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Spring is here, which means the farmers’ markets are buzzing and your fridge will soon be packed with seasonal produce. But while the ingredients may be healthy, the way you cook might not be. That’s why we chatted with Tracey Burg, a registered dietitian and chef at Boston Medical Center’s Demonstration Kitchen, to get some healthy cooking tips for the season.
1. Stick with whole foods
Burg tells her patients to cook with whole fruits, vegetables, and grains as much as possible to get the most nutrients.
“The closer you get to the natural food, the better off you are,” she said.
2. Fruits and vegetables should make up at least half your meal
Roasting is one of Burg’s favorite ways to cook vegetables.
Simply drizzle with olive oil, then toss in some fresh minced garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
If you’re interested in eating light to maintain or lose weight, she suggests having a big salad with some protein for at least one meal a day.
3. Use less salt
Burg said to use spices, herbs, and lemon zest to season instead of salt.
“[If] the recipe calls for salt, cut it to 25 percent,” Burg said. “A lot of us add way too much salt in our diet. We just need 2,400 milligrams [about one teaspoon] of salt in our diet a day, and most Americans are getting over six tablespoons.”
4. Garnish with nuts and seeds
Burg suggested using nuts and seeds to garnish recipes — from almonds on strawberry shortcake to sunflower seeds on a salad. A lemony kale salad with a healthy crunch — thanks to sunflower seeds — is a favorite at BMC, she said.
“[Nuts and seeds] are loaded with heart-healthy ingredients like vitamin E, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids,” Burg said. “They’re really good for you.”
5. Try something new
Burg recommends experimenting with new foods and flavors. Try the “exotic foods” aisle at the grocery store or ask an employee in the produce department for some tips.