Whether you like to experiment with new recipes or stick to familiar favourites, you can amp up the nutritional value in almost any meal with a few simple tweaks. Here are five quick ways to make any meal healthier.
Always substitute whole grains
Banish white carbs from your life and replace them with healthier whole grain options, whether it’s pasta, tortillas, pita, chips, bread or rice. Not only will the easy switch boost your fibre intake, it may make you feel full sooner, reducing the chances that you’ll overeat.
Create a rainbow
Adding the colours of the rainbow to a meal is a simple way to build a healthier plate. If you’re eating yogurt and granola, toss in a handful of different dark-coloured berries. A simple sandwich can be packed with nutrients when you think about colour — include fresh greens, tomatoes and a few slivers of red pepper. Toss fresh sundried tomatoes, garlic and herbs into your favourite pasta. Even meat-based meals can include some veggies. Pureed carrots, cauliflower or spinach don’t add a noticeable taste when baked into dishes like casserole and meatloaf, but you’ll still get the benefit of consuming veggies.
Spice more, salt less
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, eating too much table salt and salty foods may increase your risk of stomach cancer. Swap out salt in your favourite meals with herbs and spices that provide both powerful antioxidant benefits and new flavour profiles. Add a hint of garlic to your morning eggs, a dash of cinnamon sprinkled into your morning cereal or yogurt and a pinch of cayenne pepper to snacks like popcorn.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, a diet high in red meat can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Minimize your intake by substituting half of your meat in a recipe with beans, swapping in poultry or seafood when it makes sense and making a completely meat-free meal at least once a week.
Protein is an important component to your healthy body — it delivers the nutrients needed for growth, development and immunity, and helps to prevent overeating. When you include protein in a meal, you’ll be satisfied sooner and less inclined to fill up on empty junk food calories after your meal or late at night. Seek out lean and low-fat sources of protein, like skim milk, soy milk, beans, low fat yogurt, cheese, eggs and poultry. All are good lean protein sources, and can easily be swapped into recipes to boost the nutritional payoff. For example, if your dish calls for butter, substitute a portion of it with low-fat, plain yogurt for a healthy dose of protein.
Make your own marinades
Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox, says that store-bought marinades, sauces and dressings are full of unhealthy preservatives. Make your own bases using fresh ingredients like chopped basil or cilantro, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard and apple cider vinegar, instead of relying on “diet” and “low-cal” pre-made brands at the store.