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World Obesity Day: Skip the Diet, Just Eat Nutritious Food

Just in time for World Obesity Day--yes, apparently such a day does exist--the World Health Organization issued a new report that indicates that, globally, ten time more children are obese than 40 years ago. According to the report, which focused on children five to nineteen years old from 1975 to 2016, the number of obese children increased during that period from 11 to 124 million. The report also pointed out that the level of malnutrition remains high. The economic, social, and health costs of child, as well as adult, obesity and poor nutrition are enormous. The World Obesity Federation estimates that, worldwide, health care costs linked to obesity will amount to some $1.2 trillion per year by 2025. Nonetheless, people are continuing to put on the pounds. Quite frankly, fad diets don't work. The effects are temporary and sometimes result in significant health problems. Nor are miracle foods--by themselves--really miraculous. Instead, making small, permanent changes to improve eating habits--that is, eating a variety of foods to achieve a balanced diet--do work, albeit slowly.

In addition to limiting how often and how much you eat of sugary, fried, and processed foods, opting to eat at home, where you can cook with more nutritious, lower-calorie ingredients, is one of the best ways to fight obesity. Learning to cook with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can open up possibilities for incredibly delicious meals as well as help you gain and maintain a healthy body weight. Yes, cooking does take time, but not that much. You can get a nutritious, tasty, and cheap dinner on the table in minutes. And, really, isn't spending a few minutes cooking great food most days better than having your life shortened by years of poor nutrition and obesity?

So, now that I've made my pitch for home cooking, I'd like to provide a recipe to get you started on making some healthy changes in your dinners. After all, chances are you came to this website to find some good, nutritious, and frugal meals.

good, nutritious, frugal meal

Chicken, Chickpea, and Spinach Skillet Supper – Serves 4+

This is good, fast, cheap, and easy. It’s a great one-pan dish to serve when you get home late and need something nutritious and that will fill you up but not out. Slice some tomatoes and maybe some whole-grain bread to serve alongside and you’ve got dinner in about 20 minutes.

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 teaspoons of minced garlic (from a jar is fine)

1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) cut into 1-2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 can (15 ounces) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Zest and juice of a lemon

½ teaspoon of cumin

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

3-4 cups of fresh spinach (about ½ of a 10-ounce bag)

¼ cup of feta cheese

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the pan and oil are hot, add the onion and sauté it for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and sauté it for about half a minute more. Add the chicken to the pan and brown the pieces for a few minutes on each side. Add the chickpeas, sprinkle on the cumin, salt, pepper, and cinnamon and stir to combine everything. Cook the mixture for a few minutes more until the chicken is cooked through. Add about half the spinach to the pan and stir until it wilts. Add the other half of the spinach and stir again. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and feta and serve.

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