By Laura Coti Garrett, Guest Blogger
Close your eyes and think of the food you consume on a daily basis. Is it a colorful picture that’s forming in your mind’s eye — or are you seeing several shades of beige?
If you’re prone to grabbing a morning bagel, followed by a quick sandwich at lunch and then a last-minute dinner, like a ready-made meal off your grocer’s shelf, I encourage you to switch gears. Slow down, plan ahead and infuse that steady diet of beige with the vibrant colors of fall.
Let’s make a conscious effort to get back into the kitchen (that room where we keep the take-out menus) to cook and learn more about the most important foods to put on your plate. The best meals are the ones you make yourself. When you cook at home, you avoid processed foods and have more control over the end product and what you consume. It’s as simple as that.
It’s true, it takes time. But, the stress of not knowing what you’re having for dinner is not healthy, either. So, let’s put shopping and meal-prep on the to-do list. Shop on a day when you have the time to also prepare meals. Store them in the freezer and heat them up as the week goes on. You’ll create your own, homemade frozen food section, right there in your fridge.
We know that the more color we put on our plates, the more fruits and vegetables (a.k.a. the more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) we consume. And they’re naturally delicious. Case in point: my favorite fall vegetable, the sweet potato. Great – and available – year-round, sweet potatoes are a featured player on the Thanksgiving dinner table, with marshmallows often playing a supporting role.
But, consider this. I recently prepared mashed sweet potatoes that got rave reviews. Guess how many ingredients? One. I boiled the sweet potatoes, peeled them and I mashed them. That’s it.
My guests told me these mashed sweet potatoes were amazing! They asked, “What did you put in them?”
I said, “Sweet potatoes.” When we say sweet potato, it’s already sweet.
This weekend, I’m whipping up two scalloped sweet potato recipes, one sweet and sour, the other sweet and savory, along with a new cornbread recipe. I’m planning a taste test at a Giants tailgate party—yes, tailgate parties can be fun and healthy! If you’re looking for some great recipes to try, check out www.heart.org/recipes. There are a ton of recipes in every category and they follow the American Heart Association’s healthy eating guidelines.
I’m also looking forward to seeing you at the Northern New Jersey Go Red For Women Luncheon on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, NJ. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to chair this event. For more information on tickets, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities with the luncheon, please visit www.nnjgored.heart.org.
I’ll check in with you next month when we’ll talk more about healthy holiday eating. In the meantime, I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and a healthy Thanksgiving!
Laura Coti Garrett is a Registered Dietitian and Chairwoman for the 2017 Northern NJ Go Red For Women Luncheon. This post is part of a monthly series featuring Laura’s healthy eating tips.