“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” –Thomas Edison
Good nutrition is the key to living a long and healthy life. Some of the most common chronic diseases and leading causes of death in the United States today include heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and overweight/obesity. Altering your eating habits to include more balanced meals and wholesome foods can have many long-term benefits, primarily in decreasing risk for chronic diseases. ‘Nutrition’ is a vague term and has a different meaning among different groups of people. Let’s start with a basic overview of what nutrition is and why it is important to our health.
Everyone has different dietary needs dependent on age, gender, height, weight, physical activity level, and health status. For example, a college athlete who exercises for four hours a day will have different energy requirements than a pregnant 30-year old woman who will have different requirements than a 70-year old man bedridden post-surgery. However, regardless of one’s energy needs, everyone can improve their eating habits using MyPlate, a healthy eating tool created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). MyPlate uses a simple dinner plate to incorporate all five food groups into a meal: grains, dairy, protein, fruits, and vegetables.
Listed below are ways to make small changes to your “plate” in order to eat healthier.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Vary your protein.
The MyPlate website takes you through each of the five food groups and discusses the daily recommendations for each food group across different age groups, what a serving size from each group looks like, and examples of foods from each group. MyPlate is an incredibly useful tool in planning and preparing daily meals and can be used in meal-prep for a variety of special diets.
The Bakesplit is a silicone baking sheet divider that is used to partition baking sheets to prepare multiple types of food at the same time. Not only can the Bakesplit allow you to cook your entire meal using just one baking sheet, it can also save you lots of time making meals for the family and preparing meals for the week ahead. Remember – if you want to cook two different items on the same sheet, both foods must have the same cooking/baking temperature. Listed below are applications of the Bakesplit that can help you reach your nutritional needs.
- Protein and vegetable meals – Cook an entire meal using just one baking sheet. You can throw some chicken, beef, or fish on one side of the sheet and some cut-up squash, zucchini, potatoes, asparagus, or any other vegetable of your choice to cook on the other side.
- Different flavors of marinated chicken – During Sunday meal-preps, you can marinate different flavors of chicken for the week without having the flavors mix on the baking sheet. The same can work if you want to marinate different types of protein (a mix of meat and fish, for example) or different vegetable medleys.
- Foods with different allergens – With the Bakesplit you can cook foods containing different allergens and prevent cross-contamination. Using the marinated chicken example from above, let’s say you want to marinate a few chicken breasts in a teriyaki sauce for yourself, but someone else in your family can not consume teriyaki since it contains soy and he or she is allergic. You can marinate the remaining chicken breasts using non soy-containing ingredients, and the Bakesplit will ensure that the teriyaki sauce does not cross over into non-soy territory.
- Gluten-free and “gluten-full” foods – Going along with not mixing allergens, let’s say one person in your family has celiac disease or is gluten intolerant. Cooking gluten-free foods in addition to non-gluten-free foods takes double the time. With the Bakesplit, you can cut your time in half by preparing the same food but making one version of it gluten-free. This is especially useful when baking desserts. For example, you can make regular brownies and gluten-free brownies (using gluten-free flour and gluten-free vanilla extract) and not have to worry about traces of gluten crossing over to the non-gluten side of the baking sheet.
- Meals for different members of the family (parents and kids) – The parents want chicken for dinner and the kids want chicken nuggets. Instead of wasting time preparing both meals separately, you can cook chicken on one side of the baking sheet and cook chicken nuggets on the other side. Additionally, let’s say one of your kids wants regular fries and your other child wants sweet potato fries. The Bakesplit makes this simple. Place the regular fries on one side of a baking sheet, the sweet potato fries on the other side, the Bakesplit divider in the middle, and you are all set.
You can think of additional uses of the Bakesplit while keeping your individual nutritional needs in mind. Besides being time-efficient, the Bakesplit allows you to cook multiple types of food for multiple people at the same time without worrying about cross-contamination. Using educational tools such as MyPlate along with the Bakesplit offers greater flexibility and options for everyday dietary needs and restrictions.