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5 tips for eating your way through a healthy New Year

Elizabeth Yarnell is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and the author of Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking, a guide to a guide to preparing quick, healthy and balanced one-pot meals. As a moth...

Small changes, weigh less

If one of your resolutions is to eat healthier and/or lose weight, then you're like millions of other Americans with the same goals. The hard part is actually following through!

Making big changes is always easier when it can be looked at as doing something little here, making a positive choice there. Soon all the little choices will add up to a habit, and before you know it, you will be feeling stronger, healthier and weighing less. 

Avocados Here are five easy tips to guide your eating decisions on a regular basis. Even if you just choose one aspect to follow, your body will thank you for it.

1. KNOW YOUR FATS

There are three kinds of fats found in food, and regulating your intake of them can have dramatic effects on your health.

First, try to eliminate trans-fats. These show up in packaged foods as hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. Read the labels and if a desired item, like crackers, for instance, contains trans-fats, look for a brand that doesn't instead.

Second, make an effort to reduce your intake of saturated fats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are mostly found in animal products. Consider limiting your red meat intake to once or twice a week.

Third -- and this is the aspect of eating fats that is often overlooked: Increase your consumption of unsaturated fats. These are fats that are often liquid at room temperature, like olive oil, but are also found in a variety of foods like avocados, nuts and seeds. Unsaturated fats cushion the organs, are essential to healthy brain and nervous system function, and support healthy skin and shiny hair.

My Body
  1. Say buh-bye to baddy trans and saturated fats and hello to unsaturated fats that give you brain power and make your hair look hot!
  2. Don't cheat yourself when it comes to grains. Go for the whole grain.
  3. Too good to be true sweeteners in little pink, yellow and blue packets are the devil in disguise.
  4. If sea salt is better for you, why do restaurants give you the other? Because it is whiter and more pourable... hardly good reasons according to us.
  5. The prettier the plate, the healthier it is for you. Serve up a rainbow for every meal!

2. CHOOSE YOUR WHOLE GRAINS

Refined grains have been stripped of their fiber and most of their nutritional value. Whole grains are the "good" carbs.

3. ELIMINATE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame and Saccharine cause the body to secrete hormones that may encourage the storage of calories as fat. The American Dietetic Association's recent study showed less weight loss by those who drank diet soda than those who didn't.

Highly refined sweeteners, like Splenda and high fructose corn syrup, should also be avoided. Stick with real, raw sugar, honey or fruit juice for sweetening.

4. SWITCH TO SEA SALT

Highly refined regular table salt is devoid of nutritional value and often has toxic elements such as chlorine and aluminum added to make it whiter and more pourable. Sea salt offers more than 80 trace minerals and elements that your body needs to function efficiently and effectively. It tastes better, too.

5. EAT A VARIED AND COLORFUL DIET

The different colors of produce offer a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A varied diet ensures that you receive more of the elements necessary for robust health.

Of course, these tips can really be summed up in a single sentence: Eat whole foods rather than processed foods! Not every bite needs to conform to this rule, but the more that do, the better you'll look and feel.

Here's a recipe to get you started on the right path toward a goal of healthy eating!

Honey and Spice Pork
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin (Look for boneless center-cut loin pork, 1/2" thick. Or substitute turkey tenderloin or boneless salmon steaks for the pork.)
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup honey
6 Tbsp. Dijon or Cajun style mustard
1 tsp. ginger, ground
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp. cloves, ground
10-16 small potatoes, new or creamer, scrubbed
4 carrots, sliced in rounds
30-40 green beans, trimmed

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray inside of 3.5 or 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with canola oil.

2. Place pork in pot. Lightly salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together honey, mustard, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Pour over pork. Slice each potato in half and add to pot. Sprinkle carrots and green beans over potatoes.

3. Cover and bake for about 48 minutes, or until the aroma wafts from the oven.

Notes: Families enjoy the sweet and spicy flavor of this meal. The recipe offers a flavorful, well-rounded dinner loaded with nutrients and low in saturated fat.

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