Tagged "healthy eating"

How To: Healthy Shopping on a Budget

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

Buying healthy foods may be the best way to spend your money, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it can be pretty pricey. This is especially true if you’re seeking out top-quality ingredients like organic produce and grass-feed, free-range, and/or hormone-free meats. Indeed, in today’s fast food economy many people simply can’t afford to eat healthfully. But this issue isn’t insurmountable – there are ways to shop for top-rate ingredients on a budget. Ahead, we’re sharing some of them.


Get to know your butcher

With meat, it’s best to go to the source. Not only are you getting a higher quality product, you have the option to buy in bulk. You can save upwards of 35% if you do so; look to split the cost (and the meat!) with your family and friends. If you really get to know your butcher, discuss regularly buying in bulk for a preferred rate.


Hit the farmer’s market

Farmer’s markets are an amazing way to support local industry, shop affordably, and get access to the freshest ingredients out there. I love the farmer’s market for produce, but also for staples like milk, eggs, bread, and even fish and meats. A trick I have is actually to hit the market at the end of the day. Yes, the selection is more limited, but you’re more likely to be able to strike up a deal and get products at a discount, including "ugly" or lightly bruised fruits and veg. (Also, I have found fishmongers are willing to bargain with you in order to sell off inventory at the day’s end.) Signing up for a CSA or negotiating a bulk discount rate with your local grower are two other smart ways to save money, too.


Buy staples in bulk

Shopping the bulk section of the grocery store is a must if you're trying to save money. I use this area to buy things like nuts (and nut butter!), seeds, legumes, oats, and grains. These staples are always more competitively priced than their branded and packaged counterparts.


Check out ethnic markets

These are great places to pick up things like spices, seasonings, and condiments like tahini or tamari at a more affordable price. Amina loves hitting them to shop for things like exotic fruits, too -- noted! 



Grocery stores and health markets alike always have items on discount. Seek out those sales and meal plan around them. Alternatively, if a product you know and love goes on sale – such as your favorite olive oil or peanut butter – buy a bunch at a time and save yourself some money down the road.


Get thee some canned fish

Supermarket seafood is notoriously expensive, but canned seafood is a whole different story. There is plenty of really delicious, high-quality canned fish out there for a fraction of the price. One of our favorites is Wild Planet Foods, which operates sustainably and uses BPA-free cans.


Go frozen!

Buying fresh fruits and veggies can be really expensive, which is why it’s worth checking out their frozen counterparts. Not only are they more affordable, new research suggests that they’re more nutritious, too. That’s because frozen fruits are picked ripe and then frozen, making them more nutrient-rich than their fresh counterparts that have been hanging around on a shelf (or on an airplane) for days.


When in doubt, DIY

Don’t have the dough to shell out for a fancy protein bars or prepackaged snacks? Make them at home! From almond butter cups to protein snowballs, we have plenty of suggestions for DIY snacks on the blog, or check out this protein bar recipe Amina just posted on her Instagram. By making your own snacks like these, you’ll save money and be healthier, too.

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Bye, Meal Kits – How To Pre-Plan (and Cook!) Healthy Meals

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

If you’re a busy professional – or full-time parent – pulling together a week of healthy meals can feel downright heroic, if not impossible. After all, doing so requires both time and energy: Precious commodities when your day feels packed from sunrise to sunset. As such, “meal kits” have become popular solutions to that problem; some enable you to easily prepare a healthy meal while others deliver a pre-prepared, ready-to-eat solution at your door. Genius, right?

Well, anyone who has used a meal kit service knows there are downfalls, the main one being price – they can be prohibitively expensive. For example, one unnamed organic meal delivery service costs over $80 per day. Even those of us who are cooking newbies understand that number is very, very high.

We’re here to tell you that you don’t need to choose between wellness and price to have a week of healthy meals ready. It all comes down to words: meal prep

Ideally this happens on Sunday afternoons, a time where you have more bandwidth to prep and cook. And we’re not talking super-complicated dishes here; these are simple, batch-style items that you can mix-and-match throughout the week. Ready? Let’s do this.


Take chicken breast, for example: This is a versatile ingredient that can be prepped hundreds of ways. We recommend creating three different varieties – for example: lemon and rosemary, jerk seasoning, and tarragon and thyme – and cooking them all at the same time using tin foil as a separation tool for your baking tray. Use this protein as a meal centerpiece at dinner or as a salad topping at lunch.


Cut up sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower…whatever type of veggie you love. We’re all about staying seasonal here, so right now we’re cooking wintertime root vegetables. Dress ‘em with quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and/or whatever additional spices you fancy. Pop the whole thing into the oven for 30 minutes on high heat (425 degrees Farenheit) and boom! You have five days worth of gorgeous vegetables to nosh on all week. Consider these your standby ingredients throughout the week – snack on them, eat them at lunch in a big bowl, or use them as dinner sides.


While you are prepping your roasted veggies, reserve some chopped, uncooked ones for the week ahead, too. These are great for snacking and for use in a lunchtime salad. Oh yeah, lest we forget: Be sure you have some regular old salad materials on hand – spinach, arugula, and kale… whatever you prefer. Wash them on Sunday so that they’re ready to use throughout the week.


Make a big pot of quinoa or a similar grain to be your go-to starch for the week; we use it in everything from a quinoa cereal to an evening stir-fry. We also love cooking big batches of legumes (chickpeas, black beans) on Sundays; they’re an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber and will keep you fuller longer. Vegetarians, be sure you’re consuming plenty of ‘em!


If you’ve purchased ingredients like berries and spinach for your morning smoothie, why not prep it ahead of time? Just place the fruits and veggies necessary for a single smoothie in a sandwich bag pop it in the freezer. Come the morning, you’ll pull it out, add milk and/or any dry ingredients, and you’re ready to rock. Or blend. Whatever. 


We are all familiar with the afternoon crash – the one that has us chugging coffee and snacking on donuts. Well, keeping lots of filling, low-sugar protein snacks on hand can help you avoid that. We love items like hard-boiled eggs or protein balls (here’s a great recipe if you’re unfamiliar with the latter). For those of you who are super low maintenance, try pre-bagging protein-rich nuts – almonds, walnuts – for quality snacking on the run. 


Sundays were made for slow cooker meals, right? Luckily, these are the types of dishes that actually get better when you refrigerate or freeze them. We love making things like beef chili, hearty bean-based soups, or slow-cooked proteins for Sunday dinner and then popping leftovers into the freezer. Pair them throughout the week with some of your grains and roasted vegetables and you’ll have a downright easy and delicious meal. 


Are you an almond butter fiend? Do you go through coconut oil like it’s your job? Are rolled oats your morning jam? Be sure you always stay stocked up on these go-to ingredients, using Sundays to check up on your inventory and repurchase, if necessary. We prefer to buy them in bulk, particularly when they’re on sale – Thrive Market is a great resource for this.


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Eating Mindfully This Holiday Season

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Tis' the season for holiday parties, giving and horrendous eating.  It's true.  The holidays can be hard and triggering for a lot of us and it spills over onto our plates.  

Whether it's being around family or being exposed to the buffets full of sugar and fried foods, eating well and mindfully can be such a challenge this time of year.    
Here are my top tips for munching mindfully this holidays season:
1. Think about your triggers:  Is it a family meal where emotions run high?  Is it a buffet where you can eat as much as you want?  Take a moment to think about the areas where you feel out of control and where you turn to food to feel in control again. I highly recommend free-writing this exercise and see what comes to the surface.  
2. Find the WHY: For some of us, the struggle is daily.  For others, the holidays really digs this stuff up.  It's important to go to the root of the issue. And the root is usually our families.  What was the conversation around food in your home growing up?  Was it frantic and frenetic?  Was your mom always on a diet and really anxious at the dinner table?  Was your dad a chronic over-eater who always ate of your plate so you ate quickly to compensate?  Whatever it was, journal it out.  Think back to the FEELING that is the root of your disconnected relationship to food.  What are you covering up?  What are you trying not to feel?
3.  Call it by it's name and then let it go: Once you know what the feeling is that you're trying to cover up, call it by it's name.  If it's anxiety, call it that.  If it's sadness, call it that.  But don't make yourself feel guilty about.  The feeling of guilt also keeps us stuck and in our unhealthy patterns because the ego gets a moment in the spotlight.  
4.  Come out of your mind and into your body: If you find yourself super triggered and reaching for a bag of the most unhealthy thing you can find, do a quick breathing exercise.  One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise or breath of fire.  You can find more breathing exercises here.  Clients do this at work all the time.  If they have a challenging meeting or a tough conversation with their boss that usually ends in a binge, breathing can be a great way to bring yourself out of your triggered mind and back to your body.  
5. When approaching each meal, express your gratitude: Instead of diving in head first and eating without thinking, take a moment to consider your food, where it came from and how grateful you are to eat it.  If you want you can even say a quick prayer.  Some of my clients say prayer like "Thank you for this food.  May it nourish my cells and my soul."  Super simple and basic but reminds you of the role of food in your life. 
6. Forgive yourself and try again: If you catch yourself mid-binge, that's no biggie.  It's actually a big win that you actually caught yourself!  But it's super important not to punish yourself and to quickly get yourself out of shame and guilt and just try to do better next time.  Be kind to yourself and simply try again.  The best way to change a behavior is to be aware of it and practice the change.  
You got this!
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