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Eating Smart With Healthy Meals

Updated on April 5, 2018
Kristen Howe profile image

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

Planning a Healthy Menu

Two years ago, I've posted a series of hubs on how you and your family can prevent heart disease by eating smart with healthy foods. You can pick the right choices and start early this year. By switching to meatless alternatives and reducing the salt intake, that's only the tip of the iceberg. Look for the heart-healthy and American Heart Association symbols on food packages. With good nutrition and regular exercise, you can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and avoid getting clogged up arteries. I'll discuss how to eat well from breakfast to desserts and snacks to plan out a healthy menu for your grocery lists.

Have Eggs for a Meal or a Snack

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Starting out your day with optimal energy, you should include a healthy and hearty breakfast. It will keep you full until lunchtime.

Try out these healthy options, the next time you hit the grocery stores in the fresh and frozen aisles.

Hot and Cold Cereals: If you love cold cereals, you can pick anything that's made from grains and comes in a variety of flavors to choose from. Pair Cheerios or Chex cereal with a glass of milk and add some berries or slices of fresh fruit. Or try Kashi Cinnamon Harvest with Bountiful Fruit, which has no sodium, low in calories and delicious. Add some slices of your favorite fruit. For the wintertime, hot cereals are 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, hard-boiled, scrambled or sunny-side-up. A poached egg could be appetizing as well as filling 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 tastes great, no matter what flavor you buy for your meal.

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

Drinks: Any healthy milk, fruit juice, and smoothie 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. 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 a hurry from French toast, pancakes, or waffles. MorningStar and Jimmy Dean both have a breakfast food line in bacon and sausage meals. Lean Cuisine had come out with a breakfast line of foods in a variety of Egg McMuffin sandwiches and breakfast scrambles. Check the labeling to see if it's low in sodium.

Have a Healthy Tuna Salad Sandwich For Lunch

Tuna fish is one of the foods that the American Heart Association heartily approves for a great meal.
Tuna fish is one of the foods that the American Heart Association heartily approves for a great meal. | Source

Healthy Lunch Ideas

You can kick up your lunch meal by breaking it up and doing something different every single day of the week. 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 any day.

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

Bacon- Lettuce-and Tomato Sandwiches (BLT): You can't go wrong with this one. Romaine lettuce is fibrous and also a superfood. The tomatoes, too. Choose 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 with protein and a simple lunch idea to make. You can also pair them with crackers for an easy meal.

Deli salads and fresh salads: If you want to buy salads from the deli counter or those that come packaged, there are many varieties you can choose from. Egg salad, chicken salad, ham salad, potato salad, macaroni, and coleslaw to name a few. Check the label for sodium. If it's lower than 30%, it's okay, especially if it's vegan. 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 making 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. Healthy Choice, Campbell's Healthy Request and Progresso's Low-Sodium soups are perfect for your meal. 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 milkshakes 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.

Have a Pasta Night

Healthy meal poll

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

See results

Wholesome Dinner Meals

To round out the day, there are plenty of dinner ideas to keep in mind, especially to get ready for the big game on Super Bowl Sunday or any big meal. The sky's the limit for you when we also talk about the perfect side dish accompaniments.

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

Hot Dogs: If you like hot dogs, try them made with chicken, turkey or both, instead of pork. Grill them up or bake them for a delicious taste, since both kinds are also much lower in sodium.

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, steamed 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 are many recipes in either protein.

Ham: An occasional ham steak or a whole ham can be okay if you aim for a low salt variety.

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

Pasta/Noodles: These carbs will 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 microwave. There are 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 are fresh from your grocery store's produce department. Any of them would be ideal to make a great stew or soup as well. A small salad would be nutritional, too. Pick plenty of carrots, green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, etc. It would give your family plenty of fiber in their diet. If you prefer frozen veggies, it's really healthy for you to use your local store 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 meal 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! Another alternative is quinoa, which is known as the "super grain." Success Boil-in-Bag Quinoa comes in three types, are easier to cook and use, and the least expensive quinoa.

Drinks: Water would be the perfect drink.

Bonus tip: If you love to have a sub sandwich, you can make your own with your favorite veggies, cheese, meats on your favorite bread. Any pizza parlor would carry them. 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 to have pizzas on the menu.

Snack On it/Just Desserts

Last but not least, 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 like blueberries. 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 with tortilla chips. I'll recommend Food that Should Taste Good. They come in a line of yummy chip flavors, including pita chips. My brother got me hooked on them two years ago. As for pretzels, if you go easy on the salt, that's okay. Otherwise, stay away from them. Dip them into your veggie dip or sauce. Or try Sabra's Hummus as a healthier alternative. From plain to roasted garlic, you can dip anything into it.

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

Chex: If you. Chex craving, 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.

As a rule of thumb, you can eat any dessert in moderation. Puddings and Jellos are perfectly fine. If it's made from fruit, it'll be delicious and yummy, too.

In conclusion, if you eat right with low-sodium or no sodium healthier meals, you'll prevent heart disease in the long run.


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