Sunday, August 18, 2013

Prepare to Eat Better!

I've been on a kick with lists lately and I hope you've found them helpful!  This post, not surprisingly, includes yet another list.  This list is of must-have food staples I either prepare in my kitchen at the start of every week.  They're what get me through the week and offer me joy and nourishment!

Often times, people struggle when trying to make healthy food choices because they simply don't know where to start or the task of changing their diet seems too daunting.  That's why I'm offering my refrigerator staples so that they might inspire you!  When your fridge is packed with healthy go-tos, you're less inclined to reach for a bag of Fritos.

If you current diet is not-so great, or if it is and you're wanting some more inspiration, then I hope you will find these recommendations useful!  It is my hope that these suggestions will allow you to implement gradual dietary changes in a way that is sustainable, effortless and enjoyable!

1.  Almond Milk
I love almond milk.  It's creamy, nutrient-packed and a great alternative to dairy-based cow's milk, for numerous reasons you can read about here.  I use it in smoothies, added to cooked grains to achieve a porridge-like consistency or in recipes calling for milk.

2.  Applesauce
Aside from being on a "list kick" lately, I've also been on an applesauce kick, mainly because the apples here in California are amazing right now and because applesauce is so easy to make!  To make mine, I use Gravensteins.  All you need to do is peel, core and chop the apples, place them in a covered pot with a very little bit of water, add cinnamon to your liking and cook on low until the apples have softened and are mash-able.  That's it!  You might need to add more water, depending on the type of apples you use.  Applesauce is a great, easy way to get in another portion of fruit in for the day.  Additionally, peeling and cooking the apples is much less taxing on your digestive system so if you have tummy problems with high-fiber fruits, give homemade applesauce a try!

3.  Soup
Every Sunday I make soup.  Lately it's been different types of carrot soup because I love how carrots cook down to create an über creamy texture when blended.  All I do is saute some garlic and/shallots in a little oil until tender then add my 4 or so cups of carrots (or whatever veggies you want to use), add a cinnamon stick, maybe some grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, lots of black pepper and 6-ish cups of veggie broth.  I bring that to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook that baby for as long as I can stand, really letting the flavors marry!  Soup is so great to have on hand because it can provide a really quick meal!

4.  Flatbread
Flatbread, in particular, is SO easy to make and is exponentially healthier than store-bought.  I am more of a sweet flatbread kind of girl and enjoy a slice with my homemade applesauce as breakfast, but there are a lot of delicious savory recipes out there, perhaps to have as a dinner accompaniment.  If you're anything like me, you like your bread, and making your own will allow you to satisfy that craving in a way that's much healthier and, likely, tastier than store bought!  I highly recommend Ashley's bread recipes on her site, Edible Perspective.

5.  Condiment/side
This could mean anything for you--pre-cooked veggies that are ready to go, maybe some fermented veggies, hummus, a nut pate.  Have some quick little munchy thing that's ready to go and waiting for you in your refrigerator so that when you get home from work and are starving, you can snack on it while you make dinner instead of, again, those darn Fritos!  Right now in my fridge I have some balsamic roasted beets and some pickles.  I actually bought the pickles from the farmers market this past weekend and if you have access to homemade or freshly prepared healthy foods like this, then go for it and save yourself a little time in the kitchen!  Use your freed up time to take a bike ride instead!

6.  Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are lazy man's health food.  They are literally so easy to make and once you cook it up, you'll have it on hand to eat with breakfast, lunch or dinner any day during the week.  I halve mine so that I get two dishes out of it.  To cook it, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Score Xs in the top of your washed potato.  Stick it on the top rack of your oven and bake for 45-60 minutes.  Done.

7.  Salad dressing
Homemade salad dressing is really fun to make and the great thing about it is you have total control over what you want in it!  Homemade dressings are automatically healthier too because there are no preservatives.  Why?  Because you made it with recognizable ingredients and are likely going to be consuming it within a relatively short amount of time so there's no need to preserve it.  My FAVORITE dressing of the moment is Kimberly Snyder's Magenta Goddess Dressing.  It's pink and beautiful and waiting patiently for me in my fridge right now.

9.  Grains
I highly encourage you to cook up some grains at the start of each week.  The best, nutritionally speaking, would be those like quinoa, millet, amarenth or buckwheat.  Of the four, buckwheat is my favorite.  These can be added to salads, stir fry, veggie roasts or made into breakfast porridges.  They're also another great, quick go-to when you're wanting a quick something after work!  Just make sure when you cook them, you do so the right way:

9.  Greens
Okay, technically this is not something I need prepare; it's just something I buy but I always, always, always have some type of greens in my fridge and you need to too!  You can and should incorporate them with any meal!  Definitely aim to have one salad per day, be it a side or, better yet, whole meal.  There are so many beautifully creative salads out there that will reshape the way you thing about them.  Here is some inspiration to get you started!

Love, light and happiness,