Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy {Part III}: A Simple Meal Plan

Alright, my busy friends, I thought it would be a fitting way to close out this series on “Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy” by laying out one of our family’s simple meal plans to help give you some inspiring ideas. So the following is our REAL TIME meal plan that I used for this last week, I didn’t just make it up. This worked for us – it was super simple and affordable. Enjoy! I hope you glean some ideas.

It’s very important to me to not make a huge mess every time I make a meal. Especially since I make pretty much every single meal from scratch in my tiny little kitchen. So all of the following tips take very little assembly, and most of them contain elements that I prepare ahead of time.

You’ve read in my previous posts I little tiny bit about how I prepare ahead of time, and I use a lot of no-cook recipes in my meal plans (you know we love our smoothies!) This really does keep my stress levels low, I have enough things to keep me busy during the day. And it just so happens that this low stress meal plan also does my body lots of favors and is serving our family very well! So I’m sharing it with you! Certainly not because I am an expert, but because if I were you, I’d be interested in getting some ideas, so here goes!

This is only one week’s worth of meal ideas, in real time with what’s in our kitchen right now! Next week will be a little different, of course. We eat a huge variety of produce and prepare a wide variety of foods, so this is what one of our simple weeks looks like. It’s the week before Christmas, so we need meals to be low stress, streamlined, and still perfectly nutritious.

This Week’s Meal Plan

6AM*

(*times are always approximate, we eat when we are hungry, but to help break it down for us, I list times of day)
  • img_8931 A warm glass or jar of water with fresh lemon and apple cider vinegar.

(Click Here to get a free bottle of Thrive Market Apple Cider Vinegar + 30 day trial for only $1.95 shipping! Existing members can receive a free bottle with any offer over $50.

 

8AM 

The Family can choose from Raw Soaked Oats with banana milk (A banana and water blended to a milk-like consistency. Add a vanilla protein powder if you wish, it’s so good!), a Smoothie of Fruit and Greens, or a Melon. Melons are very hydrating and should be consumed alone, not combined with other foods if you adhere to some of the principles of proper food combining – see this for a very brief explanation: Healthy Food Combining. (other weeks we have different fruits to choose from, it’s not always melons).

My omnivore husband (who is taking steps toward being more and more plant-based, of his own accord) still eats eggs occasionally, farm fresh from free range chickens.

We also take our supplements at this time, which are very simple, I take these highly absorbable forms of vegan vitamin D3 and B12. img_8952Baby, who is still regularly breastfeeding, takes an infant vitamin D and my preschooler takes a whole foods multivitamin to ensure his bases are covered.

 

10:30-11:30AM

The Smoothie. I don’t know why, but this is my favorite time to have a smoothie. I pack it with raw fresh greens or This Raw Greens Powder because it is absolutely the best, bananas, and berries or an apple… sometimes I go crazy with all the produce… Ahhh I want one right now, I don’t care what time it is. Oh! And I throw in some chia, pumpkin, or hemp seeds usually as well, or a raw vegan protein powder like this one by SunWarrior. My kids always join me for smoothie time – however, I usually don’t add the extras for the baby, I’ll pour some of the fruit and greens blend out for her before adding any nuts or protein powders. Seriously SO stress-free and takes just a couple of minute to assemble one of these bad boys.

If we are not home at this time, this is also the perfect take-along. I blend it ahead of time and bring it with me in a jar or in my hydro flask.

Fresh cut or whole fruit is also PERFECT any time in the morning. Fruit is best digested alone and in the first part of the day. (following this tip has helped me so much!) The kids ALWAYS love fresh fruit and ask for it.

These options are also incredible Post-Workout! I love a smoothie or cut fruit right after I hit the gym.

 

1:30-2:30PM

Lunch has been pretty late these days, and it’s very casual! This week we enjoyed some sandwiches on sprouted bread – we choose the Ezekiel 4:9 brand (this wouldn’t work if you have a gluten sensitivity, however, it does digest well for us. (conventional bread does not, and even some gluten free bread does not digest well for us either, considering most brands are usually still loaded with additives.) My son likes his sprouted bread with almond butter and organic fruit spread, and this week I also baked thinly sliced organic tofu to act as a “lunch meat” and loaded my sandwich up with fresh veggies and fresh guacamole (guac and hummus are my favorite easy oil-free alternatives to mayonnaises or oil-based dressings.)  I stay largely oil free at home, I’ll write about why in a later post if you’re interested, or you can message me with questions, but it has been monumental in my journey to better digestive health!

See also below where I talk about healthy snacks we had this week – sometimes we aren’t hungry for a full lunch, but will grab some of these snacks to carry us through till dinner.

5:30PM – ISH

  • Organic, non-GMO tofu was on major sale. Right. So I made something inspired by this recipe for Asian Garlic Tofu. It was delicious, and I LOADED it up with protein rich broccoli (yes, it’s protein rich!) and served it with some white rice. It was delicious, but since I’m not experienced in making recipes with tofu, it could have been better. I get my protein from greens, legumes, nuts and seeds mainly. (Note: I used to think I reacted adversely to soy – very adversely. But I don’t always – and I’m not a medical doctor so I will not share my opinions here, but let’s just say the jury is still out on soy, and I would like to continue my research on it. That being said, we may never know. To make my long story short, I’ve been incorporating some high-quality soy into our diet here and there (organic, non-GMO, no added ingredients…) and we have all handled it just swimmingly. So… yeah. More on that another time. If you have additional resources I don’t already know about, please pass them along! Fellow vegans out there – what’s your take on the big soy debacle?!)

 

  • Burrito Bowls…img_8942 I LOVE them and could eat them every single day. My beans have been pre-soaked and cooked, I just add a little cumin chili powder and Himalayan salt, thyme and fresh cilantro. We had these TWO times this week because they are so delicious and filling. We chose to serve ours over white rice. The question is – is white or brown rice is the healthier choice? We may never know. We like to eat both, this week we had white on hand.

 

  • Roasted sweet potatoes with beans and guacamole. This is the week of fresh guac! Can you tell? Ha! Seriously, though – I roast sweet potatoes whole (or a regular baked potato for those of you who aren’t sweet potato fans, like my husband…) until they are tender, split them open, and top them with black beans, greens, guacamole, fresh herbs like cilantro… I mean, YUM.

 

  • LARGE romaine salad with oil-free dressing and Ezekiel Toast and avocado slices on the side? Yes please! (for the dressing I usually mix together raw tahini, coconut aminos, and the juice of a fresh lime or lemon. I also love this raw red pepper dressing recipe by The Rawtarian, but I replace the olive oil with a fresh zucchini or other vegetables with high water content).

 

  • We did lots of vegetable soups this week! My kids love them, we all do. Especially when it’s twenty degrees below zero in Minnesota. I made some type of soup that was a little like the filling of a pot pie, it was so good! I need to make it again so I can attempt to replicate it. To make soups creamy I do not use traditional cream sauces, or just fill them in with non-dairy milk. I typically will use a base like a squash, a bean pulse, or potato puree that thickens the soup, adds flavor, and boosts up the nutrition. This week it was butternut squash and a white potato to make it taste less “squashy”. Everyone loved it!

 

All of these meals really are stress-free. They all require only using one pan, pot, or bowl, or just our plates to assemble!

Prep work included presoaking my beans and rice and boiling those until tender, then keeping them in the fridge for meal assembly during the week. Smoothies were already made into freezer packs, or I just threw fresh produce a couple scoops of the “extras” into the blender. Raw soaked oats were just that… recipe prepared and soaked overnight in the fridge, ready to in the morning.

Healthy eating can be SO simple! Healthy food helps restore our days to their full potential so we can feel our best and live our best! We need to invest in what goes into our body, no matter what. But we DO get busy, especially during the holidays, and there are so many fantastic, easy ways to streamline things and put healthy eating on autopilot when you need to!

 

Low mess, no stress snacks

This week’s snacks included…

  • apples with almond butter (or this delicious raw date caramel dip )
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • Skinny Pop popcorn
  • LaraBars (you can purchase them here, and Costco also has a slightly {better} price.
  • home brewed kombucha (incredible source of B vitamins -energy!!- and is also very satisfying between meals!)

 

Holiday Extras

This is Christmas Week! So, of course, we are throwing in a couple extra fun treats here and there in amongst all the festivities! If you follow me on Instagram or have liked my Facebook page you have seen these! (If not, links here in the sidebar and at the top of this site!!) We baked gluten free vegan cookies to take to a Christmas program and enjoyed Sunday morning brunch with vegan nog french toast… yes, it was so delightful. I put some extra holiday coconut milk nog into coffee for a mock version of an egg nog latte and … I need to stop or I will be going to make another one right now. So good. img_8930

 

 

I am NOT a doctor or dietician, but I have done my research and have drastically improved my own digestion issues, my son’s as well, and decreased my husband’s cholesterol and enhanced athletic performance, we all have great energy, great bloodwork, and have arrived at very healthy weights for our bodies. So when I share my meal plans on my blog I am sharing what works for us! I hope you glean some helpful tips and ideas and make it work for you!

Some of the links in this post are affiliates! I choose to be an affiliate for Thrive Market and I link to these products because I use these products myself and highly recommend them!

Did you get any good ideas? I hope so! What are some of your favorite go-to plant-based recipes? Do you meal plan ahead of time? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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Five Tips and Activities to Engage Your Kids and Lower Stress at the Same Time

Crazy right? Sometimes when we are stressed out the only thing we can think about is how we need to just get away for a while.

It would be fabulous if we could all get away for some “me time” by ourselves each day, but as you know, if you’re a parent especially, that just does not always happen. Yes, we all do need to get away sometimes and breathe a little, read a book in peace, or grocery shop without a fight. For sure! But if I dwell on how I don’t get enough alone time, odds are, I won’t be a very happy mother! And it can create a downward spiral of unhealthy thinking. Can you relate?!

This morning in Yoga I looked down and realized I had a gigantic smear of baby food on my pants. Great. I easily pushed the thought aside. It didn’t matter. Actually, it made me smile. My life is so about my kids so much of the time, I don’t even notice things like that anymore. Yoga was my “me-time” today, obviously, but I love that even there, in that quiet kid-less space, the daily mess of motherhood is present… and I actually love that. I embrace that. It’s who I am! And I love my kids enormously.

But that in mind, I definitely need creative outlets for myself. I think it’s important for my kids to see me doing things that I enjoy. It’s important for them to see me working out, creatively using my talents, visiting friends or what have you. That being said, I’m hoping to encourage you with ways that you can take care of yourself too while still rocking this motherhood thing.

 

Five Ways to Include Your Kids In Your Self-care Routine

  1. Make them a real priority. This may seem like a strange tip to offer as number one on this list, but seriously… when we truly unplug and get out of our own head long enough to play one more round of hide and seek or build one more lego masterpiece, we are investing in what really makes our little ones happy – time with us. This makes for happier lives all around- less whining, less drama, and consequently less chronically stressed out parents! Am I right? Makes sense to me. And I see this truth in our home, for sure!

 

  1. Show them how it’s done! I want my kids to learn what healthy self-care really looks like. To develop healthy attitudes and become successful adults someday who can handle anything life throws at them. My parents were good at this. I have clear memories of them doing things they enjoyed and including me in those things. I think it’s so important to teach your kids team spirit when it comes to working together as a family unit. Everyone in the family has valid needs and important responsibilities, and everyone needs to know that they are loved and cared for so that the family unit runs as smoothly as possible. It’s good for kids to be shown needs outside of themselves, even if they don’t understand the whole aspect of self care yet. My gym has childcare so I bring my kids with. We make it a fun family outing, pack snacks to enjoy together afterward, and I make a habit of conversing with them about what they enjoyed in kids gym and and how it made them feel. Now eventually my son who is three has now learned to ask me in return, “How was your workout mom?” So I like to think I’m encouraging good communication skills as well, through all of this! A win-win!

  1. Do creative projects together. I feel great when working on creative projects. It’s a huge part of maintaining “me”, if you know what I mean! If I’m playing around with a new recipe or working on a DIY decoration for my home, I obviously would prefer to do it alone. But if I always waited to do it when I was alone, I would hardly ever get to any of these projects, am I right? So sometimes I improvise. I’ll pull up a stool and my kids will join me, and I just have to remind them to follow my directions so we can work together effectively. I’m not about to let having littles at home limit me and my creativity! Since we moved into this apartment more than two years ago, I’ve wanted to get some of my own art up on the walls. Finally this last week, I set everything up and had my son create some art alongside me. (Better late than never, right?) I created some stencils of dinosaurs and had my sweet boy create his own wall art for his room. The results turned out fantastic and he was so proud of his work! I also gulped, let go of perfectionism, and let him help me create a large canvas painting for the living room. I had an old painting I’d found at Goodwill a few years back, and just painted over it with a solid color, and we added our own design inspired by…well… my three year old! And the results totally impressed me, and he was so proud to have contributed! He couldn’t wait to show it off. Processed with MOLDIV

 

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4. Strap in and GO! For the days when I just need to pull out the quiet box of arts and crafts supplies –  complete with glue and glitter –  for my older boy and get some peace and quiet for twenty minutes, I strap my little baby girl into my Tula baby carrier (Can’t live without my Tula!) and hand her a teether. I can then usually pace the floor and fit in reading almost an entire chapter of a book, listen to a sermon or podcast, phone a friend for a few minutes, even catch up on emails. Watch yourself, however, that you set yourself a time limit so you can come back to life in an appropriate amount of time. Hence, the final point, point five…

 

5. I’ll be honest, this doesn’t always work, but it definitely has worked for me often enough  times to make number five on this list… Set a timer! I have an adorable little old school timer that sticks to my fridge and I use it for everything from baking cookies to letting kids know how many minutes until bedtime, and my personal favorite… quiet time. I will set the timer for however many minutes I need, usually no more than 20 or 30, and I will take that time to do a little tidying, wash the dishes, do a little yoga, or even pay a few bills. Not exactly glamorous, but to me, staying on top of life in general clearly helps reduce and lower stress, am I right?

 

If you take away one thing from this post, I would encourage you to readjust your expectations of what it might take to lower stress, especially if you’re a mother of little ones. The answer is probably so much more simple, straightforward, and more pleasant than you think. Maybe consider lowering your expectation a little so that you don’t become discontented or discouraged if you feel you aren’t getting “adequate” you-time on a daily or weekly basis. What is “adequate”, even!? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that, it’s probably different for each of us! But I’m finding what works for me, what keeps everyone’s best interests in mind, and helps me not lose myself in this wonderful, amazing journey that is motherhood.

We all can’t wait for that one big break, or even that next vacation… we have to find ways to engage our kids and lower stress right now in this moment so we can continue being an attentive engaging parent. What does this look like practically for you? I bet you have some pretty creative ideas. Leave a comment and let me know!

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