American dinners tend to be rushed between kid activities, household chores and after work exhaustion. A lot of dinners come from a box or bag and are full of additives, salt and calories. How can you make a healthy dinner that is satisfying and still fast? Read on for some ideas.
Slow cookers are great. With a little extra effort, you can make a very good meal that is ready when you come home. The secret to good slow cookery is to brown meat and veggies before throwing them in the pot. Just add salad and a good whole grain bread and you’ve got a complete meal.
Fill Up on Soup
A broth-based soup is a great way to start a meal. Avoid the cream-based ones as they are high in calories. If you choose pre-made soup, try for a low-sodium version.
Salt is important, but most Americans get plenty of salt in their diet. If the soup has pasta as a filler, try to leave it in the bowl. Pasta made with white flour is easily processed into sugar in your body.
Enjoy a Salad
Toss a salad of leafy greens and a rainbow of veggies. Throw a few nuts and chia seeds on top. Add a low-cal dressing like balsamic vinegar and olive oil and enjoy a bowl of anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins, and healthy oils.
Adding veggies in ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) adds both flavor and nutrients. A bright salad is also a feast for the eyes.
If you like avocados, add some. Eating avocados with salad helps your body to absorb antioxidants more readily.
Pick a Protein
Lean meat and chicken and fish are excellent sources of protein. You need protein to build or repair muscles and bones, make enzymes and hormones, and keep your skin and hair healthy. Just don’t take a heart-healthy food like salmon and then bread and fry it. That pretty much destroys all the good and replaces it with a lot of unhealthy.
Vegetarians can choose from equally healthy plant-based proteins. Seitan, a wheat gluten product, mimics meat when cooked. Soy based proteins like tofu, tempeh and edamame are probably best limited as soy may stimulate breast cancer cells, cause memory problems and trigger headaches.
Legumes, beans, and wild rice contain minerals and fiber. They can be made into a huge variety of tasty meals.
Ancient grains like quinoa, spelt, amaranth, and teff are “new” foods to many Americans. All are very good, and a little experimentation can widen a boring diet for both vegetarians and omnivores.
Add a Veggie or Two
A meat and two veg is a standard meal. How you cook the veggies and the variety that you serve can make a meal healthy and interesting. If you want a protein rich vegetable, consider broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts. Just don’t fry them or cover them with cheese or mayo.
Boiled potatoes are surprisingly healthy. Potatoes make you feel full longer and contain potassium, an element that people are often lacking. Potassium plays a role in blood pressure control. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, and parsnips are equally as healthy. Again, frying and buttering doesn’t contribute to the healthy factor.
We are very lucky to have a huge variety of vegetables in our stores. Try something new and add interest to dinner.
Drink Something Healthy
Drink water or unsweetened tea for your meal. If you like red wine, enjoy a glass with your meal. There is evidence that anti-oxidants called polyphenols may prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces bad cholesterol, and lowers the risk of heart disease. Scientists are divided on the health effects, but a single glass at dinner probably won’t hurt.
Enjoy a Light Dessert
If your sweet tooth demands a dessert, try for something healthy. Fruit is a terrific dessert. It is good for you and the fiber in the fruit takes a while to digest. Try a banana to bring on the sleepies. They are full of tryptophan, the same amino acid that makes you need a nap after a turkey dinner.
If chocolate signals the end of a good dinner, try a square of dark chocolate. It appears to be very healthy and is lower in sugar than milk chocolate. A small bit of dark chocolate is as satisfying as a stickie sweet dessert.
Dinner doesn’t have to come out of a box. A slow cooker takes a bit of effort to prepare, but a healthy dinner will be ready when you get home.
Choosing good sources of protein and a variety of vegetables will fill you up with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other necessary nutrients without a high caloric intake. Eating wisely will give you a meal that will successfully end your day and keep you healthy for a long time.