Breakfast gives us a jump-start to our day. But, when we’re crunched for time we may just skip it. Or when we are in a pinch a granola bar might come to mind. However, all too many versions are simply a candy bar in disguise. Turn the box over and read the Nutrition Facts label.
- 5 grams of fat or less (unless most of the fat comes from a healthy source such as nuts; avoid partially hydrogenated oils)
- 3 or more grams of fiber and/or whole grains are listed as the first ingredient
- 250 calories or less for a reasonably-sized bar
- Nuts and dried fruit are a plus
- Combine the healthy granola bar with a glass of low-fat milk, string cheese, a piece of fresh fruit, or a small handful of nuts for an even more balanced breakfast.
Packing a lunch allows both adults and kids the opportunity to save money and time. It also gives each of us easy access to healthy foods. Here are some tips for packing up your insulated lunch bag.
- Choose whole grain bread. Whole grains are loaded with nutrients and fiber. Check the label; the first ingredient should be a “whole” grain, not just wheat flour. –
- Remember to include fruits and vegetables in the bag. Sometimes it’s nice to pair the veggies with some hummus, peanut butter, or low-fat dip. Eat a variety of fresh fruits, dried fruit, and occasional canned fruits packed in fruit juice.
- Include a calcium source. Make low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, or calcium-fortified soymilk or almond milk a part of each lunch.
- Protein at lunch will provide sustained energy. Besides lean turkey, chicken, ham, and roast beef, good protein sources include low-fat cheese cubes, edamame, hummus, soy deli slices, nuts, and nut butters.
Make the most of your time. If you ever feel too tired by the evening to make a healthy meal, take some shortcuts and prepare ahead of time.
- Marinate meats or poultry before heading out for the day; and prepare the marinade the night before.
- Double recipes and freeze the leftovers in single-serve containers.
- Dig out the slow cooker and dedicate one night each week to use it.
- Buy both fresh and frozen vegetables. Use the fresh vegetables early in the week and transition to frozen until you return to the grocery store.
- Take one or two days per week to wash, chop, slice and refrigerate fruits and vegetables to get a running start on snack and meal preparation.
- When grilling, throw on a few extra items such as chicken or pork loin to eat at another meal.
Vending machine and quick-mart snacks can be expensive and leave little room for health. Pack up an insulated bag with snacks to take with you or store snacks where you work for your own personal vending machine.
- Keep mozzarella string cheese, or 2% cheddar sticks in the office refrigerator.
- Mix a splash of 100% juice or orange juice concentrate in a glass of club soda instead of hitting the soda machine.
- Pack up some raw veggies with hummus, spreadable light cheese, or low-fat dip made from beans or low-fat Greek yogurt for a filling snack.
- Make enough double-strength green tea to half-fill an insulated water bottle. Fill to the top with ice.
- Take a homemade trail mix for nibbling at the office or between errands. Mix ¾ cup high-fiber cereal with 2 tablespoons of almonds or walnuts and 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins.