I often hear people claim that “there is nothing left to eat!” when it is suggested to them that they remove refined foods, wheat/ breads, sugar, dairy, etc. from their diets and move to a more whole foods diet. Another common concern is that it takes too much time, effort and planning or is more expensive.
However, I want to assure you that it is possible to eat healthfully and conveniently!
If it weren’t, I would be in trouble! As my life is rich and full and I do NOT love spending time in the kitchen, meal planning or grocery shopping! The bulk of my planning goes to ensuring that we have enough healthy foods and ripe produce for the week. And the bulk of the effort is in the wash and preparation of it, however honestly it can end there for difficulty.
Often my meals are fast and easy as life doesn’t allow me, due to the choices I make, to cook fancy meals from a recipe every day or even on a semi-regular basis. So I have a “toss together” strategy when building my “healthy plate” for myself and for my family.
Breakfasts are often smoothies packed full of goodness. A handful of greens, some diluted oat or coconut milk, frozen berries, a half an avocado, a heaping spoon full of almond butter or hemp hearts for protein, a couple hearty scoops of ground flax seeds (the best medicine!), some sort of super food: cacao nibs, maca, or lucuma and a chunk of banana or drizzle of maple syrup for some added sweetness, are my favorite things to toss in my blender.
Or if I am looking for something warm some cooked kasha (toasted buckwheat) that I make in big batches, 1.5-2 cups dry at a time, 1:2 seed to water ratio, to make 3-4 cups cooked and store it in the fridge for a few days. My kids love it and we reheat from the batch, then drizzle on some flax oil, sprinkle on some cinnamon, sometimes stir in some natural peanut butter or peanut butter powder and a pinch of sea salt making a quick and easy, delicious and nutritious meal.
Usually once a week I have a carcass in the slow cooker for about 36-48 hours on a low simmer making broth. On a Sunday afternoon (or whenever I have an extra hour or two) I will drain the broth from the bones and make up a big pot of some sort of soup to be used for lunches for the week.
Suppers are a throw together sort of idea, depending on how much time I have.
For a starch (1/3 to 1/4 of your plate) I might lightly fry some plantain in coconut oil, or if I have more time roast some beets, sweet potato or squash in a roasting pan in coconut oil in the oven. Sprinkle with a combo of salt and pepper, some paprika, any dried herbs prior to roasting and they are so good.
Quinoa cooks up in about 15 minutes, rices a little longer so take that into consideration when choosing your starch.
Other non-starchy vegetables will make up about ½-2/3 of your plate. I personally love a good “meal salad”. I take 3-4 cups of mixed greens as my favorite, or chopped romaine is the preferred green of my kiddos. We will often beef it up with added veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, or chopped pepper, sometimes not. I top mine with flax oil or a homemade salad dressing, and when I am making a meal out of mine I will toss in a few spoonfuls of hummus, sometimes some goat feta, often a scoop of basil pesto, definitely a few forkful of kimchi or sauerkraut, and whatever veggie burger I might be enjoying at the time.
I generally also try to steam up a veggie – broccoli or green beans. To make them a little more fun even a drizzle of a good quality oil (my fave is flax) and a pinch of sea salt does wonders. Or saute some kale and brussel sprouts in some coconut oil.
Top your veggies and grains with healthy oils – hemp and flax oils, chopped avocado, a Tbsp or two of nuts or seeds.
I am currently exploring more vegan eating so my protein (1/4 of your plate) might be some hummus, falafel (little chickpea burgers), tofu, tempeh or a veggie burger. Some of my favorite veggie burger brands include Dr. Praeger’s, Sol and the local company Back to Your Roots.
My son has liked tofu since he was little and I think his little constitution is much like mine and can thrive quite readily exclusively on plant-based proteins.
My husband and daughter on the other hand are definite omnivores, and I don’t know I would trust being around them too long without them having a good feast of chicken or beef.
I keep my deep freeze well stocked with meat from Pineview Farms, a wonderful family run operation just outside of Saskatoon, near Osler and Warman. I also love Skipper Otto as my source for fish. They are a community supported fishery out of BC and the quality of their catch and the integrity of their company is outstanding.
For quick protein recipe ideas for meat eaters, I have lots of yummy go-to recipes in the following cookbooks: Delicious Detox, Whole Life Nutrition, Nourishing Meals, Quinoa 365.
Do yourself a favor and pick 3 or 4 faves and use those in a pinch. When you make burgers or veggie burgers freeze extra so you can pull them out when short on time.
Have ground chicken on hand, it thaws fast and is easily cooked up for sauces or even just used as a crumble in a salad, stuffed into a wrap or stirred into some squash.
So, yes, I do cook different meals for myself and my family and it is a choice I make and I don’t mind it one bit. Sometimes I have people who are concerned that they have to make more than one meal for their family and this can seem quite daunting or “wrong” for some reason. I want to assure you that if this is something you need to do in order to be healthy, then do it! Don’t wait around for your family to want to do the same crazy things you are doing.
Just do it! for you! Maybe they will come around, maybe they won’t. Take care of yourself and lead by example.
In this photo I added fruit in its own circle, off to the side, as it doesn’t combine as well with meals (except for in smoothies!) but it is great for snacks. Choose pure water and herbal teas as your main beverage options.
I hope that you found some helpful ideas here to take the pressure off of yourself to make perfect meals every day. The ‘toss together’ works for me and I hope you can find some inspiration this strategy too!
And remember, the more you follow a clean and balanced diet like this the more you will find your energy levels increase, your weight stabilize, your skin glow and your health issues gradually reverse.
You are worth the effort!