I feel like I’m always saying I’ll keep up with regular blogging about the goings on in Lishy’s Kitchen and I’m good about it for a few months (weeks?) and then life gets the better of me, somehow and I stop.
At the suggestion of my good friend, Michele from the Sweet Escape Bakery blog, I’m giving it another go.
My goals as of late are not just to be good about making healthy food, using local produce and buying groceries from small co-op or local retailer. I am also trying to live a healthier lifestyle, save money and be more responsible about what I put in my face.
This is difficult when work has been busy like I have been experiencing over the past few weeks. I have had a few 50-60 hour weeks since the semester started and while I think that is totally normal for the first few weeks of the term, I have been put to the ultimate test by having some travel, family issues and other complications arise. Yet still, I have tried to be committed about getting to the gym and eating right.
The number one problem I have with busy work schedules is the lack of time I have to go to the gym and get the necessary movement in my day and my desire for convenience food when I do have a long day. So, over the past few weeks, I have devised a plan to deal with busy times and still stay on my healthy lifestyle mission that has been working for me.
1.) Make meals in advance: When I get my CSA for the week, I try to get everything sorted and cleaned right away and save more of the heavy lifting for the weekend. Over the weekend, I make all of the food we are going to eat at once. I make 4-5 meals that can be versatile and taken for lunch or just reheated for dinner with minimal prep. Cam likes raw green beans for a snack, I like hummus and carrot chips, so I make all of that in advance and portion it out so we can just grab and go. With a panoply of options to choose from on any given night, we don’t get sick of it and if it’s a versatile food item, it can be eaten different ways. For example, if I make a spicy black bean, corn, pepper and tomato mixture it can be put in a wrap with lettuce and guac served cold for lunch, warmed up with brown rice in a ramekin, spooned over tortilla chips with salsa, or served with eggs and salsa as a take on huevos rancheros. It’s all the same base, but it can work different ways so it’s less likely that we will get sick of it before the end of the week.
This everything-all-at-once approach is also helpful for the time it saves during the week. If I am not making dinner every night when I get home, but can instead prep something pre-made in about 15 minutes, it frees up time for the gym. I save at least 30 minutes every night by doing this and while 30 minutes on its own is not necessarily enough time for a good workout, it can be enough to make the difference between going to the gym at all or not.
2.) Use high quality, lower-calorie versions of the things you crave: I have recently discovered PB2 and as I dyed-in-the-wool peanut butter lover, I was skeptical of its functionality as a lower-calorie peanut butter product. Well, friends. I’ll have you know that it is sensational. I am amazed at how much it can behave just like peanut butter but with about 85% less fat and calories than the usual stuff. The best part is that it’s not some crazy chemical compound modified in a lab to make it taste a certain way. The ingredient list contains 3 items: roasted peanuts, sugar, salt. That’s how I want my PB, friends. Just add water. I have found that this is a great substitute for the usual variety. Stay tuned for one of my most popular recipes among friends and family (coconut squash curry) made a bit more waistline-friendly thanks to this little discovery and a skinny Elvis banana bread recipe made with the chocolate-PB flavored version. They are both husband tested and approved.
Another great discovery I had over the summer is Daiya vegan cheese shreds. They are amazing. Throw out any conception you had about non-dairy “cheese” because Daiya does not fit the mold. At only 90 calories for a 1/4 cup, it’s worth it. The pepperjack is my hands down favorite, but they are all good. If you want a real cheese experience of cutting from a big block and letting an aged, sharp cheddar melt in your mouth, this is not for you. However, if you want an approximation of a cheese experience for a fraction of the calories, Daiya is the best choice for cooking, baking, or just topping something and melting. The black bean mixture referenced above? Another option is to make a burrito with lettuce and Daiya.
3.) Eat a good lunch: I was finding for awhile that I would forget or skip lunch during the day–getting by on a handful of almonds and an afternoon coffee–but by the time I got home willpower was fantasy. I tried to eat healthy things, but I would have a tendency to eat too much. So, I have made a militant practice of making a good lunch for myself every day. I usually pack a series of snack-like items (e.g. celery sticks and PB2) because I don’t always have a block of time during the day to sit and eat a full meal. Also, I am a bit of a grazer, so instead of having a drawer full of snacks in my office that I just graze at during the day, I portion out a lunch the night before that I need to grab as I dash out the door in the morning. If I am staying satiated during the day, I tend to eat consistently well throughout the day, have more control over what I’m eating and avoid dumping too many calories into my system at once.
These are all steps I am learning on the way to getting better about being the busy lady I am while keeping my health and fitness in check. It’s leading up to a bigger goal. I had my 29th birthday over the summer. Every year I give myself something–it’s more New Years’ Resolution-y giving than it is like a gift in the traditional sense. This year I realized that my weight has fluctuated during my 20s and I can’t seem to consistently get to a point where I want to be and stay there. So, my gift for my 29th year to myself is to solidify certain practices that help me stay healthy and active, and for my 30th birthday I have a very special dress that I would like to wear to celebrate.
More on the road to 30 later, but over the next year, in addition to the vegetarian/vegan recipes we have all come to love, I will be be blogging a bit about my journey to 30.