Can I just say I have had some amazing comments lately? Thoughtful, humble, kind, challenging, inspiring, encouraging…the whole gamut. One such comment was from a mom, looking for steps to “healthify” her family’s eating habits. Firstly, major props to anyone choosing to reform or redirect their (and/or their family’s) diet. I was so excited for this lovely woman, who obviously cares so much for her children’s well-being! After checking out the Healthy Eating 101 series, she was curious if I had a post that offered a sample menu. Great question…I didn’t! I am sure there are others out there wondering the same thing. So, hopefully this will be useful for those of you who are either a) in the midst of journeying towards healthier eating as well, b) new to the site and looking to see what types of recipes I have, and/or c) need an idea for dinner tonight. If you have requests for things you’d like to see me “healthify” or make gluten-free, let me know in a comment or email; I am gearing up my list of recipes for May! (If you’ve already told me, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten! : )
If your family is used to cereal and milk, don’t pull anything too fast on them. Just move to healthier options gradually. And don’t make it a big deal; the point is for them to eat better — not to necessarily know at first that they are ; ) Buy organic milk, or move to vanilla almond milk. Switch to healthier cereals; shoot for whole grain, lower sugar (less than 8g), high fiber.
Here are cereals that I think are better options than traditional fare:
– Most cereals by Kashi are tasty and decent nutritionally. If you or your family is used to sweet cereals, try GoLean Crunch.
– Quaker Oatmeal Squares are pretty commendable for their nutritional stats, and I find kids love ‘em. An affordable and solid option.
Another option is oatmeal. It doesn’t have to be time consuming — you can easily make it in a crockpot overnight, too. Here is one popular recipe, or you can just keep in mind it’s 5 cups water (or a mix of water to some kind of other liquid) to 2 cups old fashioned oats, plus a pinch of salt. ; ) Add fresh or dried fruit or agave if you want to sweeten it, along with some natural (non-hydrogenated) nut butter for protein. Voila! Easy healthy breakfast.
For lunches, I find it’s easiest to either eat soup with salad and some gluten-free bread, or make a “base” of some type of vegetable and then top it with leftovers — beans, grains, etc. I try to incorporate something green (broccoli, spinach, green beans, asparagus), plus something with protein (beans, lentils, ethically sourced eggs), along with a fruit or whole grain. Use that as your “outline”, and fill in the details with other veggies or healthy condiments, etc. that you want to complement or enhance the base. Here is one example.
I only used my recipes, so as not to overwhelm myself (or readers : ) Most of these are substantial enough that they only need a green vegetable (such as a lettuce [not iceberg!] salad, green beans, broccoli, spinach, kale, etc.) on the side to make it a full meal.
Easy Vegetable Curry (served over brown rice, millet, or quinoa)
Simple Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup (served with salad and whole grain bread or socca)
Simple Socca (chickpea flour) Pizza Crust (served with salad)
Socca Pizza Bread (served with salad)
Spanish Wino Black Bean Soup (served with salad)
Unfried Refried Beans (served with whole-grain tortillas, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, salsa, and organic or vegan cheese)
Vegan Split Pea Soup (served with whole grain bread and a salad)
Vegan Chana Masala (served over brown rice or millet, with a salad or steamed/roasted green vegetable)
Asparagus, Avocado, and Tomato Salad (served with soup or socca pizza)
Massaged Kale Salad and Apple Cider Vinaigrette (served with socca pizza)
Minestrone Soup for You (served with whole grain bread)
Snacks and Drinks:
The big kicker is to get rid of sugary drinks like sodas, Kool-Aid, “fruit drink”, etc. Try sugar-free Zevia (expensive, but makes soda a treat, as it should be), or make your own drink by using half seltzer water/half 100% fruit juice. Or, make my easy sugar-free version: Simple Sugar-Free Soda “Mocktail”. Another fun drink/snack is the Vegan Mango Lassi.
Aside from drinks, snacks can be tricky; it just depends on what you/your family is used to. I suggest moving away from processed foods like packaged cookies, fake “fruit” gummies, sugary granola bars, and refined carbs, and towards simple, homemade trailmix (nuts, raisins, dark chocolate chips), fruit with natural/non-hydrogenated nut butters, dessert hummus dips with healthy crackers or pretzels, organic munchables (like Annie’s Bunnies crackers), peanuts in the shell (more fun and take longer to eat), veggies and hummus (I know I’m on a hummus kick, but it’s the easiest snack out there!), or something like these 1-2-3 GF Vegan PB Banana Bombs. The key is to help keep you/your family interested in eating these more nutritious foods; look at what you/they like, and try to find healthier alternatives. Just keep moving towards more whole (and if possible, organic) foods — less additives, less sugar, more nutrition. But do feel free to get healthier “processed” foods like organic crackers and such until you find what works best for you and your family. The goal to get healthier in steps — no healthiest over night ; )
Any burning questions? Anything I omitted (granted: there were conscious omissions — this was a big topic! : ) that you want to see addressed or chime in on?