Preparing healthy meals is a lot easier than preparing and serving junk food. Nobody enjoys a tasteless plate of pasta or a messy plate of macaroni and cheese. No one enjoys feeling hungry after a day of strenuous activity.
So, why should you prepare healthier meals? The answer is because it can be worth the effort. Not only does it taste better, but it’s also healthier for you.
Cheaper and Healthier – You don’t have to spend a fortune to make a meal that’s healthier. Look around your home for places you can cut down on sodium and fat, and you’ll find plenty of great alternatives. Check out this list of “in season” produce and fruits at your local farmers’ market to see if there are healthier alternatives.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals. Other ‘superfoods’ like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains are a lot more filling and less expensive than the same number of calories from meat, cheeses, and bread. To save money, serve those vegetables on their own and add some meat, poultry, or fish if you prefer.
Protein: These “good carbs” are essential to good diets, because they provide energy for the body. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, so you really don’t need to add them to your meals. Eggs are a great source of protein, too. Try serving up scrambled eggs, as part of your regular breakfast.
Healthy Meals: How Should You Fry Your Foods?
Instead of frying foods in butter and bacon, try using olive oil and lean cuts of meat, such as chicken. For those who don’t like the taste of bacon, try serving turkey, chicken, or salmon instead. One type of tuna is a very healthy choice when combined with veggies. Try serving salmon with lettuce and sprouts.
Replace extra calories with low-fat-free cheese. Dairy products also contain high levels of calcium and magnesium, which are good for your bones and teeth. Eat healthier meals, and you’ll eat less and burn more calories. The “bad” calories from processed foods are harder to burn off than “good” ones.
Choose organic produce when preparing a vegetarian diet. Vegetarians don’t get many nutrients from animal products, and animal products are packed with calories and fats. The fats in meat are often saturated and Trans fats, which raise blood cholesterol levels. Instead of eating red meat, go vegetarian by including legumes and tofu into your meals.
What Are Some Great Protein-Based Meals?
Chicken, fish, and lean ground beef are all good choices for a protein-based meal. Serve them on whole grain and non-fat sourdough bread with vegetables. Butter can add excess calories, so stick to spreads or margarine. Protein-rich lentils and brown rice are also great additions.
The serving size is also important. You can’t get all the protein you need if you eat three or four large meals a day and you should eat smaller portions throughout the day to avoid overeating.
Maintaining Balance – When you prepare healthy meals, you need to keep the portions in mind. People who eat lots of junk food often end up with trouble sleeping at night. The body needs food to become accustomed to getting nutrients from it, and junk food often doesn’t provide that.
It’s a good idea to keep a food journal. Write down the kinds of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you’re eating each day, and chart how much you eat each day. This will help you maintain a balance between the amounts of all the food groups you consume.