It's sad, but less than 3% of Americans live what's classified as a healthy lifestyle.
As you might expect, this leads to a plethora of different health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and difficulties breathing. However, there's hope! Becoming a healthier person isn't difficult, especially when you take the effort to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family.
Here, we're going to give you some healthy cooking tips that are sure to change your lifestyle for the better. Read on for some ideas on how you can make a healthy meal that tastes great and fills you up!
1. Plan Meals in Advance
Many people just eat whatever they feel like whenever they want to, but this is, in the immortal words of Kevin Malone from the Office, "a dangerous game." This is because you may not have the ingredients to throw together a healthy meal and instead will just have boxed mac and cheese in your apartment.
Planning meals in advance prevents this from happening. You shop for all of the ingredients that you'll need to have healthy and delicious meals for the week. This way, you won't run out of healthy foods that you enjoy.
You also will be able to prepare meals in advance if you know that you're going to have a busy day. Grilling multiple chicken breasts and storing them in the freezer to be microwaved means that you can throw together a healthy and home-cooked meal in minutes later.
Head out to the grocery store on a consistent day each week. Buy fresh food and store it for the rest of the week in your fridge. You can organize it by the meal if this will make it easier for you to visualize what you're making!
2. Make Things From Scratch
Foods like pasta, bread, pizza crust, and even frozen fruits and vegetables have one thing in common: preservatives and additional unnecessary ingredients. Why should bread have dye in it? Why should pasta have added gluten? It truly is unnecessary.
Luckily, homemade pasta and bread are easy to make with no added ingredients. You can buy fresh, organic fruits and vegetables at the store, which allows you to avoid the herbicides, pesticides, sugar, and preservatives that other alternatives may have.
Not only is this healthy, but it's also a lot of fun. There's something calming and therapeutic about watching your pasta dough be cut into your favorite shapes and textures.
3. Switch to Whole-Grain Carbs
Speaking of pasta and bread, you're probably wondering why we're encouraging you to eat them. Aren't carbs bad for you?
Despite what you may have heard, this isn't always the case. You need carbohydrates to keep your body energized and ready to go. Everything is good in moderation!
However, it's true that the carbs you're eating may not be the highest-quality ones. Rather than eating a lot of glucose, you may want to switch to whole-grain pasta and bread. Wild or brown rice is also a healthy alternative to the sugars in white rice.
The textures of whole grains are delicious and the food is much more natural and easy to cook. So why wait? Start making whole grain carbs with your next meal!
4. Increase Your Vegetable Intake
Many people don't eat the appropriate amount of vegetables. In fact, most people let multiple days a week go by while eating none!
Veggies should be the biggest part of your diet. At mealtimes, half of your plate should be a salad or another type of vegetable. Leafy greens are essential to a good diet, but you should strive for multiple colors on your plate. Yellow peppers, carrots, kidney beans, and scallions are delicious and often overlooked.
Also, vegetables are really delicious. People who say otherwise just haven't had good vegetables. Adding fresh garlic to veggies is a great way to spice them up. Grilling them in hot pepper oil is a delicious way to make things spicy. Experiment in the kitchen and try new flavors!
5. Retain Nutrients in Veggies
Speaking of vegetables, many people prepare them in ways that suck the nutrients out of them.
If you have vegetables that you think need peeling, resist the urge. Instead, scrub down your vegetables since many nutrients are found near the skin.
Another one of the most common mistakes that people make is to boil their vegetables, which takes all of the good calories out of them.
Instead, try steaming or grilling your favorite veggies with some delicious herbs and spices! Stir fry is also an awesome way to maintain both the taste and the nutrients while giving your veggies an added crunch.
Another thing to avoid is processed salad dressing. Vegetables are no longer healthy when they're swimming in ranch. Instead, sprinkle a little lemon juice over your favorite salad.
6. Avocados? Delicious!
Speaking of veggies, you know what's both delicious and nutritious?
Eating them on sandwiches and in salads is a trend that we totally back. Avocados are one of the most nutrient-rich foods out there because they have it all. They're a source of over 20 vitamins and minerals that deeply enrich your diet. They also have protein in them!
Buy some avocados on your next trip to the supermarket and store them in this silicone avocado saver. Your body and taste buds will both thank you!
7. Use Leaner Meats
Moving into another huge part of your diet, it's time to talk about protein. After vegetables, protein should be the thing that you consume the most of. However, the way that most people think about protein is problematic.
A bloody steak is an awesome idea on special occasions, but a steak, burger, or even grilled pork chops on a nightly basis? Too many trans fats. Too much sodium. Just... too much.
Leaner meats like chicken and fish can be substituted for red meat. These meats are lower in calories and fat while still being delicious. Try out some poultry and fish recipes, especially ones with grilled or baked meat!
8. Don't Oversalt Your Food
While 70% of the sodium people eat comes from packaged and prepared foods, people tend to want their food to be saltier even when it's homemade.
Salting pasta water is common practice even though the salt won't be tasted after salt is applied. People also tend to put salt on baked potatoes, vegetables, meats, and, well... just about everything.
People who don't actively attempt to oversalt their food still often incorporate more sodium into it than they need. For example, salted butter tends to go in the pan despite the fact that there are unsalted alternatives.
Make sure that you actively look at ingredients while shopping and get these unsalted alternatives. Also, try to slowly cut back on salting your food. Go from three shakes to two this week, and two shakes to one next week. This will stop you from developing heart problems and high blood pressure.
9. Eat the Right Amount (Consistently)
A little bit of portion control goes a long way. Americans consistently eat way more than the recommended amount, which not only leads to obesity but also causes us to consume way more sodium and fat than our bodies need.
Try to slowly cut down your portion sizes. Eat small amounts of food on a more frequent basis. For example, instead of eating three large meals a day, eat five or six tiny ones. This helps give your body the appropriate amount of time to digest your food and ensures that you feel fuller for a longer time.
Portion sizes vary based on sex, weight, and age. However, the ratio of foods that should be eaten is consistent across the board. Vegetables should make up half your plate and protein should be 1/4 of it. The other 1/4 can be complex carbs like wheat and grains.
Make sure that you eat consistently- don't skip meals in an attempt to diet and try to make up for the hunger later. This will lower your metabolism and make it more difficult for you to digest foods properly.
10. Treat Yourself Occasionally
One mistake that people often make while dieting is to cut the foods that they love out of their meal plan entirely. Then, feeling sad later, they decide to binge a lot of these junk foods and get back into bad habits.
It's important to treat yourself occasionally and keep these treats consistent within your diet.
Love chocolate cake? That's totally understandable- we love it too. It's delicious. Schedule a slice of cake your dessert after dinner on one night a week. This ensures that you keep yourself happy and don't sacrifice something that you look forward to.
Another way that you can treat yourself is by using fruit. It's not refined sugar like cake is, but we think that it's even better because of its fresh, full flavor! Rather than cutting out dessert on the other six days of the week, consider a handful of fresh strawberries or raspberries. A mandarin or two is also a great option, as is a grapefruit half or a crisp apple.
Beyond Healthy Cooking Tips
Now, you have the best healthy cooking tips so that you can start making food that's both delicious and good for you. Awesome! It's time to get started buying the tools that you need for making a delicious meal.
Contact us with any questions about our top-of-the-line home appliances and products. We'll help you find a new way to cook healthy meals while spending as little money as possible!