How good are you at assuring that you get the five powerful foods in your diet every single day? I’m talking about protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains? My guess is that you may have the protein part down (specifically if it is meat), but the other groups are more challenging.
Let’s go through each group and I will provide some suggestions about how you can incorporate these essential foods into your everyday-life.
I’ll start with whole grains. Too many people turn to refined grains and this is not smart because refined grains (pasta, white bread, cookies, crackers, etc.) are devoid of nutrients. Whole grains, on the other hand, have fiber, helping you to feel full longer, not to mention protecting your heart! You are supposed to aim for 6-8 servings of whole grains a day.
- Make sure you sandwich bread is whole grain.
- When you cook brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa, cook extra for another meal!
- Oatmeal is a great choice for a whole-grain breakfast.
- There are whole grain crackers too—look at the fiber content; if there is a decent amount of fiber, it’ s likely whole grain.
Dairy isn’t too hard to work into your daily regimen and dairy is a great source of calcium and protein. Always choose low-fat or skim (otherwise, you have to worry about bad cholesterol). Use cheese as a condiment on your salads or as a flavor enhancer to your meals. Try cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Smoothies made with skim milk are delicious as well.
Protein is an easy group for people. Did you know you only need 6 ounces of protein a day? My suggestion is to turn to lean options like chicken breast, lean ground beef or turkey, and definitely fish! I also recommend eggs and plant protein (nuts, seeds, beans, etc.).
As for vegetables, aim to get 4-5 servings a day! Sometimes you just do not have the energy to cook a veggie at the end of the day so stock your freezer. Frozen veggies are as nutrient-rich as fresh and they last way longer! Keep salad greens on hand and veggies that last a while in the fridge like peppers and carrots.
Fruit is the dessert of food. You should try to consume 4-5 servings of fruit a day. Always have a fruit bowl near you—at work and home! Add fruit to your lunch or dinner salads and to your breakfast cereal.
The best way to assure you get the power of five in your day-to-day life is to go for combinations, like these in your meals:
- Strawberry spinach salad
- Tarragon chicken salad
- 3-bean salad with kale
- Fresh mozzarella and tomato salad
- Healthier cobb salad
- Blueberry overnight oats
- Scrambled eggs with veggies
- Hard- boiled egg
- Berry and yogurt smoothie
And skip the candy bar or cookies for your snack! Look to the power of five. Here are more than a dozen options:
- Mixed nuts
- Trail mix
- Edamame poppers
- Hummus dippers
- Greek yogurt and granola
- Tuna and whole grain crackers
- Roasted chickpeas
- String cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt & berries
- Dried fruit
- Frozen watermelon kiwi or grapes
- Melon kabobs
- Cherry tomato & cheese kabobs
- String cheese
- Whole grain cereal dry
I hope these suggestions help you! The power of five is the best way to assure a balanced and healthy life!