Advice on healthy eating: Make it yourself and keep it simple

Healthy Food As the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and even Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day for those who like to feast all through the winter – wind down, many people find themselves in a bit of a...

Healthy Food
Healthy Food

As the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and even Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day for those who like to feast all through the winter – wind down, many people find themselves in a bit of a food coma. Whether they realize it or not, they’ve become accustomed to eating to excess on so many festive occasions that they have forgotten how to eat right despite making this a New Year’s resolution. (Perhaps this is why a two-thirds majority of Americans are overweight?) And all the advice on healthy eating that we hear on TV seems to drive home what most of us already know but (think we) don’t really want to do: eat our vegetables. That means eat a salad and be hungry all day, right?

Not necessarily. If lavish meals have become your habit, think of healthy eating as a break from all the work in the kitchen because, in many ways, it is. For example, seasoned home cooks don’t consider a pasta dinner a major culinary feat: boil the pasta, make a basic sauce from a can of crushed tomatoes and some herbs and spices, add in whatever else you like and you’re done. If your goal is to make this a “healthy” meal, think about what your goals are for improving your health and how any minor changes to your typical pasta dinner will help get you closer to meeting those goals. If you want to lose weight and maybe also improve your blood pressure, consider how you can reduce the sodium and fat content without sacrificing flavor. For example, instead of sautéing any veggies in olive oil or butter, substitute a dry white or red wine or even a combination of low-sodium soy sauce, garlic powder and onion powder that will give your sauce an u mami or “meaty” flavor without any added fat. If you like to add meat to your pasta sauce, opt for lean meats and make room for some veggies, too: diced bell pepper, onion and mushrooms are all great in pasta sauce. As far as the pasta itself is concerned, using whole wheat pasta instead of white will add fiber to your meal, prolonging your sense of fullness after the meal without adding calories. The additional fiber is good for your digestive tract, too. If parmesan and other cheeses are your downfall when it comes to pasta, go out on a limb and consider crumbling in some pressed extra-firm tofu about halfway through the cook time for the sauce. The tofu will absorb all the flavors in the sauce and add protein to the meal, which also increases satiety. Tofu also works surprisingly well as a stand-in for ricotta. Mix some fresh herbs, salt and pepper into a bowl full of crumbled tofu, and you’ve got yourself a great, low-fat filling for stuffed shells!

Many people think of healthy eating as a form of self-torture, but it need not be. Pasta aside, there are many delicious alternatives to the foods we think we want, and every traditional home-cooked meal can be made lighter and leaner without sacrificing flavor. Contact us to learn more about eating healthy and loving it in 2014.