Before you completely overhaul the way you live in the new year, keep in mind that making positive changes may just be a few simple steps away. Starting small with attainable goals can help keep you on the right track throughout the year. Here are four suggestions to keep you fit:

Drink more water. Preventing dehydration, keeping a normal body temperature and lubricating joints are benefits of drinking enough water daily. Try carrying a reusable bottle as a reminder. When out for a meal or on the road, choose water over sugary drinks. 

Learn to cook. If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, start with simple recipes that don’t force you to sacrifice flavor. After all, an eating plan is easier to stick to when you enjoy the foods you’re making. For example, Baja fish taco bowls take just 20 minutes for a spicy, fresh-flavored family dinner. And Mediterranean rice bowls (below) offer satisfying, meatless and healthful alternatives.

Eat more whole grains. Skip refined grains by opting for whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, which offer a more complete package of health benefits. Some options are ready in just 10 minutes to help remove the guesswork in cooking while giving home cooks more time to focus on elevating dishes for loved ones. 

Make an eating plan. Creating weekly menus can help you avoid the drive-through by scripting meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, an eating plan makes grocery shopping easier and less frequent by allowing you to buy all the ingredients you’ll need for the coming week at one time. Encourage family members to provide suggestions so the planning process doesn’t become overwhelming.

Family Features contributed to this story.

Mediterranean Rice Bowls with Zucchini Fritters
Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4


1 bag brown rice
2 medium zucchinis, grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup canola oil
2 cups diced cucumber
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup feta, crumbled
½ cup garlic hummus

Prepare rice. In medium bowl, toss zucchinis with salt; let sit at least 10 minutes. Transfer to colander and squeeze out excess moisture. Return to bowl and stir in eggs, green onions, dill and garlic. 

In another bowl, stir flour, Parmesan, baking powder, cumin and pepper. Stir dry mixture into zucchini mixture and combine to form thick batter.

In large skillet over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup oil. Working in batches, drop 2 tablespoons batter into pan for each fritter. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel-lined tray.

Divide rice between four bowls. Top each with cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and fritters. Garnish each bowl with scoop of hummus.