Saturday, March 12, 2011

"So... What Do You Eat?"

Oddly enough, I get that question often. My friends, family and co-workers understand that I am health conscious and make an effort to bring whole nutrition to every meal. I limit my processed food intake which is easier than most people think - it's just different. To answer some questions, I am going to attempt to explain what I eat to show people that eating healthy isn't a burden.

1. "It's not a diet, but a lifestyle." I didn't make this change overnight. I hate when people see you eating healthy or buying fresh produce and they say "You're being so good" or " I should really go on a diet." Everything you eat is part of your diet. It's your choice if it's a nutritious one or not. A weight-loss diet usually means cutting out things like fat, carbs, sugar, etc. to stimulate the metabolism. The problem is that it's not permanent or maintainable. Once you reach your fitness goal and return to your "pre-diet" diet, you fall back to square one.

It's important to make changes that are maintainable. You cannot live the rest of your life without any carbohydrates or drinking nothing but fruit juice and weight loss shakes. Your body is your most powerful tool, don't you want to fuel it properly?

Yin Yang Flag Polyester 3 ft. x 5 ft.2. Life is about balance. If you can balance your energy equally between, work, your personal life, and your spiritual life, health will come. If you can find balance emotionally, you will be able to balance your nutrition, too.

Balance of nutrition comes in meal planning. Macaroni and cheese is not a meal. Every meal should be a mixture of fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates. There are many books and websites to help you find this information: educate yourself.

Good fat comes from nuts, oils, seafood and seeds.

Protein comes from meat, beans, dairy, tofu and whole grains.

Complex carbohydrates are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Brown rice, quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes and all vegetables are great complex carbohydrates. They break down slowly, stabilizing blood sugar.

Avoid chemicals. Preservatives, synthetic coloring, pesticides and stabilizers offer no nutritional value. They also are not easily broken down in our bodies, if at all. When these are ingested our bodies waste precious time and energy trying to make use out of them instead of extracting nutrients to fuel our organs, regulate our blood sugar and fight diseases. Give your body a break, it works hard. This is easily done by buying foods without packaging (i.e. fresh) and reading the labels on your packaged food. The one with the least "fake" ingredients is going to be the best; even if it's not the lowest in fat, sugar, calories or carbohydrates.

3. Be prepared. It sounds dumb but if you have a plan, ordering pizza and pulling in a drive thru won't happen. Keep a healthy snack handy. Fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas keep well at room temperature. A few nuts will give your brain a boost with protein and healthy fats. Some packaged nutrition bars like Cliff of Kind bars are good in a pinch. Beware of foods like yogurt and granola bars that seem healthy but are loaded with processed sugar. Keeping water on hand will keep you away from the soda machine.

Rival RO180 18-Quart Roaster Oven, White

Every week, we started making a "menu." We pick out five recipes for dinner for the week and use those to make our grocery list. We found that five allows for structure, but also some freedom if we decide to go out one night or have left overs. We have all the ingredients and a written plan so there's no excuse to eat junk.

Breakfast items we always keep on hand include fresh fruit, bread for sandwiches or toast, eggs, and steel cut oats.

We save money by buying our fresh produce at the local farmer's market, and what we can't buy fresh we buy frozen. I don't like cans because there is some sketchy findings in the BPA lining used in tin cans. When we do buy things like applesauce or pasta sauce we use glass containers which are also recyclable in our area.

Here is a copy of one of our weekly menus to get an idea of what meals in our house look like. I don't eat much meat so often times we cook the meat separate and he will have the meat and I will have beans or tofu. All our pasta and rice is whole grain and we use organic milk and yogurt.

Spring Chicken Salad

red potatoes
plain greek yogurt
bell pepper
chicken or beans
  1. Boil potatoes until tender, drain and cool
  2. Grill the chicken
  3. Chop the onion, and mix with yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper for a dressing
  4. Toss together the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and bell pepper and top with dressing, and chicken or beans
Vegetable Enchiladas

bell peppers
black beans
enchilada sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Combine onion, chopped pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, beans, cheese and half the enchilada sauce
  3. Fill tortillas and roll up, topping with remaining sauce and a little cheese
  4. bake 15 minutes
Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

parmesan cheese
cottage cheese

  1. Puree broccoli and pistachios with parmesan in the food processor until smooth
  2. Add the cottage cheese and pulse until combined
  3. Cook pasta
  4. Top pasta with pesto and garnish with salt, pepper, parmesan and olive oil
Steak and mashed potatoes

green beans
  1. marinate and grill steak and tofu
  2. peel and boil potatoes until tender, add milk and butter and mash to desired consistency
  3. steam green beans until tender
  4. season and serve
Roasted veggies and Potatoes

Red potatoes
brussels sprouts
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Toss veggies, potatoes and olive oil, coating evenly
  3. Sprinkle with oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, salt and pepper
  4. roast for 35 - 40 minutes

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