Maintaining healthy habits and managing schedules for the entire family is often easier said than done. When you’re strapped for time, look for food and ingredients with versatility that allow you to balance nutrition with flavor.
Plan ahead by meal prepping
Start by looking at recipes that highlight ingredients you have on hand. Meal prepping allows you to plan for a week of healthier choices and think creatively about using the same bulk ingredients in multiple ways — stretching your grocery budget while eliminating food waste.
Add something whole
Adding fruit is a smart wellness strategy, but some options are better for you than others. One example without any added sugar is raisins — a whole-fruit, nutrient-dense option with 0 grams of added sugar per 1/4-cup serving. Easily added to savory and sweet dishes and snacks, raisins are reliably delicious.
“Raisins do a lot of favors for your body and help keep a body strong,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, president and CEO, Produce for Better Health Foundation. “The whole fruit contains fiber, vitamins and minerals, and they aid in digestion, too. Raisins also add flavor and can act as a better-for-you ingredient. Whole fruits like raisins are a fabulous addition to breakfast cereal, yogurt, salads, fancy party trays and trail mixes, and they are a convenient on-the-go snack that travels well.”
Swap recipe ingredients
Substituting ingredients for more nutrition and less sugar can transform your favorite dishes into healthier versions. Using lean protein in place of a higher fat alternative or switching traditional pasta for zucchini or squash noodles are two popular options for main dishes. You can also make better-for-you baked goods by replacing oil with an equal amount of applesauce in muffins and quick breads or half as much applesauce as oil in a recipe for a cake or cookies.
Practice smart snacking
Choosing snacks that are nutrient-dense and fulfilling can give your body the energy it needs between meals. As a result, you’ll be less tempted to nibble on empty calories or sit down for a meal feeling overly hungry, which makes it harder to practice portion control. Portable snacks like dried fruit and trail mix are good for an on-the-go pick-me-up.
Clean out the kitchen
Kids and grownups alike tend to gravitate toward what’s simple, tasty and accessible. As you get into routines, use a critical eye to take a look at the choices in your cupboards, pantry and fridge and see where you can make some changes. While an occasional treat is perfectly fine, filling your kitchen with healthy amounts of tasty and nutritious ingredients and snacks makes it easier to form healthier habits that will stick.
Deliciously good dried fruit
Traditional dried fruits like apricots, dates, figs, prunes and raisins are filled with nutrients and natural goodness.
They are naturally low in sodium and have no saturated fat. Dried fruits also contribute to your daily intake of potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
Phytonutrients found in dried fruits help suppress the growth of oral bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease.
Not only do dried fruits help your digestive system by providing soluble and insoluble fiber, they also contain fructans that are considered prebiotics, which are believed to improve gut health.
Naturally fat- and cholesterol-free, a 1-ounce serving of dried fruit contains less than 100 calories.
Eating certain whole fruits, including raisins and other dried fruits, is also associated with a lower risk for Type 2 diabetes.