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BellaOnline's Vegetarian Editor

Planning Steps - Designing Your Menu

A menu is something that should not only be exciting and healthy... it should grow with you and never lock you in. Here are some fundamentals you should think about when planning your healthy menu.

Nutritional Content

Did you know that the color of a food can tell you a lot of what that food will do in your system? It's true. All of the colors in nature have a specific impact on our systems. So with every meal try to plan at least 3-4 colors in it. For example: a salad with red tomatoes, green, yellow, red, orange and/or purple bell peppers; some quinoa with some carrots/beets and kale, spinach or collards; cauliflower sauteed with garlic and white and red onions.

Flavor means more to us than just making food taste good, it has an impact on our organs and tissues. We've got the basic flavors that stimulate different organs for digestion and other biological functions such as: pungent, bitter, sweet, salty, sour and they influence everywhere from the stomach and its functions to the gall bladder, liver, kidneys and spleen, etc. When you design a meal plan always make room for the various flavors. If you can't get them all in in one sitting make sure you get them in by days' end.
Aroma is very much linked to flavor in that it prepares your system to take in and digest your food by excreting the right digestive juices to break them down.

Nutritional Content
Last, but definitely not least, is the nutritional content of your food. Food should be the best quality your money can buy. Preferably organic or beyond organic. It should, if at all possible, be extremely fragrant, heavy for its size, crisp, free of bruises and blemishes, taste fresh and full-bodied and full of color (which can all be indicators of high nutrient density). If the food you're eating isn't full of nutrients, you may find that it is harder to satisfy your appetite and that you end up eating more to get full, you may crave more sweets or something else to excess. This in turn means that you'll take in way more calories than you actually need in order to make up for the deficit.

I tend to seek out the farmer's markets in my area first before going to the grocery store to do my produce shopping. (I've found that the taste has no comparison. I don't have to do much to it to make it palatable and I get full faster.) If I can't find what I'm looking for in the farmer's markets I'll go to a natural foods market and then finally to a conventional grocery store. However, my favorite thing to do, when possible, is grow my own produce, that way all I have to do is occasionally supplement my meals with store-bought items.

So, in planning your menu, always structure it so you have as much of your colors represented at mealtime, your flavors and aromas are full-bodied and inviting and that it is packed full of nutritional value by getting the best possible foods your money can buy.

All of this will be help you stay on course with your New Year's Resolution for a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Here's the software I use to map out my menus:

For more information or to have one of your questions answered, drop me a line, stop by my forum, join my Vegetarian Resource Newsletter and definitely stay tuned in as I bring you more articles to help you effortlessly achieve your best, health, well being and wholeness throughout the life of your diet and your holiday season.

As always... It's been my heartfelt pleasure to share with you.

Until next time...

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