Spring fever is in the air! Now is the perfect time of year to check in with your eating habits and make sure they’re supporting your goals.
When it comes to making healthier food choices, cooking at home is where it’s at. Cooking gives you more control over ingredients, preparation methods, and portion size compared to restaurants or take-out. Last month we shared some staple ingredients that you can use throughout the week. This month we have a few more. Here are some easy ideas to get started:
No prep or refrigeration required, tuna is a versatile source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Idea 1: Salad Topper: When you don’t have time to prep a protein source, or don’t love the options on the cafeteria salad bar, top your greens with canned or bagged tuna instead.
Idea 2: Tuna Salad Sandwich or Wrap: Mix with chopped red onion and plain Greek yogurt; enjoy with whole wheat pita or wrap + leafy greens
Idea 3: Pre/Post Workout Snack: Top whole grain crackers or fill whole wheat pita with tuna
Dietitian Tip: Light tuna has the lowest amount of mercury, and tends to be less expensive. Look for single-serve bags for added convenience. Canned in water versus oil saves calories.
A plant based source of protein, calcium and healthy fats, both the soft and firm versions have multiple uses.
Idea 1: Scramble: Use soft/silken tofu for a scramble with veggies + cheese; add whole wheat toast or potatoes for a complete meal
Idea 2: Smoothie: Skip the protein powder! Add soft/silken tofu to a smoothie as the protein source; Combine with fruit, greens and milk of choice for a quick breakfast or post-workout snack.
Idea 3: Stir-Fry: Cube firm tofu and stir fry with veggies and low sodium soy or teriyaki sauce; enjoy with brown rice or quinoa.
Idea 4: Salad: Use same cubed tofu on leafy greens with additional veggies and beans for a protein-rich salad
Dietitian Tip: Tofu is one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids we need to build and repair muscles– with none of the saturated fat that is found in animal sources.
Inexpensive and super versatile, beans are nutritional powerhouses, packed with fiber, protein, and key runner-friendly minerals like potassium and magnesium. Batch cook from dry on the stove top or crockpot. Or buy canned versions to save time.
Idea 1: Salad topper: Top leafy greens with black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese for a Mexican-inspired salad.
Idea 2: Chili: Use black beans (or navy, kidney, white beans) as a base for a hearty, satisfying chili. Keep things vegetarian or add ground turkey for more protein.
Idea 3: Mexican Eggs: Add black beans, onions and peppers to scrambled eggs; top with salsa and/or guac for breakfast or brunch.
Dietitian Tip: One pound of dry beans makes about 6 cups cooked. If choosing canned versions, rinse in water to remove added sodium and preservatives. Freeze in individual portions to quickly add to any meal.
With more fiber and nutrients than their refined counterparts, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, farro, freekeh and barley are ideal for batch cooking.
Idea 1: Stir fry: Toss brown rice or your favorite whole grain with protein (chicken/shrimp/tofu) + fresh or frozen veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, string beans) + marinade of choice
Idea 2: Cold Salad: Add to a green salad for a boost of energizing complex carbs
Idea 3: Soup: Simmer with broth, chicken, and a variety of veggies (i.e. celery, onions, carrots)
Dietitian tip: Low carb diets are all the rage right now, but the complex carbs found in whole grains are the preferred energy source during exercise and for our brains. Stay energized and focused by including them in your diet.
Plain Greek Yogurt
Versatile and zero-prep source of protein to fuel your muscles, calcium for bone health, and probiotics for a healthy gut. Purchase in bulk for cost-savings or single-serve for grab-and-go convenience.
Idea 1: Parfait: Top Greek yogurt fresh/frozen berries + nuts + whole grain cereal
Idea 2: Overnight Oats: Combine yogurt with old fashioned oats + milk + honey + chia seeds for a prep-ahead breakfast perfect for busy mornings.
Idea 3: Smoothie: Ditch the powder and use Greek yogurt as your protein source
Idea 4: Healthy Swap: Sub Greek yogurt in any recipe that calls for sour cream or mayo such as creamy dressings and dips. Add a dallop to baked potatoes or tacos. Use in baking to reduce fat. Use in tuna or chicken salad.
Dietitian Tip: Flavored Greek yogurt is less versatile, and often contains added sugar. Instead, buy the plain version and sweeten it yourself with fresh or frozen fruit, or a drizzle honey. This allows you to control the amount and the sweetness level.
These ideas will help you optimize your grocery shopping, spend less time in the kitchen, and make meal prep easier and more delicious.
But for those weeks where you really don’t have the time or energy to shop, cook and clean up – let us do it for you! Good Measure Meals offers a variety of nutritionally-balanced, individually-portioned meal plans that are prepared locally and delivered fresh across Atlanta. Use code MIZUNO at checkout to save 10% on your first order.
The best part is, as the social enterprise of Open Hand Atlanta, Good Measure Meals donates 100% of net proceeds to provide nutritious meals and nutrition education for Atlanta neighbors in need. Every 2 Good Measure Meals supports 1 meal to an Open Hand client battling chronic/critical illness and food insecurity.
Alissa Palladino, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-CPT
Alissa is a Registered Dietitian at Good Measure Meals where she helps people achieve and maintain their health goals. A veggie lover and avid runner with a number of half and full marathons under her belt, she believes the best form of exercise is the one you enjoy and the best nutrition plan is one that fits into your lifestyle.
Published: April 2019