Fifty-two percent of Americans feel that it is easier to figure out their taxes, than to figure out how to eat healthy, according to the International Food Information Council.
And really, it’s no wonder, with all the conflicting and misinformation available to us through the internet, it can be difficult to figure out how to improve your eating habits in a way that will truly improve your life. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Simply increasing the amount of vegetables in your diet will increase nutrient intake, and reduce the amount of unhealthy fats, sugars and processed foods that are being consumed, and help you reach your New Year’s resolution of eating healthier in 2019.
Limiting Fat and Adding Plants
Adding fruits and vegetables to your meals is a quick way to increase nutrient intake, and reduce cravings for empty calories, in fact, the USDA recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal for a healthy diet. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up the delicious meals and flavors that you love.
If you’re a lover of french fries and other tasty fried foods, consider skipping the fast food line and try your hand at alternative methods to ‘frying.’
Prepare chicken like you would for frying, and then simply cook in a light layer of oil to give it flavor and reduce the amounts of oils. For a veggie boost, try making zucchini ‘fries,’ by slicing the squash into fry-sized pieces, dipping in egg, then breadcrumbs and baking for a delicious alternative to the empty calories of french fries. If you’re still after that true deep fried feeling, look into an air fryer, which uses far less oil than regular frying, and you can get creative with frying all kinds of veggies.
Throwing Veggies on the Grill
Barbecue nights are the best nights, right? A cold beer in your hand, the smell of tender steak or ribs drifting off the grill. Don’t worry, you don’t need to give up those nights to eat healthier. Simply replace about half of the meat you would barbecue with vegetables. This seems daunting at first, if you aren’t used to eat a lot of plants, and if your idea of a vegetable side dish is to steam some broccoli with a little salt, but barbecuing vegetables can bring out cooking creativity and flavors you didn’t know were there.
There are many fruits and vegetables that lend themselves to the barbecue, and grilling them reduces the amount of nutrient loss when compared to other cooking methods, as well as releasing natural sweetness and locking in flavor. Peaches and pineapples offer summery flavors, and a few minutes on a hot grill gives them a delicious edge, no oils required. Get creative with your veggies. Choose your favorite options, like bell peppers or summer squash, rub with just a touch of olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite blend of spices, and watch those enticing grill marks form.
45% of Americans wanted to lose weight or get in shape at the beginning of 2018. But unfortunately, the fad diets that many people choose to follow are neither healthy nor sustainable. Increasing the amount of vegetables you consume each day is a healthy and long lasting way to change how you approach healthy eating, without compromising flavor.
May you have many plants on your plate, happiness, and health in 2019!
Ali Holroyd spent ten years working in professional kitchens in Houston before taking a career break to start a family. She now combines her lifelong love of writing with her experience in the food and nutrition sector as a freelance writer and content editor. Alicia lives in Clearlake with her husband, two daughters and her black lab, Rosie.