In the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. That’s a whole lot of sick time for those of us who get sick. Yes, getting the right amount of sleep and minimizing your stress levels are the keys to some aspects of your health, but ultimately it boils down to what you eat when it comes to determining your physical and mental health. The first step to a healthier you is making a meal planner, then filling it with superfoods that will help you ward of disease.
What is a meal planner?
A meal planner is a device that helps you plan out all of your meals. You can make a calendar or written meal planner if you feel more comfortable writing out your meal plans. If not, try finding a free downloadable meal planner online in which you can fill out your favorite superfoods and superfood meals.
Superfoods and Supermeals for Your Meal Planner
If you want to create a healthy meal planner that helps you keep your immune system strong, put some of these great, go-to superfoods on your grocery list:
Almonds: According to the University in California, the fiber in nuts may prevent the body from absorbing fat while speeding up weight loss. Almonds are also high in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer. Put sliced almonds on your salad to create the ultimate supermeal.
Sprouts: This veggie has plenty of vitamin A and vitamin C. Additionally, sprouts offer a phytonutrient that can help clear carcinogenic substances out of the body. Put sprouts on your sandwich to add some greenery and some phytonutrients.
Strawberries: Make sure to include strawberries in your meal planner, too. These berries are anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and heart-helpful. Strawberries also guard against rheumatoid arthritis, liver cancer, atherosclerosis, and other diseases and ailments. Make yourself a yogurt parfait with sliced strawberries or just eat them whole as a snack.
Garlic: Studies suggest the same sulphur compounds that cause odour may also stop cancer-causing substances from forming in your body, speed DNA repair and kill cancer cells. I guess we can live with stinky breath if we’re taking in cancer-causing garlic! One 2003 review of several garlic studies concluded that some compounds derived from garlic “have been found to retard the growth of chemically induced and transplantable tumors in several animal models. Therefore, the consumption of garlic may provide some kind of protection from cancer development.” Implement garlic into your healthy meal planner by putting it on pizza, cooking with it, or infusing your olive oil with roasted garlic cloves.
Broccoli: Health experts constantly discuss the health benefits of broccoli. “Broccoli is the best source of this particular compound,” says scientist Jed Fahey of broccoli’s sulphoraphane count. Sulphorane may reduce cancer risk by detoxifying harmful substances and operating as an antimicrobial agent by attacking various bacterium. Additionally, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research contend that broccoli and its sister veggies are most protective against cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and stomach. Eat broccoli in a casserole, salad, or as a side with grilled chicken.
Exotic Berries: Berries like acai and gogi berries are full of antioxidants, which have disease fighting compounds that scientists believe repair or prevent the stress of oxidation, a process that occurs naturally during normal cell function. Therefore, antioxidants may reduce chances of heart disease, neurological diseases, and even cancer while increasing immunity. Implement antioxidants into your healthy meal planner by putting gogi berries and acai berry powder (below), and other berries in fruit smoothies and drinking them up for breakfast.
Eat these supermeals with disease-fighting superfoods to stay strong and healthy. These superfoods will make great additions to your healthy meal planner and may even cut down on your sick days.
The incidence of diabetes in the U.S. is on the rise and will likely affect over 37 million Americans by 2015, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. As we all know, treatment for diabetes depends on a healthy eating regiment, which helps to keep blood sugar levels closer to normal and prevent complications. While grocery shopping, those with diabetes should take an especially close look at food labels to understand exactly how many carbohydrates, sugars, and fats they are consuming.
Reading Labels for Your Diabetic Grocery List
There are a few key factors to look out for when you’re shopping for someone with diabetes:
Fiber: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that those with diabetes get 25-30 g of fiber per day. Keep this in mind as you’re grocery shopping and preparing servings during mealtime. You could also try calculating how much fiber you’re getting on an average day, and then adjust your diet to meet ADA requirements. Foods that are high in fiber include bran, which you can find in bran cereals. Just one cup of rice and wheat bran provides about 25 g of fiber. In addition to bran cereals, include spices, cauliflower, artichokes, and eggplant on your diabetic grocery list for optimal fiber intake.
Total Carbohydrate: The grams of sugar carbs and fiber carbs are often combined into total grams of carbohydrates. Instead of estimating the breakdown of total carbs as you’re grocery shopping, do a little bit of subtraction to get a better estimate of the carbohydrate content. “If a food has 5 grams or more of fiber in a serving, subtract half the fiber grams from the total grams of carbohydrate for a more accurate estimate of the carbohydrate content,” according to the American Diabetes Association. Fiber is good. Sugar carbs are not!
Sugar-free: Just because it says “Sugar Free” on the label, doesn’t necessarily mean that the food item is carbohydrate-free. For instance, some companies use high-fructose syrup or honey as a sweetener, which have a high carb content. The doctors at Mayo Clinic recommend that you compare sugar-free products side-by-side with their standard counterparts. Compare their carbohydrate grams and purchase the product with fewer total carbohydrates when trying to find the best product for your diabetic grocery list.
Total fat: Total fat tells you how much fat is in a food per serving. However the “total fat” includes both “good fats” and “bad fats,” like saturated and trans fats. Mono and polyunsaturated fats, or “good fats,” can help to lower your blood cholesterol and protect your heart. However, saturated and trans fats can raise your cholesterol. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided, in addition to other ingredients high in saturated fat, like coconut oil or palm oil. When you’re shopping for the items on your grocery list, make sure to take a closer look at the breakdown of fats on a label, rather than simply looking at the total fat counts.
Take a second glance at all of your labels to make sure that you are achieving diabetic-friendly sugar levels, a heart-healthy diet, and the perfect diabetic grocery list.
There is a reason why people respond, “Tastes like chicken” to just about every delicious food. Chicken tastes great! Luckily, it’s extremely healthy, high in protein (about 67.6 % of the daily value in just 4 ounces), cancer-protective B vitamin Niacin (about 78% of the daily value), and Selenium, which is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways. Chicken is also versatile and can help us avoid wasting money on food left uneaten. Avoid food waste by using every part of the chicken. We’ll show you how, it’s easy:
First, eat the chicken itself. Unwrap it, remove the neck and gizzards (making sure to save them for later) and treat the skin with whatever spices or herbs you prefer. Grilling the chicken is a great way to get a smoky, flavorful effect. Cut off the tastiest parts of the chicken, like the breasts, legs, and thighs, and serve with a side of grilled asparagus, blanched broccoli, or some pasta. Easy as pie.
The carcass will still have a bit of meat on it — extract the pieces of cooked meat and save them in a baggie in the freezer. This stuff is the perfect base for any chicken dish, like a casserole, soup, or chicken salad.
Throw the leftover carcass in a big pot with pepper, onion, celery, and carrots, and make homemade chicken stock, which can be used for any of your soups. Homemade chicken stock is substantially healthier than store-bought and you’ll taste the difference when you serve your soups. Just freeze your stock in a freezer-safe ziplock bag and defrost in the fridge when you’re ready to make a risotto, chicken noodle soup, or chicken pot pie.
Check it out: All three meals probably only cost you about $12 total. Wow! Now that’s a deal. All it takes is a little bit of meal planning to use every scrap of the chicken and avoid some major food waste.
You may include tons of fruits and veggies in your diet think that you’re getting the right amount of nutrients, but the average American falls short on many key nutrients, including calcium, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin D, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s why you should always keep these vitamins in mind when you’re planning out a healthy menu. You should not only follow the food pyramid, but make sure you’re introducing dishes with high amounts of neglected nutrients. Here are some ways that you can get these nutrients into your menu when you’re doing your healthy menu planning:
Calcium: We all need calcium for strong bones and dental health. You can easily get your recommended 1,000 mg of calcium a day by kicking off your day with calcium enriched cereal and a bowl of low fat milk. An omelet, packed with spinach and garnished with cheese, could also do the trick. Eggs are extremely high in this nutrient.
Fiber: Fiber is another “problem nutrient” for many Americans. However, this nutrient is a breeze to fit into lunch and dinner. Try making a taco salad, with plenty of fibrous lettuce leaves and beans. A fruit salad is an extremely fibrous dessert, but make sure to include plenty of raspberries, which have about 8 grams of fiber per cup. Whole wheat pasta with a side of split pea soup gives you a great dose of fiber, as does lentil soup.
Potassium: Taking in a sufficient amount of potassium is critical to regulating blood pressure and heart function. Get enough of this nutrient in your diet by trying a dish with avocado, like tortilla soup. Salmon with a side of sweet potatoes could also do the trick, as these two ingredients are filled with potassium.
Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral for transmitting nerve impulses and detoxification, in addition to numerous other body functions. Bran cereal will give you plenty of magnesium, as will rice and wheat products. Start your day off with a bowl of bran flakes and some low fat milk to get an adequate dose of magnesium. Also, spice it up! Dried herbs have tons of magnesium.
Vitamin D: About three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, whose deficits are being blamed for everything from cancer to heart disease and diabetes. Get a healthy dose of vitamin D from oily fish, like salmon or cod, which can be served with grilled mushrooms for another dose of vitamin D. You could also try serving a shrimp stir fry — 40 oz. of shrimp has about 40% of your daily vitamin D.
Cooking these meals will assure that you and your family get the right amount of critical nutrients when you’re doing your healthy menu planning.