Common sense tips for healthy eating

Preparing food that both tastes good and is good for you is not a magic trick. A few simple meal planning and preparation tips will help you to produce healthy, delicious food your family will love.

1. Take a few minutes each week to plan your menus.
This will allow you the time to schedule a quick and easy meal during busy schedules.  As well, you will be able to try a new recipe or ensure that a favourite is served more often.

2. Cruise the grocery store with a list.
A grocery list will ensure that you bring home everything you need to prepare the tasty and nutritious meals you planned — and help you avoid loading up on unneeded items, whether its chips or an extra bottle of ketchup.

3. Choose seasonal produce and pick the brightest colours you can.
Buying fruits and vegetables in season lets you enjoy peak flavour at modest cost.  In general, the darker the colour, the higher the nutrients (think bright red peppers, or dark green broccoli).

4. Equip your kitchen for low fat food preparation.
This needn’t be expensive and you can gather the pieces one at a time. A steamer for vegetables helps retain their flavour and nutrients without added fat; a pan with rack allows the fat to drip away from meat to help you achieve low fat, flavourful cooking.  Sharp knives allow you to remove the fat easily and slice meat thinly; non-stick cookware lets you to brown or sauté without added fats or oils.

5. Use cooking methods that do not add extra fat to the dish.
Steamed vegetables are especially flavourful when herbs are added to the steaming liquid. Broiled or grilled meats are lower in fat and develop a rich golden colour that adds visual and taste appeal.

6. Reduce or eliminate high fat ingredients from your favourite recipes.
Adding tofu, bulgur, or brown rice to casseroles means that you can cut down on the amount of meat that you are using. Using smaller amounts of stronger cheeses decreases the amount of milder cheese needed without sacrificing the flavour. Chilling a soup or stew will allow the fat to rise to the top for easy removal.

7. Learn to use spices and herbs to kick up the flavour.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are classic herbs that you will savour. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg will add a new taste to traditional dishes. Many cookbooks offer advice on using spices and herbs and many recipes on the internet will introduce new tastes.

8. Go vegetarian for a night.
Try tofu in a stir fry, or vegetarian chili; try Indian style dahl (lentils) or marinated bean salads; use lentils and kidney beans in your favourite soups. Your creativity will help you to see lots of possibilities.

9. To keep control of your portions, think of the “space on your plate.”
A well balanced plate will consist of ¼ protein (e.g. chicken or fish), ¼ starch (e.g. rice, pasta, potatoes, grains) and ½ non-starchy vegetables. Add milk to drink and fresh fruit for dessert and you are well nourished at a moderate calorie expense.

10. Double check your serving size.
Most of us are victims of the supersize phenomenon. Research shows that people who are presented with larger containers of food eat more than those consuming snacks from smaller containers. Make this work for you. Eat your dinner on the smaller luncheon plate — your serving will look larger.

CARP is dedicated to fighting diabetes in Canada and is very pleased to be working with the Canadian Diabetes Association, as diabetes is one of the most prevalent and fastest growing conditions amongst older Canadians today. The Canadian Diabetes Association’s mission is to lead the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while working to find a cure. For every 1-year membership and Zoomer magazine subscription sold to Canadian Diabetes Association supporters, $10 will be donated to the Association, and for every 3-year membership and Zoomer magazine subscription, we will donate $25. To take advantage of this special offer and help lead the fight against diabetes, click here.

Photo © Jasmina

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