We’re surrounded by fast and convenient food choices. More often than not, these choices consist of processed foods. If you can avoid processed food, you’ve practically won half the battle. At the heart of a healthy diet are fresh, nutrient-dense food choices. This is absolutely central when eating for optimal health. Nutrient-dense foods enable you to get the calories you need while also getting the nutrients your body requires to function properly.
We have been brought up in a super-sized culture where more is always better. This has extended to our plates. Portion control is a critical component of healthy eating. Regardless of the quality of food you eat, overconsumption will result in increased fat stores. When your caloric intake exceeds your body’s caloric needs, that excess “fuel” is going to be stored for future use. A commitment to healthy eating, with proper portion control, can help the body function optimally and maintain a healthy weight, which may help prevent the development of chronic diseases. Fresh, nutrient-dense food choices combined with portion control are the guiding principles of healthy eating.
Still not sure what a healthy meal looks like? Below are five healthy meal ideas for the whole family.
Balsamic Marinated ChickenMost meal compositions center around the protein ingredient. It’s the heart of the meal. You’d be hard pressed to find a more versatile protein than the ever-popular chicken. The health benefits of chicken are numerous. It’s low in fat and calories, high in protein and packed full of essential vitamins and nutrients. To benefit from eating chicken, be sure to get lean, skinless cuts like chicken breast.
To make balsamic marinated chicken, you just need a few basic ingredients: 1.25 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to your family’s taste. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper to create the marinade. Place chicken and the marinade in a plastic bag, refrigerate and allow to marinate for a minimum of an hour. Grill the chicken for 4-8 minutes per side, depending on heat, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Proper portion size should be about 4 oz, which is less than the standard chicken breast, so you may need to cut it down before serving to plate. Pair your balsamic chicken with grilled asparagus and a small portion of steamed red potatoes for a healthy family meal.
Lemon-Garlic ShrimpSeafood is a notoriously healthy food category. Like chicken, it is also high in protein while low in calories. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, also known as the “good fats.” Shrimp is generally a crowd pleaser, even amongst those who don’t enjoy fish. It’s a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and it contains various nutrients that are often lacking in our diets. These include selenium, zinc, copper, choline, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12. One ounce contains about 30 calories, 6 grams of protein and a minuscule amount of fat. Shrimp often gets a bad rap for its relatively high level of cholesterol. However, this isn’t much of a concern unless it’s the majority of what you’re eating, and that applies to very few people.
A popular and healthy shrimp dish is lemon-garlic marinated shrimp. To make this dish, you’ll need the following ingredients: 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, ¼ cup of lemon juice, ¼ cup of minced parsley, 1 1/4 lbs of peeled, cooked shrimp and salt and pepper to your family’s taste. Add the garlic into a skillet and cook over medium heat for a minute or two. Add the extra virgin olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the skillet. You can then add the shrimp into the skillet to warm it up. Serve a 4 oz portion of shrimp over a bed of whole grain brown rice (1/2 cup cooked) or quinoa (1/2 cup cooked), and add a steamed vegetable or salad to round out your healthy meal.
Beef-Broccoli Stir FryEating healthy does not necessitate eliminating beef from your diet. The USDA designates an extra-lean cut of beef as a 3.5 oz portion containing less than the following: 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Extra-lean cuts include eye of round roast and steak, top sirloin steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, as well as bottom round roast and steak.
One popular recipe in which you can incorporate an extra-lean cut is beef-broccoli stir fry. Ingredients for this recipe include the following: 12 oz boneless beef top sirloin steak cut into strips, ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ cup water, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 wedge-chopped onion and 4 cups of fresh broccoli florets. Mix the garlic powder with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water and then toss the beef in. Mix the soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and the remaining cornstarch and water in a bowl separately. Add the oil to a skillet and brown the beef over medium-high heat and then remove from the pan. Add the onions and broccoli into that same pan for 4-5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce mixture for 1-2 minutes until it thickens. Add the beef back into the pan. Serve a 4 oz portion of the beef and vegetables over cooked spaghetti squash or ½ cup of whole grain brown rice.
Portobello Mushroom BurgerThere are endless ways to eat healthy while avoiding meat or animal by-products. If you have a vegetarian in your family, this recipe is sure to be a pleaser. You’ll need the following ingredients: 2 large portobello mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons of freshly minced basil and oregano, salt, pepper, tomato slices, and lettuce. Create a marinade for the mushrooms by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the portobello mushrooms to the marinade. Drain and grill the mushrooms over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Serve on a whole grain bun with lettuce and tomato slices. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love this burger!
Healthy Cobb SaladHistorically, healthy eating has been synonymous with salads. There are many versions of the salad that are hearty enough to earn the main course designation. However, not all salads are created equal in regards to nutrition. Your choice in salad dressing can make or break your salad from a nutritional and dietary perspective, so choose carefully.
You don’t have to say goodbye to your favorite meals when embarking on a healthier lifestyle. Oftentimes, a few recipe modifications can turn your naughty dish into a nice one. For example, with a few tweaks, you can modify an indulgent salad like the Cobb Salad and cut the fat and calories in half. To make a healthy Cobb Salad, you’ll need the following ingredients: Head of lettuce chopped, turkey bacon (2 strips per serving), eggs whites (2 per serving), 1 large tomato cubed, 1 large cooked chicken breast cubed, 1/3 cup crumbled low fat feta cheese, 1 small chopped avocado, 2 tablespoons of low fat Ranch dressing, ¼ cup of non-fat Greek yogurt, and water. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy and set aside. Cook the egg whites as you would scramble eggs and set aside. Add your chicken breast cubes, low-fat feta cheese, egg whites, turkey bacon, tomatoes and avocado to your chopped lettuce. Blend the Greek yogurt with the low-fat ranch dressing and add water until you’ve achieved your desired consistency. Top your salad off with your modified dressing and enjoy!
The benefits of healthy eating far outweigh the sacrifices it requires. Your first step towards a healthier lifestyle for you and your family is just one meal away!
Begin your healthy eating lifestyle by trying one of Enzymedica’s Purify Cleanse products. You may want to consider supplementing your family’s healthy diet with Enzymedica Enzyme Nutrition™ Multi-Vitamin Two Daily which contains enzyme-activated vitamins. It’s suitable for everyone in the family age 14 and over.
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