If you are a mom who is tired of cooking Mac & Cheese for your family three nights a week, we understand. Cooking meals that are heart healthy is easier said than done. Time is another obstacle. Most of the time moms do not have three hours to prepare a four-course meal that is nutritious and tastes good.
Chante Myles, an urban regional agent in human nutrition, diet and health with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, offers some tips to help. “If you are trying to cook healthier meals more efficiently, one thing to do is plan for the meal ahead of time,” Myles said. “Planning your meals in advance can help reduce the last minute junk food items people are prone to toss into their cart while grocery shopping.”
“When grocery shopping, try to avoid foods with high sugar,” Myles said. “Empty calorie foods such as pizza, cake, cookies, energy drinks and sodas are key to avoid. Stay away from anything that has a lot of sugar or is high in fructose.”
It’s one step at a time. Replacing everyday items with healthy alternatives is what will make the difference in the long run. Replacing white grains with 100 percent whole wheat is a helpful tip.
“Definitely switch to 100 percent whole wheat when you can,” Myles said. “It is smooth in texture and you won’t be able to tell a difference. Also, with whole grain you lower your risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease.”
When choosing ingredients to cook with, try sticking to foods that have long lasting health benefits. “Beans that are high in fiber are great for your heart,” Myles said. “Salmon is also great for you because it has Omega-3 fatty acid and it helps with heart-health.It’s recommended to eat fatty fish like salmon twice a week. Also eggs are beneficial because they have 12 vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also good for brain development and memory. Berries have antioxidants and are low in calories and high in water. They help keep you full longer.”
It is changing the small things that will have the biggest impact over the years. Take an average salad that your children eat and replace half of it with spinach leaves. They are green and blend right in so your kids won’t taste the difference, but their hearts will benefit.
Eating healthy does not have to involve only fish and greens. There are many practical ways to splurge on desserts while maintaing your figure. “Fruit salad would be one of the healthier desserts,” Myles said. ” However, if you’re having people over try, a peach-crisp. It doesn’t have that much sugar. If you’re a chocolate lover, stick to the dark chocolates.”