One of my favorite healthy eating & food reads is Michael Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. It's quick, insightful and full of reminders about how we could improve our eating habits. Some tips are more basic, some may resonate with you more than others, and some may really surprise you. It's a wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in embarking on a more whole-food way of eating in a simple and practical sense.
Shop well, cook well, eat well.
Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual is a straightforward base of healthy eating inspiration to start some conversations with yourself and your family. The rules in this book apply both at the grocery store and in your kitchen. Think of it as a friendly little voice reminding me of a few key rules that REALLY matter in the long run!
I purchased a copy of the book, read it the same day and passed it on to a friend shortly after. Spread the good food love!
Conversations about Food, Real Food + Health
What can I do to improve the way I'm eating now? What rules can I implement progressively in the future? I like structure when it comes to the basics that keep my body and mind going. That said, we're all human so please please please, give yourself a break. Remember that quality & source matters. A homemade maple syrup & fruit sweetened chocolate cupcake is a lot different than a processed, preservative laden, store-bought cake. I feel the best I ever have in my life but I still eat tasty vegan treats and homemade pizza without batting an eye. Quality & ingredients matter.
Small, healthy habits make a difference
Improving and maintaining your health is a process, a commitment; it requires effort on a daily basis. Small efforts add up to big change too. Drink a big glass of water first thing when you wake up, 30 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis, etc.
I've seen the effects of that in my own life over the past few years. Building, living and traveling in our bus slowly stripped our day to day down to the basics. It illuminated a lot of areas that needed work and for that I'm really thankful.
On the other side of this, negative unhealthy behavior can have the same cumulative effect. Before 2016, I definitely drank more than I should have, I said yes to foods I knew would make me feel bloated, phlegmy or just bad about myself the day after. I hit a breaking point late that year and made some big changes, getting back to basics and working up from there.
GOOD FOOD + QUALITY SLEEP + 30 MINUTES ACTIVITY DAILY + LOTS OF WATER
Honor what works for YOU
Pollan breaks down the food world into manageable, tangible rules to live by and use as a guide when we're making choices about food purchases, preparation, and consumption. When people ask me where to start with their quest for healthier eating, well, I can't recommend this book highly enough!
There are groups of rules in the book that will stick out to you more based on where you're at in your health & wellness journey and what you're looking to accomplish. There is something to guide and help just about everyone.
Here are the 7 rules that resonated most with me and I LOVE to live by them:
"Avoid food products that contain more than 5 ingredients." This is an every day all day rule for me. Sticking to it in the grocery store will not only save you money, but will work to completely change the way you eat. If you can't purchase processed foods with a laundry list of ingredients in them, you won't have them available to you at home, and you won't eat them. I choose instead to dream up homemade ways to create satisfying snacks and treats at home, or opting for simpler things like fruit.
"Avoid food products with the wordoid "lite" or the terms "low-fat" or "nonfat" in their names." This one sounds counterintuitive, but the removal of fat in food products doesn't automatically make them healthy. The idea that it's been processed to have the natural fats removed should be a clue that this isn't something you want to be eating. Usually these fats have been replaced with high levels of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Fats are not our enemy! There are plenty of sources of GOOD, high quality fats in a balanced, whole food diet that our body needs to process vitamins. Think avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish.
"Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature." I love this one! REALLY think about it, and try to do this today. It's a fun challenge that makes you reassess what you're eating, and perhaps do a little research into it's natural state, can't find it? Well, you may not want to eat it. I recently searched chia, spirulina, cashews to get a better understanding of their natural state.
"Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself." This ties into #1 above. I LOVE sweets, but I don't love what the junk food manufacturers throw into store bought products. Make it yourself! Your body (and wallet!) will thank you. You may also find you're not eating sweets or snacks as often because you have to make it yourself. Win win.
"Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored." Listen to your body and your mind, not just the latter. Listening to the physical signs of hunger to cue when to eat helps us to eat mindfully rather than mindlessly. Challenge yourself to wait, listen, and become in tune with your gut!
"Cook." That's it. I don't want to hear from ANYONE that you can't cook. You absolutely can, we all can. It's worth the work and it doesn't have to take more than an hour a day to create great things. It's all about how you approach it. Prepare, put some music on, involve your partner or family, make it a fun experience.
"The banquet is in the first bite." All of these rules combine to create (as my Dad used to say) "Food that makes you go, WOW!" Real food, fuel for your body and mind, sustained energy, a delicious experience, a memory, so much wonderful positive potential in the very first bite! Enjoy it.
Where do I start?! Staple dinner idea/thoughts...
Breakfast pretty much stays the same on a daily basis. We start with a green smoothie, water and coffee then we'll make a protein/fruit oatmeal. Lunch is typically leftovers turned into a wrap or sandwich, nothing glamorous.
Dinner is where the magic happens. I try to make dinners that are healthy, satisfying and special but also only take 30 minutes or less to make. We have a life too! My suggestion to you if you feel like you don't have time to improve your eating game during your busy week/life is to pick a few STAPLE MEALS that you can change up and keep interesting with different ingredients.
Let's start with burritos. Soak in the basics and modify flavors, veggie and protein combos to your heart's content. We're sticking to Pollan's food rules here, keep it simple and delicious!
Staple Ingredient Shopping List:
- Tortillas/wraps (flour, brown rice, lavash - look for an option without hydrogenated oils) try your best to stick to the 5 ingredient rule, but... if you can pronounce/picture everything, you're in the clear.
- Rice (jasmine, red, brown, basmati, short grain, ANY) my tip here is to add 1 tbs. of Better than Bouillon vegetable or mushroom broth to the water while cooking the rice (purchase at any store near in the soup aisle). So so good.
- Beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, kidney - stock up on a variety of canned beans for quick & easy use). Drain, add a bit of water and heat over medium high & don't forget to add homemade taco seasoning (recipe below!).
- Veggies (peppers, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, avocado it's all good. Mix up cooked & fresh)
- Salsa (homemade is the best but for quick & easy meals, stock up on a few jars, I love Newman's Own organic -- it's simple, delicious and inexpensive)
- Raw Cashews for vegan sour cream! (soak 1 cup of cashews in water overnight. Drain and blend with ¼ cup water, 1 tsp. nutritional yeast, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tbs. lemon juice, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar and ½ tsp. dijon mustard - salt & pepper to taste)
- SPICES for homemade taco seasoning! = chili powder, cumin, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, paprika. MIX 1 tbs. chili powder + ¼ tsp. each of: garlic, onion, oregano, paprika. Add 1 ½ tsp. cumin and 1 tsp salt. Done.
Aim to make enough filling for dinner ritos + lunch the next day. Food prep possibilities! Always circle back to saving money, right? 🙂
Fill the bottom ⅓ of the tortilla with rice, beans and a mix of sautéed and fresh veggies. Season every layer, taco seasoning, fresh herbs. Add sliced avocado, salsa, vegan sour cream (recipe above), sprinkle roasted sunflower seeds, hemp seeds or nutritional yeast. The options are endless.
Fold the left and right sides in toward the filling. Lift the bottom up and over the filling, tuck and roll your burrito. It doesn't have to be pretty because it's wicked delicious. Wrap leftover burritos Chipotle-style or add a layer of parchment inside if you don't want your food touching foil.
The ingredients above can be used in a buddha bowl style dish sans tortilla, tacos, etc.
Would you like more inspiration/recommendations from our bus kitchen?
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