How To: Be The Best We Can Be

This post is in affiliation with KIND Snacks. All opinions are my own.

I’m so excited about the great comments and personal messages I received from Wednesday’s post that I want to react to some right away that broached the topic of learning more about healthy eating. While eating healthy isn’t always easy, it also isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be. My belief is that the primary difference between those two outlooks is education.


Like I briefly mentioned in Wednesday’s post about my fitness journey, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out little tricks that make meals flavorful yet still healthy. Likewise, I’ve learned tricks to limit my over-indulgence on gluttonous meals when I travel for work.


Really, they’re simply tricks like snacking on a KIND bar mid afternoon. And drinking water. Whether it’s a fancy glass/bottle that makes it more enticing or adding fresh fruit to your water, do something and drink up. You can read an overwhelming amount of info on why drinking water is healthy, but for me it really comes down to two things:


1. I feel full longer and therefore have the urge to snack less

2. My skin physically looks better when hydrated


And who doesn’t want better looking skin?!

Certain things in Husby and my every day life have also just trained us to look at labels differently. For example, my skinny, energetic husband somehow wound up with high blood pressure at a young age. I’m pretty sure it was a result of his musician’s lifestyle on the road because when his band moved to L.A. after college for a record deal and toured the country after recording their album, they essentially lived off the McDonald’s dollar menu. Talk about divulging in enough sodium to last a lifetime.


Needless to say, from the time we started dating to now, his everyday diet has inadvertently improved. Even so, I became extra conscious of sodium-filled foods and went into overdrive on purchasing “no salt added” ingredients to my already no-salt seasoning cooking methods. The cool result is that his blood pressure is now in the normal range all on it’s own. I’m telling you guys, adding healthy practices to your life can literally have a reverse effect on the problems previous bad habits created. It’s amazing!


Here are some everyday habits I’ve developed when it comes to cooking that either don’t really affect the flavor of meals or even enhance the taste of some:


1. Substituting Hellman’s Lowfat Mayo for any full fat variety. Not all lowfat mayonnaise is made equal, so when I’m specific with this brand and description I really mean this exact item. Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise does NOT have the same similarities (or low fat) as the full fat version, nor does the olive oil version. Same thing with Kraft. The lowfat Hellman’s is the way to go.


2. Onion and Garlic powders are my best friends. As a rule of thumb, anything you would normally season with salt substitute onion powder instead. You can layer it on and it doesn’t matter!


3. Marinate in Olive Oil. I’ll marinate chicken breasts in olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and a dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes and the outcome is Husby’s favorite chicken every time. He prefers it over any pre-marinated chicken breasts sold at grocery meat counters, and since those are chalk full of sodium we win out with this method.


4. Nonfat, plain Greek yogurt parfaits. I don’t use greek yogurt as a mayo substitute because I just don’t think the flavor profiles are anything alike. I’m never happy with the end result. However, I do buy plain, nonfat greek yogurt and add frozen fruit (thawed) to it to create a healthy parfait with only natural sugars.


5. LEAN meat. I only purchase ground beef with 7% fat or less. Not only is it healthier, but I don’t have to drain any grease after it’s browned.


6. Use avocados on sandwiches in place of dressings. When an avocado is ripe it’s soft enough to use as a substitute to a dressing on a sandwich while still adding the texture and moisture we look for. If you really want the smoothness of a dressing, mash up the avocado (or put it in a food processor) and add a teaspoon or less of lowfat Hellman’s mayo then spread it on the bread. Since avocados have a short lifespan when ripe, buy them hard and unripened. They tend to ripen within two days or so at room temperature, or they ripen even faster in a brown paper bag with an unripened banana. Keep them in the refrigerator to shorten the ripening process if you need them throughout a full week.


7. Fat-free anything dairy (except cheese). I only buy fat-free cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt, and I buy 1/3 less fat (aka neufetchal) cream cheese. I just can’t tell much (if any) difference, and I save myself 5 or more grams of fat in each one.


8. Egg Whites. Quite possibly the easiest (and fastest) breakfast to make is an egg white omelet. I buy egg whites in the little cartons, a block of frozen spinach (then precut it into 2-in cubes and put the cubes in a Ziploc bag in the freezer) and shredded cheddar cheese. In the morning I pour the egg whites into a small pan, defrost a cube of spinach to add to the uncooked egg whites in the pan, sprinkle a little cheddar cheese over it then fold it in half once the eggs are done enough. So.Easy.

Integrating these little habits, among others, into our daily household life also makes feeding our daughter super easy. She loves the egg white, spinach and cheese omelet, and I don’t have to think twice about what to feed her because we’re following the same habits!



SNACKING ON THE ROAD

Since we’re in the habit of eating things that make our meals healthier at home, sometimes my travel schedule poses a bit of a challenge. I’m still a girl who loves good food, so I found that when I stretched myself all day to only eat the meals that were provided, by dinner I felt like I had picked around so many tempting items that I would overindulge on whatever caught my eye. It’s not that I was gaining weight from it or anything, but the next morning I always woke up with regret. You know what I'm talking about.


The majority of the business trips I go on end in a late dinner. We usually head out at 7 p.m., so by the time drinks are ordered we aren’t seeing food until 8 p.m. By then I’m so hungry that you better believe I’ll order whatever looks the most gluttonous! It wouldn't be a big deal if it were just a night or two here and there, but when I'm gone 4 nights or more each month those bad choices ad up. Fast.


This last fall when my travel schedule picked up again I made it a habit to pick up a KIND bar at just about any stop I made. When I grabbed water in the airport, I also purchased a KIND bar. When I stopped for coffee in the morning before meetings or conferences, I picked up a KIND bar. You get the picture. I didn’t eat one every time I bought one, but because I picked one up with each stop I always had one on hand. When hunger would creep up at different times throughout the day, mostly late afternoon, I knew I had something healthy on hand to tide me over until the late dinner or reception that was coming up.


That simple choice provided me the brain power to think straight at dinner and receptions and only eat the small portions I needed, and I ordered healthier options.


KIND bars can be found almost anywhere these days, which is something I like because it’s an easy choice for me to know I’m filling my body with healthy ingredients. If you aren’t familiar with the line, make sure to check out their site to see the HUGE variety of products available.


I would save myself (and the company I work for) so much money if I would just start buying them in bulk like you can! Not to mention there are a couple of flavors I’d like to try that the standard airport convenience store or Starbucks doesn’t carry. Aside from my favorites, Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants with Macadamia Nuts {I’m a sucker for the word antioxidants when I travel…} and Blueberry Pecan + Fiber, I’d really like to try the Peanut Butter & Strawberry from the fruit & nut line and some unique flavor profiles from their Strong & Kind line like the Honey Mustard and Thai Sweet Chili. They sound like meals in and of themselves!


So this was a long post, but I hope you were able to snag some good takeaways from it to help make healthy eating a little easier for you!

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© 2013 by Heather Anders : Meet Me on the Intersection of Richmond & Style.