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Healthy Planning
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To me, it seems the hardest part of eating healthy is the planning part. I mean, I actually enjoy eating healthy food, and I feel much better when I avoid junk. So why am I not eating all of my recommended servings of fruits, veggies, and grains each day? Bad planning. Well, in my own defense, it’s not bad planning as much as it is a lack of time to prepare those things. Of course, an apple or banana can be eaten on the run. But as far as meal planning, let’s face it, it’s faster to open a box or can than it is to wait for the whole grains to cook or the beans to boil.

Recently, however, I cured this problem. I set aside a time (for me, Sunday mornings) when I cook a variety of healthy foods that will keep in the frig all week. Then I have them ready to throw into recipes, eat plain, or sprinkle.

Here are some examples:

Quinoa:  A complete protein, this vitamin-packed food may help prevent migraines, hypertension, and is a great source of fiber. Just cook one cup of quinoa with 1½ cups of water (or vegetable broth) and ¼ teaspoon salt. Boil and then cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed (10-15 min.) Store in container in frig and see how many things you end up adding it to.

Hummus:  Made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas), this spread is a powerhouse of nutrients for the brain! Just drain one can of garbanzo beans. Whiz in food processor with ¼ c. vegan mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of garlic (I get garlic in jars, so it’s ready to use), 1½ tablespoons of cumin, and salt to taste. Use as sandwich spread or burrito filling or from spoon to mouth! Tip: if you can’t find vegan mayo, try Miracle Whip light.

Omega Sprinkle: Flax seeds and chia seeds are both loaded with omega-3, and walnuts are high in tryptophan, a nutrient needed for brain health. So treat your brain to this simple sprinkle. ¼ c. ground flax seed, 3 tablespoons chia seed, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ¼ c. finely chopped walnuts. Put in airtight container in frig and sprinkle on cooked cereal, peanut butter sandwich or whatever you invent.

Berries: We all know that berries are loaded with anti-oxidants, but if they’re still in the freezer, they aren’t doing us any good. I like to throw some frozen blueberries and dark cherries into my oatmeal when it’s cooking. When it’s done, the berries are perfect! But if the berries aren’t in your freezer, you can’t use them, right?

Applying the principle of cooking ahead really does allow you to eat more healthfully because you have the healthy foods at your fingertips ready to use. Right now, I am prepared to have a hummus burrito with quinoa added to it. Dessert? Defrosted berries with omega sprinkle!

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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