SPONSORED POST: I’ve partnered with Milk & Eggs, an amazing farm direct grocery delivery service, to bring you guys some delicious, super seasonal, and always healthy recipes a few times a month. I’m so excited to share some of my favorite dishes with you!
We all seem to start every new year with the best of intentions for eating healthier, losing weight, or getting more energy. But so often that goal can feel so huge and nebulous.. where do I start? What is healthy eating? Should I start a cleanse or a new diet? Oftentimes, our overcomplicating or overthinking of this relatively simple concept can suck the resolve right out of us. And after a few well-intentioned weeks, we’re right back where we started… Tired, bloated, and squeezed into jeans that feel too tight.
What I always tell my nutrition clients is this: healthy eating is SO much easier than the media and diet industry make it out to be. You don’t need a diet, or a detox, or a book to tell you the common sense food rules that govern great health.
Michael Pollan put it best:
Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
There. That’s IT. Seriously.
But I know we need a little more guidance than that, so here are my 5 simple steps that you can start doing right now, that will make eating healthier and feeling better an immediate reality.
5 Steps to Healthier Eating in the New Year
1. Make veggies the star of your meals.
Now I know eating more vegetables is a no-brainer, but I also know that it’s often easier said than done. Well, here’s a trick: get a whole load of farm-fresh, local seasonal veggies delivered to your door every week, with a farm to table delivery like Milk & Eggs. Then, all you have to do is USE it!
Every week, I get an Organic Farm Sampler Bag, with vibrant, yummy produce that lasts us all week long. Since I’m already getting it, I just plan my meals around what I received, and boom! I’m eating veggies like a champ. I have a lot of standby recipes I make all the time (see a few below), but in the event that I want something new, I literally just search online for “healthy __ recipes” (insert whatever yummy veggie I want to use up) to get some inspiration.
So how much veggie goodness is enough? My rule of thumb is greens at two meals a day + at least 2-3 different colored foods (fruits and veggies both count) at every meal. When compiling your meals, start with the veggies as the base (as opposed to a grain or the protein being the star of the show) and then build out the other component around them. I know this is very different from the American way of eating, where our meals being centered around animal proteins and grains, but this simple reframe will revolutionize your health, your waistline, and your energy levels. There is still plenty of room for whole grains and clean proteins in a healthy, sustainable eating plan, but they shouldn’t be the main event. Veggies first!
2. Start each day with warm water + lemon.
This is one easy peasy step that will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Sipping on warm (or hot) water with freshly squeezed lemon juice every morning fires up your digestion, rehydrates your body after the night, alkalizes your system, increases energy, and can even boost your mood!
Compare that to your morning cup of coffee, which, although delicious, is acidic, overstimulating to your digestion and adrenals, dehydrates your body, and can make you more tired later in the day.
Even if you just can’t say bye-bye to that morning fix, if you just start the day with your lemon water, and then drink coffee later with your breakfast (preferably with some coconut oil mixed in), you’ll be doing a lot to offset some of those negative effects.
3. Rock a soup for dinner.
This time of year, nothing soothes and warms your whole body, mind and heart more than a nourishing, yummy soup. And the best part is, eating soups for dinner is the number one best thing you can do for getting to and achieving a healthy weight, optimal digestion, and more energy in the morning.
When we eat big dinners, full of hard-to-digest foods like animal proteins and grains, it takes our bodies a really long time to break down that meal throughout the night. Our digestion is at it’s weakest in the evenings, so our bodies end up working overtime to digest that big meal, instead of resting, recuperating, detoxifying and rebuilding overnight (which is what they’re meant to do). This means waking up feeling sluggish, and it also means weight gain!
So the simple solution that every one of my nutrition clients can attest to is SOUPS! Soups (specifically vegetarian soups) are super easy to digest, are warming, and allow for plenty of nourishment without weighing you down. Your body digests those cooked veggies super quickly, which means you get to be burning fat and naturally detoxifying while you sleep. That’s the dream, right? Well let me assure you, this dream is a reality.
One of my favorite soup recipes this time of year is a hearty, nutrient-packed borscht (and that’s not just because I’m Russian!). I used the big beautiful bundle of beets I got in my Organic Farm Sampler Bag as the base for my vegetarian borscht, and substituted the traditional sour cream for a dollop of organic Greek yogurt (Milk & Eggs carries Straus Family Creamery local, organic dairy products, which I love and get every week). Check out my recipe below.
4. Eat a big, awesome lunch.
To be able to just enjoy a soup for dinner without feeling hungry, you’ve got to bulk up your lunch. The second best thing you can do for your energy, waistline and overall health is to make lunch the biggest meal of your day. This is a healthy eating secret that the rest of the world has been in on pretty much forever, but that we’ve been a bit slow to adopt here in the land of takeout-salad-at-your-desk-and-call-it-lunch.
Midday is when your digestion is the strongest, your metabolism is the fastest, and when your body is in the most need of fuel to power you through the rest of your day. So naturally, it makes sense that lunch would be the main meal of the day, as opposed to dinner!
This is the perfect time of day to rock a solid serving of protein (plant or animal, as long as it’s clean), some whole grains, and, you guessed it — tons of yummy veggies.
Since I myself tend toward the “flexitarian” lifestyle (I’m mostly vegetarian, but will eat super high quality animal protein and seafood on occasion), my standby’s for lunch are big, beautiful bean dishes. This time of year, they are especially warming, filling, and soothing for the soul. Each week (well, each week when I’m on my game), I whip up a yummy bean recipes and some whole grains that I can easily throw together for lunch every day, with a solid helping of greens thrown in.
Recently, I’ve been loving my Vegan Coconut Curry with Spinach, which tastes great over brown rice or quinoa. Check out my recipe below!
5. Eat fruit for dessert.
Now I’m not a dessert person myself, so there are many days that go by for me without eating anything sweet at all, but in the event that I do crave a little something, fruit is always the best bet. If you’re trying to lose weight, in addition to the steps above, switching out your desserts for fruit will have a huge impact on your goals. If you’re not trying to lose weight, then including fruit at 1-2 meals a day will ensure that you are getting powerful nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that you may otherwise be missing out on.
You can’t really go wrong with fruit, as long as it’s fresh and organic, and you get bonus points for eating fruit that’s in season where you live. Since I live in sunny California, my Organic Farm Sampler Bag comes with delicious berries and citrus fruits that make for perfect desserts, especially when occasionally paired with a couple squares of organic dark chocolate ; )
So ditch the diet drama and the lofty, complicated eating resolutions. Follow these 5 simple steps and you will be looking and feeling amazing in no time!
L.A. Residents: Want to try Milk & Eggs for your self?
Use code ME20OFF to get $20 off your first order of $40 or more!