How long have we heard the infamous proverb, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Or, did your mom ever have to tell you at the dinner table to eat your vegetables?
Well pictured above is my beautiful bounty of organic produce from Jenny Jack Farm and Little Bit Farm; some of these I did not eat growing up. Now, I know that food is indeed medicine and if it comes in colorful, tasty doses, I’ll take seconds, please!
It’s common knowledge that superfoods are good for you, make you stronger, and boost your immune system. But did you know they have the ability to reverse and even prevent disease and illness? Did you know your body needs specific nutrients to function normally and efficiently every day? Yes, you need to eat certain foods, more specifically certain fruits, veggies, and other superfoods to look good, feel good, and optimize your health.
Now, there are so many unnecessary fad diets on the market it’s ridiculous…my head is spinning from the mere thought of such restrictive, cumbersome “diets”. Eat this, not that. Cut this out of your diet, count your calories, no carbs, no grains, blah, blah, blah. Unless you have a diagnosed medical condition and you really should be eliminating or minimizing certain foods, eating healthy shouldn’t have to be overly restrictive. You shouldn’t be turned off by the notion of living healthy. Unfortunately, nowadays, trying to follow the latest trendy diet can leave one eventually feeling temporarily thrilled after getting a pretty solid start only to fall off the wagon, lose enthusiasm, and fail to reach their desired results.
Let me first say that eating healthy is really a lifestyle and takes time to develop. I love to encourage incremental change because it’s easy to become overwhelmed with an abrupt, total shift in food choices. Once you become accustomed to healthier choices, your taste buds and your cravings will take note and you’ll be well on your way to optimized health.
With that said, one of my favorite plant-based advocates, Dr. Michael Gregor, suggests eating a dozen superfoods every day. Dr. Gregor has coined the Daily Dozen Challenge and created an app to help you stay on track.
Do I achieve this daily dozen challenge every single day? Nope! But, I strive to eat as many of the foods as I can throughout the day if time allows. I can say that after adopting a mostly plant-based lifestyle, this challenge came quite easy and I found fun and tasty ways to incorporate said foods. Learn more about the daily dozen here: https://nutritionfacts.org/daily-dozen-challenge/
Ok, ok… Are you ready to see what they are and how I eat them?? Here we go!
- Other Fruits
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Other Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
- Herbs and Spices
- Whole Grains
- Vitamin D
Beans/Legumes are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and pack a hard punch when it comes to protein. I love cooking a big batch of kidney beans or chickpeas using recipes I learned from Mrs. Anne at Ria’s Indian cafe. I also usually cook a pot of lentils and add them to spaghetti sauce, top them over brown rice, stuff them in a baked sweet potato with spinach, or just season them up and eat a bowl for breakfast.
Berries are chock-full of antioxidants (which ward off free radicals) and vitamins. I love adding frozen blueberries to my smoothies, eating a bowl of strawberries or blackberries for a late-night snack when I have a sweet tooth, or with a light lunch.
Other fruits? Easy peasy. I can’t go a day without a Gala apple. If I do, you should be concerned.
Avocados are top-of-the-line when it comes to healthy fats, protein, minerals, and so much more! I add 1/2 to my daily smoothies.
Cruciferous Vegetables are what I struggle with most. While I love broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, I just don’t gravitate towards these bad boys in the kitchen as much as I do other veggies. I find myself cooking broccoli a lot more for my son than I do myself. Either way, when I do eat them, I steam broccoli and add a little salt and onion powder. I sautee cabbage in a cast-iron skillet with vegan butter, salt, onions, and onion poweder. Or, I pan sear brussels sprouts with garlic, lemon juice, and salt or roast them in the oven and top with a balsamic glaze.
Greens are easy to include. A couple of handfuls of spinach goes into smoothies and I’ve been on a high making Garliky spinach with kale and collard greens, again, compliments of the recipe Mrs. Anne taught me. I also love to make quick, simple salads that pack a big punch from the homemade dressing and extra goodies on top.
Other Vegetables are another easy one. I start my mornings off with fresh-pressed carrot juice and also add lemon and again the turmeric as well.
Flaxseeds…they go in my smoothie. I buy ground flax and use two tablespoons.
Nuts and Seeds are easy to incorporate. I either eat apple slices with almond butter or put almond butter in my smoothie. I add pumpkin and chia seeds to oatmeal in the mornings or add chia seeds to my smoothie or salads, but I put them in after blending since they gelatinized.
Herbs and spices are heaven to smell and even better to eat. Cinnamon goes in my smoothies and turmeric marries my carrot juice in the mornings.
Whole grains are definitely the carbs you want to reach for. I love oatmeal in the mornings topped with berries, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit. If I’m short on time I just add the oats to smoothies. I also have a peanut butter sandwich every day using whole/multigrain bread. I also consume rice or other grain every week – brown rice, wild rice or barley. I love to make stove-top popcorn at night for a snack and drink my healthy “soda” to go with it. Yep, I love Kombucha.
Beverages are imperative for hydration and to help push out those toxins. Water, mother’s milk tea, and orange juice are on my list every day.
Exercise…can’t live without it. I try to get in at least three days a week, all at home. You’d be surprised what all you can find on YouTube.
B12 isn’t only found in meat. I love it in the form of Nutritional Yeast. I use this as a topping for my popcorn. Almond milk is my trusty base for smoothies and for One Degree Veganic Brown Rice Cereal.
Last, but certainly not least, Vitamin D is made in the skin so I try to make sure Imri and I go out and soak up some sun for at least 20 minutes a day.
So you see? There are so many ways to get accustomed to clean, healthy foods. It’s just up to you to take that first step. No, I don’t expect you to go from barely eating any of these foods to suddenly eating them all in one day. One step at a time. Maybe try one or two of these foods every day for a week and see how it goes then add on another one the following week. Keep up the momentum until you’ve hit the mark and are eating your daily dozen! I want to hear about your journey!!