Food For Thought: Nutritional Conscience

Dear Friends,

When you’re talking about menu planning, you have to talk about your ingredients. After all, menu planning means you’re making a plan for your meals, you’re buying the necessary ingredients and consequently, you’re able to make meals out of the stuff you purchased.

One of the ongoing issues I used to have in my house was my children’s desire for junk food. We all have that! They wanted the junk on TV and the stuff at their friends’ houses; we as parents want them to eat healthfully. My children are older now, but they still say to me that we don’t have any food in the house, just ingredients! I laugh when they say that, but it’s true. I buy ingredients that will make food, because I won’t pay hard earned money for packaged junk.

My kids still eat junk, I know they do; I’m not oblivious to how kids can be. But they will eat their vegetables, won’t overdo it on sodas and have a nutritional “conscience” if you will; their mama raised them that way! My daughter came home from college this weekend and requested a homemade meal from her mama; roast chicken, mashed potatoes and “plenty” of green beans (the plenty is a quote from her).

Simple ingredients will make simple, uncomplicated meals. It doesn’t have to be hard; it just needs to be purchased so you can make meal magic happen! Let’s take a look at what makes up simple ingredients in a meal, nutritionally:

You need lean protein. This can be purchased in many different forms; beef, chicken, fish, pork, soy protein, beans and whole grain combos, the list is endless. Protein is what builds the body’s muscle, bone and blood.

You need veggies. You can get them fresh or frozen for the best nutritional value. Take advantage of eating seasonally and buy what’s on sale. I always check the “scratch and dent” rack at my grocery store for less than perfect fruits and veggies?I’ve scored big time on many occasions. Very often, you can find buy one/get ones on both fresh and frozen veggies. Don’t forget to check your farmer’s market, too for good buys as well as CSA’s in your area (community supported agriculture, do a google search to find one where you live). Growing veggies too, is another economical way to make sure you’re eating nutritionally.

You need carbohydrates. Complex carbs with a ton of fiber, mostly from veggies. Simple carbs are the junky ones; complex ones are the fibrous kind. And watch too, for glycemic index?some carbs are friendlier than others. The higher the glycemic index, the harder it is on your body (another google search, if you don’t understand how the glycemic index works).

Your plate should be mostly veggies, followed by a good portion of protein; a small amount of brown rice or maybe sweet potato if you can handle the carbs. Don’t be afraid of fat, just don’t use too much. Optimally, olive oil is the best choice. Just remember, a little goes a long way.

Knowing how your meals should look will help you meal plan with better nutrition. Eat well!

Leanne Ely, Your Dinner Diva
Saving Your Dinner since 2001
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