Let me tell you a little about my relationship with food: I love to read about it, write about it, talk about it, learn about it, shop for it, cook it, share it, and, of course, eat it.
Being a registered dietitian nutritionist helps me create a balanced plate that will simultaneously please my palate and my pant size, without depriving myself of what I love or compromising flavor.
Although more hectic days might not include all of my favorite foods, I never eat anything that I don’t enjoy, I never skip a meal, and rarely do I go without a snack. I may throw together a basic dish when crunched for time, but I find chopping, slicing, and dicing to be therapeutic when I have a more flexible schedule. Side note: Cooking is especially fun when paired with a glass of wine, background music, and good company.
Here’s a taste of what a typical day of eats might look like for me. I enjoy lots of variety, and these meals keep me going with a smile on my face!
I’m sure you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While I might disagree when I’m starving for lunch or looking forward to a delish sit-down dinner, breakfast is essential for supplying your brain and body with a jump-start, whether you spend the morning in a boardroom or a classroom.
I bake mini muffins every week and I usually make enough to feed a small army—this recipe makes two full loaves, or about 45 mini muffins. I healthy-fied it by replacing some white flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. You can even swap avocado in for the butter and applesauce in for the oil.
The nuts not only add a yummy crunch, but make for a more satiating breakfast. The muffins are pretty low in sugar and they freeze beautifully—just throw them in the microwave before walking out the door!
I usually pair two (okay, sometimes three) with about a half cup or so of cottage or ricotta cheese. I always add some sort of protein to my meals to help keep me feeling full for a longer period of time.
At lunchtime, I may be on my way out the door or sitting at my computer. (I’ll admit a tight story deadline occasionally keeps me company while I eat lunch). Like breakfast, lunch consists of a combo of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. It’s the trifecta for satisfying food.
I love avocado, whole-grain and seedy bread (Dave’s Killer Bread is our family’s fave), eggs, cheese, and of course, veggies. A combo of all of the above makes me smile, and takes just a few minutes to prepare.
While my bread is toasting, I combine sliced grape tomatoes, fresh spinach, sliced fresh mushrooms, a little shredded cheese, seasoning, one egg, and three egg whites in a mixing bowl. Then I scramble this heavenly mixture together in a fry pan, mash some avocado on my toast, and voila! It’s a decadent combo of creamy, crunchy and yummy. It’s hard to go back to work after this lunch but the promise of an up-coming afternoon snack helps me get back to business.
Skipping a decent snack could welcome a bad mood, make you feel light-headed, or lead you to the vending machine. Don’t wait for hunger to strike—plan snacks ahead of time!
When I’m at home, I might put together a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with either fresh berries or mashed banana and cinnamon. Greek yogurt provides twice the protein of conventional types of yogurt, and it packs calcium for your bones and live cultures (a.k.a. probiotics) to make your gut happy. I might sprinkle some high-fiber cereal (most of us don’t get enough fiber!) on top for some crunchies.
If I’m on the run, my go-to snack is a KIND bar. I keep one in my purse, a few in the glove compartment of my car, and I have plenty on hand in my pantry at home. The transparent label says it all: just five grams of sugar per bar and ingredients you’ll recognize. Plus, the protein and fat from the nuts keeps you feeling satisfied (and not looking for other snacks) until dinner. Although my fave flavors are Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt or Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, the Dark Chocolate Almond Mint comes in at a pretty close third.
On most nights, I like to cook. In fact, I consider cooking an art—not a chore! I try to create dishes that are colorful, but keep in mind that although we’re often told to “eat a rainbow,” white is a color, too! White veggies like potatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower are loaded with valuable nutrients like potassium and fiber. (BTW, did you know a baked potato has twice the potassium of a banana?)
Even if you’re ordering dinner from a restaurant, keep color and quality in mind. I like having half of my plate veggies and fruit (mostly veggies), one quarter a yummy carb (like sweet potato or whole-wheat pasta), and one quarter protein.
A few nights a week, dinner is accompanied by a glass or two of wine. Calories that you don’t chew (like those from wine) can add up quickly, so I try to choose my menu ahead of time and keep portions in mind to make room for the benefits of vino. Science tells us the resveratrol in wine can be good for us, which is something worth toasting to.
I might bake (or grill, weather permitting) a giant piece of salmon that I’ll pair with a medley of roasted veggies or a salad. The salmon is such a delicious way to provide my family with omega-3 fats, while the variety of vegetables supplies all the nutrients they need, like potassium, fiber, and a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients found in all types of produce.
I’ll chop and combine the extra salmon and vegetables the next day, and add some egg and breadcrumbs to make salmon burgers.
While I love to cook, that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy shortcuts! My philosophy is simple: Cook once, eat twice. Leftovers are always my goal.
I’m sure many of you would disagree with me, but I don’t really like the idea of dessert right after dinner—especially if dinner is your biggest meal of the day. Instead, I like to have dessert a little later on when I’m less full (just not too close to bedtime!) or even in the late afternoon, when it can really stand out and be savored.
That being said, this apple cobbler is one of my favorite desserts. Not only is it lighter than a fruit pie (there’s no crust on the bottom), but it also comes in handy as a decadent topping for my morning oatmeal!
Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., C.D.N., is an award-winning author, spokesperson, speaker, consultant, and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC. She has been featured on TV, radio, and print, as well as in digital media, including Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Women’s Health, and U.S. News & World Report. She is a recipient of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Media Excellence Award.