11 Ways to Eat Better Now
1. Eat for Immunity
A healthy immune system doesn't come from vitamin C alone; you need a calibrated combination of different nutrients. Certain foods in particular bolster your defenses not only during cold and flu season but all year long. This soothing, hearty soup combines six immunity-boosting ingredients, making each bowlful a prevention powerhouse.
2. Try These 6 Foods in 2017
Up your game this year by exploring the food trends that will have you eating better, healthier, and more sustainably.
Grade B (Dark) Maple Syrup: It's brimming with more antioxidants and deeper maple flavor than Grade A. Available at most supermarkets.
EXO Cricket Flour Protein Bars: Eco-friendly cricket flour packs protein and iron into these chewy, delicious snacks.
Skyr: This Icelandic low-fat, high-protein dairy is loaded with live cultures and is creamy-smooth and even thicker than Greek yogurt. Our faves are Icelandic Provisions and Siggi's available at store nationwide.
Sweet Potato Leaves: A perfect example of no-waste, root-to-fruit cooking, these tender, lightly peppery leaves work in the same ways you would use spinach or kale. Find them at farmers markets and Asian groceries.
Fermented Veggies: Fermented raw produce delivers gut-healthy probiotics. We love the organic offerings from Caldwell's, such as beets and carrots.
Beyond Meat Burgers: Vegans and vegetarians rejoice: Beyond Meat's plant-based burgers, with a whopping 20g protein per patty, offers a pretty darn close approximation of ground beef taste and texture. At Whole Foods.
3. DIY With Purpose
The do-it-yourself craze for making condiments and other typically store-bought foods is admirable and impressive, but not always practical. Case in point: Seventeen-ingredient homemade Worcestershire sauce? Mmmm, nope. But some foods are absolutely worth making yourself, especially if they're cheap, easy, and more delicious than anything you can buy. Scratch-made sauerkraut is like a hands-on class in fermentation science, where you watch cabbage and salt turn day-by-day into tasty relish, with customizable tang and crunch. Try your hand at these two simple projects, and you'll be hooked.
4. Make Dinner Clean and Easy
Clean eating means simple cooking: fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with minimal fuss so the whole foods can shine. The trick? Do more with less.
5. Cut Down on Sugar
When it comes to sugar, how it's delivered makes all the difference. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit, veggies, and even milk typically don't need to be on your worry list as they come bundled with nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidant benefits. But added sugars—sweeteners in processed food, from cane sugar to honey and high-fructose corn syrup—deserve scrutiny.
6. Make Dessert With Benefits
It's easy to blow your added-sugar budget on a few small bites of dessert—sweets are often loaded with empty calories and void of benefits. Instead, try a treat you can actually feel good about. These rich chocolate-hazelnut bites don't have a grain of added sugar, and they're packed with protein, fiber, and nutrients. Best of all, they taste divine. Naturally sweet dates blended with creamy almond butter, cocoa, and a hint of salt form a perfectly balanced bite (two, in fact) that leaves you satisfied.
7. Hydrate for Health
If you're not a water person, tossing back 64 or more ounces a day can seem punishing. One little trick makes it less daunting and even kind of fun: the rubber band challenge. At the start of the day, put rubber bands around your water bottle—the number of bands is determined by the size of your bottle—the number of bands is determined by the size of your bottle and your personal intake goal (on a 20-ounce bottle, you might use three bands). When you finish the bottle, remove a rubber band. Refill and repeat. Cooking Light staffers swear by this approach. "It's more about a game than actually drinking water—and hydration is the prize for playing the game," says Senior Designer Nicole Gerrity.
8. Start the Day Savory
Many of us instinctively go for a sweet, starchy breakfast—jam-topped bagels, honey-tinged wheat flakes, syrup-drizzled waffles—but research shows that refined flour and sugar are the worst foods to eat after an overnight fast. "[Sugar] rapidly raises blood sugar at a time when the body is least able to process it, with adverse effects throughout the day," says David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Boston Children's Hospital. Concentrated sugars may give you a quick boost, but you'll crash by midmorning, drowsy and unable to concentrate.
Switch up your morning routine and think savory. A sensible diet has a little wiggle room for added sugars, but don't use them all up by 9 a.m. Breaking the fast with whole grains, berries, and even vegetables gives you a far better chance to hit daily fiber goals, stay full until lunch, and avoid that midmorning slump. Check out our six simple upgrades for standard sweet breakfasts—some save you more than a day's worth of added sugar.
9. Caffeinate Strategically
About that cup of coffee you need first thing in the morning to rev your motor: It's a waste of perfectly good caffeine. Why? Your body's level of cortisol—an energizing hormone triggered by stress and low blood sugar—peaks early in the morning, and the hormone flows freely up until about 10 a.m. Caffeine inhibits cortisol production, leaving you with less energy. So your system comes to rely on caffeine, which is ultimately less effective than a natural "stress hormone" boost. Moreover, you build caffeine tolerance in the long term.
The solution is simple: Wean yourself off the early-morning cup, and soon you'll find that hormones get your humming instead. Cortisol levels drop as the day wears on, so your coffee will have the biggest energy impact between 10 a.m. and noon and again in the afternoon starting around 2 p.m.
10. Trade Booze for Homemade Soda
There's no shame in a little adult beverage indulgence over the holidays—it's fun, and you earned it. But it can take a toll on mind and body. With party season in the rearview, now's the time for moderation (maybe you even want to try a dry January). But you can still enjoy delicious drinks. These three simple soda bases have just a handful of fresh ingredients and spices that deliver bold flavor and fizzy refreshment with a fraction of the sugar in store-bought soda. And no special equipment is required: Just mix the syrup with seltzer water. To your health!
11. Rethink Your Desk Pantry
Snacks can be a delicious part of a healthy approach to eating, and the number of smarter choices on the market is increasing. We've selected the following options, which keep sodium and calories in check and provide the salty-sweet-crunchy satisfaction to carry you through a busy afternoon, no matter what's on your plate.
Popcorn, Indiana, Himalayan Pink Salt: Just the right balance of salt with only 37 calories per cup.
Chobani Flip Pistachio Paradise: The perfect combo of crunchy pistachio with tart dried cranberries.
Quinn Classic Sea Salt Pretzels: They're crispy, delicate, and have a true sea salt flavor.
Goldfish Made with Organic Wheat: A lot of flavor in a larger serving size: 55 crackers for 140 calories.
I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Clusters: For sweet snackers: quinoa paired with almonds and a drizzle of dark chocolate.
Peter Pan Simply Ground: A creamy-crunchy peanut butter that satisfies all texture preferences.
Kashi Savory Bars: The sweeter bar trend turns savory. We loved the Basil, White Bean & Olive Oil combo.