How to Reduce Food Waste and Help the Environment

There’s no shortage of debate about whether eating more plant than animal foods is better for the environment. Perhaps it’s time to focus on the fact that wasting any type of food threatens the health of the planet, no matter what your eating style.  Here’s how to reduce food waste and help the environment.

Food waste is a serious problem

A recent study found that the U.S. wastes, on average, 30% of the food that’s available to eat, and most of it is tossed at home. To better visual such waste, think about buying three bags of food every day and immediately throwing one in the trash bin.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Sadly, it’s true.

The same study found that households pitch about  $2,000.00-worth of food every year. That amounts to about $240 billion yearly.  In addition to wasting money, tossing edible food drives up prices for everyone, and people with limited budgets may not be able to afford nutritious food.

Why food waste is bad for the planet

Food is the single largest part of trash in landfills, where it produces methane, a global-warming gas.

If food waste was a country, it would be the planet’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, right behind China and the United States.

What’s more, wasting food wastes resources. For example, 25% of all freshwater in the U.S. is used to produce food that we never eat.

Zero-waste snacking tips

How to reduce food waste at home

Managing food wisely takes some time and creativity, but it’s worth it.

The amount of food tossed in my household is directly related to my level of motivation to manage it. That includes planning meals, shopping, and using up leftovers. The busier I get, the more food I throw away.

We can’t keep all the food out of the trash heap, but I think it’s safe to say we can do better.

I asked my registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) colleagues for their best food-saving tips. I divided their advice, and my own, into three levels of difficulty. Pick the tips that best fit your lifestyle.

Simple tips to save food and money

  • Overeating is technically a form of food waste, because we are consuming more food than our bodies need. This form of food waste can lead to chronic diseases, too. Choose smaller plates and glasses.  A smaller plate helps encourage proper portions and reduces overeating.  – Chris Vogliano
  • “Before going to the grocery store, look in the fridge and cabinets to see what you have, and what needs to be used up first. If there is something that I know I won’t eat before it goes bad, into the freezer it goes (either cooked or not, depending on the food). Then I use what’s in the freezer when I’m planning my meals.” – Kaleigh McMordie
  • “You don’t need a complicated recipe to make a meal, snack or side dish. Take a look at what you have, and be confident. Most leftovers combine nicely for a soup, casserole or stir-fry.”- Pat Baird

Shows a bowl of chili to show that nourishing meals can be simple.

  • Get kids involved! Make preserving food a family effort and encourage children to think of ways to waste less.

Check out 10 Ways to Get Kids to Waste Less Food

Fresh strawberries in boxes.

  • “Use fresh produce in smoothies. I keep bulk Greek yogurt in the fridge and make smoothies as a grab and go breakfast.” – Mary Emerson
  • Purchase plain frozen fruits and vegetables, which allow you to use only what you need to minimize waste.
  • Embrace imperfection. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with odd shapes, sizes, or colors. They taste the same, and slightly bruised produce is OK to eat if you cut away the damaged areas. Avoid produce with any cuts.

Grocery care and grocery receipts.

See what happened when Dana Angelo White challenged herself to reduce her family’s food waste

  • After grocery shopping, get perishables into the fridge or freezer ASAP to reduce spoilage. If you’re making stops before heading home from the super­ market, bring a cooler bag with you in the car for dairy, meat, and produce.
  • Avoid resealing fresh fruits and vegetables in airtight plastic storage bags or containers because they trap moisture that promotes faster decay. Purchase perforated plastic bags for produce or make your own by poking tiny holes in resealable plastic bags.
  • “Write the date a food was opened when you open a container of shelf stable food like broth or canned beans to avoid having to guess whether it’s still good or not when you can’t remember how long it’s been in the fridge.” – Courtney Stinson
  • “Consider a meal delivery service. I found food waste challenging when we went from a family of three to a family of two. Using the Hello Fresh for a few meals a week is helpful. We get just the right amount of ingredients and the meals-for-two are actually dinner-for-two and lunch-for-one.” – Shelley Real

How to reduce food waste and save  more money 

  • Plan meals and snacks for at least five days of the week and shop for the ingredients. Meal planning helps to save money and food waste, and prepping meals on the weekend saves time Monday through Friday. Check out Smart Meal Prep for Beginners by Toby Amidor to get started.

  • “Reorganize your fridge. Crisper drawers actually have a purpose! Reconsidering how you organize your fridge can keep your food fresh longer by reducing spoilage.  This will save money and fight food waste.  Check out this fridge storage infographic for more information.– Chris Vogliano
  • “I cook vegetables within a day or two of purchase and refrigerate them in airtight container if I know I will not be eating them that day. This allows me to eat them before they have a chance to wilt in the fridge.” – Barbara Baron
  • “Have a family fix it yourself leftovers night. We do this when we’re too lazy or tired to make a meal. We try to eat all the leftover food and what that is close to expiring. Nobody eats the same thing, but we can still usually each find a pretty balanced meal.” – Courtney Stinson

Here’s how to makeover your leftovers

  • “I use extra vegetables and grains to make pasta dishes and rice bowls.” – Rebecca Clyde
  • “When I’m feeling ambitious, I portion out foods like fruit, veggies, beans, and grains into see-through containers, typically in ½-cup or 1-cup portions. As a result, instead of the blueberries getting pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten, someone can easily grab a portion to eat.” -Wendy Kaplan
  • “Build a layered vegetable salad in order of the food’s ability to withstand moisture, and it’ll keep in your refrigerator longer. Starting at the bottom of the bowl, use sturdy vegetables like peppers and carrots. Then use vegetables that can withstand some moisture, like mushrooms and beans. Follow with a layer of whole grains. Finish with a top layer of herbs and lettuce. Add dressing on individual plates, right before serving.” – Tamar Rothenberg

Cook more often to reduce food waste

  • “I keep a bag of vegetable scraps in my freezer to make stock. When I get enough, I toss the vegetables in with bones and cook overnight.” –Wendy Jo Peterson

  • “Eat root-to-stem! For example, if you’re a fan of broccoli, sauté the leaves, which tastes similar to kale, and turn the stem into broccoli rice in the food processor.”  – Jessica Spiro 
  • Use ice cube trays to preserve leftover wine, remaining tomato paste, milk, yogurt, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Use in recipes later.

Check out Jessica Elyse’s ways to reduce food waste

  • “Use up parts of veggies you wouldn’t normally eat, or veggies that have lost their texture (ex: softened carrots) by making your own vegetable broth. Compost the veggie scraps after you’ve gotten flavor and nutrients out of them.” – Kelly Jones
  • Make food fresh again. Perk up wilted kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens by placing them in ice water for 30 minutes. Cook and eat or freeze. To freshen up nuts, toast them on a baking sheet in a 350 ̊F oven for 10 minutes.

Read: A year of less food waste by Moms Kitchen Handbook

  • “I make an Egg Bake with my leftover food–nearly anything can be mixed with eggs, some onions and a little cheese (even cottage cheese–one of my favorites).” – Kitty Broihier
  • “Search for recipes based on what you need to use up.  Also, when I realize I made too much of something, I’ll find a friend or neighbor to share it with. -Kacie Barnes

Cooking Down: Minimize Waste and Make Easy Real Food

  • “Dry fruits and vegetables in the oven or a dehydrator. Purée veggies and tomatoes for marinara sauce. Make soup. Make croutons with extra bread.” -Aimee Sarchet
  • “I evaluate the fridge before going to the store each Sunday. Then I make a meal with leftovers, such as a frittata with leftover veggies and cheese.  I also make dishes like grain salad for lunches with cooked whole grains, salad greens, veggies and meat, or a soup. I always freeze leftover canned goods.”‪ – Jessica Ivey

Judy Barbe’s Roasted Cauliflower Fettucini uses cauliflower stems! 

Kara Lydon Evancho has compiled 25 delicious, creative recipes to use up leftovers

When is it OK to throw food away?

I feel guilty every time I throw food away, but sometimes I must. For safety’s sake, toss the following:

  • Odd­-smelling food
  • Food left out for more than two hours, or one hour if the air temperature is 90 ̊F or above
  • If the power has been out for at least four hours and you haven’t opened the refrigerator or freezer; sooner if you have raw animal foods, dairy, and leftovers
  • If cans have rusted or they’re leaking, deeply dented, or bulging
  • Moldy food (except for cheese; you can cut that part away)

What the dates on food packages mean

You may pitch food because you want to eat only the freshest and safest items, but throwing away perfectly good items contributes to food waste.

Some of the dates on food packages are more about quality than anything.

• “Sell by” dates are used for fresh, perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products. It’s the last possible day the store can sell the product, and it’s a date you should take seriously for safety’s sake. However, if the date passes while you have the product at home, the food should still be safe if handled properly.

• The “Use By” and “Best If Used By” dates have more wiggle room, as they refer to perceived food quality, not food safety. For example, the “best if used by” is the last date recommended for the customer’s use of a product at its peak quality.

• Set your refrigerator between 35 ̊F and 40 ̊F, and your freezer at 0 ̊F or below, to keep food fresher for longer. Don’t stuff the refrigerator and freezer. That reduces cooling efficiency and speeds up food spoilage.

To see how long food is still good past these dates, visit stilltasty.com.

Dried Fig, Goat Cheese, and Apple Galette

I worked with California Figs on this paid post.

I attended a meeting in September where I’m sure I ate my weight in fresh and dried California figs. This recipe for Dried Fig, Goat Cheese, and Apple Galette is a result of my fig enthusiasm, and it will be on the table this year at Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season!

fig, apple, and goat cheese galette
Dried Fig, Goat Cheese, and Apple Galette is perfect for any holiday meal.

Fun Facts About Figs

Clearly, I have a thing for figs, mostly because they are delicious. But I have come to appreciate figs for other reasons, too.

• Figs are flowers. Yes, you read that right. The flowers from fig trees are actually found inside the pear-shaped bloom they produce. The flowers develop into the delicious, sweet fruit.

• Figs grow best where it’s warm, dry, and sunny, so it makes sense that, in the U.S., California grows all the dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs for commercial use. The San Joaquin Valley is the perfect place to grow the sweetest, most plump figs. Yay for California!

• Figs are the only fruit to fully ripen and partially dry while they are still hanging on the trees. When they are fully dried, they can last six to eight months in air-tight containers.

• California Dried Golden Figs is the generic term for several lighter-colored varieties that all tend to have a slightly nutty and buttery flavor. Mission Figs, which are grown only in California, have a dark purple skin and a deep, earthy flavor.

Dried figs pair well with goat cheese, apples, and a buttery crust.

Why Dried Figs are Healthy

Figs are tasty, and they are good for you, too. Figs are naturally sweet and contain no added sugar. They also pack fiber to boost eating satisfaction.

Read this for simple ways to cut back on sugar intake.

Here’s something you may not know. Figs supply bone-building nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Plus, their negligible sodium levels and their relatively high potassium content help to keep blood pressure in check as part of a balanced eating plan.

Dried Fig, Goat Cheese, and Apple Galette

Don’t be put off by the fancy French name. “Galette” translates into “free-form pie that doesn’t have to look perfect.” That’s not entirely accurate, of course, but this is true: galettes are for people like me who hate to fuss in kitchen and want to make a dish that’s slightly out of the box. If you want to know more about the real differences between galettes, tarts, and pies, check out this article.

Dried Fig, Goat Cheese, and Apple Galette is a mixture of sweet and savory, which is a tasty combination for any holiday meal. The crust is to die for, and it’s simple to make.

The galette is a special dish that your friends and family will surely appreciate. You can make it a day ahead and gently heat in the oven at 300˚ F just before serving. Here are some other ideas for make-ahead holiday dishes.

I hope you enjoy this galette as much as we do in our house!

fig goat cheese apple galette
Galettes don’t need to look perfect to taste delicious!

Dried Fig, Goat Cheese, and Apple Galette

This sweet and savory fig tart is perfect for your holiday table!
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: apple, California figs, dried figs, galette, goat cheese, holiday food, Thanksgiving
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup ice water mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 10 California Dried Golden Figs
  • 2 medium baking apples, such as Cortland
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fig jam
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 small or medium egg
  • 1 tablespoon ice water

Instructions

  • Add 1 cup flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt to a large food processor. Pulse to blend. 
  • Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms small crumbs about the size of peas. 
  • Add the water/vinegar mixture and pulse until it forms larger crumbs, being careful to not overmix. The dough should not come together as a ball. 
  • On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. 
  • Thirty minutes before removing the dough, preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  
  • In the meantime, cut the stem off of the figs and slice figs into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • Peel and core the apples, cut into ¼-inch slices and place in a medium mixing bowl with the lemon juice. Coat the fruit completely with the lemon juice.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar and the flour.  Add the sugar mixture to the apples and toss to coat. 
  • When one hour is up, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12-inch round, which doesn’t have to be perfectly round! Carefully transfer the dough to the baking sheet. 
  • Spread the fig jam on the dough, leaving a 2-inch border (you will be folding this part of the crust up).  Sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the jam.  Sprinkle the thyme on top of the cheese. Arrange the apple mixture any way you like on top of the jam, and top the apples with the sliced figs. 
  • Pleat the dough every two inches until all sides are folded and the galette has formed. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water.  Using a pastry brush, dab the top of the crust with the egg mixture. (Don’t use all of the mixture or the dough will get soggy.)  Sprinkle the crust with 1 tablespoon of sugar. 
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling. 
    Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

California Figs Cookbook

If you’re like me and you can’t get enough figs, check out the latest California Figs Cookbook. It contains 62 recipes and gorgeous photos that will make your mouth water. The book makes a wonderful gift, and you can buy it at http://www.CaliforniaFigs.com.

Why It’s OK to Eat Refined Grains

You love white bread, pasta, and rice, but given the push by nutrition experts to increase whole grain intake, you may feel bad for preferring, and eating, the refined kind. You can stop feeling guilty now. Science shows it’s OK to eat refined grains. 

Good news about refined grains

Refined grains are often fingered for contributing to chronic health problems, but a recent study has found they are not to blame. The research shows that when refined grains are taken as a group, there is no evidence linking them with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, or dying early.

Perhaps the company refined grains keep is the problem. The influence of refined grains on health are lumped in with the effects of a person’s overall diet, which may not be particularly healthy.  

Balanced eating patterns matter most when it comes to avoiding chronic conditions. It’s likely that a steady diet of saturated fat, sodium, added sugar, and inadequate fiber is more likely to blame for chronic illness than a piece or two of white bread and a serving of rice every day. 

Here’s why.

Nutrients found in refined grains

Most refined grains sold in the U.S. are made from enriched flour. That means they supply added iron, and four B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. 

Americans get much of their iron and other nutrients from enriched grains, such as breakfast cereal, bread, and pasta. In addition, folic acid is very important to help prevent birth defects that occur early in pregnancy, often when a woman doesn’t know she is expecting. (Whole grains and gluten-free products are usually not made with enriched flour.)

All refined grains are not created equal, and some are more nutritious than others.  Bread, cereal, pasta, and rice provide more nutrients than cookies, cake, and chips, which most people should save for treats. 

There’s no shame in starch

Shunning grain foods is fashionable, but I don’t advise it. In addition to vitamins and minerals, grains contain complex carbohydrates your body needs.

Resistant starch is found in foods such as rice, pasta, and potatoes.  Bacteria in the gut feed on resistant starch and produce compounds that support gut health and overall health.

Retrograde starch is a type of resistant starch formed when starchy foods, such as rice and pasta, are cooked and then cooled. Cooked and cooled grains have more resistant starch than when warm.  Reheating cooked and cooled foods does not decrease retrograde starch content. 

How many servings of grains should you eat every day?

While it’s OK to eat refined grains, people who follow a 2,000-calorie eating plan require at least three servings of whole grains out of a total daily suggested intake of six grain servings

Experts suggest eating half your grains as whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, breakfast cereal, and brown rice.  Whole grains generally contain more fiber and higher levels of certain nutrients than their more refined counterparts, and they may help with weight control. 

Bottom line on grains

There’s room for refined grains, such as white rice, bread, and pasta, in a healthy diet. Save sweets, crackers, and chips for occasional indulgences, however.

Overall, a nutritious, enjoyable eating plan matters most for supporting health. No single food, or food group, is problematic for most people. 

Healthy Recipes with Cereal

Cereal is a delicious and nutritious food, and it’s for more than pouring into a bowl and dousing with milk. You can make all sorts of fun, healthy recipes with the cereal you have on hand to eat for any meal or as snacks. I asked my dietitian friends for their best out-of-the-box cereal recipes. Check out their creative contributions!

Why cereal is a healthy choice

Whether it’s whole grain, or refined, cereal supplies energy-producing carbohydrate. In addition, it can be a source of other nutrients that often go missing in the diet.

But all cereals are not alike.

Whole grains have the most fiber, vitamin E, and selenium, but they are not usually enriched.

Refined grain is a term used to describe grains that are missing one or more of their three key parts – the bran, the germ, or the endosperm. Refining a grain results in nutrient loss.

However, most refined grains are enriched. That means processors add vitamins and minerals, but not fiber, back to refined grains in the same amount, or more, as found in whole grains.

Enriched grains have health benefits

Enriched grains contain B vitamins, including folic acid, and the mineral iron. Iron and folic acid don’t occur naturally in significant amounts in whole grains, but they are welcome additions to refined grains, especially cereal.

Health experts recommend that women in their childbearing years get adequate folic acid every day. Adequate folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects during the first month of pregnancy. A serving of enriched cereal can provide as much as 100% of the Daily Value for folic acid.

The added iron in enriched cereal is a good source of this nutrient. Iron is needed to prevent iron deficiency anemia, which can result in long lasting fatigue, and other health problems.

Do grains cause weight gain?

You may be surprised to hear that grains may be good for your waistline. An eating pattern that includes higher amounts of a variety of grains, including cereal, is associated with a healthier body weight.

Choose cereals with the least added sugar, which adds calories. Save sugar-laden cereals for a treat, not an everyday food.

Out-of-the-box cereal creations

Since I think cereal is good any time of day, I’ve divided up the delicious healthy recipes with cereal into two groups: sweet and savory. Enjoy them at any meal, or for a snack!

Sweet healthy recipes with cereal

Coconut Fruit Tart by Live Best

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Nachos by Jill Weisenberger

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Popsicles by The Nutritionist Reviews

Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola by Foods with Judes

Crunchy Cereal-Filled Waffles by Bonnie Taub-Dix

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread by Better Is the New Perfect

Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites by Amy Gorin

Flourless Milk & Cereal Pancakes by Sinful Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Trail Mix by National Peanut Board

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz’s Healthy Table

Protein Packed Chocolate Cereal Bowl by Nutrition Starring You

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl by The Crowded Table

Vanilla Maple Chia Yogurt Parfait by Julie Harrington

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars by Better Is the New Perfect

Savory healthy recipes with cereal

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl by The Grateful Grazer

Crispy Hummus Mashed Potato Balls by Tasty Balance Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix from The Lean Green Bean

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried Egg by Jessica Levinson

Wheaties Oven Baked Ravioli by My Menu Pal

Fonio Recipe by Laurel Ann Nutrition

Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe

Cooking in aluminum foil packets is fun! We usually grill foil packets of meat, fish, and vegetables for summer meals, but you can cook with foil indoors, too. This easy baked fish in foil recipe makes it simpler to include seafood two times a week. And, clean up is a breeze!

Baked fish topped with tomatoes next to roasted asparagus and two slices of whole wheat bread and butter.
Serve baked fish with vegetables and whole grains for a balanced meal.

How to bake fish in the oven

Foil packets, also known as foil parcels, help to keep fish moist when cooking. Foil packets seal in juices from the fish and the tomatoes, infusing this dish with great taste.

This may come as a surprise, but you can prepare this dish, and others, with frozen fish that you don’t have to thaw first! Keep frozen fish fillets in the freezer for easy weeknight dinners.

Canned tomatoes are a staple in my kitchen. They are convenient, nutritious, and delicious. You can use any type of diced canned tomato you like in this recipe, but I prefer fire-roasted for their intense flavor. I’ve also used two cups of fresh cherry tomatoes sliced in half in place of canned.

You can use frozen fish fillets to make prep even easier!

The health benefits of eating more fish

Experts suggest that adults eat at least eight ounces of seafood a week. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need eight to 12 ounces of seafood weekly. The nutrients in seafood support heart, eye, and brain health.

Americans, particularly pregnant and breastfeeding women, do not consume the suggested amount of seafood. Include the seafood you need with easy recipes like baked fish in foil, and this one for tuna burgers.

Simple, delicious, and nutritious. Baked fish in foil is the perfect weeknight dinner!

It hasn’t always been easy to get my kids to eat fish, but everyone loves this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe

Twenty five minutes is all it takes to make this tasty fish dish perfect for weeknight meals! 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy baked fish in foil recipe, easydinnerrecipe, foilpacket
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 202kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breaded cod, haddock or other white fish fillets
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. 
    Line a medium baking dish with a sheet of foil big enough to make a packet, about 12 to 14 inches long. Place fish in the baking dish.  
    Top fish with tomatoes, olive oil, and parsley. 
    Fold the sides of the foil inwards around the fish, and fold in the top and bottom of the foil. Pinch the foil closed to create a package.
    Bake for 18-20 minutes or until fish is flaky and opaque. When cooked, open the packet carefully to avoid spilling the juices. Serve immediately. 

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 202 calories; 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 54 milligrams cholesterol; 504 milligrams sodium; 7 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 24 grams protein.

    Notes

    You can make this recipe with frozen fish. It will take a few minutes more to cook. 
    Use plain fish for a gluten-free dish.  
    It’s possible to skip the olive oil, but I find it adds to the flavor and helps keep the fish moist.
    Substitute chopped parsley for fresh. Use 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. 
     

    Declutter Your Diet for Better Health

    What with the popularity of Marie Kondo’s book and her Netflix series about decluttering, purging unwanted objects is on my mind. While I struggle with clutter on a daily basis, Kondos’ simple belief – that tidying up helps to calm you down – works for me. In keeping with her approach, it pays to declutter your diet for better health, too.

    Reducing stress may help prevent mindless munching, and may reduce your blood pressure, too.

    Does this sound familiar? You come home tired and hungry after a busy day, and a disorderly kitchen awaits you. With little energy left to make dinner, or prep food for the next day, you give in to temptation and eat whatever is on hand.

    When you’re feeling stressed about the mess, your brain does not want to deal with the dishes in the sink, the mess on the counter, and a disorganized refrigerator. Your brain wants pleasure, and food is the likely the fastest way to satisfy it.

    You can’t squash every food craving, but you can control your home environment as much as possible to better resist the urge to splurge.

    Just thinking about getting organized to improve your eating habits can be stressful, but it’s also rewarding when you take small steps to get more order in your life.

    Join: The Pantry, Fridge, and FreezerCleanout Challenge

    Organize your kitchen to declutter your diet for better health

    A tidy refrigerator and orderly cabinets help you find food fast and curbs overspending. Why? Because you are more aware of what you have on hand, and what you need at the store.

    For some people, a tidy kitchen encourages healthier food choices.

    Read: Why clutter causes stress 

    I’m not perfect at kitchen organization, but I’m getting better. (In my defense, I do live with four other people!) However, there are some things I do regularly to stay on track with healthy eating. Here are some tips to try.

    • Empty the fridge, freezer, and cabinets. Throw away really old food, but also be aware that the dates on packaged foods (not fresh, perishable foods like meat, poultry, and seafood) deal with a food’s quality, and not its safety.

    • When you restock shelves, organize food in categories. For example, group all canned products in one place and by type. Check the dates on foods and put the oldest in the back.

    Canned tomatoes, frozen fish fillets, and dried parsley combine for a delicious meal!


    • Avoid stuffing the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. You need to see what you have on hand to use it up, and to prevent buying more of the same.

    • Invest in sturdy air-tight containers for sugar, flour, and other grains, such as cereal. Transfer foods to these containers and label them clearly. This saves space, improves organization, and keeps food fresher.

    • Use under shelf organizers to save space and tiered risers for canned goods and other packaged foods so that you can always see what you have on hand.

    • Keep treats out of sight, and healthier foods in the open. The old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” really works. For instance, stash cookies and brownies in the freezer and put an open bag of chips in the cupboard, and leave an inviting bowl of fresh whole fruit on the counter.

    Read: 12 DIY projects to clean up your eating habits

    Make a plan to declutter your diet for better health

    Yay! Your kitchen is in order, or at least its more tidy. It’s time to plan healthier meals and snacks.

    • When you’re short on time during the week, consider meal prep on the weekend for the busy days ahead. However, if you can’t devote a few hours to the week’s meals on a Saturday or Sunday, you can always assemble balanced, simple meals and snacks in very little time.

    • Once you have an eating plan in place, make a list of food you need for better meals and snacks in the days ahead. It’s easier to shop for ingredients when working from a list.

    • I’m not against treats like chocolate, ice cream, and chips, but if having these foods in the house triggers you to overeat, don’t buy them.

    Declutter your diet to reduce food waste

    Marie Kondo’s goal is joy. Wasting food makes me sad, so I do my best to use up what would go to waste, which is part of managing your food better.

    I used what I had in the kitchen to make this satisfying vegetable soup!

    Here are 36 more ways to reduce food waste and save more money.

    Eat at the table to prevent mindless munching

    It’s not always possible to avoid eating on the run, but when you’re home, I highly recommend sitting down.

    Eating at the kitchen or dining room table, and off of a plate or out of a bowl, allows you to eat more mindfully than when standing at the counter or sitting in front of the TV or computer screen. Increasing your awareness of eating may help you to eat more nutritious foods in the right portions for you.

    It’s easier to relax when you declutter your diet for better health!

    13 Delicious Mocktails

    Sparkling Pomegranate Apple Cider

    Mocktails are having a moment. They are popular with people who need to avoid alcohol and they are gaining ground with others, too.

    Studies show giving up alcohol improves sleep and energy level and saves money. Moreover, drinking less may also make weight loss and long term weight control easier because alcoholic beverages have calories that you may not need.

    Health experts suggest that women limit their alcohol intake, which may help reduce their risk for breast cancer.

    Whatever your goals, it never hurts to drink less alcohol.

    I asked my friends for their favorite mocktail recipes, and they are amazing. Enjoy!

    Why taking a break from alcohol is good for you

    The Punch of Pomegranate

    Perfect for mocktails pomegranate combines well with many different flavors.

    Pomegranate Orange Mint Mocktail

    Pomegranate Orange Mint Mocktail from Bite of Health Nutrition

    Festive Pomegranate Cherry Spritzer from Sara Haas

    Sparkling Cherry Spritzer from Jenny Shea Rawn

    Ginger Pomegranate Sparkler Mocktail from Tasty Balance Nutrition

    Pomegranate Apple Cider Mocktail from Nutrition to Fit

    Mocktails with Citrus

    I love the zing citrus supplies!

    Cranberry Lemon and Orange Cider from The Nutrition Reviews

    Easy Apple Cider Mocktail with Fresh Citrus Slices from Nourish Nutrition

    Cranberry Orange and Lime Cider

    Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer from Sip Smarter

    Basil Lemonade Spritzer

    Basil Lemonade Spritzer from Bite of Health Nutrition

    Tropical Lipton Green Tea Virgin Sangria from Amy Gorin

    Mango Kombucha Refresher from Spilling the Beans

    Sweet and Spicy

    I love these combinations because they offer spice and sweetness.

    Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

    Spicy Kombucha Margaritas from Leanne Ray

    Ginger Beer Pear Punch from The Nutrition Adventure

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    Citrusy Grapefruit Spritzer

    More and more, people are giving up alcohol

    What’s your favorite way to enjoy alcohol-free cocktails or other nonalcoholic beverages?

    Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss and Better Health? 

    Surprise! You fast every day.

    It’s that time of year when millions of us make eating resolutions that we won’t keep. If you’re tired of restrictive diets that you can’t possibly stick with, you may wonder if you should consider intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health, too.

    Why eating less at night may be good for your heart

    What is Intermittent Fasting?

    Fasting is going without food. While that may sound drastic, consider that you fast every day while you’re asleep and between meals!

    Intermittent fasting (IF) limits when you eat, not what you eat. IF is not a diet. It’s an eating pattern without the calorie-counting. 

    There are several types of IF, including:

    • Fasting every other day of the week.  

    • The 5:2 plan: Eat as usual on five days of the week. Limit calories to 25% of your needs (for example, 500 calories on a 2000-calorie a day eating plan) on two non-consecutive days, such as Monday and Thursday.

    • Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) limits food intake for at least 12 hours, and for as long as 20 hours, every day.  For example, you can choose to eat all your food from 10 AM to 6 PM, or during any other time frame that works for you.

    Researchs suggests intermittent fasting for weight loss and better health is promising. TRE is the least restrictive and most adaptable form of IF, and it makes the most sense for people with a busy lifestyle. However, no type of IF is suitable for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with eating disorders, and some people with diabetes.

     An RD’s experience with intermittent fasting

    Satisfaction is key to maintaining a healthy eating plan.

    Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss  

    While I’m a fan of TRE, evidence suggests that this, or any, form of IF is no better than eating fewer calories in the long term. A recent study showed that following the 5:2 eating pattern for six months helped people lose more weight than those who simply cut 500 calories from their typical eating plan. However, by 12 months, those on the reduced-calorie plan had maintained their weight loss, while the other group had not.

    It’s important to choose a type of IF that works for you and that’s sustainable in the long run. TRE can jump-start your intentions to eat better, and may reduce feelings of dietary deprivation.

    In one study, overweight people who reduced their eating window from about 15 hours a day to 10 to 11 hours daily for 16 weeks lost weight, and reported higher energy levels and better sleep. Even though they weren’t asked to restrict calories, participants ate less without feeling deprived.

    Spend most of your time fasting asleep.

    In another study, a group of overweight people who ate only from 10 AM to 6 PM consumed an average of 350 fewer calories and lost about 3% of their body weight. They also lowered their blood pressure.  Study subjects were not asked to limit calorie intake.

    TRE and other forms of IF may help with modest calorie restriction, but fasting is not a magic bullet for weight control. Whether or not time-restricted eating actually decreases the amount of food consumed varies from person to person.

    Intermittent Fasting for Better Health

    Chances are, you can reap health benefits from IF simply by changing when you eat most of your calories. Here’s why.

    IF improves the body’s response to insulin.  Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that is necessary for cells to absorb glucose, which is used for energy. Insulin levels are lower when fasting, an ideal situation to prevent insulin resistance.

    In insulin resistance, blood glucose levels are elevated. High insulin levels trigger the pancreas to produce more insulin to try to get glucose into cells. As time goes on, the pancreas’ ability to churn out insulin declines, leading to prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes and contributing to the risk for heart disease and cancer.

    The benefits of intermittent fasting

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    In addition, TRE plans that limit food consumption to daytime coordinate best with our natural body rhythms, which may help foster good health. That’s because insulin production is higher during the day than at night.

    Even without weight loss, limiting food intake to eight hours and fasting from 3 PM on every day for five weeks decreased insulin levels, reduced insulin resistance, and improved blood pressure in overweight men with prediabetes.

    Eating later in the day can be bad for your waistline and your health

    How to Try Time Restricted Eating

    Be consistent.  Choose an eating/fasting pattern that works for you and stick to it every day, including on weekends. Start by limiting food intake to 12 hours daily, and try to stop eating by 6 or 7 PM. If you want, gradually decrease your eating window to eight hours with 16 hours of fasting daily.

    Eat a balanced diet. Plan your food intake to include adequate amounts of nutritious foods, and limit added sugar. Eat three satisfying meals daily to avoid excessive snacking, also known as “grazing”.  Grazing is linked to a higher body mass index in women and a poorer quality diet in women and men. 

    Remember that moderation counts. IF doesn’t involve calorie-counting, but if you use your eating window as a free-for-all, you’re missing the point. You can eat whatever you want, but maybe not as much as you want. 

    Focus on calorie-free fluids. Water, black coffee and tea, and other calorie-free beverages are OK at any time.

    All foods fit on any intermittent fasting program, but moderation counts, too.

    Simple and Affordable Holiday Gifts and Seasonal Entertainment

    Thanks to ALDI for sponsoring this post! 

    With so much food to prepare and so many presents to buy, the holiday season keeps everyone busy! I am always looking for ways to save time and money.  While I shop at ALDI all year long for high-quality food at a lower cost, it’s even better during the holiday season because ALDI simplifies shopping and makes it affordable. By stopping at ALDI first, I cross a lot off my holiday to-do list all at once, and for less money. 

    Get more done at ALDI, and have more time for yourself this holiday season! 

    You may know ALDI for its high-quality food at low prices, but are you aware that ALDI also carries presents for everyone, including hostess and Secret Santa gifts, toys for the kids, goodies for the dog, and holiday decorations for the house?  

    ALDI Finds: Affordable, Premium Food and Gifts

    Every week, ALDI introduces new ALDI Finds, a selection of premium food and household items that are only in stores for a limited time, all at unbeatable prices.  Here are some of the items hitting the stores on December 12:

    There’s something for everyone, including your favorite pet, at ALDI! 


    Cookie kits and bakeware sets are affordable gifts for the chef in your life.

    Simple and Elegant Holiday Foods

    When friends and family visit, I love to put out a charcuterie board, but I do not like to pay a lot of money for it.  It takes just a few minutes to assemble high-quality ingredients from ALDI such as these (below) on a festive platter, and I get to “wow” my guests without paying a premium price!

    You’ll pay less for premium products, include gluten-free foods, at ALDI. 

    I always try to include fruits and vegetables in every holiday dish, so I’m thankful ALDI recently announced a 40% increase in fresh foods, including organic produce and convenient ready-to-eat products like sliced fruit. 

    This party platter took minutes to assemble with high-quality, affordable ALDI foods! 

    ALDI also carries high-quality gluten-free foods, dairy, and fresh meat and fish. In fact, the ALDI liveGfree gluten-free line and the NeverAny! line of fresh meat products (which have no antibiotics, added hormones or animal by-products) recently earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, which is considered the gold standard for guiding shoppers to high-quality food. 

    Candy is my splurge! I prefer the delicious chocolate from ALDI. 

    Give more, and make more of the holidays at ALDI. You’ll save so much money, you can splurge on yourself! 

    Visit aldi.us to take advantage of better-for-you recipes so you can make fresh food at home. For more fun information and tips, “Like” ALDI USA on Facebook and follow @ALDIUSA on Instagram and @ALDIUSA Twitter. And, if you’re like me and want to share your own recipes, photos, tips and tricks, tag ALDI using the hashtag #ALDILove.

    Happy holidays!

    19 Healthy 15-Minute Meals

    When you’re busy you’re probably not in meal planning mode. However, you want delicious and nutritious 15-minute meals.

    It helps to have healthy ingredients, including canned and frozen plain fruits and vegetables and canned tuna and beans, on hand. Here are some of my favorite “fast food” ideas for one. Double, or quadruple the recipes as needed.

    15-minute meals don’t need to be fancy to be delicious and good for you, too! 

    15-Minute Meals for Breakfast

    These 15-minute meals make good snacks in addition to being breakfast because they are so hearty.  However, you can eat them for a lunch and dinner, too!

    • Top a 2-ounce whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter. Serve with 8 ounces 1% low-fat milk or fortified soy milk, and fruit.

    Five minutes is all it takes to make a batch of No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies that pair perfectly with a carton of Greek yogurt and fruit. 

    • Spread 2 slices whole grain bread with 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, and top with 1 small banana, sliced, or another fruit. For instance, 2 tablespoons raisins.

    • Scramble 2 eggs and divide equally between a small whole-wheat pita pocket that’s been cut in half. Add salsa, a handful of spinach, and 1⁄4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese, if desired. Pair with 8 ounces milk or fortified soy milk.

    • Scramble 2 eggs with 1⁄4 cup diced mushrooms or other vegetables, and 1⁄4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve with 2 slices whole-wheat toast, and fruit.

    • Pair a hard-cooked egg with 8 ounces low-fat yogurt in addition to 1 slice whole-grain toast, and fruit.

    • Halve a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, remove the seeds, and fill with 1 cup cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt. Serve with a whole wheat roll.

    My go-to fish meal: breaded haddock topped with a can of undrained chopped canned tomatoes and dried parsley with vegetables and whole grain bread. Cook at 400˚F for 15 minutes or until done.

    15-Minute Meals for Lunch and Dinner

    These meals require a minimum of cooking, and clean up!

    • Microwave a medium potato. Scoop out the insides and mix with 1 cup cottage cheese. Return the filling to the potato skins and warm in the microwave. Add a green salad.

    • Top 1 whole-wheat pita round or small whole wheat Naan bread with tomato sauce and sliced part-skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese. Broil until cheese melts. Serve with 8 ounces 100% orange juice or enjoy with an orange or 2 clementines.

    • Make a quick quesadilla using two whole-wheat 7-inch sandwich wraps, 2 ounces chopped leftover chicken, and 1 ounce Monterey Jack cheese. Grill in a skillet. Enjoy with fruit.

    • In a bowl, layer 1 cup cooked whole-grains, for instance, whole-wheat  couscous, 1 cup cooked vegetables, and 4 ounces cooked leftover salmon, or canned or pouched salmon.

    • Mix 4 ounces canned or pouched, drained tuna with mayonnaise and pair with 10 whole-grain crackers, and sliced red bell pepper.

    Canned lentil soup is a great start to make balanced, easy 15-minute meals. 

    • Mix 1 cup canned reduced-sodium lentil soup and 1 cup cooked pasta or other leftover cooked grain such as farro, brown rice, freekeh, or quinoa, and chicken or beef, if desired. Serve with 8 ounces milk or fortified soy beverage in addition to fruit.

    • Combine 1 cup canned white beans, drained, with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 4 ounces peeled and raw shrimp in a skillet. Cook until shrimp are pink. Serve with fruit or vegetables.

    • Saute 8 ounces 100% ground skinless turkey breast meat or 95% lean ground beef with chopped onions and 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin. Spoon cooked meat equally onto 2 whole-wheat tortillas in addition to chopped tomato, lettuce, and plain yogurt. (This dish serves two.) Serve with Greek yogurt and salsa and fruit or vegetables.

    Use whatever meat or vegetables you have on hand to make quick quesadillas.

    • Coat 4 ounces thinly sliced chicken breasts or tenders with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken for about two minutes on each side. Place chicken on a whole-wheat sandwich bun and garnish with tomato and lettuce, and avocado, if desired. Serve with 8 ounces milk and a piece of fruit or baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.

    • Fast fried rice: Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a medium skillet. Add 1 cup cold cooked white or brown rice, 1⁄4 cup chopped onion, 1⁄4 cup cooked peas or diced carrots or both, and 2 beaten eggs. Toss the entire mixture until the egg is cooked. Season with a dash of low-sodium soy sauce. Serve with fresh fruit.

    When salad is your meal, don’t forget to add protein-rich foods- chicken, tuna, and tofu, for instance – to make one of many 15-minute meals!

    • Place 4 ounces cooked shrimp, canned or pouch tuna, cooked or pouch salmon, cottage cheese, or tofu, on top of 2 cups chopped leafy greens and 1⁄2 cup grape tomatoes. Top with a mixture of 2 teaspoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with  whole-grain bread or roll.

    What are your go-to quick and healthy 15-minute meals?

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