They’re bland, they’re boring, and they don’t really work. Plus, all they talk about is rules, rules, rules. Who likes being told what to do all the time? What are diets, anyway, your mom?
This January, kick-start your year with 31 days’ worth of smart nutrition hacks from the latest research and cookbooks.
Oh, did you not see this article, like, the day it came out? WELL GUESS WHAT. There’s nothing special about these tips that you have to do them in January. They aren’t any less effective in, say, February 2022, or even June 2056, for that matter, unless in June 2056 we no longer eat salmon but instead eat some kind of lab-grown, salmon-like protein and instead of eating it we just inhale it through some weird stillsuit-looking get up because the future is an uncertain and scary place.
I’m no Nostradamus (or am I? reader in June 2056), but I can bet that unlike real salmon, trendy diets will almost certainly still be around in the future doing damage—the eternal sandworm of nutrition culture.
The advice that follows aligns with what we at Men’s Health have long preached, for decades, and likely will preach for decades into the future, that a healthy approach to eating wins out over a trendy diet any diet.
The first helps you build the body you want and sustain your health long-term. The second leaves you poisoned with gom jabbar.
Figuratively, of course.
Okay, on with it!
1. Turn Cauliflower into Fiber-Rich Tacos.
Working in batches, blitz 1 head of cauliflower florets (chopped) in a food processor till pebbled. In a large bowl, mix with 3 Tbsp canola oil, 3 1/2 tsp chili powder, and salt to taste. Divide between 2 baking sheets. Roast in a 450°F oven till browned, 20 to 30 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway. Serve with warmed hard taco shells, shredded lettuce, and grated pepper jack.
2. Hate Salad? Cook It.
In a large, oiled pan on high, add the leaves of 1/2 head iceberg. Toss; add 1 garlic clove (thinly sliced), bird’s-eye chili (minced), a li’l fish sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, black pepper, and a handful of toasted sesame seeds. Cook till charred. Serve.
3. Load Up on Healthy Greens in One Sitting.
Into a large, oiled wok over medium-high heat, pour a whole bag of spinach. Cook till wilted, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve as a side.
4. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables…
. . . even if you think you eat plenty. People who ate the most plant-based foods had a 9 percent lower risk of getting Covid than people who ate the least, a 2021 Gut study found. Goal: Add 2 more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Do this by working more produce into your cooking. Like in the next few tips.
5. Turn to Onions for Disease-Fighting Antioxidants.
Yes, onions! If chopping the suckers turns you into a blubbering mess, close your mouth. If you’re not inhaling gulps of onion-tinged air, you’ll be fine.
6. Or Roast Those Onions Whole.
Slice the top inch off the tips of 4 yellow onions and set on a baking sheet covered in 2 cups kosher salt. Mound the salt around the base of each onion. Drizzle each onion with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and roast in a 350°F oven till tender, about 4 hours. Remove, allow to cool, peel away the burned parts, douse with more olive oil and lemon juice, and serve.
8. Shroom Your Mind.
People who regularly ate mushrooms were less likely to have depression than those who ate none, according to a 2021 study.
The key to cooking any mushroom: In a large, hot, oiled pan, cook a big handful at a time, stirring only once or twice, till deeply browned. Add salt at the very end.
9. Grow Your Own, Reap the Flavor.
If you’re bored of the button mushrooms at the supermarket, check out smallhold.com. The company sells kits for blue oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms ($34). Spray the block 2 or 3 times a day and in about 10 days you’ll have a harvest for mushroom soup or tacos.
10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Pack in Even More Fiber
Only 5 percent of men get their recommended 38 grams of the gut-filling nutrient daily. Here are 5 easy snacks that’ll help you eat at least 5 grams.
Insta Guac: 1/2 avocado + lemon juice + sea salt + spoon
The Nothing Fancy: 1 medium pear, straight up
Pod Power: ⅔ cup edamame + drizzle of sesame oil + sea salt
“Dessert”: 1 large banana + 2 Tbsp peanut butter + shake of cinnamon
The Traditionalist: 1 medium apple + small handful of almonds
15. Don’t Forget the Entire Rainbow
Greens are great, but people who regularly ate from the full color spectrum—strawberries, blueberries, oranges, peppers, apples—had a 20 percent lower risk of cognitive decline compared with those who ate fewer, a 2021 Neurology study found.
16. Fruit-ify Your Salad
This recipe hits that sweet spot on the color spectrum. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast 4 oz Genoa salami (roughly chopped and sliced) in a 400°F oven till crisped, 10 to 20 minutes. In a bowl, add 1 ripe medium cantaloupe (roughly chopped), ⅔ cup pepperoncini (thinly sliced), 1/4 cup of their brine, and 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives (roughly chopped). Top with the salami.
17. And Rethink What “Counts” as a Serving of Fruits or Vegetables.
Work in these options, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., a Men’s Health nutrition advisor.
1/2 cup olives // 1/2 cup salsa // 1/2 cup tomato sauce // 1 glass vegetable juice // handful of raisins
18. Harness PUFA Power.
A 2019 study found that for every 5 grams of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) people ate daily, their risk of lung cancer dropped by 5 percent. Foods high in PUFAs: sunflower seeds, walnuts, salmon.
19. If You’re Thinking Sunflower Seeds?
You’ll be thinking sunflower seeds! after you try a pouch of Chinook Seedery’s tart-and-tangy, dill-pickle-flavored seeds.
20. If You’re Thinking Walnuts Are Booooooring.
Add a handful to your morning shake. The nuts are heart-healthy but also contain natural oils that make your smoothie smoother, says Mohr.
21. (Also, Upgrade Your Blender.)
Try the new, no-bull Vitamix One, which operates entirely on one dial—and can thresh anything you throw in it.
22. If You’re Thinking Salmon Again?
Try salmon porchetta. Season 2 skin-on salmon fillets with salt. Mix 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (crushed), 1 garlic clove (minced), 1 tsp rosemary (chopped), the zest of 1 lemon, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the fish, skin side down, to a large, hot, oiled pan and top with the mix. Broil till juicy, about 6 minutes.
23. Whitefish Is Also a Great Source of Lean Protein.
Easy recipe: In a shallow bowl, stir 1/4 cup white miso, ⅓ cup mirin, 1/4 cup sake, and ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar. Add 2 (6 oz) frozen cod fillets; turn to coat. Refrigerate 12 hours. Pop the fish on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spoon some marinade on top, and broil, 5 minutes.
24. Limit “Ultra-Processed” Foods.
Americans now get 57 percent of their calories from stuff like frozen pizza, soda, fast food, sweets, and salty snacks. Because flavor. Fight back with the following really tasty ingredients from Cooking at Home.
25. Turn to Cumin Seeds.
They bring smokiness and savoriness. Bloom seeds in hot oil as a base for curries and chili.
26. And Chaat Masala.
It’s tangy, funky, and fruity. Try it on fruit, on boiled potatoes, or with almond butter on toast.
27. And Asafetida.
When cooked in fat, it adds a pungent, savory taste. A dash supercharges the flavor of onions and garlic.
28. And Furikake.
It’s a mix packed with dried fish, seaweed, sugar, salt, and sesame seeds. Try it on top of rice.
29. Annnnnd Sichuan Peppercorns.
They’re spicy, in a numbing way, and fantastic sprinkled on cubed cukes.
30. Power Up Your Microwave.
Ban “I don’t have time to cook.” In a large glass bowl, microwave 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 8 to 10 minutes. In a pan, cook some onion and garlic in oil, 1 minute. Add 2 strips of bacon (chopped); cook till crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a big handful of spinach and the thighs (cut into pieces) and cook, 5 minutes.
31. Don’t Forget to Enjoy Food.
For Mohr, that means a purposeful weekly trip to the doughnut shop with his daughters and homemade pizza every Friday night. “I don’t have cheat meals—or cheat days. While my diet is healthy, it isn’t devoid of joy, either.”