I am not sure if I like to cook because I get to be creative or because I like to be creative, I like to cook. Well, whatever way you look at it, I believe that now-a-days, you have to be creative when you make a healthy meal at home.
I have admitted several times on my blog that I can't afford to be 100% organic and natural. I think there are many benefits of having all-natural products and food in our place and I am sure my recipes would be a lot more interesting if I shopped at natural food stores. But, I am on a budget and I hope to always shop on a budget. I think when it comes to buying food, it is all relative to how much money you can and want to spend on food. However, regardless if a food is natural, organic, high in whole grains or free of hydrogenated oils you still have to portion your meals and watch calories.
Last night I made Karel a super yummy and heart healthy dinner of rice, fish and a salad.
First off, I started with the rice.
Ever look on the sodium content of boxed rice? Sure, it is affordable to buy pre-seasoned rice but a full box can easily have over 2000 mg sodium. That is about 500mg over a day's worth of sodium! The worst part about the pre-seasoned boxes of rice is that the seasonings overpower the great healthy nutrients in rice.
I love buying plain rice and plan couscous but I'm sure everyone would agree, the taste of a pre-seasoned rice mix (although I find them super salty!) is much more appetizing than plain rice. You can always season-up a plain rice mix with cayenne pepper, chili flakes, garlic, onions, salsa or peppers.
When I cook rice from a box, I try to take out some of the seasonings and use them for another meal. Next time you open a box of pre-seasoned rice that has the seasonings in a seperate bag, only use a 1/4th of the package of seasonings. Then add a little chopped garlic and pepper if you feel the rice needs an extra kick. If the rice has the seasonings already mixed in the package, slowly open the package and pour the rice and seasonings on a large plate. Most of the time, the seasonings are in large balls or chunks and you can take out almost half of the seasonings. There is nothing wrong with a little sodium from the seasonings because in the entire box of rice, a portion is 1 cup. Therefore, the sodium in the seasoning is spread out in the entire bowl of cooked rice. So, when you portion control you still get a little bit of everything and you don't have to sacrifice taste.
I find that many people worry about changing nutrition habits because they don't want to give up favorite foods. If your favorite foods are donuts, oreos and fried chicken, I recommend finding an alternative to foods which provide empty calories and minimal nutrients. However, there are countless health benefits in a dinner of fish and rice and if you are an athlete looking for the competitive age (or athlete seeking weight loss) it is important that all meals are balanced and filled with heart healthy benefits.
If you are trying to lose weight, you never want to eliminate foods, you want to replace them. Find healthy alternatives. When you are cooking your favorite foods, first evaluate your menu and prioritize protein, complex carbs, fiber and healthy fats. Then when you want to add in other ingredients, be creative and find ways to make your meals healthier.
1 box Zatarains brocoli and cheese rice (only used about 2 tbsp. seasoning). Cooked in microwave for 20 minutes.
2 tallapia fillets coated w/ skim milk and 1 tbsp. rice seasoning (from zatarain box) and italian bread crumbs. Cooked w/ 1 tbsp. olive oil.
Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, chives, carrots, cucumber.