Menu plans, fad diets and nutritional pseudo-science will not lead to a healthy lifestyle. Getting back to the basics, relearning what our grandmothers knew, finding enjoyment and fulfillment in not only the consumption but also in the creation of what we eat
––these are the keys to unlocking the gate to a lifelong journey to health and vitality.
The number one single thing anyone can do to improve their overall health is to simply prepare wholesome dishes from fresh ingredients and eat them at home. We have all read the studies lauding the family meal as important to our children’s emotional well being, for creating bonds within our family unit and as an opportunity to reconnect and touch base. Now add to those already huge benefits by adding improved health, trimmer waistlines, better nutrition, an increase in energy – even your bank account gets a boost.
2. Get Organized.
Time. No one has any. Probably one of the biggest threats to our dietary health is the lack of time to prepare meals on a daily basis or pack wholesome lunches and homemade snacks. Convenience has trumped health but it is time to play our ace card. Creating a well stocked pantry, planning ahead, getting creative and setting priorities are all tools that make a healthy homemade diet easier. I will generally set aside a few hours a couple times a week to prepare food in advance so on the evenings I know I will not have time to cook a full meal, I can just reheat. I will usually prepare brown rice and quinoa, a few pans of roasted veggies and a couple cold salads to have on hand for quick lunches, snacks or a base for supper. Nourishing our bodies shouldn’t be seen as menial labor or drudgery, it should be a labor of love with far reaching positive effects.
3. Change the Menu.
If you stop and actually think about it, most of our menu repertoires consist of about seven to ten different meals, with the odd special occasion thrown in. We can make a huge impact on our health by simply changing, or modifying those seven meals. When I hit my diet reset button, I scoured the internet and cookbooks and completely changed the dishes I was preparing. I found it was easier to just start from scratch with new flavours than to try and redesign my old tried and trues. Indian curries are now a mainstay on my stove, super versatile you can add any combination of left over vegetables and serve over already prepared brown rice, it is the perfect go to meal. Adding nutrient dense ingredients, cutting out fat and sugar, incorporating whole grains, adding more of the dark leafy stuff using spices instead of salt, and making a move towards a more plant-centric set of meals, are all simple and very easy ways to improve overall health without being overwhelming. (Check out 5 Warming Spices for Fall for cooking with spices).
Here is my recipe for my go-to Indian Curry. Use it to build your own favorite meal!
4. Find the fun.
Most importantly – as with all things in life – have some fun. I challenge everyone to set forth in the produce section and find the oddest, ugliest, strangest, weirdest vegetable you’ve ever seen. If you can’t pronounce it – even better. Buy some, take it home – research how to prepare it and give it a try. What is the worst thing that can happen? If nothing more you will have a great story to tell; who knows, you may even find something you like. This is how I discovered lotus root, kohlrabi and yucca. The lotus root was delicious in soup, the kohlrabi just cut up raw – delicious – while the yucca (also knows as cassava) was a complete nightmare to prepare and the sweat labor meant it never saw the inside of my shopping cart again. The point is to take the fear and monotony out of cooking and insert some adventure.
More Healthy Eating tips: 5 Freezer-friendly Meals to Save Time and Money
Photo: Emily Carlin; Frank Smith