26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Treat Meat Like a Condiment {Week 4}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

TREAT MEAT LIKE A CONDIMENT

If your family was like mine growing up, you had meat at nearly every evening meal. (To this day my parents still have a decent sized portion of meat at dinner every night). In America we tend to treat meat like a staple rather than a condiment like other nations. We don’t realize what this may be doing to our long-term health.

EAT HEALTHIER

Did you know the number-one cause of death in the U.S. in 2011 was heart disease? Saturated fat is a culprit for the widespread occurrence of this preventable, yet deadly disease as it raises the cholesterol levels in your blood which in turn increases your risk for heart disease.  Did you further know that meat is the greatest contributor to Americans’ saturated fat intake? Peggy Neu, president of the Monday Campaigns says, “Eliminating a day of meat can cut your weekly saturated fat by about 15%.” Now, I’m not saying  you should never eat meat, but simply to limit your intake. Fill up mostly on vegetables, legumes and fruit, and compliment your meal with meat rather than making it the center of your meal.

SAVE MONEY & DECREASE STRESS

Recent Grocery Sales:
Hamburger: $3.79/lb (Costco)
Bananas: 39 cents/lb (Costco)
Apples: 89 cents/lb (Hannaford)
Spinach: $2.19/lb (Costco)
Sweet Potatoes: 69 cents/lb (Hannaford)
Mushrooms: $2.39/lb (Costco)

Looking at the above sale prices, it is clear to see the same amount of money that you’d spend on two pounds of hamburger, could be used to purchase two pounds of bananas, one pound of apples, 16 ounces of spinach, two pounds of sweet potatoes, and 16 ounces of mushrooms, instead! I’d say skipping meat for a week is a wise choice!

If you have a tight grocery budget, this one simple step could decrease your stress dramatically. It just takes a little creativity to find meatless meals, but with the Internet at your fingertips it hardly even requires that!

MEATLESS RECIPE IDEAS

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

Lentil Tacos:

lentil tacos

In a medium saucepan combine:

1/2 cup water

1/4 lentils, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped onion (1 small)

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat 8 taco shells according to package directions. Stir into lentil mixture:

1 8oz can tomato sauce

5 tsp taco seasoning mix (1/2 a package)

Bring to a boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Then, stir in:

8oz refrigerated water-packed firm tofu, drained and finely chopped

Heat through. Spoon into taco shells. Top with:

1.5 cups lettuce

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Salsa (optional)

Quinoa Patties

Mexican Rice Bowl

Vegetarian Chili

Stuffed Peppers

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Quesadillas

Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Broccoli Bars:

broccoli bars

Preheat oven to 350. Combine in medium mixing bowl:

4T olive oil

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

3 eggs

10oz frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

8oz shredded cheese

Pour mixture into a greased 9×9″ baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes uncovered until slightly browned.

Minestrone Soup

Black Bean Soup

Vegetarian Omelet

Egg Fried Rice

Stir-Fry

Baked Lentils with Cheese:

lentil dish

Preheat oven to 375. Combine in shallow 9×13″ baking dish:

1 3/4 cup, rinsed

2 cups water

1 whole bay leaf

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/8 each marjoram, sage, thyme

2 large onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups canned tomatoes

Cover tightly and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and stir in:

2 large carrots, sliced 1/8″ thick

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

Baked covered for 40 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in:

1 green pepper, chopped (optional)

2T finely chopped parsley

Sprinkle on top:

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Do you have a favorite meatless meal?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Make Your Own Salad Dressing {Week 3}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

MAKE YOUR OWN SALAD DRESSING

Do you have any idea how much salt, sugar, and other toxic ingredients are in your salad dressing?! Isn’t the point of eating salad to be healthy? Yet, we douse our greens in fat, calories, sodium… you name it.

Just recently I transitioned from buying overpriced and/or unhealthy salad dressing to making my own. I will never go back! I challenge you to try a few recipes and see how you like it.

Italian dressing

italianIn a jar, combine:
1 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder or dried minced onion
2 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried or prepared mustard
Shake well. Store tightly covered at room temperature. Shake well again before use.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

ranch
In a 2-cup measuring cup or small bowl combine:
1 clove or 1/2 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup mayo (I have used vegenaise, and nayonaise)
1/2 cup rice milk (I’ve also used unsweetened coconut or almond milk)
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp dried parsley (or 1/2 tsp diced fresh)
1 tsp onion powder (or 1/2 tsp minced onion)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Whisk until combined. Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the fridge. Before use, stir again.

Balsamic Dressing

balsamic

6 T balsamic vinegar
4 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (I’ve also used powdered mustard)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Shake well and store at room temperature, tightly covered.

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

raspberry
Combine in glass jar:
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard (or powdered mustard)
1 tsp stevia (or 2 tsp sugar)

What are your favorite homemade salad dressing recipes?

26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Make & Pack Your Own Healthy Snacks {Week 1}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

MAKE & PACK YOUR OWN HEALTHY SNACKS

Since 2011 I have had to dramatically change my diet. I went from being able to eat anything at anytime to having to cut out all sugar, gluten, and dairy. This has had its challenges, but I quickly adapted. One thing I learned fast was to bring my own snacks with me wherever I go. I’m one of those people who likes to snack in between meals and am grumpy when I’m hungry. So to avoid “cheating” on my diet and the subsequent chronic pain that would result, I began to take food with me. Everywhere. To this day I rarely leave my house without a snack tucked away in my purse… just in case.

QUICK & EASY SNACK IDEAS:

1. Fresh Fruit
2. Fresh Cut-up vegetables
3. Air-popped Popcorn
4. String Cheese
5. Hard-Boiled Eggs
6. Rolled Turkey Breast
7. Handfull of Almonds
8. Dried Fruit, no sugar added
9. Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit and/or Granola
10. Tortilla Chips with Salsa or Guacamole
11. Whole Grain Crackers with Tuna
12. Frozen Peas (my husband’s favorite snack!)
13. Frozen Grapes
14. Whole Grain Crackers with Cheese
15. Rice Cake with Natural Peanut Butter

apple-fresh-apples-300x226MAKING YOUR OWN SNACKS IS HEALTHIER

Have you looked recently at the ingredient list of those crackers you’re consuming? Can you pronounce everything? Do you have any idea how much sugar is in those gummies, fruit roll ups, and other pre-packaged snacks you feed your children?

If we realized what we’re doing to our long-term health when we eat the snacks we’re accustomed to, we’d be appalled. More and more studies are showing that poor diet habits are linked with various diseases and health risks. We’re literally sending ourselves to heaven earlier!

Perhaps you’re thinking, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy.” Yet, if you compare your years of grocery bills to your future health bills down the road, you can’t afford NOT to choose healthier snacks. Your poor diet now could cost you thousands of dollars in doctor’s bills in the future. Plus, eating healthy doesn’t have to add hundreds of dollars to your grocery bill. In fact, making your own healthy snacks will probably save you money.

MAKING YOUR OWN SNACKS SAVES MONEY

saving moneyWhy pay over $4.00 a bag for sweet potato chips when you can make your own? Why buy sugar-laden popsicles when you can make your own from scratch and feel guilt-free when eating them? Why spend an outrageous amount on muffins at the bakery when you can whip up your own for less than half the price and store them in the freezer for weeks?

It sounds daunting to make your own snacks from scratch, but your bank account (and spouse) will thank you. I’ve compiled a list of simple snack ideas that you can make ahead of time and always have on hand for when you leave the house.

SIMPLE DIY SNACK IDEAS:

1. Trail Mix
2. Egg Muffins
3. Deviled Eggs
4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

pumpkinmuffin
5. Homemade Sweet Potato Chips
6. Blueberry Muffins
7. Roasted Chickpeas
8. Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicle

popsicle
9. Homemade Crockpot Applesauce
10. Ants on a Log
11. Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit
12. Homemade Fruit & Yogurt Parfait

Homemade-Yogurt-Parfait-Recipe
13. Frozen Banana Pops
14. Homemade Beef Jerky
15. Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

SOME OF MY FAVORITE SMOOTHIE RECIPES:

1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
2. Green Smoothie
3. Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Banana-pineapple-smoothie2
4. Anti-inflammatory Smoothie
5. Strawberry Banana Cream Smoothie

Tips & Tricks:

-Make smoothie packs ahead of time and store in the freezer.
-Bag snacks in individual Ziploc snack bags so they’re easy to grab before heading out the door.
-Make a snack bin to store your pre-bagged snacks in.
-Always have ingredients on hand to make your healthy snacks.
-Keep junk food out of your house to avoid temptation!

Are there any quick and easy snacks you like to keep on hand that I didn’t mention? Share them!