As we have heard time and time again, they key to maintaining a healthy weight is following a healthy diet. But what words come to mind when you hear the phrase "healthy diet?" Bland? Dry? Wheat grass? It doesn't always paint an appetizing picture. Most of the people who are able to maintain a healthy weight will tell you that the secret is to be satisfied by the food you eat. Sure you could probably lose weight by eating the recommended 3 ounces of skinless baked chicken breast, a modest portion of brown rice, and a heaping spoonful of steamed broccoli for dinner every night, but chances are you'll be sneaking back to the pantry or rummaging through the fridge a few hours later looking for something else that is more satisfying. Here are a few ideas of healthy, tasty ingredients that you can add to the foods you eat to make them a little more palatable.
Any healthy cook worth their salt (no pun intended!) will tell you that herbs and spices are the key to adding a ton of flavor to a recipe without adding extra calories. Herbs and spices contain phytochemicals, which research has shown may help prevent certain cancers, heart disease, and infections. Fresh herbs and spices usually contain more of these health-boosting phytochemicals, but their dried counterparts will offer some of the same benefits as well.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate more herbs and spices into your diet:
• Add some chopped, fresh basil to your favorite pasta sauce
• Marinate chicken breasts in lemon juice, dried thyme and rosemary
• Sprinkle oatmeal with pumpkin pie spice for a heartwarming treat
• Add some fresh, minced ginger to your favorite canned soup to add another depth of flavor
• Add a splash of vanilla to plain, nonfat yogurt along with some non-calorie sweetener to save on calories from added sugars
Spinach is another healthy ingredient that is surprisingly easy to add to everyday recipes, and it's a great way to increase your daily vegetable intake. Spinach has been given the accolade of being a super-food because of its high vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content. - it is especially high in vitamins A and K, folate, and potassium. In order to benefit from the nutrients that spinach has to offer try some of these tasty suggestions:
• Use it as an ingredient in salads
• Wilt a few handfuls in a pan with some olive oil cooking spray and some minced garlic and add it to some pasta
• Toss a handful into a fruit smoothie to increase the vitamin and mineral content even more
• Add some spinach to the pan when you're making an omelet or scrambled eggs
Although regular spinach would work in these suggestions, baby spinach has a more delicate flavor and texture and it requires less cooking time.
Who said healthy cooking has to be tasteless cooking? Start adding tasty ingredients like these and you'll be on your way to enjoying healthy, satisfying meals.
Brianna Wilson, MS is a nutritionist and freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Brianna received a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from California State University, Fresno and a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Boston University. Brianna currently works for an adult weight management program through Winchester Hospital. She is passionate about food and eating and enjoys teaching others about the preventative benefits of following a healthy lifestyle.