New Year, New Foods, New Nutrition
With 2021 underway, it’s a great time to focus on nutrition! Let’s be honest - the more time we spend at home working, participating in online learning, and spending free time, the more snacking and eating we’ve been doing. While the jury’s still out on the “quarantine fifteen”, it’s a good idea to take a look at the snack foods and meals you’ve been consuming and consider making adjustments to healthier options.
Jen Ropp, Registered Dietitian and Health Educator at MultiCare, encourages families to choose less-processed snack foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and grains. This time of year, oranges, grapefruits, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips, and kale are in season- take advantage of these fresh, delicious produce options! Try to incorporate some healthy options into your snack rotation such as apple slices and cheese, veggies and hummus, yogurt and fruit parfaits or some microwavable steamed edamame.
If you find yourself constantly snacking, it may be time to implement some strategies to cut down on the crunching and munching. First off, it’s important to ask yourself “am I hungry or am I just bored?” We’ve all found ourselves longing to get back to our normal lives, normal routines, and social interactions- the absences of these can lead to boredom at home. Instead of turning to snacking, try spending time working on projects you’ve been procrastinating, picking up a new hobby, or getting some fresh air outside. It’s also helpful to eat proper meals throughout the day instead of grazing on snacks; sit down, put down the screens, and enjoy your meals slowly at dedicated meal times to avoid constant snacking to compensate for lack of food. Replacing highly-processed snack foods with whole fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains can also lead to less snacking, as these foods have higher nutrient-levels that will keep you fuller for longer.
One way to incorporate more nutritious foods into your family’s diet is to try new recipes together. Making a family goal of trying a new recipe each week can turn mealtime into a fun activity that everyone looks forward to- “New Meal Monday” or “Wordly Recipe Wednesday” anyone? The internet is your friend- there are thousands of healthy recipes bursting with flavor, textures, and colors that use fresh produce and grains. Homemade meals don’t have to be time-consuming- kitchen gadgets like slow cookers can be a great option for busy families and people. Pop something into the slow cooker in the morning and have a delicious meal (and great smelling home) with little/no effort at dinnertime.
Another fun way to incorporate more nutritious options is to expand your family’s tastes by trying new ethnic foods. Not only can you learn about different countries, cultures, and history together, but you may just find a new favorite meal! If you have little ones at home, trying a new cuisine can turn into a day of fun: introducing a story book that includes the food or country you are exploring, printing out some free coloring pages online, watching a movie or television program as a family, or doing a craft that incorporates the culture of the country you are learning about are all fun ways to teach, learn, and explore together. There are a million ways to start your food journey, but if you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few suggestions:
Introduce French cuisine by making crepes, playing french music, watching Ratatouille, and coloring pictures of the Eiffel Tower.
Introduce Japanese cuisine by rolling homemade sushi, folding some origami, and trying out some kid-friendly sudoku puzzles.
Introduce Egyptian cuisine by making homemade hummus, reading a book on the construction of the Pyramids, and learning about hieroglyphics through various free printable online worksheets.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, considering picking up some new ingredients and giving a new recipe a whirl- we can’t wait to hear what you make!
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