Go Further with Food

Happy National Nutrition Month! March is National Nutrition Month and every year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics decides on a theme – this year it is “Go Further with Food” and they are focusing on reducing food waste.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.53.52 PM

Now, some people think that I take my eco-friendliness a little too far (it takes me over a month to fill up 1 garbage bag), but over the past few years I have been trying to create as little waste as possible.

Did you know that food makes up more of our landfills than any other product (even more than plastic), and American’s throw out about one third of all food produced an purchased. Think about that…What is 33% of your last grocery bill? Now imagine throwing that chunk of change in the trash!!

So, in honor of this year’s National Nutrition Month theme, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Plan– I know I have said this before, but planning before grocery shopping makes the world of a difference. You can figure out exactly what you have and what you need so you don’t end up with any extra (which means no food waste and no extra $$ spent).
  2. Freeze– Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to reducing food waste. Bread nearing its expiration date? Freeze it! Strawberries getting a little mushy? Freeze them! Leftovers from dinner that you don’t want right away? Freeze them! Get my drift? Even fresh herbs can be frozen in ice cube trays to be used for cooking later.
  3. Use all parts of a food – Keep you skins on potatoes and cucumbers and don’t even think about cutting off the broccoli stems. There is no reason to throw these veggie parts into the landfill. Not only are they edible, they also add tons of nutritious value.

I challenge you to reduce the amount of waste you create in the kitchen. These tips can help you reduce your food waste, but reducing waste from other sources is good too. Use rags instead of paper towel, stop buying paper plates/plastic silverware and use real dishes, and switch from plastic bags to reusable containers. Every little bit helps keep our planet greener, cleaner, and healthier.

How to Make Healthy Choices at Restaurants

No matter what I am eating or where I am, you can probably catch me taking a picture of the food I am about to eat. My iPhone camera roll is filled with hundreds of pictures of restaurant meals, home-cooked dinners, ice cream cones, and the clean plates afterwards.

What’s my favorite kind of food to snap a pic of? Restaurant food! I love going new restaurants, trying new foods and taking pictures of the overfilled plates piled with loads of yummy goodness.

That being said, restaurants can definitely be huge deal breaker when it comes to eating healthy. The long menu with many greasy, gooey, delicious options (that are very photogenic) can be tempting and make eating healthy a challenge.

Eating Out Choices

Use these tips to make your restaurant visit happy and healthy:

  1. Look at the menu ahead of time. Pretty much all restaurants have a website with their menu. Take a peak and plan what healthy item you are going to have. If you already know what you are going to order, you are less likely to be tempted by the unhealthy options once you get there.

Also, knowing what you eat will help you plan your food choices for the rest of the day. If you know you are going to have chicken and pasta for dinner at a restaurant, you should try to squeeze in some extra fruits, vegetables, and whole grains throughout the rest of the day.

  1. Eat a balanced meal. No healthy choices? Try to get a meal the combines fiber and protein. While some grilled chicken with vegetables and brown rice would be ideal, if breaded chicken is the only option that is still better than having a bowl of white pasta, which has little nutritional value.
  1. Make menu swaps. Instead of French fries, get roasted sweet potatoes. Swap pita bread for fresh veggies. Making these small changes can make your meal significantly healthier by decreasing calories and increasing nutrient content. My favorite menu swap is ordering grilled veggies in place of french fries to go with my chicken or fish dish to create a well balanced meal.
  1. Don’t overeat. Restaurants often serve outrageously large portions, so don’t be afraid to ask for a to-go box. You might even want to do this before you start eating. Food tastes better when you aren’t forcing it down your throat so take your leftovers for lunch tomorrow. That’s one less meal you have to cook, too!
  1. Most importantly, eat something you will enjoy! There is no point in ordering a boring salad if you aren’t going to enjoy it. If the restaurant is known for their burgers and that is what you want, go for it! But maybe you have to make some adjustments throughout the rest of the day. Eat a smaller lunch if you are going to have a big dinner, or ditch the late afternoon bag of chips and save the calories for that burger.

Eating on the Road

Summer is the perfect time to hit the road with some friends, and it’s not a good road trip without yummy snacks. Keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while snacking can be tricky. This is where your passengers come in handy; they can get the snacks out and hand them to you so you don’t get distracted.

Riding solo? Snacking only gets harder. Have you ever attempted to peel a banana or open a Ziploc bag while trying to keep your hands on the wheel? It’s not an easy task.

Going to school a 3.5-hour drive from home, I have spent a lot of hours in the car and finally discovered the best snack options. Whether you have a car full of snack helpers or are riding solo, my road trip snack plan is sure to make any road trip safe, healthy, and happy.

Dana’s Road Trip Snack Plan

eating on the road picHere is what my front seat looks like when I’m about to hit the road!

One cup-holder has my beverage. Just like always, my 24oz Starbucks tumbler is refilled with a fresh wedge of lemon squeezed in before I leave. If you want a water alternative, I suggest flavored water, sparkling water, or, decaffeinated tea. Stay away from anything else caffeinated like pop and coffee. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and you will be making too many stops during your drive ;). Also, getting a cup with a lid and a straw is helpful. This way you don’t have to worry about spills or screwing on/off bottle caps.

My other cup-holder has a large cup filled with my munchies. Anything you can eat with your hands is usually a safe option, although it might not be healthy. Chips, candy, and cereal can pack in the sugar and calories and don’t keep you full. Some of my favorite, healthier snacks are grapes, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and popcorn (I’m having Skinny Pop in the picture). Nuts and dried fruit are also a good option, but watch the portion sizes. Nuts can have a lot of calories because they are higher in fat, and dried fruit is sometimes loaded with sugar (try to find dried fruit with no added sugar). Choose a smaller cup for a snack like this.

If you are on a long trip and need more snacks, an apple is one of my favorites. Apples are high in fiber so they keep you full during your long drive. Keep in mind, if you eat an apple you need to have somewhere to put the core when you are done (your empty snack cup is a good place!).

They key is to plan ahead. Making sure you have healthy and easily accessible choices will keep you from grabbing a bag of chips and a bottle of pop at the gas station.

Grab your snacks, make a music playlist, and have a safe drive!