We’ve all been there. It’s a new year, and you decide this is when you’re going to buckle down and eat healthy because you “could stand to lose a few pounds.” You make baked chicken and broccoli for dinner and pay close attention to portion sizes. And just about as fast as you decide to make these changes, you determine baked chicken and broccoli for dinner every night just isn’t for you. You need flavor and variety! Combining new flavors with highly nutritious ingredients can create meals that taste great while promoting good health.
The right herbs and spices can transform a meal. Think cinnamon, vanilla, cumin, oregano, thyme, ginger, garlic, and basil. Cinnamon and vanilla really enhance the flavor of plain Greek or non-dairy yogurt, ginger is a great addition to stir-fry recipes, and the warm and earthy flavor of cumin enriches the taste of vegetable or bean soups. Get creative with your combinations to keep things interesting.
Herbs and spices not only add flavor, but they contain anti-inflammatory properties and good-for-you minerals. Here’s a cool fact: onions, garlic, and cilantro contain components that actually help to rid the body of certain heavy metals. It’s a win-win-win!
Eat What You Enjoy
If you’re not a fan of certain “healthy” foods, then I’m giving you permission not to eat them. Seriously! Kale is not the only source of vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. It’s still possible to consume a healthful and balanced diet and obtain the nutrients you need from a variety of foods that you actually enjoy.
Your mouth—and your gut—will appreciate more variety in the plant-based foods you consume. The majority of the immune system is housed in the gut, so eating different fruits and vegetables is a big plus for your overall health. Be open to tasting new foods you may not have had before.
A healthy, balanced diet is going to look different for everyone because of unique food preferences and schedules. Rather than restricting what you love, focus on adding nutrient-dense foods when you’re able. Add a teaspoon of chia seeds to your smoothie, sprinkle nutritional yeast on broccoli, or mix in some lentils or chickpeas to your soups and salads. Upping your nutrition bit by bit is an easier approach to being healthy instead of overhauling your entire way of eating. After all, the best health habits are the ones you stick with!
Kristi Edwards and Erin Dragutsky, co-founders of 901 Nutrition, LLC are licensed and registered dietitians in Memphis. Kristi specializes in helping clients implement dietary changes that can delay and prevent the need for dialysis, as well as clients who consume plant-based diets. Erin specializes in helping clients with eating disorders and disordered eating habits. She is passionate about helping clients ditch the diets for good, find food freedom, and develop a positive relationship with food. 901nutrition.com, 901.800.9526