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Five tips to transtition to a healthier diet

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Lots of people have been asking me recently about transitioning into a vegetarian diet or even introducing more healthy options into their daily food routine.

My children are not one hundred per cent vegetarian but they do eat a diet very high in fruits and vegetables and low in animal products.  They also eat a diet wide in variety, full of wholefoods and very low in processed junk.

Here are my top five tips:

Meal Planning I’m not going to tell you to sit down every Sunday night and plan out every meal for the week ahead.  This method just seems to lack spontaneity and is a little rigid for me. A good way to create meal plans however is start you week by opening the fridge and seeing what needs to be eaten. Then, using these ingredients, plan a few basic meals. If you need to buy more fresh produce for the recipes you now have in mind, jot them down on your shopping list.  From there, the list of meals and snacks can goes up on the kitchen wall and the shopping list can goes in your handbag.  This system minimises waste and also helps reduce shopping bills.

To give you a better picture of what this might look like, here is my list from last week:

  • Banana and frozen mango smoothies with spirulina powder
  • Vegan lasagne
  • Pesto (for pasta or on potatoes as well as for use in the lasagne)
  • Zucchini fritters with tomato salsa (from the Farmers Market)
  • Apple cake
  • Baked apples
  • Baked veggies in ‘cheese’ (can be dairy free) sauce with breadcrumb and walnut  crunch topping
  • Hearty minestrone soup
  • Homemade pesto and olive bread

With these base recipes in mind, other bits and pieces can be added to turn them into a full meal.  Dips such as houmous and guacamole served with healthy crackers or bread are a great accompaniment to any table, as is a salad.

To help you keep in touch with which fruits and veggies are in season, Anais Taylor has designed a beautiful calendar called “Seasonal Produce Calander”.

Keep this, or something similar, in your kitchen to ensure your recipes are packed with fresh, seasonal veggies.

Make more than you need While I’m not a huge fan of freezing food,  sometimes cooking more than you need is a great idea as it can be reinvented the next day. For example, a big batch of dhal can be used the next day with a few additions as the base for fried patties or fritters. Similarly, a clever cook will use left-over tomato based pasta sauce to form the foundation of tomorrow night’s minestrone soup or pizza base.

Start the day with protein This tip came from my good friend Meagan Wilson who blogs at www.thiswholefamily.com.

Megan noticed that if she gives her children a high protein breakfast they have much more balanced energy levels during the day and tend to ask less for sweet treats.  Here are some great high protein options for breakfast to help keep you and the kids away from the cookie jar:

  • Homous on toast (try to use high fibre, good grain bread)
  • Baked beans on toast
  •  Quinoa porridge
  •  Eggs in any form (Free-range are best)
  •  Smoothie with protein powder
  •  Toast with nut butter or crackers with nut butter
  •  Tamari almond ‘trail mix’ (this can be home-made or purchased)
  •  Muesli with lots of nuts.

Healthy Treats There’s nothing wrong with a chocolaty treat here and there, but for a healthier option, try these:

  •    Homemade cake or muffin
  •    Dates or dried apricots
  •    Dried apple
  •    Bliss balls (dates, nuts, coconut etc. blended and rolled up into a ball)
  •    Blended frozen banana with cashews and maple syrup (with a really good
    blender, this treat is just as good as ice-cream)
  •    Home-made Ice-poles made with blended fruit or real juice. Spirulina powder
    can also be added for an extra protein hit.
  •    A fruit smoothie.

Finally, pay your local food co-ops and farmers market’s a visit. You’ll not only be supporting local community, you’ll be reducing your consumption of packaging and getting great local, fresh and ethically sourced produce.

What are your tips for eating healthier?

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Katie Manitsas - to view all of Katie's blog post click here

Katie is the director of Jivamukti Yoga Sydney. She was the first certified Advanced Jivamukti Yoga teacher in Australia, and has also studied extensively with the Wise Earth School of Ayurveda and is a qualified Kundalini Yoga teacher. Katie is a writer for various publications and has had three books published 'Spiritual Survival and the City', 'Yoga Off the Mat' and 'The Yoga of Birth'. She also completed training as a doula in 2009 and is mother to five-year-old Christos and two-year-old Ziggy who was born at home.

Website: http://www.jivamuktiyoga.com.au

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