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Food Mistakes That Can Get in the Way of Healthy Eating

Are you making these common nutrition blunders?
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Healthy Eating Mistake No. 3: Eating Out or Ordering Takeout More Often Than Not continued...

Of course, cooking at home more often isn't always easy. Here are several strategies that can help keep you from frequenting the drive-through:

  • Start with a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. Some of my favorite ingredients to have handy for whipping up quick dinners are whole-grain pasta, bottled marinara and pesto sauces, whole-grain tortillas, shredded reduced-fat cheese, and canned refried beans.
  • Get that slow cooker out of hiding and start collecting some slow cooker recipes you want to try. Invest a few minutes in the morning to assemble the ingredients, set the slow cooker on LOW, and leave for work. When you arrive home that evening, dinner is ready to be served.

Try some fun and easy dinner options like soup and sandwich night, breakfast for dinner night, pasta night, salad night, baked potato bar night, or homemade pizza night (using whole wheat Boboli crust, whole wheat bagels, or tortillas for the crust).

Healthy Eating Mistake No. 4: Not Taking Advantage of Food Synergy

Do you peel your apples or tomatoes? Do you eat your veggie-rich green salad with fat-free dressing? Do you like to peel and chop your garlic right before adding it into your stir-fry or sauce? If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you are decreasing the availability to your body of important nutrients found in these foods.

That's because there are all sorts of relationships between the various components within certain foods and between certain foods, a concept called "food synergy." For example, certain phytochemicals in apple peel account for most of apples' healthy antioxidant activity, so peeling apples isn't the healthiest way to go.

Also, it's a good idea to let your minced or chopped garlic rest for 15 minutes before proceeding with cooking, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. This helps ensure that the enzymatic reaction that begins when garlic is chopped releases as much of the antioxidant allyl sulfur as possible -- and thus maximizes the cancer-fighting benefits.

If you're dressing a salad or making a homemade marinara sauce, make sure you include some healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil. Eating a little "good fat" along with your vegetables helps your body absorb healthy phytochemicals, like lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from dark green vegetables. So enjoy your salad with some avocado or a light dressing made with canola or olive oil. And add a drizzle of olive oil when you are whipping up a batch of spaghetti sauce.

And when it comes to tomatoes, for maximum nutrient value, don’t peel them, and eat them cooked and processed.

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