March marks the start of National Nutrition Month, a yearly educational campaign that helps to bring awareness about health and nutrition. The theme for 2014 is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” The key message for this year’s theme focuses on "combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals that still follow the Dietary Guidelines recommendations." Since taste is such a big factor in choosing what we eat, it's important to find the balance between choosing foods that we enjoy but also meals that provide a variety of nutrients our bodies need.
In honor of this month’s theme, I've put together a few ways to slim down your favorite foods while not compromising on flavor.
1. Spice Things Up
Instead of using salt to season foods, incorporate a variety of herbs and spices into your dishes. Some favorites include basil, thyme, oregano, curry powder, garlic powder and chili powder. Not only are these herbs and spices very low in calories, they provide a variety of antioxidants as well.
2. Scoop Out Sour Cream
Replace sour cream in your dish with Greek yogurt. The flavor is very similar to sour cream, but Greek yogurt provides added protein. Now you can enjoy a little Greek yogurt on top of your tacos guilt-free!
3. Go Whole Wheat Over White
Replace half of the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat flour when baking. By only substituting half it will not compromise taste, but will get the benefit of added fiber.
4. The Secret to Moist Baked Goods
Substitute oil for unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana when baking. This swap will still provide you the moist texture to your baked goods without the added fat and calories that oils can provide.
5. Swap Potato for Cauliflower
Replace half of your mashed potato recipe with mashed cauliflower. Cauliflower has fewer calories than potatoes and also provides a good source of Vitamin C. For those who need to watch their carbohydrate intake but love mashed potatoes, adding cauliflower makes this dish lighter, yet more filling.
6. A Surprising Egg Substitute
Use chia seeds as a substitute for eggs. This tip works especially well if you are vegan or are looking to add in more healthy fats and fiber into your diet. To make, combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with one cup of water and let sit for 15 minutes. This will yield a great substitute that is equivalent to one egg.
7. And a Surprising Pasta Substitute
Replace pasta with zucchini ribbons. If you slice the zucchini into very thin strands and then sauté, it makes the perfect substitute for pasta. Zucchini is significantly less calories than pasta and provides a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Here is a delicious and easy recipe for Grilled Vegetable Tacos that fits in just perfectly with the National Nutrition Month theme. The recipe combines a variety of fiber rich vegetables with tangy guacamole that is loaded with healthy fats.
Grilled Vegetable Tacos (serves 4, two tacos each)
• 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
• 1 zucchini, diced
• 1/4 cup frozen corn
• 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
• 1 red onion, diced
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 avocado
• 1 bunch cilantro, thinly chopped
• Juice of one lime
• 1 clove garlic, diced
• chili flakes, to taste
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 8 corn tortillas
• For taco filliing: Toss asparagus, zucchini, corn, tomatoes and red onion in olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill vegetables in pan set on high heat for about five minutes or until desired tenderness.
• For guacamole: Mash avocado and mix with cilantro, garlic, chili flakes, lime juice, salt and pepper. Combine ingredients well.
• To serve: Serve vegetables immediately in warm corn tortillas. Top with guacamole, cilantro, and serve.