Like most people, I’m often in a hurry. Which sometimes means food choices are ‘grab-and-go’ rather than nutritionally balanced. Muffins, pastries and heat-lamped breakfast sandwiches are so much easier than kale and cranberry salads (with walnuts and goat cheese), or chicken breasts with sides of broccoli and oven-roasted yams.
Sure, I prefer the healthier options, but who has time to clean and chop fresh veggies, peel spuds, and prepare meats?
Vince’s colleague Danielle Cosentino, a holistic nutritionist and natural chef, isn’t buying my argument. It seems this reluctance to roll up my sleeves – even for a few minutes – is more a case of being ‘penny wise and pound foolish.’
Getting Back to Basics
“Good health doesn’t come from a box or bottle, it comes from getting back to the basics,” said Danielle. “We need to prioritize home cooked meals – which means taking the pressure off and understanding that meals don’t have to be perfect like we see in social media.”
I would agree. Growing up, mom usually cooked from scratch – and didn’t worry much about photo-worthy presentation. Her homemade meatloaf and stews were legendary, but may not have generated much of a fan-base on Instagram. Not that she would have cared anyway.
Use Whole Foods as the Building Blocks
Danielle also pointed out that whole foods can be the basis for many quick and easy meals. “Roast a chicken, steam some vegetables, and bake a few potatoes – and you’ve got a simple, healthy meal in no time.”
This begins at the grocery store, where you shop the perimeter for seasonal produce, quality meats and dairy. These should form the building blocks of your diet. And the bonus is, you don’t need to spend loads of time reading and deciphering labels.
Meal-Prep Time Management Tips
When you arrive home, ready to get started, keep in mind a few time management tips.
“Prep in advance and aim for leftovers,” advised Danielle. “Even something as simple as pre-washing and chopping the veg before you go to work can really save time when making dinner. And leftovers can provide creative meals for another night. Cook extra grains and use them in a stir fry.”
She also mentioned the practicality of soup, which can be made from leftovers – like last night’s whole chicken – and create great leftovers as well.
Of course, there’s still a role for those foods you don’t prepare yourself. Few of us, after all, are willing to take a trip back in time to “Little House on the Prairie.” Danielle agrees, and suggests that prepared foods assist, rather than complete your meals. “Make your own side dishes and grab a BBQ chicken,” she added. “Or bake some fish and grab a grain salad from the store.”
Bottom line: let’s make 2018 a fresh start, and rely more on whole foods as part of a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Danielle Cosentino is a holistic nutritionist (R.H.N.), natural chef, and registered massage therapist (R.M.T.) She has grown up in the grocery business and is passionate about healthy lifestyle choices. Danielle has been practicing in the health and wellness industry since 2006, and co-founded a company called 4 the Luv of Food, which developed a formula that helps people gain control of their blood sugar levels.
Neil Moore is a seasoned journalist, blogger and masters athlete who relies on food not only for fuel, but as one of life’s great pleasures.