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.
It can be tough cooking an entire meal every single night. The grocery list, grocery shopping, the cooking, the serving the cleaning, we’re getting exhausted just thinking about it! Instead of suffering through the dinnertime chaos, always have make-ahead meals waiting in your fridge. If you think that all easy dinner ideas have to be unhealthy, think again. You can make healthy family dinners that can be popped out of your freezer and be prepared in no time. Here are some ideas for make-ahead, healthy family dinners that will wow the whole family:
Vegetarian chili: Vegitarian chili is a great meal that freezes suprisingly well. Add edamame for an added boost of protein and some reduced fat cheddar cheese for taste. The calorie count should clock in at only about 345 calories if you’re using white kidney beans and edamame.
Spanish chicken and Rice: Chicken is a great source of lean protein and some brown rice with spices will provide plentiful amounts of fiber. Cooked chicken will last anywhere from 4 to six months, depending on how it’s packaged. Package in an air-tight ZipLock back for maximum freshness. Slightly undercook the rice you want to put in the freezer, then thaw it in boiling water when you’re ready to eat.
Black bean chili: Unlike vegetarian chili, this chili is made in a slow-cooker and uses black beans as its base. Include mushrooms and chipotles to create a fuller flavor. Serve with cilantro, reduced-fat sour-cream, and a tiny bit of cheese. This stew will last about 2 months in the freezer.
Ravioli soup: Frozen ravioli can be whipped up into a dilectible soup in under 20 minutes. All it takes is some garlic, bell peppers, red pepper, tomatoes, vegitable broth and a bit of basil to make a ravioli soup that packages well. Soups and stews generally hold for about 2-3 months. This soup, in particular, gives you about 60% of your daily value of vitamin C and you’ll get tons of antioxidants from the tomatoes.
Sweet potato tart: Sweet potato tarts are a great dinner, providing us with tons of vitamin A. To prep for the freezer, wrap your sweet potato tart tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Do not thaw your sweet potato tart when you’re ready to start eating! Instead, throw it right in the oven with a foil cover, so you don’t lose too much moisture. Remove the cover after about 15 minutes then heat for the remaining time (about 5 minutes, give or take) on 350 degrees.
Sausage, Mushroom, and Spinach Lasagna: Next time you want to make a nice, make-ahead meal, prepare a healthy lasagna full of vegetables and some hearty sausage for flavor. A balanced dish in itself, a sausage, mushroom, and spinach lasagna is perfect to have for lunch during the week. This lasagna will last a month or two. Try not to store your lasagna in aluminum foil as the metallic taste sometimes sticks. Instead, use greaseproof baking paper. When you’re done baking, lift the paper and pop the food in plastic, freezer-friendly bags.
Frijoles Negros with Rice: Turn the Mexican staple of refried beans and long grain brown rice into a healthy make-ahead meal. All you need to pick up at the grocery store is some whole wheat tortillas and cheese and have yourself a Mexican night. Black beans are great for sugar regulation, digestion, and cardiovascular health.
You can use healthy make-ahead meals to make dinnertime easier than ever. Just remember to seal your foods correctly, date your freezer bags, and defrost correctly and you’ll have great freezer meals ready-to-go.
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.
We all love burgers, casseroles, and warm apple pie, but are these the healthiest options to feed your family? Maybe not. Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can take old recipes from fatty to healthy by simply tweaking a few ingredients. Feed your family the nutrients they want and need by slightly changing your family recipes to make them healthy. You and your family will both look and feel healthy when they’re chowin’ down some wonderfully delicious healthy meal ideas for families.
Healthy Family Recipes
Lean Burgers: “Burgers can be part of a heart-healthy diet,” says Penn State University researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD. “The key is portion control — and the use of lean beef.” When you’re making your burger, use lean beef, poultry, or even bison. Lean beef in particular is rich in essential nutrients, including protein, zinc, B-12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, and iron. Top your lean burger with lettuce, tomato, and a whole grain bun.
Not-So-Fried Chicken: Make fried chicken healthy by baking the chicken, rather than slathering in flour, then deep-frying in fatty oil. Instead, use whole grain breadcrumbs and make a breaded chicken. Hold the gravy and accompany your chicken with green beans.
Low-Fat Casserole: Add pureed winter squash to your favorite casserole recipe to displace some carbohydrates with a veggie that’s high in fiber, beta-carotene, and B vitamins. Spinach also goes great in plenty of casseroles. Try to substitute creamed soups and cheese with low-fat soups and low fat cheese to minimize the calorie count.
Sliming-Down Spaghetti and Meatballs: Making spaghetti and meatballs healthy is a breeze. Use turkey to make meatballs and substitute white spaghetti with whole grain for a brand new take on this classic dish. Skip the garlic bread and serve salad with Italian dressing as an appetizer.
Healthy Chili: Make a healthy version of your favorite chili dish using black beans, canned tomatoes, and chili. At only 30 minutes prep time, chili is the perfect dish for the working mom or dad. Additionally, black beans are high in fiber, folate, and antioxidants.
See? Making old recipes healthy isn’t as hard as you thought. If you want to make more of your recipes healthier, just substitute unhealthy ingredients with healthier ingredients or substitute unhealthy side dishes with healthier ones. For example, you can substitute bacon for turkey bacon, white bread for whole grains, and eggs for egg whites. Simply use less of the bad stuff, add some more veggies into your meals, and you’ll be on your way to serving your family healthy family recipes in no time.
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.