5 Easy Ways to Make Food Healthier

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?

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  1. Lena says:

    I love the spinach idea. Popeye, anyone?

  2. Garnet – Columbia University says:

    These are great! Love spinach. I've gotten really into making kale chips lately, too. I always crave salty, savory things and kale chips are the perfect way to satisfy that craving in a healthier way.

  3. […] to read the final three ways to give your food a healthy boost? Finish reading at CollegeCandy. […]

  4. pooft says:

    I use spinach as an alternative to rice in homemade sushi!

  5. Sarah says:

    Spinach is delicious! I do buy the huge prepackaged packs of spinach from the grocery store, but I'll often try to use it as a side for every other meal I eat. I also try and break down what I eat into 4-5 small meals a day (no bigger than the size of your fist).

    Also, if you use big plates and big spoons, perceptually, your brain adapts to this, thinking it should eat more. If you break up your food (buy TONS of small containers/plates), and use smaller utensils, you trick your brain into thinking you're eating more than eating less. A small portion on a big plate looks like nothing and you'll be left feeling hungry, but the same portion on a small plate looks filling!

  6. GiGiEatsCelebrities says:

    I ADD SPINACH to EVERYTHING! Everything I tell you! I will be the cause for the spinach shortage, LOL!

    Why I do this:

  7. I add spinach to a lot of things too. It's true you can't taste it. Even guys will eat it.

  8. Slyvia says:

    Get where I’m going? If you make it yourself, you know what goes into it… and that’s always healthy.

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