By Michelle Weinstein
It’s January and we all know what that means…RESOLUTIONS! Each year, millions of Americans vow to make change in their lifestyle. Promises to eat healthfully and exercise regularly become the mantra of the young and old. The excesses of the holidays make way for a trimmed down approach to meal planning and nutrition with the turn of the calendar from December to January. At Optimal Nutrition, Inc., we work 365 days a year with individuals who value nutritional quality all year long. Let’s start the New Year with a few simple ideas that can create positive change in your nutritional wellbeing and can be sustained long after January resolutions are forgotten.
With the help of Theresa Martinez, Executive Chef of Optimal Nutrition, I have identified three simple ideas designed to help you reach your nutritional goals. For the New Year, the best ideas are pocket friendly and easy to implement.
- Teach yourself portion control.
- Learn high value low-cost cooking.
- Stop sabotaging your nutritional health (and budget) with high calorie beverages.
Portion Control for Dummies: Can you still hear your mother saying, “Clean your plate and eat your vegetables?” We learn at a young age that a clean plate pleases parents. It’s too bad that long after childhood, when we may have been able to burn off nearly limitless calories (if we were lucky), we continue to finish all we are served no matter how large the portion size. At Optimal Nutrition, portion size is lesson number one for our clientele. Here’s the trick: all you need is a fist full of starches, a fist full of fruits and vegetables, and a palm full of proteins in each meal. The best snacks (two to three per day) should also be balanced similarly.
High Value Low Cost Cooking: “Eating healthy isn’t always the most convenient, let alone the most cost-effective,” according to Executive Chef, Theresa Martinez who believes that it’s important to be able to fuel your body wisely at a cost you can afford. With proteins, it’s pretty easy because we can use eggs as a base to any breakfast or dinner to provide a great source of protein as well as B vitamins at a very low cost. An omelet or scramble with leftover vegetables and a few ounces of cheese is an easy way to go and can be prepared in dishes that range from humble to haute depending on your tastes. Or, a favorite of breakfast eaters on the go is a hard-boiled egg (good for a protein boost before a workout too). Beans are another low-cost option great for protein as well as fiber and iron. At Optimal Nutrition, we have 610 entrees in our recipe database and the top five choices for low cost ingredients are all chili.
Produce can be hard to keep fresh so shelf life can become a deterrent to the dollar weary shopper. Remember, some produce can be bought frozen and still be a very healthy addition to any meal. Frozen green beans and peas are great choices and the shelf life of fresh carrots is noteworthy as well. Carrots are the highest source of beta-carotene as well as vitamin C and fiber. Bored of the carrot stick? How about baking and tossing them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and chili pepper for some firecracker baked carrot fries?
For starches, focus on whole-wheat products and brown rice – whole wheat breads, pastas and tortillas just to name a few. Whole wheat offers a great source of nutrition and fiber that white starches just can’t match. If you have even a small freezer, it’s worth it to buy whole wheat breads and tortillas on sale and stock up. Experiment a bit to find the best products for freezing and thawing. Rolled oats are whole grain and one of the most versatile of the low cost nutritious foods. Of course they’re great as a hot breakfast cereal, but you can also bake inexpensive oatmeal cookies and use oats in dessert toppings for crisps and pies. Experiment with processing them to a fine grain for use in baking.
Embrace No-Calorie and Low-Calorie Beverages: Who’s got an extra 500 calories a day to dedicate to sugary beverages? Not me, and probably not you either! Specialty coffee drinks, energy drinks, juices, bottled teas and sodas are huge contributors to our daily sugar intake. Possibly the biggest culprits of all are the energy drinks that have become all the rage. Do your research and learn that they offer little more than extra pounds on the scale and a hole in your wallet. An average energy drink can cost about $3 for twelve ounces. If you drink one a day, five times a week, that’s nearly $800 a year and nearly 3,000 extra calories added to your weekly consumption. Try blending a small amount of fruit and mint with water to make a refreshing agua fresco or treat yourself to the spa ritual of a beautiful pitcher of water with citrus slices and mint to enjoy throughout the day!
Michelle Weinstein is the owner of Optimal Nutrition, Inc. (ONI). ONI is in the fuel business and specializes in the production and delivery of customized organic meals, 91 Bars, and state-of-the-art hydration. Each meal is designed and portioned specifically to your body’s needs based on Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and activity level. Look for ONI’s new meal service available at Fitness Quest 10 and grab a healthy, low-cost meal on your way home or back to the office after your next workout. Learn more at www.optimalnutritioninc.com.