Take on 2017 like a 17 year old and get healthy!

So it’s a new year and the time when tradition says we need to set resolutions to put us on track for a healthier lifestyle. Rather than the “same old” of eat less, eat healthier, exercise more and relax, let’s take the challenge for a different attitude.
For many of us, the teen-age years were a time to break the rules (as much as we could sneak in without heavy hands taking away the fun of it), stretch our limits, and take on new challenges. All of that seems a bit tiring now but, in fact, there are some health-related lessons to borrow to set a course for the new year.
• Try some new foods. Winter is a time when comfort foods come to mind but why not give them a healthier twist?
Try half-whole-grain pasta in place of the all-white in pasta dishes. This adds some fiber and other nutrients your body can use.
• Explore veggies in some new ways, like spaghetti squash or the spiralized zucchini in place of pasta, butternut squash soup, or a veggie stir-fry. Food stores are selling many of these vegetables cleaned, cut and ready to use, or check out the freezer section.
• Experiment with low-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in your Superbowl dips or put hummus and veggies, guacamole or salsa on the snack table.
• Find a partner to join your hunt for exercise. -Teens travel in packs and talk as they go. This may be a good time to join a mall walking group, or assemble your own or take a class at the local Y or club.
Exercise you mind. Puzzles and games and adult coloring books go beyond entertainment to keep your mind active, and it may be another reason to assemble some friends.
• Take the time to cook meals that save time as a second meal. Okay so this might not be exactly a teen event but given the opportunity to enjoy foods we like, it fits all ages. And since most teens are “web happy”, take the time to search out some new ideas and actually implement them. Soups, crock pot meals and chili are all examples of foods that appeal to all ages and are likely to be featured on website posts.
• Try a veggie chili with a variety of beans. If meat is your thing, what about some ground turkey? That same chili can serve as a topping a taco salad another day. Good fiber, low in fat and budget friendly as starters.
• Remember that pot roast is a great first meal that shreds down for a barbeque bash in another meal. Crock pots can turn that lean beef into tender eating with protein power.
• Turn a crock pot chicken meal into a hearty and heart-healthy soup. Soup is a way to focus on vegetables. Since most of these second-day meal ideas can be held in the freezer ready for another day’s start, you are stocking up on healthy options, which leaves more time for doing something fun.
Thinking like a teen can be a theme for 2017 that puts a focus on the excitement of a new year. Try it!
By Judy Dodd, MS, RDN, LDN
For Pittsburgh Senior News