How to Make Healthy Food Choices In Your Busy Life

You already know how important it is to make healthy food choices for you and your family, but how can you fit the best choices into your busy life?

You’ll be pleased to discover that a hectic life doesn’t mean that every meal has to be fast food on the run! Sometimes it’s difficult to make healthy changes, but with a little planning and know-how, it can be done.

Here are some strategies to help you and your family make healthy choices:

1. Avoid temptation. It’s so easy to walk into the store with good intent, but walk out with bags full of unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, our wills are weak, especially if we’ve trained ourselves over the years to buy junk foods.

Never shop when you’re hungry. This way you won’t pick out unhealthy choices because they look good at the moment.

Get rid of the unhealthy foods in your home. If they aren’t around, you won’t be tempted to eat them.

Think of healthier alternatives to your family’s favorite unhealthy foods. Rather than high calorie chips, try trail mixes or whole grain crackers. Low calorie puddings or frozen yogurts are better alternatives to higher fat ice creams.

2. Eat fast and healthy meals at home. When you’re tired at the end of the day and you realize you still have to feed the family, it’s easy to go to a fast food chain and bring home dinner. It may save some time, but it won’t save your health – or your pocket book!

The great thing is that there are many easy, fast, and healthy foods you can make at home. This takes some planning, but you’ll be more satisfied, save money, and be healthier as well.

Look online for quick and easy recipes made with all natural ingredients. Many recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less and only have 5 ingredients. Taking the time to do some recipe research will save your sanity in the long run. (Don’t forget; there are many such recipes on this blog.) Then once you find a “hit” with the family, store the recipe in a book or on your computer.

3. When you cook, make large batches and freeze the leftovers. This way, you’ll already have meals in the freezer that you can just thaw, heat, and serve. No muss, no fuss! This is the opportune way to enjoy “fast” food at home.

4. Eat Slower. Since the brain takes about 20 minutes to get the signal that the stomach is full, if you eat too fast you’ll pack in a lot more food than you need. When you’re still thinking you’re hungry, it’s easy to make the wrong choices about food. If you slow down while you’re eating, you’ll eat less and you’ll still feel full.

5. Make dinner time a social experience. Dinner should be about enjoying your company and taking pleasure in the foods you’re eating.

Set a calming mood before sitting down for a meal. Avoid having the television on or eating as you’re rushing the kids out the door to another activity. Sitting calmly at the table will allow everyone to relax and enjoy their meal.

When you begin to look at mealtime as a social experience, it becomes easier to make the right choices about healthy foods. Suddenly you aren’t so worried about rushing through and making it quick.

Dinner becomes a great experience when you’re able to enjoy healthy foods together. Take time to eat as a family and enjoy a real conversation with each other. Talking will naturally slow down your eating pace, while also reconnecting you with your family members.

Healthy food choices are a possibility in your busy life if you take the time to plan ahead and make dinner time a priority in your home.

Grilled Sirloin Steak With Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless top sirloin steak
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat vinaigrette Italian salad dressing
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cubed Havarti or Swiss cheese or cheese of choice
  • Creamy Italian salad dressing, recipe below
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens

Directions:

Brush steak with vinaigrette salad dressing and let stand for 15 minutes. Heat grill.

In large bowl, combine corn, onions, pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese with creamy Italian salad dressing and toss to combine. Place greens on serving plate and top with corn salad.

Grill steak for 5 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Remove from grill and let stand for 5 minutes.

 Slice thinly across the grain and place on top of corn salad. 4-6 servings

Low Fat Creamy Italian Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry white wine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients except sour cream until completely mixed.

Add sour cream and process just until mixed.

Fruit and Chicken Pilaf

Serve with roasted broccoli florets, see recipe post: http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/07/vegetables-on-the-side-no-butter-please/

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 oz. package quick cooking long grain and wild rice mix
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large skillet; add ground chicken and onions and cook until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in water and seasoning packet from rice mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 14-19 minutes until rice is tender and mixture is hot. 4 servings

Italian Sausage Kale Soup

8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds Italian turkey sausage links, casings remove
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain and wipe out pan; set sausage aside.Add olive oil and saute kale until wilted. Add garlic and, if desired, pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute. Add wine; cook 2 minutes longer.

Stir in the broth, beans, diced tomatoes, dried tomatoes, pepper and sausage mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until kale is tender.

Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts).

Linguine With Spicy Shrimp

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp, tails removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 2 bunches watercress(or baby spinach leaves), torn (about 6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Directions

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, stopping just short of al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta. Wipe out the pot.

2. Heat the oil in the pasta pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta, watercress, lemon zest, and reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes.

Tip

You may see either bagged, larger-stemmed, or delicate hydroponically grown watercress in the grocery store. All work equally well in this recipe. Trim off any thick and woody stems before using.

Tuna Fish Cakes

Serve with Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds, recipe below

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz.cooked tuna, (3-5 oz. cans or pouches) drained
  • 1 large sweet potato, mashed with a little milk and olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • Plain Panko crumbs (enough to be able to shape the fish into cakes)

Directions:

Put sweet potato in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender. Mash adding just enough milk and olive oil to moisten. Drain tuna well and add to mashed sweet potato.

Add in the scallions and sweet chili sauce. Mix together well.

Add enough breadcrumbs to make patties. Season with salt and pepper. Mold the mixture into 4 patties.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in frying pan and cook the fish cakes for 5 -7 minutes, turning only once, until hot and golden.

Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

4 servings, 1 cup each

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put green beans in the basket and steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Toss the green beans in a large bowl with oil, orange zest, salt, pepper and almonds.

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