Choosing the freshest, healthiest foods is an important first step toward
making healthy and delicious meals your whole family will love.
In general, most supermarkets are laid out with the healthiest, most
nutritious foods around the perimeter of the store. That is where most
stores locate their produce section, their dairy section, their meat
counter, and the like. Of course, the middle aisles of the grocery store
also contain nutritious foods, such as canned and frozen vegetables, whole
grain cereals and more.
And of course each shelf of the grocery store also contains both good and
bad choices for healthy eating. For instance, the cereal aisle is home to
both the healthy, whole grain cereal, and those cereals that contain more
sugar than corn. In many cases, the difference will be obvious from the
packaging, while at other times you will need to read the nutritional
information carefully to ensure the food is healthy for your family.
As a matter of fact, learning to read nutritional labels is one of the most
important skills any health oriented shopper must learn. The government
mandated labels contain a wealth of information if you know what to look for.
Not only do nutritional labels contain vital information on calorie counts,
fat grams and sodium content, they also contain detailed information on the
percentage of each vitamin an mineral a serving contains.
When looking at nutritional labels however, pay careful attention to the
portion size listed. This is particularly important when looking at
calories, fat grams and the amount of sodium. For instance, a serving of
juice is generally 8 ounces, while the average juice glass at your home may
be 12 or even 16 ounces. It is important to carefully look at serving size,
and to do the mental calculation necessary to reflect how much of each product
will actually be consumed at one sitting.
When shopping for healthy foods, it is usually better to opt for more whole or
raw food instead of the over processed foods. For instance, 100% fruit juice
would be better than a fruit juice blend that may contain as little as 5% or
10% fruit juice. And plain frozen vegetables would be healthier than
vegetables in a butter sauce. When shopping for meat, try to buy fresh meat
whenever possible. Frozen meat products, or those already seasoned, heat and
eat products, often contain unhealthy ingredients as well as preservatives.
When it comes to dairy products, it’s best to buy low fat and non fat varieties
when at all possible. The one exception to this rule is feeding babies and
young children. Their growing bodies need the fat and calories contained in
whole milk products, but adults and older children are better served by low fat
When choosing canned soups, there are a number of fat free and low sodium
varieties. Try to choose these soups for healthier eating. Other high protein,
low calorie soup choices include black bean soup, lentil soup and split pea soup.
These healthy soups are good sources of protein, fiber and folate.
Ethnic foods, such as Mexican and Chinese, can be excellent sources of healthy
meals, and the traditional ways of preparing such foods are generally very
healthy. It is important to stay as authentic as possible when choosing and
preparing Mexican, Asian, Middle Eastern and Italian food. This will help
guarantee both great taste and healthy eating. For instance, traditional salsa
is an excellent, low calorie, and nutritious dip, and the traditional Mexican
black bean dip is usually fat free.
Seasonings can be an excellent way to spice up healthy cooking without adding
additional fat and calories. Herbs and spices are a great way to add zest to any
meal, and starting an herb garden of your own is a great way to save both time
and money while providing fresh tasting, healthy meals for your family. When
buying spices in the grocery store, be especially careful about sodium content.
Read the label carefully, since the first ingredient on many bottled spices is
actually salt (another great reason to start that herb garden). Many herbs have a
wonderful aroma also, something to think about when planting your herbs, an indoor
garden could be wonderful with all those incredible scents.