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Hello from the 2011 AHIP Institute Conference in San Francisco! I am excited to partner with Alere Health for the third time as their booth ambassador. I am cooking up smart meals and delicious snacks focused on helping people achieve their optimal health, something that both Alere and I passionately support.

A major component of living a healthy lifestyle begins in the kitchen. Having prepared food and snacks available to you at a moment’s notice will always help you eat wisely. Planning goes hand-in-hand with healthy eating and one of the easiest ways to do that is to have a plan for your kitchen! Here are three ideas to get your started:

  1. Don’t plan your meal around protein. In the past, meals were planned around what protein you wanted to serve and then from there you would add the starch, vegetable, etc. Today, to achieve a healthier balance on your plate, meat should be considered more of a side dish and plan the main entree around the grains, fruits or vegetables that will be prepared.
  2. Color, texture and temperature are your friends. Plan a meal that is rich in taste and delightful to the palette. Your meals should be full of color, the recipes should vary in temperature, and include textures from smooth to crunchy.
  3. Keep your pantry stocked. Create a list of food and cooking staples that you use regularly. These staples can include your favorite spices and herbs, baking supplies such as flour and sugar substitutes, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, low-sodium canned goods, condiments and more.  One of the key benefits of having a pantry list is that you can buy the staples on sale and save money for you and your family.

To see my pantry list, download a copy from Alere’s Facebook site, or visit me this week at the AHIP Institute Conference at the Alere Health booth #401, where I will provide take-home pantry lists with samples from my delicious recipes.