Healthy Eating Habits

By Charlyn Fargo

A lot of what we do is routine, isn’t it? We typically get up about the same time and go to bed around the same time from day to day. We often buy the same foods at the grocery store and cook the same meals over a several-week period.

Fall is a great time to start a new healthy eating routine and try some new healthy recipes. It’s never too late to start. Studies show that healthy eating can lower your risk of health problems, including overweight and obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

Remember there’s no one right way in this journey toward healthier eating. Start with a simple change each day, such as adding a fruit or vegetable to a dinner meal or drinking water instead of drinks that contain sugar. Small steps can add up quickly.

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A few of those steps could be to choose foods with less added sugar, saturated fat and/or sodium. Another step could be cooking a healthy dinner just once a week or batch cooking on the weekends to make eating at home easier.

Here are some tips to help you choose a wider variety of foods:

No. 1: Add whole fruits to your grocery cart — apples, berries, grapefruit, mango and bananas.

No. 2: Try a few new veggies, like roasted broccoli, sweet potatoes, okra and Brussels sprouts; add spinach, peppers and jicama to a salad.

No. 3: Think whole grains — brown rice, millet, overnight oatmeal, bulgur and whole-wheat bread. Try adding barley or farro to slow-cooker vegetable soup.

No. 4: Taste a new lean protein — a different kind of fish or a different cut of meat, such as flank steak. Go for chicken thighs instead of chicken breast. Or go meatless with beans, lentils, nuts or seeds.

No. 5: Add low-fat or fat-free dairy — milk, yogurt, cheese, lactose-free dairy, soy milk or soy yogurt.

No. 6: Swap oils for butter — olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil. Try making a homemade salad dressing with a different oil or swap yogurt for mayo. Avocado toast sprinkled with “everything bagel” seasoning makes a great breakfast.

Q and A

Q: What is manchego cheese and how do you use it? I recently saw a recipe that called for it.

A: Like cheddar, manchego is an uncooked, pressed-curd cheese. It’s made using the tangy milk of the manchega sheep in their native provinces just south of Madrid that make up the region of Spain called La Mancha. It has an intense, zesty taste and a crumbly texture that’s rich, full and slightly salty at the finish. It’s an ideal table cheese served with olives, sun-dried tomatoes and crusty bread or as part of a cheese board with figs and plums. It melts well and can be used as a substitute for mozzarella. It’s also wonderful in dishes like grilled cheese and sprinkled over tacos.


Even with temperatures dropping and the leaves turning, a salad often can be very satisfying — and a healthy alternative to a heavy meal. Here’s a recipe for a beef steak salad with dried cherries, from the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” website. A key to satisfying salads is to pair protein with any salad.


Servings: 4

1 beef top sirloin steak, boneless, cut 1-inch thick (about 1 pound)

4 small or 2 medium heads Boston lettuce, torn

1/2 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute manchego or any crumbly cheese)

1/4 cup pine nuts or coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted


1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in medium bowl. Remove and reserve 1/3 cup; cover and refrigerate. Cut top sirloin steak lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick strips. Add beef to remaining dressing; toss to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half the beef; stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. (Be careful not to overcook). Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining beef. Combine lettuce and reserved dressing in large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange beef over lettuce and sprinkle with cheese, cherries and nuts, as desired. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Per serving: 373 calories; 29 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrate; 21 grams fat (5 grams saturated); 56 milligrams cholesterol; 5 grams fiber; 323 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at


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