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Eating Smart with Healthy Meals

Updated on September 27, 2016
Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe has been eating healthy foods for a couple of years, ever since she had open heart surgery to fix a hole in her heart.

Planning a Healthy Menu

For the past couple of months, I've posted hubs on how you and your family can prevent heart disease by eating smart with healthy foods by picking the right choices, since next month is National Heart Disease Awareness Month. By switching to meat-less alternatives and curbing the salt intake, and by looking for the heart-healthy and American Heart Association symbols on food packages, that's only the tip of the iceberg to lower cholesterol and blood pressure with exercise and eating well to avoid clogged up arteries. In the final installment of this series, we're going to discuss how to eat well from breakfast to desserts and snacks to plan out a healthy menu for your grocery lists.

The incredible edible eggs are great for any meal from breakfast to a healthy snack

The Most Important Meal of the Day

To start out your day well and energize you, you should include a healthy and hearty breakfast, even when you're on the go to work or to school/college. It would keep you full until lunch-time, for the next couple of hours. Try out these healthy foods, the next time you hit the grocery stores for the fresh and frozen options.

Hot and Cold Cereals: If you love cold cereals, you can pick anything that's made from grains and come in a varieties of flavors to choose from. Pair Cheerios or Chex cereal with a glass of milk and in the bowl. Add some slices of your favorite fruit. For the winter-time, hot cereals is also a healthy choice, especially if it's instant oatmeal.

Eggs: The incredible edible egg is a healthy food for breakfast to dinner and also for a snack. Whether it's soft-boiled or hard-boiled, you can have scrambled eggs to sunny side up eggs. A poached egg could be appetizing as well to fill your stomach.

Bacon and Sausage: If you have a hankering for bacon, try the low sodium or turkey or chicken bacon versions. Do the same for sausage patties and links to crumbles as well. It would taste great, no matter what flavor you buy for your meal.

Pancakes and French Toast: These are also real good choices to have a filling breakfast, if you have the time. Whether from scratch or the easier microwavable or frozen versions would go great with syrup and a no salt added butter or margarine.

Drinks: Any healthy milk and fruit juice and smoothies are recommended to get your day going with tons of energy.

On the Go: If you don't have time for a healthy meal, consider these options. Grab a healthy bagel or a slice of wheat toast, and slather it with unsalted butter or with your favorite fruit jelly or jam. Bring a banana or an apple with you to crunch on. Grab a carton of yogurt and enjoy a spoonful flavor of goodness.

Bonus tip: Eggo's have bite-sized breakfast foods to eat in the hurry in French toast to pancakes to waffles. MorningStar and Jimmy Dean have a breakfast food line in bacon and sausage meals. Lean Cuisine had just came out with a breakfast line of foods in a variety of Egg McMuffin sandwiches and breakfast scrambles.

Tuna fish on a salad or sandwich is a healthy lunch choice for any day of the week

Healthy meal poll

Would you have a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner with water or milk?

See results

Soup's On for lunch

Since we've already discussed about meat-less deli meat alternatives, cheeses and breads, we're going to focus on other lunch ideas, too, which would include soups and salads. You can kick up your lunch meal by breaking it up and doing something different, every single day of the week. And for those who do brunch on Sunday, this would work as well.

Tuna fish: Tuna is endorsed by the American Heart Association for a heart-healthy lunch meal. Whether it's on a salad platter or a sandwich, this would make a good meal for a Friday.

Eggs: Since we're back to eggs again, you can have a sliced egg sandwich or egg salad in an sandwich or a stand-alone salad platter.

Grilled Cheese: Whether it's open or closed, paired up with tomato, bacon, and other versions, this is also another delicious idea with healthy bread and cheeses.

BLT: You can't go wrong with this one. Lettuce is fibrous and also a super food. The tomatoes, too. Choice a low-sodium or turkey bacon for a crunch.

Chicken/Turkey Salads: Whether it's on a sandwich or on a platter, these salads are healthy to eat. If you want to make your own from scratch, try ground chicken or turkey from your local grocery store or from Jennie O or Butterball.

Peanut butter/Nutella: Peanut butter and Nutella are filled for protein and a simple lunch idea to make. You can also do them with crackers too for a easy meal.

Deli salads and fresh salads: If you want to buy salads from the deli counter or those that come packaged, there's many varieties you can choose from, like egg salad, chicken salad, ham salad, potato salad, macaroni and coleslaw. As long as you check the label, if packaged, for the sodium, and if it's lower than 30%, it'll be all right, especially if it's vegan, too. For those who want to make their own salads with fresh veggies or by the packaged varieties, that's okay, too. Both versions would be healthy and filled with fiber and protein. And if you want to make your own macaroni or cole slaw, etc. that's all right as well, including cold pasta salad. And if you want to go to your grocery store's salad bar, you can pick your own healthy ingredients for a perfect meal.

Soups: Whether packaged or canned, soups are the perfect accompaniment for a sandwich, even on a cold day. Campbell's and Progressive's Soups have a Healthy Request soup line. If you want to make your own soups from scratch, that's even better, too.

Drinks: Water, milk and juice would work well for drinks. Smoothies and milk shakes, too. On a cold day, hot cocoa, hot tea, hot apple cider and hot coffee would work well to keep you warm.

Bonus tip: For crackers in your soup, you can do whole wheat, whole grain, low salt or no salt varieties. Any croutons would be good for your salads. Bacon bits are okay to add to your salads, too.

Pasta night is healthy any night from lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli, etc. Add a healthy spaghetti sauce to complete the meal.

Wholesome Dinner Meals

To round out the day, there's plenty of dinner ideas to keep in mind, especially to get ready for the big game on Super Bowl Sunday! We're also cover the topic of fresh vs frozen foods, and which one is healthier for you. The Sky's the limit for you, when we also talk about the perfect side dish accompaniments as well, before we finish this discussion on snacks and desserts.

Burgers and meatloaf: Besides the aforementioned Boca burgers, you can make burgers with ground turkey, ground chicken, and maybe even ground pork. Any variety is full of nutrition and full of lean protein. So whether you grill them or baked them in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave, it's perfect for a wholesome meal. And for those you want to make meat loaf with or without stuffing inside, you can use the same ground meat too to make it, too.

Hot Dogs: if you love a good hot dog, try them made with chicken, turkey or both instead of pork. So grill them up or bake them for a delicious taste.

Eggs: One more time, you can use eggs to make omelets, quiches or frittatas with rice. Or have breakfast for dinner.

Chicken/Turkey: If you love chicken or turkey, you can make many versions of your favorite protein to be baked or broiled, steam fried or fried. Turn them into your own healthy version of chicken or turkey tenders and nuggets. Any leftover meat would be great for tomorrow's meat for chicken or turkey salad. Variety is the spice of life, when there's many recipes in either protein.

Ham: An occasional ham steam or a whole ham can be okay, if you aim for a low salt variety. Ground pork is another alternative as well.

Pizza: You can't go wrong with pizza, when you make it your own with store-brought crust and tomato sauce and cheese, and add plenty of veggie/fruit toppings instead of pepperoni, salami and anchovies. If you buy then store brought, or from your favorite pizza parlor, aim for a healthier version with less salt.

Pasta/Noodles: These carbs can give you a full protein for any pasta dish from spaghetti to lasagna. Any variety can be healthy for you, especially whole wheat or whole grain pasta. Instead of meatballs, try ones made from TVP, ground chicken/turkey or tofu. If you make your own tomato sauce from scratch, that's all right. For the jarred versions, look for the Heart-healthy ones from Ragu or Progressive. Cheese sauces also count as well.

Frozen Foods: If you have no energy to cook a full meal, try frozen food dinners in the meal. There's many to choose from, if you pick from Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Smart Ones.

Fresh, frozen, and canned veggies: For the perfect side dish to any meal, you can add steamed, boiled and baked vegetables that's fresh from your grocery store's produce department. Any of them would be great to make a great stew or soup as well. A small salad would be nutritional, too. So pick plenty of carrots, green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, etc., to give your family plenty of fiber in their diet. If you prefer frozen veggies, it's real healthy for you to do your local generic or BirdsEye's SteamFresh vegetables. You don't have to worry about the added salt content. And speaking of canned veggies, add for the no salt added or low sodium versions. That goes double for baked beans.

Rice: This is another healthy side dish you can add to any dish in a single-serve microwavable version or straight from the box. Add it to stuff your favorite veggies like cabbage and peppers. Brown rice, wild grain, or plain, are all great varieties to choose from and enjoy!

Drinks: Soda would be great here, if you do moderate the caffeine or choose caffeine-free or diet flavors. Water would be the perfect drink here.

Bonus tip: Especially for Super Bowl Sunday, if you love to have a sub sandwich, you can make your own with your favorite veggies, cheese, meats on you favorite bread. Any pizza parlor would carry them. And for a healthy version, try Subway sandwiches. They have a FreshFit Heart-healthy sandwich line from the American Heart Association, paired with chips, apples and water. They also have salads and breakfast wraps. They used have pizzas on the menu.

Food that Should Taste Good Chips is a healthy alternative to potato chips--eaten as plain or with a dip like apple butter or hummus. You'll be addicted to the

Snack On it/Just Desserts

Last but not last, we'll finish with healthy snacks and desserts. Instead of craving chocolates, cookies, and other junk food, try these healthy snacks in between meals and before you go to bed.

Fruits and veggies: Other than an appetizer, try veggies on a platter and dip them in a French Onion or a cheese dip. Make your own salsa and guacamole as well. You can also buy them fresh and eat them anytime. Make your own fruit salad or buy canned or packaged fruit from Dole or Del Monte in its fruit cups.

Chips and pretzels: Instead of salty potato chips and pretzels, try a healthier version. Sweet potato and corn chips are delicious and yummy, especially for tortilla chips. I'll recommend Food that Should Taste Good link. They come in a line of yummy chip flavors, including pita chips. My brother had gotten me hooked into them, last year. As for pretzels, if you go easy on the salt for the frozen pretzels, that's okay. Otherwise, stay away from them. Dip them into your veggie dip or sauce. Or try Sabra's Hummus as a healthier alternate. From plain to roasted garlic, you can dip anything into it.

Nuts: Buy them in a bag or a jar and crunch of them. Any version is okay, as long as it's unsalted or low in salt.

Chex: If you missed having Chex cereal for breakfast, have them in part of your favorite trail mix or eat them plain for a snack.

Granola bars: Full of protein that gives a crunch, this would be perfect for a quick snack.

Applesauce: Whether plain or in cinnamon, with a hint of a sprinkle of brown sugar, this would be a great anytime.

The rule of thumb for any dessert, you can eat anything chocolate and candy-wise in moderation. Puddings and Jellos are perfectly fine. If it's made from fruit, it'll be delicious and yummy, too.

In conclusion, to wrap things up, if you eat right with low or no sodium healthier meals, you'll prevent heart disease in the long run. And don't overdo it on Super Bowl Sunday or any day!

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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i love pasta, better than white rice and potatoes, voted up

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These are great suggestions. For myself, I need to cut down on the added salt.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Peach and Peg, thanks for stopping by to comment on my hub.

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 2 years ago from Washington MI

      I enjoyed reading your hub. Some very useful information as well. I am always looking for a healthy alternative. You can never go wrong with eggs.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks for stopping by Crazybeanrider. Eggs are perfect for any meal, even as a snack!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Great information and advice to help people get and stay healthy! I have to watch out for too much salt and spices too.

      Sent you an emaill but I don't know if you received it. If you're like me you may not check your email connected to this site very often. Check your mail. :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Au Fait, thanks for stopping by my hub. Spices can be okay in moderation. I haven't check my gmail account yet--I don't do it in the weekend. I'll check it out tomorrow.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      You sure do know what you are talking about. You also just got me very hungry and thinking about what healthy meal I want to cook for dinner. I just might have to have a snack first.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Aww thanks my friend. I'm glad to share the wealth of healthy eating for any time of the meals. Thanks for stopping by.

    • ezzly profile image

      ezzly 2 years ago

      Yum, that pasta looks delicious ! Clever to show subway's healthy meals too ! Voted up and sharing on twitter !

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Ezzly for sharing my hub with Twitter. I love Subway's subs, esp. when I go to the gym.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Awesome ideas for smart eating, thanks for sharing, voted up and useful.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      You're very welcome Adrienne on smart eating for healthy meals. My pleasure!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have porridge and I use rolled oats with walnuts and cranberries. Last night, we had bean salad and squash. Once in a while, we have a break from meat. We often include greens in our meals such as mustard leaves and bok choy. I will try your other suggestions, too.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
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      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Mary for stopping by. I never had porridge before. Instant oatmeal for sure. Great ideas Mary!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Moderation is key as you noted in your last sentence. I have not had a soda in decades. Not much to recommend it verses drinking plain water. Did you know that soda poured over ant hills kills the ants? Makes a good toilet cleaner also. Ha!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Peggy, that's interesting to know about soda kills ant hills. Toilet cleaner too? Hmm. Thanks for stopping by and commenting with those interesting tips.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 2 years ago from Southern Arizona

      You've included many great menu choices for eating smart and healthy. I'll be referring back to this Hub for meal-time ideas. Glad you mentioned eggs. There was a time they were demonized as being a key contributor to high cholesterol. I love that eggs are considered a healthy source of protein again! Voted up and useful.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Linda for stopping by and voting. You can make many meals with eggs. So glad that eggs have returned to be a good food.

    • Jojo Yousef profile image

      Jomana H 2 years ago

      My children love pizza, Great hub voted up

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Jojo for stopping by. Pizza is always good, when it's healthy.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 24 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for these healthy eating tips!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 24 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure Rebecca.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 24 months ago from Massachusetts

      Great tips Kristen. I could probably eat pasta everyday but that would be a little boring. Thanks for helping to keep us all healthy.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 24 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure Bill. More veggies and less salt and meat is the way to go. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you on pasta. I tend to it every other week for one day.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 24 months ago

      I have to disagree with soda. I have gone without and will continue to do so. Soda has no redeeming social value.

      Water is always the best drink!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 24 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Amen Poetryman. I only drink soda in moderation and stock up on tea, water, milk and juice. Thanks for your comment.

    • sandeep15r profile image

      Sandeep Rathore 24 months ago from New Delhi

      I agree with Poetry man. Neither, I like soda. Water is always a great drink. If you add fresh lime to the water, it becomes wonderful.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 24 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Sandeep, I would give it a try to add lime water. But I love flavored water from ICE and Vitamin Water. Thanks for the visit.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 23 months ago from California

      Lots of veggies are my ticket--and I think I could eat soup for every meal of the day! great hub!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Audrey for stopping by and commenting, my friend. Me too. But it's not soup season for me, unless it's cold enough at night.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 23 months ago from Texas

      Hi Kristen, wouldn't it be great if we could find the perfect menu and recipe for our own personal health and nutrition needs? You've done a great job of listing some ideas and options for us. I try to get everything I need through diet but that is not necessarily an easy task. Thank you for a great read.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Miss Olive, yes it would. My pleasure my friend. If you eat smart, we'll have a healthy heart for sure.

    • Molly Layton profile image

      Molly Layton 23 months ago from Alberta

      Mmm! These are great healthy ideas! Thank you for publishing them.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure Molly. Everyone should eat smart with their meals everyday.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 22 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Nice post, but eating too many eggs is bad for health

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Emge. You can always eat eggs in moderation like with everything else, like once a week.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 21 months ago from The High Seas

      You had me at pasta.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 21 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Dale, thanks for the funny comment. Pasta is good for you and fills you up.

    • Apoorva Rao profile image

      Apoorva Rao 21 months ago

      ahha!! i gotta follow this ;)

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 21 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Go for it, Apoorva!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 20 months ago

      An absolute must read for all people wanting to change their diet. You have me hungry after viewing the photos and reading your suggestions. I love eggs and try to have them at least once a week. Great article!

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Diana for your lovely comments.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 20 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Great suggestions for meals. Worth following

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thank you Emge!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      I've been trying to incorporate more meatless alternatives such as soy burgers and the good old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Egg salad isn't bad either.

    • Kristen Howe profile image
      Author

      Kristen Howe 4 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Hey Flourish, good for you. It doesn't hurt to try new things like egg salad. Thanks for stopping by.

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