Easy Ideas for Healthier Living

A new morning routine to start the day with good intentions and carry through. Really, just thinking about eating more nutritious foods and doing one or two little things in the kitchen keeps the process of healthy eating moving forward.

1. Eat a good breakfast: eggs, homemade granola, oatmeal, French toast, yogurt, fresh fruit.

2. Fill a water glass (sometimes I flavor it with citrus, herbs, mint, ginger, or cucumber) and take vitamins.

3. Check the frig and pantry for what needs to be used. This is a critical step, if you're like me, all the produce in the store or farmer's market looks so good that loading up is easy. Then I have tons of stuff to use up before it gets old.

4. Prep work: This can take just 5-10 minutes, or as long as you want. This is looking ahead to meals for the next couple of days and thinking about what to cook. And it is also about making pantry items to stock up with exciting flavors.

Just the beginning of good ideas:

Yogurt -- I got a yogurt maker for Christmas, but it is quite easy to make your own without one. Go here for simple instructions. Just be sure to keep it sanitary.

Pizza dough -- I make this no-knead by putting it in the frig overnight. I the morning take it out and let it rise.

Baked Brown Rice--soak rice in water overnight and drain (optional). Fry rice in a little olive oil, making it nutty and flavorful, this is also optional. Put into an oven-safe pan, add a dash of olive oil, salt, lemon zest, rosemary, or whatever flavorings you prefer, cover with water. Cook covered dish at 350 degrees until the water is absorbed.

Salads -- pageful of delicious ideas.

Pesto -- whizz a small chunk of Parmensan in the food processor, add walnuts, zip, add basil (and other greens like kale, spinach, etc) zip, pour a stream of olive oil through the feeder tube and blend. Keep in a jar in the frig for a week. Use on salads, pizzas, pasta, potatoes.

Roasted Garlic -- Put a head of garlic on a double layer of foil, pour on olive oil, roast in a hot oven until tender and creamy. Can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, but use it up on salad dressings, veggies, pizzas, etc.

Soak or Cook Beans -- Day 1--Rinse and soak the beans in a big pot of salted water overnight.
Day 2--Drain and cook beans in a fresh pot of water with salt, add flavorings if you choose to, like herbs, bay leaves, garlic.

Start a Soup or a Slow Cooker Meal -- millions of ideas available on the internet to keep you from coming home late and hungry and running out for an unhealthy restaurant meal.

Salad Dressings -- it's silly to buy salad dressing when it is so easy to make your own. A good variety of ideas here.

Endless Chicken Stock -- another link to Kitchen Stewardship. A wonderful idea that I will be doing regularly now.

Sprout Seeds -- powerhouses of nutrients to add to sandwiches and salads. These are easy to grow in your kitchen for some fresh greens in winter. Grow them in a canning jar in a dark, cool cupboard, to simulate under ground, rinse twice a day. A few days later they are ready to eat.

Sun Tea -- mix up some flavored tea bags with black tea bags and fill a pitcher with cold water. Let the sun create its solar magic. This is the easiest way to prevent drinking sodas.

Stewed Prunes -- slice an orange into thin wedges, put in a pot with 1 pound of dried prunes, add a cinnamon stick, just cover with water and cook over medium heat until the juice thickens to syrup. They don't need any sweetening, they are already perfect. Keeps in the frig for a week. A wonderful idea from Melissa Clark's cookbook, A Homemade Life.

Roasting Vegetables -- peel and cube veggies, such as beets, winter squashes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes. Coat with olive oil and herbs on a baking sheet, pop into a hot oven and cook until tender.
                                            Tamar Adler's video of Roasting Vegetables Ahead

Other quick things that make life easier: Prerinse salad greens, make carrot or celery sticks, marinate some meat, cut up a pineapple or cantaloupe.

Give the counters and sink a quick wipe and sweep the floor if needed and I'm done for the day.

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