One of the most important truths of health and nutrition is the need to feed our bodies a variety of foods. Most commercial diets and health fads seem to go against this idea, with low-carb diets and fat-free foods reigning supreme. Instead of focusing on cutting these important nutrients out, you should be doing your best to include each of them in every meal and snack.
While there is no doubt a plate of fresh greens is an excellent and healthy choice, it can often leave people feeling hungry at the end of a meal. A simple salad may provide a few carbs, but the addition of protein and fat can turn it into a complete meal with real staying power. Protein can be added in the form of chicken, beans or hard boiled eggs, while healthy fats can come from the addition of an oil-based salad dressing, tuna or avocado.
Fresh fruit is another common, yet less-filling health food. And while a whole apple or a handful of berries is a great snack, the addition of some nut butter, cheese or yogurt can keep you feeling full until your next meal or snack.
Most people know lean meats like turkey or chicken breast are healthy options, but don’t forget to add some complex carbohydrates and fat to increase satiety. Whole grain pitas and bagels, crackers, cheese and avocados will round out that healthy protein and create a well-balanced meal.
Green smoothies seem to be all the rage, and while they are a great way to load up on fruit and greens, they are often missing the fat and protein that will tide you over until lunch. Try adding a cup of yogurt, a tablespoon of nut butter or half an avocado to your next morning drink, and see if you feel a difference in your morning hunger.
A diet void of any of the three important macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) is going to leave your body wanting more. These nutrients work together to fill you up and will keep you feeling satisfied until you can eat again.
Taryn Palmer is a registered dietitian for the Magic Valley YMCA.
Chicken, Mango and Basil Stir-Fry
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (substitute tamari for gluten-free)
5 teaspoons cornstarch, divided (you’ll use part of it in the sauce and part for the chicken)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes (add more for extra heat)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
1 large mango, peeled, pitted and diced or (1 to 1 1/2 cups pineapple)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, diced or cut into thin strips
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
Hot cooked rice, quinoa or noodles for serving
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, vinegar, red pepper flakes and sugar until smooth. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining 3 teaspoons cornstarch.
In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the chicken, breaking up any clumps, and cook until it is golden brown on all sides and just barely cooked through (it will cook a few minutes longer later in the recipe). Scrape the chicken onto a plate, keeping as much liquid in the skillet as possible.
Add the garlic, mango, bell pepper, and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet over medium heat. Whisk the sauce quickly before pouring it into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, while the sauce simmers and thickens, 1-2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
Sprinkle with basil and serve over rice, noodles, quinoa or by itself.