Friday, January 13, 2006

Eating Better

Over the last two years or so, I have been trying to make some small changes in the food I prepare for my family. I don't think our eating was terrible, but it could be improved upon. So, I started instituting the following changes:

Less rice, pasta, potatoes. I can't even remember the last time I fixed potatoes! We do an occaisional lasagna. We hardly ever do pizza. If we do rice, I try to make it brown rice. When I need a "starchy" side, I like to make barley, often with some chopped up carrots in it. Very tasty. The idea here is to reduce simple carbs and replace with complex ones. (My weakness here is Lipton noodles. Usually they are too expensive, so I don't even consider it. But when there is a good sale, it's hard for me to pass them up!)

Eat more veggies that are high in nutrients and/or fiber. Corn and green beans are the big culprits here (no real vitamins or minerals, but also full if simple carbs.) We eat them sometimes b/c my husband isn't a big fan of many other veggies. But I have figured out a few ways to sneak some better stuff into our food. I chop up carrots (really small, in a food chopper) to mix into meatloaf. This week I actaully added chopped cabbage too. No one could tell the difference. When I make salad, I replace about half the lettuce with fresh spinach and red cabbage. The cabbage keeps the crunch and the spinach, which really doesn't taste like anything, has more nutrient value than lettuce. I try to sneak squash into dishes, if possible. And I make a lot of steamed carrots and broccoli.

Related to this, I'd like to eat one vegetarian meal each week. Since Paul is allergic to poultry, we don't eat that a lot either. That means a lot of beef and pork. It gets to be too much. But even in homes where chicken is a regular meal, I think this is a great idea. I have a super recipe for a lentil, barley, vegatable skillet that is really good... even my kids like it. Spaghetti squash comes to mind too.

Also, someone just told me that you can prepare cauliflower like mashed potatoes. I tried it and they are good! I know that boiling takes a lot of the "good stuff" out. Plus, I added salt and butter. BUT, if I had to make a choice between mashed cauliflower or mashed potatoes, I'd choose the cauliflower in a second. So far, Bug and Bao gobbled them up like they couldn't get enough. Boo said she didn't like them. I have yet to see what Paul says about it. (I have also heard of people preparing carrots like they do sweet potatoes, but when they told me they had to put the brown sugar and marshmallows on it, I filed the idea in my "recycle bin.")

Eat more fish. This was going well until we learned that Paul is allergic to salmon. I was doing fish, particularly salmon (high in omega-3s,) about once a week. But now that he is allergic, we haven't don't much fish at all. It's not the first kind of fish he's become allergic to, so he is becoming leary of eating any. It is something I'd like to figure my way around soon.

Cut back on processed foods. No mac and cheese or hamburger helper. Most of those kinds of things have so much fat and sodium and they just ain't any good for you! The big thing that I need to change in this respect is that I have too many recipes that call for some kind of cream soup. I need to cut back on those.

Better snacks. My kids eat plain yogurt like it is going out of style. They LIKE the flavored kind, but I don't buy it. (It isn't unusual for them to eat yogurt for breakfast and for a snack. They'd choose the flavored kind if it was here, and that is just too much sugar.) We don't drink much juice other than orange juice. We don't buy pop. I also try to keep soynuts and soy crisps on hand for them to munch on. They especially like soy crisps... kinda like rice cakes. Lot's of fruits and veggies around the house to pick from too.

Less sugar... this is where we really gotta clamp down. Paul and I are probably addicted. And both of us have parents who are diabetic. We are working on this one.

I have been drinking green tea a lot too. Lots of antioxidants, and tastier than plain water.

I really like the information available at World's Healthiest Foods (even though the foods are actually healthFUL, not healthY, but I digress.) They have a list of their top 100 WHfoods and they give all sorts of nutrition information about all the foods they tout. Great ideas and a bunch of recipes that I'd like to try.

Okay, so does anyone else have any tips for simple ways to make meals a little more healthful?

Addendum I presented the cauliflower to Paul and asked him if he'd try it. I called it a "mashed potato alternative." He ate some, then smiled, saying "did you sneak something in there?" I told him what it was and asked if he liked it. He said it was okay. So, more to the point, I asked him if he'd eat it if I made it for dinner. He said "I'd eat it." Translation: this is a RINGING endorsement of the mashed cauliflower!!!

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6 Comments:

Anonymous mom a said...

If you remember, I used to make stir fries with barley instead of rice; and you seemed to like the big broccoli omelets. There's always the spaghetti squash-topped-with-seasoned (as if for lasagne)-
ricotta. Stuffed peppers with the bread and cheese for stuffing was something you liked. . .well, you liked the stuffing. We'll have to talk.

Sat Jan 14, 03:24:00 AM  
Blogger Addie said...

We love mashed cauliflower here! We call them faux-ta-tos. Spaghetti Squash is also a big hit. I'm also going to try raw cauliflower in the food processor to make it small and crumbly and then steam it and have it for a replacement of rice. We used to be huge white rice eaters here, but have since taken that out of the diet. So anything I can use to replace my rice is good!

Thanks for the tips, I'm going to check the website out.

Sun Jan 15, 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

WOW! You have great food advice. And reminders. We have not been good about veggies lately. And they are so important.

I would also add fish in. I know it is expensive, but I found some frozen cod loins at SAM's and they are not all that bad.

Sun Jan 15, 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked your ideas for eating better. You know you can steam the caulifower then mash it. I have to say however I to LOVE hershey peanut butter cup ice cream. Yeah capt. 9s YEAH!!!!!!!!!!Shannon

Thu Jan 19, 07:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to ask, are potatoes really that bad. I mean God made them, they are a veggie???? Is it mainly the butter, sour cream, cheese and baco bits that make them bad?

Fri Jan 20, 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger PEZmama said...

My thing with potatoes is that they don't have any vitamins, minerals, or much fiber. It's empty calories, basically. I want what we eat to be more nutritious. And the simple carb kind of veggies just aren't.

Fri Jan 20, 02:20:00 PM  

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