Main Nutritious Intent Website

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Deconstructing Salad: Tastiest Main Dish Ever!

Salad is an ancient idea, but it’s taken a while to come into it’s own in America.  Salads aren’t just for side dishes or rabbit food anymore. Here are three tips to step up your salad game and bring it into the main dish spotlight.

Following the Choose My Plate guidelines of ½ produce, ¼ grains and ¼ protein makes for a great main dish salad recipe.  Keep the backbone ingredients healthful and balanced, and the smaller, cameo-type ingredients such as dressings and toppings in balance and you’ll have a nutritious meal to get excited about.

Here are three simple but satisfying salad recipe ideas to demonstrate this pattern:

Caprese-Cobb Panzanella Salad

Toss together:
2 cups chopped tomato or halved grape tomatoes
1 cup torn basil
2 cups stale bread cubes (torn and toasted is my favorite)
1/2 cup fresh small mozzarella balls (perlini)
2 hard boiled eggs chopped
2 slices crisp bacon crumbled
Toss with vinaigrette of your choice and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Chicken, Barley and Edamame Salad

Toss together:
1 cup roasted or grilled chicken, bite sized
1 cup cooked whole grain of your choice (barley, quinoa, brown rice, or bulgur work well)
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup red pepper chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup edamame
Toss with your favorite asian dressing or mix a little soy and honey with a basic vinaigrette and toss.  Serve over a bed of greens.

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Salad

Toss together:
1 cup grilled corn cut off the cob
1 cup black beans
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups mixed greens
Toss with your favorite southwest dressing, or combine equal parts salsa and vinaigrette.  Serve with toasted corn tortillas or corn chips.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Avoid Summer Nutrition Pitfalls

While summer seems ideally suited to optimal nutrition with all the in-season produce available, we often drop the ball when it comes to our eating habits in the summer.  Here are a few tips to keep your health on track during some of the most action-packed months of the year.  Here are some things to consider when it comes to your summer nutrition:

Make a plan:
School’s out, kids are home and to your dismay, they want to be fed. . . all the time!    Use this to your advantage and involve your children in planning meals and snacks.  Making a menu and using it to plan your grocery list will save plenty of grief at mealtime.  Good nutrition doesn’t just spontaneously happen, you have to have a plan in place. 
And while you’re at it, plan to involve your kids in meal prep during the summer so they can learn some much needed life skills before they’re on their own.

Snack wisely:
Plan, choose and shop carefully for snack foods.   Then, once you’re home, consider where they should live in your kitchen.  Keeping fruit in the fridge and cookies on the counter doesn’t set yourself up for success in the eating department. 
Keep some produce on the counter and maybe even some nuts.  Keep high-fiber, low sugar snacks at eye level in the pantry, and store the play-foods more out of sight so that it becomes an intentional choice, not just mindless munching.

Up your produce game:
One of the best ways to eat more fruits and veggies is to grow your own.  Even if you don’t end up with a bumper crop, it sparks interest in eating more produce.  It’s not too late to put some lettuce seeds in a planter or get a tomato plant in a pot on the patio if you don’t have traditional garden space.  Find a friend that is participating in a community garden and trade some weeding time for fresh produce. 

Don’t take a vacation from healthful eating:

Trips and travel can make good nutrition a challenge, but it is certainly possible to keep some good habits in place while on vacation. 
Don’t drink your calories, watch your portions while eating out and make an effort to get lots of fruits and veggies in during your trip. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Campfire Nutrition

Camping is a fun way to get away from the routine and pace of everyday life that can be a relaxing and healthy outing with the family.  You don’t want to come home from spending time in the great outdoors with garbage gut so here are some ways to keep the yum factor and the nutrition factor high on your next camping trip that are just as great in the backyard as in the mountains. 

The same nutrition rules apply: drink water, incorporate lots of produce, and minimize processed foods.

·      Omelets in a bag.  In a freezer strength, zip-top bag crack a couple eggs add some chopped veggies, a dash of salt and pepper and possibly a sprinkle of cheese.  Close securely; squish the bag and place in a pot of boiling water.  Boil for 10-15 minutes.  Serve with a whole grain English muffin toasted over the fire and some fresh fruit. 
·      Oatmeal.  Individual packets are very convenient for camping.  Be sure to choose unsweetened oatmeal and then after adding some boiling water, everyone can flavor their own oatmeal to taste with dried or fresh fruit, nuts and honey.  Add a serving of fruit and wash it down with some milk (shelf-stable is great for camping). 
·      Sandwich or salad fixings are ideal for camping and the veggies can serve a dual purpose by moonlighting as a side for dinner, or an addition to a tinfoil dinner.  Don’t forget lots of veggies, fruits and plenty of water.  If your family would riot without some sort of chips, choose ones with a simple ingredient list and keep the portion sizes in check by choosing pre-portioned bags or portioning your own before you leave. 
·      Tinfoil dinner.  Excellent and tasty way to incorporate lots of veggies into a meal.  Load up on a variety of delicious veggies (sweet or white potatoes, corn on the cob chunks, onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, celery, even spinach or chard) then add some lean protein (try a mix of beans for a vegetarian option), then season it up without overdoing the salt by using strong flavors like onion or garlic powder, smoked paprika, chipotle pepper, or your favorite herbs.
·      Hotdogs.  Choose your dog wisely – going with nitrite free, lower sodium options and putting it on a whole-grain bun, help keep the nutrition high.  Make sure to round the meal out with some tasty salad, fruit or fresh veggies. 

·      Baked apples.  Carve the core out of an apple, fill it with some trail mix or any leftover oatmeal topping from breakfast, wrap it in foil and toss it in the coals for 30 or so minutes. 

·      S’mores.  Sometimes s’mores just have to happen or else the camping trip isn’t complete.  If this is the case for you, avoid extra jumbo marshmallows and stick with traditional sized ones.  Try to use a whole grain graham cracker – 2 g fiber per serving, and go with a darker chocolate that will be higher in fiber and lower in sugar.  The key is portion control.  Saving s’mores for after the meal will help keep this traditional camping dessert from derailing the healthiness of your camping experience.

Shape Up Your BBQ

Memorial Day signals the start of one of the tastiest times of the year – BBQ season.  Here are a few tips to keep your BBQ spread in great shape all summer long.

Try to go with water when possible.   Tradition may dictate homemade root beer once in a while, but anytime you can avoid drinking your calories, it’s a win.

On the grill:
Meats –  Grilled meats can have elevated levels of carcinogens, so avoid excessive charring or burning, and when possible marinate your meat, poultry, etc. since the marinade will help prevent the formation of these harmful substances.
Veggies – Don’t forget to toss some veggies on the grill (marinades work great here as well).  Swapping out a portabella mushroom cap for a burger patty is amazingly delicious.  If grilling helps you increase your intake of produce – bring it on!

When it comes to salads and side dishes, remember to keep cool things cool and hot things hot.  You don’t want food poisoning to be the hallmark of your BBQ. 
Again – up the veggie and fruit content. 
Selecting seasonal produce will ensure delicious dishes while keeping nutrition high and calories low. 

Think fruit.  Whether you’ve got grilled peaches or pineapple topped with some ice cream, or a fruit plate with a salted caramel dip, try to incorporate fruit into your dessert. 

Keep your eye on the clock:
Don’t get so carried away with that killer croquet game that you forget to put your foods back in the fridge.  2 hours is the maximum time you can safely leave foods out. 

With just a few tweaks to some traditional favorites, you can savor BBQ season without sacrificing your own svelte shape.