Cooking your food is one of the best ways to ensure you're getting the nutrition your body needs. The challenges with that are often time, not knowing where to begin to make healthier meals, or not seeing a healthy meal as something you or your family would actually want to consume.
I grew up eating tons of cheesy, carby, fried, shake 'n' baked foods. I was the kid that would NOT touch vegetables to save her life. I was known as the picky eater and would always opt for bread, meat, and milk for most of my meals.
However, I have come to LOVE how delicious and refreshing vegetables and healthy recipes can be. It makes me excited to eat something so tasty and know that my body is benefitting as much as my taste buds. That was not usually the case with majority of my eating a few years ago.
So with that said, these are a few tips to be mindful of when you're gathering together ingredients for what to cook!
1. Know the heirarchy of produce
To start, commercial produce and canned foods are OKAY. They serve the purpose of providing flavor and food for your body to digest - some better than others. If a recipe calls for canned items or you need a mass quantity of veggies or fruits, it's not the end of the world to get canned or commercial.
Frozen is often times better than commercial produce BECAUSE the veggies or fruits are usually flash frozen right after they are harvested, which preserves the fresh nutrition. Often times fresh produce has traveled days before it arrives in your store, depleting majority of the nutrients that could be available.
Organic is better! I know it's more expensive. I used to think that organic was just a scheme to make money with labels (and sometimes it actually is). BUT, organic keeps chemicals off of your plate, has better flavor, and way more nutrients than commercially grown. Organic soil is required to have a certain amount of natural minerals and vitamins, whereas commercial produce has about 20% of that requirement.
Local grown is even better! When you do local, you get farm-to-fork quality. Though a certain vegetable or fruit is organic, it could have been from another state and traveled days to arrive. Plus, supporting local farmers is always a good thing!
The best you can do is grow your own produce in quality soil and have it as fresh as it comes. This is my dream!
2. Envision the plate before you plan
Something I've been challenged by recently is what the break down of foods on my plate looks like. Typically, whatever meat was made will take up 35%, grains 45%, and then vegetables only make up 20%. Ideally, our plate should be covered 50% by vegetables.
My plan is to begin considering vegetables the main item, and the protein and grains as secondary when I'm choosing recipes. I'm going to put more effort into making sure there are quality veggies that are cooked in a way that makes them an anticipated part of the meal!
So when you're planning what to cook, make sure to think through what the vegetables will end up being, and how much of the plate they'll cover.
3. Cook for multiple meals
When you put all that effort into making a declious and healthy meal, you're not going to want to turn around and do it all over again for lunch the next day. Double or triple recipes so that you can have that tasty dish for meals to come!
4. Don't eat foods you don't like
Sounds like a no brainer, right? But I think sometimes when we hear "eat healthier" we think that we have to eat a bunch of things we would gag to try and swallow. At least, that's how I thought!
Instead, think of what some of your favorite ingredients are. Maybe you're a big fan of garlic, cilantro, cheese, or bacon. Or perhaps your favorite genres of food are Mexican or Italian (they're definitely mine!). Look up healthy recipes that fit what you like and see how you can still enjoy your favorite flavors in a nutritional way!
5. Try it out!
The only way you'll find out if cooking healthy meals can be a thing for you is if you try it! Check the recipes on this blog.
You can do it! I believe in you!
If this was helpful or you've got an awesome recipe to share, let me know!