Back in 2012, a whopping 52% of polled Americans confessed that they think it’s harder to select healthy foods than it is to complete their taxes. Even if you can easily figure out what to eat and what to avoid, you might find it difficult to motivate yourself to consume nutritious meals. Perhaps you hate the taste of vegetables or worry that healthy food lacks flavor, or maybe you think preparing nutritious recipes requires too much work. Good eating habits can help combat many things like heart disease, chronic pain and depression, so it’s worth the effort you can try to eat better. If you can relate to any of these roadblocks to healthy living, check out our 3 simple ways to sneak nutritious foods into your diet.
Sauce and Seasoning Swap
Flip over your favorite bottle of marinade, salad dressing, or seasoning and check out the nutritional information. Many sauces and condiments contain large amounts of salt and sugar, as well as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. You may also notice your favorite condiments have a high fat and calorie content.
The American Heart Association says it’s ideal for adults to consume 1,500 milligrams of sodium or less per day, but the average American consumes more than twice that amount. You can find 1,725 milligrams of sodium in 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and many people use more than that to season a single meal. If you’re adding salad dressing or another condiment to your meal, your sodium content may jump even higher.
Instead of seasoning your food with salt, try pepper or fresh herbs. Here are some herbs commonly used in recipes:
If you already use herbs in your recipes but find it hard to part with sauces or dressings, here are some possible substitutes:
● Mashed avocado
● Olive oil
● Lemon or lime juice
You can also try making homemade condiments so that you can keep the ingredients clean and limit the amount of salt or sugar you consume.
The United States Department of Agriculture generally recommends that adults eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day. If that sounds like an impossible task, consider hiding veggies in everyday recipes. You can also hide fruit if you aren’t a fan of sweet produce.
Here are some ways to sneak fruits and veggies into your diet:
● Add spinach to a smoothie
● Puree broccoli and add it to macaroni and cheese or an omelette
● Hide pureed zucchini or sweet potatoes in brownies
● Add mashed potatoes to cookies
● Make pudding out of avocado and cocoa powder
● Stir pureed veggies into soup or a creamy sauce
● Prepare waffles with butternut squash
● Replace cheese with creamy pumpkin puree
● Use riced cauliflower instead of traditional grains
Instead of hiding ingredients you don’t like, you may want to find new ways to prepare them. Fresh herbs, melted cheese, and freshly ground pepper disguise the taste of vegetables. If you hate soggy veggies, try steaming them so they retain their crispness. You can also grill them, bake them, or fry them, but make sure not to fry foods on a regular basis. Fried food generally aren’t healthy.
Many people find it difficult to imagine a meal without meat, but reducing your meat consumption can help you cut back on calories and fat in your diet. Try to leave meat out of one meal each day if you can; if not, schedule a Meatless Monday every week where your dinner focuses on grains and vegetables rather than meat.
If you’re skipping meat during one of your meals, you need to make sure you get plenty of protein from other sources. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, and you can make a creamy sauce out of peanut butter or cashew butter for your vegetarian meal. Alternately, you can snack on fresh fruit dipped in almond butter after dinner. If you have a nut allergy, try a butter made from sunflower seeds.
Here are some ideas for meatless meals:
● Stir-fry with tofu
● Omelet loaded with fresh veggies
● Mushroom soup
● Eggplant lasagna
● Veggie burgers
● Curry made with tofu, mushrooms, and peppers
If you can’t part with meat, even for one meal, consider replacing red meat with fish or turkey. Depending on your portion size and preparation method, fish and poultry are often healthier options than fat-filled hamburger or steak.
You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet if you want to make healthy choices. You can still enjoy many of your favorite foods by trying the simple tips above.