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Plan for a nutritious and delicious month

By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Chris Dudley

Photo of Chris Dudley and his wife Sheera prepare meals together

Chris Dudley and his wife Sheera prepare meals together along with Mabel (Sheera is holding) and Mac (in the background). Dudley said, “Meal planning is a great way for us to bond as a family. We look forward to cooking when we can relax, listen to some music and unwind while preparing for the week.”

National Nutrition Month is a great time to try to incorporate some healthy changes into the usual routine. Try the suggestions below for each week of the month. Encouragement and ideas have been provided by Chris Dudley, resident and Castle Rock firefighter who has been coaching nutrition, fitness and CrossFit for many years.

Week One: Plan your meals for the week

For the Dudley household, Sunday is meal prep day for the upcoming week which they see as bonding time. “My wife, Sheera and I will peruse social media and our large collection of recipes as we brainstorm ideas for the week. Allotting time to plan and making lists are absolutely key,” Dudley explained. Fresh produce is the lion’s share of their shopping list and they aim for color, variety, and nutritional value. Once home, the couple prepares meals for the week while listening to music. They divvy up portions into containers for Sheera to eat at home, since she telecommutes, and for Dudley to bring to the fire station.

Dudley pointed out that eating out can still be healthy if you stick with “lean meats and fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and zero sugar,” which he claims is his mantra.

“As for snacks, we regularly stock items such as dehydrated veggie chips, pumpkin seeds or other appealing foods to help satisfy our crunchy and savory cravings,” Dudley added.

Week Two: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day

Variety is the spice of life. Fruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber to your plate. Dudley said, “I usually make it a goal to have three different colors on my plate every meal which improves taste, texture and complementary flavors. This also helps prompt me to try something new which (almost) always results in some new favorite foods.”

If there is concern about buying too many fresh fruits and vegetables at once, opt for some frozen and/or canned options.

Week Three: Try something new

One only has to browse Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok to get ideas and recipes for something new. The library has many cookbooks to borrow. Try fennel, kohlrabi, jackfruit, jicama or pomegranate if you haven’t yet, or ask your produce expert at the grocery store for a recommendation. Experiment with food from another culture or a spice you haven’t used before. Dudley said, “I strive to try a new ethnic dish at least once per week to open my mind to new ideas. I have discovered so many new staple spices in my kitchen this way, such as cumin, cardamom, coriander, anise, fennel, and countless others.”

Week Four: Learn skills to create tasty meals
Watch a video about how to slice an onion or peel that pomegranate you bought. Follow some chefs on social media. Try making your own salad dressing or mayonnaise. Try crushing whole spices, or making some spice blends. Treat yourself to a gadget like a mandolin which is very helpful for thinly slicing vegetables for salads.

March into spring with some healthy habits and an expanded palate.



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