(BPT) - While health is a main concern for many Americans, the majority are still choosing food based on taste rather than nutrition.
This March, however, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is hoping to change perceptions and shed light on the fact that healthy food can taste good by promoting the theme: Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right during National Nutrition Month.
There are plenty of nutritious foods that are also tasty. With a little knowledge on what foods to buy and the proper preparation techniques, both taste and nutrition can be combined for optimum health.
'I tell my clients all the time that making one change can create a powerful and healthy momentum,' says Registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner and spokesperson for Sunsweet Growers Inc. 'One of the easiest and most enjoyable first steps is to upgrade their snacks. For many people, healthy snacks can be a great weight management technique. The right snacks keep energy levels up and help manage hunger between meals.'
Blatner recommends combining lean protein and fiber in almost every snack, since the powerful nutrient combination will help with optimum fullness and satisfaction. Her top five healthy, tasty snack ideas are:
* Create your own trail mix: Customize your own mix of dried fruit and unsalted nuts. Sunsweet's Plum Amaz!ns are diced dried plums, which are lower in sugar and calories than most other dried fruits and have a low glycemic index of only 29. Prunes are also a nutrition powerhouse - recent studies suggest that prunes may help improve bone health. Combine them with unsalted nuts like pistachios for a snack that will keep you energized for hours.
* Lightened-up afternoon bread: Take time to indulge in a healthy way by pureeing prunes in a food processor and use it to replace half of the amount of butter needed in your favorite bread or muffin recipe. See below for a lightened up version of chocolate banana bread, which has three grams of fiber, yet only 180 calories per serving.
* Make your own energy bar: Store-bought bars are often loaded with sugar and ingredients that are hard to pronounce. Visit dawnjacksonblatner.com for an easy recipe called Super Seed Bars, which can be prepared and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes.
* Experiment with yogurt parfaits: Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, which helps keep you fuller longer after eating. To keep sugar in check, enjoy plain Greek yogurt and add your own sweetness with healthy fresh or dried fruits. Sprinkle on granola for some added crunch.
* Mix-and-match smoothie: Experiment with different combinations of fresh and frozen fruit, yogurt, milk, juice and even vegetables. Add a handful of spinach to your smoothie for a boost of iron and vitamin A - the other smoothie components will disguise the taste. Sunsweet's Amaz!ng Prune Light has only 100 calories per serving and is a good source of fiber for a boost to your digestive health.
Chocolate banana bread
Makes 12 servings
1/2 cup Sunsweet pitted prunes
2 tablespoon water
1 cup (about 2) bananas, mashed
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup plus
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Plum Amaz!ns
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a one-pound loaf pan. In a small bowl, combine prunes and water. Microwave for 45 seconds and let set for 10 minutes. Puree prunes with water in a blender. In a bowl, beat together the prune puree, bananas, sugar, eggs and oil with an electric mixer until incorporated.
In a separate bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the prune mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the Plum Amaz!ns and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
For more healthy living tips, visit Sunsweet's Live Amazing Hub, beginning March 11, 2014.