So this blog is rapidly becoming about food…
Which makes pretty good sense if you know me! 😉
Since I’m trying to eat (relatively) healthier food, I thought I’d outline my “weekend routine” with regard to food prep for the week. Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert of any kind – and I am definitely not perfect in following this routine – but I just want to share some tips that have made it easier for me to eat well during the busy week. Would love to hear any tips you have as well!
- Prep smoothies for the week – see my previous post about this. This one is huge, as each smoothie is packed with fruits and veggies, keeps me full, and gives me lots of energy without a big sugar crash. Great way to start the day. (Plus drinking one of these puppies makes me feel less guilty about a mid-afternoon chocolate break 😉 )
- Related to smoothie prep – buy a bunch of ripe bananas, unpeel them, split each banana into a few pieces, store in a freezable container, and place in the freezer. This will provide you with frozen bananas to use in smoothies. Blending banana chunks while frozen adds an almost ice-cream-like texture and sweetness to smoothies.
- Spiralize a ton of veggies at the beginning of the week (usually the same day as the smoothie prep – I like to just knock out everything in an hour or two on Sunday). I posted about the joys of spiralizing here – I am usually late to most trends in life, and this is no different, so you probably heard about this years ago! But I’m beginning to integrate it into my daily routine and I love it. It makes veggie prep sooo much easier. I typically spiralize a bunch of sweet potatoes and zucchini at the beginning of the week. I’ll roast the sweet potato noodles (swoodles) several times during the week, as well as eat zucchini noodle (zoodle) dishes. It. rocks.
- For a sweet treat that still packs in nutrition – I will make a batch or two of chia seed pudding (see here). A surprisingly tasty way to satisfy a sweet tooth, and if it still doesn’t do the trick, you know that you still got in a ton of nutrients and fiber, and it is likely to at least fill you up for a while.
- Hydration – remembering to drink tons of water at the beginning of the week can set you up for similar habits during the week, as well as boost your energy and quell your appetite for needless snacking.
- Freeze some coffee in an ice cube tray, if you like having a nice luxurious Frappuccino-like beverage during the week. Best of all, you can make it yourself (which means healthier and less expensive)! See here for recipe base.
Just a few tips off the top of my head – would love to hear if you have any other healthy eating hacks!
Since I’ve obviously got smoothies on the brain, I wanted to share some “Old Faithful” recipes that I make pretty regularly, which are delicious and great for the ol’ bod.
- Basic green smoothie: Frozen strawberries, frozen pineapple, generous handful of spinach leaves, water. That’s it. Obviously you can sub in/add different fruits, or switch out the greens (although I can’t stand kale so I typically use spinach, as it is much more mild in taste). But it’s a simple, tasty recipe that gets the job done.
- Tropical fruit smoothie: Frozen strawberries, frozen ripe bananas, almond milk, and a tiny bit (say, 1/8 tsp or less) of coconut extract (can also use vanilla). For an extra tropical feel, add in some chunks of frozen pineapple (oooh la la!).
- Peanut butter choco banana smoothie: Frozen ripe bananas, almond milk, 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. You can omit the cocoa powder too, and it’s just as delicious. OMG this is like a dessert, it’s so good.
Obviously you can blend pretty much anything, so this is just a teeny tiny list of delicious smoothies. But they are my go-to smoothies because they are so easy and have few (and relatively inexpensive) ingredients.
I just made a homemade Frappuccino and it wasn’t terrible! (Great intro, huh? 😉 )
Here’s what you need:
- Frozen coffee (i.e., put coffee in an ice cube tray and freeze, so you’re left with coffee ice cubes)
- Milk of choice (I used almond milk)
- Sweetener of choice (I used coffee creamer, but I kinda wish I had used honey or maple syrup because I didn’t like the creamer taste so much)
- I’m guessing you could try adding cocoa powder for a “mocha” taste, or peppermint flavor/extract for a minty taste, or vanilla extract for a vanilla taste, or coconut flakes for a coconut taste…you get the idea.
I eyeballed amounts of each. I used like 12 coffee ice cubes, about 2 cups of almond milk, and maybe a few teaspoons of creamer. I should probably measure stuff more… 😉
Put all in a blender and DEMOLISH.
Makes about 3-ish cups.
Less sugary (and less expensive) than the store-bought version.
The recipe will need to be customized according to your tastes, but it’s just a base to get us thinking about ways to create healthier versions of treats! Let me know if you try it out and how it tastes!
DISCLAIMER: I try to eat as healthy as possible, but I don’t want to “preach” about eating healthy on this blog (especially since there are weeks when I haven’t made time to go grocery shopping, and instead subsist on chips and ice cream). However, I want to share some strategies that I have found to be helpful to eating healthy in my own life.
My goal is to maximize the amount of healthy food I put into my body, so that I feel as energetic as possible. Plus, I find that my mood tends to be better when I’m eating nutritious whole foods (except for those times when you just gotta have some chocolate, or else you’re gonna punch someone in the face).
So, a big one for me: SMOOTHIES. Lots of people do smoothies these days – fruit smoothies, green smoothies, smoothies with oats and nut butters and chia seeds and protein powder…basically, if it can be blended, people have found a way to put it in a smoothie.
Here’s what works for me, and something I practice pretty much weekly:
- To make things more convenient, I keep an array of frozen fruits in the freezer (usually strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries). You can buy them in the freezer section at the grocery story (or better yet – save some money and buy them in bulk at Costco or some other wholesale club – since produce gets expensive!).
- Make a huge batch at once, and divide it among plastic travel mugs/cups (I use 24-ounce mason jars) so you can grab-and-go on busy mornings. It’s kind of a pain since I have a tiny blender, but if you have a larger one (or better yet – if you have one of those badass Vitamix blenders), you can make several smoothies at once. They’ll stay fresh in your refrigerator for about seven days, and it saves me SO much time in the mornings. I’ll drink it on my way to work in the morning, and I can feel good that my breakfast is jam-packed with fruits and veggies.
- So that leads to the next question – what do I put in my smoothies? It depends, but I don’t get super adventurous with this. I’ve found a few flavor combos that I like, and I tend to stick to them (for me, just getting something healthy into my body is more important than making it “perfect” or “optimal”.) If I’m making a huge batch at once to drink during the week, I’ll typically do frozen pineapple (or fresh, if it’s on sale at the grocery store), frozen strawberries, a generous handful of spinach leaves, and water. That’s it. And since my blender isn’t that powerful, I’ll let the mixture sit for a bit, to allow the frozen fruit to soften for easier blending.
Soooo that was a lot about smoothies! Hope that was somewhat helpful – it’s definitely not rocket science, but I love hearing how other people integrate healthier eating into their lives in ways that are as convenient and economical as possible! If you have more smoothie tips, please share!
Some of my friends and family have already heard me go on and on about my newest obsession: spiralizing food. I know, I know, this trend caught on in full force several years ago, but as I mentioned before, I take a few decades to catch up.
Recently I purchased this spiralizer off of Amazon, simply because I saw a bunch of zucchini noodle recipes on Pinterest and thought, hey I could use some more veggies in my life!
Some may say I’ve gone overboard. I would say I’ve just gone exactly board.
For once, this is actually my own photo. Graininess courtesy of my shaky hands holding my iPhone.
The above photo represents the results of my 30 minutes of spiralizing at 4:30am when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. Normally I’d be annoyed, but I actually was somewhat excited to use my brand new toy! On the left, you see noodles from 3 spiralized zucchinis (zoodles). On the right, you see noodles from 4 spiralized sweet potatoes (swoodles).
Spiralizing just makes veggie prep super easy, and, as a result, makes it more likely that I’ll actually eat more of them. There are a million cool things you can do with spiralized veggies – one of the best places for recipe ideas is the Inspiralized blog recipe database. It. Is. Awesome.
As for me, I haven’t tried TOO many recipes yet, but my go-to preparation for swoodles is tossing a handful of them (maybe 1-2 sweet potato’s worth?) in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasting them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-ish minutes. (I’m definitely an “ish” person when it comes to baking…probably why I suck at baking.) For zoodles, I basically eat them raw with a warm sauce (usually pasta sauce and possibly meatballs – my favorite recipe to pair zoodles with is this one!) You can also prep zoodles in other ways, as described here on the Inspiralized blog!
In conclusion – spiralizers rock if you love kitchen toys and aspire to eat healthy
You can tell I’m on a posting binge right now. I have so many fun discoveries to share!
I love finding people who sell cute and fun gifts online. Here are a few fun things I’ve found lately (also how many times can I use the word “fun” in less than four sentences?):
Emily McDowell Studio: Super funny greeting cards, mugs, and other gifts. Snarky yet empowering sense of humor. In particular, she has several empathy cards for people undergoing cancer treatment that keep it “real,” as she herself is a cancer survivor. I especially love the manifesto mug.
The Love Bomb Company: Empowering yet funny sayings emblazoned on tote bags, mugs, and mason jars. I’m starting to see a pattern in the things I love to promote 🙂
CreativeLeighMe gifts: If you love The Office and/or Parks and Rec (or a number of other old cartoons/sitcoms from your childhood), you will want to keep an eye out for when @creativeleighme (Insta account) restocks her amazing Office/P&R lunch bags/totes/wristlets. Not a joke – Jenna Fischer (Pam from the The Office) re-posted one of the creator’s Insta posts advertising The Office lunch bags, and she is now selling out of these products within minutes of restocking. Um, I happened to be one of the lucky people who snagged an Office tote bag this past weekend. (Totally worth setting my phone alarm to the time of release.)
Anyhoo, I just love finding people who independently create such unique gifts that truly bring a smile to people’s faces. Hope you enjoy checking them out! Let me know if you stumble upon other fun artists!
Check out Society6:
They have art designs of every topic imaginable, all created by regular people like you and me. Then, they put these designs on blankets, iPhone cases, pillows, wall art, etc. There are probably a gazillion similar websites out there, but this one is extremely cool and you may hate me after visiting it, because you won’t get those four hours back. Sorry…I warned you. 😉