The holidays are a season of eating. Whether it is sugary Christmas cookies or the endless buffet of baked honey glazed ham, twice baked potatoes, and triple cheese stuffed shells, many of the festivities center around a dizzying array of holiday fare. After a couple weeks of splurging on food and drink, the start of a new year is a good time to think about revamping your daily diet. The New Year is a natural time for a fresh start. Renewed interests in exercise along with adopting a healthy approach to eating go hand in hand. As you flip the calendar to January, change a few of your less than nutritious eating habits for a healthier you. A few tips will help upstart your 2014 healthy eating plan.
- Add change a little at a time. Don’t try to change too many unhealthy eating habits all at once. Swap out white bread for whole grain when making sandwiches and snack on cut up celery and carrots instead of chips.
- Try not to think of foods as banned or off limits. Allow yourself a small snack and you won’t feel like you are missing out on a treat. Instead of a large slice of chocolate cake, opt for a mini cupcake instead.
- Try smaller portions. Use a slightly smaller plate to help curb overeating. People tend to fill up their plate when eating so naturally you will eat less if you use a smaller plate.
- Plan at least 3 to 4 healthy dinners each week and make one a vegetarian meal. Having a plan eliminates resorting to eating less than healthy foods.
- Eliminate useless trips to the grocery store by making a list of all the ingredients you need for stress-free cooking. Shop the perimeter of the store where the fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, and dairy are located. Bypass the center aisles where most of the highly processed foods are displayed.
- Do double duty cooking. Make more servings than you will eat in one meal so packing lunches or having a healthy dinner after a long day of work is a no-brainer. You will be less likely to detour to the fast food lane if you know you have a nutritious meal waiting at home.
- Add a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to your diet. Produce comes in a variety of colors. Add beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, raspberries, kale, broccoli, apples, oranges, and cauliflower to your diet. They are packed with calcium, iron, antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
- Include a variety of whole grains for added taste and texture. Many whole grains are readily available at the grocery store and include quinoa, farro, brown rice, oats, and barley. They are naturally low in fat, a good source of vitamins and minerals and help to keep you feel full longer. Grains are very versatile and can be served as a cereal, in soup, as a pilaf, or in a salad.
- Don’t eat alone. Eating with others promotes less mindless eating. And studies show that eating together at home is healthier than eating out. Dinners made at home are less likely to be fried, loaded with salt and contain more fruits and vegetables than meals served at restaurants.
Get a jumpstart on your healthy eating plan for 2014 with Greek Stuffed Peppers with Farro. They are filled with wide array of vegetables, whole grains and protein packed beans. Adding a delicious vegetarian meal will that keep you full and satisfied while adding vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants to your diet.
- 4 small sized yellow (orange, or red bell peppers)
- ½ cup farro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 small zucchini (diced)
- 1 6-ounce package baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- ¼ cup black olives (diced)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut peppers in half lengthwise through the stems. Remove the seeds and membrane. In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the peppers for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Remove from the pot and place cut side down on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
- Cook farro according to package directions and set aside. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat add the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the zucchini and sauté for an additional 2 – 3 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until just wilted, about 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked farro, oregano, tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and feta cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place peppers in a large baking dish and divide farro mixture among the pepper halves. Bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.
Recipe by Amy Casey
© amycaseycooks – 2014
- Category: entree