How’s your vegetable intake? Better than it used to be? Freaking fabulous? Or are you having a hard time trying to train yourself to like vegetables?
(Purple cauliflower. Eat colors!)
Sometimes when we have to change our diets, or even when we choose to change up things to simply feel a bit healthier, we can get stuck with the same old same old. We have that idea of what a salad “should” look like and after a week of experiencing that with a low-fat vinaigrette or lemon juice, even dry rice cakes sound better than another salad.
(Arugula, roasted onions, roasted mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, avocado, grilled chicken, white balsamic.)
I like food that is satisfying, full of flavor, and food that makes me feel like I’m sitting down to something meaningful that is not only healthy but tasty and nice to look at. There’s no excuse to eat a boring salad when there are so many choices!
(Mixed vegetable salad, leftover grilled hamburger, roasted sweet potato, roasted beets, blue corn tortilla chips, and salsa.)
Maybe when you change your diet you have the mindset of eating like a “skinny” person? Skinny is not synonymous with healthy. A strong body with a strong immune system is a healthy body. Our bodies need proper fuel to build muscle, feed our brain, manage life, and to burn stored fat.
(Micro greens, arugula, roasted mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, roasted purple sweet potatoes, roasted onions and garlic cloves, Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, roasted salmon, and white balsamic.)
For most of us, food is an important part of life. It’s not just simply energy. We gather with family and celebrate with food, it surrounds every holiday, and if you’re anything like my husband and I, it’s a huge part of every vacation and weekend getaway. Healthy food can be fun and it can be satisfying.
(Micro greens, avocado, cucumber, cassava flour tortillas spread with TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, roasted chicken breast, sugar peas, TJ’s Balela Bean Salad.)
The only requirement is that you set aside that mindset of having a “before and after” life. Healthy is a lifestyle, not just something you do for a while to fit into a pair of summer shorts or to temporarily please your cardiologist. If you look at dietary changes as a punishment or something short-term whether the changes are due to allergies or weight or cholesterol numbers, you’re going to be miserable and it will always be a struggle.
(Mixed vegetable salad with TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing, micro greens, roasted beets, Bubbie’s Fermented Sour Kraut, and green olives.)
Instead, think of your life full of fresh colorful vegetables and fruits as your “new norm”. Throw everything you thought a salad looked like out the window and fill that bowl with healthy foods that are packed with different flavors, colors, textures, and topped with a satisfying and flavorful dressing. There’s a reason why we all love looking at magazines and cookbooks with gorgeous food photos. Bloggers and photographers and chefs are not the only people capable of making beautiful and healthy food that people are excited to eat. Your plate can look like that too!
(Romaine, spinach, roasted brussels, raw red cabbage, hard boiled eggs, green olives, raw red peppers, olive oil, and white balsamic.)
Don’t tell me you ‘don’t have the time’ to prepare a salad every day for lunch or to take 45 minutes here or there once a week to roast some veggies, or make some meatballs, boil some eggs, or roast a chicken or some salmon for healthy meal prep. It CAN be done. And you will love how you feel when you aren’t rushing to work snarfing down an egg mcmuffin and a Coke or a jelly filled doughnut and a cigarette – or heading to the vending machine at lunch to grab a snickers and a Mt Dew or even worse, skipping breakfast and lunch and living on energy drinks and coffee with 6 spoons of sugar.
(Mixed vegetable salad with lemon & olive oil vinaigrette, roasted purple sweet potatoes, TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, leftover sautéed mushrooms onions & garlic, and grass fed beef kielbasa.)
What you put into the body directly and dramatically affects what you (and others) get out of your body physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s time to shift the scales and balance properly. Healthy 95% of your week – treats and special indulgences 10%. Most people have those numbers flipped and they are paying a very high price for their choices.
(Romaine, spinach, TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing, roasted purple sweet potatoes, sliced and peeled english cucumber, raw red cabbage, roasted cauliflower, roasted beets, Bubbie’s Fermented Sour Kraut, baked meatballs.)
If you want to read an absolutely miraculous story about how healthy vegetables and fruits can heal a broken body, I would highly recommend Dr. Terry Wahls book “The Wahls Protocol”. Dr. Wahls had severe MS and healed herself right out of a wheelchair with food. She talks all the time about the healing properties of food. She recommends great diet tweaks but the most important one is 9 cups of different varieties of vegetables and fruits a day. Two of those cups, colorful fruits and berries. It takes some serious mindfulness to get all of that on your plate throughout your day and it doesn’t leave much room for all the other junk you’re used to self medicating with. It won’t take long before you notice an incredible positive difference in how you feel. You can also watch a great talk she does on YouTube called Minding Your Mitochondria.
(Romaine, chicken tomatoes peppers red cabbage onion and cilantro mixed with olive oil mayo and apple cider vinegar, avocado.)
Remember, if you get stuck, message me! I’m always here to support you and help with ideas and diet tweaks. Every one of these meals was made easily by me and if I can do it, you can do it!
Nine cups of vegetables and fruits a day is your “work up to” goal. Like most things in life, if we want to form a good habit we need to start small and be consistent. Start with 1 large salad a day and a piece of fruit and a cup of fresh berries. When you feel like you’ve got that down as a good daily habit, you can then start incorporating vegetables and fruits into every meal and snack. Sautéed spinach or kale and roasted vegetables with your eggs in the morning, baggies of fresh veggies with some pesto dip or humus for snacks, two kinds of vegetables with dinner – one step at a time, I have faith in you.
Scroll down for more salad ideas and some tips on roasting vegetables!
(Romaine, spinach, micro greens, red onion, bell pepper, cucumber, TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing, roasted new potatoes with olive oil sea salt rosemary thyme and oregano, leftover grilled steak.)
(Mixed green salad with vegetables, white balsamic and olive oil, shredded roasted beets, avocado, steamed broccoli, and roasted sweet potatoes.)
(Mixed vegetable salad with english cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, and sliced sugar peas, tossed with and olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing lightly sweetened with coconut sugar.)
(Skipjack tuna on top of spinach and arugula with olive oil and white balsamic, and sliced mandarin orange.)
(Romaine, spicy shredded chicken red onion, tomatoes, chopped avocado, cilantro, and topped with salsa – not shown).
(Mixed vegetable salad, arugula, spinach, shredded chicken, sliced and peeled english cucumber, roasted purple sweet potato, TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing.)
(Micro greens, roasted cauliflower, roasted purple sweet potatoes, roasted beets, Balela Bean Salad, baked meatballs, TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto.)
You’ll notice there’s a lot of roasted vegetables in my life. I love them and roasting them brings out such amazing, satisfying flavors and textures. The best part is that roasting is incredibly easy and it keeps well in the fridge so you can add whatever you’ve roasted to numerous meals throughout the week.
For basic vegetable roasting I line a pan (or two or three) with parchment paper. The parchment is my preference because I don’t want to waste a half hour scrubbing pans when I’m done. I typically drizzle the veggies with olive oil or avocado oil and season them with sea salt and either fresh herbs or dried herbs. I roast them at 425 degrees (I use convection) until they are fork tender (or a little crispy on the edges for potatoes). Feel free to experiment! Remember though, different types of vegetables have different roasting times so keep an eye on them. Zucchini roasts very quickly and will get mushy if you overcook it, as does asparagus and the tips will burn if left for too long. Broccoli doesn’t like high roasting temperatures so I’d turn that down to 375 degrees and cut them small -ish.
(Beets, cauli, and sliced purple sweet potato headed into the oven.)
(You can roast meatballs too! These are grass fed ground beef, 1 egg, sea salt, pepper, and diced onions, peppers, garlic, and chopped spinach.)
(Sliced purple sweet potatoes, cauli, onions, mushrooms, and brussels.)
(Roasted squash and sliced sweet potatoes. Brushed with avocado oil and sea salt and roasted open side down. If you roast open side down they retain more moisture and caramelize.)
(Tri color potatoes headed into the oven for a roast.)
(Cubed sweet potatoes, purple cauli, and brussels, ready to roast.)
(Acorn squash roasted open side up with dairy free soy free butter, coconut sugar, and sea salt.)
(Roasted zucchini – cut thick if you’re going to roast it with other veggies because it roasts quickly, red onion, yellow beets, mushrooms, yellow bell pepper, and cauli.)
(Roasted tri color beets.)
(New potatoes and asparagus headed in for a roast.)
If you’d like more daily inspiration you can follow me on Instagram where I post a lot of our weekly meals, juicing, smoothies, and special treats.