You’ve probably heard me say it a million times before…
“Healthier doesn’t need to be harder.”
I like to find simple ways to fit healthy choices in. It’s a choice I make each day, multiple times per day.
Perhaps you can relate… if you don’t intentionally choose something “positive”, it seems as though the “negative” is right there knockin’ at your door… inviting itself in.
In the case of nutrition, if we don’t proactively choose healthy foods, taking the time to shop for them (or grow them) and prepare them, it seems that the natural default is convenience food, packaged foods, processed foods, fast foods, and a whole lotta’ toxic junk.
So, we need a plan.
I try to prepare as many family meals as possible that include a “clean” source of protein (meat, eggs, fish, etc.), a healthy source of fat (the fat within the meat or eggs, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.), and a fresh fiber (vegetables, some fruit). I’m also focusing on adding more traditionally fermented foods to our diet.
Alas, these meals are not always possible or realistic in our schedule… and, I don’t always feel like preparing this type of meal. So there.
I have a few “fall-backs” up my sleeve that I resort to on a regular basis to ensure that I’m squeezing in as much nutrition as I can for me and my family. The bonus is that these strategies can also be time-savers.
I call this my 5-S fill-in-the-gaps nutrition plan. These are some of the simple ways, in addition to healthy meals, that I make sure our overall diet is sufficient in nutrients.
1) Salads – I think salads can be spiffed up somethin’ fierce! You can easily turn a humdrum, lifeless salad into a nutrient dense thing of glory! Why settle for iceberg lettuce, some cukes and tomatoes, all slathered in toxic ranch dressing when you could thoroughly nourish yourself with “The Loaded Salad”. Drool.
When you add the veggie topping I describe in the article (your secret weapon in the veggie deal), this takes the nutritional value of a salad through the roof!
2) Soups & Stews – It’s the same idea here. You can load up a nice pot of soup or stew with a virtually endless variety of veggies and herbs that you (or your family) may not normally consume on their own. All mixed together in a slow-cooked, simmering, spiced up broth changes everything! I can’t recall any other circumstance when I can get my kids to eat turnips, onions, and garlic all in one heaping spoonful!
Even better, make your own broth. Check out the recipe I use here – it’s made with the turkey left overs from Thanksgiving, but the same idea applies for chicken broth, too.
Get creative… veggies, meat/or no meat, beans, lentils, onions, garlic, oh my. I don’t usually add much in the way of beans, rice, or noodles when I’m sticking to a more Paleo-like approach, but when I do, I’ll stick to gluten-free rice-based noodles, or brown rice, or one or two bean and lentil varieties.
3) Smoothies & Juices -Most of our weekdays include smoothies or juices. Dr. Hubby and I often have a smoothie for lunch on our workdays. The kids love these as “big snacks”. Sometimes, it’s more of a “juice” theme, with water as the base, then whatever veggies I’d like to incorporate (leafy greens, celery, etc.) sweetened with carrot and/or apple.
Most of the time, I’m whipping up smoothie concoctions. I’ll either start with water as a base, or a live, cultured, probiotic-rich drink, like Suero. Then I’ll usually add a protein powder, especially if the smoothie is going to be for a meal replacement. There are a lot of “junk food” protein powders out there, so be careful. One of the good ones is BioTrust Low-Carb Protein Blend.
There are also high quality pea and rice protein blends that work well for those looking to avoid any source of dairy. These don’t work for those following a strict Paleo approach, though! (Sometimes it’s just easier to eat a steak, for cryin’ out loud!)
I like to mix up our protein powder sources regularly, making sure they’re all the least toxic choices I can make. My pal JJ Virgin has several high-quality options available through her site. Check our her “Products & Programs” tab for more info.
Then I load up our smoothies with extra “goodies”, like blueberries, frozen spinach/kale/Swiss chard blend, coconut oil, fish oil, maybe some avocado slices… the kitchen sink… whatever I happen to be in the mood for!
When I’m making a smoothie just for myself, I add PectaSol-C (Modified Citrus Pectin) and sometimes Breast Defend. If you know my family’s cancer story, you understand why I take this proactive step.
These smoothies in S #3 start to blend into S #4… because I tend to use smoothies as a vehicle to deliver many of the supplements we take.
4) Supplements – I don’t believe we need to take handfuls of nutritional supplements every single day, generally speaking. I believe that most of our nutrients should come from healthy food that is as pure (non-toxic) as possible.
I also understand that this isn’t always realistic, both due to the toxic nature of our basic food supply, as well as limitations in our own schedules, shopping options, etc.
I like to supplement for the sake of correcting a nutritional deficiency, as opposed to taking certain vitamins because the really fit lady that works out at the gym takes them, or because I saw that doctor on television talking about them!
Really, it would be great if we could all have advanced lab work done to ascertain exactly what we’re deficient in, or where we need some re-balancing… and then choose specific supplements and products accordingly… and then get re-tested a little while later to see where we stand now. Rinse and repeat.
Again, I know that’s not always feasible.
So, some basic supplements are in order.
I think the essential fatty acids are still a biggie, especially if you’re not eating exclusively grass-fed meat, eggs, and butter, and deep cold-water fish… and, if you’re eating anything with trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or partially hydrogenated oils, or conventional toxic vegetable oils.
I’d say that probiotics are right up at the top of my list now for essential supplements to take. Again, this is even more important if you’re not regularly consuming traditionally fermented and cultured foods… or you’ve taken plenty of medications in your day… or have eaten the Standard American Diet for any length of time!
Like all other supplements, choose highest quality over lowest sticker price! You really do get what you pay for with nutritional supplements. If not, you end up with very expensive toilet water.
For those of us living in cooler climates, Vitamin D3 is still essential, particularly in the cooler months when we’re not making as much on our own. I like cod liver oil during these months as well.
Those are the basics we regularly take as a family. The rest are all very personalized depending on underlying conditions, like gut permeability or food sensitivities… or, if we’re working through a detoxification protocol, which we do several times per year.
5) Smarter Snacks – I think snack foods is an area in our diets where we can really blow it. That, and beverages.
If we’re doing our best to eat 2 or 3 healthy meals each day, but then we mindlessly chow down on whatever is convenient and available between those meals, we could be sabotaging our health.
Set yourself up for success. You know the routine – plan ahead and have healthier options on hand and readily available for those times when hunger strikes fast. If you don’t, it’s amazing how clearly you can hear vending machine and gas station food calling your name!
Chopped veggies are a classic go-to snack food. But I know they don’t always fill the gap. I like to whip up a quick batch of guacamole to dip the veggies in. It’s a healthy fat that serves to fill us up more, and helps the nutrients from the veggies to be absorbed more efficiently. We’re big hummus fans in these parts, too.
Since we don’t regularly eat crackers or chips or whatever else is commonly used for dipping or stacking with toppings, I’ve become a big fan of cucumber slices instead. We use these for our guacamole all the time. A simple substitute.
Raw nuts and seeds are great choices, too. Beyond Organic has some excellent options, if you need a little help. You don’t need to go overboard with these, however. Same thing with fruit – some is good. Too much fruit is not a good thing. It’s “God’s candy”, remember? Even though it’s a “natural” sugar, fruit is sugar-dense.
Other regulars in our snack routine are hard-boiled eggs and, you guessed it, avocado slices!
There you go. These are some of the ways I make sure I’m fueling us up with lots of nutrients on a regular basis. Anything you’d like to add to the list?