Even the healthiest eaters have their weaknesses – those foods that make them “splurge,” ignoring calorie counts and fat grams. It’s an easy trap to fall into; we’re surrounded every day by foods that taste good and inspire cravings.
The problem is that when you splurge too much, it can start to affect your health. America’s overweight and obesity rates are startlingly high, but the good news is that all of us are only one smart choice away from getting on track with healthy eating and snacking.
It might sound like a difficult challenge, particularly if you have kids. So many of the foods that aren’t good for you seem to be a more convenient choice. A great way to start on the path to better nutrition is to take a new approach to grocery shopping. Start by making a loop through the store – by sticking to the outer edge, you’ll typically find the foods that are closest to their natural state – packed with beneficial nutrients.
You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to eat more nutritious foods. Those with a sweet tooth can snack on naturally sweet California raisins for a healthy snack that doesn’t taste like “health food.” In fact, recent analysis, funded by the California Raisin Marketing Board, of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggests that raisin and dried fruit consumption are associated with better overall eating patterns and nutrient intake among adults.
You’ll inevitably need some dry ingredients for cooking at home, like pasta and rice. Browse the aisles carefully, looking for nutritious whole-grain pasta and brown rice. Or switch things up completely and try a different grain, such as quinoa.
What is quinoa? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an ancient grain from the Andes Mountains of South America. It is just as easy to prepare as rice, tasty and packed with vitamins and healthy amino acids.
Another good rule of thumb for a more nutritious diet is to look for short ingredient lists that are mostly made up of words you recognize. When you take your healthy goods home, leaf through cookbooks or browse online for recipes. California Raisins are a versatile ingredient, as this family-friendly recipe shows. Look for more like it on the Web site, www.LoveYourRaisins.com and get your family started on the track to better nutrition.
Mediterranean quinoa salad with California raisins
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook / stand time: 22 minutes
Chill time: at least one hour
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/3 cup apricot or mango chutney
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup each: California natural raisins and California golden raisins
1/2 cup each: garbanzo beans and diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons each: chopped fresh parsley and mint
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and drain well. Add to boiling water; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool. Whisk together chutney, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Stir into quinoa mixture, then carefully stir in all remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Makes six servings