Nora Nyland: Planning for healthy, convenient meals


Imagine biting into a red, ripe, juicy strawberry with a smell and taste so good it’s almost faint-inducing.NoraNyland_06

Education Week speaker Nora Nyland (Ph.D and RD) reminded listeners of the variety of attributes that food boasts: texture, flavor, color, smell — the list goes on. Every food offers a different combination of attributes that contribute to a unique eating experience.

“We have so much variety,” Nyland said. “Heavenly Father created food for our benefit, and not only does it nourish us, but it pleases us.”

Nyland quoted Doctrine and Covenants 59:16–20, which states that God made food to “please the eye and gladden the heart.” She explained that she believes in creating “delightfully healthy meals” that celebrate the various attributes God has given food.

“I think it’s an insult to our Maker to limit our repertoire to bagels, ramen and yogurt,” Nyland said. “Because of the variety he’s given us, isn’t it worth taking time to plan and prepare what we eat? Isn’t it worth the time to take advantage of what we’ve been given?”


With the variety of food that is readily available, Nyland suggested a few tricks to simplify meal-planning options. She mentioned, a website detailing the elements of a healthy diet. On, users can explore recipes, discover what proper proportions look like and learn how to eat healthfully on a budget.

Nyland also recommended using a menu planning matrix. The matrix she showed features the days of the week at the top, with four different rows on the left side: entrée, side/starch, vegetable/salad and dessert. Using this matrix allows shoppers to plan well-balanced meals for several days at a time.

“You can even do this on the back of an envelope,” Nyland said. “It doesn’t matter how you do it or how fancy it is. It just matters that you think through it and choose what’s best for you and your family.”


Nyland said every task has three parts: get ready, do and put away. This principle certainly applies to the context of meal-making, and there are ways to use this principle to save time.

“To be more efficient in planning and cooking, do more ‘do’ for your ‘get ready’ and ‘put away,'” Nyland said. “I know that probably doesn’t make sense the first time you hear it, but let me explain.”

Nyland used cheese-grating as an example of a task to “do.” She suggested “doing more do” by grating more cheese than needed at the time of use. When she does this, she places the extra cheese in a bag for later use.

The same principle applies to larger-scale tasks. Nyland advocated making friends with the freezer but said to avoid freezing the following: cooked egg white, gelatin, custard filling, mayonnaise, sauces thickened with cornstarch or flour, sour cream and most raw vegetables.


“Since Food Network came out, cooking has become a spectator sport,” Nyland said. “But watching Food Network does not make you a great cook any more than watching the NBA makes me a basketball star.”

With that warning, Nyland noted that she thinks the Food Network makes cooking look fun and inspires viewers to try new things in the cooking arena. Nyland spoke of importance in associating food with fun, celebration, health, teaching and enjoyment.

She concluded by reminding listeners how blessed they were to have so much easily accessible food in the U.S.

“For those of us who have food so readily available to us, let’s make good choices, have fun with it and use variety,” she said.


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