I feel amazing. No, not because I have a great job. Not because of my great husband or comfortable home. Not even because I live in a beautiful city, in a gorgeous province in – what I feel to be – the best country in the world. I feel amazing because I work hard to put into my body the fuel that it needs so that I have the energy and drive to enjoy all of the wonderful things I have in my life.
My husband and I strive to eat real, whole foods…also knowing as “clean eating.” While we were inspired primarily to create most things from scratch as a result of various food intolerances between us, it has become a real pleasure to know that what we’re putting in our bodies is helpful and good (and our bodies seem to agree!). If I need BBQ sauce, I make some. If we want pizza, it starts with starches and ends with some freshly grated cheese. I’m not bragging…it’s fact! Yes, it can take longer. Sure, it can be much less convenient…but it definitely tastes better and our bodies are able to use what we eat as fuel instead of working hard to get rid of it!
Alright so how do we manage clean eating on a busy schedule? Habits! It is much easier to develop a list of meal/snack ideas and work from them than it is to simply open the fridge and hope to find something inspiring. It’s also MUCH more economical to plan the snacks and meals for the week prior to shopping so that you buy only the two peppers you need instead of a bag of them only to let one wilt. Eating whole, natural foods is far easier than you might think! Here are some tips for clean eating:
- Prep your veggies for the week (or a few days ahead) all at once: peel & chop carrots, slice cucumbers, de-string sugar snap peas…having your produce ready to grab/eat makes lunch/snack preparation a breeze through the busy week! Also, you can get the family/partner in on the event to make it that much quicker.
- Salads for lunches are easy and don’t have to be boring! Just because you picture a tossed or ceasar salad doesn’t mean a salad at lunch has to be dull! Make your own dressing is as easy a tossing a few ingredients into a jar and shaking. Salad toppings can be delicious and quick! Today’s salad (below) was just throwing some romaine mix into a dish and topping with blueberries, raspberries, sliced apricots and some coconut. It MIGHT have taken me 4 minutes including making the dressing and putting all the ingredients away! In a future post I will share some great salad options so stay tuned!
- My rice cooker saves a tonne of time, and it smells great to walk into the house at the end of the work day to the aroma of basmati or jasmine rice ready to eat! Quinoa also cooks great in a rice cooker!
- Use frozen veggies when you don’t have time to chop. Most frozen vegetables are flash-frozen and so are able to retain the majority of their nutrients versus canned vegetables which have had many of their nutrients leeched away in the processing.
- Invest in a good mandarin slicer to save valuable time in food preparation. Many (like the one from Pampered Chef) offer grating options as well as various thicknesses for slicing.
- Cook your chicken ahead, cut up in bite-sized pieces and freeze in portions. This can save a great deal of meal preparation time as the chicken is already cooked and ready to be used in whatever recipe you’ve chosen for the meal. OR 2minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to eat in sandwiches/wraps or top on salads too!
- Make your own snack packs. On Sunday I took 10 minutes and created snack packs for the week’s lunches: baggies of snack foods for hubby’s lunches, and snack sized baggies of 1 oz nuts (various types) and 1 oz cranberries or raisins each. In future I hope to use my plastic containers for these packs but I didn’t have the space organized for these ahead of time this week. Not only is it quick to grab and toss in a lunchbox, but it’s a snack without the added sugar/salt/preservatives of the consumer varieties available.
- Make meals ahead. If time throughout the week is difficult to find, set aside a couple of hours on the weekend (or a lighter weeknight evening) and make two or three meals instead of just the one for that evening. Either store in the fridge until the next day, or freezer for days later in the week: this makes whole, healthy eating convenient when time is fleeting.
- Slow cooking can be a great way to have a whole, healthy meal prepared for you when you arrive home! Many of us received a slow cooker as a wedding gift, or purchased one in a moment of inspiration: if you’re not using it, take it down and dust it off…it’s become a standard kitchen appliance for a good reason! You can also use it to roast meats ahead for the week for freezing into convenient portions (like the chicken, above).
- Don’t chop fruit/veggies. Instead, just eat them au naturale! You can eat a green pepper like an apple: just poke your finger into the bottom and split in half, then tear off the seeded area in one by tearing around the stem (hmm that isn’t easy to describe!). You can peel a carrot and munch like Bugs! This saves time and is just the same amount of nutrients: in fact it makes foods MORE portable if you don’t need a plastic container for them!
Interested in taking steps to cleaner, whole eating? A great resource is Clean Eating magazine!
Please feel free to leave a comment (there’s a link at the top of the post)!