Make Yourself a Healthy Goal for a Healthy New Year
By Sharon Palmer, RD
Each New Year seems to commence with a common trend: with gusto and conviction to achieve your new set of resolutions. Whether it’s vowing to get more sleep every night, eating your recommended daily dose of fruits and vegetables, spending more time with your children, or finally joining that fitness class you’ve heard so much about – the first few weeks of January usually start out strong.
That’s why in January, fitness gyms usually see an increase in membership enrollment and dietitians and other nutrition professionals begin taking on more clients. Then, why is it that as the month comes to an end and February starts creeping in, that our determination and drive slowly fall to the wayside?
One of the biggest roadblocks to achieving our goals long term starts at the very first step – the step when we actually make our goals.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s essential that all goals we set out to achieve are SMART ones. That is, they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. So, if you’re resolution is to eat your daily recommended dose of fruits and vegetables, it’s important to make it a SMART resolution. For example:
1. Make it specific. Be aware that it’s recommended for the average adult that we consume about 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day. It’s difficult to keep your eye on the target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for.
2. Make it measurable. To help yourself reach your goal, record the fruits and vegetables you eat throughout the day in a food journal or on your smart phone. Check it each night to see how you’re doing.
3. Make it attainable. It’s important to recognize where you’re at. If you’re currently not eating any fruits or vegetables, it’s more realistic to aim for eating at least one to two serving of each day. If you’re already eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, aim for eating the daily recommended intake.
4. Make it relevant. Ask yourself if this goal is relevant to other goals you have already established. If you’re health is a priority, eating your fruits and vegetables is one of the very best ways to achieve optimal health.
5. Make it timely. Give yourself a time limit as to when you would like to achieve this goal. And when it comes to the time frame long term, this is one you’ll want to keep!
To start your resolution off on the right foot, begin incorporating more canned tomatoes into your meals, such as this recipe for Mediterranean Polenta. Canned tomatoes are one of the easiest ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet as they are they are shelf stable, versatile, and have the ability to make any recipe absolutely delicious.
My family gave this dish the thumbs-up for its flavor! And I love this meal because it’s loaded with the antioxidants power of tomatoes. Best of all, it’s a cinch to make!
1 cup polenta, dry
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup Mediterranean olives, whole
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, dried
Black pepper, as desired
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
- In a 2 quart baking dish, stir together polenta, water, salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
- About 40 minutes after baking, heat remaining olive oil in pan and sauté onions, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic until crisp tender–about 5 minutes.
- Add capers, olives, seasonings and tomatoes. Stir together and cook on low for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove polenta from oven and top dish with tomato sauce. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Optional: garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
Nutritional analysis per serving (without Parmesan cheese): Calories: 234 Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 471mg Carbohydrates: 44.5g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 3g Protein: 6g Vitamin A: 5% Vitamin C: 136% Calcium: 8% Iron: 21%