March is National Nutrition Month which is a great time to think about different ways to add more nutrients into your diet! Maybe right about now (or a month ago) we pushed our New Year’s resolutions about eating healthy to the side, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get right back to them with a couple of easy, no-fuss additions and tweaks to our diet. Take fiber for example, a nutrient that we don’t get enough of, but that is abundant in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. So let’s start there. Having something like a smoothie with beets, or cutting a half of an avocado for our salad require little to no effort (ok, plus adding them to our shopping carts, but you get picture!) with a lot of reward (hint, hint, fiber equals a happy gut and healthy digestion!).
Simple additions, and edits to the foods we’re already eating can really add up. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, and best of all it doesn’t have to be expensive to make your food work harder for you in these ways. You’ll catch me making these tweaks and additions to my weekly meals regularly, not because I feel like I have to, but because I feel more energized, satiated and nourished from eating real foods in fun combinations with other real foods!
- Rethink your starch. I’m not saying you can’t eat regular or pasta and still get the nutrients you need, but why not switch it up every once and a while with a low carb, higher nutrient version like spaghetti squash and cauliflower rice. You’ve heard me root for spaghetti squash, time and time again and that’s because it’s a great source of fiber and vitamin A, and doesn’t weigh you down or make you feel super sleepy like a big pasta dinner can sometimes. Don’t know how where to begin? Watch my short video on how to cut a spaghetti squash, and check out my favorite recipes for spaghetti squash pad thai and spaghetti squash fritters.
- Mix it up with a smoothie. Some days are harder than others to get in your fruits and vegetables. I get it! What I love about smoothies is the fact that you might actually put in a vegetable you’ve never tried before or thought you didn’t like since it’s going in with other fruits, and perhaps some nut butter, yogurt or almond milk. It’s the perfect time to throw in beets, avocado, frozen cauliflower and zucchini or keep it simple with greens like spinach or kale. I challenge you to get creative and find one that you’re going to crave after a workout or make the night before for the next day’s breakfast. A great rule of thumb to follow when you’re packing your blender is to think: protein, fiber, greens, good carbs, and healthy fats. Build it based off of those and you’ll be hydrating and fueling for success.
- Don’t fear fat. Long gone are the days of low-fat everything, and for good reason. The healthy fat we need in our diet, called monounsaturated fat plays a huge role in heart health, keeping cholesterol levels in check, and keeping you fuller longer thus preventing the constant urge to snack. By incorporating foods like ground flax seed, walnuts, avocados, olive oil, salmon, and eggs into the foods you’re already eating and your overall weekly meal roundup, you’ll also be helping your body increase absorption of those fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. I don’t know about you, but this time of year in Chicago I could use all of the vitamin D (remember this is the one we get from the sun that helps to keep our mood up!) that I can get.
- Sneak fruits and vegetables into sauces and desserts. I will definitely be tricking my kids into eating vegetables by hiding them in desserts and sauces one day and you should too! But seriously, you can easily whip up a butternut squash “cheese” sauce made by blending roasted butternut squash, almond milk, and garlic in a blender and putting it on top of chicken or pasta. Another option if you are not lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy would be putting in half or a fourth of the cheese you would in a normal cheese sauce. This again is upping the fiber, vitamin A, potassium and healthy carbs you’re getting with every bite. Another crowd favorite is avocado chocolate mousse! Say what? Yes. Get out the food processor, and put it to work by combining 2 avocados, a 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/3 cup of maple syrup. You’ll be amazed at the whipped textures. Also a great idea for party treats!
Watch me on FOX Chicago this morning talking about just how fun & easy some of things are to do!
p.s. a lot of you were asking about my dress, it’s from Express and I got it on during their after Christmas clearance sale for $18 bucks! Talk about a steal!
If you try any of the foods I mentioned in my segment, I’d love to know! Tag @onceuponapumpkin or use #onceuponapumpkin on Instagram.