5 Swift Tips to Boost Health for 2016!

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While millions of folks were dreaming up resolutions just a few days ago (a number of which have since been broken) I was thinking about nutrition and how easy it is to boost it. With this in mind, I came up with my list of super simple, nutrient-boosting small changes, which over time, can literally change the course of your life and health with the greatest of ease! Whether you’re just starting out or looking to pack more nutrients into your day, here are my fab five, no-brainer health boosters for 2016: 

1.) Plant-a-size your plate
Many of us grew up with a big hunk of meat on our plates garnished with a hefty load of starch and a modest serving of veggies, but now the times they are a changing. But what should your plate look like? It should be the opposite of what you were raised on, with lots of veggies and a lot less animal protein. Here’s my plant-a-sized prescription for the perfect plate:

·         ½ of the plate is filled with non-starchy, colorful vegetables such as carrots, spinach, kale, herbs and spices
·         ¼ of the plate is filled with starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or acorn squash, complemented with whole grains such as quinoa or wild rice and fresh, seasonal fruit
·         ¼ of the plate is lean proteins, such as legumes, wild fish, lean poultry or eggs
·         1 - 2 dollops of healthy fats and oils, like extra- virgin olive oil, with a smattering of nuts and seeds

2.) Put in a little parsley or other green herb
While most people think of parsley as little more than a decorative weed, it’s actually a tasty, wondrous herb that aids digestion, supports immunity, is loaded with vitamin K and fiber and may help protect against cancer and degenerative neurological issues – so why not toss it on! How to enjoy it? Every way you can imagine, but the easiest, no-brainer way is to make it a habit to toss parsley into all your egg dishes, stews, soups, salads or pestos.

 3.) Slip in some spinach
Loaded with vitamin C and phytonutrients, spinach is one of the most nutritious veggies to slip into virtually any meal. To effortlessly boost your intake, at breakfast add a fistful of frozen spinach into smoothies, or whisk some chopped spinach into your morning eggs. At lunch, top a sandwich or hot soup with a serving of fresh spinach leaves – they’ll wilt a bit and blend right in, adding much-needed fiber to your midday meal. In the evening, try adding chopped spinach (frozen is fine too) into spaghetti sauce, add a spinach salad to your plate or a portion of steamed spinach with lemon and garlic to round out the meal.

 4.) Get a little nutty
Tasty, totally portable and packed with healthy fats that help satisfy hunger, nuts are a nutritional gem. The key with nuts is portion control because they are easy to overdo. Try pre-packaging your own in snack bags to take to the office, counting out a portion of 20 almonds, or a portion of 35 – 40 pistachios, 10 -15 cashews or 5 -10 walnuts per day. Alternate the type of nuts you eat daily to get the widest spectrum of nutritional goodies and look for nuts that are raw, not roasted and without added salt. Also try to avoid commercially packaged nuts. Even a small bag may offer a too-large portion that’s heavy on calories, salt and oils.

5.) Top it with belly-filling chia
Over the last few years, interest in chia seeds has grown rapidly, and with good reason. Fiber-packed chia seeds are a virtually tasteless, superfood that adds a dose of antioxidants, essential minerals and protein anywhere you add them. Sprinkling a tablespoon to top your meal is a wonderfully simple way to boost nutrients and belly-filling bulk!  You can also make a delicious dessert with chia seeds – here’s one of my favorites:  

CHOW BELLA CHIA PUDDING
Prep Time: 5 minutes plus 3 hours (chill time)
Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS

·    1 cup plain, unsweetened kefir or nondairy kefir such as coconut, almond, etc.
·    1⁄4 cup chia seeds
·    2 teaspoons 100 percent pure maple syrup
·    Spice or pure flavor extract variations (see below)

TOPPINGS

·    1 cup fresh seasonal fruit 2 tablespoons nuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Step 1. In a 1-quart sealable glass jar, add the kefir, chia seeds and maple syrup and shake until evenly mixed.

Step 2. Add the flavor boosters for desired variation below, seal the glass jar and shake again.

Step 3. Place the jar in the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours.

Step 4. Serve topped with fresh seasonal fruit (1⁄2 cup per serving) and chopped nuts (1 tablespoon per serving).  

VARIATIONS

Vanilla Almond: Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract at Step 2.
Serve topped with fresh or frozen wild blueberries and chopped or slivered almonds.

Cocoa Cinnamon: Add 1/2-teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1⁄2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder at Step 2. Serve topped with chopped walnuts and banana slices.

Banana Ginger: Add 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 small mashed banana at Step 2. Serve topped with chopped macadamia nuts.

Maple Walnut: Add 1/2-teaspoon maple extract at Step 2. Top with chopped walnuts.

Peanut Butter Chocolate: Add 1⁄2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter at Step 2. Serve topped with banana slices.

 

Kathie SwiftComment