Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eating Healthy

I use olive-oil by the heavy jug and cook as much as possible from scratch. Are my husband and I healthy? We could be healthier. I could stop making chocolates and avoid dishes that call for Italian lardo. Still, there are things I prepare and stock up on to help us to feel better and maybe even live longer.

It is all about balance. Do your best to buy fresh, local fruits and vegetables and pair them with healthy meats and grains. Visiting a local farmer’s market can be a fun, family outing. Not all of us, however, have the time to shop at a number of different stores. When you do shop at a major supermarket, do your best to “shop the perimeter,” as loca-vores say. This will help you to avoid the pre-prepared foods in the frozen aisles.

Don’t go crazy. If you are craving something, indulge and eat a little to avoid too much of it later. (Popeye’s anyone?)

Most of us spend our days sitting at our computer working. Sometimes we get bored and start to haphazardly eat. Keep your house/office stocked with healthy snacks to avoid snacking on something “bad” for you. Postpartum doula Elaine Petrowski offers some good ideas for healthy, right-out-of-the-cabinet snacks here. I bought the almond butter she recommended and recently tried it with apple slices. It was delicious.

I have been snacking on more roasted pumpkin seeds (crazy cheap at Trader Joe’s supermarkets) and mixing beets into my salads after reading this article in the New York Times, “The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating.” The nutritional value of each food listed is explained. Tara Parker-Pope writes that pumpkin seeds “are associated with lower risk for early death.” Sounds good!

I find that good organization in the kitchen (making one dish that can transform into altered leftovers later) helps to avoid a reliance on pre-prepared, fatty foods. For example, if you are cooking chicken one night for dinner with a side of mashed potatoes and zucchini, why not cook a few extra pieces? Later in the week, these can become sandwich meat or a different chicken dish with either a curry sauce or marinara topped with some slices of mozzarella. The leftover potatoes and zucchini slices can be mixed into a frittata perfect for breakfast or even dinner. The changed flavors will make it seem as though you are eating new dishes instead of leftovers.

For some more recipe ideas, try these vegetarian dishes from the historic Moosewod Restaurant. I enjoy soups (especially because you can make a lot at once and freeze portions to eat throughout the month) and often make spinach versions. My favorite is from my old standby, The New York Times Cookbook. This Zucchini and Spinach Soup on looks delicious. While you are on the site, try searching by ingredient for inspiration before your food starts to go bad in your fridge.

Today’s post is in response to a reader who asked for some suggestions for healthy foods. Hopefully these quick tips will help to make your kitchen a healthier place and a more user-friendly space, too. I am not a nutritionist, so if you have more specific questions or concerns, speak with your doctor or a certified nutritionist to plan out a diet that works for you.

What is your favorite healthy snack?

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