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Get Smart in the Kitchen

Nourish yourself, your family and your community by learning how to shop, cook and eat smart! Making more of your meals at home is one of the best ways to eat healthier and save money, too. Try these tips to get cooking.

• Add more color to your meals with fruits and vegetables. Fresh, frozen, canned and dried can all be healthy choices, but watch out for salty sauces and sugary syrups.

• Compare nutrition label information at the grocery store. Choose products with the lowest amounts of sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.

• Learn some new cooking methods and techniques. Instead of frying foods – which can add a lot of extra calories and unhealthy fats – use healthier cooking methods that add little or no fat, like roasting, grilling, baking or steaming.

• Give your pantry a makeover. If your cabinets, fridge and freezer are well-stocked with the right staple ingredients, it will be easier to make healthy meals.

• Make it fun for kids to try new foods. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable in the grocery store each week. Figure out together how to cook or prepare it in a healthy way.

• Make healthy substitutions, like whole grain instead of refined white flour. Take small steps over time to replace less-healthy ingredients in your family favorites.

• Cut down on the salt and learn new ways to give food great flavor, including herbs, spices, vinegars, citrus, garlic and other seasonings.

• Upgrade your fats. Use liquid vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame and sunflower in place of butter and solid fats.

• Include some meatless meals. Choose plant-based proteins like beans, vegetables, legumes and tofu.

• Relax! Have fun in the kitchen and get the family involved in planning and preparing meals. Explore new recipes together.

Snack and Sip Smarter Think beyond meals. Snacks and drinks are an important part of your eating pattern. They can add extra calories, sodium, saturated fat and added sugars you don’t need. Here are some ways to keep them healthier.

• Choose H20. Remember, the healthiest thing you can drink is water! Make it your default choice when you’re feeling thirsty. You can give it some extra appeal by adding fresh or frozen fruits, herbs or a splash of 100% fruit juice.

• Try seltzer, club soda or sparkling water if you love the fizz. For a festive holiday look, garnish with whole cranberries and mint leaves.

• Swap the empty calories of most crackers and chips for the crunchy goodness of whole grains, raw fruits and veggies, and nuts and seeds.

• Replace sugary drinks (including sodas, energy and sports drinks, sweet tea and lemonade) with water or unsweetened tea. To make the switch easier, cut back the amount of sweetener gradually until your taste adjusts.

• For a satisfying boost of energy, try peanut or almond butter, hummus or low-fat yogurt.

• Be your own barista. Opt for less-sweet homemade versions of coffee drinks, hot cider and cocoa. (You’ll save money, too!)

• Throw an apple, orange or banana in your bag for those times when hunger takes you by surprise. It will fill you up and help keep you from overeating later.

• Drink in moderation. Alternate cocktails and other adult beverages with water to cut down on the calories and added sugars.

• For a lighter appetizer or game day snack, serve crisp, colorful, cut-up vegetables for dipping into hummus or guacamole.

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