Do you think about making your meals as nutritious as possible, or do you often have a hard time to just get food on the table before rushing out the door again? Many families’ reality is the latter as they try to juggle the hectic schedules of both parents working full time, kids’ evening activities, social events, and all the other things that seem to get shoehorned into our overcrowded days.
To help you with healthy choices when preparing meals, I have put a list of menu ideas together. Basically, these ideas give you foods that are high on nutrients and low on calories. And preparing these nutritious foods can be simple – like popping a baking sheet covered in kale pieces in the oven for a little snack of kale chips, while waiting for dinner to be ready. It can also mean having a bowl of yogurt instead of a glass of milk, so that you will get both probiotics and calcium in a single serving.
Currently, I am incorporating some of these ideas into my family’s daily meals. The other evening I mashed avocado, fresh lemon juice and sea salt for a homemade salad dressing. It was nutritious and delicious – and, I am sure you will find, your family won’t even notice the differences (and you shouldn’t tell)!
Read on to get some ideas on preparing more nutrient dense meals to ensure that your family is getting what they need, even when your food prep may be rushed!
- Dress your salad with avocado instead of store bought creamy dressing. Puree avocado and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Or, dress your salad with plain yogurt, a dash of maple syrup and a dash of olive oil. Either one is delicious and nutritious! Toss with your salad mixture – mixed greens, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrot, and any other fruit or veggie you would like to throw in.
- Choose whole grain (the entire grain, including the fiber) instead of multi-grain. The multi-grains often have been refined and stripped of fiber and nutrients.
- Use white bean spread instead of mayo on sandwiches. Puree white beans with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. This gives you a blast of protein!
- Get your dairy from yogurt, not milk. Yogurt is rich in probiotics; beneficial bacteria that keeps digestion healthy, boosts immunity, and may protect against some cancers.
- Fortify your mashed potatoes. Use a combination of sweet potatoes, white potatoes and cauliflower. Cook together, drain and mash. Stir in olive oil instead of butter and load up with garlic instead of salt. Delicious!
- Choose dried apples over dates and cranberries. Did you know dried apples have half the sugar of other dried fruits?
- Buy pastured eggs. Apparently, eggs from hens raised on pasture contain five times more Vitamin D, twice as much Omega 3 fats, three times more Vitamin E, and seven times more Beta Carotene than other eggs.
- Don’t drink soda pop which is the epitome of empty calories! Instead make your own soda by mixing pomegranate juice, or another juice (not drink) with sparkling water.
- Eat a raw salad every day. Include three colours from five or more different sources – spinach and arugula (green) with peppers (yellow), carrots (orange), beets, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage (red). Having them washed, cut and stored in your fridge ready to eat, which makes it a lot easier when time is tight.
- To cut down on meat consumption, swap beans for meat. Cut meat in half when preparing stews, soups, chilies. You add fiber and you slash the fat.
- To get more nutrients for fewer calories, eat plants, instead of grains, for fiber.
- Get your calcium from greens. They contain fiber, beta carotene, and more nutrients than dairy products, with a fraction of the calories. One cup of cooked collards has as much calcium as a cup of milk.
- Skip store bought granola and make your own (and get the kids to help!). It’s easy and tastes so much better. Mix rolled oats, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and shredded coconut in a bowl. Stir in heated honey/or maple syrup, melted coconut oil. Layer on baking sheets and bake. Delicious in plain yogurt.
- Rethink your plate portions. At least 50 percent of your plate should be vegetables and you should have small portions of protein and starch.
- Try making cauliflower rice or cauliflower couscous to get cancer preventative nutrients! Chop cauliflower flowers in a food processor until tiny, and cook in ¼ inch of water. Add coconut oil, cumin, curry and dried apricots. Yummy!
- Boost your pasta sauce with a cup of pumpkin for beta carotene and added fiber. Or, puree cooked vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and stir into sauce for lots of nutrients and cancer fighting compounds.
- Homemade kale chips are delicious and packed with nutrients.
- If you and your kids like chocolate in all baked goods, make it count. Get raw cacao nibs (rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants) from the Bulk Barn and add to homemade muffins, cookies or smoothies.
- Try baking muffins with different grains to give your body a break from wheat. Add flax seeds, shredded carrots or zucchini, and ground nuts or seeds. Sweeten with mashed bananas or stewed dates.
- Purchase seaweed noodles for a change, instead of noodles made from grain. They are not only low in calories, but are rich in iodine.
That’s a list that should get your started! There are lots of other ideas out there; it’s just a matter of getting creative with your cooking. Have fun with it, don’t stress and you’ll find that as your body feels better eating these nutrient dense foods, you won’t crave the less healthy snack foods that are void of nutrients.
Let me know which of these ideas you have adopted in your weekly menus. I would also like to hear from you – please share some of your healthy eating ideas!
Connect with Lisa George, Registered Holistic Nutritionist – and take that first step towards a healthier lifestyle. The first consultation is complimentary. Contact 613-256-0506 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org