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Five Tips for Eating Healthy at Home with Minimal Effort

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There are those who can come home after a long day's work and somehow whip up a healthy full-course meal. Then there are the rest of us who barely have enough energy to crack open a fresh tube of Pringles before parking our rear on the couch for the night. Clearly, it would do your body good to be among those who can prepare a nutritious dinner seven nights a week. Chances are, however, you're not one of them. The fact is, most hardworking folks just don't have the time, patience, or desire to start chopping vegetables, marinating meat, and stirring something every three minutes after dragging themselves through the front door each evening.

Let's face it, you're tired, you're hungry, and you want instant gratification. Unfortunately, that means you'll most likely end up stuffing something into your mouth that came directly out of a can, bag, box, jar, or wrapper. And last I checked, there were no broccoli-filled Ring Dings or Tofu Tostitos at the local supermarket. So what's a person to do who wants something quick and nutritious to eat at the end of the day?

1. Ditch the Frozen Dinners. Repeat after me, SO-Dee-UM. Yes, your body needs it, but it doesn't need enough to fill Shamu's tank at SeaWorld. These fast and easy meals may be low in fat (and even have the word "healthy" in the title), but the fact is, they're packed with salt, and that's not a good thing if you're trying to lower your weight and blood pressure.

Healthy Option. More and more supermarkets and health food stores are offering freshly cooked, prepared meals. Just heat 'em and eat 'em. They may cost a little more than the frozen meals, but in the long run you'll be saving a whole lot more than a few bucks.

2. Avoid Anything That Has the Word "Dog" in It. You're barking up the wrong tree with these sodium-laced, pork products. First off, they're loaded with fat, salt, and byproducts. And if you're not quite sure what byproducts are, let's just say they're the parts of the animal that don't present themselves well on a label. So whether it's got the word "hot," "corn," or "chili" before it, these dogs are all better left outside the house.

Healthy Option. If you crave meat and haven't used your oven since 1987, try tossing some tuna over a bed of spinach and some tomatoes. True, it may not be as fun to eat as a hot dog, but it's a whole lot healthier and lower in fat. Plus, you can be 100% sure you're not eating pig testicles.

3. Pass on the Processed Meat. Throw in the white bread and mayo and you've got the perfect trifecta for a classic favorite that's got about as much nutritional value as the fender of a Buick. While I realize it's tough to beat a bologna sandwich for speed, simplicity, and taste, it really offers very little in terms of important nutrients. Of course, you will get your share of empty carbs, calories, and belly-bloating salt.

Healthy Option. Fresh turkey (not processed) on whole wheat bread with mustard, lettuce, and a few slices of avocado if you feel like going nuts. This sandwich option is much healthier, lower in fat, and just as easy to slap together. (Keep in mind, using lettuce and an avocado may add up to 90 seconds of preparation time).

4. Can the Canned Foods. Did you hear the one about the bachelor who starved to death because he lost his can opener? If only someone had told him about the crisper in the refrigerator. Sure, in the event of a major catastrophe, it would behoove you to have some canned goods to get you through the fallout. However, if you're more concerned about living for the day than preparing for Armageddon, you may want to consider replacing those soggy canned veggies with some fresh ones that were actually grown during the new millennium.

Healthy Option. Anything "NATURAL." Of course, this refers to food items, and not things like coal or rawhide. Fresh fruits and vegetables are what you should have in mind. What's so great about this option is that the choices are plentiful, tasty, and still have all the vitamins and minerals they were given by Mother Nature. Just check out the produce section of your local market and you're sure to find something you like. And if you need a little something extra for your taste buds, try slapping a bit of natural peanut butter on it.

5. Nix the Chips. True, most wouldn't consider chips a dinner item, but for those lazy and ravenous single folks like myself, they definitely constitute a side dish. Unfortunately these tempting treats are cooked in hot fat and doused with salt. The problem is you can never eat just one, and that's bad news for your thighs and waistline.

Healthy Option. This is a relatively easy and pain-free fix. Just replace your fried chips with baked chips (corn or potato). They taste just as good. The bag is just as easy to open. And you can eat more than just one without the guilt. (If you're lost without the dip, just replace the fat-laden ranch dressing or canned bean concoctions for a hearty helping of salsa.)



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