It’s easy to keep using the same leafy greens over and over, but you will eventually get tired of eating them. Branch out and incorporate some new nutritious greens into your healthy eating plan. These greens are full of flavor, and they can be used in a variety of ways.
When compared to other leafy greens, beet greens are one of the best sources for potassium. They also contain vitamins A and K. Try adding beet greens as a filling for warm sandwiches in place of spinach or arugula.
Like many leafy greens, the Asian vegetable bok choy is part of the cruciferous family. This means that it is packed with unique antioxidants that are known for their anti-cancer properties. Thinly slice bok choy, and add it to your salads, or stir it into a healthy vegetable fried rice .
Chard supplies vitamins A and K as well as magnesium. Chard ranges in color from true green leaves to stalks that are purple, pink or yellow that fade into dark green leaves. Chopped chard leaves are delicious when added to an omelet or sautéed with garlic and lemon for a quick side dish.
Tender turnip greens are a source for calcium and vitamins A, C and K. They cook quickly so you can easily sauté them in garlic and olive oil for a healthy side dish, or stir the sliced greens into a vegetable soup about 5 minutes before serving.
Mustard greens are similar to turnip greens in nutrition, offering calcium and vitamins A, C and K. These greens have a unique peppery taste that can add a whole new flavor to healthy dishes. Chop and sauté mustard greens with a milder green like kale to balance the flavor. Mustard greens are also delicious in Asian-inspired dishes like stir-fried minced pork or tofu with vegetables.
Cooking your meals gives you better control of your nutrient intake, but it can be time- consuming. Don’t give up! You can get wholesome, nutritious food on the table with these shortcuts for healthy cooking.
Prep when you return from the store.
As soon as you unpack your groceries, grab the cutting board, knives and storage containers. Half of cooking is preparation, and you can save time on a busy night by having your ingredients ready to go. It is true that some fruits and vegetables may lose nutrients when they are cut, but this approach is better than swinging in the drive-through when you are pressed for time.
Chop up bell peppers and onions to make fajitas. Make cucumber slices, carrot sticks and celery sticks to snack on with hummus or Greek yogurt dip. Chop up mixed greens and store them in a bowl for quick salads throughout the week. Cut broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts so you can quickly season and roast them for an easy side dish.
Rinse away sodium in canned foods.
Canned foods make cooking easier, but excess sodium in beans and vegetables can be a problem. Rinsing canned foods and draining the liquid can drastically cut the sodium levels. Research shows that rinsing canned beans can reduce the sodium content up to 40 percent.
Get a spray bottle for oils.
When heart-healthy oils are turned into a spray, they can be used in many different ways. Spray oils can be used to lightly dress salads, to coat vegetables before roasting, and to grease casserole dishes and muffin pans. Invest in a spray bottle with a pump that allows you to turn your favorite healthy oil into an easy-to-spray mist.
Buy pre-chopped toppings.
Toppings like nuts and dried fruits add flavor without excess calories when they are finely chopped and evenly distributed throughout your salad or side dish. Look for pre-chopped versions of these ingredients to save time during cooking.
Make the sides.
Side dishes provide an opportunity to boost your nutrient intake. If you are pressed for time, consider turning to a pre-made main course. Many delis carry pre-made burgers, veggie patties, and rotisserie chicken. Check ingredient lists to make sure these foods are not loaded with unhealthy ingredients, but otherwise, this little bit of help can save you time in the kitchen. Once the main course is taken care of, you can concentrate on making fresh greens, roasted vegetables and cold grain salads to keep your meals packed with nutrients.
Hydration is important for almost every function in the body from your heart pumping blood to using your muscles for movement. Letting yourself get dehydrated can zap your energy and leave you sluggish and unmotivated. There is more than one way to give your body the fluid it needs. Use a combination of these foods and drinks to stay hydrated.
Water is by far the best way to hydrate. While drinking too much can have a negative impact, sipping water throughout the day and drinking it with your meal is a great way to boost hydration and cut calories.
Sparkling Flavored Water
If you find plain water boring and have a difficult time cutting out sodas, try sparkling flavored waters. Look for calorie-free waters with natural flavors and no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. They can be a great substitute for plain water when you need something with a little flavor and fizz.
100% Fruit Juice
Choose your juices wisely, because many are high in calories. But this doesn’t mean that all juices are bad. Many 100% juices are rich in antioxidants, such as pomegranate juice and tart cherry juice. Tart cherry juice has also been associated with reducing muscle soreness. Keep servings small and use juice as a treat and a healthy way to to satisfy a sweet craving.
Whether it’s a tall glass of unsweetened iced tea or a cup of hot tea, the main ingredient is water. Teas can serve as a source of hydration and make a good alternative when you get tired of plain water. For even more flavor, look for fruit and spice infused decaffeinated teas without added sweeteners.
Fruit and Vegetables
Hydration doesn’t only come from drinks. Many fruits and vegetables are mostly water. Berries, watermelon, citrus, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, radishes, and celery are just a few examples that are high in water content.
Reaching your fitness goals depends as much on your eating habits as it does on your exercise plan. The protein you consume plays an important role in building muscle. Whether your aim is to slim and tone or to bulk up, getting the right amount and type of protein will help you achieve your exercise goals more efficiently.
The protein we eat is made of multiple amino acids that are essential for building muscle. When you perform resistance training, it causes tiny tears in the muscle tissue. The tissue uses amino acids from your diet to rebuild itself, which leads to larger muscles and increased strength.
Healthy adults should get 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein, but health organizations have made more specific recommendations based on body weight for those with clear health and exercise goals. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults eat no less than 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Athletes have a slightly increased need. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine jointly recommended that athletes who focus on strength or speed should consume 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Endurance athletes should consume 0.5 to 0.6 grams per pound of body weight daily.
Most people eat enough protein for general health, but sometimes this is not high-quality protein. High-quality protein provides the necessary amino acids for muscle building and supplies additional nutrients. For example, fish supplies protein with omega-3 fatty acids, and beans contain protein and fiber. Roasted or grilled lean meats and poultry provide protein without the excess saturated fat and sodium of fast food burgers and sandwiches.
There are also different types of quality protein: complete proteins that contain all 9 essential amino acids and incomplete proteins that lack one or more of these amino acids. Animal-based foods, soybeans and quinoa are complete proteins while most other plant-based foods are incomplete proteins. By eating a variety of high-protein foods, it is possible to get all of the amino acids you need, even if you choose to eliminate animal products from your diet. As you track your protein intake to build muscle, ensure that you include high-quality protein for the most health benefit. Fish, poultry, beans, dairy, nuts, and whole grains are all great sources for muscle-building protein.
Protein powders were once associated only with weight lifting and building muscle. Due to an increased knowledge of the importance of protein and the development of more varieties, protein powders are now common among the health conscious. Protein powders do have benefits, but do you need to invest in powders, and how will they affect your nutrition? By understanding more about these products, you can decide if protein powders are good choice for you.
What are protein powders made of?
The most common forms of protein powders are made with whey protein and casein protein, both from dairy, and soy protein from the soybean. In recent years, more options for protein powder have hit the market. Some powders are made from goat’s milk, and some are made from egg. Plant-based protein powders now also include pea, brown rice, and hemp.
How are protein powders used?
Protein powders are often flavored as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and can be made into a shake. These shakes serve as meal replacements or as pre and post workout snacks. The powders can be added to smoothie recipes and can be stirred into yogurt and oatmeal. They are also sometimes mixed into the batter of breakfast foods to create high-protein muffins or pancakes.
What are the pros and cons of using protein powders?
These powders can help boost your protein intake. They may be especially helpful during times of increased protein need, such as when training for an event or when recovering from injury. Protein powders are also convenient because they don’t require cooking, nor are they perishable like many other protein sources.
While these powders may be helpful and convenient, many health experts suggest that you can get the protein you need through food without the addition of powder supplements. These powders can be an expensive investment that isn’t necessary to improve fitness or build muscle. Since they are consumed in the liquid form, they can be less filling than eating solid foods. They can also be highly processed with sweeteners and other additives so read ingredient labels closely. Also, remember that these powders contain calories. One scoop has as much as 170 calories, but many brands range from 90 to 110 calories per scoop. Loading up on protein powder through high-calorie protein shakes may not be the best option if weight loss is your goal.