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Lifestyles

March 31, 2012

A Word of Advice: Make eating fun and healthful

Healthy eating can be a challenge. But, you can make fast, nutritious meals and snacks that you will love and benefit from.

When we run home for lunch from school, we tend to grab a quick snack that takes no preparation. There's an urge to head straight for the junk-food drawer, because it's instant satisfaction.

Instead, try a quick and easy snack that is healthier than those potato chips, Twinkies, etc.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure not to skip it because you "don't have time." Typically you should take in about 2,000 calories per day, and your breakfast should be around 400 of those calories. Grab a 90 calorie cereal bar and some orange juice if you are on the go. If you do have the time, according to livestrong.com, a typical breakfast might include a boiled egg, two slices of toast with low-fat spread and a handful of blueberries. Cereals such as Grape Nuts may seem dull, but a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of cinnamon will make a big difference in taste and still allow you to have a healthy meal.

For between-meal snacks, nuts are a much healthier choice. Peanuts are a more nutritious choice than chips because peanuts are high in protein and fiber. Almonds are an even better choice, as they are very low in cholesterol and sodium, a good source of riboflavin, magnesium, manganese and vitamin E. Walnuts are a top nut for heart-healthy antioxidants. To make them taste better, throw them in the toaster oven for a few minutes with a light sprinkle of sea salt.

Now that summer is coming up, there will be lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which, according to studies, many people don't get enough of. The old saying "An apple a day, keeps the doctor away" is true because apples are a good source of potassium, folic acid and vitamin C. If you find them too bitter, a light sprinkle of cinnamon goes a long way. Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits and vegetables.

Celery is always a quick, healthy choice because it has zero calories and a good vitamin count.

The problem is, many find celery to be dull tasting and flavorless.

So, try putting some peanut butter on it and I think you'll be surprised at how good it tastes.

Carrots help protect against cancer and improve eyesight because they contain high levels of carotene and vitamin A.

Rice cakes are an excellent choice for urge snacking.

They are low in fat, high in "munchy satisfaction" and come in a variety of flavors, including apple crisp, caramel, cheddar and chocolate.

Healthy eating isn't about counting calories, but about choosing the right foods.

You don't need to eat dull-tasting food to get the nutrients you need.

Take the time and read the nutrition facts on the back of the item to see what type of ingredients you are putting in your body.

In the long run, the choices you make in food will impact your state of mind and body more than you know.

Melissa Flathmann, a 2011 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. Would you like A Word of Advice from her? Send her an email at melissa_flath@yahoo.com or send her a letter to "Teen Talk: A Word of Advice," C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.

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