Meal Planning for 2011: The Pep Talk

By Zaneta Chuniq Inpower

There’s still time to follow through with your New Year’s Resolution! The number one annual resolution is to lose weight, eat healthier and journey to a more nutritious diet, void from today’s quick and easy market of convenience food, fast food and artificial ingredients. Meal planning not only makes grocery shopping easier (if you can keep the kids from putting their goodies in the cart) but you will save money knowing what you and your family will eat and reduce leftovers and overconsumption. 

                Sit down with the grocery sale ads. This will help you create a blueprint of what your meals for the week may consist of. Start by looking for proteins and choose lean, white meats for your family. Examples of such are chicken, turkey and fish. These meats are easy to grill, bake, roast or sauté and cuts down on extra oils that can easily slow your body down. If you are a vegetarian, like myself, there are a variety of protein options outside of beans and legumes, such as WestSoy brand seitan, Quorn meat substitutes ranging from chicken tenders and patties to grounds and nuggets and Dr. Praeggar’s deliciously simple and natural veggie patties and snacks for children!

                After you have chosen your proteins, do not neglect vegetables! Vegetables and fruits provide essential amino acids, nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need. Consider green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach and romaine lettuce for all meals of the day. There are various recipes available on the internet to guide you to creating new vegetable dishes you and your family would enjoy. Try epicurious.com or vegetariantimes.com for inspiration. 

                Now that your vegetables are selected, try implementing some whole grains into your diet. Refined grains such as white sugar, white flour, white rice, etc have been stripped of essential nutrients and enriched artificially. Whole grains add soluble fiber and helps with weight management. Whole grains also contain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate), are essential to a health nervous system and are sources of magnesium (building bones) and selenium (protecting cells from oxidation).  

There are various grains such as amaranth, barley, buckwheat, faro, kamut, millet, quinoa (its actually a seed, but cooks like rice), oats, spelt. Look how many options you have! Brown rice comes in a variety of types such as jasmine, basmati, short-grain and more. Instead of white sugar try agave nectar sweetener, brown sugar, molasses or even fruit (and fruit juice) to sweeten things up a bit.

Expanding your knowledge on cooking techniques, flavors and ingredients will greatly assist you in becoming a better cook and meal planner! Take your heath back and keep your money in your pockets this year by considering healthful choices and making tasty and wholesome food decisions that will keep you feeling good all year round.

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