When you cook dinner do you make an effort to have a nutritiously balanced meal, or do you just throw something together and hope for the best? Do you think about how your food was grown or where it came from? When it comes to making a healthy meal and feeding your family, what are your priorities?
Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Basically, you want to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel. A healthy meal means a dish that will improve your physical and mental health, give you energy, and make you feel full and satisfied.
These are my top ten tips to get the most out of your meal.
10 Tips to Make a Healthy Meal
1. Quality Ingredients: Choosing the highest quality ingredients is the first step to making a delicious, healthy meal. You want to use nutrient-dense, fresh, organic ingredients whenever possible. Even better: look for seasonal, locally grown produce and grass-fed meats.
2. Balance macronutrients: The three macronutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and you want to include all three at each meal. This will help balance blood sugar and maintain energy levels so you don’t get hungry an hour or two after eating.
- Protein: Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and should be a conscious thought with each meal and most snacks. Good sources of protein include grass-fed, pasture-raised and/or organic meat such as poultry, pork, seafood, dairy and eggs.
- Fats: Fats play many important roles in the body and are super important for overall health. They are an excellent source of energy, slow digestion and absorption of sugar into the body (which helps to keep blood sugar balanced), increase satiety (meaning we feel full and satisfied for longer after eating a meal with healthy fats). They are also critical for making hormones and every cell membrane in the body. Healthy fats include coconut oil, butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, and full-fat dairy (no refined or hydrogenated oils).
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide fuel for the brain, a quick source of energy for muscles, help regulate protein and fat metabolism, and provide a good source of fiber. Good carbohydrates come from fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Opt for organic, local, and seasonal produce whenever possible. Limit fruit to 1-2 servings per day.
3. Cover half your plate with veggies: Vegetables provide fiber and a variety of nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
4. Make it colorful: The color of your food can tell you a lot about its nutritional value, and eating a variety of colors is a good way to get as many of those vitamins and minerals as possible. Fruit and vegetables get their color from phytochemicals, which help prevent cancer and other diseases. For example, orange produce is high in vitamins C and A. Green veggies are rich in vitamins B, K, and E.
5. Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners: If you must have a treat, choose naturally-derived sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup, molasses, or dates, and only use them sparingly.
6. Avoid processed foods: Make your meal from scratch using whole foods in their natural state. Avoid processed, refined, and packaged foods that are void in nutrients and cause stress to the body.
7. Plan ahead: Prepping your meals in advance can save you loads of time and energy throughout the week. Choose two days/week to shop, cut, and cook. For example, cook a big pot of brown rice or black beans, roast veggies, make sauces or dressings and use them with different meals all week.
8. Use fresh herbs and spices: This will enhance the flavor and add vibrancy to your food. Some of my favorites include cilantro, parsley (both great detoxifiers), basil, cumin, cayenne, and lemon juice.
9. Cook with love: Enjoy the process and take your time. When you cook with a positive attitude, that energy gets passed on to your food. Try not to cook while angry, upset, or stressed.