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Getting Healthy Foods In On The Fly

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When our lifestyles demand more from us than normal- when we have a stretch of overstressed, anxious, or demanding work ahead of us, it is never so important (or challenging) to keep ourselves well nourished.

For me, during these times, I keep my home stocked and ready with single-handed or 3 minute meal ingredients.  I make the preparation priority and if I can not find time to prepare these myself I pay extra for them to come prepared.

When I reflected on what went wrong last time, I came up with some guidelines to help me create a plan that would work.

1.  I needed to have all the macronutrients met:  Healthy Fats, Whole Food Carbohydrates, and enough Protein.

2.  Fiber rich foods were emphasized.

3.  I needed warm and cold meal options.

4.  Iron rich foods every day.

5.  Super hydration was necessary.

6.  I had to be able to eat most of these foods while holding a babe in one arm.

7.  If I had any time to prepare something, it was under 3 minutes.

8.  I needed simple effective ways to keep my stress levels managed.

Here are the food ideas and tips that have been working:

Single Handed Foods

These are foods or meals that I could literally eat with one hand, while bouncing a babe in the other.

  • Vegetable crudite plate.

Basically washed, peeled, cut up vegetables on a plate and ready for me to grab throughout the day.

This is a staple in the plan.  I do my best to make a large plate every other day or so and keep it in the fridge or counter during the day so I can keep crunching along.

If you can’t do the prep yourself, I honestly think it would be worth the cost to buy a premade veggie platter at the store.

  • Trail mix

I used to make my own trail mixes, but right now I’m happy to buy ready made ones from our local Trader Joes.  Mine have seeds, nuts and dried fruits– but also some kind of sweet treat- either carob raisins or chocolate chips in there too.  I normally pour out a healthy bowl of this in the morning and have it on the counter as well.

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Roasted veggies

I like to eat my roasted veggies cold as well as warm.  Favorites are carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and beets.  To roast, put in shallow pan, toss olive oil and sea salt.  Bake at 350* for about an hour or until soft.

  • Breakfast cookies

You know the kind that are full of healthy grains, dried fruits, shredded carrots and nuts.

  • Rice Cooker

Rice cookers will cook your grains (doesn’t have to be rice) and some will even steam veggies in a top compartment as well.  Then they will keep the grains warm.  I love scooping up big spoons of warm brown rice or quinoa during the day.  Yes, just plain old rice. It’s subtly sweet, warm and chewy.  Very satisfying.

  • Crockpot stews and soups

I don’t want to gross anyone out, but I unapologetically dip a spoon into my crock pot throughout the day for a quick bite here and there.

I put the meal together to cook overnight, and in the morning it is done and stays warm throughout the day so I can have a ready made, hot meal available– even with one hand.

  • Healthy bars

My favorites are Lara Bars, KIND bars and Odwalla bars.

  • Fresh Fruits

My kids go through a lot of fresh fruits and sliced veggies anyway with every meal and for snacks.  I do my best to snack along with them on these too.

3 Minute Prep Meals

There are times now that I can put together a quick meal for myself.  I try to keep the ingredients for these meals on hand.  Not everyday, mind you, but sometimes I can swing the following:

  • Ezekiel bread toasted with cream cheese and fruit jam.
  • Ezekiel bread toasted with avocado and garlic salt.
  • Smoothie.  I really try to do this every day. I keep it simple.  Frozen berries, green juice and a few leaves of kale.  It supercharges me.  I plan to get some coconut kefir to add soon.
  • Pita with hummus
  • Hot air popcorn
  • Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches
  • Reheat some pureed vegetable soups (these need to be premade so it depends if I got to that over the weekend)
  • Grilled cheese
  • Chips with salsa and cultured vegetables

Water Intake

  • Set out 8 glasses every evening.  Seeing the water glasses full and on the counter is one of the best ways for me to keep drinking all day
  • I drink at least one glass of water after every nursing.
  • I drink 1-2 glasses with my vitamin supplements.

Thoughts on Rest

In the first two weeks after the birth, I literally slept when my babe did.  I had help almost every day during that time, so if the baby slept, someone was there to be with my two toddlers.

Now, I can’t always sleep when he sleeps. It could be that my other children are still awake or my mind and body simply can’t turn off like a switch during the day any longer.

I had an all or nothing perspective on this before and it led me to overwork myself if I thought I couldn’t sleep.

Now when I find pockets of down time in the day I choose to REST my body. This means I will lay or sit down. Perhaps take a glass of water and cup of tea.

And lately I’ve been practicing deep breathing. Even 5 minutes of deep breathing rejuvenates me– my body and mind gets oxygentaed, I’ve turned on my calm response and mitigated stress.  Let me tell you I’ll be doing these short bits of deep breathing throughout the day for a long time– I love them.

My Food Mindset

I wanted to add that in no way am I restricting what I eat. If someone brings over a yummy treat or I feel like diving into some chips, (or just have a hankering for homemade chocolate chip cookies) I go for it.

I don’t think of this as a diet. More than anything I just think of this as fueling my body well. I do my best to keep putting in the good stuff.  When I crave something, I eat it.

So that’s been the plan so far and it’s working wonders.  It also makes me realize how incredibly essential it is to make healthy, yummy good for you foods CONVENIENT.  It is the key, really, because all the crap food that makes you feel lethargic and down have one thing going for them–convenience– and they’ll win on that alone in the end.  Especially when we are pressed for time and life is more demanding than usual!

How do you stay healthy and strong when life becomes more demanding than usual?

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{ 11 comments }

Amy@New Nostalgia

this is a great post, and not just for new mom!
i love the idea of a platter of veggies ready to go at all times. i do the same with veggies in mason jars in the refrig. but a plate is even easier to just grab and grub! i agree with you, buying precut is worth the money if it gets people to eat their veggies..if you think about it, it really is the cost of a bag of chips and a box of bars. a good substitute if you ask me!

i just found a great breakfast cookie recipe i will be posting soon.
your ideas inspired me to keep seeking out new ways of getting the nutrients in. thank you!

Pot Luck Mama

This post had my mind racing…so many common ingredients, so many easy changes…thanks!

I also read an underlying message that was already tickling at me…preparation. I really do think my weeks would go more smoothly if I make the time to regroup and prepare (in a culinary sense!) on a regular basis. Hmmm, 4:29 on a Sunday afternoon…wonder what I’ll spend time doing this evening…:)

Great ideas…thank you!

Lisa

Amy– I agree– I think these ideas are great for anyone (sometimes it takes a unique circumstance for me to kick into gear)–
Looking forward to your breakfast cookie recipe– I’ve been trying to find a recipe that matches the breakfast bars I buy at my farmer’s market from a vegan bakery, but haven’t nailed a perfect batch yet :)

Pot Luck Mama– You nailed it! So much about making eating healthy work is in the prep! And for me, making preparation work is simply building new habits!

Maria

I have had bad luck with rice cookers. Do you have a brand/model that you would recommend. I have a very large family that eats a lot of rice and vegetables. Thanks so much.

I love you site … just discovered it!

Aimee

This is an incredible article…so practical and do-able. Thanks for sharing your wisdom to us tired mamas!!

Melissa

Hey! I found you through the UBP and I’m so glad I did! I will definitely be back! I love this post. It is such a great idea. In the books and articles, there is a ton of information, but I find myself asking my girlfriends with new babies what they’ve been doing for meals because I just do not have the time to cook like I used to!

So glad to have found you!

stefanie

what’s your favorite “green juice”-either to drink or throw into smoothies?

Lisa

Hi Stefanie,

I generally get Odwalla or Naked brand– though there is a green juice at Trader Joes that is less expensive and seems comparable in ingredients.

Hope that helps!

Abby

Just had my first KIND bar. I am in love. Thanks for the tip!

Lisa

Abby: I know…aren’t they fantastic! I have to search around for some wholesale place, they can get a bit pricey :)

Jennifer G

These are some great tips. We have a new baby due in November. Thanksgiving to be exact. I am working now on a plan to not get overwhelmed. I am already working on Christmas stuff. We only buy gifts for the kids (24-ish cousins…yikes) and then my mom & my inlaws. This year the kids are all getting cash stuffed into the Christmas cards I send their families. The cash is already sorted in an envelope with a Christmas themed sticky note on each bill with the child’s name on it. Woo Hoo!! My Christmas labels are ready to be printed as soon as my BIL/SIL get settled into their new home (military family) in August. Once those are printed, I will begin working on my Christmas cards…leaving only a few unsealed for a picture of my boys to be stuffed in :) In October I plan to do some freezer cooking and stocking so that I can have some easy meals ready to thaw and heat after baby comes. I LOVE the idea of having “one handed” snacks ready and knowing some quick to pull together “meals” for when I just need something to eat. Thanks so much for this post!!

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