With busy schedules in full effect, we asked Registered Dietician Shauna DelPrete for tips and advice for planning out our healthy week.
Here’s what she had to say:
I am all about shopping the perimeter (outer aisles) of the supermarket and being super selective in the center aisles that contain packaged goods. Many packaged goods are loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and other additives. However, there are some better for you products that you should keep on hand to make healthy eating both easier and more affordable. Here are my go to packaged goods:
1-Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as your fresh ones and sometimes better. They are an easy way to save money on groceries and full of nutrition. These are items picked at their peak nutritional value and flash frozen to keep those nutrients preserved. In addition to their nutritional value, they just make life easier. Foods are washed and cut for you saving you time in the kitchen. Get experimental and spice up veggies with salt free seasonings and use frozen fruit in your smoothies in place of ice! Just be aware of frozen vegetables with added sauces or fruit labeled smoothie mix, which often times have higher fat, sodium, or sugar content. Instead, purchase unflavored frozen varieties for the healthiest option. Our frittata recipe works great with frozen veggies and all of our smoothies are actually at their finest with frozen, organic fruit.
2 -Steel Cut Oats or Unflavored Oatmeal
Using any unflavored oats will be the easiest addition to your morning routine. Oats cook up quickly and there are so many ways to flavor without adding a lot of sugar. If you are really in a hurry you can make overnight oats and you will have a grab and go breakfast begging to be eaten. Next time you make oats, add in a small amount of vanilla extract. It adds a bit of sweetness so you don’t need the sugar! You can make an overnight oats recipe following this suggestion here.
3 – No Salt Added Canned or Boxed Beans
Did you know the average American consumes only 14 grams of fiber? Compare that to the recommended 25 grams and you can see most of us are severely lacking in the fiber department. I think one of the easiest fiber boosters is beans. A half cup of many varieties will give you 7-9 grams! Beans are also a inexpensive source of protein. Use beans in your next Meatless Monday dish, as a salad topper, or blend it into hummus. There are so many great ways to use these nutritional powerhouses that you cannot go wrong. Our favorite beans are by Eden because they come in the cans that are not lined with BPA (a preservative but also a hormone disruptor).
4- Salt Free Herbs and Spices
People often associate healthy eating with bland food and we here at Dreamingreengirl.com know that is just not true. We like to add layers of flavor and bright beautiful color with our herbs and spices. I always keep a number of them on hand to create my own seasoning blends without the salt. I also like to buy the salt free seasoning blends that are premade and make seasoning chicken, fish, grains, and vegetables beyond easy. Try a sprinkle of turmeric on your rice for a bold golden color + mild flavor, or a dash of cinnamon in your smoothie for great flavor and a delicious smell. This chai spice recipe for a fun way to add flavor to oatmeal, smoothies, pancakes, and more!
5- Nuts and Seeds
Unsalted nuts and seeds, and the butters made from them are a rich source of nutrients. They are easy to keep on hand and a source of omega-3’s, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, and zinc. They can promote a feeling of fullness and may help improve cholesterol levels protecting you from cardiovascular disease. While nuts and seeds are filled with nutrient goodness they are also high in calories. Never eat directly from the bag or jar. Monitor your portion sizes carefully when enjoying these items. We can not get enough of our homemade almond butter recipe, spread on toast or a teaspoon added to our morning smoothie is delicious!
6- Unsalted Broth
If you ever read the label on a regular broth you will see up to 1,000 mg of sodium. Thats almost half your recommended intake for the day in just 1 cup! As easy way to still add flavor but cut the salt is with unsalted varieties of broth. These products are generally low sodium, containing 140 mg of sodium or less. That is a big difference! Reducing sodium intake can help you maintain your heart and kidney health.
Salsa can be a nice way to add flavor to a dish without adding a lot of calories. 2 tablespoons has only 20 calories. I like to use salsa for flavoring on my eggs, chicken, or mexican dishes. Just note that sodium content may be high so compare labels to find ones with less salt.
8- No Salt Added Tomato Products
Fresh tomatoes are not always in season or the most convenient to use. Pick up any number of tomato products with limited to no added salt to use as a base in recipes like soups, stews, dressings or salsas. There are diced, strained, and chopped tomatoes to name a few. This is another place to be on the lookout for sodium. Choose items labeled no salt added or low sodium.
9- Whole Grains and Pseudo Grains
There are a number of grain options to choose from here. Keep items like wild rice, quick cooking brown rice, quinoa, farro, wheat berries, and amaranth on hand. These are all ways to get additional fiber in the diet without any added sugar. Flavor them with a homemade salad dressing or make your herbs and spices. Our most effective way to use grains? Make a big batch on sunday and use throughout the week. Try this: make 10 of your 21 meals this week at home, using grains and healthy proteins. You will be amazed at how great you feel when you eat homecooked breakfast, lunch or dinner of grains topped with veggies,chicken, eggs, or fish! Chef Plum’s videos make it easy! (especially love his stir-fried shrimp over rice! )
10- Ground Flax and Chia Seed
These superfoods burst onto the food scene just a few years ago and they are here to stay. Both chia and flax contain omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. ALA can help maintain healthy hair and skin as well as maintain your cardiovascular health. They also are an excellent source of fiber and contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. There are so many uses for these seeds that the possibilities are endless. Try sprinkling them on your favorite cereal, in soups or stews, or in yogurt. Add a teaspoon of flax or chia into a smoothie or mix it in with your favorite salad dressing. You can use them as an egg replacement or in breading on things like chicken cutlet or meatloaf. Our Chia Seed Pudding and our Horsing Around Smoothie are a great way to start!