So let me paint a picture for you…you walk into the grocery store, grab your cart, pull out your grocery list and pen walk down the first isle. Let the plethora of choices begin and as you know they are endless: milks, butters, cans of green beans, jars of nut butters, and the list goes on. As a future dietitian my biggest advice is to shop the perimeter for majority of your goods because “fresh is best”. However some staple items we all love are in those aisles. So maybe once in a while you have the time and attempt to read or compare a label. Do you really know what you’re looking at? How do you know which is “better”? Here are my top 3 tips:
Look at the serving size. If it says 1 cup is a serving size that is the amount of calories, fat, carbohydrate, sodium, etc in that serving so if you end up eating 3 cups of said food triple those values to the side of it.
“mg” v. “% daily value”. So what do these numbers mean exactly? Look up what you want to know (especially if you have a special diet). So for example let’s say you want to watch your sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends that the average American get no more than 2000mg of sodium per day. So where might sodium be lurking other than that salt shaker? Processed foods would be the biggest culprit. For example, did you know that 1 package of Ramen Noodles has around 1900mg. Just food for thought. So now for the other number – the %dv. If it reads anything below 5% that food is low in that nutrient and anything above 20% is a high source. So choose accordingly to what your diet needs are.
Look at the ingredients. Do you know what Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) is? Yeahhhh – me either until I researched it (it’s found in most cereals to preserve freshness). So the trending question in most diets/lifestyles now is “will my body recognize what this substance is?” Good question. The answer: it depends if you are questioning lactose or red dye #5 – so go have the IgE detection procedure done before you claim you have an allergy or intolerance. The reasoning: when you eliminate whole foods from your diet you have the potential to deplete those nutrient stores that you may need if you don’t know how to substitute properly. This is a whole different topic that I just wanted to lightly hit on so let’s refocus. Let’s take a look at peanut butter. When I went home this past break I saw reduced fat peanut butter in our pantry. What typically happens when you start taking fat out of a product is that the carbohydrate, sodium, and sugar values all increase from the natural version. Not only are values higher but the ingredient label has upwards of 12 ingredients depending on the brand versus the natural versions which have 3 (roasted peanuts, molasses, and salt). So in my basket you will find mostly perimeter items, and a few minimally processed foods with minimal ingredients on the label – but that’s just me.
Overnight steel cut oats: 1 cup steel cut oats, 2.5 cups water. Bring water to a boil and pour over oats and let them soak overnight.
Freezer chocolate covered peanut butter banana bites: 1 banana, peanut butter, 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Slice the banana to your desired thickness, put on peanut butter to your liking, lightly drizzle in chocolate, and put them in the freezer. Store in a container in the freezer.
Pesto hummus: 1 can chick peas, 1/3 cup jarred pesto, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp tahini paste, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp garlic powder. Throw everything in the food processor and BAM!
Crockpot Fiesta chicken dump bag: 2 chicken breasts, 1 can rotel, 1 tbsp homemade taco seasoning mix. Mix all ingredients in a bag and dump in your crockpot for 6 hours on low.
Crockpot strawberry apple preserves: 1 lb strawberries, 1/2 cup apple skins, 3 splenda packets, 1/8 cup lemon juice. Cut strawberries, peel apple skins (or any desired fruit with a high pectin level), and add everything to the crockpot. Stir once every hour for 6 hours on low.
Egg spinach and mushroom cups: 6 eggs, 48 spinach leaves, 6 mushrooms. Combine and mix eggs in a bowl, take 8 spinach leaves and roll them up and cut them into strips, slice mushrooms and divide everything evenly into 6. (I used my popover tin which was very beneficial for the amount of stuff i put in there and the egg mixture rose a bit.) Put it in the over at 350 degrees Farenheight for 25-30 minutes.