In the quest to eat and be healthier, we seek out products that make life and diet easier. However, with so many health food products on the market, and more flooding in every day, it can be daunting to know which are best. Add to that false claims, hidden sugars, fats, and chemicals, and spending too much time reading labels. Eating healthy seems complicated and decisions don’t come easily. For easier and healthier options, try making your own health food. This way, you’ll save money and know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
According to the World Health Organization, in order to maintain a healthy diet, adults need at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It may sound easy, but more often than not, we don’t get all that in each day. Five servings are more than you might think. For example, it takes two cups of leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and lettuce, to equal a one-cup serving. An example of a full day’s serving of fruits and vegetables looks like this: two cups greens, an apple, a banana, an orange, and one cup of berries. That’s a lot, especially when you balance it out with healthy grains and lean meats.
Instead of trying to cram all those goodies into your daily diet, try making smoothies. Not only do smoothies pack several servings of fruits and vegetables into one beverage, they also taste great. In addition, making your own out of simple, raw ingredients is better than buying pre-made, processed ones. With one cup berries, one cup almond or skim milk, and two cups of spinach or kale, you can blend an easy-to-consume smoothie with two of your day’s servings.
Granola, done the right way, can be a wonderful health food choice. However, the store-bought granola tends to have added fats, sugars, sodium, and fillers. In order to reduce fat, calorie, and preservative intake, make your own. Throw together some rolled oats, nuts, seeds, honey, and even dried fruits. Mix with a tiny amount of healthy oil, such as coconut, and bake in the oven until toasty. Use this straight as a breakfast cereal, or as a topping for low-fat Greek yogurt.
Replace sugar-loaded bottled juices with your own fresh, homemade juices. Like smoothies, fruit juice provides a big chunk of your daily fruit servings. It also packs a big punch of flavor. So, squeeze those oranges! Consider investing in a juicer and experiment with different fruits and vegetables to create vitamin-rich juices you’ll love.
Nuts have healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our bodies need. According to the Mayo Clinic, nuts are good for your heart, arteries, and cholesterol. Nut butters are considered a healthy snack, spread atop whole-grain bread or by the spoonful. However, many store-bought nut butters are loaded with those pesky extra fats, sugars, and sodium. The ones that aren’t tend to be on the pricey side. So, skip the jars and create your own healthy nut butters.
Simply throw a few handfuls of your favorite nut (toasted in the oven or raw) into a food processor. Periodically, stop it and scrape down the sides. After several minutes of letting the processor do the hard work, you’ll have delicious nut butter to spread on toast and waffles or mix into your oatmeal.
Using chicken broth as a substitution for oil when sauteing is a smart way to cut calories and fat. But the boxed and canned stuff is processed and preserved with way too much salt and added fats. Fortunately, making your own is not only easy, it’s also cheap.
Use leftover chicken bones, a couple of carrots, and an onion. Add it to a large stock pot and fill with water. If you’d like to make it even more savory, throw in a couple sprigs of rosemary or thyme. Simmer gently for an hour and strain. Now you have pure broth without the sodium and preservatives, with which you can cook or make soups.
Beans are an amazing source of fiber and protein. They are a must-have in any diet. Studies have shown that beans aid in weight loss and help lower bad cholesterol. There are many ways to eat beans: in chili and soups, mixed into salads, and of course refried. However, you can skip the canned refried beans and make your own healthier, cheaper version.
For delicious homemade refried beans, simply take cooked pinto beans and give them a few turns in the food processor. Add in some of your homemade chicken broth to make a looser mixture. You may also put in a few dashes of cumin or chili powder for an extra flavor kick.
Wait, is ice cream a health food? In this case, it absolutely is, yes. When you want to get in your servings of fruit, have a cool treat, and beat down a craving for sweets, make this healthy version of ice cream.
When bananas begin to brown too heavily for your liking, don’t throw them away. Stick them in the freezer. When you’re ready for ice cream, take a couple out and thaw them slightly (just so they’re not rock hard). Put them in a blender and mix until they are the consistency of ice cream. You can play around with the flavor profile by adding in vanilla extract or cocoa powder.
When it comes to health foods, you don’t have to spend hours in the store, reading labels, deciphering ingredients, and wondering which to choose. Using the above information, you can create many different health foods in your own kitchen.
For more tips on creating health foods and enjoying a healthy and well-rounded diet every day, please contact us.