Here you can find healthy hints for different family situations, such as small households and school lunches for kids. There are also easy ways to include more fruits and veggies into your day. For those on the go, we have tips on eating out and quick meals.
Check out the rest of the website for more ideas & tips. If you can't find what you are looking for or would like more information, contact us!
- Quick and Easy Tips
- Small Steps for Eating More Fruits and Veggies
- How to store leftovers
- School lunches your kids will love
- Healthy Snack ideas for kids
- Tips for eating at restaurants
- Eating on-the-go
- Healthy Weight Loss
- Skip buffets. Make eating out a social event, not an all you can eat event!
- Grill, steam or bake instead of frying .
- Choose fruit for dessert .
- When eating out, share an entrée with a friend.
- Remove skin from chicken to lower the fat content.
- Replace sugar sweetened beverages with water and add a twist of lemon or lime.
- Instead of eating out, bring a healthy, low calorie lunch to work.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Plan healthy snacks.
Why Fruits and Vegetables?
Did you know that eating more fruits and vegetables will help prevent and manage many health conditions? Your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and weight issues can be decreased just by increasing fruits and vegetables.
Easy Ways to Include Fruits and Vegetables Into Your Day
- Microwave frozen vegetables such as broccoli, peas, or green beans for an easy side dish dinner.
- Eat more colors! (red peppers, purple grapes, green apples, white cauliflower and oranges).
- Add frozen vegetables such as broccoli, peas, and carrots to soups and stews.
- Add vegetables to casseroles, stews, rice dishes, or spaghetti sauces.
- Slice bananas, canned peaches, or frozen berries on cereal, or add to yogurt.
- Add lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers carrots, spinach or onions to sandwiches.
- Cut raw veggies such as carrots, celery, and pepper strips into sticks and store in the refrigerator Add a healthy dip for a quick snack.
- Add a variety of vegetables to pizza. Pepper, onions and tomatoes are just a few choices.
- Encourage your child to choose their own fruit when shopping.
- Instead of eating French fries, bake or microwave a sweet potato.
- Make a fruit salad for dessert.
- Try fun snacks like fresh fruit dipped in fruit yogurt.
- Enjoy baked chips with salsa.
- Fill up on fewer calories; add lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables to your sandwich and leave off the cheese.
- Try a new fruit or vegetable recipe every week.
- Try a side salad with low fat dressing instead of fries and save over 200 calories.
- Dried fruits make a great snack.
- Put leftovers in the fridge as soon as possible, but definitely within 2 hours of cooking. If you leave leftovers out for too long at room temperature, bacteria can quickly multiply, turning your delightful dish into a food poisoning disaster.
- Store leftovers in containers with lids that can be snapped tightly shut. Bowls or tins are OK for storing leftovers, but be sure to cover them tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep the food from drying out.
- Store large amounts of leftovers in several small shallow containers instead of one large container. This allows the food to cool faster and is also easier to heat up.
- Eat any leftovers within 3 to 5 days or freeze them. Don't freeze any dishes that contain uncooked fruit or veggies, hard-cooked eggs, or mayonnaise.
- Eat frozen leftovers within 2 months.
- If you're freezing leftovers, freeze them in one- or two-portion servings, so they'll be easy to take out of the freezer, pop in the microwave, and eat.
- Don't fill storage bowls all the way to the top; when food is frozen, it expands. Leave a little extra space - about 1/2 inch (about 13 millimeters) should do it.
This information was adapted from http://kidshealth.org. Visit this site or the University of Vermont Extension at www.uvm.edu/~uvmext/nutrition/ for more information on food safety and reheating foods. Don't forget to check out the recipe section of the website for new meal ideas and healthy cooking and baking substitutions!
What is a healthy lunch? Cut fruits and/or veggies, lean meat or peanut-butter sandwiches on whole-grain bread, low or nonfat dairy products.
Portion size is important when planning lunches and recipes for your children. Here's a general guide for grade school lunch portion sizes:
- Two to three ounces of lean meat and cheese
- One or two slices of bread OR 1/2 cup grain or rice
- One to two different fruits or vegetables
- 1 cup milk or 6-8 oz yogurt (make sure dairy is low-fat)
- Sandwiches: lean cold cuts such as turkey or ham, with a slice of cheese on whole grain bread, topped with spinach, lettuce, tomato, or other veggies
- Peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread
- Tuna fish sandwich on whole grain bread
- Wraps made with whole wheat tortillas, containing either lean cold cuts or cheese slices topped with veggie slices
- Quesadilla slices made with cheese and chicken or vegetables
- Cold strips of grilled chicken with honey mustard dip
- Trail mix made with cereals, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit or raisins, and a few chocolate morsels
- Low-fat yogurt with berries or try soy yogurt if lactose intolerant
- Low fat cheese spread on whole wheat crackers
- Low fat cheese cubes or low-fat cottage cheese
- Individual serving-sized packages of low fat yogurt, cottage cheese, or yogurt smoothies
- For the vegetarian: mini-burritos made with rice and black beans or low-fat refried beans in a tortilla with tomato salsa (heated or eaten cold)
- Whole wheat pitas stuffed with fresh vegetables and hummus or cheese
- Baked chips, soy crisps, or pretzels are a better choice than regular potato chips or cheese puffs
- Water or drinks made with water and a splash of cranberry, peach, grape, or other 100% fruit juice are healthier than sodas
- Low-fat milk
- Homemade air-popped popcorn flavored with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese is healthier than most pre-packaged or microwave popcorn.
Fruits and Vegetables
Children will more likely eat their fruit and veggies when they are cut up or already small in size. Some ideas:
- Slices of apple with peanut butter
- Cherries, kiwi slices, orange slices, cut up melon, berries
- Pineapple chunks with low-fat cottage cheese
- Seedless grapes
- Fruit salad
- Fruit leathers
- Single portion-sized cups of unsweetened apple sauce or fruit without added sugar or syrup
- Baby carrots with hummus or low-fat dip
- Cut up bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower are good for dipping in a low-fat ranch dip
- Celery sticks with low-fat dip or peanut butter
- Cherry tomatoes
- Top sandwiches with spinach or lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, onions
Make sure it is 100% juice and give less than 12 oz in a day.
Keep in mind that prepackaged lunches you can buy in the grocery store are convenient, but are often higher in calories, fat, sugar and sodium then meals that you prepare yourself. They are also usually more expensive.
Have children make a list of their favorite foods from each major food group: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean meat. Have them choose at least one food from the list each day. By giving them a choice, it's more likely they'll actually eat the lunch.
Try these quick and easy snacks for during and after school:
- Any cut fresh vegetable or mix of vegetables (carrot sticks or baby carrots, celery stalks, cucumber slices, radishes, pepper slices, bite size broccoli or cauliflower pieces)
- Add a tasty dip, like salsa or low fat ranch dressing, in a small container for dipping veggies
- Fresh fruit washed and sliced
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Fruit cups or canned fruit in its own juices
- Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cranberries) mixed with nuts
- Low fat yogurt with fresh or frozen berries
- Hummus with whole wheat crackers or pita bread
- Whole grain granola bars or a cup of whole grain cereal in a zip up bag
- Celery spread with peanut butter and raisins
- Low fat milk and graham crackers or fig newtons
- Low fat cottage cheese with pineapple chunks
- Applesauce cups
- Rice cakes with peanut butter or low fat cream cheese
- Fruit leathers
- Fruit Salad
- Pear or apple slices with low fat cheese
- Unbuttered popcorn
These snacks are great anytime of the day or as part of a healthy lunch.
1. Avoid buffets
- All-you-can-eat buffets lead to overeating.
2. Stick to the light menu/Make careful menu selections
- Many restaurants indicate healthy choices on their menus, and most sit-down places will modify menu items at your request.
- If you don't know what's in a dish or don't know the serving size, ask.
- Main courses which have been baked, broiled, roasted, poached or steamed will be healthier than anything fried.
- Salads with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and light dressings will be better than salads with croutons, cheeses, meats and heavy dressings.
3. Don't be afraid to special order
- Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces.
- Ask if things are fried or cooked in oil or butter – if they are, see if you can order them baked, roasted, or steamed with less added fat.
- Instead of French fries, request a double order of a vegetable or a side salad. If you can't get a substitute, just ask that the high-fat food be left off your plate.
- Order a fruit cup for an appetizer or the breakfast melon for dessert. Instead of a dinner entree, combine a salad with a low-fat appetizer.
- Many restaurants are happy to accommodate your requests.
4. Watch portion size
- At a typical restaurant, a single serving provides enough calories for at least two meals.
- If it is possible, order a smaller portion (often called ‘half sizes').
- If you can't order smaller portions, it is a good rule of thumb to leave at least one-third to one-half of the meal on your plate.
- Or, separate your meal before you start eating (you can even ask for a to-go container right away).
- Sharing entrees, appetizers and desserts with dining partners is a great idea. It allows you to sample something that you really want to have while also helping you avoid the temptation to overindulge.
- If you are sharing with a friend or your partner, your portion size is automatically reduced and there is less available to eat.
- It is still important to make good menu choices, but sharing might make dessert (or something else indulgent) more of an option.
6. Order sauce and dressing on the side
- If you ask for sauces and dressings on the side, you can control the amount that you eat.
- Often you can use less than is normally used and still enjoy the same taste.
7. Remember the big picture
- Think of eating out in the context of your whole diet. If it is a special occasion or a fun social event and you know you want to order your favorite meal at a nice restaurant, cut back on your earlier meals that day.
- Moderation is always key, but planning ahead can help you relax and enjoy your dining out experience without sacrificing good nutrition or diet control.
Many of us skip breakfast because we do not have time to prepare a meal. But breakfast offers us energy to get through the morning. Those who eat breakfast are better able to concentrate at work and school and are less likely overeat at other meals. Here are some examples of quick, healthy choices for a breakfast on-the-go.
- Grab a fruit cup or fresh fruit pieces.
- Keep a supply of low fat granola bars and trail mix handy.
- Mix low fat plain or vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit or cereal (like raisin bran or low fat granola).
- Stuff half a whole wheat pita with low fat cottage cheese and sliced peaches, pears, or banana.
- Top a raisin or whole grain bagel with fat free cream cheese and thin apple slices.
- Combine 1/4 cup low fat ricotta cheese with apple sauce and dash of cinnamon. Sprinkle a whole grain cereal on top.
- Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter on whole wheat bread and wrap it around a banana.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of hummus on pumpernickel bread.
- Blend 1/4 cup each of plain low fat yogurt and orange juice with 1/4 a banana and a few frozen berries.
Lunch and Dinner
Whether we are driving between meetings, squeezing in a 30 minute lunch break or racing between kids’ after school events, there are days that we need to eat a meal on-the-go. Here are some helpful hints for making better choices:
- Expand your definition of fast food: deli sandwiches or wraps with lean meat (no cheese, no mayonnaise), burritos (no cheese, no sour cream), Greek Kebobs or pitas, and Chinese steamed vegetables with brown rice (ask for low sodium soy sauce) are tasty, convenient alternatives to the usual burgers and fries.
- At the deli or sub shop choose lean beef, ham, turkey or chicken on whole grain bread. Ask that only half of the normal amount of meat is put on your sandwich.
- Boost the nutrients in all kinds of sandwiches by adding tomato, lettuce, peppers, and other vegetables.
- Supermarkets are also a great alternative to fast food chains. Get a fresh sandwich at the deli counter or grab soup and salad at the salad bar.
- Pizza with tomato sauce, vegetable toppings, and low fat cheese is a great treat for adults and kids.
- Do not add a sugary, calorie-rich drink to your meal. Water is available everywhere and is good for you. You can also try skim or low fat milk or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda.
Sometimes fast food chains are unavoidable. But we can still choose to make better food selections. Here are some tips to choosing the best meals at fast food restaurants:
- Start by visiting fast food websites. All the major chains post nutrition information for their menu items on the website. Look at what you usually order and see if you can find some better choices. Compare calories, fat, sodium and fiber.
- Order the regular or kid-size portion. Mega-sized servings are most likely more than you need.
- Always order a side salad. You will be less likely to fill up on only the unhealthy items.
- Fried breaded chicken sandwiches are actually higher in fat and calories than a burger. Grilled chicken is the best option.
- Say no to special sauces, cheese, mayonnaise, and bacon. They only pack on calories, fat, and cholesterol.
- Pick a baked potato (hold the sour cream) instead of French fries. French fries do not count as a vegetable serving and are very high in fat.
- What to look for:
- Grilled, broiled or steamed
- Regular or junior size
- Low or non fat dressing
- Fresh vegetables and salads
- Unsweetened drinks
Snacks can be a source of extra calories throughout the day but they can also be a way to fit in healthy foods. Stock your car with bottled water and healthy snacks. Have a small snack before the cravings hit and you are less likely to pull into a fast food chain. Knowing what snacks are healthy and nutritious is important.
- Tuck portable nonperishable foods in your purse, briefcase or backpack for on-the-go snacking. Some examples are:
- Dried fruit
- Whole grain, trans fat free crackers
- Whole grain cereal
- Fig bars
- Low fat granola
- Fresh fruit
- 100% juice boxes
- Peanut butter crackers
- Raw vegetables
- Rice cakes
- Raisin bread
- Trail mix
- Fresh fruit is already packaged to go and always a convenient, nutritious snack.
- Stock up on snack foods while grocery shopping: cottage cheese, yogurt, minicarrots (peeled and washed), precut vegetables, fresh fruit.
- Supermarkets can also serve as a fast food break while on-the-go. Look for low fat dairy snacks, fresh vegetables and fruits, a small salad, or soup.
Eating 250 – 500 fewer calories per day from what you’re currently eating will result in 1/2 to 1 pound weight loss per week.
The Following shows what you can eat if on an 1800 calorie meal plan. To find out how many servings are right for you (based on age, sex, and activity level), go to www.mypyramid.gov.
(at least 3 oz are whole grains)
1 oz equals:
Meat and Beans
1 oz equals:
Dairy and Milk
1 cup equals:
(3 – 1/2 cup servings)
1/2 cup equals:
(5 – 1/2 cup servings)
1/2 cup equals:
Choose healthy oils such as olive and canola oils. Other oils include mayonnaise, salad dressing, trans fat-free tub margarines.
Limit to 195 calories/day
Sweets, ice-cream, alcohol, high fat and high calorie foods.