I hear it all the time, “I would eat better, but I just don’t have time to prepare that kind of food”. My answer, if you have half an hour to surf the net, you have the time to make healthy wholesome food for yourself. Besides, cooking is fun! Allowing ourselves to be in touch with the process of preparing our food brings out the nurturer in us, the passionate creative soul within. Sometimes all you need is a few tricks and tips in your tool box to be successful in your plant based kitchen.
1. Cook your beans in large batches! Beans are an excellent source of protein and complex carbohydrates. Store bought canned beans are pressure cooked in the tin can they come in, leaching toxins into what would be a healthy choice. Buying dry beans is very affordable and cooking them yourself is so easy. Just soak in cold water overnight, strain, refill with clean water and cook for about an hour. When you cook a large batch just break them down into 2 or 4 cup freezer packs. Just pull out a pack when you need some for a salad, quick stir fry, for veggie burgers.2. Keep frozen fruit on hand at all times! Smoothies are a healthy and a supereasy snack with minimum clean up. Packed with nutrients, antioxidants and fiber they keep you feeling full longer helping you meet your health goals. Bananas are one of the most affordable fruits, freeze up bags of banana chunks. Throw in a handful of berries, or pineapple chunks with your bananas in your blender and you are in business!! Blend with apple cider or nut milk. Smoothies keep for 24 hours in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
3. Make your own trail mix! The bags you see in the store are way overpriced! You are paying for all their market research and branding. Forget that! A stroll through the bulk section of your local natural food store can produce a much fresher, more cost effective result. Purchase some almonds, walnuts, dried mixed fruit, coconut, pick up a bag of dark chocolate chips. Mix all these together and portion into snack packs and you have easy to grab healthy snacks.
4. Make your own flaxers! Making your own flax crackers is so easy, all you need is a dehydrator. Just soak your whole flax seeds, gold or brown, in water for 3 hours. Strain and rinse. Season with pizza seasoning, Rosemary, dill, or just sea salt. Spread out 1/4 inch thick on the teleflex liner and dehydrate until crispy. 18 hours. Break into rustic crackers. They hold up to even the thickest of dips!!
5. Soup! It does a body good. It true, warm brothy veggie soups work wonders for your immune system. Soup is easy to make, you can use up any leftover veggies. Add some lentils, beans, or rice and you have a complete meal. Make a big batch and eat it over the week for lunch, or a quick dinner with a big salad.
6. Make your own drinks! Fresh pure water should always be a priority drink, but plain water can get boring. The drinks that line the shelves of grocery stores are very often high in processed sugar, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners, color and flavor. Not a good choice if you are making your health your priority. Making your own ice tea, or maple lemonade is easy and costs only pennies to make. Using hibiscus flowers, chamomile, rose buds, and lemon verbena adds color and flavor to basics ice tea recipes. Use maple syrup in recipes as an antioxidant packed natural sweetener.
7. Greens, greens, greens! Greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are so good for detoxing and energy production but how to use all those greens without all that chewing!! Pesto! Those big bunches of greens ground up with garlic, walnuts, lemon, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and sea salt are so delicious! Thin it out with some water for a salad dressing, use as a baked potato topper, add to soup for a flavor enhancer, or with those delicious flaxers!
8. Overnight oats! A healthy breakfast is the best way to start your day. However, not a lot of us have time to make a nutritious breakfast. That’s where overnight oats come in! Just by soaking gluten free oats overnight in some nut milk with raisins and nuts you have a tasty, nutrient packed breakfast ready to go when you are. 1 cup of oats to 11/2 cups of milk works great!
9. If you keep healthy food in your house, you will eat healthy food! Do a spring cleaning in your kitchen. Clean out all the processed food(give away on Craigslist) and replace with whole plant based foods. Nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and greens should be the base of your diet. If you don’t have bad food around, you can’t eat it!
10. Find plant based friends! Changing your diet to plant based can be lonely if you don’t have people in your life who support you. Join some plant based groups, host a pot luck where everyone can showcase their creations, and actively make friends with like minded people who support your life long health goals.