By Denise Schipani
Here you are again: facing down your refrigerator, hungry, bored silly with your same-old choices, and pretty sure you’re not eating as healthfully (not to mention deliciously) as you could be. Maybe all you need is a dose of inspiration. To help, we asked three nutrition experts what they eat in a typical day. Turns out those most knowledgeable about what’s best for our health also know a thing or two about turning out tasty, easy fare, day after day. Here’s a look at what three nutrition experts typically eat, three meals a day. All we can say is, yum.
To make: Combine ½ cup regular old-fashioned oats, 1 cup 1% milk, 1T flaxseed and some sliced strawberries in a bowl. Refrigerate overnight. It softens and melds and you eat it cold or room temperature.
What’s good about it: “Breakfast should include fiber, calcium and protein, and be easy,” says Ansel, and this ticks all the boxes. The oatmeal, flaxseed and berries are high in fiber, which contribute to satiety, and the milk provides needed a.m. protein and calcium. And what’s easier than making this dish at night (tip: put it together after you clean up from dinner) and having it ready to eat when you wake up?
Baby Bok Choy and Chicken Salad
To make: Combine washed and chopped baby bok choy (found in most produce sections), a sliced fresh pear, a half-cup of cooked brown rice, and sliced grilled chicken breast. For dressing, combine fresh orange juice, white vinegar, Dijon mustard and a little grated ginger.
What’s good about it: “Baby bok choy is high in calcium, in a form that’s more readily absorbed by your body than other sources,” says Ansel. “Plus, it’s a fun change from your regular salad greens and is crunchier than spinach.” Brown rice adds fiber, B vitamins and—important for a dish otherwise made of greens—heartiness and bulk. Tip: Any time you make brown rice, double or triple the recipe, and freeze half-cup portions. The chicken is there to elevate a simple salad to a proper meal, says Ansel. “Without protein, most salads are too nutritionally thin and won’t stand by you till dinner.” Tip: Vegetarians can add you can add any kind of beans or edamame.
Light Pasta Carbonara and sautéed broccoli
To make: 8 ounces spaghetti 2 cups frozen peas, thawed 3 cloves garlic, minced 4 strips thick-cut bacon 2 large eggs, at room temperature 3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. About 3 minutes before it is done, stir in peas and garlic. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Scrape the bacon drippings into a large bowl; add eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt and pepper and whisk until combined. Chop the bacon and add to the egg mixture. When the pasta and peas are done, drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the water. Immediately stir the pasta, peas and the 3/4 cup water into the egg mixture, stirring quickly so the eggs don’t scramble. Let stand 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken the sauce. Serve topped with remaining cheese.
What’s good about it: This is an easy to make, family-pleasing dish that combines protein (in the eggs and bacon), fiber and vitamins (in the peas) and good old pasta. “The original recipe calls for whole wheat spaghetti, which is good but not necessary if you can’t find it or don’t like its texture,” says Ansel. Given that the side dish (broccoli, cut into florets and sautéed in olive oil until crisp-tender) is loaded with fiber, you don’t “need” to always use whole-grain pasta. Plus, she adds, regular pasta is fortified with folate, which most women of childbearing age are deficient in (folate has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural-tube defects in babies).
Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, CDN, is a Long Island, New York-based nutritionist and coauthor of The Calendar Diet: A Month-by-Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life (Wagging Dog Press, 2012).