Shifting to healthier habits doesn’t have to involve making sweeping changes overnight. Most people have more luck making small, incremental changes. One way to improve your diet is to sneak a little more nutrition into each meal. Here are some great ways to improve your family’s diet without scaring everyone away from the dinner table.
Play Hide the Veggies
Image via Flickr by danicuki
If you or one of your family members is seriously turned off by healthy vegetables, consider hiding them completely inside other foods. It’s shockingly easy to hide grated or puréed vegetables in ground meat dishes. Meat loaf, meatballs, lasagna, pasta sauces, hamburgers — just about anything you make with ground beef is fair game. Zucchini, carrots, cauliflower and summer squash are easy additions that won’t change the flavor. You can even stir puréed vegetables into mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. You might also replace some of the ground beef with ground turkey to cut the fat in your red-meat recipes.
Start at Breakfast
Add some veggies to your egg dishes. Try an omelette with a few baby spinach leaves, some halved grape tomatoes, and a pinch of feta cheese. Make a vegetable frittata by sautéing some zucchini, broccoli, or asparagus in a skillet and topping it with beaten eggs. Cook it on the stove until the eggs are almost set, then cover and remove it from heat until the top looks dry, or pop your frittata under the broiler to brown the top.
If your main concern is getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy, taking supplements or protein powders from Amway might be the best way to go. Supplements, protein powders, and multivitamins let you build up your nutrient levels without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
Replace Your Pasta
If you’re trying to cut back on carbohydrates, you can replace pasta with vegetables. A spiralizer tool will let you cut vegetables — zucchini is especially popular — into noodle shapes that you can enjoy with your favorite flavors and sauces. Another option is to serve your favorite marinara sauce with roasted spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Cut the squash in half, drizzle with oil, salt lightly, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. The roasted squash will easily separate into pasta-like strands when you scrape it with a fork.
Green Up Your Sandwich
Do you love sandwiches? You can probably add a few baby spinach leaves or some shredded carrots to your BLT without even noticing. If you’re already topping your burger with grilled onions, throw in some zucchini or red pepper strips as well. A big, juicy slice of summer tomato with a light sprinkling of salt makes a yummy substitute for ketchup.
Pad Your Protein
To bulk up your daily protein intake, pick up some whey powder at your local supplement store. You can stir the powder into smoothies, shakes, and yogurt dishes. You can also increase your protein consumption by switching to Greek yogurt, adding beans and nuts to your salads, and including more lean fish and shellfish to your diet. For another sneaky protein tip, add one extra egg white to any egg dishes that you cook.
Commit to Meatless Mondays
Going vegetarian just one day a week will force you to think outside the box at mealtimes. You’ll need more healthy fruits and vegetables to stay full, plus just one meatless day per week can cut your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Hummus is a relatively healthy dip made from chickpeas that has taken America by storm in recent years. It’s often eaten with crackers or flatbread, but hummus is delicious on baby carrots, red pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, raw broccoli, and green onions, too. Be sure to watch your portion size; it’s easy to overindulge. Baba ganoush, a dip made from roasted eggplant, is also delicious with veggie dippers.
Once you get in the habit of sneaking fresh vegetables and lean protein sources into your meals, you won’t be able to stop thinking of new ways to include them.