticks. Lay a single row of vegetables on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (no more than 1 ½ tbsp) and season with a pre-made Italian herb spice mix. Cook in oven at 425oF for about 40 minutes (turning ½ way through) or until desired tenderness is achieved.
Be adventurous. Do you typically order the same thing over and over when you go out to eat? Try mixing up your order and go with the fish special or vegetable of the day instead of the standard burger and fries. Take this adventuresome attitude with you as you are grocery shopping too. Try to make it a point to try one new vegetable or one new fruit with each shopping trip. Until this past year, I had never really tried any of the winter squashes (butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash). Now, I buy them with almost every shopping trip and they have become a household favorite!
Detox from fast food. Many of us are accustomed to high sugar, high salt meals that come from fast food and even sit-down restaurants. One thing that we learned from Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Super Size Me” is that bad food is addictive! Sometimes to break an addiction, you need to cut it out cold turkey. This will also give you the opportunity to focus on home-cooked meals that are less processed and made with healthier ingredients.
Choose seasonal produce. Fruits and vegetables taste best when they are in season (and don’t forget they are also cheaper when in season too). This can be a tough time of year for buying seasonal produce since the more popular options are not in season until late Spring/early Summer; however, this is where being adventurous and trying new foods comes in handy! Plus there are several produce items that are in season almost all year round such as bell peppers, avocados, bananas, snow peas, mushrooms, onions and carrots to name a few! Check this out to see a complete list of seasonal produce.