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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014

Nourishing the busy body

Posted Friday, April 20, 2012, at 8:11 AM

Who has time to cook? It's hard to find time when there's housework, yardwork, busy work, and plain old work. Kids take a little bit of work too. Or maybe it's social media, golf games, or grandkids taking up your time. Whatever we do, we'll have more energy to keep up if we're well nourished.

How can we eat better? The solution sounds simple--eat real food. But in reality, it can be a struggle to make time for eating well.

Below are a few ways to eat nutritiously with minimal time spent in the kitchen. Some ideas may take a little more time at first, but after a few weeks, they'll become routine.

* To decrease dependence on fast food and convenience food, have a well stocked freezer and pantry. Stock the freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables and freeze meats and breads. Stock the pantry with oats, whole wheat spaghetti, whole wheat noodles, whole grain crackers, whole grain flours, beans, canned vegetables, canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, nuts, dried fruits, and no-added-sugar canned fruits.

* Processed foods, fast foods, refined flours, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners must be limited.

* Those unhealthy late night snack companions--ice cream, cookies, or chips and dip--must never make it into the home. Instead, pick up lowfat popcorn, fruit, or nonstarchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, and celery.

* Regular or diet? Neither. Replace soda with coffee or tea; flavor them with milk or cream and honey.

* If breakfast isn't filling, try adding some protein, fat, fruit, and whole grains. A filling (not heavy) breakfast helps promote satiety and boost energy levels throughout the day leading to decreased carb cravings at night.

* If you've had a grain or carb heavy day, don't add more at dinner. Instead, choose a lean protein source with fruits and vegetables or a big salad.

* When cooking, double the recipe. Eat the leftovers a few days later, or freeze them for a later meal.

* If you ever have a slow weekend (they occasionally come), pass some time by cooking several meals at once. When done, freeze them. Later you can rewarm them for some homemade "fast food." Casseroles, soups, stews, chilis, pasta dishes, meatloafs, and shredded meats all freeze well.

* Use a crockpot. It can be as simple as chicken, vegetables, salt, pepper, garlic powder and water.

* When baking cookies, bake what you need and freeze cookie dough for the next time cookies are needed. Leftover cookies can be frozen too.

Before stopping for convenience food, consider some snack alternatives. Along with being enjoyable, the phytonutrients in the following meals pack a huge nutritious punch:

* popcorn and a fruit/vegetable smoothie

* whole grain crackers, fruit, cheese, and vegetable sticks

* nuts, whole grain crackers, fruit, and vegetables sticks

* 100% whole wheat sandwich or tortilla wrap made with tuna, chicken, nut butters, or nitrate free lunch meat, plus a fruit/vegetable smoothie as the side dish

If you have a little more time, try the following simple meals :

* whole wheat spaghetti, meatballs, and pasta sauce with extra vegetables

* whole wheat fettucini alfredo with chicken, broccoli, and mushrooms

* 90% lean hamburgers on whole wheat buns with homemade sweet potato fries

* homemade pizza with a whole wheat crust, vegetable toppings, and side salad

* baked chicken or pork chops, frozen vegetables, and brown rice

* whole wheat tortilla with refried beans, salsa, avocado, and cheese

* spinach salad with a little cheese, dried fruit, seeds or chicken, and dressing

It may take a little work, but with some planning, it's possible to fit healthy eating into our busy schedules. However, don't feel guilty about occasionally treating yourself and family to ice cream or dining out. Everyone deserves a break. But daily nutritious meals help keep us healthier, better able to deal with stress, and weighing less; they also help keep kids healthy, energetic, and better behaved.

For serving size information and a customized Daily Food Plan, check out www.choosemyplate.gov.

For more nutrition tips, 'like' Practical Nutrition Tips on Facebook.

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