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National Nutrition Month®!

Celebrate March: National Nutrition Month®!

Written by Denae and Mykey

It’s likely that we all have roughly the same thing in mind when we consider what we see as “the ideal healthy lifestyle” — Able to wake up in the morning refreshed, fully energized to hit the gym BEFORE work, every meal having the perfect balance of vegetables, grains, proteins, and fruits, and always satisfied with what the scale reads. I believe the root of a lot of problems — especially with things like fatigue, fluctuating weight, and digestive issues — leads back to poor nutrition. 

If you remember, like I do, there was a time when the very foundation of the food pyramid was bread, pasta, & grains. My school cafeteria door had a poster similar to this picture reminding all of us how to eat. So as we loaded up our school lunch plate with cheese pizza, a cookie, and chopped iceberg lettuce, we thought we were good to go! 
Now-a-days there is a slightly different way of eating, just like there will probably be a different way in 20 years from now. Let’s not focus on that just yet; check back in in 2037!
Here is a more modern version of the pyramid we see today. With fitness at the heart and fruits & veggies following shortly behind, it’s a strong foundation for a strong body! 
This model is much better, but in no way is it perfect. The truth is that everybody and every body is different. This is unavoidably apparent today with so many special dietary needs and restrictions: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, animal free, sugar free, etc. That’s not even figuring into account preference and taste. It can be a real challenge to do what’s best for you and your family, especially since a lot of commercial products are still loaded with preservatives, artificial additives, and hidden ingredients.
If I could I would go back in time and slap that “strawberry” frosted  Pop-Tart out of my 2nd grade hand and give myself a slice of apple dipped in peanut butter…. Time travel is still just a wonderful dream, right?
   The good news is that we’re getting better. There seems to be a recent awareness of the importance of health and nutrition. This is causing many to take their health and the health of their loved ones into their own hands.  They are working to create households, neighborhoods and communities of caring, encouraging folks who are determined to control the length and quality of their lives through good nutrition. 
Maybe you’re wondering how you can improve your diet, one bite at a time, when there are so many different options out there. Start with these tips as you embark on your better nutrition journey.
1. Incorporate at least one vegetable into every meal, or at least try!
By including one or more vegetables per meal, you’re consuming vitamins and nutrients with every single meal, including dessert. Those vegetables don’t always have to be your basic steamed veggies or a salad, although those are some mighty fine options! Alternative options can be: 
Replace pasta & noodles with squash: spaghetti squash conveniently and seamlessly replaces spaghetti’s higher calories and excess carbohydrates. Spiralized zucchini can also be a low-carb alternative to spaghetti noodles.  Sliced zucchini or eggplant are excellent in place of lasagna noodles.
Breakfast scrambles: fast, easy & filled with vegetables. On a healthy day, my breakfast looks more like a salad than an egg dish. There are so many options here it makes it hard to know where to start sometimes. Not only can you find a breakfast scramble recipe here, but you can just make your own with last night’s leftover veggies!
Veggies for dessert? Try organic kale braised in vegetable broth and topped with brown sugar, cranberries and pecans as a sweet and ultra satisfying way to enjoy a vegetable for dessert. Does that sound a little too much like worlds colliding? Try our recipe for Maple Sweet Potato Bites and see if that doesn’t sooth your gnashing sweet tooth. You can always opt for the classic Zucchini Bread too!
2. Start the day with an apple and a TALL glass of water  
The list of apples’ wonderful properties goes on and on, including high fiber, low-calorie nutrition detail and heart-health benefits.
Here is a neat little comprehensive list of 6 Serious Heath Benefits of Apples. And here is another list All About Apples; how to use them and their taste profile. One Apple counts as 1 serving of fruit and makes me feel less hungry when paired with that glass of water, helping me make a better breakfast decision. 
Finally…. (let the dramatic music crescendo…)
3. When it comes to dessert, I give myself one sugar-fest per week!
This is my favorite rule.
I tell myself each week, “Okay self, you get immunity for a sweet treat one time this week.” 
Because I know I only have one shot, it makes me evaluate if I really want that donut someone brought in to work, or if a handful of blueberries will suffice until the next occasion arises. I always want to wait for the weekend because that’s when all the fun stuff happens, but if I make it through the week without picking something I pat myself on the back for a whole week without sweets. This doesn’t work like roll-over minutes where you can save up a whole bunch and blow it on a week long dessert disaster, though! This rule is to help your body lower its cravings for sweets, or be satiated with the natural sugars from your daily fruits.   
The reason this works so well is that it gives semi-strict guidelines, but it also gives room to make a choice to eat sort of junky. 
It’s not about making yourself  feel bad for eating a piece of  cake. The worst thing people can do is get down on themselves for eating something that they probably shouldn’t. Hey, We’re human! And thanks to the culinary captains (as I like to call them) of the health food world, there are many options at Lassen’s to choose from so we don’t have to fall so hard when we take a dip in the dessert pool.
The best part of this rule is that when you’re face-to-face with the chocolate gooeyness that you’ve been holding out for all week, there’s no guilt if you do decide you want it.So you can really enjoy it without the words, “I shouldn’t be eating this” chanting in your head.
This is how I attempt to get my plate into shape for National Nutrition Month®, but what’s your secret?
We want to know what you’ve done to reach optimum nutrition for you and your loved ones.
Post on our wall on Facebook or Instagram and tell us what your rules are! 
We hope today finds you in excellent health and happiness!
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