21st Century Nutrition

Why it Can Be Difficult to Eat Healthily in this Modern Age

In anyone’s life, their health is one of the most important issues. It becomes even more important when it is impaired by obesity or disease. Once you sift through the myriad of websites and articles regarding the right foods for a healthy body, it actually seems pretty simple to just eat foods that are good for us. Experts tell us, over and over, to eat raw fruits and vegetables. They give us instruction on finding meats that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They offer alternatives to processed wheat with delicious whole grain breads and pastas. So why is it so difficult for us to maintain a healthy diet? This question plagues dieticians and physicians all over the world. Even though we understand the health benefits of nutritious foods, why do we still choose to eat those foods that are considered unhealthy?

When asked why they do not eat healthy foods, many people answer that they just do not have the time. In the majority of families, both parents work full-time jobs and the children attend school daily. This means that arriving at home after a long work day and preparing a complete dinner is not always simple.

Single parent households seem to have even less time available for meal preparation. With just a single parent available to shop for, prepare and serve each meal, the task can become quite daunting. The process, including clean-up, can take several hours. Ready-made dinners and prepackaged meals are an alternative to cooking an entire dinner, but the cost is pretty high. Many of these dinners offer decent taste but are filled with fat and sodium. For adults and children, this can lead to high blood pressure and many other cardiac issues later in life. Picking up a meal from a restaurant or fast-food establishment is so quick and convenient that it is no wonder that many people choose this option for feeding the family. But again, these foods can be loaded with fat and salt, making them a very unhealthy alternative to homemade meals.

The time that it takes to shop at a farmer’s market or whole foods store can also be a limiting factor in dietary health. Many families just do not have the time to drive the extra miles or set aside the day to visit a fresh farmer’s market. Many families do not have access to these markets because they are simply not available in their area. Access to whole and organic foods can be difficult, especially when a family lives in an urban setting. Even though there is a health trend toward organic foods and foods purchased during local seasons, not every person has the time or ability to purchase these foods.

Cost is another reason often given when people are asked about their dietary choices. Boxed and canned dinners can be much less expensive than having to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and organic meats. The organic vegetable and fruit trend is definitely a step in the right direction for healthy diets, but the cost can be substantial. Organic items can cost 2 to 3 times more than the standard items in grocery stores. Fresh fruits and vegetables are almost always more expensive than canned or frozen varieties, so how can a family on a budget afford these foods? 

Many families, especially at this time, have extremely limited income and this means their food budget can be stretched very thin. Purchasing fresh foods requires several trips to the market or trips to several markets. This means that even more money will be spent in gathering the items required for meals. In this day and age, many people just do not have the money. On a tightly monitored budget, canned and frozen vegetables and fruits will go further than the fresh ones will. 

Availability is another issue when it comes to eating healthy foods. If there are no fresh alternatives available, of course a family will turn to frozen or prepackaged foods. Keeping a supply of fresh items in the home comes down to knowing how to shop. Rather than a weekly trip to the market, eating a healthy diet might require more than one trip each week. It is definitely difficult to stock up on fresh items because they do not last as long as canned or frozen alternatives. Without fresh fruits or vegetables in the refrigerator, available snacking options often come down to potato chips or cookies. Making the healthy foods available at all times can substantially change the eating habits of many families, especially families with children. 

Often, people are under the assumption that fresh foods do not taste as good as restaurant foods or prepackaged dinners. Many children avoid vegetables like they are some sort of terrible punishment. Studies have shown that children who are given fresh fruit and vegetables from a very young age tend to make healthier food choices as an adult. This can be a gigantic benefit when it comes to health later in life. Children eat what they know and the more they know, the better their choices can be. This means that a variety of fruits and vegetables can be made available to children and they will eventually find foods that they enjoy. Taking the time to find recipes that incorporate healthy choices can make all the difference when it comes to a healthy body as an adult. Once a person finds recipes that he or she enjoys, they can even substitute fresh fruits or vegetables for items within the recipe. Small changes can make huge differences. Just getting used to the taste of fresh foods can take some time but is well worth the effort.

Although it is difficult for people to make healthy food choices in this modern age, it does not have to be this way. Families who take the time to look over their menus and choose healthy food alternatives are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle without a lot of difficulty. Many of the excuses that are given as to why unhealthy foods are chosen can be overcome with a bit of preparation and education.

The Importance of Nutrition for Busy People

We have all heard the arguments regarding the importance of a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, in today’s extremely busy world, it is very difficult to truly understand just how essential good nutrition is to a healthy life. We rush to our offices each morning, skipping breakfast. We scramble through our days and run out of the office for a very fast lunch. Often, we head straight to the local diner or fast food restaurant for that mid-day meal. We then hurry back to the office and end up not feeling well by about 2 in the afternoon. We fill our cups with coffee and colas and wonder why we cannot sleep at night. We rush to pick up the children from school and then scramble to throw together a dinner at home. We wolf down our dinner and park ourselves in front of the television, exhausted. 

This is the average weekday for many people. In fact, this is the average weekday for a majority of the working class in the United States. It is no wonder that we are exhausted, overweight and unhealthy. We are also very often confused about what actually constitutes a healthy meal. This means, even if we have the option of eating foods that are good for us, we generally do not even know which foods to purchase.

The busier we are, the more important good nutrition is for our bodies. The more time we spend running from one situation to another, the more likely we are to get run-down and tired. Because we do not take the time to fuel ourselves with the right nutrients, we are more likely to experience depression, exhaustion and even disease. Very busy people tend to fuel their bodies with foods that are high in calories, sugar and caffeine and low in protein and other valuable nutrients. This is most often because busy people are unwilling to take the extra time to create a nutritious breakfast. Setting an alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier in the morning can make a huge difference in that rush in the morning. Having an extra fifteen minutes might mean the difference between grabbing a cola and a Pop-Tart and sitting down to even a bowl of oatmeal and a piece of fruit. If lacking fifteen minutes of sleep worries you, simply head off to bed a little earlier. Giving yourself the time to eat a healthy breakfast is one of the most important things that you can do for your health and the health of your family. Remember, the habits that you teach your children are the habits that they will take with them to adulthood.

Busy people also tend to overlook what they drink during the day. You might spend plenty of time deciding on a healthy lunch and then add a big glass of cola to the meal. Some caffeinated and carbonated sugary drinks can add 300 or more calories to your meal. Large glasses of soda can have as many as 20 teaspoons of sugar in them. This is terrible for anyone’s body, especially the body of a busy person. Avoiding that soda and enjoying a glass of sparkling water or fruit juice is a great way to avoid the sugar-high and afternoon crash that come from unhealthy lunches. Skipping the coffee and sweet tea while adding water to your daily diet can be an excellent way to go from unhealthy to nutritious at lunchtime. 

Having a nutritious lunch is another huge effort for busy people. Rather than run out to a restaurant, pack a bag lunch for your mid-day meal. This will save both time and calories. Fast food meals and restaurant meals taste delicious because they are packed with sugars, fats and other unhealthy additives. Being busy means that you need good fuel for your body and restaurant meals generally do not provide that good fuel. The average bagged lunch contains just over 350 calories, minus the drink. The average fast-food lunch can be over 800 calories. Imagine dropping 400 calories from your daily intake. It is easier than one might imagine when small steps are taken to create healthy lunches. 

Lunches for the office do not have to consist entirely of salads. A wrap made with lean meats and whole wheat tortillas are an excellent source of nutrition for the busy person. Baby carrots and other vegetables served with a yogurt dressing can be both delicious and nutritious at the lunch table. Whole wheat bagels and low-fat cream cheese make a nutritious lunch that is also very filling. Choosing a healthy lunch is as easy as running out to a fast-food restaurant, it just takes a little more planning.

Dinner is another difficult time for busy people but meal planning can take the hassle out of creating a healthy meal. Writing out a loose meal plan each week can help you stick to eating healthier foods even when you are a very busy person. Meal plans are a great way to keep yourself and your family on track for the coming week without taking up too much of your time. You do not have to stick to the plan if you feel constrained but the plan will take the guess-work out of fixing a healthy dinner when you are pressed for time. Meal plans are great time-savers when you are shopping for dinner, as well. 

Taking the time to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner might seem difficult for a busy person but the time spent is extremely important. Without good nutrition, you will not be able to keep up your busy schedule. Eating lunch or dinner at a restaurant can be costly for both your wallet and your health. Putting effort into your nutrition pays better than you would imagine. You will feel and look better. You will have better sleep habits and wake up feeling more rested than ever before. Good nutrition gives you energy that you can depend on and a healthy lifestyle that will serve you well in your busy world.

Meal Planning for Healthy Options

With all of the recent emphasis on healthy diet and exercise, meal planning has become a much-talked-about dietary tool. Planning your meals means much more than just making a grocery list. Meal planning can include mapping an entire month’s food and snack choices to ensure that your diet is both nutritious and delicious. Although this might seem like a chore, meal planning has become much easier with simple Apps available for smart phones and planners that are downloadable and free on the Internet. Computer programs and smart phone apps aside, it really only takes a pencil and a piece of paper to begin meal planning and make healthy food choices for your family and yourself.

The most important reason to plan meals is to provide your household with healthy meal and snacking options. This can be of immense help to anyone in the family who is trying to lose weight or reduce cholesterol. Even if your family does not need help with any disease or health issues, meal planning is perfect for providing children and teens with nutritious snacking options. Rather than reaching for the bag of potato chips, many children will choose healthful snacks if those snacks are made available at all times. A refrigerator filled with sodas and fatty foods creates an easy way for the family to choose only those foods. A refrigerator filled with fresh fruits and vegetables makes it hard to seek out those “bad snacking options”.

The first step to meal planning begins with a thorough inventory of your cabinets and refrigerator. Removing items that are past their expiration date or wilted or unappetizing will create space for some nutritious alternatives. Once you have removed all of the damaged or expired foods, try to begin picking out those fatty snacks and other items that are not as healthy as they could be for your family. Remove the cookies and potato chips and you have begun on the road to a healthier body. Removing the bad food options makes it more difficult for you to slip back into a diet that is unhealthy. If those foods are not available, you will not eat them. 

Second, try browsing cookbooks and websites that offer nutritious meals. You will be surprised to find how many healthy versions of many well-loved recipes are available for download or are in cookbooks. Even favorites like meatloaf and beef Stroganoff can become healthful with small changes in their recipes. Make a list or cut out recipes that appeal to you or that you believe might be enjoyed by the family. Gather as many as you can so that you have plenty of options when you go to the grocery store. These recipes will be the basis for your meal planning, so make sure that they are somewhat simple to cook and use ingredients that you are comfortable with eating. It is fun to make odd dishes once in a while, but for a basic meal planner, you will need tried and true recipes. 

Shop for the ingredients that you enjoy, but remember to double up on the fruit and vegetables. Almost any type of fruit can make a wonderful snack, especially for those in the family with a sweet-tooth. Fresh oranges and melons and apples are great snacks that keep well in the refrigerator. Vegetables like carrots and celery are perfect for a crunch snack and they also store well for up to a week in the fridge. The most important thing to remember about keeping fruit and vegetables for snacks is to make them simple to eat. If you take the time to cut vegetables into bite-sized servings, they are much more likely to be eaten. Fruits like grapes are best when removed from their vines and washed thoroughly. Put them into containers or baggies and you have snacks that are perfect for days when you are on the go. 

Pick meats that are lean and contain little fat and you have great options for meals. Try to avoid the beef section of your grocery store and focus on poultry like chicken and turkey. Both chicken and turkey are lower in fat depending on how the meat is cooked. If you plan your meals in advance, you will know just how many of each item to purchase, so your budgeting will also be simple. Meal plans are perfect for the bargain shopper because they give you the time to select foods that are on sale and in season and you might possibly be able to clip coupons to add to your savings. Coupons for items like vegetables are difficult to find, so concentrate on the meat sales and you will save money on your weekly shopping budget. 

Selecting a program or App to help with your meal planning is another excellent time-saver. People with careers and families tend to be the worst at eating healthy meals. Using your smart phone or computer to help you decide on nutritious dinners is the perfect way to incorporate a time-saver with a health-saver! Many Apps allow you to select certain foods and then offer meals that can be created with those foods. This type of planning helps when you are pressed for time, especially during weekday dinner creation. If you make lunches for your children to take with them to school, these programs can help with a large selection of healthful lunch options too. 

A busy mother or father will definitely benefit from planning meals in advance. Coming home from work and scrambling to find the ingredients for a healthy dinner can cause frustration and stress to the entire family. Having the right ingredients on-hand for a nutritious meal is the perfect way to change your diet and the diet of your entire family. Meal planning is the perfect tool for busy families and you can even include the children in the planning stage. Many children enjoy being a part of the planning process and they might even try some new foods when they are able to help with the meals.

Packing More Nutrition into the Diet

With all of the information that we are bombarded with concerning nutrition and health, it is very easy to get overwhelmed or confused. Over and over we hear how important good nutrition is for a healthy lifestyle, but how do we pack more nutrients into our daily diet? There are simple steps to follow to have a more nutritious and delicious diet. Even the very busy person can become a nutrition savvy cook and shopper with just a little bit of time and effort.

First and foremost, do not forget the small stuff. This might sound silly, but many people do not get enough vegetables in their diets. We get so busy worrying about making the perfect pot roast that we ignore the delicious and nutritious side dishes. Make vegetables your main dish and place the meat to the side. This means you will have to be adventurous with your vegetable gathering. Try some vegetables that you do not normally buy. Avoid that canned food aisle in the supermarket and head over to the fresh produce section. Select a large butternut squash or an acorn squash. Roasted, squash is really delicious and low in fat and calories. You can easily slice a butternut squash in half, remove the seeds and bake it in the oven until it is soft. Sprinkle the squash with just a pinch of cinnamon and you have a scrumptious center point for a wonderful dinner. 

If you can work at trying new vegetables, you will really be amazed at the results. Skip the regular corn and green beans and try some snow peas or fresh greens. Collard greens and kale are tasty when you add them to your corned beef recipe or just drizzle them with olive oil. Increasing your intake of vegetables is the simplest way to lower your caloric intake and decrease the amount of salt and fat in your diet. 

Beans are almost as good as meat in many recipes. Try adding some legumes to your diet when you want that extra protein boost. Next time you create the perfect pot of chili, substitute kidney beans for half of the meat. If you like Mexican food, make it at home to avoid the fat and additives that come from restaurant foods. Beans and other legumes are an important part of any diet and are often overlooked when it comes to the average dinner menu. 

Second, and also very important, plan your snacks. When a person gets very hungry, they tend to eat anything they can find. This means that those candy bars and snack machines begin to look very good. To avoid eating empty calories and foods that contain little or no nutritional value, plan your snacks ahead of time. Gather foods that are easy to prepare and foods that you enjoy. Fresh fruit is a basic snack that takes little or no preparation time. You can easily peel a banana or eat an apple at your desk. Frozen grapes or frozen orange juice can be a nice alternative to sherbet or ice cream. Snacking options are endless if you can be a little creative.

Switch to olive oil when possible. If you are able to substitute olive oil for any other type of cooking oil, do it. Olive oil is packed with antioxidants and vitamin E. If you must have oil in your diet, make sure that the oil is as healthy as you can possibly make it. Olive oil is wonderful as a substitute for butter in many recipes and it tastes delicious on bread. 

Add nuts and seeds to your salads. If your salad is getting boring, add some nuts or seeds. Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped walnuts and even peanuts are a delicious addition to almost any salad. Nuts and seeds can also be added to yogurt or cereal or even oatmeal. To make your breakfast filling, add seeds and fruit to your oatmeal or cereal. The added protein and fat (healthy fat) from the nuts or seeds will help to keep you feeling full longer. The crunchy taste of nuts can be an excellent snack option when you are craving something crunchy or even salty. You can purchase nuts that are lightly salted or plain at your local grocery store. 

Remember that water should be one of your basic food groups. Substitute water for one other beverage each day. If you normally have 2 sodas during the day, make one of those a water instead. Water is filling and contains no calories. Do not waste your daily calories on sugary drinks. If you can substitute water for all of your usual beverages, you might even have room in your diet for a cookie or two! 

Stay away from the processed, bagged, boxed and canned foods. Choose healthy options like whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta when you shop. You can pick wild rice instead of processed rice and you can even make your own french fries. Slice a potato into slivers and toss it with a little salt and olive oil. Pop the potato slices in the oven until crisp and you have a delicious snack or side dish without the guilt. Leave the peels on your potatoes and vegetables as much as you possibly can. Peels often contain a large quantity of a vegetable’s nutrients. Even mashed potatoes taste great with the peels left on. If you are feeling adventurous, switch to sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are filled with nutrients, tasted delicious and are low in calories.

To pack more nutrients into your daily diet, take small steps. If on Monday, you skip just 1 soda and have water instead, you have made a good decision for your health. Switch from coffee to green tea and you have added vital nutrients to your daily intake. These tiny adjustments are easy to add to your lifestyle and can make a huge difference in your overall health. Start with a small change and adding nutrients to your diet will be much easier.

Why You Should Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is one of the most over-looked of all of the meals that we eat each day. Many people start their morning with a cup of coffee or a soda and nothing else. After sleeping for 8 hours, you can imagine how your body needs nutritious fuel to start a new day, so why do so many people avoid eating breakfast? Well, of course, it is always difficult to balance work and family responsibilities. Add to that the pressure to provide a home-cooked breakfast every morning and most people shudder at the very thought. Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day and it can also be one of the simplest meals of the day.

Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast regularly, no matter what type of breakfast they eat, tend to be healthier. The people who skip breakfast, hoping to save on those calories, tend to weigh more than people who eat breakfast every day. When you skip breakfast, you often become very hungry in the late morning. Getting hungry means that you will most likely look for snacks to munch while you are at work or at school. Those snacks end up being filled with fat and calories and negate the calories that you have avoided by skipping breakfast. It becomes a vicious cycle of starving and eating that is extremely unhealthy, especially for those prone to blood sugar issues like diabetes. Eating breakfast not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, it helps your body to maintain a stable blood sugar level. 

Breakfast-eaters also have fewer memory and concentration problems. After instituting a school breakfast program in many elementary schools in Boston and New York, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health completed several studies regarding the relationship between children who eat breakfast and children who do well in school. These studies show some amazing correlations between a nutritious breakfast and the ability to succeed in difficult cognitive tasks. They also show how easily hunger affects mood and concentration. In the same area, studies accomplished by Harvard University and the Massachusetts General Hospital showed that students who ate breakfast actually had higher grades and less disciplinary issues than children who did not eat breakfast. 

Studies show the same type of correlation between people who eat breakfast and people who complain of mood swings, fatigue and irritability, especially during the late morning and early afternoon hours of a workday. Imagine how difficult it is to drive a car without any fuel in the gas tank. It is an impossible task. The same can be said for trying to get through a typical day without fueling your body in the morning. Breakfast provides an influx of nutrients that help to provide fuel for the body throughout the day. Often, skipping breakfast creates a nutritional hole in the day, meaning that you really do not ever regain the vitamins and minerals that you lost by choosing not to eat breakfast. A simple meal in the morning can change your mood, behavior, outlook and nutrition for the entire day.

Breakfast sets a precedent for the rest of your day. Amazingly, breakfast is a small meal that gives the body huge benefits. Many breakfast foods are delicious and nutritious. Breakfast is the perfect time to add some fruit to your day and many breakfast ideas include fresh fruit. Fruit salads and waffles topped with fruit can be the perfect start to a busy day. If getting fruit into your diet is difficult then breakfast is the best time to do it. Those nutrients that you get from eating oranges or bananas at breakfast carry over into the rest of your day. Getting those servings of fruit that are recommended for a healthful diet can be much simpler when you have that extra meal. 

Breakfast is a money-saver. It can be a bit hard to believe, but eating breakfast can actually save you money. People who eat breakfast are better able to control their eating throughout the rest of their day. Many of us who are unable to take the time to get a healthy breakfast end up snacking from company vending machines or corner diners. This means that those who eat breakfast spend less money during their average work day on other food items. In a large family, the money savings can be substantial. Children who eat breakfast are less likely to spend money on candy or soda during the school day. These children end up being more active and less obese than children who are not given a breakfast, making breakfast a substantial benefit.

Breakfast is delicious. With so many options for a yummy breakfast, who would not want to eat it? From waffles to pancakes to omelets, breakfast items tend to be some of our favorite foods. Why not add those foods to your day? Pancakes filled with blueberries and strawberries can be a wholesome start to the work week. French toast with raspberries or an omelet filled with vegetables can be excellent options for the busy lifestyle that most of us lead. These meals are easy to make and they taste wonderful. Very few people do not enjoy bacon or sausage. Although these foods can be fattening and should be eaten in moderation, they add some flavor to the breakfast menu. Breakfast is one of the easiest meals when it comes to meeting all of your important food groups. An omelet with vegetables, 2 slices of bacon, a fruit cup and a piece of whole wheat toast creates a breakfast that covers all of the bases when it comes to the food groups. 

Because eating breakfast can make such a difference in your life, it is considered to be the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is the one meal that can lighten your mood, increase your concentration and help you lose weight. Eating breakfast can become an enjoyable way to start each morning if you will just set aside the time to prepare this amazing meal.

Easy and Healthy Breakfast Recipes


A delicious omelet filled with plenty of vegetables is the perfect way to start any day

You will need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 green pepper (diced)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1 ham steak (diced)
  • 1 small tomato (diced)
  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat on your stove.
  2. Then crack three eggs and scramble them in a bowl until they turn a pale yellow color.
  3. Add diced tomato, onion, green pepper and ham to the egg mixture and whip well
  4. Whip the mixture until it becomes very fluffy and pale.
  5. Pour the mixture into your non-stick pan with a dab of butter.
  6. Allow the mixture to begin to set and then lift the omelet from the bottom of the pan.
  7. Fold the omelet over itself and allow it to continue to set. 

Spiced-up Oatmeal with Nuts and Fruit

A simple breakfast that will keep you feeling full until lunch

You will need:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  •  3 cups of water
  •  1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 small apple (chopped into small pieces)
  •  1/4 of a cup of pitted dates (chopped into small pieces)
  •  1/3 of a cup of blackberries
  •  2 tablespoons of sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons of sliced walnuts.
  • You can spice your oatmeal with cinnamon or brown sugar or even maple syrup if desired. 
  1. In a medium saucepan boil water and salt
  2.  Add the oats and stir well.
  3. Cook the oats for about 5 minutes at a boil
  4. Let the oats stand, covered, for about 5 minutes or until they are the desired consistency.

Oatmeal can cook very quickly, so watch the oats carefully when you boil them to avoid soggy oats.

  • Divide the oatmeal into serving bowls
  • Add your chopped apple, dates, blackberries and nuts

…and you have a delicious breakfast that is ready in about 10 minutes!

Keep in mind that you can substitute just about any type of fruit for this recipe. If walnuts or almonds are not your favorite, you can add pecans or sunflower seeds. If you enjoy raisins or bananas or blueberries more than apples, put them in your oatmeal. This breakfast is very low in calories and extremely filling without adding sodium or cholesterol to your diet. 

Delicious Banana and Berry Pancakes

Homemade pancakes are some of the most delicious and well-loved of all breakfast items

Children and adults alike love pancakes. The recipes are generally very simple and you can even make extra batter to save in the refrigerator for the coming week. Remember that when choosing a pancake batter, you can buy a pre-made mix or you can make your own batter. To save time, a pre-made mix is the simplest route. 

You will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cups of milk
  • 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 cup of milk and 1 1/4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour.
  • Any fruit that you can imagine can be added to the recipe. 1 sliced banana and 1/2 cup of blueberries will make these pancakes a fruity success. 
  1. First, beat the eggs until they are creamy.
  2. Add the milk and the butter and beat again until completely mixed and fluffy.
  3. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together so that the sugar is well-mixed.
  4. Stir in the liquid ingredients, including the fruit, and whisk again.
  5. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes before cooking.
  6.  Heat your frying pan to 375 degrees and add some non-stick spray or butter to the pan.
  7. Pour your batter into the pan in 1/2 cup increments.
  8. Allow the batter to set and then flip the pancake gently.
  9. The warm fruit inside the pancake makes this recipe extra delicious. Bananas add quite a bit of sweetness to the batter, so if you would like to cut back on the sugar you can definitely give it a try!

A Traditional Farmer’s Breakfas

The traditional recipes tend to be some of the best, so if you would like to try a simple farmer’s breakfast, this recipe is as easy as pie.

You will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices of whole wheat toast
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 sausage links
  • your favorite fruit jelly
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small orange
  1. First, cook the eggs in the style that you enjoy the most.
  2. Many people love their eggs scrambled, so whip the eggs until they turn a pale yellow in color.
  3. Add salt and pepper if you would like those spices in your eggs.
  4. Place the bacon and sausage into medium frying pan and heat until crisp. Sausage can be divided into strips or slices depending on the type of sausage that you prefer. Small slices will cook more quickly.
  5. Remove the bacon and sausage from the pan and place them on a paper towel to drain.
  6. Place your sausage and bacon on a cutting board and chop them into small pieces.
  7. Drain the grease from the frying pan.
  8.  Add the diced sausage and bacon to your egg mixture and toss all of this into the frying pan.
  9. Cook the eggs, stirring frequently, until they are well-done. Remove them from the heat. 

You can then add your eggs to your toast for a delicious farmer’s breakfast sandwich or you can serve them beside toast and jelly. The apple and orange can be sliced into a small fruit-salad to eat along with your breakfast.

Simple and Speedy Breakfast French Toast

French toast is super easy to make and tastes delicious

You will need:

  • 2 slices of bread and 1 egg.
  1. First whisk the egg until it is fluffy.
  2. Then place your bread in the egg until it begins to soak up the egg.
  3. Remove the bread from the egg, flip it over and place it back into the egg.
  4. Repeat this procedure with the other slice of bread.
  5. Toss the soaked bread into a hot frying pan and cook for just 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6.  Remove the bread from the pan and sprinkle with brown sugar or even powdered sugar if desired.

Discovering Excellent Snacking Habits

Snacking can be the destruction of any good diet. Healthy snacks can seem like an impossible fairy tale when you are working hard to eat only nutritious foods. Even the word snack can bring to mind potato chips and cookies. Healthy snacking is actually good for you, if it is done correctly. Snacks are an important part of any daily caloric intake, especially when your meals are spaced more than 4 hours apart. In situations where healthy meals are difficult to find, a good snack can mean the difference between starving yourself for a few hours and then gobbling up the first food you find and enjoying a small and healthy meal at normal mealtimes. 

Snacking begins with a menu. Just like planning a large meal, snacking takes planning to create something healthy and nutritious. Keeping a large selection of foods that are considered acceptable snacks on-hand can give you the option to eat something nutritious rather than something fattening. The first step to providing yourself and your family with healthy snacks is getting an idea of what snacks are good for you. 

Some delicious alternatives to the standard potato chip and cookie snack base are fruits and vegetables. It might seem like a simple idea, but even replacing one snack of cookies or candy with a choice of fruits or vegetables can cut calories, fat and sodium in your diet. Small changes really do make a large difference, especially in diet. The next time you want to reach for a salty bag of chips, try some carrot sticks instead. You get the crunch that you crave without the salt and fat. If carrot sticks are not your favorite, there are options like celery, raw spinach leaves or even raw broccoli and cauliflower. These snacks are not only low in fat and calories but they are extremely high in nutrients that many families do not get enough of. 

Fruits are perfect for snacking and most come in their own wrapper! An apple, a banana or an orange can be the perfect portable snack for anyone who has a busy day planned. Fruits contain the sugars that your body craves when you are hungry, making them very satisfying. Trade that candy bar for an orange and you will get the same fulfilled feeling without the calories and fat. For those of us on diets that restrict caffeine or salt, fruit is an excellent option for snacking. Even small amounts of chocolate can contain caffeine and plenty of fat. Oranges and apples are completely caffeine free! 

Simple snacks like nuts can also be a great replacement for potato chips. Nuts often come in salted or unsalted varieties. The very best choice for snacking is a raw and unsalted nut, but small amounts of salted nuts are also acceptable in most diets. If you notice that during your day you often become very hungry or tired between meals, then healthy snacking is definitely something you should consider in your diet. Often, we have no choice but to eat breakfast very early in the morning before leaving for work or school. Our lunch will be 6 hours later and 6 hours is too long to go to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Give yourself some time in the morning to stop for a snack and you will feel more energized by lunch time. Eating a healthy snack just 3 or 4 hours after breakfast can also deter you from eating a huge lunch. We all know that those giant lunches make us tired by the time 2 o’clock rolls around. Especially when you are working outside or in extreme conditions, snacking can be very beneficial to your body. 

Good snacking habits can lead to a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. One of the main causes of diabetes and other metabolic diseases is the lack of a steady blood sugar rate. When we become very hungry, our mood often turns sour. Snacking is the perfect way to control those mood swings that come from low blood sugar levels, especially between meals. Low blood sugar also causes fatigue during the day. A small snack can allow you to avoid those fatigued feelings during your work day. Fruit is one of the best snacking choices to create a healthy and stable blood sugar level when there is a large time period between meals. Fruit juices are another options for delicious snacking and they come in such a variety of flavors that you are bound to find something that you enjoy. 

Good snacks do not have to be only fruits and vegetables. Besides nuts, there are plenty of options for healthy snacks. Low fat cheeses like mozzarella and cottage cheese can be a great addition to your snacking program. String cheese is another portable snack that even children enjoy. Sunflower seeds and raisins also make excellent and portable snacking choices. Sunflower seeds contain healthy fats that your body requires. Raisins are sugary but they provide a burst of energy that can pep you up for the rest of the day when enjoyed after lunch. Green tea and ginger tea are also healthy snack items. A cup of green tea contains caffeine, but it also contains many antioxidants that are beneficial to your skin and overall health. Ginger tea is excellent to settle a stomach and decrease bloating that often happens after a large lunch

Snacking does not have to be the bane of your existence. Even though there are a huge number of snack choices on the market, it is very important that you make healthy decisions when it comes to snack foods. A small bag of chips or pretzels is an acceptable snack if you only choose it occasionally. Even a candy bar is not terrible as long as you do not eat them every day. The real issue in snacking comes from making bad choices because you are extremely hungry. If you plan your snacking options, you will never get to the point that you will eat anything because you are starving!

Healthy and Simple Mid-Morning Snacking

The key to healthy snacking is knowing what to choose. At mid-morning, many of us are already losing that energy that we gathered from our breakfast and we’re starting to think about lunch. The easiest way to overeat at lunch is by starving yourself through the mid-morning. Everyone knows how your stomach starts to rumble right around mid-morning and we begin imagining a big cheeseburger with some french fries or a couple of pizza slices from the local pizza restaurant near work. These cravings are often the result of low blood sugar and an excellent way to avoid that low is by planning for a delicious and simple mid-morning snack.

Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit is the first and best choice for snacking in the morning. If you are able to use a refrigerator at work, you can prepare your fresh fruit snack items before heading in to work.

To make a quick snack to eat at your desk, just gather: 

  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small tangerine
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries
  1. Slice the apple into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Peel the tangerine and separate the sections.
  3. Wash all berries thoroughly.
  4. Place all of the fruit into a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

You can eat this fruit just like it is, without any sugar or additional preparation or you can mix the fruit with some plain yogurt. Plain yogurt is sweet enough to cover the tang of the blueberries and makes a delicious dip for your fruit cup.


Oatmeal is another spectacular mid-morning snack and blood sugar booster. Oatmeal bars and even oatmeal cookies (if they are low in sugar) can be just the pick-me-up that you need to get you through to lunch.

  1. Bring a packet of instant oatmeal to work and just add water and pop it into the microwave for a healthy boost.

The best part about instant oatmeal is the variety of flavors to choose from. From maple and brown sugar to peach flavored, these small meals can be a wonderful addition to your diet without adding a lot of fat and calories. 

Nuts as Snacks

To create a delicious mix, choose the nuts that you enjoy. For a healthy nutty snack simply gather: 

  • 1/2 cup of shelled walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of shelled pecans
  • 1/2 cup of shelled hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips or peanut butter chips
  1. Combine all nuts and chips in a small bowl.
  2. Mix well and divide into 1/2 cup servings.

This combination of nuts and a small amount of chocolate or peanut butter chips is perfect for a quick snack in the morning. The chocolate or peanut chips provide enough sugar to give you a little bit of an energy boost immediately and the nuts offer energy that burns more slowly. Once you have portioned the combination into smaller containers, you can take a container with you to work each day.

Whole Wheat Toast and Applesauce

You can purchase larger containers of unsweetened applesauce or you can buy single-serving sized portions to carry to work with you.

In the morning, toast one slice of whole grain bread and slice it into four strips that are just the right size for dipping.

Whole wheat toast dipped in applesauce is sweet, crunchy and filling, making it one of the best snacks for mid-morning munchies. If you do not like applesauce, you can use yogurt for dipping, as well. 

Yogurt and Flax Seed

  1. Choose 1/2 cup of yogurt and either flax seed or sunflower seeds.
  2. Sprinkle the seeds onto the yogurt and add a pinch of cinnamon or sugar.

If you buy a larger container of plain yogurt, you can make several portions and store them in smaller containers for each day of the week. The yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and the seeds add both vitamins and nutrients that are important for a busy lifestyle. Flax seeds contain Omega 3 fatty acids that are considered vital for good heart health. They actually contain more of these good fatty acids than fish, so if you do not enjoy the taste of fish, adding seeds to your diet be a healthful option for you. Sunflower seeds also contain nutrients and are very beneficial to your body. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and antioxidants that are necessary for overall skin and body health. 

Tuna Fish

Tuna fish is another great snack idea.

For a delicious tuna spread you will need:

  • 1 can of plain white tuna in water
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt and 4 celery sticks.
  1. Take 1 can of light tuna in water and drain it well.
  2. Mix the tuna with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and blend well.
  3. Slice the ends from the celery sticks and wash well.
  4. Spread the tuna and yogurt mixture on the celery sticks and place the remaining mixture in a container.

This snack is healthy and nutritious and you can make enough for several days with just one can of tuna. 

Healthy mid-morning snacks are not difficult to make, but it does take time to plan your snacking options. The best way to do this is by creating a menu of snacking options for the entire week. You can add a mid-afternoon snack to your grocery list too. When you head over to the grocery store, you will have an idea of what type of foods to purchase. This is a great way to avoid snacking on potato chips and cookies during the week. Remember that you can also purchase small packages of snack foods in 100 calorie containers. These options are excellent for those days when you just do not feel like preparing your own snack at home. Those types of snacks are great if you do not have access to a small kitchen or at least a refrigerator in your office. If your office has a microwave and refrigerator, you definitely have plenty of options for healthy homemade snacks and lunches. 

A Healthy Lunch

Whether you are working in an office, outside or at even at home, lunchtime is a time that many people look forward to each day. This time of the day is just right for a meal with friends or a short nap or a quick walk. Lunchtime is a great time for catching up on the latest news while surfing the web or playing a quick game of Solitaire on your computer. Many people look forward to a lunch break with coworkers and some conversation. The problem with lunchtime is that many of us head out of the office or out of the home and have an unhealthy meal at a restaurant. Fast food places have sprung up on every corner and most Americans eat up to 3 meals a week at a fast food restaurant. 

As you can imagine, fast food tends to be filled with salt, sugar, fat and empty calories. Rather than a nutritious meal, we are rushing out for a lunch that gives us very little nutrition and a huge quantity of calories. A well balanced and well planned lunch can actually help you get through the work day without feeling tired, bloated or irritable. The first thing you have to do when you decide to try a more healthful lifestyle, including choosing healthy lunches, is plan for your meals. 

Meal planning takes practice. You will begin by choosing several lunch recipes that really appeal to you. Nutritious foods are easy to add to your lunch plans if you have them on-hand when you make your lunches. Keeping in mind that you will need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet in order to gain nutrients, you can add more of these items to your shopping list. Fruits and veggies are filling and low in calories so they are perfect as the main source of calories in your lunchtime menu. Skipping processed meats is another way to avoid extra fat and sodium. Both fats and salt tend to make you feel bloated and irritable by the middle of the afternoon. If you can keep the salami and processed ham or turkey out of your sandwiches, you will feel much better toward the end of your workday. 

Once you have gotten an idea of the type of lunches that you want to eat each day, the rest of your planning is pretty simple. Create a menu of healthy recipes using the items that you have purchased. Delicious lunches do not have to cost a fortune or come from a restaurant. You can copy many of the foods that you enjoy at a restaurant right in your home. Great lunches do not have to consist of sandwiches either, remember that there is a whole world full of wraps, salads, mini pizzas and protein drinks available to spice up your lunchtime menu.

Healthy lunches make a giant difference in your physical state, especially during the late afternoon. A lunch that is high in sodium will make you feel bloated and thirsty toward the end of your workday. Often, people feel fatigued or moody when they have eaten foods high in fat and sodium. On the opposite side of this coin is the healthy lunch. You can feel full without having the bloating and moodiness if you will avoid the types of foods that cause these symptoms.

Low blood sugar is often the cause of fatigue in late afternoon. A lunch that is high in sugar, including fast foods, can cause an uptick in your blood sugar levels. Once this level returns to its normal state, you will feel exhausted and irritable. It is amazing how much one small meal can affect the rest of your day. Lunch is a difficult meal because we are often in a huge hurry when we head out of the office. Creating a healthful and nutritious lunch at home and bringing it to work will help you to avoid that rush. If you do not want to miss the socializing that comes with having lunch outside of the office with your coworkers, try to choose lunchtime meals centered around fruits and vegetables at the restaurant. Meals that have a larger percentage of vegetables than meat tend to include less sodium and fat. 

Homemade lunches can become a part of your office socialization, as well. You can create a lunch menu with several other coworkers and decide who will bring which item to the office. This is a great way to try new recipes and share experiences with others. You can choose to bring a salad while someone else brings freshly made wraps. By sharing the responsibility for a healthy meal, you can include friends in a more nutritious lifestyle and it will be easier for you to stick to your dietary changes. A well balanced lunch can actually be a fun part of your workday when it is shared with friends. 

Lunches that include plenty of water and even a little exercise are ideal for the working person. If you are able to make a good lunch at home and bring it to the office, you will save the time that you would normally spend traveling to and from a restaurant. This means that this extra time could be spent exercising. You could walk up and down a few flights of stairs after lunch or even take a stroll around the parking lot. Small efforts like these can lead to dramatic changes in your health. Drinking water instead of coffee at lunchtime will also benefit your sleeping habits. Many people believe that the caffeine pick-me-up that they get at lunch is necessary to carry them through the day. This is not really true. That caffeine at 1 o’clock can actually make you feel more tired by the end of your workday. 

Lunchtime is an exceptionally important meal when it comes to overall health and how you feel each day. A healthy and well balanced lunch will help you to get through your work day with a minimum of those ups and downs.

Easy and Healthy Lunch Ideas

Lunch is a tough meal for many of us. We simply do not have the time or the energy to gather ingredients and create a wholesome and appetizing lunch each day of the week. This is especially true when you are working a full-time job and taking care of your family. In many ordinary diets, lunch is one of the most fattening meals of the day. This is true because many of us eat lunch at a restaurant, including fast food restaurants, each and every day of the week. Imagine how much money and how many calories you could save if instead of fast food hamburgers, you ate a healthy and nutritious lunch at work. 

Making that lunch is not as difficult as you might imagine. Many recipes can be doubled to give you an extra meal. That means that instead of making five or six separate lunches, you can make two or three and space them throughout the week. Some easy lunch recipes include fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables. Remember to include plenty of these as you create your lunch menu.

Barbecue Lunch

For a delicious and simple barbecue lunch dish that can be separated into several portions you will need:

  • 1/3 of a roasted chicken or even left-over chicken from dinner
  • 2 whole grain sandwich buns or rolls
  • 2 carrots cut into slivers or shredded, Ranch salad dressing
  • 2/3 cup of barbecue sauce (choose a low sodium variety) and salt and pepper to taste
  1. Use a fork to shred the chicken and place it into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the slivered carrots to the bowl with the chicken and toss well with barbecue sauce.
  3. Spread a tablespoon of Ranch salad dressing on the whole grain bun.
  4. Add the chicken mixture to the sandwich bun and close.

This recipe is super simple and makes a delicious shredded barbecue chicken sandwich. The carrots add just enough crunch and plenty of vitamin A. Make two sandwiches and wrap one for another day of the week.

Egg Salad

For a scrumptious egg salad lunch you will need: 

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 small pickles chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of finely diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon of scallions minced and salt and pepper to taste

Simply mix all ingredients well and you have a perfect egg salad. Use this salad to top a bed of Romaine lettuce or even a whole grain roll and you have a nutritious protein-packed lunch that will give you energy for the rest of the work day. 

Pizza Roll Ups

Pizza is always a family favorite and pizza roll-ups make a delicious addition to your lunch menu. To make pizza roll ups you will need:

  • 2 8-inch whole grain flour tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons of pizza sauce (choose a low-sodium variety or make your own)
  • 24 baby spinach leaves and 6 tablespoons of shredded skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Place the first tortilla flat on a plate and add 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce.
  2. Spread the sauce to cover the tortilla well. Place 12 spinach leaves on the tortilla over the sauce Top with 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese.
  3. Microwave for about 45 seconds or until the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to cool and then roll carefully.

You can then begin on your second pizza.

Slice the pizzas into sections and wrap them separately for snacking or lunch. This recipe is great for substitutions and you can even add mushrooms, olives, peppers or any other topping to your pizza rolls.

Fruit Salad

For a fruit salad lunch that is guaranteed to please, you will need: 

  • 1 cup of freshly washed blueberries
  • 1 cup of chopped pineapple (canned pineapple can be substituted if fresh pineapple is unavailable)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup of small red seedless grapes
  • 1 red apple cored and chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith green apple cored and chopped
  • 2 kiwi fruits peeled and chopped

To prepare, simply combine all the fruits and toss well. For a super simple and delicious dressing, just add 2 cups of lemon yogurt or plain yogurt. The lemon yogurt gives the fruit salad a little zip! Fruit salad can be served with a side of whole grain crackers to make a perfectly nutritious lunch. 

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber salads are extremely filling and store well in the refrigerator. For a spicy cucumber salad you will need:

  • 2 cucumbers sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 package of baby carrots shredded and 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  1. Combine the cucumbers and sliced carrots and then add all other ingredients.
  2. Make sure that the cucumber and carrot mixture is covered completely in lime juice.

The acid in the lime actually makes the cucumber stay crisp longer in the refrigerator, so this salad is extremely easy to make and store. Cucumber salad is delicious when served inside of a whole grain pita. You can also add just a tablespoon of sour cream to create an even more flavorful recipe.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is healthy and nutritious and a brown rice salad is the perfect addition to your lunch menu. For a brown rice salads just gather: 

  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 head of Belgian endive, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  1. Toss the rice and endive until mixed well.
  2. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe is very filling, so separate the rice salad into several containers. Not only do you have a low-calorie and nutritious lunch, you have enough extra for another day.

Whether you make your lunch at home just 1 day each week or for the entire week, these healthy ideas will give you an excellent start as you head down the road to better nutrition. Remember that small steps are the best when making changes to your diet and even 1 day without a fast food lunch is great for your body. 

Making Your Meals Fast, Easy and Healthy

One of the most difficult parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is choosing the right foods. What we eat is such an important issue in regards to our health and well-being that it is definitely worth our time to learn about nutrition. Coming up with fast and health meal ideas becomes easier with knowledge and practice. The key to creating nutritious and simple recipes is knowing how to balance the foods in your diet. To begin, you must understand where most people go wrong in their diet choices.

There are many ways to stray off of the path to good nutrition. The easiest way is by allowing yourself to get very hungry. The hungrier you are, the less likely you are to make good choices regarding the foods that you eat. So, to begin learning the easy way to come up with healthy meals, start with your snacking choices. Keep good snacking options handy in your home. Throw away the potato chips and cookies and stock your shelves with fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. When you are hungry, it is much better to reach for a handful of raw nuts than a handful of fried potato chips. These snacks can also be incorporated into your meals and having them on hand will get you used to seeing them and eating them.

Begin a meal by centering not around the meat that you are working with but around the main vegetable. This process requires a little more thought than switching snack foods. Forget everything that you have been taught about meat and meals. Make the vegetable the biggest part of your dinner by making it the largest selection on your plate. Have your veggies trade places with your meats. It sounds simple but this small change will help you to make healthy meals without changing the types of foods that you cook. Next time you make steaks, do not make the steak the highlight of the meal. Use your steak as a side dish. Cut the steak size in half and double the size of your vegetable portions. If you normally make peas or green beans with your steak, concentrate on making those beans or peas more interesting. You can add crisp onions or interesting spices to the vegetables and make the steak the small side dish to your meal.

Substitute olive oil for the butter or shortening in your cooking. Even on bread, in place of butter, olive oil can be both healthy and delicious. Small substitutions can lead to easy and fast meal ideas that have very little saturated fat. Where we often make mistakes is in using high fat and high sodium butter products in our cooking. Healthy meals and simple meals begin with simple ingredients. Olive oil is simply the best oil for cooking. In cases where the flavor of olive oil is not acceptable in a recipe, try using only pure seed oils rather than more processed varieties. Stick to sunflower or Buy a cookbook that includes recipes for diabetic patients or those battling high blood pressure. These types of cookbooks offer recipes that are simple, nutritious and low in salt, sugar and fats. Even if you do not have any of these health issues, learning these recipes will help to change your taste in food. Getting used to foods that do not contain huge amounts of sodium and fat can take some time, but using these cookbooks will make the changes easy. Often, the recipes include excellent dessert ideas and even snacking options that are out of the ordinary. Cookbooks take the pressure off of you when it comes to creating meals and they also give you a resource when it comes to making a shopping list.

It is easy to come up with fast and healthy meals when you spend time making small changes. Plan your meals at least 1 week in advance. Having a meal plan helps you to stick to the nutritious food options and gives you an idea of what to make before you are rushed into opening canned foods and frying hamburgers. Meal plans also give you a chance to think about the foods that you want for your family and buy them in quantities sufficient enough to cover all meal options. Meal plans are perfect for dealing with health problems because you can automatically avoid the aisles in the supermarket where the “bad” foods are located. Skipping those areas entirely will not only shorten your shopping trip but it will also lower your food bill. Because fruits and vegetables are extremely filling and low in calories, you can pass by the more fattening items in the store. 

Try to limit your menu to foods that are only a step or two away from natural. This means sticking to unprocessed foods as much as possible. Fresh vegetables are natural, frozen vegetables are a step away from natural. Canned vegetables are a bit further from natural and processed foods are far from natural. Choose whole grain cereals, pastas and breads rather than products made from enriched flour. Pick fresh fruits instead of canned or frozen fruits but remember that frozen is less processed than canned. Once you begin thinking in this manner, it becomes much easier to gather the foods that are best for you and your family. Remember that the less processing involved, the more likely your food is to be naturally nutritious. This does not necessarily mean that you need to buy only organic foods, but they can be helpful to your meal planning when they are available. 

Little changes make creating healthy meals simple. Just like running a marathon begins with a single step, revamping your entire diet begins with small changes. You can make it easier to come up with healthy meals for your family if you begin by changing only one small item on your dinner plate. Switch those canned green beans for fresh green beans and you have begun down the road to a healthier you. 

Easy and Healthy Evening Meals

Regardless of your eating habits, packing more nutrition into your diet is a must. Whether you are carefully calculating every calorie or watching your blood pressure, the foods that you choose to eat are extremely important. Finding healthy and nutritious recipes that are not an ordeal to prepare is a priority for the busy family. Some excellent ideas can be found in popular cookbooks and on the internet. Some easy to prepare recipes include fish tacos, chili steaks and garlic pasta with shrimp. The recipes that follow take about 30 minutes to prepare and are both delicious and nutritious.

Beer-Breaded Fish Tacos with Salsa

For a super healthy and fast dinner for the entire family that offers a taste of the ocean you will need: 

  • 1 jar of fresh salsa (found in the produce section of your local grocery store)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of beer
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (skip this if you do not enjoy the heat)
  • 10 ounces tilapia fillet
  • cut into 3/4 inch strips
  • 4 whole grain tortillas, warmed
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Making your own salsa is another option with this recipe. A combination of tomato, avocado and sweet onion diced finely and tossed with a tablespoon of olive oil is an excellent choice.

  1. To create the batter, whisk the pepper, flour, salt, cumin and beer until you have a paste.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and warm the olive oil.
  3. Coat each tilapia strip with batter and place carefully in the hot oil.
  4. Cook the fish until it turns a golden color and is crisp or 2 to 4 minutes per side.
  5. Place the fish on a paper towel covered plate to drain.
  6. Add the fish to your tortillas and top with fresh salsa.

This meal is delicious with an ear of corn or an endive salad. Each taco is about 400 calories and includes healthy fats that are desirable for any diet.

Creamy Garlic Shrimp and Pasta

For a twist on the spaghetti noodle, try this option.  Just gather:

  • 12 ounces of deveined and peeled raw shrimp that is cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 bunch of asparagus sliced thinly and trimmed
  • 6 ounces of pasta or spaghetti noodles (whole grain is preferred)
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup of fresh peas
  • 3 small garlic cloves chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of low fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley

  • First, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Allow the pasta to cook for about 3 minutes less than the package directions require.
  • Add to this pot the shrimp, bell pepper strips, asparagus and peas.
  • Allow the mixture to boil until the pasta and shrimp are cooked. This is generally 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Then drain all ingredients well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the garlic and olive oil until a paste is formed.
  • Add salt, parsley, yogurt and pepper to this paste and mix well.
  • Toss the pasta, shrimp and vegetables with your sauce.

This meal contains less than 400 calories and your entire recommended daily allowance of potassium!

Easy Bean Chili with Fresh Corn

For an extremely speedy meal that is sure to be loved by the entire family you will need: 

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely diced and separated into two servings
  • 1 can of chili beans (low sodium)
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans (low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 ears of fresh sweet corn
  1. In a large frying pan on medium heat combine ground beef and 1/2 of the diced yellow onion.
  2. Brown the ground beef and onion until well done.
  3. Remove from heat and drain thoroughly.
  4. In a large sauce pan combine kidney beans, chili powder, chili beans, onion powder, diced tomato and simmer slowly.
  5. Add to this the ground beef and onion mixture. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until tomatoes are soft.
  6. Boil or roast the ears of sweet corn and allow them to cool.
  7. Remove chili from heat and top with remaining raw onion.
  8. Serve with an ear of sweet corn to compliment the spice of the chili. This meal is low in sodium and fat.

Feta and Spinach Chicken Roll

A super Feta and Spinach Chicken Roll is another excellent dinner choice, especially when you are in a huge hurry.  For this recipe you will need:

  • 3 fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded flat
  •  21 small raw spinach leaves
  • 3 ounces of Feta cheese
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  •  1 teaspoon of salt.
  1. Lay each chicken breast flat on a cutting board and place 7 spinach leaves on the chicken.
  2. Cover the spinach leaves with 1 ounce of Feta cheese per chicken breast.
  3. Roll each chicken, spinach and cheese combination tightly and wrap with 1 strip of bacon. Secure with cooking twine or a wooden toothpick.
  4. In a frying pan, heat olive oil until hot and then add the chicken rolls.
  5. Brown all sides of the rolls, add 1/4 cup water, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
  6. Sprinkle with salt if desired. 

Super Stir-Fry

If you have a wok, stir frying is the perfect way to get those extra veggies into your diet. The key to a terrific stir fry is slicing all vegetables uniformly thin. For this super stir-fry you will need:

  • 1 pound of lean chicken or beef cut into thin strips
  • 1 yellow squash cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • 1 cup of cabbage cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot cut into thin strips
  • 1 asparagus cut into thin strips
  • 1 zucchini squash cut into thin strips
  • 1 package of baby corn
  • 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

This meal is perfect over white rice or by itself. 

Evening Snacking the Right Way

Snacking is something that we cannot avoid. When you get hungry during the day, it is perfectly natural to start browsing around for something delicious to satisfy your cravings. Because our meals are generally divided into 3 separate dining sessions; breakfast, lunch and dinner, we tend to want to avoid eating between those sessions. This is not practical for most people and many studies have shown that more small meals each day can be healthier for the human body than those 3 large meals. So, snacking is important and can be considered a healthy habit, but when should we snack and what snack foods should we choose?

A mid-morning snack is the least common when it comes to snacking. Most of us are busy at our jobs during this time of the day, making it hard to step away for a snack. Mid-afternoon snacking is more common and causes us to choose something quick, since we are already planning for our dinner meal. Evening snacking or after dinner snacking is one of the most difficult of the snacking times to control. After dinner and before bed, many people crave sugary foods or fattening items like potato chips. Controlling that evening snacking is one of the more difficult things to learn when it comes to nutrition issues.

Evening snacking does not have to be terrible for your body, but it does have to be strictly controlled. Eating late tends to disrupt our natural sleep habits. Going to bed on a full stomach can cause heartburn or other gastrointestinal disorders. Eating foods that are filled with sugar or fat prior to bedtime can cause stomach upset or sleeplessness. So picking the right snack before bedtime is truly imperative. If it is possible to avoid evening snacking, that is definitely your best option. Eating a dinner meal that is filled with high quality protein allows you to feel full longer, so choose lean meats at dinnertime and you will be less likely to crave a snack before bed. 

If you must have an evening snack, choose the snack wisely. There are plenty of excellent options for evening snacking, but you will need to create a snacking menu. Gather the types of foods that provide healthy snacks and you will be less likely to eat a bag of potato chips before going to bed. Drink a large glass of water before you eat your evening snack and you will tend to eat less total food. Water with lemon or just plain water is filling and will leave less room for the snacks. Caffeine-free tea is another great option for evening snacking. Flavored teas come in such a large variety and offer enough sweet taste that you might skip food altogether if you choose a cup of tea prior to snacking. Peach teas and lemon teas are a favorite for evening. Camomile tea is excellent in promoting healthy sleep and a cup of this tea contains very few calories and little or no sugar. 

If you do have to have some food before bedtime, pick foods that are good for your body. Of course, start with the fruits and vegetables. Avoid the sugary fruits like oranges and apples to keep your blood sugar at a resting state prior to bedtime. Also try to avoid salty foods that will cause your blood pressure to increase and make you thirsty during the night. Skip the potato chips and cookies and look in the pantry for fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat a banana or a handful of raw nuts and you will feel satisfied without ruining the quality of your food intake for the day. Nutrition is often supplemented by healthy snacks, so keep that in mind when choosing your snacking options. If you know that you do not get enough potassium in your diet, then a banana is the perfect snack for you at bedtime. The same rule applies for people who lack calcium, vitamins or minerals in their diet. These items can be replenished during healthy evening snacking. A handful of blueberries or blackberries and some frozen orange juice sherbet can add a huge amount of vitamin C to your diet without a bunch of calories and fat. 

Protein snacking tends to make you feel full the longest. Nuts are an excellent source of protein and a small amount will make you feel full for a longer period of time than a larger amount of almost any other snack option. A slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter is another good snack option as it dense in nutrients and contains enough protein to keep you feeling full. Remember that when you do eat prior to going to bed, your body has to work to digest the food. This can be disruptive to your sleep. Many people feel that they sleep better if they do not eat for several hours before going to bed.

A small cup of yogurt or some string cheese can also become a good snacking option for the evening. Both yogurt and cheese provide healthy fat and calcium, something many people do not get enough of during their daily diet. Make your own mix of raw nuts and whole grain cereal and you have a crunchy snack that does not cost a fortune and will not ruin your caloric intake for the day. Top a few crackers with some tuna fish or low fat cream cheese for another quick and easy evening snack. Protein and whole grains are always an excellent snacking option, no matter what time you choose to eat. 

By avoiding evening snacks that elevate your blood sugar or include too much fat or sodium, you can eat without causing your body any real harm. Snacking is only bad for you when it is done incorrectly. Keep in mind that late night snacking can cause sleep disruptions, so if you are not a good sleeper already, avoiding late night snacks is generally a plus. Remember to choose only healthy foods and foods that require little preparation for your snacking and you will be well on your way to a much healthier lifestyle.

Easy And Healthy Evening Snacks

For an evening snack, you definitely want to think healthy, light and as sugar free as possible. Just before you head off to bed, you do not want any big fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. You will be best off if you avoid caffeine and sodium so that you do not affect your sleep in a negative way. Caffeine can cause sleeplessness and sodium can make you so thirsty that you wake up during the night. Choosing a healthful and delicious evening snack will fill any gaps in your nutrition and ensure that you get a good night’s sleep

First in the world of evening snacking comes the fruit and vegetable snack option. Remember that a piece of fruit or a vegetable item should be your first choice when it comes to snacking. Think of 1/2 of a cup of carrot sticks with a small amount of hummus or a whole apple or orange. These types of snacks are the best option for anyone, no matter what type of health issue you have. Even those of us without health problems will benefit from snacking on fruits or vegetables. The recipes for these items can be super simple and might only involve dicing a few carrots or gathering a handful of blackberries. Remember that a small fruit salad or a cup of cherry tomatoes can be both delicious and nutritious for an evening snack. None of these items take much preparation and none contain large amounts of sugars, fats or sodium. This means that even those of us with diabetes can be comfortable snacking on most fruits and vegetables.

Sweet and Crunchy Yogurt

For a sweet treat after dinner, yogurt is a perfect option. This recipe is simple, sweet and crunchy, making it perfect for the person who craves ice cream or chips after their dinner meal. You will need:

  • 1/2 cup of lemon, strawberry or cherry yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of granola
  • 1/4 cup of whole raw almonds.

To prepare, just combine the yogurt with the granola and nuts and you have a filling snacking option. Low fat yogurt is rich in calcium, something that many of us do not get enough of in our daily diets.

Cheese On Toast

If you are not a fan of yogurt, cheese on toast can make a delicious snacking option.

  1. Choose a slice of whole grain bread and a slice of low fat cheddar or American cheese.
  2. Place the cheese on the bread and place it on the center rack of your toaster oven for just 5 minutes at about 300 degrees. Use aluminum foil under the bread to catch the drippings if the cheese melts quickly.

This snack is enough of a comfort food that even the traditional potato chip snacker will not feel deprived.

Sautéed Mushrooms

If you have a few minutes to prepare a snack, sautéed mushrooms are an optimal choice. You will need: 

  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, finely diced
  • 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of black pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  1. Begin by melting the butter in a small pan on medium heat.
  2. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper, and onion and sauté until the onions turn clear in color.
  3. Remove from heat and add tomatoes, stirring well.
  4. Toss the entire mixture with soy sauce if you want a little more flavor.

This recipe is relatively low in fat and sodium and provides a delicious warm snacking option.

Super Healthy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

For this delicious snack you will need to gather: 

  • 8 ounces of any type of fresh tomato
  • 6 ounces of mozzarella cheese, in thick slices
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  1. To begin the salad, dice the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Compari tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes are some of the most flavorful for this recipe. You will want to choose a good tomato as the salad gains much of its flavor from that item.
  2. Slice the mozzarella cheese into bite-sized chunks about the same size as the tomato pieces.
  3. Place both the tomatoes and cheese in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
  4. Toss with shredded basil leaves and your salad is complete.

Without any additional salt or spices, the tomatoes and cheese make for a very satisfying snack. This salad is filling enough to bring to work for a healthy lunch too.

Pigs In A Blanket

Yes, pigs in a blanket! This snacking option, when created with healthful ingredients, is perfect for children and adults alike. You will need:

  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • 1 package of reduced fat turkey sausage
  • 4 sticks of mozzarella string cheese and a tablespoon of mustard
  1. Begin by unrolling the crescent roll dough and placing it flat on a baking sheet.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Place one sausage on each crescent roll and add half of a stick of string cheese.
  4. Spread a tiny bit of mustard over the cheese and roll the crescent roll closed.
  5. Place the combination on the baking sheet with the seam side down.
  6. Repeat this process with each crescent roll.
  7. Place the filled baking sheet into your oven and bake for about 12 minutes.

Pigs in a blanket are a fun recipe and even children can help with this one.  If you divide the “pigs” into two separate containers, they can be easily reheated for the following day.

No matter what style of snacking you prefer, healthy snacks are always a viable option when it comes to evening munchies. Nuts and fruits should always be considered a first choice in snacking, but the occasional cookie or small bag of potato chips is really not a terrible idea. Giving in to your cravings once in a while can make it easier to stick to a diet over a long period of time. Healthy evening snacks are a great way to begin down the road to delicious and nutritious menus.

Tips for Healthy Eating While Dining Out

Even though menu planning and meal selection is best when performed at home, there are still healthy ways to eat when you are dining out. Everyone loves to have a dinner in a wonderful restaurant. You do not have to worry about who will do the dishes and you can avoid the whole cooking process, but restaurant meals tend to be real diet-breakers. Filled with fat, cholesterol and sodium, many restaurant foods taste delicious but offer none of the nutrients that a healthy body requires. Restaurants are renowned for cooking with huge amounts of butter and salt, 2 things that we really want to avoid when it comes to healthy eating.

Tip #1 – Keep It Simple

To avoid eating those foods that are going to knock your diet out of the park, stick to simple choices. If you can find something on the menu that is raw, steamed, grilled, broiled or baked, choose that item. In general, the less preparation that a food requires in order to make it edible, the more nutritious this food is for your body. This means that raw vegetables and fruits come first when you make your appetizer selection. If you can have a small salad as an appetizer, do that first. Pick the raw fruits and vegetables before you choose the meat for your entree. Steamed vegetables retain much of their nutrients as do baked vegetables. Avoiding fried foods is just the beginning when eating in a restaurant. Try to also avoid foods that are pureed because butter or heavy cream is often added to the puree.

Tip #2 – Avoid The Grease

This tip might seem a little over-used, but there is no better way to cut fat from your diet than by avoiding anything that is breaded and deep fried. Many restaurants serve deep fried cheese or vegetables as an appetizer. There is no real nutritional value in a vegetable once it has been covered in butter, egg and breading and doused in oil. If you can eat dinner without choosing any fried items from the menu, you have taken a big step toward healthier living and eating. Oils also hide in places that you probably would not suspect immediately. Remember that pan fried items are generally cooked in oils, as well. So that pan-fried tilapia is not as healthy as you might think. Restaurants are notorious for choosing butter over healthier fats like olive oil because butter tends to be less expansive and of course, tastes delicious.

Tip #3 – Watch Your Portion Sizes

A great way to save money and calories and fat is by eating an early-bird special at a restaurant. These meals are often smaller than the standard portions served for dinner and they come at a much lower price. Portion sizes are one of the worst mistakes that are made in nutrition. Although a small amount of fried chicken or a pat of butter is not terrible for your body, half of a fried chicken is pretty bad. Many restaurants serve huge portions in hopes of giving diners value for their money. Do you really need to eat 1/4 of a chicken at dinner? If the restaurant offers huge portions, divide your meal immediately into 2 smaller meals. Ask your waitress for a “to-go” box and place half of the meal in the box as soon as you receive the plate. This limits the quantity of food that you will eat at that meal without making you feel as if you are missing something.

Tip #4 – Skip The Sugary Drinks

When you order your meal at a restaurant, order water with the meal. Rather than drinking a giant soda that is loaded with sugar and calories, choose water with lemon. If you just cannot live without a soda, only order the smallest size. Many drinks come in such a large size that they will contain 300 calories or more and include 20 tablespoons of sugar. Water is vitally important for your body to function well and most of us do not get enough of it. Have water with your meal and you can splurge on a tiny dessert without the guilt. Water with lemon is flavorful and free

Tip #5 – Try “Family Style” Ordering

Instead of having each person in your party order a separate appetizer and meal, try a family style order. Pick 2 or 3 appetizers and 2 or 3 entrees and share them between everyone in your party. This gives you a taste of many different menu items without the feeling that you must finish your entire plate of food. Since most restaurants serve huge portions anyway, family style dining is a great way to save money and enjoy the largest variety of food on the menu. Remember that you still need to stick to healthy options, so try an order of broiled fish or chicken and wild rice with appetizers that consist of foods that are not overly processed.

Tip #6 – Skip The Sauce

Even healthy dishes can become incredibly fattening when you put sauce on them. Broiled chicken is delicious, but add that garlic and cream sauce and you have taken all of the “healthy” out of the meal. If a meal requires a special sauce, ask your waiter to serve the sauce on the side. This rule applies to salads and dips as well as for meals. Even the most nutritious item on the menu is not good for you if you soak it in butter and heavy cream. Rather than avoiding sauce altogether, simply order it on the side and dip your fork into the sauce while you eat. You will have all of the flavor without the huge amount of fat and calories.

Restaurant dining is an important part of many of our lives. With hectic lives and busy schedules it is impossible to cook a meal at home every day. Choosing your entrees wisely will give you control over your nutrition and your diet when dining out.

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