Friday, October 25, 2013

Healthy, Home-cooked Meals: Your Best Option

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When you get home after a long workday, getting take-out food or going out for a quick dinner certainly seems like a much better alternative to cooking a meal at home. Cooking your own meals does require time and effort because you have to decide what to cook, buy the ingredients at the grocery store, and then actually cook your meal. Additionally, most restaurants offer take-out and delivery options nowadays, so you can have your pick of any type of food with little effort on your part. Despite all of these enticing reasons to order out, home-cooked meals are generally the healthier option and can also save you money!

4 Reasons to Cook at Home:
  1. It’s healthier! Think less Calories, Sugar, Salt, and Bad Fat. Note, restaurant foods are usually loaded with Salt, Sugar, and Bad Fat to enhance flavor and palatability.
  2. Control what goes into your body. When you cook at home, you can make sure you know exactly what ingredients are going into your food, which is key to successful weight management.
  3. Healthy leftovers. Most recipes make several serving so putting the effort into cooking one healthy dish can make for a couple of great lunches or dinner the next day. Just make sure to portion out the servings into separate containers so that you aren't tempted to overeat the extras!
  4. Relax and decompress. Cooking can be a great way to relax at the end of the day or even a way to blow off steam (literally!).

Comparing Your Favorite Foods: Home-cooked vs. Restaurant

Homemade Turkey Burger* 
         vs.         Denny's Cali Jack Turkey Burger

180 Calories                                     650 Calories
160 mg Salt                                      1460 mg Salt
4g Bad Fat                                       10g Bad Fat

Homemade Chicken Burrito          vs.         Chipotle's Chicken Burrito

486 Calories                                     895 Calories
797 mg Salt                                      1850 mg Salt
2g Bad Fat                                       11g Bad Fat
*Ingredients for homemade turkey burger are based on USDA dataset.

What Does it Take to Get in the Habit of Cooking at Home?
  1. Plan Ahead: Make it a point to go grocery shopping every week to make sure you have all of the ingredients you will need to whip up healthy, easy meals during the week. Once you get into the habit of cooking and have a stash of ingredients in your kitchen, it will take much less time and effort.
  2. Keep staples in your pantry: whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and beans can be incorporated into any healthy recipe. Adding some grilled or pan-seared vegetables to brown rice or whole wheat pasta is a simple dinner that is rich in fiber and other nutrients.
  3. Exercise Portion Control: Most recipes make several servings so be sure to portion them out into containers so that you can pull them out of the refrigerator (or freezer) and reheat when you get home from work ravenous.

Homemade Chicken Burrito

This is a delicious chicken burrito recipe that can be whipped together at the last minute and tastes great too! 
  • Whole Wheat Wrap (Cedar's or similar brand)
  • Diced Onion – 1/8 cup
  • Diced Green Pepper – 1/4 cup
  • Canned Black Beans - 1/4 cup 
  • Grilled Chicken Breast, sliced - 3 ounces
  • Finely Chopped Cilantro  –  Tbsp
  • Lemon Juice – 1 Tbsp
Coat pan with canola spray and cook chopped green pepper and onions. Cook chicken breast in a separate pan. Add green pepper, onion, black beans, cilantro, and lemon juice to cooked chicken and mix together. Bon'App! 

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