No matter how much we may wish to deny it, we are indeed what we eat. Evidence keeps on piling up, continuing to confirm this uncomfortable fact.
The end of each year is a time that many choose to reflect upon habits they would like to eliminate or change. While pondering the positive paths you want to take during 2013, think carefully about food choices you made this year that you wish you had not. Did you load up on calories without paying attention to real nutrition for optimum wellbeing? Did you eat foods filled with too much salt and processed sugar, but not enough naturally sweet fruits, nuts and vegetables? Have you overlooked the effect that eating oversize portions, filled with saturated fat and fillers, has had on your body?
If you are hosting a holiday party, or taking a dish over to a gathering, why not make something yummy that is also surprisingly healthful? Start the New Year by promoting everyone’s good health!
If year’s end has you thinking about what kind of life diet you wish to follow, take the time to wander along the aisles of local Asian and ethnic markets, as well as some of the larger weekend flea markets with produce stands. Though it is winter, many offer a great variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and other cooking related ingredients and accessories, usually at more reasonable prices than supermarket chains. Such delicious flavor-enhancing ingredients as ginger and garlic, as well as fresh parsley, basil and cilantro, can be less expensive and fresher than those at larger neighboring stores. Ethnic stores also offer different varieties of rice, mushrooms, noodles, wraps, tortillas, seasonings and other goods that might be difficult to find elsewhere.
Eating your vegetables does not have to be a bitter, unpleasant or bland experience. While spending more time inside this winter, plan to use the hours in a productive and positive way. Improving your knowledge of how to cook with new and less familiar fruits and vegetables is an educational way to spend extended periods indoors. The internet is flooded with information on how to cook both favorite recipes and lesser known foods as well. Some of the more infrequently used vegetables can be a nutritious addition or substitute in old favorite recipes.
Add chopped segments of blood orange to salads, to increase Vitamin C content and help alleviate arthritis pain. Like red cabbage, eggplant skin, blackberries and blueberries, blood orange flesh is pigmented with the antioxidant anthocyanin. Red grapes, purple corn and cherries are also rich in this cell nurturing flavonoid.
Use freshly chopped basil in some of your favorite dishes. Add it after cooking has finished, or during the last minute of cooking for a super-charged bright taste. Stir it into just cooked pasta before serving.
Include freshly chopped herbs in lasagna that contains vegetables such as red bell peppers, carrots, red onions, button mushrooms, zucchini, celery and jalapenos. Use whole grain lasagna noodles to increase fiber content.
Add sweetness to mashed potatoes by cooking and mashing with them a parsnip or two. This is a great topping for shepherd’s pie as well.
Sweet potatoes, considered to be one of the most nutritious vegetables on earth, are a delicious way to bring diabetics, athletes, appearance-conscious teens and parents together during family gatherings. Sweet enough on their own, these tubers can be boiled, mashed, sautéed and baked with a dash of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, a little honey or a drizzle of maple syrup, without the need to smother them in marshmallows. Diabetics can enjoy a more stable blood sugar level, since they are a low glycemic food. The potassium rich sweet potato can ease athletes’ muscle cramps and help to calm stress. The beta-carotene contained in sweet potatoes converts into cell repairing Vitamin A, helping young and older skin to glow.
Use acorn squash cubed in winter soups for a fiber-rich and Vitamin A and C loaded boost.
Sauté sliced fennel bulb with mushrooms, garlic and red onions. Then, coat with a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, hot pepper flakes and lemon zest to get a good dose of minerals and Vitamin C.
Instead of plain white flour, use white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour for baked goods.
If you are looking to make wiser food choices next year, then get to know some healthful fruit and vegetable based recipes that will give you a lift no matter what time of day it is.
Fruit and vegetable entrees and sides:
- Quick fruit and veggie recipes on the Produce for Better Health website
- Pot luck healthy recipes
- Vegetable lasagna and more
This Government site lists hundreds of recipes, and provides the nutritional data per serving and even the estimated cost:
United States Department of Agriculture recipes
Try some of the dessert suggestions at these sites:
- Health Magazine dessert recipes
- Cooking Light favorite dessert recipes
- Mayo Clinic recipes
Festive fruit-based drinks, with and without alcohol:
- Fruity cocktail drinks
- Non alcoholic party drinks
During the holiday, you, your family, your guests, or your hosts can all benefit from a health boosting menu. Shouldn’t we be deciding to treat our own health and that of others with importance?
This New Year, let’s place emphasis on feeling well enough to cope with life’s uncertainties. This is a Government website that may offer some useful tips and ideas on how to keep a healthy diet for life.
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