Fear of Processing

Healthy eating is not a trend. Follow the researchers, the scientists and doctors. Podcasts. YouTube. Books. There is common ground among them. Primarily, what I've noted is that we don't eat enough fiber, we consume too much sugar and starch, we eat too much processed food because it's cheap and convenient and we've forgotten how to socialize with our own families because we all eat in a hurry and at different times.

A baked sweet potato topped with lentil salad & feta cheese

Eating whole foods has been around since our beginning. It's still the best thing for us, but the ease of picking up a fast-food meal or popping a frozen lasagna into the oven, makes it difficult for many of us to focus on "good" food. The processing and preparation can take a little time. Consequently, we end up frightened of the kitchen. We develop what I call Fear of Processing!  I get it. Guess what? Making one small change in your lifestyle can give you more time--enough time to prepare and consume healthy meals. At least for dinner. 

I recommend putting your television in the kitchen. You can be entertained while you prepare a healthy dinner for yourself or your family or when you're doing the dinner dishes. No missing out on the news or whatever you love to watch.

How about on Sunday getting all of your lunches prepped for the week? Boil eggs. Roast a chicken. Wash vegetables, fruits and lettuce. Chop onions. Now you've got some options: A green salad with sliced boiled eggs and vegetable sticks. Chicken salad with grapes and nuts on the side. Roasted chicken sandwiches. Add a couple of dinner leftovers, and your lunches are easy throughout the work or school week without resorting to processed food. This is how my granddaughters and their mother eat a healthy lunch every day of the week. This preparation means that they always get good nutrition, they can spend their lunchtime resting, catching up on calls and texts or enjoying their social media exchanges. And, occasionally, they can eat out as a splurge!

If you eat lunch out every day, swap two of those lunches with something from home. Salmon salad on an avocado. Leftover roasted vegetables with sliced steak eaten at room temperature. Lentil salad mixed with vegetables of your choice. There are many more ideas. 

Prepare your own vegetable kabobs ahead of time. For dinner, cook them under the broiler while
a meatloaf or chicken cook in the oven. Better yet, put that chicken (with your favorite seasonings)
in a slow cooker in the morning, turn it on low, and come home to half of your dinner already cooked.

If you eat casseroles for dinner, swap three for a slow cooker dinner without using mixes or canned soup. Assemble everything the night before straight into the crock and store in the refrigerator. In the morning, remove the crock and pop into the cooker. Set on "low" and go to work...or school. Come home, turn off the cooker. Roast a couple of vegetables or toss a simple salad, and there's your dinner with leftovers for luches. There's nothing wrong with casseroles, but most of them use shortcuts like canned soup and assorted prepared sauces with lots of sugar and chemical additives.

We don't need processed foods. We can process whole foods by using:

Our Mouth--When food enters our mouth, we automatically chew! We're designed to process our meals before sending them down into our stomach. Yes, those teeth that we take such good care of will take care of us.

Knives--We can do a little slicing, dicing and chopping. It doesn't have to be perfect! We don't have to do it like the celebrity chefs! This is home cooking. We are in charge. If knives scare you, use a hand-held mandoline, a vegetable peeler and one of those handy-dandy chopping contraptions. How about a small food processor? Try the old-fashioned hand-powered one below.

How about a small food processor? They don't take up much space, you can chop nuts, onions, food for baby to eat, make a dressing or sauce and even use up old bread to make breadcrumbs! The larger ones give you options like slicing, grating and making your own French fries.

Here are some of my favorite easy recipes to have on hand in your refrigerator throughout the week.

Golden, Brown & Delicious --Roasted vegetables ready to scoop into your lunch box or as a dinner side dish.
Tzatziki Salad--A dream of a salad to add to a grilled chicken or burger.
Ricotta Meatballs--Make a big batch and keep in the freezer for an easy dinner on a busy work night.
Freekeh Salad--Eat it alone or top it with grilled salmon or chicken.
Spunky Bean Salad--If you can open a can of beans, you can whip up this salad. A staple to rotate every week or month.
Spinach Quiche or Casserole--no processed unhealthy additives in this easy casserole.
Mini Caprese Salad that will last for several days.
Raw Zucchini Salad with Greek flavors. Great for a snack and as a side that you can prepare on the weekend and enjoy all week.
This shrimp salad is great to take for lunch or to add to a mixed salad any night of the week. 


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