Eating healthy isn’t rocket science, but it can get you on a life trajectory of feeling and looking better. There are simple nutrition steps you can follow to get you in orbit. I often hear my clients say the steps need to be easy because they are either uncomfortable with meal preparation, don’t want to take the time or absolutely hate the concept of cooking. With these kinds of conversations I emphasize that there are quick and easy meals and routines that can make this process easy. The key is to keep a few essential ingredients always in stock and to shop with a list which includes these items.
Simple Nutrition Steps
A healthy meal should always combine lean protein, fiber and healthy fat. With the right amount of each component, this magic combination will keep you feeling fuller longer, prevents your blood glucose from spiraling and keeps your energy levels high until the next meal. There are simple nutrition steps that start with the shopping list below:
First, some important facts about food. Most foods are a combination of the macro-nutrients protein, carbohydrates and fats. Most are more of one macro-nutrient than the other. For example salmon is high in heart healthy fats and is also a great source of protein. Nuts are high in heart healthy fat but are also a good source of protein and fiber. Cheese is a good source of protein, but it is very high in fat, especially the heart damaging saturated fat, which is why you want to focus on low-fat or moderate portions. Beans are high in carbohydrates but also very high in fiber and have a reasonable amount of protein. The fiber and protein prevents a spike in blood glucose unlike the “white” foods like rice, white bread and boxed potatoes. Additionally, cutting back on foods high in fat, like cheese, oils and nuts, and eating more fiber especially from vegetables, will help you lose weight.
Other ingredients I always keep in stock and have on my shopping list are:
- 2 quarts organic chicken broth
- mustard (essentially no calories and a great addition to many recipes)
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- garlic/onion powder
Putting The Puzzle Together In These Simple Nutrition Steps
The meal below is a great example of protein, fiber and healthy fat. The protein is coming mainly from the sautéed scallops. Fiber is coming from the half plate of veggies, the brown rice and the sliced peaches for dessert. The healthy fat is coming from the canola oil the scallops were sautéed in and the olive oil the veggies were tossed in.
Simple and Quick Meals You Can Make From My Shopping List
Using my shopping list, here are some simple meals you can put together.
- Chicken Quesadilla Saute the chicken in canola oil (can handle a higher heat than olive oil). Let cool and shred into pieces. Place in whole grain wrap (like LaTortilla) along with shredded green cabbage, 2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup black beans and pour salsa and wrap up.
- Baked Salmon with broccoli and small sweet potato Preheat oven to Bake 400. Cut sweet potato into 3/4 ” pieces and broccoli in small branches. Place in baking dish and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and small amount of salt and put in oven. Place salmon (4-5 ounces per person) in greased pan. Top with mustard, then sprinkle Panco or bread crumbs on top and put next to the veggies. Bake for 15 minutes until salmon and veggies are done.
- Baked Haddock with cheese, spinach and brown rice. When I make rice, I usually make 3 times the amount and freeze the rest for another time or use it in another meal a couple of days later. A serving of rice is 3/4 to 1 cup cooked per person. Brown rice takes about 50 minutes to prepare. Quinoa is a great alternative and only takes 20 minutes to make and is also higher in fiber and protein than rice. In a greased square pan place 2 cups fresh pre-washed spinach per person. Then place 5 oz of Haddock per person on top of the spinach. Place one slice of light Swiss cheese per person, spread a thin amount of reduced fat mayo and sprinkle with Panco. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.
- Chicken/Rice/Veggie Soup If you’ve prepared extra chicken and rice from the previous meals you can use them here. If not then put the uncooked chicken breasts and the brown rice in a large pot filled with about 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool. Add 1 bag each of chopped broccoli, spinach and carrots and 1 can kidney beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Shred the chicken and return to the pot. Then add 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 quart chicken broth. Then add a tbsp onion and garlic powder along with 1 tsp of salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve with a slice of whole grain toast.
- Frittata I like to make this dish in a 12″ cast iron skillet. Preheat oven to 400. Take one dozen eggs and mix with one cup fat-free Greek yogurt ( to boost the protein) until well-blended. In skillet saute one large diced onion in 1 tbsp canola oil . Then add two bags frozen chopped broccoli and saute until broccoli is cooked. Pour egg mixture in pan and stir in 1 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve with whole grain toast. I take the leftovers and place in a wrap with fresh spinach, some grated cheese and salsa to have for lunch or dinner for other meals.
Being Nutritionally Vigilant Starts With Planning And An Open Mind
Eating healthy starts with planning and a willingness to do things differently. These simple nutrition steps of combining protein, fiber and healthy fats along with using my shopping list regularly will simplify your life, make you healthier, have more energy and lose weight. Your freezer can become your best friend and allow you to eat healthy when you don’t feel like cooking. Investing in portion sized freezer containers and freezing extra portions will save you from impulse buys on the way home from a long day. You will find, after a few weeks that keeping these foods in your house will allow you to throw something healthy together in a manner of minutes. And what’s not to like about a bowl of hot homemade soup and crunchy toast on a cold winter day, right? That’s the way to launch into a healthy lifestyle!