You’ve always been told about the benefits of stretching your body . . . but what about your food?
Food stretching is one of our favorite strategies for upping your nutrition game. But what is it exactly?
Food stretching is a term we made up that means the following:
“The addition of extra vegetables to dishes to improve their nutritional quality, while at the same time cutting back on either carbs or animal protein.”
We’ll get to examples in a minute, but first, here’s three main reasons we love and embrace this concept.
- Allows you to keep foods in your meal plan that you may otherwise feel you have to limit in order to reach your weight and health goals (IE: pasta, rice, potatoes, meat, etc).
- Adds an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds that deliver on an amazing array of antioxidants and other critical nutrients to your daily meals.
- Saves money. Quality organic animal protein (and even grains like quinoa or wild rice) are quite a bit pricier. When you stretch, you still get the wonderful benefits but allow your dollar to go further.
Ok let’s dive into some examples. Here are a few of our favorites.
Have your cake and eat it too! We LOVE carbs, but know they can add on the pounds when we overdo them. That being said, who wants to give up pasta and rice?
By incorporating more veggies, you get the best of both worlds.
- For cooked grains such as rice, quinoa or farro, mix in 1-2 cups of cauliflower rice for each cup of grain (to boost this up a notch, also add in 1 cup of finely diced greens such as spinach, kale, arugula)
- For pasta, mix two cups veggies into each cup cooked pasta; good choices include zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, broccoli, and greens (extra bonus for using bean pastas like chickpea, lentil, or black bean)
- For potatoes, replace half with turnips or celeriac – they are still starchy and delicious but with almost half the carb content
Stretching Animal Protein:
- Animal protein provides an array of good nutrients such as iron, protein, B12, and zinc. However, keep in mind that your health will benefit greatly when plant foods are the primary focus on your plate (plus you’ll save $$).
- Scrambled eggs: Mix in any veggies such as chopped greens, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes; or use in a quiche.
- Ground meat: Stretch with mushrooms, zucchini, greens and/or cauliflower rice; this also works well with homemade patties (just mix them in before cooking)
- Stews: A pound of meat goes WAY farther when you stretch with 3-4x the veggies called for in a dish, which could include carrots, turnips, onions, peppers, greens, etc.
Getting creative is the name of the game when stretching food. The possibilities are endless. Discover more ideas by visiting our recipe page.
Jane and Stephanie, creators of PM Meal Mastery, help women over 50 go from overweight, frustrated, and inflamed to lighter and healthier so they can be more active, feel good in their body, and live the second half of life with energy and confidence. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods but powerful habit and mindset shifts.