I’m a big advocate for eating whole foods. Processed foods have taken over most of America’s kitchens, and this is one of the main reasons that as a society we are feeling run down, overweight, and unhealthy. Eating a diet of processed foods is linked to a variety of health problems, and I’m a firm believer that we can greatly improve our health & wellbeing on all levels through eating a healthy, whole foods, plant based diet. If I can be frank here…..I really think that processed foods are killing us.
Transitioning to eating whole foods from a lot of processed foods can feel daunting in a few ways, one of them being, they take a lot more time in the kitchen don’t they?
Cooking & preparing healthy whole foods can take more time in a lot of ways, but it doesn't need to be complicated and there is a lot of great ways that you can learn to save time, and prepare ahead so that you have things ready to go that are good choices, rather than the processed convenience foods that are causing our bodies so much trouble.
I live a pretty busy life and while I often have the time to spend in the kitchen that I want, (because it's a big priority of mine) there are times that my life is really busy & on the go. Eating good food from my kitchen is really important to me. Because it's so important, I’ve learned to adapt some habits with food prep in my kitchen, making it easy for myself to whip up a quick meal, or pack a quick meal to go whenever I need to. It’s important to have healthy options available in a convenient way if you want to avoid the trap of processed convenience foods.
I’ve talked with a lot of people about the things I personally do in my kitchen to make this happen, and in that sharing, I've been inspired share some of my regular favorites here with you. Spending one or two chunks of time in the kitchen per week can allow you to prep a lot and make it much more efficient to eat healthy.
Here’s my top 8 favorite ways of saving time in the kitchen, and making sure that I have foods ready for my busy lifestyle:
Many mornings, I like to eat a bunch of sautéed vegetables with fresh eggs scrambled in. To make this really easy to pull off, I’ll chop a big bowl of vegetables up that will keep in the fridge for a good 4 days. In the morning, all I have to do is throw a handful of the prepped veggies in the frying pan with some olive oil, and make my cup of coffee, feed the dog, or do whatever I need to do in the kitchen while they sauté. scramble the eggs in at the end, and in no time I’ve got a super healthy breakfast full of veggies & protein. This keeps me going for a long time. Some of the veggies I personally like to use are garlic, onion, brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and dark leafy greens like chard, kale, or collards. Be sure to cut the sweet potatoes in small chunks so they cook fully with the other veggies, and toss the greens in the last couple of minutes. This also makes a great lunch or dinner if you are into breakfast at all times of the day like I am. Top with some fresh herbs like basil or cilantro and some ripe avocado chunks, and you've got yourself an extra amazing & complete meal.
Especially in the cooler months, I like to roast a large pan of vegetables in the oven to use in a variety of ways over the next few days. Some of my favorites to use are sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, brussel sprouts, asparagus, beets, onions, garlic….whatever I have around. Use your own favorites! Root veggies are great for this. I chop everything up into chunks, toss with some coconut oil or olive oil, salt & pepper and bake at 400 for anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour depending on the size of chunks and vegetables. They usually end up as a side in my dinner the night that I roast them and in the few days after, I use them in various ways, such as:
*They are delicious tossed on top of a cold green salad for lunch.
*I’ll warm them and toss them in some miso broth or veggie broth with some beans making a simple & delicious soup for dinner the next night.
*Wrap them in a tortilla with beans, or greens, or a grain of some kind, or all of the above. This is good hot or cold, and can be a great lunch to go.
*Warm them in the skillet, and scramble eggs or tofu in for a great breakfast.
*Blend them into a creamy roasted vegetable soup.
*Make a roasted veggie quesadillas with tortillas, beans, and cheese.
I cook a pot of beans from scratch. Cooking beans from scratch requires you to simply soak them in water the night before, rinse, and cook until they are done. They are one of those things that you can leave simmering on the stove when you are attending to other things in the kitchen. Yes, you can buy beans in a can as well, and those are great for convenience. By all means, eat them! I personally like the taste & texture better when I cook them myself. They taste fresher, and are much cheaper to buy in bulk! Here’s some of the things I do with them over the next several days:
*Add them to a simple soup.
*Make tacos or burritos.
*Toss them on a cold salad as a great source of protein for a filling salad.
*Blend them with some spices to make a bean dip.
*Caramelize some onions & garlic, and saute the beans in to warm them. This is delicious on it’s own as my protein for a meal with some vegetables, and maybe a grain.
I cook a big pot of a whole grain to use over a few days. Brown rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, kamut, & wild rice are some of my favorites.
*I eat them lightly seasoned as a side to whatever else I’m having.
*Warm them in the morning with a little nut milk & cinnamon, and add fresh or frozen fruit for a morning porridge. Adding a nut butter like peanut or almond butter is a delicious way to add some protein. I also like to add flax seed, hemp seed, chia seeds, or any other nuts or seeds I have around to add protein.
*Any of these grains are great tossed on a green salad, or to make a salad with veggies and a simple dressing.
*Add them into lettuce or tortilla wraps with veggies and a protein for a great lunch.
I cook things like soup, and curry, or other one pot dishes in large batches so I have lunches to go, or quick dinners to heat up. Some of the soups freeze really well, which gives me those quick meals ready on hand when I'm really short on time and want something healthy.
I make up a big salad that I can just grab from when I’m ready for lunch, dinner, or to take on the go. Having a salad big enough to last multiple days prepped with a bunch of fresh veggies and maybe some grains or beans ready to go really makes it a breeze to make the great choice of having a salad when you are short on time.
I’ve become great at making smoothies with all the flavors that I love. When you get into the groove with smoothies that you really like, with vegetables, a good source of protein & healthy fat, it’s a really quick way to make a healthy meal in 5 minutes rather than grabbing for something that is quick and processed. Adding a source of protein and some good fat like coconut oil or avocados to your smoothie is a great idea if you are making it a meal, and it will keep you satisfied much longer than just a fruit & veggie smoothie.
I like to hard boil eggs to have on hand.
*They can make a great, protein rich breakfast on the go.
*They are delicious chopped in salads.
*They are a great, satisfying snack when I’m really feeling hungry before meal time.
There you have it. These seem to be my 8 standard habits that I've adapted to doing that helps me to keep healthy food convenient, and ready to go!
Besides the above ideas, it's always good to have raw veggies, fruit, & nuts on hand for those snack times. Crunchy carrots, apples, and protein rich nuts go a long way in satisfying between meals, and are a much better option than what's in the vending machine!
Of course, it would be ideal if we had the time to make every meal fresh, but that's not the reality for most of us. It is still possible to have the majority of your diet be whole foods prepared by you with love in your own kitchen. This is the food that nourishes us best. Find what works best for you, and what you enjoy the most!
If you have any tips on keeping healthy food ready to go, I'd love to hear them! Please leave a comment!
Wishing you wellness!