How to Make Healthy Lunches in Under 60 Minutes

How to Make a Week's Worth of Healthy Lunches in Under 60 Minutes

I’m a busy person and even though I’m a food blogger, I completely understand the feeling of not wanting to spend your entire night in the kitchen preparing meals. However, I also believe that home-cooked and freshly prepared food is important enough for my health that I’m willing to dedicate some time and energy into preparing it.  That’s where this post comes in.

Monday through Friday I work in a typical office setting. This means on Sunday night I can be found preparing my meals for the week. As my schedule, career, and life has gotten busier and busier, I’ve looked for ways to spend less time in the kitchen, but still get the same results of delicious and healthy food.

I’ve been packing my own lunches for over six years now and I’ve found that it’s far healthier than eating out, saves a ton of money, AND it’s honestly not as hard as you think. Today my goal is to show you how quick and easy it can be to make healthy lunches for the entire week — all in under 60 minutes!

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How To Make Zucchini Pasta With a Mandoline Slicer

How To Make Zucchini Pasta with a Mandoline Slicer

How To Make Zucchini Pasta with a Mandolin

Some of my favorite tutorials on my blog involve making (grain-free and gluten-free!) zucchini pasta. Last year I created two different tutorials to show how to make  spaghetti from zucchini and how make zucchini fettuccine.

There are a couple of different tools you can use to make zucchini pasta but I typically use my spiralizer (pictured above on the right). The one that I own is a plastic spiralizer by Paderno World Cuisine that I ordered from Amazon in 2009. I’ve found that it’s easy to use, easy to clean, and has lasted a really long time.

A lot of folks who stop by my website are excited about this and want to make zucchini pasta, however, they don’t want to have to buy a spiralizer. As a minimalist myself, I completely understand the hesitation you might have before buying another piece of kitchen equipment. And this is exactly why I created this tutorial.

If you want to make zucchini pasta, but just don’t think you’d have enough uses for a spiralizer, then a mandoline slicer is going to be your new best friend. I became acquainted with mandolin slicers many, many years ago when I worked in a raw foods kitchen. A mandoline (pictured above on the left) is used for slicing and cutting vegetables and fruits. You slide the vegetable or fruit along the surface blade and it allows you to slice the food quickly, uniformly, and much thinner than if you were using a knife.

I’ve had my mandoline for a couple of years now and when I’m doing large amounts of prep, it definitely saves me time in the kitchen. The mandoline I own is OXO Good Grips V-Blade slicer that I purchased off Amazon. I’ve used several different mandolines and this one is my favorite because it comes with a few different blades and it has a food holder with a handle that you can use to slice the fruits and veggies so you don’t have to worry about slicing your fingers on the blades (the old-school mandoline models don’t have this feature so beware).

Once you have a mandoline, making zucchini pasta couldn’t be easier! So let me show you how to make zucchini pasta with a mandoline slicer!

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How to Spiralize Zucchini

How to sprialize zucchini

Are you ready to learn how to spiralize zucchini?

I hope so because I am absolutely obsessed with zucchini pasta at the moment.

And since I’m going to be sharing a lot of zucchini pasta recipes over the summer, I have a hunch you’re going to be obsessed with it too. So today I thought we’d start with a simple tutorial to show you just how easy it is to spiralize zucchini and make delicious zucchini pasta!

But, before we dive into the tutorial, I wanted to thank all of you who commented and showed so much support when I shared that I recently have made some big changes to my diet. I am so grateful to be surrounded by so many amazing folks who make this blog community a real community. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In addition to beginning to include meat back into my diet, I have also been experimenting with being gluten-free and cutting out grains. Over the past six months as I have been making dietary changes, I began doing more research about gluten, wheat, and grains and decided to try removing gluten and grains from my diet. I was amazed at the difference this has made for me.

In the past I always noticed that I had headaches and stomaches after eating bread and pasta so I usually avoided these foods. When I prepared grains at home, I always prepared them in traditional methods like soaking brown rice, sprouting quinoa, or fermenting oatmeal. I noticed that this definitely helped lessen stomachaches, but I still had digestive issues. Now that it has become clear to me the way that these foods impact my body, I have decided to embrace being gluten and grain-free and have been very excited to find new recipes and ways of cooking that don’t rely on grains.

If you are gluten-free or grain-free, I know this zucchini pasta will also be your new best friend! So let’s get started…

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Non-Dairy Creamy Cashew Cheese

How to Make Cashew Cheese

Many years ago I used to be completely addicted to dairy. I loved cheese, ice cream, milk chocolate, yogurt, cream cheese, a cold glass of milk, and did I mention cheese?

However, when I gave up dairy many years back I noticed a variety of health benefits: less stomach aches, less bloating, clearer skin, and less headaches. As a child growing up with the USDA food pyramid, I always thought that dairy was a necessity. I mean, where else would we get our calcium?  (Note: there are plenty of amazing ways to get calcium without dairy, such as from dark leafy greens and sea vegetables.)

I think there are a lot of health concerns surrounding dairy, although I’ve seen a lot of evidence that raw milk might be a whole other story. I’m definitely not here to convince you one way or another, but if you struggle with digestive issues (such as bloating, constipation or IBS), acne, blocked sinuses, headaches, or ear infections and you consume dairy, this might be something to try removing from your diet and see how it impacts your body.

The struggle with this, of course, is that pretty much everyone loves cheese. And here’s why:

1. Our taste buds naturally like the taste of the fat and salt.

2. Dairy can be really addictive so once we eat it, we crave more. (Although this definitely lessens over time if you don’t eat it for awhile.)

I don’t typically crave dairy products on a regular basis, but there are definitely times when I miss the comfort of cheese. And that’s where this amazing cheese made from nuts comes in handy. It’s so easy to make and it only takes a few minutes to prepare! Let me show you how!

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How to Sprout and Cook Beans

Eating healthy is expensive.

Cooking food from scratch is so time-consuming.

I don’t know how to cook my own beans; it’s really hard!

I don’t like beans. Beans are really boring. 

I’ve heard all the excuses before.  And believe me, I used to be there.  Eating beans? That sounded like a punishment.  But, once you learn how to cook beans and realize that it’s really easy to make them taste absolutely delicious, I promise you’ll start making them from scratch.

First, let’s start with why I love beans. Beans are a fabulous source of vegetarian protein and fiber. And as a bonus, beans are incredibly affordable. If you buy beans in the bulk section, organic beans usually cost $1.29 – $1.99 per pound, depending on the type of bean. A pound of beans could easily feed a family for several meals so making beans a staple in your household will lower grocery bills compared to using other sources of protein.

Many people complain about having digestive problems or gas after eating beans and so I wanted to share some of the best ways I have found to make beans more digestible:  

  1. Chew beans thoroughly. Slowing down and chewing properly is always important (no matter what you are eating), but this is especially helpful if beans tend to give you extra trouble.
  2. Take digestive enzymes with your meal. Beano, anyone? :)
  3. Add fennel or a little apple cider vinegar to the beans during the last twenty minutes of cooking to aid in digestion.
  4. Experiment with different combinations of food. (Legumes tend to combine best with green or non-starchy vegetables.)
  5. Experiment with different beans. Smaller beans tend to be easier to digest (e.g. adzuki, lentils, mung beans, and peas). Pinto, kidney, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, and black beans tend to be a little harder to digest. And soybeans tend to give folks the most digestive problems.
  6. Add kombu during cooking to aid in digestion.
  7. Sprout your beans before cooking.
My favorite way to prepare beans is to soak them, sprout them, and then cook them with kombu.  I noticed a huge difference in my digestion after I started sprouting beans and for anyone who has trouble with eating legumes, I highly recommend the sprouting method. Sprouting also neutralizes the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, making it easier on your digestive system as well as allowing you to absorb more of the nutrients. And, who doesn’t want a nutritional boost?
I know it might sound intimidating to sprout your own beans, but I promise it’s not hard or time-consuming and in this post I’ll show you step-by-step of how to get started!

A Guide To Buying Organic

I get a lot of questions from readers and folks in my personal life asking for one simple change they can make to have a healthier diet. My response is usually “eat less sugar and eat more greens.” Many of us struggle to get enough vegetables into our diet, period, so I don’t often talk about the importance of the kinds of vegetables that we choose. 

However, I want to spend some more time today talking about the importance of buying organic and how to easily and effortlessly make the switch –with the least amount of impact on your wallet!

For the past few years there has been a lot of buzz going on around organics: Is organic produce really better for you? Is organic produce worth the cost? Does organic produce have more nutrients than conventionally-grown produce?

Here is my answer: organic matters.

Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and does not contain genetically modified (GMOs). Here in the United States, the USDA controls the organic certification and labeling process. They consider an item to be organic if:
  • The food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. This means that synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
  • The food contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.

I believe that organic matters for our health, the health of the farmers growing our food, and the health of our environment. From where I stand, the point of organic produce isn’t whether it has more nutrients, but rather, that it does not contain the harmful chemicals that are used in conventional farming. When I hear about a study comparing vitamin levels between conventional and organic vegetables, I feel like they’ve missed the point.

Pesticides have been shown to cause liver, kidney, and blood diseases, as well as various forms of cancer. These chemicals build-up in our tissues over time, resulting in a weakened immune system. And, interestingly enough, researchers are finding out that many of these pesticides act as “obesogens” and are causing us to gain weight and keep it on. This makes perfect sense because many of these chemicals are stored in our fat cells as our body’s natural defense to protect our organs. The last thing our body wants to do is allow toxins to float around in our bloodstream so it holds onto that fat to prevent this from happening. 

Many of my private health coach clients come to me because they struggle with losing weight and experience extreme “detox” symptoms as they do so. A lot of the resistance I hear from folks about buying organic is the cost. I’m not going to lie to you. Yes, buying organic is generally more expensive, but what is the price of your health worth to you? And, if you’ve been struggling with losing weight, think about how much money you might be spending on “diet” foods or products. 

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How to Make Massaged Kale Salad

How to make massaged kale salad

What was the hardest part of your week last week?

While you ponder that, let me share mine: having to watch as a teacher took kale away from a preschooler and made him cry. (Yep, ladies and gentleman, apparently I am so good at getting kids to love kale that they cry when it is taken away.)

Last week I was making my famous kale smoothie for kids with a group of preschoolers. One of the boys was so excited about getting to try the smoothie that he started eating one of the raw kale leaves that had been passed around the classroom for the kids to touch and explore. After taking a bite of the kale he liked it so much that he continued to gnaw his way through most of the leaf. (I was quite impressed!)

Of course, a child snacking on a germ-y piece of kale caught the attention of one of the teachers who promptly took it away from him. Sure enough, crying ensued. Which actually seems pretty fair because if someone tried to take my kale away, I would probably cry too.

Luckily, the nice thing about being an adult is that you can eat as much raw kale as you want. Especially if you massage it and turn it into a delicious salad. Just wash your hands first. :)

By now you might have heard of “massaging” kale and wondered what all the fuss was about. Massaging raw kale transforms it from a tough, somewhat bitter leaf into a sweet, delicate salad. And it only takes a few minutes!

Let me show you how!

How to make massaged kale salad
Massaging kale only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. I typically use a simple mix of a little salt and fresh lemon juice to help tenderize the leaves and some olive oil for flavor. The salt and acid in the lemon juice helps to break down the cell walls in the kale, softening it while making it sweeter.
 
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, get to work! De-stem the kale and tear it into bite-sized pieces. 
 
Add the kale to a bowl along with the salt and squeeze of lemon juice.  
 
When you massage the kale, think of the motion used to rub someone’s shoulders. (Hey, even kale needs some love.)  Get in that bowl and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
In the photo below, the kale on the left has been massaged for 1 minute and the kale on the right has been massaged for 5 minutes. You can see that the kale has decreased in size and the texture is softer after being massaged for 5 minutes.
How to make massaged kale salad

Test the kale as you go along. When the kale begins to taste sweet and you can see some kale juices (e.g. liquids extracted from the kale) accumulating at the bottom of the bowl, your kale is ready!

Add the olive oil, give it one more good massage, and it’s ready to eat!

raw kale vs massaged kale

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
How to Make Massaged Kale Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, de-stemmed and torn or chopped into pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Any desired toppings
Instructions
  1. Add the kale to a medium mixing bowl along with the salt and lemon juice.
  2. "Massage" kale for five minutes, or until leaves are sweet and tender.
  3. Add the olive oil and give one more quick "massage."

 

And don’t forget to add any additional toppings as desired.  Some of my favorites are roasted nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, sprouted quinoahomemade croutonsroasted squash, or sprouts.

What are your favorite toppings for massaged kale salad? 

5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Food

5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Food

What are your biggest challenges to eating healthfully?  There are a few I hear from readers and my health coaching clients all the time…

Eating healthy is boring; healthy food isn’t delicious. I like to eat things that taste good — and that usually means they are bad for me. 

Eating healthy is EXPENSIVE! I can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods every day. 

Eating healthy takes a lot of time and I’m a busy person. It’s just not possible to eat healthfully and cook all the time with my schedule. 

I definitely know the challenges. And believe me when I say that I’m not made of time or money either, but it is possible to eat healthy, delicious, amazing, good-for-you food without spending a ton of money or a ton of time in the kitchen. 

Today I’m going to share a few simple ways to get started.

1. Plan Your Meals
Ooh the daunting task of planning meals. It sounds so overwhelming and time-consuming, right? I mean, don’t you need a calendar, twenty cookbooks, a shopping list, a calculator, a pot of coffee, a snuggie, and a Masters Degree to get started? Wrong. 

Just hearing the term “meal planning” makes some folks run away in fear. But, let me tell you, there is no reason to be scared. Meal planning can be as simple (or as complicated) as you want it to be. Meal planning works differently for each person and every family, but in my house, I set up a loose structure for the week to give me some guidance, but allow for flexibility as needed. I start by thinking about:

  • Produce that is in season
  • Flavors or certain types of food that I’m craving (or that have been requested by my partner)
  • How much time I have for meal prep and cooking this week
  • How many meals we will need for the week

Then I map out a simple plan from there including recipe ideas and assigning prep work to different days. I usually like to do a large batch of cooking on Sundays and prepare our meals for Monday through Wednesday. Then I typically try to reserve my Wednesday evenings for cooking Thursday through Saturday. Having a meal plan helps me to keep cooking time to a minimum because I can cook in batches since I know exactly what we’ll be eating.
2. Inventory Your Cupboards
One of the best ways I’ve found to save money on food is to not waste any! I regularly inventory our cupboards and refrigerator and incorporate any items that need to get used up into my weekly meal plan. Quinoa been sitting around for too long? Quinoa for breakfast it is! Bought way too much asparagus at the Farmers Market last weekend? Great, it’s going to be an asparagus stir-fry week! Greens on the brink of going bad? It’s smoothie time! Once you get in the habit of doing inventory regularly, you’ll usually find that you go through items quicker and this process begins to feel easier (thus, saving you time).

3. Stick To The List
I absolutely refuse to go to the grocery store without my list. When I shop without a list, I become a scattered mess and end up buying random things that don’t make sense for meals, too much or too little of items, and become especially prone to impulse buys if I am hungry. I used to use a handwritten grocery list, but I found myself constantly forgetting it so I switched to an electronic list and haven’t looked back since. (Nowadays I use the free Remember The Milk app on my iPhone.) Each week when I am menu planning, I add the ingredients I need to my shopping list. As I am cooking or in my kitchen throughout the week, if I realize that I am low on certain items, I update the list as needed.

4. Shop Less Frequently
Even though I rotate my shopping between a few different stores and a farmers market, I usually only go to the store 1 – 2 times a week. The beauty of having a menu plan and a coherent shopping list is that you can save time by getting everything you need in one shopping trip. I usually do my big shopping trip on a Saturday or Sunday morning and then visit the farmers market for seasonal produce. Shopping less not only saves time, but I’ve found that it saves a lot of money because I’m not tempted to pick up extra items all the time.

5. Be Realistic About Your Eating Habits
This tip is uber important. In fact, it might be the most important tip I give you here. In order for meal planning to be effective (instead of stressful), you have to know your own eating habits.

I know that it isn’t realistic for me to cook from scratch every evening so I do batch cooking 2 – 3x week so there are always fresh meals ready to go in the fridge. I know that by Friday, I am exhausted and sometimes the thought of doing anything on a Friday night (even reheating leftovers) sounds like a lot of work. For this reason, I usually mark Friday as an “eat out” night on my meal plan because I know that I’m going to pick up something from the cold case at Whole Foods on my way home.

I also know that sometimes, as much as I may try to resist it, I’m going to want a snack or a treat. One of the things that I have found really helpful is to specifically include a weekly snack or treat as part of my meal plan. This means that I always have a delicious something on hand that is far healthier (and usually tastier) than if I let my craving go too far and venture to the store in need of something yummy.  The key is that I know myself well enough that I can plan for this ahead of time.

5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Food

If you are interested in saving money, saving time, and eating healthier, here is how you can get started:

1. Take a look at your current situation around food and money.
What is working well for you and what isn’t working well? What do you wish were different? What are some of the barriers you have found to eating the way you want to AND saving money in the process?

2. Start small.
Start by just making one simple change this week. What is one thing you could do today or this week that would make a difference?

3. Check back with yourself and assess progress.
After you make that one change this week, check back with yourself in a few weeks and see how it’s going. Is it working well? Great, what’s a second step you could take? Is it not going so well? No problem, let’s re-evaluate and see what could be done differently next week. The key is to have compassion with yourself and know that changing habits is a learning process and takes a little time.

4. Join the Program! 
I’m so excited to announce Conscious Money, Conscious Eating which was specifically created to help people make the transition to more conscious, affordable, and sustainable eating.

Conscious Money, Conscious Eating is the brainchild of myself and Mindy Crary of Creative Money. I’ve known Mindy for awhile and love her creative approach to managing finances, being conscious about spending money, improving your relationship with money, and focusing on money possibility instead of money fear.

In Conscious Money, Conscious Eating, Mindy will show you how to be more conscious around the way you spend money on food and I will help you to get started on the conscious eating track with simple, easy-to-implement strategies that will make meal planning, preparing, and cooking a breeze. If you’ve been struggling with making some changes around eating healthier and saving money, this program was created for you. Find out more here.