Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eating Healthy can be Easy

My daughter Lily and my son Chef Skylar show off how they like to make smoothies! And everyone enjoys them!

Today I received an email from a family member who is concerned as their family is suffering from serious health problems. They wanted to know of any good books that had advice on eating. There are so many now but honestly I think the easiest and most entertaining way to take in information is videos/movies. So I recommend watching these interesting movies. Here is a link to a list of them.

Top Food Movies

You don't have to buy these movies - most are available from Netflix. They are all fascinating, but my favorites were:

Food Matters

Food Inc.

Vegan Gal

Or if you watch more TV than movies, check out Dr. Oz's show. He does a lot of features on eating a varied and healthy diet.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be intimidating. It should be fun, interesting, and exciting! Whether you are trying to cut back on meat consumption, or become completely vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of healthy foods you will like. There are so many specialized products out there now, for people who are diabetic, sensitive to gluten, or dairy. In our family, no one seems to be sensitive, but I know that nationwide all of these are common issue. Now at regular grocery stores like Safeway, Walmart, and Target you can find lots of items labeled for your convenience. They are making it easier with storewide labeling systems, rather than relying on the items packaging. I think this is more common and will continue. Most grocery stores are expanding that aspect, along with their organic program. I think it is also important to look online for the products and then ask you grocer to carry them. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so to speak.

But with any sensitivity, the important thing to remember is that you are not only trying to SUBTRACT those things from your diet, but you need to ADD healthy, vitamin rich fresh, raw foods to your diet, in order to have the necessary enzymes for your body to be healthy. Juicing is great for this- any fruit or vegetable will work if you have a good juicer. I recommend Champion.

If you are a salad lover (and I am) then it is easy to make that for some of your meals. Some of my salads recently...

My husband likes salads too; here is one he made with vegetarian chicken substitute on top...

I think the easiest thing a person can do to change their diet to include more fresh things is to make a smoothie every day for breakfast, and maybe for a snack as well. There are TONS of recipes out there, but really you don't need them. I buy bananas, strawberries and any other fruit and if I can't use them fast enough, I freeze them. I keep frozen blueberries in my freezer all the time, and when I make smoothies I never use recipes. I just put in a couple of bananas, some liquid (can be juice or a milk substitute) and whatever other fruit I feel like. Sometimes I add some yogurt. Sometimes I add some ice cubes if I am not using any frozen fruit and I want a cold smoothie. And that is it. You have an instant nutritious meal or snack.

Lily and Sky with strawberry - banana smoothies...

I have been doing this for years for my kids and they love it. It is so simple that they can pick out the ingredients and it always tastes good. Just throw some fruits in there and blend! If it isn't sweet enough for you, simply add a squirt of RAW honey or maple syrup or agave, or a couple of dates, or some apple juice. Here are a few of our favorites:

Banana, Blueberry, Almond (or Soy) Milk

Banana, Strawberry, Almond (or Soy) Milk

Banana, Strawberry, Blueberry, Almond (or Soy) Milk

Banana, Dates, Almond (or Soy) Milk

In terms of all the vast array of almond milk out there, my husband (who used to be a huge milk drinker until he watched vegan gal) feels that UNSWEETENED RICE DREAM makes the closest milk substitute for cereal, etc, (as it is thinner and not sweet). Yet for drinking alone, or with cookies, etc, he likes the VANILLA ALMOND SILK (very thick and sweet). All of these are now available at every major grocery store as well as Walmart and Target.

If you have a really good blender, you can throw in a handful of raw (not roasted and salted!) walnuts or almonds and you will never notice a difference but you will get the health benefits. I had been reading so many articles and blogs about "green smoothies" and I finally got brave enough to try it, and the kids liked it! This basically means you are making a regular smoothie, but you throw in some RAW spinach or RAW Kale, or parsley or other greens. It really sounds disgusting, but I swear it works!

My family (with all 4 kids) was at Sam's Club recently and the Vitamix company was their doing a demo with their amazing blenders. I have owned a Vitamix (which is essentially a super powerful blender that can blend almost anything into a liquid - and can grind flour) for 10 years, but as we walked by and they handed all of us samples of "ice cream" they had made in the vitamix in a few seconds, I was shocked. It was a deep purple color and truly delicious! I asked what was in it and was very surprised to hear: "frozen bananas, spinach, kale, blueberries, strawberries..." but I went home and tried it and now I make it all the time without any recipes - it is always an experiment.
Even baby Sofia loves it!

Once in a while I have to add some raw honey or some dates because it isn't quite sweet enough, but this process has changed my idea of what healthy eating is. Keeping frozen bananas in the freezer is essential - I peel them and wrap them in plastic, then freeze them - as this is the easiest way and they never turn brown.

Healthy food is colorful. If you are eating mostly white foods (white bread, processed potato products, white pasta, white sugar, you likely at risk for diabetes or cancer at some point. I always start by telling my children to eat as many colors as possible!

I am someone who always thought I ate healthy (and I did- in terms of comparison to the average person). But when my husband and I watched the documentary Food Matters,
it really amazed me to hear that the human body needs to have at the very least 51% raw food in order to create health in the body. It said that if you eat even 51 % COOKED (not raw) food, then your body treats the cooked food like a toxin and begins sending out white blood cells, which runs down your body. However, if you eat at least 51% RAW food, the body starts healing itself. I immediately tried to implement this in our family, and fortunately with the smoothies it is possible.

We also started putting salads on our kids plates (next to the entree I had made) and just telling them that they had to eat that too, in addition to the vegetables that were already there. I think they grumbled the first day, but now they are used to it. But... I found that what worked even better was putting little bowls with raw veggies like baby carrots, snap peas in the pods, cucumber slices, radish slices, red pepper slices, or avocado slices on the table before I served everyone was the easiest way (besides the smoothies) to get everyone to eat more raw.

When you are hungry you grab what is in front of you, and surprisingly my family wasn't even asking for salad dressing or dip to use! They were just crunching away on naturally delicious veggies! You honestly cannot taste the true flavor when they are dipped in onion and garlic laden dressings anyway (so most kids don't even know that peppers are sweet until they try them!)

If you keep in mind eating in color it can be fun to try so many new things.... you may have thought you knew what they tasted like, but trying them without dressing is a new experience! And every new experience can lead to more good things!
Skylar and Alexis eating carrots from our garden!