If you want to practice healthy living every day, implementing tried-and-true health tips that help you live and cook healthier is a must.

While cooking your own meals is a good start to eating healthier, it doesn’t necessarily define “healthy.” To eat healthy, it’s all about understanding the foods that you eat and achieving a balanced meal.

We don’t like to omit anything entirely, because we believe that eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself in any way. Keep in mind, though, that everything is best eaten in moderation!

Also, remember that healthy doesn’t always mean low-cal, and in reverse, eating less calories does not make it healthy. By understanding the caloric value of the foods you eat, you will be able to get a better understanding of how to eat healthy, and in turn, achieve new health milestones.

To get you started with healthy eating, here are 10 of our favorite health smarts:


Tip #1 :

Take Charge of Breakfast Time

We believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but also realize that it can be the most difficult to fit in. Trying to make a quick and healthy breakfast while tending to the kids and their needs, then fighting through your commute, and rushing to way-too-early morning meetings? Not something you want to encounter every day!

Instead, start your mornings with a healthy and filling breakfast, so that you can kick off your day with energy, and you’ll be less likely to do unhealthy snacking later on.

To help you enjoy nourishing and delicious breakfasts without all the stress, we’ve come up with healthy breakfast ideas that can be made completely ahead of time. Regardless of how hectic your morning routine is, cooking a good homemade breakfast is now something you never need to worry about.

Here’s to your future of powerhouse mornings!

Free Recipe Book

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Take charge of breakfast with 3 hearty make-ahead breakfast burrito recipes.

Free Recipe Book

Make-Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Enjoy a healthy, fiber-filled breakfast with 3 make-ahead oatmeal recipes.

Free Recipe Book

Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

Fuel your mornings with one of our filling and healthy breakfast sandwiches.

Free Recipe Book

Best-Ever Smoothie Combos

Make your mornings smoother with our favorite smoothie combo ideas.


Tip #2:

Eat More Veggies

Balance out your meals with the healthy and good-for-you carbs – veggies! Reducing the amount that you eat can be unfilling, so rather than going for a second serving of pasta or meat, add more veggies to your dish. You’ll still be able to enjoy your grains and meat, but you’ll also be able to eat your fill.

Visit our pages on How to Enjoy Vegetables and Make Salads Fun for fantastic tips and resources that will help you add more veggies into your day and actually enjoy it.


Tip #3:

Take Advantage of Herbs & Spices

Healthy meals do not have to be bland and boring. A simple way to incorporate more flavor into your dishes is to add dried spices or fresh herbs. They virtually have no calories, so seasoning your food properly maximizes flavor without adding more pesky calories.

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Guide to Flavoring with Fresh Herbs

Add flavor and freshness to your cooking.

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Guide to Flavoring with Spices

Spice up your meals and add flavor to your meals with this handy spice chart.


Tip #4:

Use Small Amounts of Fat

Don’t compromise taste just because an ingredient is high in calories. You can still enjoy richness and flavor by cutting the amount of fat called for in recipes. For example, if a recipe calls for coconut milk, which tends to be high in calories, we use a small amount, so that we can still enjoy the taste, but with fewer calories. Likewise, when cooking with butter or oil, you really don’t need a lot. If you’re worried about the food sticking to the pan, use a non-stick pan.

Our meal plan service’s advanced nutrition facts help you to see exactly which ingredients are giving you fats (along with carbs, sugars, etc.). This enables you to make simple cuts or substitutions to lower the amount of fat you use on every single one of our recipes. With our smart facts, you can make any meal low-fat and low-calorie. See this feature in action here:

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Nutrition Info for Cook Smarts Meal Plans

Increase your nutrition smarts with our nutrition label, which breaks down the nutrition of each ingredient.


Tip #5:

Incorporate Heart-Healthy Ingredients

Making your diet healthier can be as easy as regularly eating the right ingredients. These ingredients will do your body good, keep you energized throughout the day, decrease your risk of heart disease, and have you feeling better about yourself.

Here are 5 heart-healthy ingredients that are easy to incorporate into your diet, and we use them quite frequently in our meal plans. Best of all, these ingredients do a lot more than just keep our heart healthy but are really full-body powerhouses.

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5 Heart-Healthy Foods

Reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and high cholesterol with these five foods.

A great thing about these 5 ingredients is that so many of them go well together. Try this heart healthy recipe to get a perfect 5-in-1 meal!

Free Recipe

Salmon with Spinach Walnut Pesto

Heart-healthy ingredients come together for a simple, tasty meal that will fuel your body and treat your heart right.


Tip #6:

Choose Lean

When we say that meals should be balanced, we mean it! We know you won’t want to only eat those 5 heart-healthy ingredients every day. So, enjoy rice, red meat, and butter every now and then, but always keep it in moderation.

In order to stick to a healthy diet, it’s important to not feel like you have to eliminate all your favorite foods just to stay healthy. The main thing is to try to choose a leaner option more often than not. If you had steak for dinner during the week, choose lean ground turkey instead of ground beef for your next meal. Instead of chicken thighs, opt for chicken breasts or seafood.

The concept of “lean” applies to cooking methods, too. Techniques like baking and broiling use a small amount of fat, whereas frying means that the whole food is plunged directly in fat. So, when you’re deciding what to cook for dinner, choose a leaner cooking method like sauteing, roasting, or braising.


Tip #7:

Prep Foods on the Weekend

This habit is possibly the hardest one but has immense pay off. It can make the difference between a chaotic kitchen and a calm kitchen. Lindsay Livingston, a registered dietician who is the healthy voice behind the blog The Lean Green Bean, stresses the importance of preparing ingredients ahead of time. Even spending just one hour of prep on Sunday can help you stay on track to eat healthy during the week instead of grabbing take-out at the end of the day.

We know that prepping food may sound like the last thing you want to do on a weekend, but the practice can easily be turned into a fun ritual! All you need to do is invite a friend over, spend some quality time with your partner, recruit the kids, uncork a glass of wine, or queue up your favorite podcast or music album.

Each week, our meal plan menu includes Weekend Prep Steps that are created just for you to get ahead of busy weeknights. To learn more and try our meal plan service for free, sign up here.


Tip #8:

Implement Meatless Mondays

As much as avid carnivores may not want to hear it, health research has repeatedly shown that a vegetarian diet helps prevent or manage a host of conditions and diseases like diabetes and heart disease. With over 35% of Americans having diabetes or prediabetes and 1 in 4 people in the U.S. dying of heart disease each year, this is a big deal.

Even if you take up a flexitarian diet where you eat meat a couple times a week, you’ll still receive similar health benefits as a full time herbivore! To find out more benefits and easy ways to make meatless meals deliciously satisfying, check out our Eating Meatless page.


Tip #9:

Manage Portions Correctly

Rice, pasta, and other heavy carbs can be very caloric, so we understand why some folks have eliminated them from their diet. But we love these grains, so instead of getting rid of them entirely, we learned how to portion our serving sizes. 1 cup of uncooked rice can easily serve 4, especially if you add other healthy components to balance your meal. Don’t make the heavy grains the main part of your meal, but instead, make them a compliment to your proteins and veggies.

If you need a little help transitioning to smaller and better balanced portions, try a handy travel plate like Precise Portions, which doesn’t let you cheat. It’s best to fill the largest section with non-starchy vegetables, and then put your grains, starchy foods, and proteins in the other 2 sections.

If you’re eating out, keep in mind that the average restaurant meal has 1,200 calories. To prevent you from eating the whole meal in one sitting, ask your server to bring you a box when your food is served so you can pack half of it away. It may not look like a lot of food, but if you just eat a little more slowly, your stomach will have the time to send messages to your brain that it is satisfied.


Tip #10:

Use a Meal Planning Tool

Having a meal plan will get you in the habit of cooking healthier and save you so much time that homecooking will become a real option again. And the great news is that our meal plan service actually brings all 10 tips into 1! Our weekly recipes use a wide variety of veggies and heart-healthy ingredients, let you know how to decrease fat intake, give you appropriate portions, tell you how to prep each recipe on the weekend, and we also have vegetarian options for every meal.

When you have a plan, you’ll always stay on track to eating healthier, because you’ll be less likely to resort to eating fast food. You can meal plan your way to health, and all the while, you’ll be reducing food waste, saving money, and cooking stress-free!

Find out more about the features of our meal plans here!

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Meal Planning Toolkit

Create your own meal plan with this Meal Planning Toolkit


The health tips above are our favorite ways to eat healthy, but they also let us eat the things we enjoy the most.

To make it easier for you to cook and eat healthy, we’ve put together a collection of 10 Healthy Low-Cal Recipes that will give you the opportunity to put all of our healthy eating tips into action and satisfy your taste buds at the same time. Each of these recipes is under 450 calories while still being packed with satisfying flavor. Remember, you can always eat healthy without compromising taste!

Free Recipe Book

Top 10 Healthy Low-Cal Recipes

Take charge of your health with healthy, homemade meals under 450 calories.

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