Improve Your Nutrition with These Simple Tricks

make-favorites-healthierTransforming your favorite comfort foods into a healthy meal can often be as easy as adding some extra veggies! The high fat content in much of our traditional American fare serves as the perfect medium for hiding those veggies you might be acquiring a taste for. Whether you’ve already made the change to a creation-based diet or you’re easing your way into healthy eating, here are a few examples of some easy way to boost your intake of whole foods and health-promoting nutrients:

Load your quesadilla up with salsa. Cheese is a great source of protein, calcium, and healthy fat, and corn tortillas are gluten-free and a good carbohydrate in moderation. An easy way to take this food to the next level is to top it with as much of your favorite salsa as you can. Salsa is loaded with tomatoes, onions, and healthy spices. If you put enough salsa on your quesadilla you can even get several servings of vegetables out of it!

Ask for extra tomatoes and onions on your burger. Burgers aren’t they healthiest food choice: they’re usually made with white flour buns, and the burger patties are more carcinogenic than most types of meats. There are a couple tricks, however, that can vastly improve the health qualities of a burger. For one, try ordering your burger with extra veggies. Every little bit adds up! Order your burger with extra tomatoes and onions for some healthy nutrients. You can also request that your burger be made with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. Not every restaurants offers this option, but forgoing the white flour bun for extra vegetables is a win-win.

Order your pizza with extra vegetables and a thin or gluten-free crust. The principles here are similar to the tricks with the quesadilla and burger. A pizza is the perfect medium for consuming vast quantities of veggies without sacrificing the delicious taste that you love! Order your pizza with extra red sauce, mushrooms, olives, onions, spinach, bell peppers, and whatever other veggies you can think of.  Make your pizza even healthier by reducing the amount of carbs it contains by ordering it with a thin crust! 

These are just a few examples of ways to make popular foods healthier. What are some of your ideas? How do you make eating out healthier?

Originally posted 2013-10-31 16:39:25.

Simple Switch: Choosing the Right Milk

The “Simple Switches” are a series of posts providing examples of easy ways to make dramatic improvements to the average American diet (read more about the Simple Switches at bottom of this article).

The Switch: Organic Whole Milk for Conventional Skim or Low Fat Milk


Priority: High

Reasoning:

  • Conventionally raised milk often contains hormones and antibiotics that can interfere with normal development and the immune system.  Organic milk is free from all hormones and antibiotics.
  • Low-fat or skim milk is missing the fat! The fat in milk is needed for proper absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin D, vitamin k2, and vitamin A.  Additionally, whole-fat milk is more balanced, promoting sustained blood-sugar levels after consumption.  Milk fats (including cholesterol) are also crucial for the body’s health, as they are used as building blocks for the cell walls, nervous system, hormones, and the brain.
  • Organic milk also comes from cows that spend more time eating what they were meant to eat…grass!  Cows that eat grass produce milk that contains much higher amounts of nutrients, especially vitamin K2 and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  These two nutrients help protect the cardiovascular system, promote bone strength, support proper metabolism, and have anti-carcinogenic properties.  Conventionally raised milk (milk from cows that are mostly fed grains) is almost entirely absent of both vitamin K2 and CLA.  These are vital nutrients for growing children and aging adults alike!

Taking it to the next level: To get even more health benefits from your milk, buy non-homoginized, raw or low-temperature pasteurized milk.  Homogenization, the process of dispersing the fat equally through the milk, is nice for a consistent texture, but it can actually damage the fat molecules in the milk.  When the fat particles are broken up, the surface area of the molecules increases, making them more susceptible to oxidation.  Oxidized fat molecules can eventually damage the arteries and/or cause inflammation.  Also, when milk is pasteurized (heated to kill the bacteria), the heating process destroys most of the enzymes that make milk easier to digest.  Pasteurization also destroys the enzyme (phosphatase) that helps the body more effectively absorb and utilize milk’s calcium content.  

References: Effects of Homogenization, Calcium Absorption and Phosphatase

More on Simple Switches: Every simple switch is categorized into a certain level of priority, either “low,” “medium,” or “high.”  Sometimes there will also be the option to “Take it to the next level,” which is a low level priority switch beyond the basic recommendation.  

  • “Low” — important for optimum health, but if you’re on a budget or time restraints, it’s more important to prioritize the other switches first.  Low priority switches are typically the “super” healthy options, which might not be realistic for everyone at a certain stage in life.
  • “Medium” — this switch is going to add significant health benefits, such as added nutrients, but the food the switch is replacing might not be harmful in moderation.
  • “High” — high priority switches should be made, even if it means you have to make room in your budget.  These switches replace foods that are potentially harmful to your health with foods that add significant health benefits.

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Originally posted 2013-07-12 20:02:08.