When I was really young I spent a lot of time working in restaurants, and before I had my son I always cooked dinner, made my lunches and even baked our bread from scratch. Then life happened. Do you know what I mean? I think we all fall into less than optimal habits when it comes to eating, especially when life takes over. I love to cook. However, in recent years I was “too busy” and "didn't have enough time" to cook real food. I got stuck.
It can be so difficult to make dinner after working all day, let alone cook a healthy meal! I hear you loud and clear. I used to get myself so worked up about what we were going to eat that I wouldn’t make anything, and we would end up eating out far too often. Not only was this unhealthy, but it was also expensive. Then we tried getting food sent to us from Blue Apron. That was helpful for a little while: it was better than going out all of the time. But we didn’t always like what we got, and it wasn’t healthy enough for my standards. Food is a big deal in our house because all three of us, my husband, son and I, have serious hanger if we don’t eat regularly, so we had to figure something out.
The real change happened when I realized how much food can impact your health, mood and overall well-being. That annoying saying "you are what you eat" may actually be true. We all know this, but frequently food is an after thought or not thought about at all. In fact, I changed my diet kicking and screaming- I loved eating cookies, bread and cheese. I was forced to give up red wine and caffeinated coffee because of my heart, and I truly hated the idea of making even more changes. But when I did I felt so good.
I started by doing an elimination diet that was suggested to me by my life coach, Dr. Shawn Haywood. Then, I signed up for a 14 day, real food cleanse at my yoga studio, Form Yoga. The guidance and support from both Shawn and my fellow yogis really helped. I lost six to eight pounds in a week without trying. Did I tell you how much I loved cheese and bread?! I wasn't trying to lose weight - but in the end, eating foods that had fewer empty calories and more bang for their buck did the trick.
I think I scared my husband initially- especially the day I cleaned out my pantry. He got home from work, and I had gotten rid of anything that was processed or that contained gluten and replaced it with ingredients that I can easily use every day, such as chia seeds, cashews, dried apricots, cacao, maca powder, hemp seeds, goji berries and more. He saw the boxes of food on our table and nearly lost it. Luckily, he has had experience with me throwing things out and making big changes all at once. It only took him a few months to finally get on board!
Now when I look into my pantry I love to see all of the jars full of color and the nutritious snacks and ingredients! I love knowing that everything I am putting into my body serves a purpose and is helping me to continue down the path of a healthier lifestyle.
It has taken all of us some time to get in the groove, but I have finally figured out that cooking healthy doesn't have to take forever or take over your entire night! I have found that if I cook two days a week I can typically make enough healthy, nutrition-packed food for the week. If I know the week is going to be particularly hectic, I might even cook on Sunday and freeze some food.
Here are three of my favorite recipes that I have been making. You can click on each of the names to go to the website where the recipe comes from. You will see a theme: many of my favorite recipes come from the same place, www.ohsheglows.com. I even bought the author's recent cookbook, and we are so happy with it.
My son and husband love this recipe. For my husband and me, it is easy to grab on the go, and for my two year old...I think it's the blueberries.
This has been great when the weather is cold and you just want something hearty. Even my meat-loving husband will eat bowls of this!
I have found gluten free pizza to be disappointing in so many ways. Then take the cheese away and just forget it...it isn't worth eating. This recipe has thankfully filled the small hole in my heart that appeared when I stopped eating NY style or organic brick oven pizza.
All of these recipes can be made on a Sunday and eaten throughout the week. They are vegan, dairy free and gluten free but still taste amazing. I would never have believed it a few years ago, so I can understand why there are so many skeptics and people always asking me "why?" Now that I am eating a healthier diet regularly, I feel better, and for me that is enough.