As a new year approaches many people think about setting goals and often the focus is on improving health such as eating more veggies and increasing physical activity.
If you too are considering making some adjustments in your eating habits, think small, incremental steps that will lead to success and lifelong changes. Check out the following tips and see if any work for you.
1. Get to know the foods you eat. This may sound a little odd, but we often don’t give much thought to what we consume. Check out the following websites for tips and support: choosemyplate.gov and of course www.ksre.k-state.edu.
2. Use a smaller plate. Check the size of plates in your cabinet and consider using a smaller one at meals to help with portion control.
3. If you eat out, choose more healthful options. Check on nutrition information about the foods you are eating. Most fast-food restaurants post nutrition facts on their menus. Better yet, preparing food at home makes controlling what is in your meals easier to do.
4. Take your time. Be mindful to eat slowly, enjoy the taste and textures, and pay attention to how you feel. Use hunger and fullness cues to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough. Remember, your brain needs at least 20 minutes to get the message that your stomach is full.
5. Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthful way. Fruit is naturally sweet. Serve a fresh fruit cocktail or parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.
6. Choose to eat some foods more or less often. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or 1 percent milk and dairy products. Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salt.
7. Find out what you need. Get your personalized plan at www.choosemyplate.gov
8. Sip smarter. Drink water or other calorie-free beverages or fat-free milk when you are thirsty.
9. Compare foods. Compare Nutrition Facts label at the grocery store.
10. Make treats “treats,” not everyday foods. Have a smaller plate, and limit sweet treats to special occasions.
If “increasing veggies” is one of your healthy eating goals for 2014, give the following recipe a try.
Bowtie Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Feta
2 cups dry whole-wheat bowtie pasta (farfalle) (8 oz)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced (about ½ clove)
8 oz white button mushrooms, rinsed, cut into quarters
4 cups cooked broccoli florets (or one, 1-pound bag frozen broccoli, thawed)
1 cup cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced (about 2 small breasts)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium lemon, rinsed, for 1 tsp zest and 1 Tbsp juice
2 oz reduced-fat feta cheese, diced (can also use parmesan or mozzarella cheese)
1. In a 4-quart casserole, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.
2. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain.
3. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium heat. Cook until soft, but not browned (about 30 seconds).
4. Add mushrooms and heat until lightly browned and soft.
5. Add broccoli, diced chicken, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the broccoli and chicken are heated through.
6. Add pasta, and toss gently. Continue to simmer until pasta is hot, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Add lemon zest and juice, and toss.
8. Serve 2 cups of pasta and sauce per portion. Top each with 1 ½ tablespoons feta cheese.
Makes 4 servings: Each serving provides…421 calories, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 285 mg sodium, 49 g carbohydrates, 36 g protein
(Source: Keep the Beat Recipes, Deliciously Healthy Family Meals, US Depart. of Health and Human Services and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)