With our little girl’s due date just 7 weeks away (feels like it will be an eternity and the blink of an eye at the same time!) I’m doing some serious planning ahead. I’ve never been the master of transitions and with this being our first child I know its going to be a big one. While I can’t prepare for everything, there are simple things I can have planned to make the transition a bit easier, including nourishing meals stocked in the freezer and a list of recipes that are manageable once we get the hang of things.
I’ve been compiling this list for months. Every time we have a meal that requires only a few ingredients and can be made quickly I add it to my spreadsheet. I plan to create a few weeks worth of meal plans using these recipes and corresponding grocery lists so that after family has left and we settle into our new life its one less thing I need to think about for a few weeks.
However, you don’t need to be having a baby to benefit. You may have children buzzing around you and need inspiration for healthy meals that take no time or maybe your work schedule has you walking in the door too exhausted to give much thought to cooking. These quick and easy meals are for you! Even the freezer meal ideas. I have enjoyed having meals ready in the freezer long before pregnancy since we all have those crazy busy weeks.
Quick & Easy Meals
- Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing
- BBQ Cauliflower Salad with Zesty Ranch Dressing
- Spicy Red Lentil Curry
- Eggplant, Tomato, and Chickpea Curry
- Spicy Taco Quinoa Bowl
- Black Bean & Quinoa Taco Wraps
- Taco Chili with Nacho Cheeze Sauce
- Enlightened Miso Power Bowl from Oh She Glows, page 177
- Energizing Broccoli Dal from the Oh She Glows app
- Creamy Broccoli & Red Pepper Macaroni from Yum Universe, page 236
- Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Sometimes I make this recipe, but most of the time I put the sweet potatoes in the crockpot (no need to poke with a fork or add water, just toss them in!) and we add whatever toppings are on hand – black beans, diced tomato, salsa, green onions, avocado or guacamole.
- Engine2 Pizza Crust topped with all our favorite veggies (spinach, mushrooms, olives, broccoli, diced cherry tomatoes). I’m currently on the hunt for a gluten-free crust without all the junk that can either be purchased or made ahead and frozen, so I’d love to know if anyone has recommendations!
Stock Your Freezer
- Toasted Super Seed Bread – Bake, allow to cool completely, slice, and store in small resealable bags. I love having this as a side to any dish or toasting and topping with smashed avocado, tomato slices, and a touch of salt and pepper.
- Maple Pecan Granola from Everyday Detox, page 54.
- Cinnamon Raisin Snack Bars from Everyday Detox, page 67.
- Chocolate Banana Power Bars were a freezer staple for my sister when her children were born. She made them without the chocolate frosting and I plan to whip these up using coconut butter in place of coconut oil.
- Peanut Butter Cacao Energy Balls
Do you have meals that were a lifesaver during exceptionally busy seasons? I’d love to hear from you!
When warm weather arrives I start making Overnight Oat Parfaits like a mad woman. I have a new creation nearly every morning, except when I’m enjoying some Easy Vegan and Gluten-free Pancakes on the weekend with my hubby.
Dips & Main Dishes
I’m convinced the only thing that could make a salad undesirable to me is pregnancy. In the first trimester it was the nausea, now in the third trimester it’s simply “huh, a salad? Yea, no thanks”. But fortunately veggies and dip are my big cravings now and there are so many fun dips to create in just minutes! I love that my favorite dip recipes incorporate spices, which have so many, often overlooked, health benefits! My favorites this month have been Dreena Burton’s Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus, Angela Liddon’s Edamame Hummus, and Wendy’s Walnut Lentil Pâté.
Rainbow Tacos with Tangy Mango Dressing from Sophia were the perfect quick and delicious recipe after a busy day. They came together in just minutes and were a satisfying twist on your typical taco. I was actually in such a hurry that I didn’t have time to cook the lentils and used just the black beans and they were delicious!
Dana’s Spanish Quinoa Stuffed Peppers may take 45 minutes to bake but are easy to prep and the cooking time allows you to clean up all the dishes with plenty of time to spare! I definitely recommend making the Creamy Cilantro Dressing, which really took the flavor over the top!
Okay, I know I said I wasn’t into salad’s much any more, but that must have started mid-month, because early in the month I enjoyed diving into Angela Liddon’s The Big Salad. Roasted sweet potato rounds and tangy almond butter dressing make any salad delectable.
The warm weather has left me desirous of a fresh drink to cool me off with just a little energy boost. Iced Vanilla Bean Matcha Latte from Angela Liddon has been the perfect solution!
Early in the month we enjoyed strawberries dipped in Chocomole while preparing our baby’s room. Actually, I should say that I enjoyed most of it while I helped oversee the crib assembly and hanging of pictures. 😉 Hey, every successful project needs an overseer.
Have you cooked or created a great recipe recently that you’d like me to share? I love trying new recipes, so please send your favorite plant-powered to Stacy@thenourishinghealth.com for a chance to be featured in the months to come!
Is dairy the best way to obtain calcium? Many people believe so, however, obtaining calcium is more than simply how many milligrams we consume daily. How much you consume isn’t necessarily the issue, rather how much you absorb. Many factors influence calcium absorption, including age, the amount of calcium you require, amount consumed, and other compounds that accompany it when consumed.
Dairy does contain high amounts of calcium, however it also contains high amounts of animal protein, which is acidic within your body causing an increased amount of calcium to be excreted in the urine. This is an excellent video explaining how the pH of our bodies is affected by various factors, including calcium absorption.
Dietary factors that induce calcium loss in the urine include:
- Animal protein
- Refined sugar
- Aluminum-containing antacids
- Drugs such as antibiotics, steroids, and thyroid hormones
- Vitamin A supplements
There are plant foods that are really rich in calcium. A few include…
- Dark leafy greens, such as bok choy, turnip greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce
- Tofu and tempeh
- Sesame seeds and tahini
- Dried figs
Other important factors for bone health are:
- Strength training – Generally muscle health mirrors bone health.
- Adequate Vitamin D levels, which are best obtained from the sun.
Your jaw may have dropped at the thought of removing or significantly reducing dairy from your diet. I promise you don’t have to leave all of your favorites behind! Explore a few of our “cheesy” favorites to not only omit dairy but to move toward ingredients that nourish as well!
- Cashew Cheese – We love pulsing in fresh basil and spreading it on crackers.
- Vegan Mexican Cheese – It is so easy to make the spreadable version of this recipe and store it in the fridge. Any time you want warm queso, simply add some not water and whisk it up!
Who doesn’t love to eat out?! Sharing life with friends and family over a good meal and no clean up! Regardless of how much fun dinner on the town can be restaurants are notorious for salty, calorie-loaded meals that can wreak havoc on your health (especially if you’re dining out regularly!). Thankfully many restaurants are becoming increasingly mindful of those who are more conscious of their health and new restaurants seem to emerge weekly that are health havens without losing the flavor!
Check out my tips for navigating restaurants regardless of where you go and you’re sure to have a good time without feeling lousy later!
- Let the Legend Lead – Many restaurants have a legend on their menu indicating if a dish is low-sodium, free of a specific ingredient, vegan, or vegetarian. However, simply because the dish has a low-sodium or gluten-free icon next to it does not automatically mean its the most healthful option. Try to avoid meals with words like “fried” or “sautéed” since both will be heavy on oil. Rather opt for dishes that use key words such as “steamed”, “baked”, or “broiled”. The firs, and most important aspect, is to identify dishes heavy on vegetables and then work with the following tips.
- Swap out the Sides – It’s easy for the side dishes to load on some serious calories, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. If a sandwich or wrap typically comes with chips or fries try the side salad and steal a few of your neighbors fries (my husband loves it when I do this!) 😉
- Don’t Get Condiment Crazy – Dips and sauces are typically are sneaky places for plenty of oil, sugar, salt, and dairy. I love a good sauce, but I typically ask for it on the side so I can determine how much I desire to use and don’t be afraid to inquire about the ingredients in that sauce. It may be easy to skip the sauce and see if your dish can be flavored with fresh herbs.
- Get Creative! – If you’re at a restaurant where the main dishes don’t appeal to your dietary choices get creative by compiling several side dishes to serve as your main dish. How about some refried beans, salsa, side salad, and steamed vegetables to create a Mexi-style salad. Or a side of brown rice, steamed vegetables, tofu, and soy sauce for your own little Buddha’s Bowl? Sounds good to me!
- Veg Out! – You may not ascribe to consistently eating a vegan or vegetarian diet but that doesn’t mean you have to overlook them on the menu. More and more restaurants offer fabulously flavorful vegan and vegetarian options using nourishing substitutes like vegetables and tempeh in creative ways. The chef’s creations may just surprise you.
- Do Your Research – Check out the restaurant where you’re dining in advance. Happy Cow is an excellent website and mobile app that allows you to search for restaurants based on your zip code using categories such as “veg-friendly”, “vegetarian” and “vegan”. Searching for a veg-friendly restaurants ensures you’ll have more choices for all those you dine with.