6 Hacks That Make Healthy Eating Easy, from the Kansas City Chiefs Nutritionist

6 Hacks That Make Healthy Eating Easy, from the Kansas City Chiefs Nutritionist

Leslie Bonci mixes beans into mac and cheese sauce.
Leslie Bonci/Getty

  • NFL nutritionist Leslie Bonci creates meals for the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • She has invented a selection of tools for infusing nutrients into players’ favorite dishes.
  • Bonci is busy, so I use many of the same tricks to make easy and healthy meals at home.

If its NFL players or children, picky eaters are extremely difficult to feed.

And for both high-performance athletes and growing children, consuming the right nutrients is key.

Leslie Bonci has been an NFL dietitian for 34 years, and has worked with Kansas City Chiefs since 2015. This year’s team, being particularly young, has been particularly careful, she told Business Insider.

Through the meals she creates, Bonci aims to sneak nutrients into dishes that still look familiar enough that players will want to try them and taste delicious enough to actually finish them. .

And as a busy person, she uses the same tricks to feed herself and her family.

Bonci shared below 6 cooking methods for infusing nutrients into meals.

1. Add the mixed beans to the sauces

Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, but not everyone is a fan of their structure. To combat this, Bonci likes to mix them into pasta sauces and dishes such as cioppino, a fish stew that originated in San Francisco.

She also regularly mixes canned white beans into mac and cheese sauce. While a bowl full of beans may not be popular among football players, a side of mac and cheese always appeals because it’s popular, she said.

“The bottom line is that you have to have the familiar taste, otherwise you don’t eat it,” said Bonci. “We use a lot of beans at home too because they’re so easy, and I make them canned – I don’t make them from dry, I don’t have time, but they’re a really easy thing to sneak in. dish.”

2. Buy meatballs in bulk with lentils and vegetables

If you make your own meatballs, it’s easy to add more nutrients and fiber by mixing in lentils or chopped vegetables, Bonci said.

“You’re putting in something that increases the nutritional value,” Bonci said. “You can do half lentils and half beef, and now you’ve added more fiber, but you’re not tasting the lentils, you’re tasting the meat. This is a win-win for me. I’ve made it better for you, but you’re eating it because you like it.”

3. Combine foods, don’t replace them

Bonci encourages her athletes to vary their meal ratios, not fix them altogether.

She knows that replacing wings with a salad is unrealistic, but maybe they can eat less wings and add some wings. peanut mushroom strips instead.

“They all know that vegetables are healthy,” Bonci said. “This is not a surprise, but it’s just when you want to eat something, what are you going to go with? You’ll usually go with what you know and like.”

4. Add roasted chickpeas to the popcorn

The next time you’re making a bowl of popcorn, Bonci suggested adding some roasted chickpeas to add more protein and fiber while still providing that saltiness.

Bonci also recommended adding them to salads or your trail mix.

By roasting your own chickpeas, you can also choose the spices and seasonings.

5. Mix the pumpkin puree into your oatmeal

Forget Thanksgiving, Bonci cooks with canned pumpkin year-round—she especially likes to mix it into her oatmeal with some pumpkin pie spice.

“You can get it all year round and it’s a more affordable vegetable compared to others,” said Bonci. “Significant nutritional value, minimal calories and no preparation. So, boom, boom, boom.”

Bonci sometimes freezes canned pumpkin in an ice tray so she can use as much or as little as she needs for each meal.

She also uses pumpkins and squash in smoothies and sauces, whether canned, frozen or pre-cut, she said.

6. Combine pre-prepared ingredients to make a balanced meal

Bonci, like most people, does not have as much time to cook as she would like, so she is all about preparing healthy meals from suitable ingredients.

One of her favorite combos is to take a plain packaged soup, but mix in a can of beans and some plain, full-fat Greek yogurt to up the protein and fiber and make it more filling.

“It’s creamy and delicious,” said Bonci. “Then it might be a little oil on top or some sunflower seeds to make it nice, but all this nutritional value without having to spend hours and hours in the kitchen, I love things like that.”

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