Diet, woah! One word you never thought I would use, huh? What I am referring to is the selection of foods you choose in terms of quality and composition. Nowhere in that definition is there any mention of removing an entire food group or limiting the amount of food you consume. In fact, I promote the opposite. Eat all you want, when you want, because that is what your body is commanding you to do
Your body is greedy, it wants everything. When you give it nutrients, it takes them and makes use of them. When you give it fat, salt, and sugar, it takes those and stores them away to be enjoyed at a later date. So, no matter what you consume, your body will keep on working and doing its thing of being unstoppable at keeping you alive. You may be alive, but what about your quality of life? Now we both know that you can get by just living, or you can choose to focus a bit more on your diet and thrive!
What is the best way to thrive? Eat real, whole foods. Ignore all the scaremongering that is out there about carbs, fat, and whatever else you have heard. You have no need to be afraid of any kind of food. I have encountered clients who are fearful of eating just about everything because at some point in their life either a person, a TV show, or a book told them it was “bad.”
Fear and guilt are some of the strongest emotions you can experience. If you have an association of fear or guilt with a specific food, you may have a physical as well as a mental reaction when you are presented with that choice at a dinner party. It may sound ridiculous to some, but to many it is an everyday struggle. Do not fear food! Embrace it, love it! Food is fuel, it is delicious, and it is fun! Thriving in life involves not only eating real foods, but enjoying them along the way.
Ideally, we would always follow this motto penned by Michael Pollan, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” I try to stay away from packaged products as much as possible, but I am no robot. Life happens and so do dinners consisting exclusively of crackers and cheese (and wine of course.) But, for the most part, I make it a priority to eat well and be curious about where my food comes from and I encourage you to do the same.
The take home message is this: make the best choices given your situation. You can only do your best each time you are given an opportunity. Every day, every minute, your best will be different. It is ever-changing with the landscape of life. Don’t hum and haw over whether or not you should eat a conventionally grown apple versus nothing at all. Eat the apple! Rinse it in vinegar and water and munch on it.
By incorporating more plants and less packaged food into your life, you will feel the shift from simply surviving your days to thriving through each one!
Plant-Packed Tomato Sauce
One way I ensure I am consuming enough fresh foods is by just adding them into some of my favourite recipes. Most meals at my house are in some spicy, saucy form chock-full of veg that has been stir-fried or steamed and tossed in. I do eat meat, but try to limit my consumption so I usually swap out mince for brown lentils or another kind of bean. On my good weeks I pressure cook my beans, but most of the time, I buy organic canned lentils and beans and rinse them until the water runs clean and doesn’t bubble or fizz as it runs over the beans.
These ingredients are also foods I keep stocked in my fridge every week so there is not any specific prescription as to why you should use ½ a capsicum instead of a whole one, other than the fact that I use capsicum in most of my meals and it is unlikely you will find a whole pepper in my fridge past Sunday evening of any given week. Now, I am no trained chef, and often just eyeball off the amount for a recipe so feel free to adjust this to suit your tastes, what is available in your fridge, and for the number of people you want to serve.
Here is one of my go-to’s for any day of the week.
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1/2 yellow capsicum, diced
1 head of broccoli (stalks, stems, and all!), sliced into small pieces
1 can brown lentils, drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 cup bone broth (you can totally use water if you don’t have broth or stock on hand)
1 jar passata
Small jar tomato paste
Any herbs you like!
Begin by cutting up the onions and garlic.
Begin to sauté the onions and garlic. While they are browning, cut up the capsicum, and add them to the wok or skillet. As those are all softening in the pan, chop up your broccoli. Pour in your stock and then add in the broccoli, allowing all the harder vegetables to cook. Pour in the passata and scoop out the tomato paste. Stir well. This is the point I like to season the dish. Mostly because it takes time for everything to cook and I get impatient. I throw in lots of oregano, and smaller dashes of thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. If I have fresh basil on hand, I usually keep it until the end to pop on top instead of stirring throughout the dish. Once the carrots and broccoli have begun to soften you can add in the lentils and chickpeas. Make sure to stir them around so everything gets all mixed in. You may want to do another round of seasoning to fit your tastes.
The key step here is to allow your sauce to simmer and reduce until you get the consistency desired. You can always simmer for just a few minutes if you like your sauce thin, but I prefer a thick, chunky sauce myself so I allow this to just hang out on the stove top without a lid on (you will need to wipe down every surface surrounding your stove afterwards) for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, you can be cooking or heating up whatever you are going to dump this sauce all over. My favourites include quinoa, chickpea pasta, and the best-spaghetti squash! You can find spaghetti squash at Harris Farms (and your local farmer’s market) and it is yellow and oblong, ranging in the size of a wallet to a small watermelon.
Whatever your choice, know that you have a healthy, hearty and warm dish ready to go on top! Filling yourself up with fibre from plants and legumes will keep you fuller longer and provide you with energy to get through your day!
To discover more recipes for find out more about working with Marissa through Health Coaching, check out her website marissaneedles.com