Stuffed with celery, carrots, squash, and veggie burger. (Andie712b)
Making healthy choices, even while at the grocery store, can be quite difficult in this fast-paced world. Add the challenges of trying to fit exercise into our already-hectic schedules, and it is no wonder that so many of us give up and pull into the drive-thru on the way home. With the Commit to be Fit Community Weight Loss Challenge on the horizon, the pressure is rising to eek out as much great nutrition as possible from our calories and to get this nutrition as quickly and easily as we can.
One easy change to make in your shopping is to pick up orange foods from the produce department. These foods tend to be high in vitamins A and C. Both vitamins are important anti-oxidants, and some preliminary research suggests that vitamin A may be especially beneficial to those with Coronary Artery Disease, a common problem for the overweight. These foods can be used for easy switches for more common foods, for healthy side dishes, and for excellent snacks.
Sweet potatoes make an excellent switch for baked potatoes. Ounce for ounce, sweet potatoes have a similar calorie count as white potatoes, but they contain 50% more fiber and vitamin C, about four times as much calcium, and nearly 2000 times more vitamin A. Next time you are craving a baked potato, put away the Idaho spud and reach for a sweet potato instead.
Butternut Squash is another excellent choice to reap nutritional rewards for a small calorie count. This squash packs in about as much vitamin A as the sweet potato and is an excellent source of potassium and calcium as well. If you are peeling and cutting your own squash, take care as this squash is notoriously difficult to work with. However, most grocery stores are now selling bags of peeled and cubed butternut squash for a modest up-charge. Roasting the squash brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable and really makes it delicious. Check out this roasted butternut squash and apple recipe. A 1/2 cup serving of this dish coupled with a pork chop and small salad would make an excellent meal for about 400 calories.
Carrots may seem like a cliched choice, but they are a standard item on this sort of list for a reason. Cut up carrot sticks stay crunchy and fresh for a surprisingly long time, making them an ideal choice for a snack on-the-go. Take a bag of carrot sticks to work for those afternoon munchies. They are a much better choice than anything you'll find in the office vending machine. Add a small amount of hummus or peanut butter to dip them in, and the extra protein and fat will help the snack satisfy you for longer.
Best of luck to all participants of Columbus's Community Weight Loss Challenge. Be sure to click 'subscribe' above to receive tips and information on nutrition, exercise, programs, and more related to the contest and to weight loss in general.