Whether you're just starting a plan for healthy eating or have been following a healthy diet for years, sticking to it can sometimes be challenging. But healthy eating doesn't have to be boring or tiresome. Flavorful food combinations, new cooking ideas and an inventive spirit can add pizazz to your meals and snacks, and keep you motivated to meet your goals for healthy eating.
Here are 10 ways to keep you on course toward healthy eating:
- Play with your food. Experiment with new foods and new combinations. Try mango or peach slices on whole-wheat toast with a little peanut butter and honey. Toss some mandarin orange or peach slices into a salad.
- Toss on some beans. Add chickpeas (garbanzos) or black beans to your lunch or dinner salad. If you typically buy a salad or soup at work but no beans are available, bring a container of beans from home. Another idea: Blend chickpeas to create a dip for veggies or spread on a sandwich.
- Try tofu. Stir-fry extra-firm or firm tofu instead of meat in Asian-style dishes. Freezing and then thawing tofu before use gives it a firmer, chewier texture. You can also toss tofu in the blender to add protein to your fruit smoothies.
- Snack smart. Make a nutritious snack rather than a full meal when time is tight. For example, spread a brown rice cake with ricotta cheese and fresh strawberries or low-sugar, spreadable fruit. Or try low-fat corn muffins with apple and cheese slices, or fat-free refried beans mixed with salsa, a small amount of low-fat sour cream and baked tortilla chips.
- Bulk up. Add crushed bran (or oats or whole grain) cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to baked products, such as meatloaf, breads, muffins, casseroles, cakes and cookies. Bran products also make a great crunchy topping for casseroles, salads and cooked vegetables.
- Go green. Vary your salad greens and enjoy the multitude of flavors and textures that are available. Choices include arugula, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach and watercress. Try mixing varieties to get all the nutrition benefits and all the flavors.
- Multitask. Choose a dish that serves as a full meal for quick and simple cooking. Healthy examples include beef, barley and vegetable stew; chicken, vegetable and rice casserole; turkey and bean casserole with tomatoes; or vegetarian chili with beans and diced vegetables.
- Add a side of salsa. It's not just for chips anymore. Whether it's mild, fruity, hot, smooth or chunky, salsa is a great companion for potatoes, vegetables, fish, chicken, meats and even eggs.
- Spice it up. Use herbs and spices to add color, taste and aroma. Add cilantro to rice or bean dishes. Sprinkle rosemary on roasted potatoes, cubed squash (or veggies) or grilled meats. Add freshly chopped chives to omelets or pasta salads.
- Explore the world. Discover and enjoy foods from around the world: Mexican, Latin American, Indian, Greek, French and Asian cuisines, just to name a few. Some of the world's most intriguing ingredients — quinoa, edamame, bok choy, bulgur — are as nutritious as they are delicious.