How to Eat Healthy (And Still Keep Your Family Happy)

Tell me if you can relate: You’re serious about being healthy, you’ve gotten rid of the processed food and stocked the fridge full of fresh produce, and you’ve just made a super nutritious meal for your family to enjoy together. Unfortunately, no one else is impressed. Your kids don’t want to eat veggies, your husband doesn’t want to try anything new, or maybe whomever you’re sharing a meal with just has really different tastes than you.

I've been there. When I first started dating my husband, we would often make dinner together. We both liked to cook, the problem was we had totally different ideas of what “good” food was. I was used to making simple, fresh meals. Admittedly, my cooking might have been a little bland, but at least it was healthy. He liked to make really decadent meals, usually full of cheese, breading and butter. Delicious and impressive, but not healthy.  It took some work, and lots of conversations about food, but over time we have both adjusted our styles a bit – I make meals that are a little more hearty and flavorful, and he’s gotten pretty creative with vegetables and healthier ingredients. 

I often talk about this issue with clients who are working hard to improve their health, but face opposition from their family or significant others who aren’t quite ready or willing to embrace change. It’s hard enough to stay on track without the added stress of fighting over what's for dinner or having to make separate meals for everyone, right? Right. 

Well, I'm here to help. I promise, there IS a happy medium somewhere.  I’ve put together some super helpful ways for you to have your veggies, and eat them too! This isn't about trying to convince others to eat like you, resisting peer pressure, or what to order when you're eating out (all important topics, but I'm trying to stay focused here), it's about finding a way for you to make and enjoy nourishing food, without alienating yourself at your own dinner table. You can still stick to your healthy diet and keep the peace at dinnertime.

6 Ways to Eat Healthy, Even if Your Family Doesn't

1.     Make customizable meals. Everyone loves to top their own pizza and make their own tacos.  The key is to provide a variety of options so there’s something for everyone. For pizzas, try adding pineapple, olives, mushrooms, spinach, fresh tomatoes and bell peppers to the menu. For your taco bar, include fillings like black beans, roasted cauliflower, sautéed onions with bell peppers and even an alternative taco “meat” from tofu or tempeh.  Toppings like tomatoes, shredded cabbage, cilantro and avocado are more nutritious additions to the usual cheese and sour cream. 

2.     Make satisfying meals with protein and healthy fats to increase the “hearty” factor.  Even though a salad can fill you up, lots of people have it stuck in their head that healthy food just isn’t filling. Prove them wrong by including protein like beans and whole grains, tofu, or pastured eggs, and healthy fats like avocado, olives or olive oil, nuts and seeds for a satisfying and hearty meal that is still really good for you.

3.     Swap traditional ingredients for healthier alternatives.  You can still make your classic stand-by meals that everyone loves, but upgrade some of the ingredients for a healthier version. For example, swap burgers for portobello mushrooms, zoodles (spiralized zucchini) for pasta noodles, and brown rice or quinoa for white rice. They might even like these new versions better! 

4.    Don’t skimp on flavor – Many people don’t like vegetables because they haven’t been cooked properly or are bland, thrown on the plate as an after thought instead of getting the attention these disease fighting, nutrient dense plants deserve. Adding lots of dried or fresh herbs, spices, garlic, ginger and simple sauces like the pesto recipe below can transform boring veggies into tasty treats.  Experiment with different cooking methods such as steaming, sautéing or roasting, to see which your family likes best.

  5.     Give over some control – Allow your dinner dates to pick one ingredient or aspect of the meal.  For example, if you tell your kids they have to eat a vegetable, then they get to pick which one it is. Or maybe your dinner date wants steak, but you serve it as a steak salad.  It’s about finding a compromise that allows you to stay on track with your healthy eating while letting others still have a say in the food they’re eating too. When people feel included in the process, they are more likely to enjoy the outcome. 

6.     Lead by example – I am firm believer that you can’t control anyone or anything but yourself. People change when they are ready, not because we want them to. Remember that you are taking care of yourself first, which allows you to show up the best you can for others. Nobody else has to agree with, or even understand the choices you're making when you know what's right for YOU. I've noticed that when you are healthy and happy, people notice, and naturally want to follow in your footsteps. Soon you’ll be hearing, “I’ll have what she’s having!” 

As mentioned above, here's a delicious and easy to make zoodle recipe. Some whole wheat pasta once in awhile isn't necessarily unhealthy, but swapping for zucchini provides more water, fiber, and nutrients, without the refined flour and gluten of wheat noodles. This will leave you feeling satisfied, without the heaviness of blood sugar spike of traditional pasta. And zucchini are still in season for about another month!

Zoodles with Kale Pesto

Gluten Free, Soy Free, Vegan

2 medium zucchini  

1 1/2 cup basil leaves

1 cup kale leaves

2 tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. nutritional yeast

2 cloves of garlic

A pinch each of sea salt and black pepper (or to taste)

Additional options: Fresh or sun dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, chopped greek olives, sauteed greens like chard or broccolini. 

Blend all pesto ingredients together in a food processor or blender. 

If you have a spiralizer, use for the zucchini noodles. If not, you can use a vegetable peeler, just discard the center core with the seeds. 

You can lightly sautee the zoodles for just a few minutes in a bit of olive oil and pinch of salt, but they are good raw too! Top with the pesto and any other desired toppings. Enjoy!

 
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Try these suggestions out, and let me know how it goes! Or if you've found any other methods that have helped, I'd love to hear your experience. I hope this helps you to have a happier, healthier meal time with loved ones. 

Meal Prepping - Eat better, save time and spend less

I’ve been talking to friends and clients a lot about meal prep lately. "Meal prepping" and "Batch cooking" are buzz words right now in the wellness industry, and with good reason. We all want to eat good, healthy food, but can’t find the time, or don’t know what to make. Meal Prep to the rescue!

While it's true that cooking can take more time and effort than eating out, the benefits of being in control of what goes in your body are really, really worth it. If you’re in the habit of eating a meal out or ordering takeout more than twice a week, I encourage you to commit to cooking more. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to take that much time. When you make your own food, you will consume less salt, less sugar, less additives, preservatives and dyes, and gain more nutrients, satisfaction, and connection to your food. You’ll most likely even save money, find more time in your day, and stay on track with your intended diet. It’s a win- win!

Here’s the basis of meal planning: Choose your meals and cook all the food you’re going to eat for the week ahead, all at once. Now, this is totally flexible, and of course, you can tailor it to you and your family’s needs. Maybe healthy breakfasts and lunches are under control, but you're tired after work and don't ever feel like cooking. Or maybe dinners are handled, but you tend to eat donuts at work and fast food for lunch (oh no!).  Or maybe the next three days are really busy, so you need all meals for just those days. You can cook full meals and keep in the fridge or freezer, prep the separate ingredients and assemble later, or you could simply wash and chop all ingredients to save time later.  Totally up to you and your needs. 

Each week I look ahead to see what my schedule is like and I prepare accordingly.  For example, this week I knew it would be warm out and my husband wanted to grill lots of veggies in the evenings, so I didn't need to prepare any full dinners. However, I’d be working from home in the afternoons, and didn’t want to spend too much time making lunch (but still wanted something really nutritious and tasty).  So I focused on preparing food for lunches and snacks I could easily put together at home. As well as granola, because as you may have seen on my insta, it's a staple in my house. 

 
 my Actual meal prep this week. I promise, you can do this!

my Actual meal prep this week. I promise, you can do this!

 I assembled this salad in about 3 minutes, thanks to prepping the day before!

I assembled this salad in about 3 minutes, thanks to prepping the day before!

 

So set aside a few hours, put on some music, grab an apron, and get cooking! Every week your menu may change and the specific ingredients will be different, but here is basic guideline I recommend following to get started.  
 

Basic Meal Prep Ideas

  • Roast some root veggies, like sweet potatoes, beets & carrots.  I like to roast with coconut oil, sea salt, black pepper and dried herbs.

  • Wash and chop fresh produce, like watermelon, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers & kale. These can be snacks, added to salads, bowls & stir-fry's, either cooked or raw. You're more likely to eat fruits and veggies if they're already ready to go!

  • Cook your proteins, like chicken, hard-boiled eggs, tofu or tempeh, beans & lentils. Note: fish tastes better right when you cook it, but the good news is it cooks very fast. 

  • Cook some grains, like brown or wild rice, quinoa or soba noodles.

  • Make any sauces, dips or dressings you'll need.

Here is a recipe that lends itself really well to prepping ahead of time. It can be heated quickly in a sautee pan, or enjoyed cold, so bonus points for versatility! If you choose gluten free noodles, this meal can be gluten free, vegan and without the edamame, soy free. Feel free to swap any other veggies to customize as you like. 

 

Broccoli Sesame Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. coconut oil 

8 oz. Buckwheat soba noodles or rice noodles (both are gluten free, but read labels carefully as many soba noodles are made with a blend of grains).

Instructions:

Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl, adding water as needed to create desired consistency. Store in a jar or other airtight container. 

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, and drizzle with a little sesame oil if the noodles stick. 

Wash and chop all the veggies. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the broccoli and mushrooms, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, and option to add the carrots, or leave them out if you prefer them raw. Cook for another two minutes, and add the edamame or chick peas, cooking just for another minute or two. Turn off heat and stir in carrots (if not added earlier) and top with green onions. 

Now assemble as desired. Either combining the noodles, veggies and sauce all together, maybe into 4 containers so its portioned out and ready to go. Alternatively, you can keep the veggies, sauce and noodles each in their own container and assemble whenever you like. Enjoy!

 

1 head of broccoli, ends trimmed and chopped into bite size pieces (including the stalk)

2 large carrots, slice in half lengthwise, and sliced into half moons

 1 cup sliced purple cabbage

1/2 cup edamame or other bean, such as chick peas

4 oz. shitake mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 

2 green onions, sliced thin to add on top

 Sauce:

1/3 cup tahini

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

2 tsp. lime juice

1 tbsp. chopped ginger

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 tsp. sesame oil

a few tbsp. water

 
 
 

If this sounds a little overwhelming, you're not sure what to cook or how to get started, don't worry! I offer meal plans and recipes customized to your specific health needs. This means you eat food that leaves you feeling satisfied and gives your body the nutrients it so desperately needs to function optimally, while eliminating any food triggers that may cause irritating symptoms like bloating, eczema or fatigue. If you're local, let's cook together and I'll show you some meal prep tricks!  Contact me with any questions, and if you try meal prepping, let me know how it goes!