Do you find diets unappealing and monotonous? They often seem to focus solely on rules, which can be tiresome and unenjoyable. Who wants to be constantly told what they can and cannot eat? Besides, are diets just something your mother would suggest?
Start the new year right! Discover 31 days’ worth of clever nutrition tips and recipes from the latest research and cookbooks.
Hey, did you miss this article when it first came out? No worries! The great news is that these tips aren’t just for January. They’ll work just as well in February 2022, or even way in the future like June 2056 – unless, of course, we’ve switched to some kind of lab-grown salmon protein that we inhale instead of eating (which honestly sounds a bit scary and uncertain).
I’m not a psychic (or am I? To any readers in June 2056), but one thing I’m sure of is that fad diets will probably still be around in the future, causing harm like an eternal sandworm in the world of nutrition.
The advice that comes next matches what we’ve been promoting for years at Men’s Health, and will continue to promote for many more to come. Simply put, choosing a healthy eating plan always beats following a fleeting, trendy diet.
The first option can assist you in creating the body you desire while maintaining your health over the long haul. In contrast, the second option will leave you feeling like you’ve been poisoned with the gom jabbar.
Figuratively, of course.
Okay, on with it!
1. Turn Cauliflower into Fiber-Rich Tacos.
Here’s how you can make it! Start by working in batches: chop up one head of cauliflower into small florets and pulse in a food processor until it’s a pebbly texture. Then, take a large bowl and mix the cauliflower with 3 tablespoons of canola oil, 3 and a half teaspoons of chili powder, and salt to taste. Spread the mixture out evenly onto 2 baking sheets and roast in an oven preheated to 450°F until it’s golden brown (this usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes). Be sure to rotate the baking sheets halfway through the roasting process. Finally, serve your tasty creation with warmed hard taco shells, shredded lettuce, and grated pepper jack cheese. Enjoy! This recipe is from Emma Laperruque’s book, “Big Little Recipes”.
2. Hate Salad? Cook It.
To make this delicious dish, begin by heating up a large oiled pan on high heat. Next, add the leaves from half a head of iceberg lettuce and give it a good toss. Add in one thinly sliced garlic clove, minced bird’s-eye chili, a dash of fish sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, black pepper, and a handful of toasted sesame seeds. Keep cooking everything until it’s charred to perfection. Finally, serve and enjoy! This recipe comes from “Cooking at Home”, a book by David Chang and Priya Krishna.
3. Load Up on Healthy Greens in One Sitting.
To whip up this easy and delicious side dish, start by heating up a large, oiled wok on medium-high heat. Then, pour in a whole bag of spinach and cook until it’s wilted (usually around 2 minutes). Season it with some salt, pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste. And that’s it! Serve your tasty spinach creation as a healthy and flavorful side.
4. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables…
Did you know that even if you feel like you eat enough, adding more plant-based foods to your diet can lower your risk of getting Covid? A 2021 study in Gut discovered that individuals who consumed the most plant-based foods had a 9% lower risk of contracting Covid than those who ate the least amount. To achieve this, aim to add two more servings of fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. One easy way to do this is by incorporating more produce into your cooking, as you’ll see in the following tips.
5. Turn to Onions for Disease-Fighting Antioxidants.
Believe it or not, onions can be a fantastic addition to your cooking! However, if the thought of chopping them makes you tear up, try keeping your mouth closed while you work. By avoiding inhaling the onion’s pungent fumes, you can keep yourself from becoming a blubbering mess in the kitchen.
6. Or Roast Those Onions Whole.
To make this savory dish, begin by slicing off the top inch of the tips of four yellow onions. Next, place them onto a baking sheet covered with two cups of kosher salt. Mound the salt around the base of each onion and drizzle each one with half a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast everything in an oven preheated to 350°F until the onions are tender, which usually takes about four hours. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven and let them cool before peeling away the charred parts. Drizzle them with more olive oil and lemon juice, and then serve and enjoy! This recipe is from “Food IQ”, a book by Daniel Holzman and Matt Rodbard.
8. Shroom Your Mind.
Here’s some great news: a 2021 study discovered that individuals who regularly consumed mushrooms were less likely to have depression than those who didn’t eat them at all.
Want to cook mushrooms like a pro? Here’s the secret: heat up a large pan with oil until it’s hot. Then, add a big handful of mushrooms and let them cook until they’re deeply browned. Make sure to only stir them once or twice during this process. Finally, add a pinch of salt right at the end, and you’re done!
9. Grow Your Own, Reap the Flavor.
Are you tired of the same old button mushrooms you find at the grocery store? Then head over to smallhold.com! This company sells kits for growing blue oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms (for only $34). All you have to do is spray the block 2-3 times a day, and in just 10 days, you’ll have a fresh harvest of mushrooms that you can use for dishes like mushroom soup or tacos.
10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Pack in Even More Fiber
Did you know that only 5% of men actually get the recommended daily intake of 38 grams of gut-filling nutrients? Don’t worry, though, as we have some great snack ideas that can help you eat at least 5 grams of these nutrients. Here are five easy snacks to try:
Insta Guac: 1/2 avocado + lemon juice + sea salt + spoon
The Nothing Fancy: 1 medium pear, straight up
Pod Power: ⅔ cup edamame + drizzle of sesame oil + sea salt
“Dessert”: 1 large banana + 2 Tbsp peanut butter + shake of cinnamon
The Traditionalist: 1 medium apple + small handful of almonds
15. Don’t Forget the Entire Rainbow
Eating greens is good for you, but did you know that incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet can help lower your risk of cognitive decline? According to a 2021 study published in Neurology, individuals who regularly consumed a diverse range of colorful foods (such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, peppers, and apples) had a 20% lower risk of cognitive decline compared to those who ate fewer of these foods.
16. Fruit-ify Your Salad
Get ready for a colorful and delicious recipe! Start by preheating your oven to 400°F and placing 4 ounces of roughly chopped and sliced Genoa salami onto a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the salami until it’s crispy (usually takes 10 to 20 minutes). Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together 1 ripe medium cantaloupe (also roughly chopped), 2/3 cup thinly sliced pepperoncini, 1/4 cup of pepperoncini brine, and 1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted oil-cured olives. Once the salami is ready, place it on top of the fruit and olive mixture. That’s it! Enjoy your vibrant and tasty creation.
17. And Rethink What “Counts” as a Serving of Fruits or Vegetables.
Work in these options, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., a Men’s Health nutrition advisor.
1/2 cup olives // 1/2 cup salsa // 1/2 cup tomato sauce // 1 glass vegetable juice // handful of raisins
18. Harness PUFA Power.
Here’s some interesting information: according to a 2019 study, individuals who consumed 5 grams of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) each day had a 5% lower risk of lung cancer. Some great sources of PUFAs include sunflower seeds, walnuts, and salmon.
19. If You’re Thinking Sunflower Seeds?
You’re going to love Chinook Seedery’s dill-pickle-flavored sunflower seeds – they’re so delicious, you’ll be hooked after just one pouch!
20. If You’re Thinking Walnuts Are Booooooring.
Add a handful to your morning shake. The nuts are heart-healthy but also contain natural oils that make your smoothie smoother, says Mohr.
21. (Also, Upgrade Your Blender.)
Try the new, no-bull Vitamix One, which operates entirely on one dial—and can thresh anything you throw in it.
22. If You’re Thinking Salmon Again?
Try salmon porchetta. Season 2 skin-on salmon fillets with salt. Mix 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (crushed), 1 garlic clove (minced), 1 tsp rosemary (chopped), the zest of 1 lemon, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the fish, skin side down, to a large, hot, oiled pan and top with the mix. Broil till juicy, about 6 minutes. —Food IQ
23. Whitefish Is Also a Great Source of Lean Protein.
Looking for a simple recipe? Check out this one! First, grab a shallow bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of white miso, 1/3 cup of mirin, 1/4 cup of sake, and 1/3 cup of packed light brown sugar. Add 2 (6-ounce) frozen cod fillets to the bowl and turn them around to coat them in the mixture. Refrigerate the bowl for 12 hours to marinate the fish. After that, pop the fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spoon some of the marinade on top of the fish, and broil everything for 5 minutes. And that’s it! Enjoy your delicious and easy-to-make cod fillets.
24. Limit “Ultra-Processed” Foods.
Did you know that Americans currently consume 57% of their daily calories from unhealthy foods such as frozen pizza, soda, fast food, sweets, and salty snacks – all because of their delicious flavors? But don’t worry, you can fight back against this trend with some really tasty and healthy ingredients from “Cooking at Home”.
25. Turn to Cumin Seeds.
They bring smokiness and savoriness. Bloom seeds in hot oil as a base for curries and chili.
26. And Chaat Masala.
It’s tangy, funky, and fruity. Try it on fruit, on boiled potatoes, or with almond butter on toast.
27. And Asafetida.
When cooked in fat, it adds a pungent, savory taste. A dash supercharges the flavor of onions and garlic.
28. And Furikake.
It’s a mix packed with dried fish, seaweed, sugar, salt, and sesame seeds. Try it on top of rice.
29. Annnnnd Sichuan Peppercorns.
They’re spicy, in a numbing way, and fantastic sprinkled on cubed cukes.
30. Power Up Your Microwave.
Ban “I don’t have time to cook.” In a large glass bowl, microwave 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 8 to 10 minutes. In a pan, cook some onion and garlic in oil, 1 minute. Add 2 strips of bacon (chopped); cook till crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a big handful of spinach and the thighs (cut into pieces) and cook, 5 minutes. —Cooking at Home
31. Don’t Forget to Enjoy Food.
For Mohr, that means a purposeful weekly trip to the doughnut shop with his daughters and homemade pizza every Friday night. “I don’t have cheat meals—or cheat days. While my diet is healthy, it isn’t devoid of joy, either.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of The Byte News.