#SquashGoals and Other Tasty Tips for a Healthy 2016
Forget deprivation. Focus on eating more of the good stuff. Here are 5 foods to add to your daily diet for a healthier you in the new year.
"This year I'm going to lose weight."
"I'm going to eat healthy."
"I'm going to give up all things caloric and carby and sweet!"
How many times have we all said this? Or rolled our eyes listening to someone else say that when the clock strikes midnight they will become an entirely different person (and eater)?
This year, don't make vague, unrealistic promises that are impossible to keep. Focus on the good stuff - eating food!
Research has shown that the more specific and attainable a goal, the more likely we are to follow through. So instead of saying,“I'm going to eat more fruits and vegetables,” opt for something that holds you accountable. Like aiming to eat five different colors every day. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is, how much fun meal planning becomes and how it pushes your palate in a naturally healthy direction. Here's a list of 5 nutritional and colorful foods to start incorporating into your daily diet:
1. Dark leafy greens
You knew kale would be on the list. But what about collard and mustard greens and Swiss chard? Dark leafy greens are the Gronk of veggies - nutritional powerhouses that thrive in the winter chill, and are packed with vitamins A, C and K. And they're wicked easy to cook with. You can add them to smoothies with Greek yogurt and fruit, sauté them with olive oil, salt and pepper, or add them to your winter soups.
2. Citrus fruits
This is the time of year to indulge in sweet citrus fruits, which are just coming into season. Think lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and clementines. These fruits may help alleviate the winter sniffles with a hefty dose of vitamin C, and also contain flavonoids -- antioxidants that help protect the body from cell-damaging free radicals. Get the most from citrus by eating the white membranes of the fruit (trust me, it's worth it), which provide as much as five times more antioxidants and fiber than a glass of juice. You can also add these sweet-tart beauties to a variety of salads; combos like beet and grapefruit, or avocado and oranges. Or stay hydrated by placing sliced lemon and lime in your water bottle. And don’t underestimate the boost of an afternoon snack pack containing two clementines.
3. Anything orange on the inside
I'm not talking about the Halloween Oreos you've had squirreled away since October. Sweet potato, carrots and winter squashes like butternut, acorn, delicata and spaghetti squash, are healthy staples to include in your winter pantry. Most contain vitamin A and cholesterol-fighting fiber and heart-healthy potassium. Swap out white potatoes with sweet potatoes in a recipe for more color and a sweeter taste. Roast butternut squash with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper (375 degrees for 30-35 minutes) and serve on top of a cool salad with kale and dried cranberries, or in a warm salad of sautéed spinach, tomato and onions. You can also puree carrots, onions and garlic for a savory, warm soup. And if you're a pasta lover, consider replacing spaghetti squash for your noodles. It has about one fifth the calories of traditional pasta and is chock full of fiber. Add marinara sauce and chicken, and voilà, dinner!
Folks go nuts for nuts, but forget about seeds. Grab a handful! They're an excellent source of fiber and can keep you full throughout the day. Pumpkin seeds in particular are a great source of protein, niacin, iron, magnesium and zinc. And sunflower seeds are another go-to; they contain mono and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower heart disease risk. Add them to your salads or mix them with dried cranberries and walnuts for an omega 3-rich trail mix. If you're a baker, add a handful to your next batch of quick breads or muffins. Yum!
5. Unconventional breakfast grains
Time to ditch the processed cereal box. Oats are the way to go. They're an energy boosting breakfast staple packed with fiber that help maintain your body weight and lower bad cholesterol. Add fresh or frozen berries, a sprinkle of nuts and some cinnamon to your morning bowl to add texture and pump up flavor.
Or try Muesli. Developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximillian Bircher-Benner, Muesli is known for its high amounts of fiber and antioxidants. It generally contains raw rolled oats and a healthy mix of grains, fresh or dried fruits, seeds and nuts. Mix it with milk (be it cow, soy, or almond) or stir it into yogurt. Or add liquid to your Muesli in the evening, allowing the oats to soak it up in the fridge overnight for a super-fast breakfast. My favorite Muesli preparation is a bowl of Kashi Cherry Cinnamon & Cardamom Overnight Muesli with almond milk.
Setting a goal to eat better doesn't mean commiting to just rice cakes and broccoli. When you make resolutions, remember to keep them realistic and specific. It's a fun challenge to focus on finding ways to get delicious and nutrient-filled options into your regular diet. So this year, why not resolve to swapping some color for those less healthful items on your grocery list. It all starts with one day, one meal or one great ingredient at a time.