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Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

If you are like many people, you may automatically think that eating healthy means eating bland, boring, tasteless food — that you’ll be stuck munching on a radish while dreaming of pizza, fried foods, and other naughty cuisines.

But it just isn’t true! Eating healthy can not only be tolerable — it can be delicious and exciting. Think salads, bursting with contrasting tastes; savory, hearty main courses; and yes, even the occasional dessert.

Healthy eating doesn’t mean you can’t cheat a little once in a while. But your main focus should be on consuming foods that heal the body, not harm it — and in the proper measure.

Follow the ‘diabetic plate’ rule

In the past, diabetics usually worked with food exchanges to determine a healthy meal plan. This, however, could be quite time-consuming and frustrating, and it tended to limit culinary creativity and variety as well.

The new trend is the “diabetic plate,” which assures that the patient partakes of each food group in the correct proportions. This rule automatically assures that your patient or loved one is getting plenty of vitamins and minerals in the form of vegetables, as well as healthy lean proteins and carbohydrates.

Use fresh, varied ingredients for an exciting salad

One of the easiest ways to fill up the plate with 50 percent vegetables is with a sizable salad. To many, this may sound like the epitome of a bland, boring meal. But they are not seeing all the delicious possibilities.

When you go out to a restaurant, you may find you usually love the salad — much more than you do at home. In fact, it might end up being your favorite part of the meal. But when you have a salad at home, you may find it’s just not as exciting.

The key to eating healthy and well is variety. Stock up on different dressings, whether you go store-bought or homemade. Instead of just offering basic dressings like Italian, Ranch, and Thousand Island, try something new. Experiment with a blueberry balsamic dressing or a French vinaigrette. You can also make your own tasty dressings with the use of flavored oils and vinegars, available in more taste combinations than you can possibly imagine.

Pints of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

Now, for the salad itself. The old standby, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, make a healthy salad, to be sure — but with so many different possible combinations available, why stick with the old tried and true? Get creative with interesting, tasty ingredients and toppings. Here is a handy chart to get you started.

Proteins

Fresh Vegetables

Fresh Fruits

Tasty Toppings

  • Lean steak
  • Grilled chicken
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Virginia ham
  • Turkey breast
  • Sliced tuna steak
  • Seared scallops
  • Taco-seasoned meat
  • Grilled shrimp
  • Roast beef
  • Sliced duck breast
  • Grilled tofu
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Bleu cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Edamame beans
  • Black beans
  • Cold lobster
  • Nitrate-free bacon*
  • Romaine
  • Butter lettuce
  • Radicchio
  • Arugula
  • Red Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Red onions
  • Cucumbers
  • Shredded zucchini
  • Green peas
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Baby corn
  • Water chestnuts
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Scallions
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tart apples
  • Fresh pineapple
  • Mango
  • Red Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Dragonfruit
  • Pomegranate
  • Figs
  • Papaya
  • Jackfruit
  • Starfruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Asian pears
  • Bartlett pears
  • Nectarines
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Plums
  • Candied walnuts
  • Wonton noodles
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Croutons
  • Toast points
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raisins
  • Dry seaweed
  • Fresh dill
  • Dried cranberries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Fresh basil
  • Dried blueberries
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh parsley
  • Pickled beets
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Wheat germ
  • Pickled jalapeños

* Use only in limited amounts.

As you can see, with such variety available, your patient or loved one will be in for a tasty treat! Experiment with different combinations so that former ho-hum healthy salad will become a favorite part of the meal.

Be sure to add carbohydrates like fruits and other toppings in the proper amounts, and use enough salad dressing to flavor the salad properly without drowning it in artery-clogging fats and calories. You’ll need to use enough, however, so that the salad is flavorful and appealing — ensuring your patient or loved one will get all those marvelous nutrients they need.  

Focus on healthy fats and foods rich in omega-3 when eating healthy

All fats are not created equal — and not all fats are bad for you. Many fats are rich in omega-3, which can help your mental health, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and provide a host of other health benefits. As a result, healthy fats are a necessary part of a good diet and should be included in your weekly meal plan. For instance, you can find omega-3 in the following healthy foods:

  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Salmon
  • Lobster
  • Tuna
  • Caviar
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tofu
  • Flaxseed
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Catfish
  • Scallops
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Lentils
  • Kale

Photo by shche_ team on Unsplash

Make lean meats and seafood more interesting with marinades

One reason fried foods are so popular is that they are usually juicy and tender — and, as a result, they taste delicious, of course! Many think of lean meats and seafood as dry, dull, and uninteresting. For example, if you bake a plain chicken breast with no preparation or seasoning, that is exactly what you are going to get — a dry, tasteless, uninteresting piece of meat. And since many of us have endured this disappointing meal, we may assume that baked fish or chicken is definitely off the menu.

A simple, healthy solution is the use of a marinade, which infuses the chicken or fish with delightful flavors. In addition, it also makes these proteins more moist and juicy. So instead of suffering through a boring baked chicken meal, your patient or loved one may scrape the plate and ask for more!

If you are buying a prepared marinade, be sure to check the sugar and fat content of the marinade before you buy it. This is especially important if your patient or loved one is diabetic. Some of these calorie-packed marinades have as much sugar as a dessert — or more!

Explore different cooking techniques

Baked fish in parchment paper is delicious and naturally low in fat, as the paper seals in the juiciness and flavor and requires no extra fat for cooking. Add vegetables and fresh herbs for a meal that’s high on taste and low in calories. Or try chicken baked in a clay oven, to seal in its natural juices.

Grilled food always tastes delicious and is lower in calories than its sautéed equivalent, as this cooking method requires oil or butter. In addition, the fats also drip away from the meat as it cooks, lowering its fat content and calories.

While you have your grill out, it’s tempting to bring out some hot dogs or kielbasa, as these foods naturally go with grilling. But many of these highly-processed meats are actually carcinogenic, so they are best to avoid entirely.

Rethink dessert

A little piece of pie or cake is fine on occasion. However, with a little reworking, your patient or loved one can have dessert more than every once in a while. Try baked pears or Honeycrisp apples with just a little butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Make tartlets out of phyllo dough cups, filled with a dab of chocolate pudding and some chocolate shavings on top. Or the old standby, Jell-O with light whipped cream and topped with strawberries or blueberries. In addition, you can also experiment with recipes that substitute stevia and yogurt for sugar and butter, respectively. However, not all of these recipes are created equal — so you will have to experiment to see what works for you.

Contact us for advice on healthy eating

Want to learn more about how to provide healthy and delicious meals for your patient or loved one? Check out our post on meal planning and preparation or the ups and downs of too much sugar. You should also feel free to give us a call at (207) 699-2570 or send us an email at [email protected] Advantage Home Care provides quality, specialized care tailored to meet your needs —and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your patient or loved one is in good hands

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