10 Ways to Sneak Fruits and Veggies into Your Family’s Diet

I think that just about everyone knows that we should be eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day-I’ve even heard small children remind their parents while ordering in restaurants. But having the knowledge, and actually following through are very different things! Many times, fruits and veggies are not easily available or convenient, sometimes they are more expensive than junk food, and often, we are just tempted to grab a less healthy food to snack on or add to our meals.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has SO many benefits! These foods are chock full of vitamins and minerals, and many also offer fiber and protein. Antioxidants provided by many fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation in the body that can cause arthritis, joint pain, brain fog, headaches, and muscle stiffness, just to name a few. Fruits and veggies fill us up and keep us full while providing power packed nutrients without a lot of calories and have no fat. Fruits and veggies offer us nutrients that are good for literally every part of the body-our skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, and brain. These are absolute super foods!

When my family was young, nutrition was a huge focus in my parenting. Meals were planned in advance, and we often needed to eat while running with a busy schedule. Two of my four children were picky eaters; One of them wanted to exist on chicken tenders and peanut butter for the first 12 years of his life! While getting fruit into my family’s diet was never an issue, getting vegetables in was always a challenge, so I had to get super creative. Fortunately, as the years went on, my family developed a taste for most vegetables, and I’m always impressed when they make sure to fill their plates as young adults. If you are struggling to get fruits and veggies into your diet, or your family’s diet, I’d like to offer some creative tips!

1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. Simply throw some fruits, low-fat yogurt and ice in a blender. To round out a perfect meal in a cup, add a scoop of protein powder. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast. If you’d like to get super creative and mega nutritious, throw in a handful of spinach and a few ounces of carrot juice-it will add a powerful amount of nutrients while adding a bit of sweetness. Frozen fruits, like superfood blueberries, work fantastic in smoothies, and removes the need for ice. This is not only tasty and healthy, but portable and ready for an on the go lifestyle.

2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small cartons of raisins to your lunch boxes, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your briefcase and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning, or mix it with nuts, or into yogurts as an added treat. Dried fruit is a great item to keep in the car for long trips, or in a backpack for hikes or long walks.

3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey or chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach….You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some favorite dressing and cheeses. Try over ripe banana on toast or switch up iceberg lettuce with spinach or kale to add more nutrition to your sandwiches.

4. Have a salad bar at dinner. This is always a fun way to get those veggies in! Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce or other greens and let everybody create their own perfect salad. Add some fruit choices as well, and they will surely fill their plates.

5. Find creative ways to sneak veggies to your family meals by adding veggies to sauces pasta dishes, and broths. Blended veggies add a thickness to pasta sauces, soup broths, and even gravies. Try adding colorful veggies to homemade pizza-when my kids were small, broccoli was considered a pizza topping, and no one ever complained! Add several veggies like zucchini or sweet peppers to lasagnas, or even try replacing your pasta and rice with veggies versions like cauliflower rice or spinach based spaghetti.

6. Tip for a super yummy dessert. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. This is not only a winner, but super tasty and refreshing on a hot day. Seasonal fruits make this a real treat!

7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip. And don’t forget “ants on a log”. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).

8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.

9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. These can be great comfort food especially as the weather gets cooler.

10. Start “Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before. This gives everyone a chance to try something new, without the pressures involved in usual mealtime “eat what is on your plate”.

Getting, and keeping, these super foods into your regular diet can be a game changer for both you and your loved ones. Keep in mind-tastes change-so even if you didn’t like a certain fruit or veggie when you were younger does not mean you won’t like it now. I did NOT like the taste of anything green as a child, but now love broccoli and kale. I also did not eat tomatoes until I was 20, and now they are one of my favorite foods! Keep trying new fruits and veggies, and new ways to prepare them, and soon you will be enjoying all the benefits to these amazing fresh foods!

If you’re looking for more info on cleaning up your diet, be sure to check out my newest freebie ebook, Learn How to Eat Clean and Feel Your BEST! Grab it here!

If your curious about what Health and Wellness coaches DO, and how it can change your life for the BEST, check out this article, or even better-shoot me an email! I’d love to chat about your health and wellness goals and get a plan started with you!

Healthy Meal Prep for the Busy Family

Everyone has seen all those pretty Pinterest and Instagram posts with the little containers of perfectly prepped and planned meals. This leads to the question-How can I possible do this with a family to feed??

It’s not as hard as it seems! With a few little tips, a clear grocery list, some input from your family, and an afternoon of cooking, you can have a week’s worth of healthy meals that will not only save time, but keep everyone’s bellies full-while sticking to a healthy food plan-and perhaps even saving some money and frustration at the same time.

Everyday I have people tell me that they cannot meal prep for a myriad of reasons:

-kids are picky eaters

-spouse refuses to eat “rabbit food”

-everyone in the household has different eating styles-allergies, vegetarian, gluten free, etc.

-it’s too expensive

-it’s too time consuming

With a little planning, ALL of these situations can be handled, and you will not only save time, but money.

In my home, meal prep solved ALL of those problems AND also solved the teenager issue of “There’s nothing to eat!” My family has consisted of a spouse that eats anything, a daughter that swings between vegan/vegetarian, a teen linebacker that needs food nonstop, a teen son with weight issues, and a person who experienced a million sensitivities who also eats extremely healthy (yes, that would be me, pre healing my gut-those issues are now completely gone! You can read about THAT here!). Meal prep has been an absolute blessing to me-the shopper, the cook, the mom.

To be straight up-you don’t need to prep your food in those pretty containers. You can, it looks nice in photos and stacked in the fridge, but it’s not necessary. It can be helpful for packing meals that need to be on the move, like lunch, or for the person in your family with specific food needs, but I tend to use regular large size Rubbermaid containers for prep. These can even be frozen for future use, and are microwave/dishwasher safe as well. I’ve also used Ziploc freezer bags, which work so well with small spaces in the fridge.

Make a Plan and Think Streamlining Your Proteins

The first thing you need to do is plan your meals. Ask your family for input if needed. List your favorite meals, take eating preferences into consideration, and make a menu with at least 4 main dinner meals. Look for ways to streamline your meals based on main ingredients; are there two or more meals with chicken? Beef? How can you prepare those meats for use in all your recipes? Is there a way to make or divide certain meals into half vegetarian? Half gluten free? Can you prepare some of a meal without onion, or peppers, or heavy spices that your children may not like? If you approach it this way-you will likely find that it’s not so hard to satisfy everyone in your family. For example, if you’re planning an Italian dish, can you make a small portion without meat sauce? Can you make a small portion with gluten free noodles? If your favorite dish is heavy on spice and onion,  you can separate a portion without those strong flavors. These portions are easily placed into their own small containers.

Check Your Schedule Plan your Shopping

Next, look at your schedule for the week. Are you home every night for dinner? Do you plan to eat out? Are there nights that you need to grab something and run? Make note of those occasions.

Using your meals as a guideline, start to plan your grocery list. To make things super easy, double some of your recipes for lunch leftovers, or for the freezer. List the produce and proteins you will need in total for all meals so that you can easily buy in bulk portions. Check your add-ons like spices, canned needs, cheese, etc; before doing your shopping.

Once you have your grocery list in hand, check local sales, and gather coupons if you are a frugal shopper-you can also save by shopping in bulk at places like Costco and Sam’s Club.

Plan Your Cooking

I highly recommend shopping and cooking on separate days, just to give your self a sanity break. Or, plan to cook 2 or 3 times a week, but cook more than one meal-again, using the same “main” item, like your protein, makes this mush easier! For example, using chicken bought for three meals, using one portion as a main dish, another portion for a chicken and rice dish, and another portion for chicken tacos or fajitas. The chicken is prepared at the same time, and you will have 3 dinners ready to go-and maybe even some leftovers for lunches!

Meal prep day was often an afternoon of family time when my kids were teens. They would help, learning to cook as we went along. One teen would chop veggies, another would cook up ground turkey or beef, while another stirred sauces and checked the oven. We could usually prep a week’s worth of lunches and dinners in an hour and a half. It was an absolute blessing to come home after a busy day and literally be able to list off menu items available to reheat from the fridge!

It’s been a few years since the teens became adults and moved on with their lives, but all of them still prep meals in advance. Even when I am alone at the beach, I cook once or twice a week for myself and enjoy having a very active lifestyle without concern about stopping to plan and fix my meals, or run the stove on a super hot summer day. Below is my all time healthy meal prepped favorite recipe for you to try and enjoy!

Meal planning and prep is a HUGELY popular topic with many of my clients and friends, and one of my favorite healthy lifestyle hacks to teach. If you’d like to learn more, or get some ideas and assistance in starting your journey with this great time saving healthy life hack, just reach out to me!

Meal Prepped Super Healthy, Super Yummy Chicken, Rice, and Veggies

This is SO easy and SO tasty! I keep it in my fridge year round for quick meals.

You will need:

Chicken breasts, cooked, and chopped into bite sized pieces.

Rice of your choice, I use brown rice in the cups that heat up in the microwave.

Steamed veggies of your choice-cook until blanched if storing them in the fridge.

Favorite sauce-I use a natural sweet and sour, but soy, hot sauce, all add a different flavor to this dish and can be used to mix it up.

I keep these things handy, and literally throw it all together, heat for a minute of two, add my sauce and salt and pepper-and I have a hot, incredible tasty and healthy meal ready in under two minutes!

from my professional website Beewell.com

The Absolute Beginners Guide to Eating Healthy

If you’re currently not eating a healthy diet, it can be difficult to start such a plan. However, healthy eating, along with some enjoyable form of exercise is very important for maintaining good bodily function and goes a long way towards living a disease-free life. If you struggle with healthy eating, then you know that breaking unhealthy habits can be the most difficult part of the process. Therefore, if you truly want to live the best lifestyle possible, it is important to follow tips in order to start eating a more healthy diet.

A great first step when you want to start eating your way to a healthy lifestyle is to rid your home of all temptations that will distract you from following better eating habits. Ideally it would be a smart choice to keep junk foods and beverages out of your house so you will not be tempted to snack during those times of day when you find yourself eating out of boredom or stress. If you’re worried about being hungry, keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, or whole-wheat crackers on hand. If you find that you just cannot bear to toss out the sweets, try keeping small portions of those foods for special occasions only. Eating a few, (emphasis on few) of these won’t ruin your diet but also will give you that little sugary fix you crave.

Another great step to healthy eating, when you’re first starting the process, is to take a few moments to learn what foods are the healthiest for you and how they work within the body. To start eating healthy, we must begin by thinking healthy. Most people understand that fruits, vegetables, and low-fat meats and dairy products are good for them, but few people understand why. The key is learning about the nutrients the body needs to be at it’s optimal health. When you understand how specific nutrients work and why you need them, it becomes easier for you to make healthier choices for your body. Knowledge, especially in this case, really is power! You body, after all, is a machine and machines run best when powered by the right fuel!

Preparation is a major key in starting a new healthy diet. You must take into consideration your schedule for meals. If you often eat in a rushed hurry at odd times of day, you are probably more inclined to grab a rushed meal-that will probably do more harm than good. So plan ahead! Instead of grabbing a fast food lunch on the go, take a bagged lunch to work, complete with a healthy wrap or some lean meat, and some fresh fruit and vegetables. Try a little meal planning for your evening meals-having a planned, prepped and ready meal waiting for when you arrive home would be ideal, but in our fast paced lifestyle, sometimes this just can’t be done. One way to solve this problem is to plan out your evening meals for the week before you do your weekly shopping. Focus your meal prep around 2 main foods each week. For example, in week 1, plan 3 meals using chicken breasts, and 3 meals using lean beef. Cooking those foods at the same time, then adding other ingredients to make several prepped meals will ensure that you have healthy, tasty foods available when you are too tired to plan or cook. Think: chicken breasts with a hearty salad one night, chicken and bean chili another night, and even a hearty chicken soup for another meal. Doubling up on these foods can also provide easy healthy lunches.

When planning your grocery shopping, always have a plan and a list ready. To eat as clean as possible, and to avoid the temptations of high calorie, nutrient low, packaged foods, focus your shopping trip on the perimeters of the store: produce, meats, dairy. Fill your cart with seasonal fruits and veggies for side dishes and snacks. Look for lean cuts of meat, and lower fat versions of your favorite daily products. Never shop when you are hungry! Have a small healthy meal or snack before leaving for your shopping trip so that you are not tempted into buying things just to satisfy your need to eat.

Start with baby steps. Even if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water, you are really improving your calorie intake. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, try replacing that half of the time with better quality foods. When you start by taking small steps you aren’t cutting out all of the foods you love all at once. By taking your time to learn about your eating habits and slowly replacing them with better meals, by taking the time to learn and understand why you should be doing that and making the necessary changes in an orderly fashion, you will feel much better within yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and well on the road to becoming as healthy as you can be.

If you are ready to take the next step but looking for guidance, knowledge, and motivation, consider setting up a time to discuss and set your goals, gain the nutritional knowledge that you need, learn meal planning and prep, stress relief, and more, and get started on a fantastic journey to finding yourself in the best health possible. Today can easily be a changing day in your life. Contact me now for a free 30 minute call.

www.beewell.com

Clean Eating Tips for the Super Busy Lifestyle

As warmer weather approaches, we seem to get busier and busier! As this time of year approaches, with warmer days and more sun, it’s likely that many of us are spending time thinking about healthy eating, but finding that our busy lives make doing that very difficult.  Although we may have the best intentions for ourselves, we find that our busy schedules have us grabbing quick meals and snacks at the last minute, and not always making the best choices. While you may think you are saving time and being more efficient by grabbing a burger and breezing through your busy, warm, fun filled day, or even filling up on energy drinks or coffee when you start to feel tired, these actions can be very counterproductive to our health goals.

For many, this might seem like the easiest and least stressful way to power through the day, but in reality, a poor diet causes you to feel tired and lose energy during the day, which has a direct impact on the amount of work you get done, and the amount of fun you can have.  This “easy” lifestyle also contributes to a number of more serious health problems such as chronic disease and weight gain.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to turn your diet around and start eating healthy, even when you are super busy.  In this article I share 10 of the top tips for eating healthy when time is extremely limited.

Plan Ahead

The popular saying is; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and when it comes to healthy eating this is absolutely right.  If you don’t put together some sort of plan to eat healthy then you are going to end up eating those unhealthy junk and fast foods.  The best way to plan ahead is to list down the foods you plan to eat at the end of each day and then prepare what you can the night before, or, take an hour or so once a week to plan out and prepare for an entire week!  You may think that you simply don’t have the time for this kind of planning each week, but my clients that have done this now find that not only are they eating healthier, but also dealing with less stress, AND saving money! A little bit of planning and prep time literally turns healthy eating into a grab and go process!

Don’t Grocery Shop When You Are Hungry

As you work on your healthy eating plan you’ll need to start buying healthy foods when you do your weekly grocery run, and keep your fridge and pantry full.  Avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry! This makes this task a lot more difficult as your hunger will naturally draw you towards convenient junk foods.  Therefore, make sure you have something to eat before you do your weekly grocery shopping. Plan your grocery trips around the perimeter of the store-sticking to produce, proteins, and dairy as much as you can.

Take Full Advantage of Fresh Selections

If your find that you often head over to the vending machine or local convenience store to grab a quick snack, try to focus your selections on healthier options. Many of our corner stores, and even vending machines, now offer apples, grapes, carrot sticks, hummus, and bananas. These options can be just as filling as chocolate bars, or chips, and they provide much more nutritional value and contain a lot less calories, salt, and preservatives. To make things even easier, make sure you pack a few pieces of fruit or veggies into your bag each day and then when hunger calls you have them readily available.

Those Awesome Packets of Nuts

Nuts are another fantastic, healthy, food that you can use as a substitute for vending machine snacks.  They provide your body with a ton of health boosting vitamins and minerals along with good amounts of protein and healthy fats.  To avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks make sure you always carry a bag with you so that you can quickly grab a handful whenever your stomach starts to rumble. Many nut companies sell portable 100 calories packs of almonds, cashews, and walnuts to make this an easy go-to snack.

Incorporate Vegetables into Every Meal

This may sound like too much of an effort when your time is limited.  However, if you choose the right vegetables it hardly takes up any of your time at all.  Salads, soy beans, and sun dried tomatoes can now all be purchased from supermarkets in a ready to eat form. Bag up sliced carrots, celery, and peppers and keep them handy and ready to munch.  Prepping steamed veggies and keeping them in the fridge is also a great idea, simply heat for a few seconds in the microwave and eat.

Look for Lean Fish & Meats

When you are busy and have forgotten to bring your healthy packed lunch, grabbing a quick burger or hot dog might seem like the best option.  However, there are plenty of healthier meat choices out there.  Most hot deli counters allow you to buy roasted chicken which is both tasty and nutritious.  Most supermarkets also sell cooked chicken breast slices.  Lean meats are just as quick to eat as burgers and hot dogs but provide your body with higher quality protein and no nasty added ingredients.

Get A Thermos Cup

One bad habit I have noticed among super busy people is that they regularly buy branded coffees.  This doesn’t seem like such a bad habit on the surface but when you consider that six of the drinks on the current Starbucks menu exceed the 300 calorie mark, it’s a habit that can easily add over 1,000 empty calories to your week-not to mention-they are pricey! Instead of hitting the coffee shops every day, get yourself a thermos or heated coffee cup and fill it with coffee or tea.  Both these options will give you easy access to your favorite hot drink without adding hundreds or thousands of calories to your week.

Use Smoothies

Smoothies are an excellent way to fit multiple fruits and vegetables into one convenient drink and the best part is they take just a few minutes to prepare.  To make a smoothie, just pick the fruits and vegetables you plan to use, chop into chunks, place them in your blender, add a few other optional ingredients if you like (crushed ice, fruit juice, protein powder, milk etc), blend until the mixture becomes smooth. If you are really stuck for ideas, Google will help you find some great smoothie recipes.

Use Your Freezer In The Right Way

Your freezer is a very valuable tool if you want to eat healthy and save time.  If you know you are going to be having a particularly busy week, consider cooking up a large batch of healthy food at the start of the week, divide it into individual servings and freeze these servings.  Then on the days where you don’t have time to cook simply get these frozen servings out of the freezer the night before and warm them up when you are ready to eat.  Doing this will allow you to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals without having to cook every night. It’s all about being prepared!

Choose the Lesser Of Two Evils

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, events will conspire against you and you won’t be able to eat healthy.  You’ll accidentally leave your healthy lunch at home, the local shop near your work will have no fruits or vegetables left and your only choice is to head to a fast food outlet.  In these situations, simply choose the lesser of the two evils.  Take a look at the amount of salt, the calories and the amount of trans fats in each option on the menu and then choose the least damaging.  This isn’t exactly healthy but it’s making the most of a bad situation.

And to Sum it Up

Sticking to a healthy diet is tough at the best of times but when you are busy and stressed it can sometimes seem impossible.  I hope the tips I’ve shared have shown you that eating healthy when you are super busy is not only possible but it’s also very manageable if you approach it with a positive attitude and a sense of planning. As you make small healthy changes to your diet, you will soon realize that you are not only feeling better and having more energy throughout the day, but the planning and prepping actually remove a lot of the stress from our daily lives.

And THIS

If you are looking for a 3 week program that will “reset” your eating habits, help you drop a few pounds, and feel your best for spring, consider my upcoming awesome Fresh and Simple program! This program offers both regular and vegetarian meal plans, with 40 new recipes based on whole, healthy foods, and weekly habit enhancing tips to change your health and life! This program includes two 30 minute virtual meetings with me to set your goals, answer your questions, and keep you inspired-with email support in between. Get ready to feel your best, embrace Spring, and get a little taste of what it’s like to work with a health and wellness coach! This package will be offered for a limited time for only 97$. If you’d like to reserve your space at this price, or have any questions, be sure to email me!