Last week I wrote about what to eat, with whole foods being the most important on the list. But how do you eat this way when suffering from health issues or unexplained symptoms? Here I discuss some of the easiest and most practical ways to eat a whole foods and minimally processed diet so as to optimize your health and start feeling better.
Smoothies are a relatively easy and nutritious way to start your day. They are easy to digest because everything has already been ground up, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still “chew” them. Mixing with salivary enzymes is still very important, even with liquified foods. Throw in some plant-based milk and/or yoghurt, half an avocado for a thickened texture, whatever protein powder takes your fancy, some low GI frozen fruit like berries, and away you go! If you take any supplements, get them in a powder form and throw them in too. Much nicer than taking capsules throughout the day.
If you don’t like to drink your meals, then switch to a smoothie bowl rather than a basic smoothie. Remove a little of the milk so as to thicken the texture of the smoothie base, and then add to a bowl with some delicious toppings. My favourites are goji berries, cacao nibs, hemp seeds and baked coconut flakes with cinnamon.
ONE PAN MEALS
I love love love one pan meals! They are so easy and delicious and require minimal prep. Throw in a couple of eggs, a slab of tofu or a fillet of wild-caught salmon, add some no-prep veggies like broccolini, button mushrooms & cherry tomatoes, and finish off with some seasoning. Yum! If you’re feeling more energetic and have more time on your hands, then feel free to add other veggies that require prep like zucchini slices or kale chips. Make sure you’re not using oils that easily oxidize like extra virgin olive oil, but instead use heartier oils like coconut or avocado.
PRE-CHOPPED SALAD/STIR FRY
Salad is one of my favourite things to eat, but it also takes a huge amount of time to make a good one. If you’re low on energy or time, then you can do one of two things. First, you can do a bulk food prep once per week so that you’re good to go for the rest of the week. Use glass containers for each salad item or vegetable so that you’re ready to quickly throw a meal together whenever you need to. For salads you can also add a can of wild-caught salmon or maybe some tempeh, and then pour a simple but yummy home-made dressing over the top. For stir-fries I like to use coconut aminos with fresh garlic, ginger and chilli in my sauce, and you can even add some bone broth for flavour and added protein. Second, buy pre-copped salads or stir fry veggies from a supermarket. This is not my preferred option, but it is definitely better than buying heavily processed foods.
It’s often time-consuming to prep and cook animal protein, so here are my favourite ways to avoid the effort on days that I’m feeling particularly low on energy. Buy chicken breasts with the skin on, put them in a high-sided frypan with lots of coconut oil, and then just let them cook on medium-low heat until very brown and flip them until brown on the other side. The other option is to buy mincemeat, my favourite is a mix of chicken and pork, but it can really be any type of meat you like. Throw it into a frypan, mash it up a bit with a wooden spoon and then just let it cook with the lid on. Add seasoning to taste. Easy :-)
Nuts are my go-to snack because they are nutritious and require no prep. They are sometimes difficult to digest though, so make sure you thoroughly chew them and/or make or buy soaked nuts. Another favourite is coconut yoghurt – try sticking to a natural flavour to avoid any sweeteners and buy a brand that has a high number of probiotic colonies to optimize your gut microbiome.
How about hummus with seed crackers? Yum :-) If you’re OK with chickpeas then there are some store-bought options that have minimal ingredients, but if you’re like me and don’t do well with chickpeas then you can make an artichoke hummus at home. I buy seed crackers from the supermarket or chop up carrot sticks at home and hey presto! A delicious snack waiting for me in the fridge whenever I’m peckish.
These are definitely not an everyday thing, but they’re great to have in the cupboard for those days that you literally do not have the time or energy to cook. Make sure you go for a low sugar, low sodium brand, and look for the soup pouches rather than cans. Pouches usually mean the soup is fresher, which means there is less processing and fewer additives required.
If any of this resonates with you and you'd like to chat some more, please leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like my Inflammation Transformation Recipe E-book, then please click on the link to download your free copy.
In health and wellness,