This is a guest post by Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD and was originally published here.
You know the old joke, “I’m on a seafood diet. I see food, and I eat it.”
I’m a See Food diet kind of gal. What grabs my eye in a moment of hunger is often what I go for. I imagine many of you can relate. Companies like Frito Lay and Burger King count on it. Watch TV on an empty stomach and the next thing you know, you’re speed dialing Dominos for an order of Stuffed Cheesy Bread.
I find this is especially true for kids. If I set out a plate of colorful sliced fresh fruit and vegetables when they walk in the door from school, they’ll dive right in. If I don’t, they’re sniffing around the snack cupboard and complaining that I never buy Goldfish.
So, the trick to being healthy on a See Food diet is to make sure the food you SEE is what you really want to EAT. It’s about keeping nutritious food front and center. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a handful of the healthy convenience foods I try to keep in rotation so my cooking is more nourishing and the lure of the Cheesy Bread less tempting.
I do my best to keep fresh, cut up vegetables at the ready in the refrigerator, sometimes relying on pre-washed ones from the market, such as snap peas or carrots. This simple measure makes it easy to add vegetables to school lunches and is especially handy when kids complain that they’re “starving” as the dinner hour approaches.
Starving…Really? Have a radish.
After investing some time at the bulk bins of my local food coop this week, I did an overhaul of my beans and grains, which used to be squirreled away in the cabinet. Instead, I’ve put them in plain sight on the kitchen counter for inspiration. I limit the variety to three or four beans/legumes and a handful of grains, rotating in new options when they run out. I’ll keep the quantities small, particularly for the grains, to ensure there is plenty of turnover and food stays fresh.
Getting some of those beans, legumes, and grains cooked and within reach in the fridge makes it easy to have a healthy See Food diet. Convenience is everything. I’ll toss farro or rice into scrambled eggs for breakfast, add grains or beans to lunch box salads, or combine the two and top with grated cheese for a simple lunch or supper. You’ll find my crock pot beans here and some more about farro here.
The key to eating plenty of dark leafy greens, which we know to be nutrient-packed, is having them washed, dried, and easy to use. Best for me, is to get the job done before the groceries get put away and then quickly forgotten about. I also regularly buy pre-washed kale, arugula and other dark greens when I’m short on time. Here, I’ve got beet greens ready to be sauteed for a quick side dish or chopped and stirred into soup or stews.
Washed lettuce is a refrigerator staple. My kids have taken to making their own salads for school lunch, so fresh, crisp lettuce is key. Enlist their help getting the job done, particularly since what kid doesn’t love a salad spinner?
On a good week, I’ll mix in another green or two to add interest and expand our ingredient repertoire. Here, we’re giving dandelion greens a go because they arrived in our CSA box. Washed and ready, they get added to salads or tucked into sandwiches.
A fruit bowl has been a fixture on our kitchen counter since before the kids were born. It’s the first thing they see when they walk in the kitchen and its contents evolve with the seasons.
I also do my best to have refrigerated fruit such as melon, grapes, and pineapple cut up and easy to eyeball.
For quick, affordable protein, nothing beats a bowlful of hard boiled eggs for out-the-door breakfasts, sliced onto lunch salads or vegetables, transformed into simple deviled eggs, or for straight up snacking.
Lest you think it’s all black beans and beet greens around here, we also keep home baked treats in rotation, such as these Cooking Light S’mores Bars. If you’ve got all your healthy See Food diet options in place, there’s room for some goodies, too.
What are your See Food Diet tips?