If you are new to the 52 Weeks to Healthier Weight Loss Habits Series you can view the previous weeks here.
Last week I had a guest post published on the widely popular blog Money Saving Mom. If you new to Skinny Mom’s Kitchen via that post – welcome! I am so thrilled to have you here!
My guest post offered tips to affording whole foods on budget. One of the tips I included was to bulk up your beef with grains. This healthy habit, that I adopted within the last few months, not only stretches my budget but it also helps to include more whole grains into my diet.
For week #4 of the Healthier Weight Loss Habits Series I thought I would expand a little bit more on this topic. This week I want to talk about bulking up your entire diet to include more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
Everybody knows that having a diet rich in whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits is good for your health. These four foods are what I like to refer to as nutrient dense calories. Meaning that you are getting more nutritional value per calorie than if you were to consume the same amount of say, oh I don’t know, Doritos. And because these foods are high in nutrients, including fiber, you will feel more satisfied and full longer. Basically, you get more calorie bang for your buck.
However, I will be the first to admit that I would rather have pizza over vegetables, beans, and rice. In fact, if I did not create an intentional menu plan I am pretty sure I would eat pizza or pasta everyday and never think twice about it. Well that is until my pants no longer fit.
I will also admit that I prefer when my vegetables are “hidden”. Yes I know call me four years old but eating broccoli straight from the fridge is not something I would normally do. But give me broccoli stuffed in a calzone, in soup, or part of a chicken and rice bake and I will gobble it up.
I am not even a big fruit fan. It’s not that I don’t like fruit – I just don’t crave it. When I want something sweet I tend to lean more towards chocolate. So, if we are talking chocolate covered strawberries then I am all about fruit.
Now that I confessed my healthy food shortcomings let me explain how I go about getting more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits into my diet.
6 Tips to Increasing Whole Grains, Beans, Vegetables, and Fruits in Your Diet
Here are some of my personal tips I use to get these power foods in my diet regularly. Please share any tips you might have.
Substitute white flour, bread, rice, and pasta for whole grain.
If you do not eat whole grains right now then add them into your diet slowly. For example, next time you eat pasta make ½ white and ½ wholegrain. Or if you bake use 1/2 whole wheat flour. Keep making changes and before you know it your family will be eating all whole grain and never know the difference.
If you do a lot of baking then you must check out King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks) Cookbook. I received this cookbook for Christmas and it is awesome. It is 566 pages and FILLED with amazing whole grain recipes and baking tips.
Add bulgur, rice, and/or beans to ground beef dishes.
For example, when I make tacos I always add 2 cans of beans and 1 cup of cooked bulgur per 1 pound of meat. I also include bulgur (and sometimes spinach) when making meatballs. This helps to increase the amount of fiber. Also, the bulgur blends right in so my husbands or kids don’t even notice it is there.
Add beans and/or vegetables to soups.
A lot of soup recipes can easily include beans or vegetables without compromising flavor. In most cases adding these things only enhances the dish. Play around with recipes and have fun experimenting.
Bulk up sandwiches and wraps with vegetables.
In the past, my sandwiches would be turkey, cheese, and bread. Now I always include tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, peppers, and/or onions. Also, I use whole grain bread or wraps instead of white.
Put vegetables on pizza.
This is actually one of my favorite ways to get more vegetables in my diet. There are so many different vegetable pizza topping combinations. One of my favorites is balsamic grilled vegetables. Yum!
Use fruit in smoothies, yogurt, and/or cereal.
In the past, fruit would often go wasted in my house. I would buy it and have every intention of eating it but for some reason it would get forgotten about. Now I focus on using fruit as an ingredient or in combination with another food. This helps keep fruit an active member of my healthy diet.
These are just some tips I use to bulk up my diet with more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
Of course, planning my menu each week helps tremendously in keeping intentional about the foods I eat. Without it I am positive my meals would consist of pasta, butter, and cheese. Seriously!
If one of your concerns with eating more whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods is cost then I highly recommend the e-book Real Food on a Real Budget by Stephanie Langford. This 280 page e-book is a wealth of encouraging information that takes you through the process of slowly integrating whole foods into your diet. She also offers useful tips to fitting these foods into your household budget. I read this e-book about 5-6 months ago and found her advice incredibly helpful.
Each week, as part of the 52 Weeks to Healthier Weight Loss Habits Series, I will be providing you with action steps you can take right now to adapt this habit into your lifestyle.
- If you are not currently eating whole grains I want you to substitute ¼ – ½ whole grains for their white counterparts. You can do it!
- If you order or make pizza this week put veggies on it.
- Eat 1 extra serving of fruits or vegetables each day.
If you choose to do the action steps today, or previous weeks, please come back and leave a comment telling us about your experience. If you are a blogger leave a link if you are talking about this on your blog (please link back to the post/series) or if you have any comments or tips to offer please do so. We are all here to support and learn from one another.
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