Saturday, February 15, 2014

Health Starts Here...and Now

Hi everyone,

Courtesy of Whole Foods Market
For a while now, I've been participating in healthy-eating classes and challenges at Whole Foods, P Street, run by the wonderful Healthy Eating Specialist Ebeth Johnson. These free events introduce me to new foods and easy recipes, encouraging the healthy, economical habit of cooking at home. This is just what I was looking for to expand my typical menu, which included broccoli and clam sauce over linguine, macaroni and cheese with peas, and fish sticks with edamame. 

Actually, I thought I ate pretty well with my daily bowls of Cream of Wheat, granola-bar snacks, and vegetarian meals, but these classes have opened my eyes to what I have been eating and what I should be eating. You'd be amazed by the amount of sugar hidden in seemingly healthy snacks and drinks! The challenges have shown me the difference, given me tools to keep myself in check, and provided the variety I craved in my meals. 

Since another Whole Foods 21-Day Healthy Eating & Living Challenge begins today (and continues through March 8), it's a great time for me to start posting recipes here on my blog. Look for some healthy deliciousness coming soon.  

But, first, here are the challenge rules:
  • Eat more veggies. This should be 3 cups of raw veggies and 2 cups of cooked leafy greens/green veggies every day.
  • Eat less meat. Have no more than 3 ounces of meat or fish three times a week. (This is about the size of a stack of playing cards.) An egg counts as 3 ounces of meat.
  • Get fit. Move to warm up your body and break a little sweat for at least 10 minutes every day. (Previous challenges have offered free yoga classes at local studios, and this one provides a free local gym membership for the length of the challenge.)
  • Kick bad habits. 
    • Use low-salt or no-sodium products. (Salt your foods only at the table rather than while cooking.) 
    • Cook without oil. Heat your pan and use water at first to get your veggies sizzling. (You'll know the pan is hot enough when you splash it with water and the drops look like bouncing beads.) Soon, the natural sugars in your food will allow you to cook without any of it sticking to the pan. It works!
    • Choose dairy-free alternatives. I've been using almond, coconut, hemp, and soy milks. I'm excited to try some nut-based cheeses during this challenge.
    • Be caffeine and alcohol free. This is the best opportunity for me to use up all the herbal teas in my cabinet. 
    • Tame your sweet tooth. The only allowed sweetener is (preferably raw) honey, fresh and dried fruits, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates. Be sure to check the ingredients of your juices to ensure that no refined sugars have been added. 
  • Show yourself love. Your words create your reality. Use them wisely to create a loving, nurturing environment and aura around yourself. Speak to yourself and others using positive, supportive language. 
You may think that the challenge is asking for too much change, but I've found that once you establish some good habits, such as setting aside time on Sundays to cook meals for the week, it's not very hard to keep up. This challenge aims to reset your body, diminishing toxins to create a cleaner slate. You'll be surprised by how quickly your body adjusts and how much better you feel. 

I need this challenge! Since Thanksgiving, I've had a random diet of pizza, baked sweets, candy, and (at least dairy-free) ice cream. This week, I'll start fresh! Join me if you'd like, or just follow along, enjoy the recipes, and wish me luck because I'm craving nothing but hot chocolate right now. 



Anastasia said...

great post - all the best with the Healthy eating, hope its not too hard and you feel great and see the benefits - keep at it!!

Melissa Connolly said...

So sorry for the delayed response, Anastasia, but thank you! It's going well so far! I'll be sharing recipes you can try shortly.... :-)