March is National Nutrition Month–what better time to make a commitment to healthy living? Following are four tips for creating a healthier home that we think are attainable for any family. The idea is to adopt one tip per week, or adapt the ideas to what works in your own home. If you have any of your own suggestions, do share!
1. Buy food plain and flavor it yourself. Take a look at the ingredients on flavored oatmeal, flavored yogurt or packaged couscous. They’re full of ingredients you can’t pronounce and pretty much don’t need. They’re meant to preserve the products’ shelf life and taste salty or sweet enough to keep you shoveling in the spoonfuls. Plain yogurt, plain oatmeal, raw and plain grains–not only is it healthier to flavor food yourself, but it’s also cheaper. For yogurt and oatmeal, we add honey or real maple syrup.
2. Avoid trans fat. If you haven’t done this yet, toss out the trans fat. This isn’t so hard these days because avoiding trans fat is now so trendy that even Oreo’s no longer contain it. Look for partially hydrogenated oils, margarine or shortening in ingredient lists and then look for an alternative, similar product. In your own baking, instead of margarine, use butter, coconut oil or at the very least, Earth Balance.
3. Add whole grains to your diet. Not every family is able to switch over entirely to whole grains without an all out riot from the kids. Try instead to add whole grains little by little. Add a cup of whole wheat to baked goods when a recipe calls for two cups of flour. Mix in some brown rice with your normal white rice recipe and call it pilaf.
4. Eat leafy greens. Leafy greens are the power food of every diet, yet most people hardly eat any. Leafy vegetables are brimming with fiber along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances that can protect you from heart disease, diabetes and perhaps even cancer. Plus, if you know how to cook them, they’re delicious (we promise!). It’s easy to toss in spinach or kale to a recipe, while serving the same meal to picky eaters plain. Eat it enough, and you just might encourage the rest of your family to give it a try.