Nutrition Tips

Nutrition Tips for raising your nutrition score

The tips on this page are about how to get the most nutritional value from what you eat and drink. The choices you make and the way your food is handled, have a lot to do with its ultimate role in keeping you healthy and well. The tips found here are ones that I know for sure are useful, because I use them myself!

Nutrition Tip #1: Choose color!

Neutral colors are popular. We have entire subdivisions full of taupe houses, carpeted with varying shades of beige to complement the ecru walls and cream-colored tile. In some localities, bright colors are considered in poor taste or even gauche. I know someone who had to spend a fair sum of money to “neutralize” a home she was trying to sell because it had too much color. The point is that it’s okay to decorate your house with all neutrals, but please don’t decorate your PLATE that way!

Choose lots of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices because they are the protective foods. There is more and more evidence that the phytonutrients found in colorful foods have protective properties that keep the bad guys in our bodies at bay.

Nutrition Tip #2: Fat--How can you tell if it’s saturated?

A rule of thumb for saturated fat is that, if it is solid at room temperature, it is saturated. If it is liquid at room temperature, it is not saturated. This rule applies to naturally saturated fats, such as butter, lard and coconut oil, as well as fats which have become saturated through processing, such as margarine, spreads and solid vegetable shortenings. Even peanut butter gets into the game. If your peanut butter stays solid and spreadable at room temperature, it has saturated fat (usually because it’s been hydrogenated); if it becomes more liquid at room temperature it is not saturated. Most health experts agree that we should eat fewer of the saturated fats in favor of the unsaturated variety.

Nutrition Tip #3: Water—the beverage of choice

It’s a fact that many of us do not drink enough water. This is partly because there are so many interesting alternatives that make water seem bland and dull by comparison. One way to make water more appealing is to keep some in a nice glass bottle in your fridge(“glass” because it is more chemically stable than plastic). If you always have a nice supply of cold water, you will be more likely to drink it when you’re thirsty. When I am at home, I drink my water out of my best stemware, which makes it even more appealing.

Nutrition Tip #4: Flax for Omega-3 and fiber

Although flax is the plant that gives us linen cloth, the seeds of this beautiful blue flowering plant also supply Omega-3 fats, one of the essential fats that you must get from your diet. You can get these fats from fish oil, but if you prefer a vegetable source, flax seed is a for you. In addition to supplying Omega-3's, flax seed also has fiber and antioxidants. Some health experts believe that flax seed has anti-cancer potential and that it has elements that boost your immune function.

The best way to add flax seed to your diet is to get a small coffee grinder and grind a few tablespoons of flax just before you use it, since there is evidence that once it is ground it begins to deteriorate. You can sprinkle flax on cereal, yogurt, put it in bread or other baked products, on a salad or even in juice. Golden flax is more tasty than brown flax and seems to have higher nutritional quality. I buy my flax through the Local Harvest, but it is available at health stores, in health food sections of grocery stores, or online.

Nutrition Tip #5: Cinnamon

It turns out that cinnamon is about more than just making mom's apple pie taste good. Recent studies have shown that cinnamon may help regulate your blood sugar and lower your cholesterol. 

In addition to using it in your apple pie recipe, consider sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal, cold cereal or yogurt. You can also add it other recipes such as muffins, breads and pancakes. You can even add it to your favorite smoothie.

For a quick and nutritious snack combine 1/2 cup cottage cheese with a diced apple and a pinch of cinnamon.

Wow! Who knew that a mere "spice" could also be a "health food"!

Nutrition Tip #6: Complementary Proteins

Plant foods do not, as a rule, have complete proteins, but by eating combinations of plant foods, called “complementary proteins", you can obtain a complete protein. For example, when you eat pinto beans with rice, such as is often found in Mexican cuisine, you are obtaining a complete protein. The beans and rice complement each other, in that each has some of the essential amino acids and when eaten together, they provide all of the essential amino acids. It is generally believed by nutritionists that it is not necessary to eat these complementary proteins at the same meal.

Nutrition Tip #7: Cooking with whole-grain flour

You have probably heard that we need to reduce the white flour products in our diet in favor of whole grains. One way to do this is to replace a portion of the white flour in your baked goods with whole-grain flour. When you make pancakes, waffles, or muffins, try replacing even one cup of the white flour with whole-grain flour. This will add flavor and texture as well as nutrition. You can replace as much as half of the white flour without significantly affecting the quality of the finished product. You can also replace some of the white flour in some cakes, such as apple cake or banana cake. When I make pizza crust or calzones, I use at least half whole-grain flour with delicious and nutritious results. 

Even small but positive changes in your diet will have large results for your health.

Nutrition Tip #8: Breading and Bread crumbs

When bread crumbs or breading are used in cooking, they are usually made from white flour or white flour products. Consider using whole-grain bread crumbs in your cooking, which will add fiber, flavor and nutrition to your favorite recipes. Bread crumbs are easy to make using dried or toasted whole-grain bread. Cracker crumbs can also be made from good quality whole-grain crackers or finely ground nuts. You can also use oatmeal to replace part of the bread crumbs in many recipes. Be creative and think outside the white bread box!

Nutrition Tip #9: Replace some sour cream with Greek yogurt

Sour cream, whether used as a condiment or in recipes, will add a significant amount of fat to your diet. Try substituting low-fat, Greek yogurt for all or part of the sour cream, and you will not only lower the fat content, but you will also increase the protein content of your meal. You can use half Greek yogurt in potato salad and other mayonnaise-based dishes, or as a topping for potatoes or Mexican-style dishes, where you would normally use sour cream.  Even if you use full-fat Greek yogurt, you will increase the protein and lower the fat content, compared to using full-fat sour cream.

Nutrition Tip #10:  Add turmeric and black pepper to soups and salads.

Turmeric is that bright yellow spice that gives mustard its distinctive yellow color and is used in Indian curries. It has anti-inflammatory properties , which are enhanced by combining it with black pepper.

You can add both spices to potato salad, egg salad, many soups, scrambled eggs, omelets,quiches and other recipes.

Turmeric is also an anti-oxidant and may help prevent cancer and Alzheimer's Disease.

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