Combining these ingredients into each meal creates balanced, colorful dishes
Fat [1 exchange=5g]
People often have a fear of fat. I’m here to tell you- its good! Your diet should have fats in it or your body will resort to using muscle for food. The key is to focus on healthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are commonly found in nuts, olives, avocados, etc. These types of fat are smaller and easily digested by the body so they don’t get stuck in storage. In my diet, I focus on using more of these healthy fats so that I can help my body fuel itself.
Grain [1 exchange= 15g]
Grains come in many forms, but the most common debate is between refined (white) vs. whole (wheat) grains. When a refined grain is processed the bran and germ (which contains all the nutrients) are separated so only the carbohydrate filled endosperm remains. Refined grains include white flour (all-purpose, enriched wheat), white rice, and white pasta. They are cheap, but nutritionally useless. Whole grains include whole wheat flour, brown/colored rice, and quinoa. The difference between the two is how our body metabolizes them. Whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fiber helps lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL), while promoting good cholesterol levels (HDL), and helps promote gastrointestinal health. It also slows the digestion of carbohydrates which helps maintain blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full longer. In my recipes, I incorporate whole grains to give my body the energy it needs.
**Don’t be fooled by labels! “Wheat bread”, “Multigrain” , or “Wheat-Grain” does NOT mean it’s made entirely with whole grains, so be sure to check the ingredients list.
Protein [1 exchange= 7g]
Many think that red meats, chicken, and other animal products are the only place to get protein. They are a great place to get protein, but they are not the only way. For those who are vegans, vegetarians, or just watching their cholesterol levels, it’s important to know other options. There are two types of proteins: complete and incomplete. All animal based proteins are complete proteins which means they contain all the essential amino acids the body needs. Soy, quinoa, hemp, and amaranth are examples of plant based complete proteins. On the other hand, incomplete proteins are missing one or more essential amino acids: rice,wheat, nuts, beans, peas, and corn. However, it is possible to make an incomplete protein into a complete protein by complementing it with a food that contains the missing amino acid. The most common example of this is rice and beans.
Fruits are high in various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Most are naturally low in calories, but beware the high sugar content. Apples, bananas, cherries, and grapes are some of the fruits with the highest sugar content. Sugar molecules in fruit are the same as those found in cupcakes and ice cream. However, fruit has less sugar by volume. Half a cup of berries will only have about 4g of sugar, while half a cup of ice cream will have about 15g. The sugar volume content, fiber, and nutritional value of fruit will always outweigh snacks with refined sugar.
Most vegetables are loaded with nutrients and anti-aging properties. They are low in fat and calories. Green-leafy vegetables, broccoli, bell peppers,carrots, and sweet potatoes are some examples of vegetable nutrient power-houses.