By Bret Bohning, executive chef, and Amanda Piskor, manager, Marion Street Market.
If you’re looking to improve your health in 2016, one great way to do that is to take a look at what you eat. Are you eating as healthily as you can? There is a lot of misinformation and hearsay mixed in with the truth about good nutrition.
At Marion Street Market, we work to provide food that is not only delicious, but good for your body as well. In our years of studying food and food sources, we’ve uncovered some truths that can help you in your path to improve your diet.
Meat can be good for you
Some people think meat—especially beef—is always unhealthy, but it all depends on where the meat comes from. For example, grass-fed beef is lower in fat (and therefore lower in calories) than grain-fed.
Don’t always believe the label
Food labeled “100% natural” isn’t necessarily healthy. The FDA regulates some ingredients more than others, so there’s a lot that food manufacturers can get away with and still legally call it “100% natural.” Read ingredient lists carefully, but also know that there may be some ingredients that the manufacturer isn’t required to mention on the label.
Reduce fat, but not the good fat
In general, saturated and trans fats are what we’re thinking of when we talk about reducing our fat intake. These are usually the types of fats found in processed and fried foods, grain-fed meats, and high-fat dairy products. They raise your cholesterol levels and can contribute to obesity.
However, good fats—unsaturated fats—have the opposite effect, by lowering your cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. These fats can be found in foods such as nuts, olives, avocados, fish, and some vegetable oils.
Consider local, seasonal produce
Much of the produce found in the Midwest in the winter was picked thousands of miles away and ripened in shipping containers during the long trip to the grocery store. This doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of eating oranges in January, but make sure you’re also eating nuts, squash, and other produce grown in the area.
Additionally, remember that produce doesn’t necessarily need to be grown outdoors. Companies like Urban Till grow produce indoors using hydroponics so that we can have local veggies all year round.
Eat “power foods”
Some foods pack more of a nutritional punch than others, and once you know what they are, it’s easy to incorporate more of them into your cooking. For example, consider the recipe shown below: In one dish, we’ve included almonds, carrots, kale, grass-fed beef, garlic, and olive oil. All of these foods have health-improving benefits, in addition to just making your meal taste great.
It’s unhealthy to binge on some types of foods, but it can also be unhealthy to completely cut out some foods as well. Extremely restrictive diets can lead to bad nutrition habits. That is why we advocate moderation—just don’t go overboard.
For example, it’s fine to have a sweet treat once in a while, but save those calories for a dessert that is worth it—like when you eat out at Marion Street Market.