In college, as I learned more and more about health and nutrition, I also discovered (more and more) just how much of the American population knows very little (not everyone, but many!).
Creativity is also a part of this. When presented with variety of food choice, as we would be at the house at Butler, if the ‘main dish’ was not enticing, I witnessed many people shut off, decide there was ‘nothing’, and go make pb&j or cereal. However, in exploring the many ‘sides’ including in our buffet, one can easily make multiple meals!
I was asked to explain what I had created so many times, one person even insisting I should write ideas in a blog for them. Well, I may be a year and a half late, but here we go…
My base foundations- the three most common in my daily diet:
1. Fruit combinations with fats and proteins.
This includes any variety of whole fruits, chopped up in a bowl with peanut butter (all natural Trader Joe’s no salt), some sort of granola-like mix, a bit of cinnamon (good for your blood sugar), and something that ties it all together such as plain yogurt or unsweetened (which is still very sweet) applesauce.
Another popular variation is the banana, peanut butter, toast combo, or a sliced apple with peanut butter.
If you aren’t peanut butter-crazed like me, raw almonds, walnuts, and roasted edamame also make excellent additions. So does almond butter, though pricey.
And, of course, the old stand-by: cereal. How do we make it more nutritionally beneficial? Add fruit (blueberries, bananas,…), healthy milk (great protein), nuts, and flax seed.
When cold especially, oats with bananas or berries, cinnamon, and peanut butter makes a great meal.
When on the run, an inexpensive, extremely good-for-you snack is a piece of fruit. If not satisfied, try to accompany with a fat and protein.
2. Vegetable combinations.
Fruits are to my breakfast as vegetables are to my lunch and dinner– when I cook at my apartment. Say you don’t like vegetables? Well, there are also many discrete ways to add them to your diet.
My classic go-to if in my apartment: Whatever vegetables I have, toss in the pan on the stove with olive oil and Italian red wine vinegar, then add whatever else you want– spices, tofu/chicken/egg/other protein, brown rice, cheese…Have a side of hummus and crackers….And suddenly there is a fulfilling, complete meal, full of healthy things and very flavorful. Pile on top of spinach for an excellent salad as well.
Another favorite: hummus. Carrots and hummus. Mushrooms and hummus. Grape tomatoes and hummus. Rice crackers and hummus. Just be sure to note ingredients and sodium/fat contents when buying hummus (or making it!). Each brand, even each flavor, varies immensely.
Also, a tofu, mushroom, spinach sandwich makes for a great meal with some sprouted grain, super-healthy and super-dense bread. Be sure to spread hummus, mustard, and/or olive oil for a moist, satisfying sandwich. (And of course don’t forget the spices.) If tofu grosses you out, I challenge you to try it in a stir fry or a sandwich with spices and other flavors and be surprised.
3. I guess this would be my treats that I actually spend more money on in a blue moon 🙂 So not in my “daily diet”, but another component anyway.
My top two: a delicious, swirled cone of low-fat frozen yogurt with sprinkles and a nice, crispy pizza.
I just love both of those, but it’s a bit pricey to indulge too often. These are both on the healthy-side as well, as the cone is low-fat fro yo, and usually the pizza I get is very thin, with little cheese, and I am one of those “oil blotting” people.
So there you go– Hopefully something sounded good here that you want to try at home, too!