In the spirit of Medcor’s “Eat Real Food” mantra; let’s dig in and see what a delicious serving of real food looks like! If these steps feel overwhelming; or the terminology is confusing, try scanning the article for the bullet point foods. Add a few bullet point food choices to your grocery list to begin “eating real.” Gradually add more of these items until most of your food choices are real food. Shift focus to eating better choices, (better not perfection). Place emphasis on selecting more health-promoting food choices that benefit your health, and less food that provides little to no nourishment for your body.
Step 1. Eat wise. Eat wholesome. Choose foods served up by Mother Nature herself. Single-ingredient foods that contain original color and flavor with minimal processing.
Step 2. Plant your plate! Fill up at least half of your plate with colorful vegetables & fruits. Increasing your fruit and veggie intake may lead to lowering your risk of disease. If you are a daily red meat eater, consider an occasional plant-based meal instead. Enjoy a rainbow of color each day; each color provides a unique set of health-promoting nutrients.
RED: tomatoes, raspberries, red cabbage, beets
ORANGE/YELLOW: carrots, squash, corn, apricots
GREEN: lettuce, broccoli, peas, pears
BLUE/PURPLE: grapes, blueberries, eggplant, plums
WHITE: cauliflower, garlic, onions, parsnips
Step 3. Include a variety of quality protein sources. Evidence suggests that it may be beneficial to replace refined carbohydrates with quality proteins. A variety of quality protein selections include:
- Legumes/Pulses (beans, nuts, peas, lentils, chickpea)
Step 4. Add whole, quality, unrefined grains and include soluble fiber. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports increasing whole grains in the diet may protect your heart. Whole grains include:
- Amaranth, buckwheat groats, whole, steel-cut oats, brown or wild rice, quinoa, teff
- Soluble fiber sources
- Barley, nuts, seeds, beans, psyllium
Step 5. Don’t skinny on heart-healthy oils. Balance fats in your meal planning. Fats from vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and fish are important components of a healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends you replace foods containing saturated fats and trans fats with foods higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Olive oil, olives, almonds, pecans, cashews, peanut butter, avocado, healthy spreads labeled “high oleic”
- Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax, chia, fatty fish, walnuts
Bonus tip! Flavor profile. Healthy doesn’t mean boring! Consider flavor profile when preparing your meals. Spices and herbs enhance meals with dynamic flavor. Cooking methods (grill, raw, sauté) can influence the flavor of your meal. Elements of a flavor profile to think about:
- Umami or savory (think: eggplant, mushroom)
- Temperature (do you want to experience hot or cold?)
- Sweet (vanilla extract, banana)
- Sour (citrus, vinegar)
- Texture (are you desiring creamy, crunchy, smooth)
- Spicy (turmeric, cinnamon, salsa peppers, ginger, black pepper)
The bottom line: A real meal has a balance of:
- Fruits, vegetables, plants
- Quality protein
- Whole grains
- Heart-healthy oils
- Prepared to your taste