1. New Beginnings
Most people ring in the New Year with resolutions so lofty and vague, they are bound to be broken by spring. Make your changes stick this year by making them attainable and measurable. So instead of resolving to "eat healthier," zero in on specific behaviors you know you can stick with, like, "I will eat fruit and a handful of nuts instead of a candy bar as an afternoon snack," or, "I will start each day with a healthy breakfast." Now, those are changes with some staying power.
2. I Heart Dark Chocolate
Chocolate's reputation as a food of love is well known, but it turns out that chocolate may also be good for your heart health, since it is loaded with the same heart-friendly antioxidants as red wine and tea. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants, so go for dark or bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Keep your portions sensible — to about an ounce — and savor every rich, creamy bite.
3. Spring Cleaning
Keeping a well-stocked pantry ensures you have healthy food at your fingertips all the time. Give yours a good spring cleaning by getting rid of foods like that can of pumpkin you've had for a decade. Most canned items keep at peak quality for 2 years. Dried pasta and cereal last about a year. Spices lose their potency after 6-12 months. So ditch anything older than that and make room for new.
4. Eggstraordinary Eggs
Eggs are one of the most convenient, inexpensive, nutritious foods around. Each has just 80 calories but packs loads of protein and essential nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin A. Most of an egg's vitamins and minerals are in its yolk, but so is nearly all its 213 mg of cholesterol (most of the 300 mg recommended daily limit). To get the benefits of eggs without overdoing cholesterol, stick to 7 whole eggs a week and use a mix of egg whites and whole eggs in scrambles and omelets and frittatas.
5. Fresh Herbs
When you want healthy dose of spring flavor and aroma, fresh herbs are the ticket. Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, thyme and parsley not only add a splash of color and intoxicating fragrance to food, they are also surprisingly rich in essential vitamins like A and K. Plus they are packed with health protecting antioxidants. So sprinkle them in salads or on sandwiches, use them in sauces and salsas, and use them to amp up marinades and rubs. You'll see how easy (and tasty) it is being green.
This year, think beyond the standard burgers and sausage when you fire up the grill. Meaty fish like salmon grills up beautifully, as do whole fish and skewered shrimp. Vegetables like ears of corn, sliced summer squash, portobello mushrooms and onions are naturals on the barbie. You can even grill hearty lettuces like romaine. Just quarter hearts of romaine, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and grill until softened slightly and grill marks form. Same goes for fruit like pineapple rings, peach halves and bananas. Grilling intensifies the flavors in produce, and softens it just enough to transform it into a real treat.
With summertime temperatures rising, being well hydrated is key to staying healthy and feeling your best. Forget that old adage about eight 8-ounce cups of water a day. It is not really accurate. The surest way to get enough fluid is to drink whenever you are thirsty. Most men need to drink about 13 cups of fluid a day, and most women should aim to drink about 9 cups a day. While you should aim to get at least half of that from good ol' water; juice, milk and even coffee and tea count too. For a super-cool refreshing quencher, spike your water with slices of cucumber, lemon and orange.
In August, tomatoes are at their peak, packed with freshness and flavor, and bursting with health benefits. The beautiful, bright red color in tomatoes is made by an antioxidant called lycopene. Tomatoes and tomato products, like pasta sauce, are the richest source of this antioxidant, which could help maintain a healthy heart, boost your memory, lower your risk for cancer and help your skin stay younger looking.
It turns out an apple a day could really keep the doctor away. Sweet, tart, juicy and crisp — what better way to do it? Low in calories and high in fiber, apples fill you up without filling you out, so they could help you keep your weight in check. Also, studies link the antioxidants in apples with reduced risk of cancer. The antioxidant power and fiber lies in the skin of the apple, so put that peeler down. Also, "cloudy" apple juice (aka "natural") contains about four times the disease-fighting antioxidants as clear, filtered apple juice.
10. Sweet Winter Squash
Acorn or butternut, pumpkin or spaghetti, winter squash is naturally sweet, versatile, easy to cook and incredibly good for you. Each bite delivers a fork-full of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Just one cup of baked butternut squash provides more potassium than a medium banana! Simply roast squash with a little oil and a touch of brown sugar for a rich and easy side dish. Puree it and serve it instead of potatoes, or add the puree to broth for a velvety thick soup. Choose squash that are firm, are fairly heavy for their size and have bright, glossy exteriors.
11. Aim for 5 on Turkey Day
To enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without leaving the table as stuffed as the bird, try this: Eat slowly, savoring each delicious bite, and stop eating when you are at a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is starving and 10 is painfully stuffed. You may feel like you could eat more, but since it takes about 20 minutes after you've stopped eating for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full, you will likely be satisfied by the time the dishes are cleared. This way you'll not only feel great, you'll have more scrumptious leftovers for the next day!
12. Holiday Party Survival
Use these three strategies to get the most out of this festive season and still feel great in your favorite holiday outfit:
- Scan and Plan: Check out all the offerings and choose one or two must-have indulgences. Then fill the rest of your plate with healthier fare.
- Bring Something Healthy: Bring a scrumptious dish that is also healthy, so you know you have a good choice there.
- Be Active: Even though the holiday season is hectic, be sure to make time to exercise. You can even build it into the holiday festivities by going ice skating, sledding or building a snowman.
13. Think Drink
Staying well hydrated is key to feeling good. So make sure you drink enough: On average that means 9 cups of fluid a day for women, and 13 for men. Caffeine-free, calorie-free beverages like water are best, but fruit juice, milk, sports drinks and soft drinks are also hydrating. Surprisingly, even caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea contribute to your total fluid intake.
14. Sweet Tooth Satisfiers
When your sweet tooth is calling, try satisfying it with something healthy, like a few slices of sweet, juicy mango, or sliced apple and pear made special with a sprinkle of cinnamon. If it's a cookie you crave, try a biscotti — it has fewer calories than most cookies. If only chocolate will do, go for it. Just opt for dark chocolate (which has the most antioxidants) and keep it to an ounce, about the size of three fingers.
15. Sleep Yourself Thinner
Studies show that chronic lack of sleep can actually alter the balance of hormones that help regulate appetite. So if you don't regularly get at least 7 hours a night, it might leave you hungrier and ultimately heavier. Life is hectic and it isn't always easy, but now you have another good reason to get your Zs.
16. Take a Stroll
Tonight after dinner, don't just plop in front of the TV. Call your neighbor, gather the family or leash up the dog and go for a stroll. You'll get some fresh air, share some valuable time together and, no matter how slow you walk, you'll burn about 100 calories a mile.
17. The Family Meal
Want your kids to eat better and be healthier? Eat dinner together. Between work schedules and after-school activities, it's tough to get the whole family around the table all the time. But even if you can't do it every day, make a point of it as often as possible. Kids who eat with their families regularly have better nutrition, and are less likely to adopt bad habits like smoking.
18. Cheese Primer
Everyone loves cheese. It's delicious and packed with calcium and protein. But because it's loaded with saturated fat, it's one of those foods to eat smartly. For everyday, choose reduced-fat cheeses like part-skim mozzarella, reduced-fat cheddar or low-fat cottage cheese. When only the full-fat version of a cheese will satisfy, use the most flavorful variety you can find, like blue cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, feta and Parmesan, and use it sparingly. Remember, with fantastic, full-flavor cheese, a little goes a long way.
19. Three Questions for Your Waiter
Dining out is one of life's great pleasures, a time to unwind with friends, try new foods, relax and be served. Here are three questions that can help you keep it healthier too. 1) Can I have that grilled or poached instead of fried? 2) May I have sauce on the side? 3) May I please have the rest of my meal to-go? These three little questions can make a big difference, and most restaurants are happy to oblige.
20. Smarter Starters
There is no need to skip a starter if you are watching calories. It turns out the right appetizer can actually help you eat fewer calories over the course of the meal. Go for starters like green salad with light dressing or a broth-based, chunky soup like minestrone. They give you lots of satisfaction without a lot of calories, so you wind up eating less at the rest of the meal.
21. All About Alcohol
You have heard the reports that drinking wine is good for your health, and if you are like me, when you did, you practically threw a ticker-tape parade. It's not just red wine that has health benefits (although red wine seems to have the most). Alcohol in general can protect you from stroke and improve your cholesterol. But the key is to drink in moderation, which is defined as one drink a day for women and two for men. Any more than that and alcohol's benefits are quickly swallowed by its risks. For the record, one drink is 5 ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ½ ounces of spirits.
22. How to Eat Pizza
Everyone knows a double-cheese pepperoni pizza probably isn't the healthiest meal choice. But pizza done right can actually be good for you. Just take a cue from how they eat pizza in Italy. They go easy on the cheese, use fresh herbs and vegetables, and they make a nice, thin crust. So next time you are craving pizza, ask for a slice of thin-crust veggie pizza, light on the cheese. Toss in a big side salad and you'll have yourself a pretty healthy meal.