Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Small Steps Towards a Healthier Diet

One of the goals that my husband and I had for 2010 was to eat healthier. The responsibility of meeting that goal mainly fell to me, and why not? I am the meal planner, grocery shopper, and chef. For Christmas of 2009, my lovely sister-in-law gave me a copy of Patrick Holford's The Optimum Nutrition Bible. Another one of my goals for 2010 was to read it cover-to-cover, and somehow, I managed it! At first I was really discouraged. "The only way for us to have an optimum diet is to spend a fortune on only organic food and miraculous supplements," I fretted. As I went on, however, I did become encouraged to make some baby step changes that will benefit us now and in the years to come. We still have lots of little changes we could make, and hope to progress further in 2011, but here's where we've started:

1. I make all my own bread, in my handy-dandy Breadman bread-maker, which I purchased for $15 second-hand. I can use whole-grains, and know all of the ingredients. No nasty preservatives, and it tastes much better! I haven't purchased a loaf of bread in over a year.

2. We eat lots of whole grains other than wheat. I make lots of brown rice and quinoa for side dishes and casseroles. The other side of this is that we've been trying to limit our wheat intake, as according to Mr. Holford your body really shouldn't have it more than 3-4 times per week. We have a long way to go on that kind of reduction, but we're getting there.

3. I put a baby spinach salad in Niall's lunch each day. Every morning when I make Niall's lunch, I stick a small salad of baby spinach, red bell pepper, and carrots (sometimes broccoli or cucumber to mix things up). This helps to keep him regular :). All in all, it doesn't cost more than $3-$4 each week. Well worth the cost and time involved to give him an extra dose of veggies!

4. We eat lots of organic oatmeal for breakfast. Each week I go to Wegman's organic bulk section and buy a couple of scoops of oats. They are super cheap! I soak a cup of them overnight in 3 cups of water, and we cook it on low for an hour or so each morning as we get ready for work. This makes for a creamy and nice porridge.

5. We also eat organic yogurt loaded with pro-biotics and frozen berries for breakfast. Because we are pretty early-risers, a lot of times Niall and I eat two small breakfasts spread through the morning before we head out the door. A delicious favorite of ours is to nuke a small handful of frozen mixed berries for 30 seconds, and then add three big spoonfuls of Wegman's organic yogurt to it. Delicious! And super healthy!

6. We've started taking a simple multi-vitamin. One of my favorite motto's is "something is better than nothing." I cannot tell you how motivational that is in so many different circumstances! Although we can't afford to go crazy taking top-of-the-line supplements, we can invest $10 or so a month on a simple, natural multi-vitamin. We may not be getting everything we need, but we're getting more than we were when we didn't take any vitamins. And something, my friend, is better than nothing.

7. I buy more fish and less red meat. I love steak, ground beef, and bacon. Any kind of meat really! But fish is tasty too, and of great nutritional benefit. Although I'll purchase beef or pork once or twice a month, we try to have fish at least once a week, even if it is out of a can.

8. I've been finding tasty meat subsitutes. My husband LOVES his meat, and feels a great sense of disappointment when the dinner is served up without it. But I have managed to find some meatless meals that satisfy! I make a barley bake that has a rich, nutty flavor, which makes us miss the meat less. Also found a great recipe for lentil tacos. Who knew it was possible, but they are almost as good as ground beef ones! I also like to use a lot of eggplant in dishes during farmer's market season. It's another nutritious substitute with a comparable texture.

These are my best suggestions so far. How about you? What are some of the little things you do to serve up a healthier diet?

5 comments:

  1. Good ideas! I've been making my own bread too, but not quite as diligently as you... Another thing that helps me is to keep a bowl of fresh "grabbable" fruit around, so when I want a snack, I grab an apple or banana or something on my way instead of grabbing chips or something yucky for you...
    Also, not keeping junk food in the house. That helps a lot.
    And, buying "the dirty dozen" (fruits and veggies that are especially pesticide-ified) organic, even if you can't afford everything organic. :)

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  2. Funny how life works...I was a much healthier eater before I married your dad. Then he corupted me & I haven't gotten over it yet. However I'm very impressed you make your own bread. I had hoped to do that for my family but I have yet to make a loaf. At this point I don't think I will because I'm already fighting middle age mid drif & I'd get FAT if I made bread. ;)
    You're my hero!!
    Mom

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  3. Good advice, Abi! I appreciated all of your suggestions. We try to do a lot of those things, but I could definitely use to buy organic varieties of the dirty dozen :).

    Mom, I love you and think you're just great :)!

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  4. Hello Rachel ..... so very pleased to have come upon your blog .....i found you through Miss Abi from the birthbug ..... We have been eating healthy /organic now for almost 25 years (my oh my the years have flown by ) .... we eat this way to honor our bodies as they are " The Temple of the LORD " 1CORINTHIANS 6:19 ....It is important to know when choosing fruits and veggies that if you are buying local you can always ask the farmer if he sprays .... also fruits with thicker skins do not have to be organic as their skins protect the inside (eg: bananas, oranges, kiwis,mangos pineapples ).....As for veggies broccoli is usually not sprayed with any pesticides by any type of farmer , neither are cabbage, onions and asparagus so no need to worry about these veggies .... of course if you can grow things durings the warmer months do so i have learned that even if you live in the city you can have a garden in boxes .....as for dairy and eggs if so whenever possible it need be organic or fresh from the farm ( i sell organic free range eggs in my town to many city customers all year long for $3.00/doz and our eggs are laid fresh daily ..... one more very important note extra virgin olive oil from Italy only ( the label will say where the olives come from and most people think that just because they are buying olive oil that it is from Italy ... not the case try Spain Tunesia etc etc ) olives are best from Italy ..... well enough said for now .....Keep up the good work at staying healthy and being a GODLY woman /wife ..... GOD sees this and sees how you are honoring HIM by how you are living to please HIM .

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  5. Wow, thanks for all of the tips, Summer! I know to look for cold-pressed olive oil, but had never checked to be sure where it was from. Good to know! In the summer my porch usually sports a basil and tomato bucket, hoping to expand that this summer. Thanks again for all of your advice!!

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