I’ve come to realize that the approach to healthy living runs parallel to education principles. When thinking about educational principles, one realizes many of the concepts advocated are ones you’d need to be successful in healthy living. This week I’d like to focus on a few of the changes I’ve made this month.
First and foremost you need to plan. Much like teachers plan out their weekly lessons, the weekend finds me menu planning. If I don’t take time to do this planning, I find myself grabbing just anything with little regard to health. I have a simple system I’m currently using to make this time spent planning more effective.
I plan my meals using healthier versions of recipes (I use cookbooks and online sites). I focus my planning on dinner. I list for each day the dinner I will eat. I create my shopping list on a piece of paper as I choose a dinner. I plan to eat leftover from dinner for lunch, but also build in two lunch salads or quick meals. I add these to my shopping list. For breakfast, I plan on a green smoothie two to three days a week, eggs twice and oatmeal the other days. I keep organic frozen veggies and fruit on hand, but add fresh produce to my list each week. I only buy what I plan to consume to avoid waste. I also freeze what I don’t get to eat. I cut it up and place in ziplock freezer bags and this has cut down on waste.
When making shopping lists, I list items by recipe. I then check in my freezer and pantry and cross off any items I find I already have. This avoids duplicate purchasing of spices and other items I don’t use often and again cuts down on waste. I think it has also cut down on my grocery bills. Time well spent.
I don’t precook and prep my meals, as I know many do, for two reasons. First, I’m not a fan of reheated food. I like my food fresh and truly believe it’s healthier that way. Secondly, I’m not a fan of the microwave oven. I prefer my food cooked and heated the old fashioned way. I worry about the effect of the microwave on my health so I try to significantly limit using it.
The only thing I precook is chicken. I like to buy and roast on Sunday a whole, fresh organic chicken. I roast it, cut it up and place in the refrigerator for the week. I use the breasts and thighs during the week for salads. I also use it for quick skillet meals for dinner. My husband likes to pick on it during the week as well.
Another change I’ve made this month is focusing on my ingredients. As an educator I know that analyzing and focusing on one change can have a strong impact on my progress. I realized that I was eating healthy, but there were some ingredients I could makeover to lighten things up a bit. First, I like to eat chicken salad and tuna once a week for lunch. I had justified using mayonnaise because I used it so infrequently. I never use light versions of food as I believe them to be less healthy choices – read your ingredients! I finally found a substitute that I like and feel tastes comparable. I mix two tablespoons or organic Greek plain yogurt (I don’t use light or fat free). I use Stonyfield and find it smooth and not bitter. I mix in organic Dijon mustard. It tastes like mayonnaise and is so much healthier! Here’s my chicken salad recipe –
2 tbs organic Greek yogurt plain
1 tsp organic Dijon mustard
chopped celery and 1/4 cup halved organic grapes
4 oz chopped chicken
chopped fresh organic parsley
Mix the yogurt and Dijon. Add all ingredients together and mix to coat with yogurt/Dijon. Serve on romaine leaves (I make into wraps). Salt as needed.
This is such a delicious lunch. I’ve used this mayonnaise replacement in egg salad as well. I may never need mayonnaise again!
Another ingredient makeover was made this month. No more chemical and sugar laden coffee creamer for me! I’ve shared this recipe before, but here’s my bullet coffee recipe. Filling, healthy and energizing! I only drink one cup per day and count this as a snack when meal planning.
1 tsp org coconut oil and Kerry Gold unsalted butter
1 cup hot brewed org coffee
1 tsp org cinnamon and tumeric
Sprinkle of cayenne
1/2 tsp org honey and raw cacao powder
1 tbsp org collagen powder
1 tsp org vanilla extract
Combine all and blend to make yummy and frothy coffee. If not a coffee drinker substitute the coffee with a cup of matcha tea.
This swap removed a ton of sugar from this girl’s diet. I was a half coffee and half flavored creamer girl. The first time you make the coffee you may not love it. Play around with the ingredients and give your palate a bit to adjust to the taste. I love it and don’t even drink it the other way anymore.
One last tool I’d like to share is a balanced plate. Again, like educators know well, balance is the key to success. We can’t just teach something one way and expect to reach all learners. Likewise, we can’t just eat one food group and expect to be healthy. I find measuring, counting and complicated point systems annoying. I like simplicity in my life and keeping it real. Plating my food in a simple way helps keep me balanced. First, I don’t use large plates. My dinner plates are huge! I bought some super cute salad plates and use these for my meals. Keeps the portion size appropriate and visually makes me feel I’m eating more. Next, I use the plate to help me portion my balanced meal. Here’s my plating strategy, using simple fractional plan:
Divide your plate in half. One half of the plate should be chock full of vegetables, or salad greens. The other half, divide in half again. One quarter should be devoted to your protein source, and the other quarter devoted to your carbs. Simple, real and balanced.
I hope these tips help you stay on course to reclaiming your health. I’ve had a pretty solid January so far. Let me know if you’ve any tools you’d like to share that have worked for you.