Eating healthy isn’t always easy. But writing the Intro to Cooking column, and making up new recipes every week, has taught me a few things about making my favorite foods — like spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and beef stew — healthier. These tips won’t change your life, but they will make sure you get a few more nutrients into your diet. That means you can work harder on that term paper (or your weekend dance skills).
1. Cook what you can from scratch.
I do use a lot of premade items in my cooking, from premade gnocchi to cheesecake filling from Jell-o. So I won’t say I cook everything on my own. But I try to make as much food as possible from scratch on a regular basis. In fact, I’m learning to bake bread so I can stop buying sandwich bread. Opening a can of soup for dinner might seem easy, but it takes just a little more effort and a bit more time to make a quick soup from scratch. Homemade mac and cheese is delicious and a lot healthier than a box of Kraft. Get where I’m going? If you make it yourself, you know what goes into it… and that’s always healthy.
2. Add Spinach.
Not even kidding. I add spinach to anything I possibly can. Spaghetti? Throw in some spinach when you add the noodles. You can’t even tell it’s there. Making a smoothie? Add a handful of spinach. Yes, it turns it slightly green. No, you cannot taste it. Add spinach to salads and sandwiches. Wilt in a pan and mix with ground beef for a bit of extra nutrients in your burgers. The options are endless.
3. Add Fruit to Every Meal.
Having a package of Easy Mac for a quick lunch between classes? Eat an apple as well. Having Raman for dinner? Add an orange or a nectarine. The more fruit you add to your diet, the healthier you’ll be… even if you’re still enjoying the cheap-and-easy staples of college life.
4. Don’t use salt.
I’m a bit of a salt addict. I salt and pepper everything. However, I’ve recently tried to curb my habit and cut out sodium. We do need sodium for our health needs, but if you’re eating premade food items at all, you do not need to be adding sodium to as much stuff. If you eat an entirely natural (homemade everything) diet, you can add salt in small doses. Too much salt is bad for your heart, so use with caution.
5. Enjoy food.
I mean, really enjoy it. We all eat food, think “that was good!”, and try to eat as much of it as possible. But you know how in “Ratatouille,” Rat talks about how he enjoys the flavors and how they make music with each other? Think of your food in that way. Food is a fuel and it’s nice to be able to enjoy it, but learning to truly appreciate the flavors of food will make everything more enjoyable and you’ll come to enjoy fresh, homemade foods over prepacked foods which are not as healthy.
What tips do YOU have to make food healthier?