If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I believe eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. I also believe you’re probably doing a lot of things right already. In fact, many of my clients make the mistake of thinking they have to do a complete overhaul of their diet to have any kind of real impact on their health, and it’s just not true. Sometimes it takes just a few little tweeks to get you on the right track.
Today I’m sharing a few easy ways you can upgrade what you’re already doing. Whether you’re a seasoned healthy eater or just beginning your journey, making a few smart swaps and additions can help you get the most out of your meals.
Don’t get me wrong, adding any veggie is a great start to making your meal healthier. What’s great about adding more greens to your plate is not only that they’re nutrient rich, but they also add a ton of volume, without a lot of calories. Raw greens like spinach, lettuce, kale, and arugula boosts the fiber and nutrient content of pretty much anything — from sandwiches to quinoa salad, pasta to pies — even popcorn!
Less-sturdy greens like spinach and arugula are easily stirred into pasta sauces, soups, and stews while they’re heating up or in the last few minutes of cooking. The greens will wilt into the hot liquid in just a minute or two, boosting your meal without any extra effort. I use this trick with frozen greens, too. Speaking of frozen greens, here are 12 ways you can use frozen kale. Keep frozen spinach and kale on hand to toss into any hot dish. As the kale defrosts it helps wilt the greens, so even heartier greens like kale cook in a minute or two. Added benefit: you never have to worry about your veggies going bad before you can use them. It’s a win-win for upgrading your plate!
Adding plant-based fats to your meals is a great way to make sure you’re getting in enough healthy fats, while adding staying power (and flavor!) to your meals. Plant-based fat sources include avocado, nuts/nut butters, seeds, and olive oil. These foods are high in monounsaturated fats and chock-full of vitamins and minerals, so you’re getting an extra boost of nutrition when you use them in place of saturated fats like butter or sour cream.
Adding plant-based fats (and all the vitamins and minerals that come along with them) is as easy as tossing your green salad with an olive oil vinaigrette (rather than Ranch) and sprinkling on some chopped almonds (rather than cheese). Avocado is one of the most versatile plant based fat sources: mash it up and spread it on toast like butter or top off your baked potato with guacamole rather than sour cream.
Herbs & Spices
Adding herbs and spices is the most flavorful way you can upgrade your plate. Herbs and spices add a ton of flavor and a multitude of health benefits, without adding calories. When you add more spices, you can cut back on the salt. For most of us, that’s a good thing.
I love using herb and spice blends to spice up all my meals. They are such an easy way to change the flavor profile so you don’t get bored making the exact same chicken or salmon every week, and you don’t have to plan in advance or buy a ton of ingredients. Look for spice blends without salt so you can control the amount of sodium you’re eating while still loading up on flavor.
You don’t have to stick to just dried herbs and spices, either – adding fresh herbs brings a pop of color and bright flavor to meals, instantly making it feel more fancy. Fresh parsley adds flavor and brightness to my Sauteed Asparagus with Zucchini Noodles and Spinach Pesto. Bonus: throwing spinach and pistachios into the pesto is a double upgrade!
Curious about the health benefits of herbs and spices? Did you know certain spices can help you control blood sugar? I’ve got the scoop on that over here.
I could create a post about every herb’s medicinal benefits, but until I get around to it, know that you’re boosting your plate with a host of healthy advantages every time you sprinkle on some seasoning.