On the subject of eating well...#nomnomnom
Hi y’all and Happy Friday Jr.! In my first blog, I said we’d do introductions later. Well, I suppose now is later, so… My name is Hannah and I’m your new Thursday blogger. I am the daughter of not two, but four amazing and unique souls – my father, mother, step-mother, and my step-father. Their separations and unions have blessed me with three older step-sisters, an older sister, an older brother, and two younger half-sisters, who, in turn, have blessed me with three of the most amazing, intelligent, and beautiful nieces, as well as two handsome, strong, brave, loving, adventurous, and caring nephews. I hit it BIG with this family of mine, and I’m not just talking about size! I was raised in an Air Force family (shout-out to my step-dad and his service), so I call O’Fallon, Illinois home, even though that’s not where any of my family is actually from. I currently own a home in Shiloh, Illinois – basically an offspring community of O’Fallon. I don’t think I realized until right now, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t have set hobbies – I like to try EVERYTHING. Cooking and baking. Hiking, kayaking, paintball, throwing axes, and skydiving – the list of outdoor stuff goes on forever. I also like to get crafty sometimes, so scrapbooking, taking some chalk paint to a piece of furniture, sanding down and staining wood and turning it into bookshelves… I think you get the point. You’ll see more of how that manifests in my life as these blogs develop, which brings me to my first follow-up from my first blog.
As a guest blogger, my April 19th entry was on the importance of self-care. Within that blog, I hit on three key things I concentrated on in my March travels. The first of those was eating healthy. I’m making a game-day call and changing the focus from “eating healthy” to eating “balanced”. I said it isn’t hard to do, and doesn’t take more time than eating the processed stuff, so below are some of my “hacks” at making food work for me and still being satisfied. I hope these are helpful, new, or different ways to consider changing up things in your diet without feeling like you’re giving up the foods you love!
1. Kodiak Protein Pancakes - I’m a sucker for these. To get a little more protein in these delicious flapjacks, I sub-in milk for water and add one egg per serving (four eggs if I’m Sunday meal prepping for my weekday breakfasts).
2. Overnight Oats – I found a super easy recipe through “Cleanfoodcrush” on Facebook (thanks Zuckerberg! ;) I can add peanut butter for a protein boost or frozen berries if I want something sweet. The recipe yields four servings, so with generous measurements, I have my five breakfasts for the workweek all made up and in containers in 10-15 minutes.
3. Smoothies – These are my FAVORITE in the summer when it’s crazy hot and all you really want to do is LIVE in a swimming pool! There’s no measuring – it’s just throwing a handful of this and some of that into a blender, and GO! My go-to is one scoop of protein powder, frozen berries, coconut milk, a hearty handful of spinach or kale, and maybe some chia seeds if I have them in the pantry. All I taste is the sweet and tart of the fruit, but I get in protein from the greens and chia seeds, and the coconut milk mutes the tartness of the fruit just enough.
4. Coffee – This is a DAILY for me, but I add to it one tablespoon of raw, organic honey and then a splash (or two) of coconut milk. *My transition to THIS morning coffee goes a little something like… creamers -> sugar + 2% milk -> sugar + skim milk -> stevia + skim milk -> stevia + almond milk > sugar in the raw + almond milk > sugar in the raw + coconut milk > honey + coconut milk > raw, unfiltered honey + coconut milk. I genuinely like the flavor and I know I’m not putting over-processed dairy or artificial sugars in my morning routine, so I’m happy with it.
1. Leftovers from the previous night’s dinner
2. Baked chicken + green beans + a package of baby tomatoes + pesto. Bake it at 400* for 35-45 minutes, and portion it into my containers. Minimal prep and the one glass Pyrex goes straight into the dishwasher. I am a fan of finding other sauces and veggies, but keep the same basic concept of chicken + vegetable for a simple, healthy lunch.
3. Panera – I just love this place. It’s not necessarily the healthiest, but it’s my way of “cheating” without going for the traditional fast food burger and fries.
4. PB&J, pretzels, grapes – It’s simple and I’ve liked it since I was a kid. I’ll use a whole grain bread and grind my own peanut butter, use the Skippy Natural, or almond butter. I use preserves instead of jelly because… well… do you know the process involved in making jelly? Or what’s IN jelly? ‘Nuff said!
DINNER – I’m not listing meals here, because this is already a LONG post, and I like me some variety! So instead, a few hacks…
1. Sub-in ground turkey or ground chicken for ground beef – I’ve done it with everything from burgers to pasta sauce and lasagna to meatloaf. Personally, I’m not sure I taste a difference because the meat is always flavored or mixed with other ingredients.
2. Whole wheat pasta, zoodles (zucchini noodles), or spaghetti squash instead of regular pasta. The veggie subs take some finessing but with the right Italian seasoning and proper draining, they do taste GOOD.
3. Sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes
4. Carrot or sweet potato fries instead of regular fries – it’s similar to #3, but I do LOVE my taters, so…
5. Veggie tots to get in some carbs & your veggie serving – Green Giant has a delightful broccoli-cheese tot.
6. Switch up your main protein regularly – steak, chicken, salmon, tilapia, cod, shrimp, pork, turkey, crab
7. Switch up your cooking method regularly – grill, bake, pan fry, roast, sauté
8. Switch up your seasoning / flavor profiles regularly and use FRESH herbs
Since my regular is everything I shared above, I don’t beat myself up when I spend a day binge watching Netflix and decide a Coney Dog, Fries, and a Limeade from Sonic sounds AMAZEBALLS, and GO FOR IT! I think the theme with everything I do with my food is to find ways to sneak in something that makes what I like healthier. I didn’t give up carbs or potatoes – I just do sweet potatoes instead of the white Idaho suckers. I love me some coffee, but my concoction eliminates artificial sweeteners and dairy. And so on…
Whatever your regular diet consists of – enjoy it and appreciate it. We gain SO much energy from the things we put in our body. Take the time to appreciate those things for how they taste and the strength they give us to conquer our day!