Cough, hack, sneeze — the sniffly season is upon us. Traditional go-to choices include tea (warm fluids are soothing, hydrating and some have antioxidants), orange juice (vitamin C!) and Grandma’s chicken noodle soup. But do these foods provide us with the nutrients needed to help the body recover? Or are there other options? The next time you’re sick, consider preparing — or having someone else prepare — one of the dishes below, which are chock-full of foods rich in immune-boosting nutrients.
The food we eat should not only be enjoyable, but also nourishing as well. With the recent surge of research on digestive health, the promotion of probiotics has become common. But without the right “food,” those healthy bacteria won’t last long — much like a seed can’t grow without water. Enter prebiotics!
Many people are addicted to sugar, even if they don’t realize it. Sugar is hidden in cereal, bread and sauces. It’s poured into desserts, soda and coffee drinks. It lurks in processed foods in many forms (syrups, cane juice, fructose and turbinado, to name just a few). Consuming all of this sugar increases our desire for it, as evidenced by research demonstrating how sugar activates the brain’s reward systems much the way drugs do.
Ever wonder why a doughnut leaves you hungry within moments of finishing, while a bowl of oatmeal keeps you full for hours? An innovative study conducted in the 1990s looked at how “full” someone stayed after consuming 240 calories of a variety of foods. The top five scorers were all whole foods and, surprisingly, the No. 1 food to keep you full is often vilified for its high carbohydrate content. (Note: Most vegetables were not included in the study, likely due to the fact that consuming 240 calories of kale would require a lot of chewing! But based on the factors associated with satiety, I assume they would score very well.) Here are six foods that made the list.
“The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” Sage advice from Brian Wansink, Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you must forsake all indulgences and subsist solely on oatmeal and salads. Instead, what if you just made a few small changes to your eating routine that could lead to gradual, sustainable results? Here are five tips to try when cooking and eating at home, inspired by Prof. Wansink’s good read.
Imagine some classic food pairings: wine and cheese, fruit and nuts, steak and potatoes … iron and vitamin C? For a variety of people, including vegans and endurance athletes, getting enough iron can be a challenge. Even minor levels of iron deficiency can lead to impaired endurance, as well as fatigue, loss of concentration and decreased immune function. While animal-based sources of iron (red meat, poultry, egg yolks and shellfish) tend to be better absorbed than plant-based sources (dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, tofu, some grains and even spices), there are other factors that can improve or inhibit iron absorption.
What if I told you that there was a “pill” that, when you consumed it, helped you get a better workout, which of course leads to more strength and better calorie burning? The same pill would also help you focus at work or home so you could get the important things in your life done better and faster. Oh, and by the way, it’s been shown to lead to an increased metabolism, lower calorie intake at meals and better weight loss. How much would you pay for that pill? $10 a bottle, $20, $40? How about free?
What makes junk food so appealing? Emotional eating aside, it often comes down to two things: taste (sweet, salty) and texture (creamy, fizzy, crunchy). In my humble opinion, if we can mimic those qualities in healthier options, then upgrading eating habits becomes an easier task. So let’s tackle three commonly craved foods: soda, chips, and mayonnaise.
Soda A “refreshing” couple hundred of calories will spike your blood sugar and provide no nutrients. So what keeps us drawn to soda? It’s usually the fizz factor and the sweet taste. Consider which aspects of soda attract you to it, and then find the right substitute.
The Healthy Swaps:
Seltzer or Sparkling Water If you like the fizz, carbonated beverages can serve as a great substitute. Naturally flavored versions are available if you want a taste of orange, berry, lemon-lime and more.
Flavored Water If you prefer getting some taste with your fluids but don’t want the fizz, you can easily add some flavor to your water. You can use lemon or lime (fresh or from the squeeze bottle), or a splash of your favorite juice for a little sweetness. You can even use a splash of juice with seltzer too.
As the temperature heats up, salads become a quick and easy way to keep you cool and hydrated – most fruits and veggies are more than 90% water by weight. Many different fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer, so flavor is at its peak as well (find what’s best in your region here). Unfortunately, three of the most popular summer picnic salads are calorie-bomb side dishes: macaroni salad, potato salad and coleslaw. Here are a few tips (and recipes) to ensure your seasonal salads leave you feeling light, yet satisfied for hours:
1. Make it a Meal
When some people hear the word salad, they think “I’ll be starving in an hour.” But there are many ways to beef up a salad to make it filling for the heartiest of appetites. Add a source of protein like meat, eggs or beans. Use some heartier vegetables like corn, beets and carrots. Add a healthy fat like avocado or a handful of nuts. Then just add in a ton of your favorite veggies – different colors represent different nutrients, so go for a rainbow.
A common tip for eating healthier is to take cooking into your own hands. In theory it sounds good: when you control the ingredients, you control the nutrients and calories. Less butter and salt, more veggies and spices, etc. But when push comes to shove, we often end up staring at a recipe – and a big pile of spoiling ingredients in the fridge – while calling for take-out. If we only had the time, knowledge, energy and/or desire to cook! Here are three tips to make the process easier:
Cutting, dicing, slicing and chopping can take a lot of time. Save time on a busy weeknight by having all of the chopping done ahead of time: set aside a half-hour or so on a Sunday evening to slice and dice the vegetables you’ll need for the week. Then when you’re ready to snack or make a meal, half of the work will be done for you. Pre-cut, packaged vegetables cost a little more at the store, but you may find it worth the cost if it gets you cooking at home more. Buy a big bag of prewashed and cut lettuce so salad- making is a snap. Frozen veggies can be steamed or microwaved in minutes. Frozen fruit can be blended with yogurt or milk (and spinach!) for a quick five-minute morning smoothie, mixed into a bowl of whole grain cereal or scooped on top of some yogurt. You can pick up already marinated poultry, fish or meat from the supermarket and throw it on the grill or in the oven.