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How-diddly-doodle-doo? 😉 I’m Ned-Flanderizing this because I’m so excited about our new VLOG on YOUTUBE!! For those of you who are interested in being weirded out entertained by our tips, recipes, and motivational cinema, please subscribe to the Youtube channel “Packard Family Health.” We would love to see y’all there!!

The Checklist Approach

I’ve written a little about food and guilt, which is useless and basically self-defeating. This post prescribes a remedy to food related guilt.

Most everybody knows, but for those of you who don’t, my husband and I are expecting our first baby the first week of February! We are so excited. 🙂

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My approach to nutrition during this pregnancy, or lack thereof, has largely been affected by the drastic changes in our lives over the past several months–pretty much since we found out I was expecting. That being said, we moved cross-country twice in 4 months, and we were camping for several months after that with no furniture/cookware (besides folding chairs, a folding table, a futon mattress, and my Blendtec). I won’t bore you with the details, so long story short, my husband and I are back in Utah and we are settled into an adorable little apartment south of Salt Lake.

Fortunately, I was able to manage drinking a green smoothie pretty much every day of this pregnancy, and I ate as many fruits and vegetables as I possibly could. I also ate some junk. Traveling, moving, and lots of eating out for lack of cookware really got the best of me! I survived, and since things have become more settled, I have taken some time to decide on the best nutrition method for our family.

Life is unpredictable, and curve balls often times tend to lurk around every corner. The Checklist Approach works great in almost any scenario. There is something about limiting yourself from indulging in cravings, particularly when eating healthfully is woefully inconvenient, that really does make a rebel out of some of us, doesn’t it?

On any given day, my list will be slightly different. Today my list looks like this:

Checklist

When I first got started, my list included one or two things. As I got better, I added things to the list. The idea is to crowd out the bad stuff with the good stuff (when you’re ready.) Try to push yourself, but don’t overdo it. Only put things on there that you know you will eat. I try to plan my meals to include my list throughout the day, and hopefully I won’t be hungry anymore by the time I’ve eaten what I told myself I would.

Produce rarely goes bad in my refrigerator, and my plates are more colorful with nutritious foods. If I want to eat a leftover cupcake from a birthday party, and I have eaten what I planned on already, I might eat it, and I definitely won’t beat myself up over it. Most of the time I’m not hungry by the time I finish my meal and my craving almost always disappears anyway.

I am careful not to put too much food on my list to stay flexible for varying levels of hunger…particularly through pregnancy. 🙂 I’ll often include other healthy foods not on my list as part of my meal to accompany the items on the checklist. This was my hummus plate today:

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This method would be great for anyone trying to overcome food related cravings, or anyone who just might want to feel better physically. It provides a safe, gradual kick-start into nutritarian eating without all the pressure.

What are some foods that you try to eat every day?

To fail to plan is to plan to fail.

Superior health is definitely a “lifestyle change” in many different ways.

A healthy lifestyle requires constant learning and research about different cooking methods and open-mindedness about different styles of preparing the food that you might like only one way. Giving healthy food a fair chance is crucial to adapting this change into your way of eating. We must be willing to explore new tastes and methods if we are going to live a long and happy life away from the hospital as much as possible. The good news is that this stuff tastes INCREDIBLE, especially once you stop eating so much of that desensitizing garbage that dulls your taste buds. Healthy food is also beautiful. There are so many different shapes and colors to enjoy as you prepare plant-based/whole foods.

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If all you have time in your schedule for is take-out or pre-packaged freezer meals, being as healthy as you wish you could be will just not happen.  Unfortunately, there are times in all of our lives that we may stretch ourselves too thin. It is through wisdom by experience and through prayer that we can learn how to make health a priority in our lives, and begin with decisions that lead us to good health, even when times get busy. If that means taking a little easier of a load in school or work for a period of time, then by all means! We live in a fast-paced world, and it is our responsibility to fight against the current and stand up for our health, because the world is not going to make it convenient for us to do so.

To fail to plan is to plan to fail. Healthy eating is not just going to make itself available to you as easily as fast-food will. One thing that I like to do is to plan a half-day just for preparing food.

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Romaine lettuce, once chopped, keeps well in an insulated bag for about 4-5 days. I’ve read that by putting a paper towel in the bag with the lettuce can prolong the life of the lettuce, so I’ll have to give that a try.

Here I have chopped romaine mixed with baby spinach, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and green onions mixed with sunflower seeds in separate Ziploc baggies. For those of you who are worried about the environment, I recycled these bags when I was finished with them. You can get generic versions of these bags for really cheap at any grocery store. By separating these veggies, I prevent them from getting soggy, and my salad is fresh, crisp, and ready right when I want it!

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To save room in the refrigerator, I put the smaller bags inside of the lettuce bag for a grab-and-go-friendly method.

ENJOY!

Green and Lean

They say that the more colorful your plate is, the healthier it is. Excepting skittles and M&Ms (as my clever J.D. husband never fails to remind me) I have found this to be very consistent.

Here are some of my favorite green staples that I always have in my fridge:

I usually steam the broccoli and green beans in my electric steamer that my dad so eloquently depicted for you all.

In addition to maintaining a hefty supply of raw kale for my salads, I love to bake kale chips. They taste kind of like potato chips, and would probably be a great way to introduce this health-packed vegetable to children.

I encourage everyone to eat more GREEN FOODS.

Tools for Success – Steamer (Food Quality)

While a microwave oven can heat up foods quite fast, it does so at a cost. The food heats up unevenly and sometimes dries up or even explodes. I usually have to cover my food with a plastic dome or a paper towel to shield the microwave from exploding beans or other foods. Sometimes my microwave looks like a battlefield by the time I finish preparing my meal. And when I eat the food, it is often dry in places, almost crunchy, and barely warm in other places. This is particularly true when I try to heat up beans or rice.

With my steamer, however, I have noticed that my foods heat up evenly and retain their moisture. This is especially helpful when preparing beans, rice, or the more delicate asparagus, green beans, or broccoli. Additionally, I don’t have to worry about burning my foods in the steamer; it just does not happen, although I guess I could over steam something, but even that has not happened yet for me. Sometimes when I am busy, I just set the steamer for an overkill 20 minutes and let it go until I can come back. If I make it back before the 20 minutes is completed, great. If not, still great. The electric steamer has a “keep warm” mode that kicks in after the cooking time has finished. It keeps the foods warm by periodically releasing a puff of steam onto the food to keep it nice and hot but not overdone.

I was initially afraid to steam multiple courses simultaneously with the same steam. I thought that the steam would mix flavors, but they don’t seem to do that, at least not that I have noticed. I have seen posts on the internet stating likewise with their steaming.

I must admit that a steamer would not be my choice if I were trying to brown some meat, cook some bacon, or otherwise caramelize my food. For that task, a microwave would not fare that well either (though I have cooked bacon in the microwave.) I would use a pan on the stove for that and then reheat the leftover food with the steamer. But with my current vegan lifestyle, I only rarely need to caramelize my food. I say rarely, as opposed to never, because recently I made an amazing pot of vegan chili in which I caramelized my onions and peppers slightly prior to combining them with the tomatoes, beans and spices. I will have to share my recipe for that on another post.  🙂

The ivory tower prevails…this time.

In my kitchen, most everything is fairly practical. Even the decor is practical.

But everyone has their “thing,” right? That thing where they must (and I mean MUST) allow themselves a little high maintenance?

Fresh spices:

  • Price: about $2.99 per box
  • Shelf life: about 4 days
  • Accessibility: inconvenient
  • Prep time: about 3 minutes–2 minutes and 95 seconds longer than dried spices require
  • Quality of experience: to die for

Coming home from a long day full of researching dead guys, I needed something hands-on and tangible to inspire me. As I was preparing some roasted chicken for my husband today, I took a little extra time chopping up my sage, rosemary, and thyme while snorting whiffing the wonderful fragrance of serenity. (Sage is my favorite.) I even provided myself with some Deuter spa music via Pandora.

Most of the time when “food snobs” rant about random little heme heme’s and *patooeys* that so-called “true cooks” must do to qualify as competent, I get annoyed. But this time, whether it was the music or the smell, it didn’t matter. I was a happier woman.