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Food Rituals for Everyday Life and Busy People

Being  busy often gets in the way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  One secret to success in eating healthy while being busy is to keep it simple and create a ritual.  Thinking less and making fewer decisions.

If healthy food is there, you’re more likely to eat it. If you have healthy food available, you don’t have to decide to eat well… you just do it.

Given we love rituals at Ritualize, let us introduce you to the food ritual. Here’s a few choices depending on how you want to work it. Only you know what will work for your schedule, so read on and see if these will fit.

The Sunday Ritual

You don’t have to do this on Sunday, of course. You can choose any day you like.

It’s just that Sunday is often a time when people are more free, more relaxed, and more able to devote time to this type of task. And it’s a time when we’re usually thinking ahead to the upcoming week.

Set aside a couple of hours to do the following.

  • Look ahead to what’s happening in the upcoming week. Where might you not have time to cook? What are the quiet and busy times?
  • Come up with a general menu for at least the next few days. It doesn’t have to be anything in-depth. Just get a basic sense of what you might need to have on hand for the week ahead.
  • Build your shopping list from your menu. This will help you be as effective and efficient as possible when you tackle the shops, and you’ll be less tempted by spontaneous (unhelpful) decisions.
  • Hit the supermarket or grocery store. Stock up on what you need for the week. Consider grabbing a few extra “just in case” emergency items as well, such as canned beans, frozen vegetables, or other easily-stored healthy options that you grab at the last minute.
  • Once you’re back home, start prepping and cooking. Whip up a batch of protein — for example, by grilling or roasting several chicken breasts at once. You could try a casserole in a slow cooker or stews, curries etc, add your washed veggies then divide into containers and freeze or refrigerated.

Some people choose to prepare almost all their meals for the week on Sundays. Others prefer to figure out which meals will be easy to cook just prior to meal time and save them for later, preparing only meals that they might need for busy times (such as lunches at work).

Do what works best for YOU!

The Daily Ritual

You can combine the Sunday Ritual with the Daily Ritual — for example, by preparing your meat/protein on Sunday, and then adding some quick-prep veggies on the day of eating.  For example, you may have your chicken breast already cooked and sliced, ready for a quick stir-fry.

During the Daily Ritual, you can prep a few extra items to have on hand for later in the day, or the following day, like chopped vegetables.  Glass containers are a great way to store chopped up vegetables.

Try a Morning Ritual where you whip up a fast-cook bowl of rolled oats or a blender omelet.

  • Shake up your rolled oats with any other items (e.g. ground flax seeds, cinnamon, protein powder, other grains, etc.) in a large container.
  • In the morning, scoop out the dry mix, pour in some water, and pop it in the microwave. Top with fruit and Greek yogurt (see our recipe here) and enjoy a healthy breakfast that will keep you going all morning.
  • Whip up some eggs in a blender (with some veggies if you like) and keep in a container for the next morning. Just pour and cook. You can prep this egg mix a few days in advance so you have it on-hand for a quick, healthy breakfast.

It’s easy to prep a salad that won’t go soggy during the day. Try our Salad in a Jar recipe.

Or try a Dinner Ritual where you simply make extra portions and save the rest for tomorrow. Again, it doesn’t take much more time to prepare a few extra things, so cook in bulk where possible.

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Creative Ways to Eat More Vegetables

Including loads of vegetables in your diet is so important for your health. Vegetables are incredibly rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which boost your health and help fight off disease. Additionally, they are good for weight control as they have a low calorie content. Getting the required several serves of vegetables can be hard for some people.Some simply don’t like them while others are unsure how to prepare them so they taste good.Here are some unique ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet, so that you never get sick of eating them.

Veggie-Based Soups

Soups are a great way to eat multiple servings of vegetables at once. You can make veggies the “base” by pureeing them and adding spices. You can also simple cook veggies in broth or cream-based soups. Adding even a small amount of extra veggies, such as broccoli, to soups is a great way to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Try this easy Carrot and Ginger soup.

Zucchini Lasagna

Another creative way to eat more veggies is by making zucchini lasagna. Traditional lasagna is a pasta-based dish made by layering lasagna sheets with sauce, cheese and meat. It’s tasty, but it’s also typically very high in processed carbs. A great way to prepare this delicious dish so that it has a lower carb content and more nutrients is to replace the lasagna noodles with strips of zucchini.

Zucchini is a rich source of B vitamins and vitamin C, in addition to trace minerals and fiber.

Experiment With Veggie Noodles

Veggie noodles are easy to make, and a great way to get more veggies in your diet. They’re also an excellent low-carb substitute for high-carb foods, such as pasta. They are made by inserting vegetables into a spiralizer, which processes them into noodle-like shapes. You can use a spiralizer for almost any type of vegetable. They are commonly used for zucchini, carrots and sweet potatoes. Once the “noodles” are made, they can be eaten just like pasta and combined with sauces, other vegetables or meat.  Try this Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Prawns.

Add Veggies to Sauces

Adding extra vegetables to your sauces is a sneaky way to increase your veggie intake. While you are cooking sauce, such as a bolognese sauce, simply add some veggies of your choice to the mix, such as chopped onions, carrots, spinach or capsicum (peppers). You can also puree certain veggies with seasonings and make them into a sauce on their own.

Make a Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower is extremely versatile, and there are many unique ways to include it in your diet. One strategy is to replace regular, flour-based pizza crust with a cauliflower crust, which is made by combining cauliflower with eggs and almond flour and some seasonings. You can then add your own toppings, such as fresh veggies, tomato sauce and cheese.

Substituting cauliflower crust for flour-based crusts is an excellent way to enjoy the delicious taste of pizza, while increasing your nutrient intake. A cup (100 grams) of cauliflower contains only 5 grams of carbs and 25 calories, in addition to lots of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which flour-based crusts lack.

Blend With Smoothies

Smoothies are great for breakfast or a snack. Typically, they are made by combining fruit with ice, milk or water in a blender. However, you can also add veggies to smoothies without compromising the flavour.

Fresh, leafy greens such as kale and spinach are common smoothie additions and a great way to get a serving of vegetables. Try this Breakfast Berry Smoothie. Just 1 cup (30 grams) of spinach contains 181% of your daily needs for vitamin K and 56% for vitamin A. The same serving of kale provides 206% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 134% for vitamin C and 684% for vitamin K.

Add Veggies to Casseroles

Including extra veggies in casseroles is a another great way to increase your veggie intake. Casseroles are a dish that combines pieces of meat with chopped vegetables and often potatoes.

Left-over Veggies with Scrambled Eggs

In the western world we tend not to think of eating vegetables for breakfast.  However, there are opportunities. Heating left-over veggies and pouring in some beaten eggs is a tasty, nutrient dense breakfast.  Find the recipe here.

Lettuce Wrap or Veggie Bun

Using lettuce as a wrap or certain veggies as buns in place of bread is an easy way to eat more veggies. Lettuce wraps can be a part of several types of dishes, and are often used to make low-carb sandwiches and bunless burgers. Additionally, many types of veggies, such as portobello mushroom caps, sliced sweet potatoes and sliced eggplant make excellent buns. Lettuce wraps and veggie buns are an easy way to reduce your calorie intake while providing you with extra nutrients.

 Grilled Veggie Kebabs

Veggie kebabs are a great dish to try if you want to increase your veggie intake. To make them, place chopped vegetables of your choice on a skewer and cook on a grill or barbecue. Capsicum, onions and tomatoes work well for kebabs. You can also use mushrooms and zucchini.

Add Veggies to Tuna Salad

Adding veggies to tuna salad is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Try this Tune and Rice Salad.

Make Stuffed Capsicum

Stuffed capsicum is an easy and excellent dish to include in your diet if you want to increase your veggie intake. They are made by stuffing halved capsicum with cooked meat, beans, rice and seasonings and then baking them in the oven. Capsicums are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A and C. You can increase the nutrition content of capsicum by including lots of extra veggies. Onions, spinach or cauliflower all work well.

Add Veggies to Guacamole

It is fairly easy to add veggies to guacamole, and makes for a unique way to increase your veggie intake. Guacamole is an avocado-based dip made by mashing ripe avocado and sea salt together with lemon or lime juice, garlic and additional seasonings.  Try this Easy Guacamole recipe. A variety of vegetables taste great when incorporated into guacamole. Capsicum, tomatoes and onions are good options.

You can also make guacamole with roasted vegetables.

Make Cauliflower Rice

A unique way to increase your veggie intake is by eating cauliflower rice. It is made by pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor into small granules. You can then use it raw or cooked as a substitute for rice.  This Cauliflower Fried Rice is delicious. Even the kids will love it!

Cauliflower is significantly higher in nutrients than rice. It is particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium.

To Summarise

There are many unique ways you can include more vegetables in your diet. Make “rice” and “buns” with vegetables, or incorporate them into common dishes, such as casseroles and soups. By making veggies a regular part of your food intake, you’ll significantly increase your intake of fibre, nutrients and antioxidants. Eating enough vegetables is also linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and may be beneficial for keeping your weight under control.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong eating more veggies.

Benefits Good Fats in your Diet
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Choosing the right olive oil for better health

Benefits Good Fats in your DietThe benefits of olive oil

We know the amazing benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), such as a huge array of beneficial polyphenols and fats that are good for your heart and brain. EVOO also has a high smoke point, so you can fry and bake with it, unless you’re cooking at very high temperatures (such as deep frying).

Not all oils are created equal

However – you may be surprised to know that know not all are created equal. When it comes to EVOO, you don’t always get what the label says.

There are beautiful EVOOs available in Southern Europe, but most of them don’t make it to Australia, and many export oils have been mixed with normal olive oil or even canola oil.

In addition, many small growers from the Mediterranean, who may have processed and bottled the olive oil themselves in the past, are now sending their olives off-site to a pressing plant.  This means olives may be left for several days waiting to be pressed, allowing the fruit to start fermenting, affecting the flavour and producing chemicals.

The oil from fermented olives needs to go through a process using chemicals, heat, pressure and filtering to be fit for human consumption. This removes many of the beneficial phytochemicals found in EVOO, which also reduces the health benefits.

Fortunately, there are now Australian Standards and testing procedures to ensure quality, and over 95% of the olive oil produced here is extra virgin. In addition, many Australian producers have a short processing time from harvesting the olives to turning them into olive oil, which is crucial to producing high quality oil.

Those EVOOs that pass the test will have a small certification triangle on the label, so an easy way to ensure that you get the best quality EVOO is to choose an Australian band with the symbol.

What is the best solution?

The best choice is a cold pressed, Australian brand in a dark bottle that has the certification triangle on the label. They do cost more, but in the case of EVOO, you are more likely to get what you pay for.  This will give you peace of mind that you are consuming a quality product with amazing health benefits for you and your family.

You may also be interested in reading our article on Good fats.

Why set Goals
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Find your WHY and you’ll find your way

Establishing Goals

I recently facilitated a group coaching session and got the participants to write down their goals.  Most of them wanted to lose weight.  I then asked them WHY they wanted to lose weight and one answered ‘doesn’t everyone?’.

I loved the honesty of the answer and it was a chance for me to delve deeper into the WHY around the goal.  If you don’t know the deeper reason why you want the weight off, you are detached from your most powerful motivation source – YOU!

Your WHY is the fire in your belly, your mojo, your core motivation that connects you to the goal on an emotional level.

Given there is a multi-million dollar weight-loss industry out there and a worldwide obesity epidemic, it would appear clear that just setting goals isn’t enough. Researchers like Deci and Ryan, founders of Self-determination theory, have shown that if you find your own reasons why a goal is important to you, and are emotionally connected to this goal, you are more likely to achieve it.  

Your WHY needs to come from within you (the geeky science term is ‘self-determined extrinsic motivation’ and an even better, but similar form of motivation is ‘Intrinsic motivation’).  I’m not saying weight loss shouldn’t be on your radar, but to stick to a weight-loss plan you need a deeper reason that’s not just the numbers on the scales.  

Here are some examples of WHY’s around weight loss:

  • I want to have more energy to play with the kids, or I want to be a role model for them
  • I want to be pain free
  • I want to be be here for my grandchildren
  • I want to feel happy again
  • I want to buy the clothes that make me feel comfortable
  • I want to respect myself
  • I want to bounce out of bed in the morning and look forward to the day

Your core reason for WHY you want to reach your goal is unique to you, but it must connect with you on an emotional level.

What’s your WHY for achieving your goal?