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Deal Yourself a Winning Hand

Sometimes you get lucky when you play cards. You start the game with a winning hand. But you don’t have to leave it to luck to get the best hand when it comes to food. You can choose the winners for you and for your family’s health. All you need is, first, to know what foods are healthy. Second, you need to be able to get those foods. And, lastly, you need to include them in your meals.

What stops you from doing that? A thoughtful approach to meals takes some effort, just like improving game skills does. You need reputable sources of information. Some good guides are the U.S. Department of Agriculture data base at The virtue of it, and the problem, is that it contains nutrition data for more commercial food products than natural ones. The natural food listings will appear when you add “fresh” to “green beans,” for example. Look for “SR Legacy” across from that food. SR means “standard reference,” so it is their basic data, particularly for fresh foods.

An easier and, I think, more enjoyable way to find foods with outstanding nutrition is to go to the George Mateljian Foundation’s World’s Healthiest Foods at . Once there, check the box for 100 healthiest foods, and they will be listed by category in alphabetical order. To be on the list, the food must be highly nutritious per calorie, easy to get, affordable, whole food, familiar, and good tasting. You can look up the nutrients in each food listed. They also provide some recipes.

Don’t start meal plans by choosing a recipe first. Start by selecting healthy, available foods first. Then find recipes for use with those healthy foods. The secret to healthy eating? It’s eating healthy food. If you start first with a recipe that looks good, or a dish that is the “same old, same old” habit, you risk missing the nutritious food you aim to eat. You’re likely to use more “quick and yick” processed and high calorie food products.

So, play a serious healthy eating game. Start by finding foods with really high nutrition ratings. That means usually they’ll be natural, high in fiber and low in fat, full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc, and rich in vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, and fatty acids. Then prepare them in healthy, tasty ways.

Healthy foods rock! So will you and your family when you eat them regularly. Play a winning hand for the most valuable prize: your health.

P.S. For healthy snacks you can make, take a look at my book Snacks for Growing Strong, on this website.

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