A few weeks ago, I sent a survey to my readers and listeners asking all sorts of questions including: What’s your biggest food or nutrition challenge, question, or concern? The comments came flooding in, and on today’s podcast, I answer and address them. With help from my Boston University intern, Jordan Ball, this food and nutrition Q&A episode covers everything from meal planning and confusion over carbs to tips for getting quick and healthy meals on the table and strategies for cutting added sugar from the diet. This food and nutrition Q&A show is action packed!
I’m joined by my trusty intern, Jordan Ball, a Boston University nutrition grad student who is also interning with me this semester. Jordan recently helped me create a reader survey where people shared their biggest food challenges and questions. Jordan organized the food and nutrition questions, so she joins me today to ask them … so I’m in the hot seat!
“Meal planning and prepping food yourself is the least expensive way to get healthy dinners on the table.”
– Liz Weiss, MS, RDN
This recipe for Chickpea Flatbread with Yogurt Tahini Dressing and a salad on top was presented at a virtual cooking demo that I recently attended. For the Chickpea Flatbread, head to Dawn Jackson Blatner’s, RDN’s website.
Food and Nutrition Q&A Show Highlights:
- Get to know Jordan better: she’s in the second year of a three-year program and wants to combine clinical work with a private practice as a dietitian; she currently tries out her cooking skills on her fiancé.
- How do I manage to include fruits and vegetables in a busy life?
- Buy pre-sliced produce, use canned or frozen incorporated into everyday meals, and consider batch-prepping fresh vegetables to use in quick dishes.
- Is it advised to hide vegetables in recipes rather than be honest with a picky eater?
- Rather than hide them, incorporate vegetables into pancakes, smoothies, sauces, etc., and get the kids involved in meal planning and cooking.
- If you have a picky eater who only eats fruit, is that cause for concern?
- Aim for a variety of fruits, and try “food chaining” techniques.
- Is it bad to sneak veggies into family meals–when they just want pizza?
- Get the family involved in shopping for vegetables and preparing meals; try dips with familiar foods and vegetables, and try smoothies and pizza with veggies.
- What is the healthiest way to prepare vegetables? Are they better for you raw?
- Any way is fine because each vegetable counts; remember that fats help with the absorption of nutrients from vegetables.
- What are new, healthy, fast, tasty weeknight dinner ideas, along with interesting and quick lunch ideas?
- Utilize leftovers for easy lunches the next day; try “build-your-own” power bowls with assorted items.
- How can I prep my weekly meals on the weekend when I have more time?
- Use meal planning and prepping for a couple hours on Sunday; slice and dice produce and pre-package them in the refrigerator for later in the week.
- Do you have suggestions for nutritious after-school snacks or post-workout small dinners?
- Smoothies (use almond or dairy milk, nut butter, banana, protein powder or Greek yogurt, blueberries, and cocoa powder), quesadillas (cheese, black beans, leftover veggies, and salsa), peanut butter sandwich with sliced banana or apple, or sliced veggies with various Greek yogurt or hummus dips.
- What are some quick, nutritional meal ideas?
- Pasta with meatballs and sauce, pre-made salad, roasted broccoli, tuna/salmon cakes, and veggie burgers.
- Are meal delivery services worth the money?
- They are pricey and contain a lot of wasteful packaging, but they are an easy option to get kids involved in planning meals and cooking.
- How does batch cooking work?
- It’s easy to do with friends (in non-COVID times) and allows you to put meals in the freezer for later days; most recipes are easy to double and freeze for later.
- What can I throw together when I’m tired and haven’t planned ahead?
- One idea is frozen butternut squash cubes cooked in a saucepan, then blended with shredded cheese to make a sauce for baked potatoes, nachos, pasta, and roasted broccoli.
- How do I plan meals with variety that everyone will eat?
- Try “build-your-own” nights with tacos, chili, and pizza with assorted toppings.
- What are tips for cooking for someone with a sensitive stomach?
- Try the Low FODMAP diet foods. (See Resources)
- How do I get off sugar?
- Cut down on sugar amounts in recipes; use raisins, dates, and apricots in recipes; and always read the labels for added sugar.
- How do I get my family to eat less meat?
- Use leaner cuts of meat, but make vegetables and whole grains the stars of the meal; don’t be afraid to try meat substitutes.
- How do I cut carbs and use less sugar?
- Watch out for refined carbs; you can also pair grains with dried fruits, nuts, roasted vegetables, and fresh herbs, and mix riced cauliflower or broccoli with regular rice.
- What can I do if I want to try new and interesting vegetables that aren’t nightshades?
- Try bok choy, roasted brussels sprouts or cauliflower, asparagus and snap peas, green beans, and sliced cucumbers and carrots with dips.
- What are some healthy fats that make good snacks?
- Try pumpkin, chia, and hemp seeds; other options are olives, tahini, salmon, eggs, and nut butters.
- How much meat is OK to eat, and which varieties are best?
- Go for variety, and remember that the recommendation is 5.5-6.0 ounces per day for the average adult.
- What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
- Probiotics are the good bacteria in your gut that have a healthy benefit; prebiotics are foods that feed probiotics; fiber is the best prebiotic, so go for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- What are some healthy smoothie recipes?
- Liz’s favorite green smoothie recipe: ¾ to 1 c. 100% orange juice, ½ c. plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 c. baby spinach, 3-4 mint leaves, a 2-in. piece of English cucumber, ½ c. frozen mango or pineapple, and ½ banana. You can drizzle honey or agave if you want, and kiwi and fresh ginger are optional add-ins.
- What are some unique ways to incorporate fiber into each meal?
- Try adding avocado, raspberries, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grain cereals, apples, and pears.
- Why are people so into organics and non-GMO foods? Are they worth it?
- If it’s a food you eat a lot of, then you might want to pay more for the organic variety; remember that non-GMO and GMO foods have the same nutritional value.
- What is the very best hard-boiled egg method?
- Liz’s version: Bring one inch of water to boil in a saucepan and place your eggs in a steamer basket into the water. Lower the heat and simmer for 14-15 minutes. Remove from heat and run cold water over the pot in the sink. Let cool for 5 minutes and then peel under cool running water. Perfect eggs every time!
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