Six Success Strategies for Healthier Eating Habits
By Shannon Crocker, M.Sc. RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications
The start of a new year is the perfect time to renew your passion for healthy eating. If you’ve resolved to eat better than you ever have, set yourself up for success – put these six strategies in place to support your quest for healthier living.
- Make a plan…and then stick with it!
Busy schedules can sometimes get in the way of cooking good-for-you weeknight meals. Having a basic meal plan – and sticking with it – is a smart solution. I find that planning even just two or three days in advance can help reduce mealtime stress during a busy week.
Turkey is a super star when it comes to nutritious and delicious weeknight meals that are easy to pull together. With so many cuts available, the meal possibilities are endless. Check out these recipes that can be made in about 30 minutes (or less!):
- How about Turkey Quesadillas made with strips of fresh turkey thigh?
- Popeye would love these burgers featuring spinach and ground turkey.
- Your kids (and you!) will love these Crispy Panko Turkey Cutlets with Asian Slaw.
Even though these Sweet and Spicy Oven Fried Turkey Drummettes take a little more than 30 minutes, I can’t resist sharing them! They are simple, yet scrumptious and they make perfect leftovers for another weeknight meal. Win-win!
- Keep your kitchen stocked with nourishing foods.
Stock your kitchen with nourishing choices so that you have the ingredients to make wholesome meals and snacks. To help you get started, here are some staples that I recommend you keep on hand in your fridge, freezer and cupboard:
In the fridge: Fresh vegetables and fruit, yogurt cheese and milk, eggs, roasted turkey, nut butters.
In the freezer: Frozen vegetables and fruit, whole grain breads and tortillas, ground turkey and turkey pieces, plain fish and shellfish, homemade whole grain muffins.
In the cupboard: Dried or canned pulses (e.g., lentils, chickpeas, black beans), whole grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal), nuts and seeds, jarred tomatoes, whole grain crackers, dried fruit.
Nourishing Tip: Put nutritious food choices at the front of the cupboard or fridge, and at eye level, so that the healthy choice is the easy choice.
- Cook fresh: Make more meals ‘from scratch’.
Cooking meals ‘from scratch’ means you can include more of the foods you need for good health. Cooking at home also helps save you money; prepared meals, convenience items and take-out food can be expensive!
Are you time-crunched? Having ingredients prepped and ready-to-go can help you get a meal on the table in a flash. Try these time saving preparation strategies:
- Marinate turkey thighs and freeze in meal-size portions to defrost quickly.
- Peel, wash and chop vegetables for the next couple of dinners.
- Gather spices and other dry ingredients for dinner recipes the night before.
- Measure fresh ingredients, such as cheese or milk, and keep them in the fridge so they are ready to add to your recipe.
- Big batch it! Become friends with big batch cooking.
Cooking large batches of nutrient-rich ingredients can help you stick to your healthy eating goals. If you’ve got wholesome foods available, then you are already on your way to making a nourishing meal.
How does it work? When you’ve got a little extra time, cook a large pot of whole grain pasta, roast a couple of trays of veggies, or make a big batch of turkey meatballs. Portion it all into small containers and chill/freeze so it’s ready to add to meals during the week.
Ground turkey is budget-friendly and perfect for big batching. Here’s how big batch cooking with turkey can help:
- These tasty Turkey Meatballs can be enjoyed on top of pasta for one night’s dinner and as meatball sandwiches the next.
- A warm and spicy Turkey Chili can be enjoyed with a crusty whole grain roll, and it can be reinvented into burritos or enchiladas.
- A doubled recipe of this Tuscan Turkey Meatball Soup can be frozen so you’ve got dinner ready to go weeks from now.
- Plan to put turkey – the ultimate power protein – on your plate.
If being more active, feeling more energized, or maintaining a healthy weight are part of your New Year’s resolutions, then putting protein on your plate should be a priority too!
Along with your workout routine, eating 20 to 30 grams of quality protein with your meals can help build and maintain muscle. And because protein delivers long-lasting satisfaction, it can help you manage the munchies which, in turn, helps with weight management.
Turkey is my power protein of choice! Each 100-gram serving is lean and has about 30 grams of high quality protein. Turkey is also packed with nutrients like vitamin B12 (important in keeping your nervous system – the body’s electrical wiring – working well), selenium (an antioxidant mineral) and zinc (for a strong immune system).
- Brown bag it! Pack good food fast featuring turkey leftovers.
Now that you’ve got meal planning, preparation and cooking strategies in place, don’t forget about lunch!
Packing lunch, instead of buying it, is a healthy, budget-friendly habit. And making the most of leftovers means nourishing lunches can be ready in a snap.
Leftover roasted turkey takes a basic sandwich to a whole new level of tastiness. Roast turkey on a rustic whole grain bread, along with a slice of provolone, some tomato, creamy avocado, and peppery arugula, is the stuff that sandwich dreams are made of.
With leftover turkey, you can also pack a sensational salad that delivers a nutritional punch and is way better than anything from the food court. If you need some inspiration, these two scrumptious salad recipes will take your lunchbox from drab to fab!
So, what are you waiting for? Put your plan in place! With these six strategies, you’re on your way to keeping your healthy eating resolutions on track!