These 5 ideas will help you plan and prepare healthy family meals throughout the new year.
Each New Year ushers in a new set of resolutions—oftentimes centered on improving your health and changing up less-than-desirable eating habits. Making changes, especially when involving food, can be challenging. Last January I decided it was time to make a change in my family's eating habits and I lost 30 pounds in the process. This year I want to lose another 30 pounds. The key to success is to start small. Here are 5 tips to get you—and your family—headed in the right direction. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling healthier and happier all the way around.
Start The Morning Right—The old adage is true: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. I ditched cereals and carbs at breakfast and now we eat scrambled eggs with veggies (onions, peppers and mushrooms, mostly) or smoothies for breakfast. You can make mini crustless quiche ahead and freeze them for a quick and healthy breakfast. I also tried my hand at gluten free pancakes and gluten free waffles to lower our carbs and still have family favorites at breakfast.
Take Stock – A well-stocked refrigerator and pantry are critical to maintaining a healthy diet. The first thing I did last January was to purge my pantry. I got rid of anything that was expired or that I deemed unhealthy. Then I restocked with more healthful staples like Jasmine brown rice, dried beans, Wild Planet canned tuna (my favorite brand!) and salmon for quick and nutritious meals. Keep containers of chopped fresh vegetables and fruit, and good-for-you, homemade snacks in the refrigerator to nibble between meals. We love homemade trail mix packed with dried fruit, nuts and even dark chocolate.
Plan Ahead – Say goodbye to the angst of having to decide what’s for dinner or making the drive-through the default by planning out your meals. You’ll save time and money—and eat healthier—when the week’s meals are planned ahead and all ingredients are combined into one, easy-to-use shopping list. Find out how I plan a menu and then print out my menu planner and start planning! Last January I also subscribed to the eMeals Clean Eating Meal Plans. I found it very overwhelming to replace the old foods we loved with new foods we should be eating. I didn't follow the eMeals plan religiously, but I used it for ideas and inspiration. I'd say I made 1-2 of the meals each week and we found so many new favorite recipes! Right now, you can get a 2 week trial for FREE, too! There are tons of options to choose from to meet your family's needs – Clean Eating, Paleo, Low Carb, Organic, Slow Cooker, and so many others. An eMeals meal plan is a great way to start out on a healthier lifestyle.
Give Comfort Foods a Makeover – Cut fat and calories, boost nutrients, and keep all the comfort with these simple tips:
• I'm not afraid of fat. I happen to think we don't eat enough good fats. But I do prefer to make my own whenever possible. I skip the heavy “cream of” soups when making casseroles and make my own cream of soups.
• Oven-frying allows you to enjoy the crispy, crunchy texture of fried foods without the added fat. Experiment with different breading, like panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped nuts or flaked unsweetened coconut for a tropical touch. We love Amish Baked Chicken and Skinny Chicken Fingers for chicken dinners that taste fried, but are baked instead.
• Use mashed cauliflower, parsnips or turnips in place of carb-heavy potatoes as an alternate for this classic side dish. This easy strategy cuts calories while amping up the fiber and nutrients.
Pile on the Veggies – We all need to eat more vegetables, which are naturally low in calories and high in hunger-curbing fiber. The best strategy: Fill half your plate with vegetables rather than calorie-rich carbs and meat. Add fresh or dried herbs and citrus zest or juice to veggies for extra flavor without adding extra calories. Roasted sweet potato hash is a great way to break your family in to eating sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. My kids love these roasted Brussels sprouts, too!
These are 5 easy ways to get your family eating healthier in 2015! It takes a little bit of mental energy at first to change your mind set and your menu, but after a few weeks, it'll feel normal. I can't recommend trying out an eMeals plan for free for 2 weeks to help get you started towards a healthier you this yer.
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