Do you-like me-have Room for improvement?… A Quick Check List
Are you eating out more than 2-3 times a week?
Eating out is health sabotage and with very few exceptions I don’t care where you do it or how good you think you are at ordering, it is near impossible to maintain your health eating out. Check out the sodium for starters-you may not have to look much farther to see that you are getting way too much (2000mg a day and even less if you a have high blood pressure). Just an example: 1320 mg sodium in a Southwest Grilled Chicken salad with low-fat balsamic dressing –McDonalds. Doesn’t matter if you are paying more for it-trust me the salt is in there.
Are you really eating enough vegetables? Could you do better?
If you are eating 5-7 servings a day of fruit and vegetables you are amazing and keep going. If you like me are closer to 3 a day then there is room for improvement. Mix them into your eggs at breakfast, add them in at snacks with your cheese stick or hummus, and make sure two servings are showing up at dinner. Pre chop those veggies and pack them into servings sizes if it make it easy for you. Having bagged spinach makes me use it more and a fat pinch on top of an egg sandwich as I run out the door becomes extra veggies that are very doable. Many people enjoy a weekend breakfast casserole and this is a great place to add extra vegetables-see pic. This one has green and yellow zucchini mushrooms and onions!
Are you replacing high fat proteins with lean proteins choices like fish, chicken, turkey and beans?
Lean proteins are a healthful alternative to high fat meats. We are all still dying of cardiovascular disease and need to reduce saturated fats in our diet. Is anyone cooking fish? Eating beans? Try to add in fish once a week and some beans twice a week-I like beans they are cheaper. Fish not only is lean but also has heart healthy fats-all of them-some more than others. Beans are a true super food not only are they a lean protein, they are fiber rich and filled with antioxidants! Beans don’t have to be served up as chili in a steaming hot bowl, you can add them to salads and pasta dishes-delicious!
Are you drinking soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweet tea, juice, lemonade, blended coffees, iced coffees*…liquids with Sugar!!
These are the sweet things we love to drink that come in pretty large container- these days, usually greater than 16oz and with a straw. This is a ton of calories and a load of sugar and our bodies are not made to handle it-Period end of story. Just cut them out-they are a treat if anything and should be consumed 1x weekly to monthly. Try replacing them with plain iced tea, plain iced coffee, sparkling water, water with real fruit added to it-think lemons, oranges, limes or just plain water. As long as you are consuming these items every day you are sabotaging your health and paving the way to obesity and possibly to type 2 diabetes.
* This is of course assuming that you are not taking your iced tea or coffee plain-meaning without sugar!
Ok so the nutritionist snuck out full force on this one but with the love of food sometimes you just have to give a hard look at what your doing and tweak things here and there.
Lower the Salt. Make your own broth or at least choose low sodium varieties. Use fresh or dried herbs, pesto’s, gremolatas and spices to add flavor instead of extra salt.
Start soup without fat from lots of butter or bacon. Ok so sometimes fat has its place, but if you are trying to loose or maintain your weight these foods add extra calories fast. Instead get out the measuring spoon for your fats and use them sparingly. Fat is a flavor blast. Add that dimension and deepen the flavor of your soup by layering flavors; slowly sauté lots of vegetables and deglaze with broth instead.
Modify those cream soups. When a soup calls for cups and cups of high fat dairy this means high flavor, but with a high price in calories as well. Opt to meet in the middle by subbing out some or all of the fat with low fat dairy or yogurt. Tip: Use immersion blending techniques half puree a soup to add body without adding fat.
Choose Low fat dairy ingredients. Cheese can add both fat and sodium to your homemade soups. So ‘a little goes a long way’ approach is best. Replace large volumes of cheese with low or non-fat varieties. A small topping of parmesan is blissful on a vegie and legume rich minestrone and can lower the overall salt you use in the recipe (because cheese is salty). We all love warm gooey cheese in soup but if a recipe calls for a chunk of brie, jack and cheddar added to your broccoli soup this recipe may need modifying.
Don’t add on fried toppings. If you are making healthy changes and baking everything else than keep up the good work and don’t top your soup with fried shallots, croutons or anything else. You can still add that crunch by baking these instead! You can also explore roasted nuts, seeds or beans as toppings. One of my favorites: Roasted spicy garbanzo beans (see recipe).
Pair well. Some simple ingredient soups may be a pleasure but may not have much to offer in terms of color and nutrition. These soups and most others would benefit from being paired with fresh salads or vegetable dishes with lots of color in place of buttery bread or biscuits.
You have some explaining to do…
Gremolata: Usually a mixture of fresh herbs, citrus zest and garlic. It is the perfect bright acidic compliment-not to mention nutritional boost to heavy rich tasting foods. Use to finish savory soups or meat dishes.
- 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon sage, minced
- 1 teaspoon orange zest, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Combine all ingredients and use as topping for savory soups, hearty stews and braised meats.
Layering flavors in soup: Layering flavors means adding and cooking different ingredients into a dish to create a beautiful complex flavor. Start with a small amount of oil and take your time to slowly sauté onion, followed by carrot, celery, and once there is a coating on the bottom of the pan add the garlic and herbs. Sauté for a minute then add a splash of wine, broth or water and grab your favorite wooden spoon and get to deglazing. Deglazing is essentially pulling all those tasty bits off the bottom of the pan and dissolving them in the broth. Continue with your recipe and finally finish the soup off with a squeeze of lemon and a gremolata. These final layers add acidity and brightness.
Immersion blender technique: Great for cream soups, corn chowders, potato soups or bean and sweet potato soups. Instead of adding in cream as a thickener, part of the soup is removed and pureed. Then added back to the soup. Blending can be accomplished with either an immersion blender or in a regular blender-careful it’s hot!
Oven Roasted Garbanzo beans: These are amazing. Turn your oven on to 375F and get ready for a toasty warm topping for soup. Any leftovers make a great high protein snack!
- 1-15oz can low sodium garbonzo beans
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Drain and rinse garbanzo beans and place on towel lined tray and pat dry for crispier roasting. Once dry, add olive oil and toss. Sprinkle with cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in 375F oven for 20-30 minutes or until crispy and a darker tan color.
- These are great for topping soups or a high fiber high protein snack. Careful- like all things toasty and delicious these are addicting.