Earlier in our country’s history, when many Americans engaged in farm work or other demanding physical labor, they sat down to meals with plates filled with heaping portions of meat and potatoes. Almost as an afterthought, a cooked vegetable, maybe canned green beans or corn, was added.
Today, this entrenched eating pattern is making us fat and may be increasing our risk of cancer. To live more healthfully, we need to increase our intake of vegetables and grains and reduce our consumption of animal fats. With a little imagination, we can eat better tasting food even as we eat healthier fare.
Here are three ideas from the American Institute for Cancer Research for making the shift to healthier proportions. These ideas and wonderful recipes can be found in their new cook book, The New American Plate Cookbook.
1. Get creative with your vegetable dishes and consume them first. Use exotic mild spice blends like Asian curries to enhance flavors.
2. Prepare two contrasting vegetable dishes for every meal. For example, steamed green broccoli and white cauliflower provide visual contrast. Or try steamed green kale and white beans drizzled in a bit of olive oil.
3. Replace the meat-and-potatoes meal plan with “one-dish” meals where meat is an incidental ingredient. Here’s one: sauté brown rice in a bit of olive oil with spices and onions. Then add water or broth and cook in a large pot. About 10 minutes before the grains are done, add chopped vegetables of your choice. If you to wish to add protein, add a cup or so of chopped cooked chicken or, perhaps for color contrast, 2-3” pieces of salmon.
After a very short time, this new way of cooking will bebe the “norm” for you and your family and guests. NoNo one will miss the heavier meat and potato fare. They will, however, appreciate your thoughtfulness in preparing nutritious, delicious—but not fattening—meals.
Before long, you’ll be sharing your new ways with family and friends, encouraging them to adopt healthier habits as well. Here’s to good eating and even better health!