Did anyone out there make a resolution? I am guessing that many people are not feeling into it, what with all that has been thrown at us in the last couple of years.
Perhaps you decided that just getting out of bed and making the coffee should count as a success? Well, I think you’re right. That’s a fine place to start.
The thing is, once we are out of bed, then what? We do have to get on with the day, and why make it a battle?
“I really shouldn’t have that muffin with my double-double, but I deserve it, after all that shoveling” or “What’s the point of eating healthy? It’s boring. Besides, I can’t get to the gym anyway so it will never be enough.”
I am not a nutrition or fitness expert. If you are a regular reader, you know that even when I indulge, I do like a bit of balance—in my flavours, and in my life.
So, I am here this week as a comrade-in-arms, to say, “we got this!” when it comes to feeling better about how we nourish ourselves.
I did some research to see what foods became popular in the past year and it isn’t surprising to note the themes followed our lifestyles. Dishes such as mac n’ cheese, baked beans and all-in-one preparations like skillet bakes or sheet pan suppers were hot. Insta-pots and air fryers became godsends. And with the stress of life in the world these days, adding a bit of extra cheese or bacon seemed necessary more often than not. Am I right?
I’m going to share what Hubbie and I have decided to try for this year. We didn’t want to feel punished by having to focus on cutting out foods, but we knew we couldn’t continue at the holiday pace. We are fortunate not to have any allergies or restrictions, so this starts from an “anything goes” perspective.
Here are our parameters:
Two veggie dinners a week. Salad or Buddha bowl (grains or rice perhaps, with cooked or raw veggies). These are easy to do – we take two plates out and cut what we have for veggies in the portions we need. The goal is to cover the plate but not heap it up. A base layer of some green starts us off. Fun toppings add a nice twist—think nuts and seeds, dried or fresh fruit, croutons or cheese (see note below about bread and cheese in the week). Make your own dressing and avoid extra sugars and other unwanted ingredients.
Bread or pasta at a maximum of one meal per day, preferably whole grain. I make sourdough bread which is easier to digest but any quality wholesome bread helps you get more from it. And you can think of different forms—pita bread or naan for sandwiches or dipping are fun and focaccia or flatbread is easy to make on a day off. Here’s a recipe for focaccia from one of my favourite bakers.
Cheese at a maximum of four meals per week. This includes breakfasts and lunches,. So, if you like cheese in your sandwiches, think of other ways to get rich flavours at dinner. You can focus on a rich tomato sauce in a pasta dish. Sprinkle it with nutritional yeast for a flavour that is similar to cheese (it also works great for popcorn). Add more veggies to your omelette instead (or lose the cheese from the sandwich that day.)
Fish at least once a week. This has become a more expensive rule, so sometimes we miss a week. However, canned tuna-in-water for tuna melts or casserole counts can give us those Omega 3s.
More vegetarian meals than ones with meat and more healthy snacks than dessert snacks. We focus on choosing quality meats and eating them less often. Getting creative with which cuts you use is also helpful. Ground meats can be used for many dishes. Recipes from different cultures where meat has been less common in the diet have inspired me. Check out see recipes here. For snacks, we want to get past the holiday theme of cookies needing to be eaten. (Hands up if you have used that one too? I thought so.)
We have also incorporated some practical rules we try to follow to set us up for success.
• Everyone in the house has to plan their share of meals. The bigger your household, the luckier you are. Here is your chance to get the kids doing something while they watch a Youtube video.
• Everyone gets at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Going up and down the stairs at work or home does not count. This is about making a conscious effort— walk the dog, go for a hike, dance in the kitchen, use that (excercise) equipment in the basement or push play on that fitness video you saved on your phone. Once you get past the first 5 minutes, you’ll be happy you did it.
• We have a family meeting once a week to choose at least one new recipe we keep, and we relax with a few “zags” during each month. (Two to four zags per month, depending on how strict you want to be about your regime.) A zag is a time we give ourselves a treat—no guilt, no need to change any other meals. It’s a great way to enjoy special foods if we are out, or celebrating an occasion, or we see something that looks really yummy.
I hope this offers you some ideas you find worthwhile.
If you have any you’d like to share, you can always pop over to Happy Gourmand on Facebook or Instagram. I am a firm believer that helping each other stay healthy anytime is just as useful as helping in the kitchen.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.