This January, put the kibosh on quick, processed foods by get- ting to work in the kitchen.
Eating foods in their whole, unprocessed, unpackaged form is a surefire way to see improvements in energy, digestion, overall health, and body composition. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest diets and cleansing supplements, thinking those are the only ways to press your body’s theoretical reset button and march down the road to optimal health. While many diets yield results, they are rarely plans you can (or should) stick with long term. Instead, make a lifestyle change.
Washing, chopping, and cooking will be required, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. Become familiar with the foods below, and work toward making them part of your daily fuel.
Stats: With its slew of B vitamins, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and iron, brown rice nutritionally knocks out white rice.
Kitchen Tip: Try brown basmati rice, with its nutty smell and flavor.
Fruits & Vegetables
Stats: Most of us enjoy fruits, but veggies can be a harder sell. However, their abun- dance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber is unparalleled—so suck it up and eat them.
Kitchen Tip: Invest in a juicer or high- powered blender. Even the veggiest of veggies, such as kale, can be mixed with apples and ginger for a delicious drink.
Stats: It’s technically considered a seed, although commonly referred to and eaten as a fibrous grain. It’s also got the goods (essential aminos) to be deemed a complete protein.
Kitchen Tip: Add sautéed veggies like onions, celery, and bell peppers—as well as fresh herbs—to up the flavor ante to quinoa.
Stats: Beef, bison, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, and lamb…with about 7 grams of protein per ounce, the choice is yours. Keep it organic, grass fed, and wild.
Kitchen Tip: Always make extra for lunch and dinner the next day. Late nights at the office or gym can eat away at your kitchen time.
Beans & Lentils
Stats: For vegetarians, we’ll count beans and lentils as a protein, with 1 cup cooked boasting 15+ grams. Their stellar nutrient profile has been shown to help reduce cardiovascular and digestive disorders.
Kitchen Tip: Use beans and lentils in soups, salads, and brown rice dishes.
Stats: High quality protein powder made from whey, rice, peas, or eggs is typically ver y helpful in the life of a busy athlete.
Kitchen Tip: Use protein shakes as part of breakfast, snacks, or mixed with fruit for post-workout recovery fuel.
Stats: Extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil both show anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective properties. Even though coconut oil is primarily a saturated fat, it’s comprised mostly of medium chain fatty ac- ids, which are easier for your body to mobilize and burn.
Kitchen Tip: With a lower smoke point, olive oil is best used in salad dressings or drizzled over cooked veggies. Coconut oil stands up to higher heat, so go ahead and cook with it.
Nuts & Seeds
Stats: Many nuts and seeds—including al- monds, walnuts, and pecans—can help re- duce inflammation and support heart health.
Kitchen Tip: Choose raw or lightly salted nuts and seeds, and use them as snacks or added to salads and vegetable dishes.
Stats: This healthy fat-based fruit in a veggie suit is full of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate.
Kitchen Tip: Chopped on salads is proba- bly the easiest way, but if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, try blending 1 medium avocado, 1 medium banana, 3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 tbs. coconut milk, and stevia to taste.