Tips to Cooking Healthier
Restaurants are notorious for monstrous portions, not to mention an abundance of fat and salt. You are less likely to get nutrient rich foods which include low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats through a drive through. If you are like most runners in training, busy schedules and little time to prepare elaborate recipes keeps you stopping for takeout before you get home. But when you cook your own meals, you have full control of the ingredients and portion sizes. Sometimes all it takes is a simple ingredient substitution to transform many recipes into healthy recipes.
Tips that help make cooking at home easier, healthier, and tastier.
Endurance athletes rely on carbohydrates to fuel their workouts and life. Carbohydrates come in many forms (fruit, breads, pasta, pastries, sodas etc.) and not all are nutritionally equal. For better health, switch to whole grain which offers more fiber and energy producing B vitamins compared to refined (white) options.
- Choose instant brown rice and other grains for a quick side dish.
- Cook a large pot of wheat pasta and freeze in individual servings. Run under hot water when ready to use for quick service.
- Switch to 100-percent whole-grain breads, pasta, cereals and crackers.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Intense training wreaks havoc on our bodies and immune system. Produce is vital to provide antioxidants to help protect and repair. Many athletes fall short in getting their recommended five servings a day. Half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Frozen and those canned in water are good options when fresh varieties are not available.
- Choose steam in bag vegetables for convenience and mess free cooking.
- Try individual steamers for lunch boxes or dinner for one.
- Frozen stir fry mixes and recipe helpers are also quick and easy.
Go meat less.
Meat is a great source of protein but can be expensive, time consuming to cook, and high in saturated fat. Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group like seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat and eggs. Don’t forget low fat dairy provides a unique combination of protein and eight other essential nutrients. One cup Greek style yogurt packs 15 grams of power protein as much as 3 oz. of chicken.
- Cook a large pot of rice and beans for multiple meals. Freeze leftovers for an instant meal later.
- Whip up a vegetable packed omelet in minutes.
- Add low fat cheese to a veggie wrap for a quick and nutritious dinner.
Even though we would all like a magic bullet for weight control, it takes some planning, preparation and persistence. Being healthy isn’t about elaborate recipes or 100% fresh pantry. Incorporate as many of these tips as you can to help improve your current lifestyle. Always eat a balanced portion and take the time to enjoy the food you prepare with people you love. Make an effort to skip the drive thru and run on home to cook.
Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and certified sports specialist in dietetics and founder of Runner’s FUEL. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @RunnersFuel. For more information visit www.runner-fuel.com. Text runnersfuel to 601.863.8370 for health news and nutrition tips.