Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insider’s Viewpoint: Cooking At Home for Your Health

May 17, 2016

Did you know that one of the best things you can do to keep your weight in check is to cook at home more? Not only will you shave pounds off your body but also dollars off your food bill. Three-fifths of consumers, and more than two-thirds of those aged 25-34, say they eat more healthfully when they prepare meals at home. Consumers believe that control over the ingredients and cooking products are the primary reason why home meals are healthier than restaurant meals.

It is true! Cooking at home enables you to control your own food. You decide what goes into your food and what does not. You also can control portion sizes. Many healthy meals can be prepared in less than 30 minutes so you definitely have the time.

7 Ways Cooking at Home Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight

  1. Plan your meals in advance using the MyPlate guidelines whether it is a week of menus or a month out (whatever works best for you). It starts with checking your pantry and food storage for staple items (such as quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, canned fruits & vegetables, spices, etc.). Then make a list according to what you have on hand, what produce is in season, and what you need to buy based on items that are on sale.
  2. Plan to have leftovers for lunches or for future meals (freeze for later). To help make things easier when it comes time to cook, plan ahead by pre-chopping things like bell peppers, onions, carrots, and sometimes pre-cooking items like mushrooms, butternut squash and zucchini to freeze so they can be easily added when you are ready to use them. To save time, you can take out the pre-chopped frozen vegetables and add them to stir-fry, soups and many other meals.
  3. Buy ready-to-eat items such as baby carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower (pre-cut, washed, chopped, etc.), but you get to decide what is worth the splurge.
  4. Stock up on good food storage containers that you can easily see through (to know what food is in the container), and make sure they are microwave and dishwasher safe for convenience.
  5. Keep your family’s favorite healthy recipes on hand (a folder, disk drive, or even a recipe book) so you always have them at your fingertips. When you are pressed for time and need budget-friendly meals, then go for one-pot meals or large volume recipes such as soup and crockpot recipes that will feed your family and provide you with leftovers.
  6. Get your family, kids or significant other involved in the preparation and cooking process, as it can be a fun way to spend time together and make the cooking process much faster and more enjoyable.
  7. The best “ingredient” to any meal is eating meals together as a family. Not only is it a great way to connect at the end of the day, but it also helps to establish healthy eating patterns for the entire family.

Here is an easy recipe to make that the whole family will love.

Recipe

Tropical Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Minutes to Prepare & Cook: 25
Number of Servings: about 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 kiwi fruits, chopped or diced
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen mango, thawed and chopped
  • ½ of a large banana, chopped
  • Juice of 1 small lime (or ½ depending on how tart you would like it)
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup quinoa, dry
  • 1 cup water
  • Dash of cinnamon

Optional: Top with non-fat plain Greek yogurt or unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

Directions

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold water and then add the quinoa to a medium sized pan with the 1 cup of water.
  2. Bring the pot of water and quinoa to a boil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to a simmer on low for another 15 minutes (until all of the water has been absorbed).

    Note: You can do this the night before so it makes for a fast breakfast in the morning (but you will need to heat it up).

  3. Remove from the heat source and stir the quinoa with a fork and set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the lime juice and honey using a whisk until it is completely mixed.
  5. In a large container with a lid, add the quinoa, kiwi, blueberries, mango and banana. Then add the honey and lime dressing over the top of the fruit and quinoa, and mix until well blended.
  6. Scoop out as many portions as you need into a small cereal bowl and reheat if necessary.

Optional: You can top off your breakfast bowl with a small spoonful of non-fat Greek yogurt or some unsweetened almond milk for a creamier texture.

Tips

  • You can substitute 1 cup of Vita Coco Coconut water in the place of the regular water for more of a tropical flavor.
  • Substitute any of the fruit for your favorite fruit blends such as pineapple, mango, and bananas, or a mixed berry combination!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories: 190, Protein: 4gm, Total Carbohydrates: 43gm, Fiber: 4.2gm
Total Fat: 1.7gm, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 6 mg

Hope Danielson
Director of Health and Wellness
Niemann Foods/County Market

Melanie Kluzek
Registered Dietitian
Niemann Foods/County Market
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