When we think of healthy meals, we might think of superfoods like goji berries, or different diets that promise long-lasting health. Or, we might think of the costs and time that goes into creating healthy meals on a daily basis. In short, healthy cooking may sometimes seem complicated and difficult.
But it doesn’t have to be.
A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet includes foods that are natural, seasonal, fresh, nutritious, clean, tasty, and appealing.
“Natural” foods are as close as possible to the gardens, fields, and orchards from which they came. “Seasonal” foods are readily available and locally grown. We need different types of nutrients at different times of the year, and seasonal foods provide us with exactly what we need when we need them. Nutritious foods are packed with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.
“Clean” foods are chemical-free and have been carefully washed and stored. The appeal and tastefulness of food refer to the enjoyment food gives to our senses of sight, smell, and taste. Having a colorful diet ensures that you are receiving a broad spectrum of different nutrients.
Variety and rotation in your diet is also important. In order to avoid nutrient deficiency, strive to include lots of different food types in your diet. Rotation simply means not eating the same foods all the time. Try not to repeat the same meals and foods too often. This would ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
Moderation is another key component of any healthy meal or diet. This means both not eating too much at a time, and not eating too much of a certain food or nutrient at a time. Overeating, in general, can lead to a host of health problems, both physical and psychological. Overeating specific foods can lead to improper dietary balance. In whatever you eat or drink, strive for moderation.
A Couple of Quick Tips
Here are some time-saving tips for making healthy meals easier and quicker.
- Take care of your cooking utensils. Always keep them clean, sharp, and ready to use! If you have electronic appliances that you’re not totally familiar with, learn how to put them to good use. My InstantPot can save me time—but only if I know how to use it properly, and take good care of it.
- Plan ahead. I think we all know this, but having an idea for what meals to cook, and then writing shopping lists that match them, saves a lot of time.
- Keep a list of healthy recipes on hand. I have a few thick cookbooks in my kitchen filled with nutritious recipes for many kinds of diets and from many different cultures.
- Cook the food that takes the longest to cook first. As those dishes are cooking, start to prepare and cook the easier, quicker-cooking foods. For example, I would prepare everything for a soup, get that cooking, then turn to cutting up greens for salads and such.
A Bonus Recipe
As a bonus, here’s a hearty, healthy dish to try out soon.
This Vegetable and Bean Soup is perfect for cooler weather. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, uses lots of in-season vegetables, and warms you up.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 1 Hour
– 1 Cup Black-Eyed Peas, cooked
– 1 Cup Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans, cooked
– 8 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
– 4 Celery Stocks
– Half a head of cabbage, chopped into small pieces
– 2 Small Tomatoes
– 3 cups of Kale
– 2 cups of Mushrooms
– 4 Large Carrots
– 2 large Red Onions
– 1 Teaspoon Ginger (freshly minced or ground)
– 4 Garlic Cloves, diced
– 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
– Pinch of Salt and Pepper
Warm the coconut oil in a large saucepan, and cook the diced onions and garlic until tender.
Add the chopped carrots, celery, and a few pinches of salt to the saucepan and sauté for 15 minutes.
In a large pot, add the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, and sautéed vegetables. Cook on medium-high heat for about 45 minutes.
Now add the chopped kale, chopped mushrooms, and cabbage, and cook on medium heat for another half-hour.
Add salt and pepper to your liking.
Enjoy this nourishing soup with loved ones!