It is the new year, are you ready for a menu makeover? Increasing the variety of your meals doesn’t need to destroy the budget. Eating the same food day in and day out without varying grains, proteins and vegetables may limit the number of nutrients you and your family are getting. Here are a few tips for a menu make over.
Choose seafood twice a week. Eat seafood in place of meat or poultry twice a week. Select a variety of seafood — include some higher in oils and low in mercury, such as salmon, trout, and herring. Canned seafood works as well as fresh.
Have an egg. One egg a day, on average, doesn’t increase risk for heart disease, so make eggs part of your weekly choices. Only the egg yolk contains saturated fat, so have as many egg whites as you want. Dinner like quiche, frittatas and omelet can be quick and easy to make.
Eat plant protein foods more often. Try beans and peas (kidney, pinto, black, or white beans; split peas; chickpeas; hummus), soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers), nuts, and seeds. They are naturally low in saturated fat and high in fiber. The recipe below uses lentils. They are loaded with protein, fiber and low cost.
Include nuts and seeds. Choose unsalted nuts or seeds as a snack, on salads, or in main dishes to replace meat or poultry. Nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories, so eat small portions to keep calories in check.
Make a healthy sandwich. Choose turkey, roast beef, canned tuna or salmon, or peanut butter for sandwiches. Many deli meats, such as regular bologna or salami, are high in fat and sodium, so make them occasional treats only.
Most Americans eat enough protein. Ages 9 and older should eat 5 to 7 ounces of protein foods each day. Make the “meat” part of your meals smaller and save money. Replace with more vegetables, raw, cooked, frozen, fresh or canned. All give us nutrients for a healthy body.
If you are following the top diet of 2019, the Mediterranean diet, try this recipe. It has lots of vegetables and lentils and is easy to make. All ingredients are low cost as well.
Vegetable soup with kale and lentils
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced (3-4 cloves) or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups water
1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
1 14.5-ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
1 14.5-ounce can no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Add water to veggies in pot. Heat to boiling.
Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain. Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Rinse kale leaves, cut out main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. Stir kale and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 minutes.
Nutrition Corner Mary Ehret
Mary R. Ehret, M.S.,R.D.,L.D.N., is the Nutrition Links Supervisor in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Sullivan and Bradford Counties for the Penn State Extension.