What would happen if you dedicated an entire month to changing your nutrition habits? March is an incredible month to do that since it is National Nutrition Month. Since this month is dedicated to nutrition, there will be numerous articles, resources, and information out there for you during this time to educate yourself on proper nutrition.
This year, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have created a specific goal for each week of March to help you make informed food choices and develop healthy eating and physical activity choices.
Week One: Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods Every Day!
- Include healthy foods from all food groups
- Learn how to read Nutrition Facts Labels
- Avoid Distractions while eating
- Take time to enjoy your food
As yourself These Questions:
- What NEW foods can I incorporate into my daily meals? Are there any foods I haven’t tried yet? Am I eating the same unhealthy foods every day? How can I substitute my unhealthy foods for healthier ones?
- Can I drink at least one more glass of water each day? Can I reduce sugar or caffeinated drinks by at least one drink each day?
- Can I pronounce all the ingredients in the food I am eating?
- Am I multi-tasking while eating? How can I slow down and focus on my food and nutrition? What would it take to eat at least one meal at the table each day?
- Do I enjoy what I eat? Am I slowing down enough to taste and appreciate the food I have?
Week Two: Plan Your Meals Each Week!
- Use a grocery list to shop for healthy foods
- Be menu-savvy when dining out.
- Choose healthy recipes to make during the week.
- Enjoy healthy eating at school and at work
- Plan healthy eating while traveling
As Yourself These Questions:
- Am I taking the time to prepare my grocery list before I shop? How would I shop differently if I planned my menus in advance? Do I often shop hungry, and if so, do I grab unwanted or unhealthy items? [If you need help planning a menu and shopping, see my blog post about that here.]
- Do I take the opportunity to “cheat” while dining out? What are some healthier choices I can make when dining out? Should I avoid certain restaurants?
- Am I overwhelmed when it comes to cooking for my family during the week because I don’t set appropriate expectations? Do we eat out too much? Am I setting aside time to plan my recipes? [You can find recipes on my website here or google can be your best friend!]
- Am I making my lunch for work the day before? Are the food choices I am making for my lunch healthy, or out of convenience? What changes can I make?
- Am I packing snacks and planning appropriately for travel? Do I have healthy snacks in my purse or car for emergencies?
Week Three: Learn Skills to Create Tasty Meals!
- Keep healthy ingredients on hand
- Practice proper home food safety
- Share meals together as a family when possible
- Reduce food waste
- Try new flavors and foods
As Yourself These Questions:
- In a pinch, can I make a healthy meal for my family or would I have to order out if dinner was needed last minute?
- Does my family know the proper way to clean up or prepare a meal?
- When was the last time we sat at the table altogether without distractions to share a meal together as a family?
- How much food do we throw away? Do we eat leftovers? Do I make more than one meal with the ingredients I buy?
- What foods or dish have my family always wanted to try but we haven’t had? Can we try to make that at home?
Week Four: Consult a Certified Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)!
- Receive personalized nutrition advice to meet your goals
- Find an nutritionist who is specialized to serve your unique needs
- Thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition
As Yourself These Questions:
- What are my nutrition goals?
- What nutrition needs is my body not receiving?
- Do I need to consult a nutritionist to get the best out of my nutrition?
- What would I like to speak to my nutritionist about?
- What changes would I like to see in my life after following the guidance of a nutritionist?
With nutrition, it is all about the ingredients. If you have a favorite dish but there is an imbalance of carbs to protein, or includes trans fats, or other ingredients that aren’t good for the body and soul, replace them! There are suitable replacements for everything. Craving those greasy tortilla chips? Grab some organic corn tortillas, cut them into triangles, spray them with a little avocado or olive oil and bake them! Instant substitution. Craving an ooey-gooey Grilled Cheese? Try my Guiltless Grilled Cheese with Roma Tomatoes and Fresh Organic Oregano. You’ll love this healthier version:
- 2 Slices large whole wheat bread
- 1 1/2 Slices light Swiss cheese
- 1 1/2 Slices low-fat Cheddar cheese
- 1 Small organic Roma tomato, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh organic oregano, finely chopped
- olive oil spray
- Place the Swiss cheese on one side of a slice of bread. Then place sliced tomato on top and sprinkle with oregano.
- Follow with the Cheddar cheese and second piece of bread.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray the outside of the sandwich with olive oil spray.
- Cook sandwich 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted, and bread is toasty. If cheese isn’t melting, cover the pan and check every minute until done.
Pizza is another thing that when you want it, isn’t it just easier to order it and have it delivered? It is one of those soul-satisfying foods that is generally the enemy due to the huge amount of fat and calories. It is hard to create healthy substitutions when you are first learning how nutrition works, that’s why I had to create this quick & healthy version that anyone can make and it’s fun for the whole family.
- 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
- 1 Toaster size whole wheat bagel
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce, divided
- 2 black olives sliced
- bell peper
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Spread ¼ cup marinara sauce on each half of bagel.
- Add cheese, olives, and your favorite veggies and place on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil.
- Toast in over for 10 minutes or until desired doneness. *Can also be done in a toaster oven.
I know that sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to plan meals that are healthy and everything you see takes about an hour or more to prepare. It doesn’t have to be that way! What if I told you that you can make a nutritious meal in just about 10 minutes and have only pan to wash? This recipe for Chicken Teriyaki is just about as easy as it gets…but the flavor is nothing short of simple:
- 1 tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil (Trader Joe’s)
- 1lb Foster Farms frozen grilled Chicken Breast Strips,
- Kirkland Select Stir Fry Vegetables (Costco)
- 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce (Iron Chef or Island Soyaki from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked (I highly recommend Village Harvest brown rice from Costco if you can find it)
- Heat up large pan over medium high heat.
- Add a tablespoon of coconut oil (or olive oil if you don’t have coconut oil).
- Throw in a pound of frozen chicken breast strips and frozen stir-fry veggies.
- Toss or stir with a spatula until everything is hot (5 to 7 minutes).
- Meanwhile, microwave the frozen brown rice according to package directions.
- When chicken and veggies are hot, add a drizzle of Iron Chef teriyaki glaze (eyeball it, start with a little and add more if necessary).
- Stir until everything is coated and hot. Serve over rice and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
If you have just a little bit more time (but not much more, I promise) you can make these Crispy-Chewy Chipotle Chicken Tacos – If you are NOT a person who has all day to chop, buy salsa and pre-shredded lettuce to save time. =)
- 3oz fajita-style grilled chicken breast strips (Check out Costco’s Full Circle brand precooked strips (can also swap chicken for shrimp or fish))
- 2 6″ corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup black beans
- 1/4 cup brown rice (try Village Harvest precooked frozen brown rice from Costco)
- 1/4 cup avocado, cubed
- Extra virgin olive oil cooking spray
- Chipotle-flavored Tabasco sauce
- Shredded lettuce (you can buy this pre-shredded to save time)
- salsa (pico de gallo – you can buy this pre-made to save time)
- Combine heated brown rice and black beans with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
- Heat tortillas over open flame on a gas stove on low heat. Use tongs and flip frequently until nicely crisped (be careful not to burn). If you don’t have a gas stove, reheat tortillas according to package directions.
- Warm chicken breast strips in the microwave according to directions. If you have time, you can start with fresh chicken breasts – fresh is always a little better but these are still great.
- Stuff warm chicken breast strips into warm tortilla. Add lettuce, avocado and salsa. Top with chopped cilantro and squeeze a lime wedge over it.
- As a final touch, drizzle Chipotle-flavored Tabasco sauce (careful – hot!).
- Enjoy with black beans and rice on the side (or add them to the tacos).
I hope I have inspired you with the recipes that I’ve shared and encouraged you to understand that healthy doesn’t always mean slaving away in the kitchen for hours. You can take small steps to ensure a healthier lifestyle for you and your family! Simply start with this month. You may just feel so much better that you’ll want to continue. After all, nutrition isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore