By Michelle Cass
Healthy lifestyle is indeed the theme for the new millennium but the biggest challenge I seem to hear repeatedly from my friends, family and acquaintances is how to create healthy, satisfying meals in a reasonably short amount of time. In trying to stay realistic with busy schedules while still connecting and appreciating the food we eat, there has to be some premeditated thought and planning that goes into it.
However, once you practice healthy shopping and become acquainted with your favorite produce and the meals you enjoy, like any habit, it becomes second nature. I like variety and I love everything that nature provides us. It’s so delicious and satisfying and undeniably no coincidence that they’re packed with protective constituents that protect us from disease, give us the energy and balance we need, ensure proper metabolic function and weight management, aid in digestion and provide an overall glow and vitality that is inherently our birthright.
Unfortunately, this intrinsic knowledge has been clouded over by the package food industry and all it’s nutrient robbing concoctions. Food is practically unrecognizable these days yet once we revert back to the basics and consume it the way nature intended, our energy tends to rebound and symptoms of ill health dissipate. If we were to break it down to the simplicity of how the body runs, the plain truth is that we are designed to consume what is provided for us in it’s basic form.
Difficulties arose because we have been drawn away from growing and harvesting our own food and conditioned to rely on a system of factory manipulated creations. We need to get back to the basics and have a little fun, creativity and appreciation for nature while doing so. Personally, I’ve adopted a system to my diet that ensures I receive a days worth of whole, plant based, healthy nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, minerals and essential fatty acids.
I try to fill my fridge with an array of colorful produce that includes dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, bok choy, dandelion) root vegetables (carrots, radishes, beets, turnips), stems (celery, asparagus) and many more vegetables and fruit, legumes, herbs and seeds including cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms, cabbage, parsley, dill, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, beans and so on. Having a wide array of healthy food in my fridge at all times ensures that whatever I decide to make that day will be something wholesome and good for me.
The transition to healthy eating will not happen overnight but choosing to fill your shopping cart and fridge with fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to start. Commit to one big salad a day as a meal and see what a difference it makes in your overall health. Salads don’t have to be boring or laborious. Having the right kitchen tools can also speed up the process and make for beautiful presentation.
I sometimes use a V-slicer which cuts the time and effort by more than half when slicing or dicing vegetables. It’s little tricks like those that turn healthy food into the new fast food, ensuring you eat what you need with ease, convenience and high nutritional value. As much as I love food, I don’t find it appealing to spend unnecessary time preparing it so I’ve managed to maximize my efficiency, shop for an assortment of delicious fruits and vegetables to always have on hand and make healthy eating a big priority in my daily routine.
Super Salad Ingredients:
Chopped kale, spinach, Swiss chard or collard greens (Rich in calcium for bone health, vitamin C for joints, skin and hair, beta carotene for tissue repair and folate for cardiovascular health)
Sliced purple cabbage:
(Full of vitamin K and nutrients that prevent nerve damage and help with mental functions, high in sulfur which promotes healthy hair, nails and skin, removes toxins from the body, high in potassium which help regulate blood pressure by opening up the blood vessels, easing the flow of blood)
(rich in beta-carotene which prevents macular degeneration, slows down the aging of cells and promotes glowing, healthy skin, anti-cancer properties, helps prevent heart disease and stroke and cleanse the body)
Sliced red onion:
(Anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, promotes cardiovascular health, helps control glucose levels)
(Vitamin A and C rich which help immunity and skin, anti-inflammatory, reduces bad cholesterol, relieves pain and reduces inflammation)
(Lower heart disease, help treat and prevent disease, anti-cancer, gastric and respiratory aid) Tomatoes (Prostrate, colorectal, lung and stomach cancer protection, increases potassium intake which reduces risk of stroke, muscle mass loss and bone density loss, helps fight depression, improves collagen and regulates mood, sleep and appetite).
(High in potassium, vitamin A, helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides, weight loss promoting and helps fight belly fat)
Sprouted pumpkin seeds:
(high in magnesium, rich in zinc which helps with immunity, supports prostate health, anti-diabetic effect, hormone stabilizer, promotes heart and liver health)
Kelp noodles (optional):
(Improved thyroid function from iodine, absorption of radioactive material and heavy metals, decreases allergies, benefits glandular, bone and circulatory health)
(Heart health, lowers blood pressure, improves digestion, aids in weight management, increases energy, lowers bad cholesterol and controls blood sugar)
How to sprout pumpkin seeds
Soaked or sprouted pumpkin seeds are easy to prepare. They can be eaten as a healthy snack or added to salads or dishes. Ingredients: 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, clean, filtered water, 1 to 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp Himalayan or sea salt or to taste. Combine the seeds in a large jar and add enough filtered water to cover them completely.
Seal the jar and allow the seeds to soak overnight or for 12 hours. Replace the water once if you can. For soaking, drain the seeds and rinse them in a wire mesh basket, then dry then with a towel. Place them in a bowl, add the vinegar and salt and mix well.
For sprouting, place the seeds back in the jar and cover it with a nylon screen or cheesecloth. Invert the jar into a bowl and allow it to sit at room temperature away from direct sun or heat. Then rinse, drain, dry, and season as above. Spread the seeds in a single layer in a baking dish and place in a warm oven.
Ideally, it should be no higher than 115 degrees F to preserve the enzymes. Allow the seeds to dry completely. It takes two hours in a warm oven. You can turn the oven on and turn it off to create a warm environment. If you have a dehydrator you can dehydrate under 110 degrees for four to six hours.
Cool and store in an airtight container. A simple homemade Italian dressing made with ¼ cup of white balsamic vinegar and ½ cup of olive oil and 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning works well with this salad.
Simply pour ingredients in a jar, shake and drizzle over a salad. Michelle Cass is a Toronto-based longtime vegan and health enthusiast with a background in holistic nutrition. She is also the co-owner of RawFoodz Inc. www.rawfoodz.com