3 Ways to Upgrade Your Plate

Sharing a few easy ways you can upgrade your plate! Whether you’re a seasoned healthy eater or just beginning your journey, making a few smart swaps and additions can help you get the most out of your meals.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I believe eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. I also believe you’re probably doing a lot of things right already. In fact, many of my clients make the mistake of thinking they have to do a complete overhaul of their diet to have any kind of real impact on their health, and it’s just not true. Sometimes it takes just a few little tweeks to get you on the right track.

Today I’m sharing a few easy ways you can upgrade what you’re already doing. Whether you’re a seasoned healthy eater or just beginning your journey, making a few smart swaps and additions can help you get the most out of your meals.

Add Greens

Don’t get me wrong, adding any veggie is a great start to making your meal healthier. What’s great about adding more greens to your plate is not only that they’re nutrient rich, but they also add a ton of volume, without a lot of calories. Raw greens like spinach, lettuce, kale, and arugula boosts the fiber and nutrient content of pretty much anything — from sandwiches to quinoa salad, pasta to pies — even popcorn!

Less-sturdy greens like spinach and arugula are easily stirred into pasta sauces, soups, and stews while they’re heating up or in the last few minutes of cooking. The greens will wilt into the hot liquid in just a minute or two, boosting your meal without any extra effort. I use this trick with frozen greens, too. Speaking of frozen greens, here are 12 ways you can use frozen kale. Keep frozen spinach and kale on hand to toss into any hot dish. As the kale defrosts it helps wilt the greens, so even heartier greens like kale cook in a minute or two. Added benefit: you never have to worry about your veggies going bad before you can use them. It’s a win-win for upgrading your plate!

Plant-Based Fats

Adding plant-based fats to your meals is a great way to make sure you’re getting in enough healthy fats, while adding staying power (and flavor!) to your meals. Plant-based fat sources include avocado, nuts/nut butters, seeds, and olive oil. These foods are high in monounsaturated fats and chock-full of vitamins and minerals, so you’re getting an extra boost of nutrition when you use them in place of saturated fats like butter or sour cream.

Adding plant-based fats (and all the vitamins and minerals that come along with them) is as easy as tossing your green salad with an olive oil vinaigrette (rather than Ranch) and sprinkling on some chopped almonds (rather than cheese). Avocado is one of the most versatile plant based fat sources: mash it up and spread it on toast like butter or top off your baked potato with guacamole rather than sour cream.

Herbs & Spices

Adding herbs and spices is the most flavorful way you can upgrade your plate. Herbs and spices add a ton of flavor and a multitude of health benefits, without adding calories. When you add more spices, you can cut back on the salt. For most of us, that’s a good thing.

I love using herb and spice blends to spice up all my meals. They are such an easy way to change the flavor profile so you don’t get bored making the exact same chicken or salmon every week, and you don’t have to plan in advance or buy a ton of ingredients. Look for spice blends without salt so you can control the amount of sodium you’re eating while still loading up on flavor.

You don’t have to stick to just dried herbs and spices, either – adding fresh herbs brings a pop of color and bright flavor to meals, instantly making it feel more fancy. Fresh parsley adds flavor and brightness to my Sauteed Asparagus with Zucchini Noodles and Spinach Pesto. Bonus: throwing spinach and pistachios into the pesto is a double upgrade!

Curious about the health benefits of herbs and spices? Did you know certain spices can help you control blood sugar? I’ve got the scoop on that over here.

I could create a post about every herb’s medicinal benefits, but until I get around to it, know that you’re boosting your plate with a host of healthy advantages every time you sprinkle on some seasoning.

 

guilt free, fat free potato corn chowder

Heart Healthy Idaho Potatoes (Twitter Chat Recap)

Last week I hosted a twitter chat with the Idaho Potato Commission all about heart health and potatoes! Even if you missed it, you can check out the chat on Twitter by looking up the chat hashtag: #HealthySpud.

February is Heart Health Month and I loved chatting with everyone about how potatoes are a great heart-healthy food!

Fun fact: Did you know that one potato has about as much potassium as two bananas? That fact surprised a lot of people, but it’s part of what makes potatoes so good for your heart. Potassium helps keep your muscles moving normally – and your heart is the strongest muscle in your body! Like plenty of the chat participants, I love eating potatoes, avocados, spinach, white beans, and bananas to get my daily potassium intake.

We also chatted about our favorite heart-healthy ways to eat potatoes. My friends over at Idaho Potatoes love them baked, mashed with garlic, and as baked fries (me, too!). Another favorite way I enjoy potatoes is in my Creamy Potato Corn Chowder, which uses a blended “corn cream” instead of heavy cream for richness and helps keep the dish a heart-healthy option.

guilt free, fat free potato corn chowder

Our participants had some great ideas, too – like rubbing whole potatoes with olive oil and a spice blend before baking for a super flavorful and crunchy skin. Topping baked potatoes with sliced avocado and making colorful smashed potatoes with purple potatoes are now on my list to try, too.

Thanks to the Idaho Potato Commission we were able to give away some awesome prizes during the Twitter chat. If you missed out on those I’d still love to hear your answers to our chat questions!

  • How do you take care of your heart?
  • What cooking tips and tricks do you use to make meals healthy?
  • When I say Idaho Potato, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
  • Which foods do you eat to get in your daily potassium?
  • And my favorite – what’s your favorite way to eat Idaho Potatoes?

Spice Up Your Health with Cinnamon, Turmeric and Fenugreek

Lower blood sugar naturally with these 3 amazing spices!

Three Powerful Spices to Help Lower Blood Sugar

In addition to adding tons of flavor to your food, many herbs and spices also have medicinal properties, providing a double whammy when it comes to flavorful food that is good for you, too!

These three powerful spices can help lower blood sugar, which is important in preventing and controlling diabetes, keeping your energy levels steady, and maintaining a healthy weight.

fenugreek seeds to help lower blood sugar
Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds are small and deep yellow in color with an awesome sweet-savory flavor going on. They’re often used in Indian dishes like curries, where they add color, flavor, and a host of medicinal benefits. Fenugreek seeds are high in fiber, which slows glucose absorption (meaning sugars don’t hit your bloodstream as quickly ) so you get a slow, steady stream of energy release, rather than a quick burst of energy followed by a huge crash. Fenugreek also helps stimulate insulin, the hormone that helps your body get sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells for energy.

How to use it:

Tumeric is a Spice that Supports Your Immune system and helps lower blood sugar.

Turmeric

Turmeric is often praised for its medicinal benefits – and it sure does have a lot of them! Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and recent studies suggest it may also be protective against type 2 diabetes by reducing long-term blood sugar levels. Getting these benefits is pretty simple, too. You can find turmeric either fresh or powdered and throw it into numerous dishes, from curries and marinades to scrambled eggs, smoothies, or teas and lattes.

How to use it:

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the most commonly used spices. I know I can’t make a bowl of oatmeal without a sprinkle of cinnamon! But did you know that in addition to being earthy and sweet, cinnamon is super good for you?

There are lots of different types of cinnamon out there ranging in price and quality. Surprisingly, the regular grocery store cinnamon (called cassia cinnamon) is the type with the most health benefits! Much like fenugreek, cinnamon helps increase insulin activity, which in turn helps lower blood sugar levels and keep long-term glucose levels in check.

How to use it:

Of course, herbs alone can’t undo the damage of a consistently unhealthy diet. Nor can they reverse your diabetes. But if you’re already on the right track by eating a clean, balanced diet, adding these powerful herbs to your daily routine can boost all that work you’re already putting into your health – while adding lots of flavor, too!