Our Registered Dietitian’s Favorite Nutrition Tips

This post was written by Heather Sachs. Heather is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. She has more than 15 years of experience combining her knowledge in food, nutrition, and regulatory affairs as well as translating science into impactful brand communication. Heather is currently Blue Apron’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.

National Nutrition Month is  a personal favorite for me, and not just because I am a Registered Dietitian. I believe in the power of food. Nutritious food supports good health, brings families and cultures together,  and provides a mental break from our stressful lives. Of course, food also inspires moments of happiness.

This year in honor of National Nutrition Month I am pulling together some of my best tips on setting yourself up for success when it comes to your nutrition and wellness goals.

Flip your mindset

For many people, the word diet is associated with deprivation and elimination of their favorite foods. It doesn’t have to be that way, in fact it shouldn’t. Diet is what you eat, not what you don’t eat. If you focus on the nutritious foods you want to incorporate into your daily eating patterns–like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and heart healthy–there won’t be room left in your mind or your belly for those foods you try to consume in moderation.

Always have a plan of attack

You wouldn’t walk into a new job without preparing. Bring this same mentality to your meals! If you can meal prep even a couple lunches, that’s a great start. Investing as little as an hour on a Sunday can set you up for success during the week ahead. Start small. You can prep easy sandwiches and salads in containers to grab each day. To make it even easier, try Blue Apron’s Meal Prep Options (Wellness for me). 

Don’t forget to prep snacks too! Snacks can help keep you satisfied throughout the day and prevent overeating at your next meal. Look for snack combos that provide both fiber and protein. Try packing apples and peanut butter, cut up veggies and hummus, cheese and whole grain crackers, or even granola bars.  

Variety

No one wants to eat the same thing every day. Seeking out new foods, flavors, and combinations can bring enjoyment to your daily diet. Take a trip to the farmers’ market and check out the produce, proteins, and even spices available locally. In addition to supporting small businesses, you might be exposed to something you never would have seen at the supermarket.

Mental Health

Speaking from my own experience, making a meal does something for the mind and the soul. Whether I am cooking on my own, with my husband, or with my kids, something happens and I am transported. I have always loved to cook, but Blue Apron recipes have elevated our meals. We’ve discovered new ingredients, new flavors, and new skills. Creating a nutritious and flavorful dinner for my family makes me feel like a hero even on busy weeknights.

A 360 Approach to Wellness

Cooking at home does more than just nourish your body. Time in the kitchen can help you unwind, save money, and learn new skills. 

No matter what health means to you, Blue Apron’s Wellness menu is full of nutritionist-approved recipes that will fit you and your unique goals. The menu includes Carb Conscious,  WW™ Recommended, and vegetarian recipes that the whole family will love. For busy day, try simple preparations like sheet pan dinners that take the stress out of cooking, or select a wellness Heat & Eat meal that is ready is minutes.  

Look for recipes with the Wellness label on the signature for 2 menu to find meals designed in collaboration with nutritionists with your holistic health in mind.  Current customers can adjust their account settings and sign up for Wellness meals as a default choice.  

We know that health doesn’t end after dinner. Follow along on Blue Apron’s Facebook and Instagram for tips and tricks supporting mental health, financial health, and more.

What Makes Our Wellness Menu Unique

Vegetarian

Carb Conscious

Our vegetarian recipes contain no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, but may include eggs, and animal-based dairy products, such as cheese and sour cream, as well as honey.

Our Carb Conscious recipes provide a balanced approach to carbohydrate consumption by replacing refined carbohydrates with high-fiber foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. 

Heat & Eat

WW™ Recommended

Need a night off from cooking? Our Heat & Eat meals step up the standards for pre-made meals, delivering Blue Apron quality and flavor, in minutes. 

If you spot the WW™ logo next to a recipe, get excited! These recipes factor in calories, sugar, saturated fats, and protein to help guide you toward nutritious foods—while still keeping dinner satisfying and delicious.

Sign up here for wholesome, nutritious ingredients, and all of the benefits of home cooking, delivered to your door. 

Six Easy Dairy-Free Cooking Swaps

Looking to cut the dairy in your diet? Whether you’re lactose intolerant, thinking about going plant-based, or just trying out Meatless Monday, these dairy-free swaps will make any meal special. 

Dairy-Free Substitutions 

Whipped cream 

This dairy-free whipped cream is easy to make—all you need is a can of coconut milk. Just refrigerate the coconut milk until it’s chilled, then use an electric mixer and beat until soft, fluffy peaks form.  For extra flavor try adding a sweetener of your choice, vanilla extract, or a dash of cinnamon. 

Buttermilk 

This vegan buttermilk replicates buttermilk’s signature tang with a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s easy to make at home. Try using it in vegan biscuits, mashed potatoes, or pancakes. 

Sour cream 

Nachos wouldn’t be the same without a drizzle of sour cream. Adding lime juice and cashews to this dairy-free version will bring the tart and creamy contrast that you’re craving to any dish. 

Ice cream 

To soothe your sweet tooth, try subbing in this fruity blueberry whip for dairy-based ice cream. All you need to make this at home is a blender. Buying frozen blueberries makes this dessert unbelievably easy. 

cashews

Heavy cream 

Heavy cream adds luxurious texture to sauces and soups. This dairy-free alternative uses cashews to replicate the decadent richness of cream. Soak your cashews in warm water for 2-3 hours for the best results. 

Parmesan cheese 

You’ve probably heard of using nutritional yeast as a dairy-free substitute for parmesan. This recipe starts with nutritional yeast, but then adds texture and flavor with nuts and garlic powder. It’s the perfect topping for vegan pastas and salads.  

You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy these dairy-free recipes: they’re delicious in their own right. No matter what you’re making, these Meatless Monday-approved options will make going dairy-free a cinch.

How to Read a Nutrition Label

Nutrition labels and ingredient lists are amazing sources of information, especially when combined. They can help inform your decisions when purchasing food. However, there are some limitations. Sourcing, processing, and preparation methods have a huge impact on the quality and biological availability of nutrients in the product, as well as how those nutrients are digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body. 

Nutrition labels provide macronutrient information (ex: carbs, protein, fat), but this can be misleading. Macronutrients vary in composition, and that’s what really matters on the biological level. 

Consider this scenario: a burger from your favorite fast food place and a burger you make at home have similar nutrition label breakdowns and ingredient lists. Which one do you think is healthier? Probably the one you made at home from fresh ingredients.

If you’re trying to make healthier decisions with food, start with the nutrition facts and ingredients, but also work on creating meals with fewer processed ingredients and more fresh vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains. If you want a little guidance, just look at the upcoming Blue Apron menu and select meals with the “wellness” badge. 

If you’re having trouble reading the nutrition facts, here’s some information to help you decode it.

Decoding the Nutrition Facts Label

Servings & Serving Size

One of the most important pieces of information on the nutrition facts panel is the Serving Size declaration. The serving size is usually provided in grams, a common household measure such as a cup, a fraction of a package, or number of pieces. The nutrition information described on the package is all based on the amount in this serving size. 

It is important to understand that serving size is not a dietary recommendation, and does not tell you how much you should eat. Serving sizes are meant to represent how much is usually consumed by an individual in one sitting.

Total Sugars vs. Added Sugars

Nutrition labels now provide Total Sugars and Added Sugars. What’s the difference? Total sugars include naturally occurring sugars from ingredients such as dairy, fruits, and vegetables as well as added sugars. Added sugars are refined sugars that like white sugar, honey, maple syrup, or others, that have been added as an additional ingredient. 

Total Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, & Net Carb Calculation

Total Carbohydrates represent the total amount of carbs in a serving of the product. This includes, but is not limited to, dietary fiber and total sugars. Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that can aid in digestion, promote feelings of fullness, regulate glucose absorption (and therefore blood sugar levels), and lower cholesterol levels. Most of these positive qualities are attributed to soluble fibers, which slow down digestion, rather than insoluble fibers, which speed up digestion, however both are important for maintaining a healthy system.  Although they’re carbohydrates, they can’t be processed as such by the human body.

You may also see a unit called Net Carbs. Since dietary fibers can’t be digested, net carbs are calculated by subtracting the  dietary fiber from the total carbohydrates. This number can give us a better idea of how many carbohydrates we’re actually consuming.

Ex: Total Carbs = 20g, Dietary Fiber = 2g. Net Carbs = 20g (Total Carbs) – 2g (Dietary Fiber) = 18g

So if we don’t digest fiber, is it calorie-less? Not quite. Even though we’re unable to digest fiber, the bacteria in our gut are able to do so, and if they do, then that will provide some calories.

Ingredient Lists

Ingredient lists add great context to the nutrients listed in the nutrition facts panel. They can also help you figure out if an ingredient that you are allergic or sensitive to is in the product. Ingredient lists are written in order of predominance, with the greatest amount listed first. You can use an ingredient list to help you decide if something is healthy or not, and inform your purchasing decisions.

Eating Well, Not to Lose Weight

cauliflower grain bowl
A shawarma cauliflower grain bowl from the Blue Apron Wellness menu  

All too often, the conversation around healthy eating is centered around weight loss. Eating is about so much more than that! A diet full of healthy foods can improve energy levels, brighten your mood, and have dozens of health benefits. Don’t worry, even with a healthy lifestyle, there’s still room for dessert. We caught up with Registered Dietitian Anne Mauney from the healthy lifestyle and recipe blog fANNEtastic Food to hear how she uses intuitive eating to support her health and get enjoyment from food at the same time. 

eating well with anne mauney
Anne with a balanced, delicious meal

Blue Apron: What are some reasons to eat well?

Anne Mauney: The main reason is to feel good physically and to stabilize energy levels, but it’s important to remember that eating well can mean totally different things to different people. I think that that’s one of the places where people get caught up: there are so many places to find different advice, but eating well for your body might look totally different than eating well for someone else’s body.

It’s more important to tune in and ask yourself, “What foods feel best for me physically, and in what amounts” versus, “what does this random person that I follow online eat” or whatever.

Blue Apron: So what exactly, does intuitive eating mean?

Anne Mauney: I’m a dietitian, and I have always focused on intuitive eating in my private practice with my clients. 

You know how you eat when you’re a kid? You eat when you’re hungry, you stop when you’re full. It’s not that complicated. Over the years, diet messaging comes in, and we find ourselves not always listening to what our bodies are saying.

Intuitive eating is a way to get people back to eating in a way that feels good. It’s about noticing how foods feel for you, and understanding your hunger and fullness levels. Removing the guilt around food is really important too.

Blue Apron:What is a tip that you would give someone who is familiar with the idea of intuitive eating, but isn’t sure where to start?

Anne Mauney: I always have my clients start by looking at their day as a whole. A food mood journal can be really helpful here. This isn’t a diet or weight loss food journal, where you’re putting portion sizes and things like that, but it’s more just a way for people to actually tune in, basically. It’s easy to just get so busy that you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating. You’re getting too hungry. Then once you’re too hungry, you’re overeating as a result, and you feel too full.

Start with a food mood journal where you note what you’re eating, focusing on what your hunger and your fullness levels are. This can be a really helpful tool to look at your day as a whole, and just say, “Are there times of the day that I notice I’m constantly getting a little too hungry, and then, as a result, often a little too full?” Because it’s really hard to eat intuitively or just mindfully if you’re way too hungry. A food mood journal can also be a great way to assess WHY you are getting too hungry at certain times of day. Are meals/snacks too spaced out? Or are you not getting a balance of carbs, fat, and protein at your meals? There’s a lot to explore!

A pattern that I see often is people try to “eat healthy” early in the day, and as a result they don’t eat enough. Then, later in the day, they find themselves bingeing on something in the pantry. It’s not that they have no willpower, it’s just that they literally set themselves up for that by getting too hungry.

Focusing on the hunger and fullness scale, and reacquainting yourself with what that feels like, can be really helpful and a great place to start your intuitive eating journey.

Blue Apron: How do you take that into consideration when doing your own meal planning? 

Anne Mauney: One thing that’s important to me is making sure that all of my meals contain carbohydrates, fats, and protein. I really love that Blue Apron’s wellness meals are really balanced with the macronutrients, because that’s important too.

Often, especially with breakfast, I’ll see people will skip the protein and just have carbs. Then at lunch, people are skipping carbs, maybe just having a salad. If you’re missing different macronutrients at your meals, they’re not going to be as satisfying or give you as much staying power. That can set you up for an energy crash and sugar cravings later on in the day.

Blue Apron: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Anne Mauney: I’m pregnant, so I need two full legit breakfasts. My first breakfast with my toddler around 7:00 AM was a banana, egg, and ground flax seed pancake (here’s the recipe: High Protein Pancake Recipe) that I make a lot. It sounds kind of gross, but it’s really good and it’s super easy—my toddler absolutely loves it too! You basically just mash banana, whisk a few eggs in there, and then put some ground flaxseed in. Your banana is the carb, there’s protein from the eggs, and then healthy fat from the ground flaxseed.

For my second breakfast I had some scrambled eggs in a tortilla with black beans, avocado, feta, and arugula. Again, just making sure you’ve got a different mix of fats, carbs, and protein. I don’t always eat eggs at both of my breakfasts, but it’s what worked today!

Pregnancy changes all the rules of eating. I’ve really had to tune in to all this all over again. Especially with my first pregnancy a few years ago, I really had to just start over, basically, with intuitive eating. The things that I had been eating were just not satisfying me like they normally did, just because I had so much hunger. For me, it’s about just being okay with listening to what your body wants, and if that’s multiple full meals first thing in the day, then I go for it. 

Blue Apron: When we separate the conversation about eating well from the conversation about losing weight, what do we gain?

Anne Mauney: First of all, I think we get back pleasure from food. One of the things that diet culture can make people forget is that food should actually taste good. We should get pleasure from food.

We also gain long-term sustainability. What I’ve found, not only in research, but also in work with my clients, is that it’s just not sustainable to focus specifically on weight loss. You’re not building long-term habits that you can actually continue to do. 

You might be able to follow a more restrictive or extreme approach for a little while, but then you fall off the wagon and boomerang back the other way, which leads to weight cycling. If you’re focusing on eating well with an intuitive eating approach, you can focus on building small, sustainable habits that are going to be things that you can keep up over time.

With more restricted diet approaches, there’s often a lot of guilt involved. When you’re told you shouldn’t eat a certain food, you’re going to want it more. Then what ends up happening is that, maybe you avoid that food for a while, but then eventually you’re going to have it. Then, instead of just having it, and enjoying it, and moving on, you end up feeling really guilty. The “screw it” mentality comes in, where you say, “Okay. Screw it. I’ve already had one slice of pizza. I’m going to have the entire pizza, because I’m never eating this pizza again, because I’m not supposed to eat it.” Restrictive diets naturally leads to this binge/restrict cycle and ultimately to worse health outcomes in the long term.

I always ask my clients to focus on adding rather than subtracting. Rather than thinking about what food or thing to subtract from your diet, try thinking about what you can add to it to balance it out. For example, think about adding veggies, or adding a carb to lunch so then you’re not having sugar cravings later.

Blue Apron: So you don’t consider any foods “forbidden?”

Anne Mauney: I think it’s actually really important to your honor cravings. With diet culture, there’s a sense that “Okay. I have this craving but I’m not allowed to have that food, so I’m going to try and have a lame diet version of whatever it is I actually want.” Then, what happens is you basically end up just binging on something else later because you’re just not satisfied.

If there’s something that you’re really craving, and nothing else is going to satisfy that, then I think it’s important to just have whatever it is you actually want. Put it on a plate, and focus on actually enjoying the process rather than quickly squirreling it away. Allowing yourself to actually get pleasure from that experience rather than having it be shameful. Just be sure you aren’t going into the experience too hungry, because that will make it harder to slowly savor your food and enjoy it! 
If you want to learn more about intuitive eating, I have a post on my blog called “Intuitive Eating While Working From Home” that is quite relevant for a lot of us being homebound right now! I also have an “Intuitive Eating for Runners” specific post, too.

Look for recipes with the Wellness label on the signature for 2 menu to find meals designed in collaboration with nutritionists with your holistic health in mind.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

The journey to eating healthy can seem confusing and overwhelming at the beginning. A great way to start eating healthier is to not only try new healthy recipes, but to also find ways to make recipes that you know and love healthier. Here are some healthy breakfast ideas for all the decadent brunch enthusiasts out there. 

Smoked Salmon on Multigrain Toast

Salmon is an amazing source of omega 3 fatty acids, and pairing it with whole or multigrain toast and extra virgin olive oil creates a Mediterranean Diet-friendly combination that will give you a boost of energy to start your day. This won’t replace the need for bagels and lox, but it is a delicious option for lighter days.

healthy salmon on multigrain toast for breakfast

How to:

Start with your favorite smoked salmon and a few pieces of multigrain toast. Just pile the salmon high, season with salt, pepper, and spices of your choice. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and serve with slices of raw (or sauteed) bell pepper on the side.

Turkey Bacon Egg and Cheese

Turkey Bacon Egg and Cheese healthy breakfast sandwich

The bacon egg and cheese on a roll is a favorite New York City breakfast. You can find this oozing sandwich in bodegas across the city. To make it a little healthier, try using lean turkey bacon and cooking your eggs in olive oil. Once they’re all cooked up, place these in between two slices of multigrain or whole wheat toast, and then serve with a side of veggies for your choice for a balanced meal.

How to:

Bake or fry the lean turkey bacon. Fry an egg in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the cheese of choice, and pile it all between 2 pieces of toasted multigrain bread. In the same frying pan you used for the egg, cook a handful of spinach and a few halved grape tomatoes in the fond & season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side.

Whole Grain Pancakes

Whole Grain Pancakes

Who doesn’t love pancakes? This breakfast staple is the perfect way to set a cheery mood for the day. If you’re looking for healthy breakfast ideas, try making your favorite pancake recipe with whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. Bonus: throw flaxseeds or flaxmeal into the mix for some omega 3 fatty acids and extra fiber. Then top these pancakes with some nut butter, sliced fresh fruit, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

How to:

To put a healthy twist on this breakfast favorite, start with a recipe that you know you love. Replace between 50-100% of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour, and then go wild with the healthful toppings. Nuts, seeds, and nut butters are all delicious and good for you. 

What is a WW Recommended Meal?

Turkey kofta, a ww approved meal
These turkey kofta are WW Approved

As you look through upcoming menus, you might notice a WW Recommended badge on some recipes. Blue Apron and WW have joined forces to create nutrient-packed dishes that will help you reach your health and wellness goals—without sacrificing taste.

If you’re not familiar with WW, the brand offers a holistic approach to weight loss and well-being through its new myWW+ program. “Rather than uprooting your lifestyle or taking away the foods you love, we help guide you toward healthier eating patterns,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, head of nutrition and wellness at WW.

How? All foods are assigned Points™ value— one easy to understand number that distills down complex nutrition science to help simplify eating healthfully. That means nothing is off-limits. Desserts, rich dishes, and everything else can all fit within an overall healthy pattern of eating.

Whether you’re a WW member or not, these meals have been designed with the Points™ system and overall stress-free, intuitive eating in mind. But what does that really mean? Here’s a closer look at what you’ll get when you dig into Blue Apron x WW meals: 

They’re delicious

First and foremost, our chefs pride themselves on creating meals that you’ll love eating. Blue Apron x WW meals use the same high-quality ingredients and inventive cooking techniques that you’ll find in every Blue Apron box. 

They favor ZeroPoint proteins 

Another key element of the WW program: ZeroPoint foods. These ingredients form the foundation of a healthy eating pattern, explains Leslie Fink, MS, RD, a nutritionist and recipe editor at WW. “The specifics differ depending on which myWW+ plan you’re on, but generally include nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.” The best part? You can eat as much as you please! Blue Apron chefs use these lean proteins (think boneless skinless chicken breasts and fish) to create flavorful, satisfying meals that help you stay within your daily Points™ budget. 

They’re mindful of sodium 

Despite its reputation, sodium is a vital nutrient that helps regulate fluids and support muscle health. That said, it’s all about finding a balance.  Although everyone’s needs are different, consistently consuming excess sodium can contribute to chronic disease risk. Blue Apron x WW meals are conscious of sodium, but still packed with flavor.

They use creative swaps  

Who says you have to sacrifice taste to make a better-for-you dish? Blue Apron x WW meals offer ingredient substitutions that work so well your family will have no clue they’re not the real deal. Try using non-fat yogurt in place of sour cream, or fromage blanc instead of crème fraîche. You’ll get the same taste as richer dairy options, while still savingPoints™,

Learn more about the Blue Apron x WW partnership, and sign up to try a meal here.

All About Brodo Bone Broth

When Brodo opened its first location in Manhattan in 2014, it caused a frenzy. At the time it was novel to walk around with a to-go cup filled with savory bone broth, but New Yorkers couldn’t get enough. This tiny window-service restaurant was the brain child of Marco Canora.

Canora was already the executive chef at Hearth in the East Village. Brodo came about as a resourceful way to use the takeout window attached to the side of his already popular restaurant. At the time, he had no way to now it would spawn an empire. Today, Marco Canora’s rich and hearty broth is available across the nation, including in Blue Apron boxes.

Brodo may have been revolutionary, but the basic principle of bone broth is ancient. Here’s what all the buzz is about: 

What is Bone Broth? 

Bordo bone broth

Brodo is made with water, roasted bones from beef, chicken, or pork, and aromatic flavorings. Although these may sound like the same basic ingredients that make up traditional stock, very few commercial broths are actually made with roasted bones. Roasting the bones and taking the time to simmer them is what allows the collagen and other nutrients in the bones to release. This process is what is what transforms a thin stock into a hearty bone broth. 

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

The longer that water simmers with bones, the more collagen it can extract. Collagen supports skin and nail health, is packed with protein, and also adds a luscious texture that makes this healthy elixir feel indulgent. 

Brodo’s bone broth is delicious in its own right, let’s not forget it started out as a beverage, but it can also add rich flavor to sauces, gravies, and stews. In Blue Apron boxes you’ll find it being used as a braising liquid in our braised chicken and smashed potatoes, and to deglaze pans for in our gnocchi with summer vegetables.

How to Navigate the Confusion Of the Low-Carb Craze

bread is not low-carb

Jessica Halper MPH, RNutr, always has health on her mind. Today, she’s here to help make sense of all the conflicting information surrounding low-carb diets.

Are all carbs created equal? It’s a hot topic, and a persistent pain point for those looking to cut back on carbs. While the craze around carbohydrates is nothing new, demand for the low-carb market has soared in recent years. Global sales of low-carb products are expected to reach $15.64 billion by 2027. Unsurprisingly, grocery and food manufacturers have jumped on this wagon, producing low-carb alternatives to everything from chocolate cookies to ice cream. In fact, keto—a low-carb, high fat diet—was the most ‘Googled’ diet in 2020.

While our understanding of carbohydrates has evolved since the days of the Atkins Diet, some still maintain that carbohydrates are a dietary villain. All carbs are inherently bad and fattening, right? Not so fast. Like most topics in nutrition, the science is more nuanced than good versus “evil.”

Like calories, it’s imperative to first define carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient composed of sugar molecules. Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of the three main nutrients found in food and drink that contribute to a balanced diet. In fact, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, and are required daily to power both the brain and working muscles. So, before officially excommunicating carbs from your diet, read on.

What are simple carbs?

At the chemical level, all carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. However, even though all carbohydrates are composed of these building blocks, their structure and behaviors vary. Simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) are digested and absorbed by the body easily. Think of these as quick fuel. These simple carbs are naturally found in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products, but they are also found in processed and refined foods such as candy, table sugar, syrup and soft drinks.

whole grains are complex carbs

What are complex carbs?

Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) are digested and absorbed by the body over a longer period of time, and provide a more lasting source of energy. They are found in a variety of foods including peas , beans, whole grains, and vegetables. However, because the category includes all starches, they are also present in refined foods such as white bread and pasta, suggesting that while complex carbs are a better energy option, nutritionally, the jury is still out.

Choosing the Best Carbs for Your Diet

It’s easy to get lost in this mess of organic chemistry, but hope is not lost when choosing the best carbs to support a healthy diet. People don’t eat nutrients, they eat food. Assessing the quality of your carbohydrates is key because not all carbs are created equal. Carbohydrates that are high in fiber, such as whole grains and fresh produce are an excellent source of the macronutrient. Not only are high-fiber foods metabolized more slowly—mitigating blood sugar spikes—they are also rich in vitamins and minerals.

By the same token, refined carbs—those that have been stripped of their fibrous bran and kernel—are a poorer choice. These carbs, which include white bread and white rice, are digested quickly, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Table sugar, or sucrose, is the most common refined carbohydrate. Unlike other simple sugars found in fruit and milk, sucrose provides no nutritional value aside from energy. This is why it’s deemed an “empty calorie.” Empty calories, which unfortunately comprise a large part of the American diet, can have a negative impact on your health, leading to weight gain and chronic disease. 

A low-carbohydrate diet is still a good choice for those looking to lose or manage their weight. However, when cutting back on the carbs, be mindful of those you eliminate. Work with a doctor or nutritionist to devise a plan that best fits your body’s needs. Eliminate refined carbs, and choose those that are high in fiber such as whole grains and legumes. Support your plan with moderate portions of lean protein (both animal and plant), healthy sources of fat and, as always, an array of fruits and vegetables, either frozen or fresh.

If you’re craving homemade meals created with balance in mind, explore Blue Apron’s new signature wellness menu here.

5 Easy Swaps that Make Family Dinner Healthier

Ingredient swaps are a creative way to tailor your family’s favorite dinners to suit your lifestyle. Whether you’re hoping to watch fat intake, cut carbs, or keep an eye on sodium, these tricks will help create a nourishing dinner that everyone will love. 

turkey lettuce cups

Wrap it in lettuce 

Cut carbs, eat vegetables, and play with your food at the same time. Swapping lettuce cups for tortillas creates a fresh and light dinner that is fun to eat like these Cool Cajun Chicken Lettuce Cups with Pickled Pepper Yogurt & Peanuts. 

Add a dollop of yogurt 

Enchiladas aren’t the same without a tangy topping. Cut fat without sacrificing satisfaction by swapping Greek yogurt in for sour cream. Yogurt can also be stirred into rice dishes and plopped on top of curries for a creamy dinner that you can feel good about. 

Try an alternative pasta 

If carbs are a concern, try an alternative pasta. Banza pasta is a low-carb, gluten-free pasta that will pair perfectly with your favorite sauces. 

Add a squeeze of lemon instead of an extra pinch of salt 

Watching sodium? Finishing your dish with a squeeze of lemon instead of a dash of salt will brighten up the flavors. 

Try a lighter protein 

Substituting ground turkey or boneless skinless chicken breast in for a heavier protein like beef will cut down on saturated fat. In a flavorful meal like chili, or these Tempo Turkey Sloppy Joes, we bet you won’t miss the beef at all. 

Click here to try recipes like these created to celebrate Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” now streaming on Disney+.

A Letter from our CEO to Kick Off 2021

To our community of home cooks,

In 2020, we saw firsthand the value home cooking can bring to our lives. It’s more than making a meal. It can deepen bonds with those we love, whether it’s in-person or virtually, or offer a small moment of reprise as we manage through a stressful time.

By cooking with us, you pushed your culinary curiosity and learned new kitchen skills. Throughout the past year, we prepared over 970 recipes, many which featured new ingredients like lamb, scallops, duck, watermelon radish, and more.

At times, it’s hard to find a moment to prepare a home-cooked meal, especially as you look for the right variety and flexibility to fit your lifestyle. We are here to help. In addition to our new Wellness and customization options, we’re bringing you a series of recipes designed for quicker prep and easier cleanup, without sacrificing the flavor you expect from us. These recipes allow you to focus on the things that keep us away from the kitchen, and still come together over a flavorful, nutritious meal.

In 2021, we also plan to continue to give back to communities where we operate. To kick off the year, we are proud to support City Harvest, a food rescue and hunger relief organization and a Blue Apron partner since 2012, and its mission to feed New Yorkers during this challenging time. We will also continue to support people in need through our ongoing partnerships with regional food banks under Feeding America as well as explore additional partnerships throughout the year.

We are committed to responsibly sourcing fresh, high-quality, and wholesome seasonal ingredients directly from our suppliers, leaving out the middleman. In 2021, we will continue to strengthen our direct-to-source approach, while advancing our commitment to animal welfare, clean label, and sustainable seafood ingredient sourcing standards.

Lastly, as we continue to focus on bringing you incredible recipes, we regularly assess our impact on the environment and challenge our status quo. Cooking with Blue Apron could reduce your carbon footprint compared to preparing the same meal with ingredients purchased from a grocery store.* However, we’re striving to further lessen our environmental footprint and plan to do more in the coming year.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, and thank you for cooking with Blue Apron. 

Linda

Linda Findley Kozlowski, President and CEO, Blue Apron
*According to a University of Michigan paper published in 2019

Cooking at Home to Foster Health & Wellness

We’ve long believed in the power of home cooking to transform people’s lives—so when we set out to create our first-ever Wellness menu, we knew it wasn’t just about the food on your plate. Home cooking has the ability to unlock a whole host of benefits for your holistic health. 

Here’s just some of the ways we believe home cooking can benefit your overall wellness. 

Physical Health

Nutrition is the biggest factor that determines our overall health—but with copious amounts of fad diets, medical studies, and unreliable resources, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused by what’s out there. 

Blue Apron’s entire menu is designed for flexibility and balance, so you can enjoy both Meatless Monday and Burger Friday. Our new Wellness menu, launching December 26, focuses first on flavor, but also supports a variety of lifestyles including vegetarian, WW, 600 calories or less, carb conscious, and more. 

Created by our expert team of chefs in collaboration with our nutritionist, these perfectly portioned recipes feature fresh produce, whole grains, high-quality proteins, and natural sweeteners. Our transparent online nutrition information also helps keep you informed so that you can achieve your unique goals—whatever they may be.

Brain Health

If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that keeping our brains engaged is a crucial component to our health. Home cooking is an amazing vehicle to challenge yourself and try out new things. 

Our recipes feature techniques for all skill levels, to help home cooks acquire knowledge they can take with them even when their Blue Apron meal is complete. Additionally, our Premium recipes feature advanced culinary techniques, and unique flavor twists for home chefs looking to take their culinary skills up a notch. At Blue Apron, we want to feed your curiosity and grow your mind. 

Relationship Health

For anyone who’s cooked a meal for their family (or anyone who’s enjoyed Grandma’s lasagna!), it’s not surprising that cooking can be viewed as a form of nurturing. This year, when home cooking has been more important than ever, many of us have rediscovered how a home-cooked meal can strengthen our bonds with family and friends. By cooking together, we’re building better relationships.  

Mental Health

Home cooking doesn’t just have the power to support your relationships with others—but also with yourself. A form of screen-free self-care, cooking can draw you into the moment, help you feel connected to the present, and allow you to enjoy a sense of accomplishment and achievement when complete. 

Financial Health

The average American household wastes an estimated 31.9% of its food a year—the equivalent of $1,866. While cooking at home can be better for your budget than eating out, predictable spending is key to financial stability. Our flexible plans, starting at as little as $7.49 per serving, help families plan better by delivering high-quality, pre-portioned ingredients, while limiting opportunities for impulse buying and food waste. 

We hope you’ll join us to see all the ways home cooking can help you unlock a holistic approach to wellness in your life. Check out new Wellness recipes, available in boxes starting the week of January 4, and follow Blue Apron on Facebook and Instagram for updates.