I like lists at the start of the year. They make me feel organized and intentional. And if you know me, you know I believe in the power of what we eat to make our bodies disease-proof, lean and energized. So rather than taking time with each benefit, research finding and expert opinion, I’ll just get to the list. Short answer: we need less high fat protein and sugar, more nutrients and fiber.
My What to Eat List:
Beans: health superstars that get little respect. Even the American Institute for Cancer Research wants us to eat some with every meal. Every meal? Well, here are some ways to get them into lots of meals.
Keep a container in the fridge (drain and rinse from a can), and sprinkle some on every salad you eat. Chickpeas, black, kidney, whatever. Lentils are great too.
Buy a bean spread (sold where salsas are, but read that ingredient list for added junk) or hummus, and scoop some out with crackers or veggie sticks. Or in a wrap with sprouts.
Make soup - this is the time of year for it - veggie chile, black bean, lentil or minestrone.
Add them to your scrambled eggs for a tex-mex vibe.
Green leaves: the #1 nutrient dense food - seriously, do this one - get in at least a cup a day.
On a sandwich, add extra lettuce, maybe instead of cheese (yup, you heard me right).
Add torn kale or spinach to any soup, pasta or egg dish.
Have a salad - lettuce, baby greens or arugula with a super quick dressing (mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Bonuses: add salt, pepper, a drizzle of maple syrup and mustard).
Berries: the best bang-for-your-buck fruit, we tend to go to the freezer aisle this time of year.
Toss a handful in your oatmeal or even cold cereal in the morning, or smoosh fresh, ripe ones on toast (yum).
Puree some with a little banana, pineapple or mango for dessert.
Bake some with a cut up apple and a mixture of oats, cinnamon, a little pat of butter or coconut oil and maple syrup on top. Or bag the topping - they’re good baked naked too.
Nuts: yes, they’re dense calories, high in fat. They’re also expensive. So a little handful a day is enough. But the fat in them is great for you, and needed for cellular health and that “had enough” feeling after you eat. (And, it turns out, to allow weight loss.)
Walnuts, cashews and almonds are easy to find - avoid the super salty, sugary ones, of course. Find lightly roasted or even raw. Nut butters are good too (weird but true: peanuts aren’t nuts).
Chop and sprinkle on salads, cereal, add to quick breads and muffins. Or just eat some on their own as a great mid-afternoon snack.
Vegetables: yes, all of them. (Not at once, don’t panic.) Wander the produce section and pick something different each time. Then bring it home, chop it up, roast with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and enjoy.
Eat more veggies. Peppers, cabbage, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, br. sprouts, well, you get the point.
Little stuff: don’t neglect seeds, herbs and spices. They make food taste better and are great for you. Grind flax seeds or chia seeds for sprinkling on meals, and use herbs and spices (turmeric is the latest celeb, for good reason) tossed on those veggies before you roast them. These little guys give your insides super powers. Eat ‘em up.