Crowding Out Bad Foods with Good

When I first started losing weight, I made that my priority.  There’s some stuff in my family history (e.g., Type II diabetes) that would suggest that being at a healthy weight was essential.  So I signed up for Weight Watchers at work, and – with the exception of ensuring I ate at least the minimum number of fruits and veggies everyday – I didn’t worry too much about the quality of my food, as long as it stayed within my “Points+.”  That is, I decided I’d rely on diet sodas and some processed foods, to the extent that I had to, in order to get my weight down.  Then I’d worry about cleaning up my foods later.  You know, baby steps.

Well now it’s “later,” and I have to admit that I often have difficulty deciding what to eat.  I’m convinced that a strictly or at least mostly whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest option.  I sort of wish I didn’t know this (ignorance is bliss), but I can’t unknow what I know.  I find it tricky to find things that 1) I like, 2) are relatively simple to prepare, and 3) don’t require too much shopping outside of what I can find at the regular ol’ grocery store.  (And getting my family on board is a whole other battle I’m not going to win any time soon, which is source of stress that I won’t go into now.)

I have to admit that I’m in a bit of a funk with this lately.  (My daughter’s birthday party over the weekend really threw me off – can you say “TWO cupcakes”?)  But I am attempting to gradually incorporate some new, yet simple choices into my diet.  I literally have to re-focus my efforts weekly, and even daily, but I’m attempting to “crowd out” the bad choices with healthier ones.  Here are some of the things that are getting me through right now.

Buffalo Hummus
I’ve been eating hummus like it’s my job.   It’s yummy and I feel like it’s a healthier snack option – especially when I’m in a hurry.  That is, grabbing some hummus on blue corn chips beats the snot out of, say, pretzels and French onion dip.  I often eat hummus (typically garlic flavored) in this wrap with quinoa and veggies.    I’m also learning how to make hummus in my food processor – it’s healthier than the popular brands that contain too much oil and GMO ingredients.  Homemade is also cheaper than store-bought, but love this Buffalo-flavored version sold at Nature’s Way.  I’d like to make that one for myself, too, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to figure out the ingredient proportions to get the taste right.  It tastes  just like chicken buffalo dip but without all the grease and, you know, chicken.  Anyway, I’ve been known to have up to four kinds of hummus in my refrigerator (garlic, buffalo, spinach & artichoke, and homemade beet – yum!).

Beets!
Who knew?  I used to hate them!  Now I grab a bunch in the produce section every week at the store.  They go in my hummus (see above!), and they totally make a salad!  Added benefit:  They help keep your liver clean.  Bring on the wine!

Here’s one of my favorite salads:  lettuce mix + spinach, chickpeas, pineapple and beets. (I was out of strawberries that day.)

With just a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar

With just a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar – Delicious!

Berries
Another surprise:  I don’t hate blueberries like I thought I did, either!  Okay, they’re not my favorite berry, but they’re actually not bad.  (They’re a little ‘skin-y.’  And it freaks me out that they’re actually white on the inside, but I don’t have to look!)  I have a friend who attempts to “eat the rainbow” of fruits and veggies every day.  I thought that was great advice, as I noticed that I’m often missing the “BIV” end of the  spectrum.  Blueberries and blackberries help my cause and they’re super in this meal of cold quinoa (white & red) and coconut milk (plus strawberries).

Pretty AND tasty!

Pretty, healthy AND tasty!

Black Bean Burgers
I found a super, super simple recipe for black bean burgers from The Happy Herbivore – just six, common ingredients.  I try to make them for myself when the rest of the family is eating regular burgers.  I think they’re tasty, plus I’m not eating a completely different dinner than they are.

Kale Chips
I’ve been hearing about these wonders from my friends for a while.  I finally made them myself and I get what all the hype is about.  So easy and yummy.

H20
Okay, not a food, but same principle.  I’m trying to drink more water and finally kill my nasty diet soda habit.  I’m bad about both choosing water over something else and remembering to drink water throughout the day.  Here’s my latest trick for keeping up with my h20 intake:  Skip the regular water glass and drink it out of one of my stemless wine glasses.  The feel of the glass’ shape in my hand is just so pleasing to me.  It feels fancier and more fun than my boring old water glasses and plastic cups.  Getting more than one of my senses involved helps tremendously.

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

“Fast” Food
I try to have fast, finger fruits and veggies on hand, so I can just quickly grab something to snack on to either satisfy me or to prevent me from grabbing one of the kid’s snacks before I can think up and prepare a healthy meal option for myself.  Apples, bananas, and carrots are my go-to items right now.

What are your favorite healthy snacks and meals?

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