Research shows that many of us are not getting enough nutrient dense foods, the foods that give our bodies the most benefit. Instead we are eating too many solid fats (unhealthy fats), added sugar, refined grains, sodium and saturated fat. One-third of our calories should come from carbohydrates. Instead, most of the calories come from grain based desserts, such as, cakes, cookies, pies, sweet rolls, donuts and sweetened beverages. We consume more than twice the maximum daily amount of sodium needed because of how much we eat out, instead of fixing meals at home. We consume less than half of the recommended amounts of milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Our snacking is causing us to consumer two to three times more than the recommended amounts of fats and sugars.
How can we make healthy choices? We can choose more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds. We can limit our intake of sodium, added sugar, refined grains, and calories from solid fats.
Here are some tips for making healthy food choices in 2013:
To help with portion control, use the smallest plate that will hold your food.
Make double vegetables and serve them first, to take the focus off meat.
Switch to whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole wheat flour or oat flour.
Eat vegetarian one night a week.
Switch from whole milk to low-fat or skim milk.
Skip the cream and sugar in your coffee and tea.
Don’t put a salt shaker on the table.
Drain and rinse canned beans to get rid of up to 43 percent of the salt they contain.
Eat fish twice a week—once a week is a good start.
Buy leaner cuts of meat and remove the skin from poultry.
Eat breakfast every day.
Dress salads lightly. When eating out, ask for dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
For more vitamins, choose darker-green lettuce rather than iceberg lettuce.
Add extra vegetables to soups, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes.
To cut down on “mindless eating,” don’t eat in front of the TV.
Eat more slowly, to give your body a chance to feel “full.”
A series of lessons on making better food choices will be offered by the Trigg County Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences program every two weeks beginning Friday, January 18th through March 22nd. The programs will be held at the Extension Office located at 2657 Hopkinsville Road (behind Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance). Thursday classes will be held from 5:00 to 6:30 PM and Friday classes will be held from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Each class will include information, cooking demonstrations, and recipes for tasting. The first class is “Pizza Power”. The classes are free and open to everyone, but pre-registration is recommended. Call the Trigg County Extension Office by noon, January 17th to register for the first class.
For more information contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.
Information for this article was obtained from Ingrid Adams, Extension Specialist for Physical Activity and Weight Management, and Janet Mullins, Extension Specialist for Food and Nutrition, University Of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, and “30 Easy Ways to Eat Better Now.” (2008, August). Special Supplement to Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 26, 6.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
1 1⁄2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (12-inch) whole wheat pizza crust
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
1⁄2 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over crust; set aside. Sauté vegetables, garlic, and Italian seasoning in hot oil 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp. Spoon vegetables evenly over pizza crust. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 450°F for 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
Yield: 8 slices
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 320 calories; 23 g total fat; 11 g saturated fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 540 mg sodium; 18 g total carbohydrate; 3 g dietary fiber; 3 g sugar; 15 g protein
Source: Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud Project, September 2011.
Brussels Sprouts with Ham
3 cups washed trimmed, halved, fresh Brussels sprouts (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
1⁄4 cup chopped lean ham
Vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon light butter, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Prepare Brussels sprouts. Steam in 1⁄2 inch boiling water 5 minutes or until sprouts are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add ham and 1⁄2 tablespoon light butter. Cook 3 minutes or until slightly brown, stirring occasionally. Remove ham from the pan and set aside. Coat the same pan with the cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Add Brussels sprouts; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add 1⁄2 tablespoon light butter, salt, and pepper, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat and drizzle with lemon juice. Add ham and toss to combine.
Yield: 6 (1/2-cup) servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 80 calories; 2 g total fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 320 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber’ 3 g sugars; 5 g protein; 8% Daily Allowance of vitamin A; 120% Daily Allowance of vitamin C
Source: Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud Project, September, 2010.
Chicken and Garden Greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound skinless chicken breast strips
2 (14-oz.) cans no-fat low-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces angel hair pasta
9 ounces fresh spinach
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the chicken strips and cook to 165°F on a meat thermometer. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the broth to the pan drippings and bring to a boil. Add the angel hair pasta. Boil, covered, for 6 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the spinach. Cover and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat until the spinach is tender. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve in pasta bowls. Other greens or vegetables can be substituted for the spinach.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 343 calories; 7 g total fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 204 mg sodium; 35 mg carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 35 g protein