Pizza, burgers and fries are all-American favorites but have been touted as forbidden foods. "Junk food" shouldn't be the answer to your quick meal, but with a few simple changes you can easily enjoy a healthier approach to these classics. We all wish our kitchen could have a drive-through window, so my focus is on providing a healthier lifestyle for the busy person -- bringing back cooking. Don't turn eating into a science project by selecting the "super food of the week" or the "diet of the day" as an immediate solution to good health.
Our focus should be on what we can eat, not what we can't. The idea of a "super food" makes us believe that one certain food should be regarded above the rest, when really eating healthy is not about eating less, but about enhancing our foods with more of the good stuff: fruits, vegetables and whole grains. With quick, easy and healthy recipes, you can pretend your kitchen has that drive-through window. So, don't think your only option to meet those daily guidelines is by eating five apples a day when a tuna salad can include apples, and pasta or soup can include those veggies.
Nothing beats a traditional burger; however, by selecting a cut of meat that ends in "loin" (ground sirloin) or "round" (ground round), you have the leanest meat, making a better choice and reducing your risk for heart disease. Pile that burger up with vibrant colors such as bright, leafy baby spinach for a good source of vitamins and antioxidants; juicy red tomato slices rich in lycopene, decreasing the risk of heart disease and some cancers; and heart-healthy avocados. Choose a whole-grain bun for increased fiber and health benefits such as weight maintenance and decreased risk of chronic diseases.
And what goes better with a burger than fries! Not the deep-fried, grease-soaked variety. Researchers have found that kids today get up to 25 percent of their vegetable intake from fries. You will not believe how easy it is to make your own at home using fiber-rich sweet potatoes. By baking them, you will cut down on the saturated, artery-clogging corn oil used most often to fry them. Choose sweet potatoes for your fries as they are one of the most nutritious vegetables, contain virtually no fat or sodium and are packed with fiber, vitamin A, beta carotene, iron and potassium. Once cut, spread out on a baking pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake. Or change it up a bit by sprinkling a little cinnamon and sugar or add a kick with southwestern seasonings.
In my idea of a healthy lifestyle, I always save room for dessert! Dark chocolate has been recognized for its antioxidant benefits, so might we think of chocolate-covered strawberries as a health food? Pizza is an excellent canvas for all sorts of healthy toppings -- of course veggies and lean meats -- but also fruits! Using an oatmeal or sugar cookie crust, top with light cream cheese and your favorite fruits in season.
It's that time of year again: the familiar story of made, then broken, New Year's resolutions. Everywhere you look, diets are telling you what not to eat. But you will find that you don't have to give up anything! I am not giving up my favorite foods, so I certainly don't expect you to. Pizza, burgers, fries and dessert, you can have it all because I trim the recipes down, while keeping them terrific.
My go-to trim&TERRIFIC "D.I.E.T." goes back to portion control: "Don't Ingest Everything Today!" So, if you don't have time to cook, and want a healthier lifestyle, my "D.I.E.T." philosophy is the way to go.
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Holly Clegg, author of the "trim&TERRIFIC®" cookbook series and specialized diabetic and cancer cookbooks, including "Eating Well through Cancer," has been writing about the relationship between food and health for two decades. She is a monthly contributor to "Thrive" (Cancer Treatment Centers of America's monthly publication) and "Breast Cancer Wellness," and has been featured as a healthy living expert in "USA Today" and TV shows such as "Fox & Friends." Check out Holly's latest book, "Too Hot in the Kitchen," on Red Room, where you can read her blog.
Follow Holly B. Clegg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hollyclegg