The wrapper on your food is hiding some ugly secrets. Most processed foods are an illusion, often appearing to be healthy—with claims like “low fat,” “low carb,” “vitamin fortified,” “no trans fat,” “contains omega-3s”—when in fact they contain the very ingredients making a lot of people unhealthy, sick, and fat.
Heavily processed foods, many of which are boxed, canned, or frozen, are often high in sugar and salt and may contain trans fat, which is terrible for your heart and overall health. In many foods, fiber is removed and chemicals are added to extend the product’s shelf life. In addition, artificial colors and flavors are added to trick your palate and make up for the poor quality of the ingredients. Processed foods may be minimally processed, like bagged spinach or lettuce or heavily processed like frozen pizza and entrees. When you choose to use a prepared food, read the label! You may be surprised to find that your pasta sauce contains sugar or corn syrup. Something as simple as sliced, packaged turkey breast may contain sugar, salt, and modified food starch in addition to preservatives!
One of the best things for health is to drastically reduce processed foods from your diet. When we eat more whole healthy foods, we start to crave things that are good for us and we don’t miss the junk. For this reason, you should make it your daily goal to eat 2 servings of unprocessed fruits and vegetables at every meal. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables are brimming with natural flavor and color, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and trace minerals and other nutrients that may help ward off cancer and heart disease. If you buy fruits and vegetables at their peak, you are instantly a great cook! You can’t go wrong with high quality ingredients.
It’s easy to add fruits and vegetables to your meals and I’m sure you have a lot of your own ideas. Here are a few of mine:
Breakfast: Instead of toast, add a large handful of spinach to your eggs as they cook. Serve with tomatoes on the side.
Lunch: Instead of a traditional hamburger, turkey burger, or veggie burger, serve your patty on a bed of lettuce. Amp up your favorite toppings like avocado, tomatoes, onions, and pickles.
At a restaurant: Forgo the pre-dinner bread and order a cooked vegetable instead as an appetizer. Substitute a salad or fruit for a starchy side dish.
At home: Make lots of your favorite veggies when you have time so that you have leftovers for when you can’t cook. Have a ripe peach for dessert.
- 1 cup yogurt of your choice (preferably without added sugar)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 banana
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- 3 cups of your favorite berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or until juices have been released.
- May be refrigerated or frozen. Serve with Greek yogurt and top with granola or nuts and seeds.
Melanie Petri began searching for a practical application for her life-long love of science as a Biology major at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. This search evolved into a Masters degree in Nutrition and an internship to become a Registered Dietitian as she learned that dietetics was a perfect marriage of science and cooking arts. Melanie also studied exercise physiology as a secondary interest. Later in life she found her passion, Pilates, and was certified at the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado. The Work, with Jay Grimes, solidified her commitment to teaching Pilates and she continues to study at Vintage Pilates. Melanie has taught in Hermosa Beach for over thirteen years. In addition to her own Pilates practice, Melanie is an enthusiastic beach volleyball and tennis player.