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Healthy Eating Hacks and Snacks from RDN Angela Aladjem

March is National Nutrition Month, and as many of you know I've been studying to get a nutrition certification because I'm fascinated with how food affects the way our bodies perform, age, and function. When it comes to my own diet, I am around 80/20--okay maybe more like 70/30 if I'm being totally honest. It's not that I eat a lot of fast or processed foods--it's that I am not a good planner and I refuse to spend an entire Sunday in the kitchen meal prepping when I could be outside or having fun with my family. As a result, I will often find myself making a smoothie or spreading peanut butter on an apple and calling it lunch--not really smart when you consider how many cycle classes per week I teach. I need shortcuts that allow me to throw a complete meal together quickly without spending all day meal prepping.

I reached out to my good friend Angela Aladjem, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with My Nutrition Studio, LLC for some healthy hacks to keep me on track. Check out her tips below and let me know if you have any shortcuts to share.

  • First and foremost--plan! Look at your schedule, and plan accordingly. Will you be home to cook a full meal every night? Do you need to make extras to have on hand for quick reheats or easy take-alongs?

  • Be honest with yourself. When you look at a recipe ask yourself--are these ingredients I will use again? Is this too many steps to handle or too time consuming when you've got hungry kiddos running around?

  • Cut yourself some slack. There's no shame in buying pre-cut veggies, frozen veggies, pre-grilled chicken, meal kits etc. They can save you a lot of time. Frozen meals and stir-fry kits (for lunch or a single dinner) have come a long way, too, with much cleaner ingredients, and less sodium and sugar. Some brands I like are Amy's, Luvo, Kashi and Healthy Choice Power Bowls. Even Wal-Mart offers their own brand of Whole 30 approved meals--seriously!

  • Make more than you need. I like to make a roasted chicken and a ton of veggies for dinner and then I use leftovers for lunch the next day, and I have extra for salads throughout the week, too. If I make a soup or a chili, I pack up lunches for a day or two, right away, and then freeze a few portions to have on hand on those days when things get crazy and I need something fast. If it is something I can put in a thermos, there no excuses on skipping lunch on the go or busy days at the office.

  • Stock up on staples. I always have things on hand that can easily be thrown together. Trident Salmon Burgers from Costco are a staple and so are Applegate Turkey Burgers. I also stock up on potatoes, rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, hummus and whole grain crackers. Finally, I will buy a couple of "cleaner" salad kits. With all of these things in your arsenal, you can easily throw together a quick and balanced meal.

  • Don't forget snacks. Lately, I am really loving "Bada Bean" snacks, which are roasted broad beans. They have different flavors and come in individual packs, so I can just throw them in a lunch or my bag. My son loves to help in the kitchen, and we like to make banana bread muffins because they are easy, and I can put a healthy spin on them (use almond flour, add nuts or seeds, cacao nibs). I freeze them so they are always ready when I need something to take with me, or a quick breakfast side. Check out some of the newer protein bars too--they can be good in a pinch. A few I like are Orgain, Oatmega, Epic, or Kind. I also love the Kale and carrot chips from Trader Joe's.

  • Figure out what you like to eat. There is not a rule that says you have to eat breakfast food for breakfast. I have had plenty of clients who stay on track by eating leftovers in the morning, or even a turkey sandwich. Or have an omelet for dinner. Remember, it doesn't all have to be Food Network worthy, with top-shelf ingredients and plated on fancy china. Give yourself some grace!

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