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Today we offer some advice on how you can do something good for you, and your family, that is so easy you won’t even realize you’re doing it.

With alarming rates of obesity, and related illnesses, it is difficult to escape the “eat better for you” messages.  Many of you are trying to live up to the messages and eat healthier, even though sometimes the taste of healthier foods can be less appealing.  So we’ve concocted a few ways to improve your physical health, and the health of your DNA, by incorporating antioxidants in your daily regimen.

Antioxidants (what are antioxidants?) can help maintain healthy skin, combat signs of aging, and improve your general health. Antioxidants are easily found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and milk.

Here are a few strategies to include more healthful foods in your diet; live, nutrient rich foods that contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and vitamins A, C and E. Caution: these strategies are sneaky, and may find their way into your family’s diet as well!

Pre-prepare Healthy Snacks – Have antioxidant rich, nutrient dense snacks such as carrots, cucumber, broccoli, and berries washed and cut into bite-sized pieces in your refrigerator. Then slowly reduce your store bought pantry snacks such as cookies, crackers and the like. We suggest keeping only a few days supply of these sugar, fat, and preservative laden items on hand – when they are gone, and snack time rolls around, your healthy snacks will begin to look really appetizing.

Pre-portioned Healthy Foods – Nuts, dried plums, cherries, and cranberries are high in antioxidants, plus nuts contain Omega 3 and 6!  As with your pre-prepared fresh foods, these ready-to-go snack items should, in time, replace cookies, crackers and other junk food in your pantry.

Drink Up – Antioxidant rich fruit & vegetable juices, or smoothies, are great ways to encourage healthy, nutrient rich, eating habits. Please, stay away from juices that are in the dry goods section of your store.

  • Better, make you own juice at home.  Freeze fresh berries, oranges, pineapple, and bananas.  In a blender add 1/2 cup of frozen fruit (have fun and mix them up, or keep it simple and choose just one).  Add 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt, and 1/4 cup cold water. Turn on your blender.  Pulsing is usually best if you want to break up the frozen fruit first.  Add 1 chopped red apple (peel on), or an orange to sweeten. Turn your smoothie into a juice by adding 1/2 cup fresh orange or 1/2 cup fresh apple juice.
  • Lactose intolerant? Replace low-fat yogurt with rice milk, soy milk/yogurt, or simply by adding more juice and frozen fruit!

Use Seasonings & Toppings– Enhance your regular meals with flavor and nutrients by adding spices like oregano, basil, cinnamon, and turmeric.

  • Try adding dried almond slivers or crushed nuts to cereal or oatmeal.
  • Fresh salsa is a much healthier and antioxidant rich alternative when added to eggs or sandwiches.
  • Diced or sun-dried tomatoes added to pizza or pasta dishes is another fantastic way to add flavor, and sneak in a bit of health.
  • When you have a need for sweet… top off your dishes with fresh mango and berries.

Variety Is Key – Keep your diet diverse and interesting. When planning meals and snacks, break the “recipe rut” by choosing a variety of fruit, vegetables, and grains which include multiple – and different sources – of antioxidants.

  • Try substituting ingredients when you create favorite recipes – like swapping kidney beans for meat in chili, using wholegrain instead of white enriched varieties of bread, pasta, and rice. Even if you mix wholegrain options with the less healthy options, you are getting a better benefit.  Variety will help maximize flavor and interest as well as your health and wellness.

Don’t Change the Taste – Fussy eaters of all ages can be fooled, and you feel just fine making these little swaps that hide antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables in the foods that they love.

  • Steam and puree cauliflower, then mix into mashed potatoes. No one will know the difference, and if they do… they’ll like the more robust flavor.
  • Add some pureed raw spinach, finely grated zucchini, or fresh onion to burgers, meatloaf or Sloppy Joe’s – they add more nutrition, help protect DNA, and add great flavor.
  • Add cooked and pureed eggplant, sweet peppers, or yellow squash to jarred spaghetti sauce.  For the more adventurous, simply grate these items into the sauce for a chunky option!
  • Add orange fruits and veggies such as pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot to your muffins.  Yum!

What are some of your dietary strategies?

How do you Previse?