How many of us wish we had more ENERGY? Unfortunately, the answer is probably TOO MANY.
There are a multitude of factors that contribute to low energy: dehydration, not enough sleep, lack of physical activity, stress, and poor dietary habits. Of all these factors, changing your diet is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to boost your energy and keep it up. And there’s bonus too: good quality foods in your diet can help you sleep better, which helps you better manage stress! So there is no limit to how good you will feel when you start making healthier choices.
But what does it really mean to improve your diet? Firstly, it means making a commitment to eating natural, nourishing foods throughout the day. Creating a diet based on whole grains, fresh produce, and all natural foods is the easiest way to keep your energy up and make you feel your best. Making this commitment to eating natural, wholesome foods might seem daunting at first- but I promise it’s worth it! Eating healthier does mean that you need to spend some time cooking at home, but this doesn’t have to be difficult at all. Many foods can be made in bulk, prepared ahead of time, and frozen. As a vegetarian chef and educator, my job is to teach people how to create a more healthful diet for themselves and their family. One of my favorite classes is to teach people how to make a weeks worth of food in one day, so that they can toss together a quick lunch from grains, greens, and vegetables that makes them full and happy! One of our favorite easy, whole food recipes is listed below, and check out Vibrant Wellness Journal for more great recipes.
Here are some of our favorite tips for eating healthier:
- Prepare whole grains and beans each week: quinoa, wheat berries, and rice can be cooked in a crock-pot or slow cooker and be used throughout the week for the base of your meals. Lentils, mung beans, and chickpeas can be cooked on the stove and be made into soups, wraps, salads, and stir-fries. Make at least one homemade soup each week (like the ones below!) and use it for quick lunches and dinners. Soups are also a great way to make use of leftover vegetables and grains.
- Prepare your vegetables ahead of time: slice carrots, celery, beets, and onions; wash and chop cabbage, kale, and other greens and store in reusable containers. Use a handful of each to make a quick salad or sauté.
- Stock your pantry with great condiments: high quality oils, vinegars, and basic spices like basil, curry, chili peppers, and cinnamon make your cooking more flavorful! Experiment with new herbs like cardamom, thyme, mustard, and ginger for fun flavors!
- Eat smaller, nourishing meals throughout the day to keep your energy up. Bigger meals take longer to digest and can make you feel sluggish; but smaller meals keep your belly full but keep your metabolism moving! Bringing your own meals to work and/or school will ensure that you eat good portions, and not huge restaurant or take-away portions. This saves waste, money, and keeps you feeling lighter and more energetic!
- Make your own healthy basics: homemade pasta sauce, salad dressings, marinades, homemade muffins, granolas, cookies, and other wholesome treats. Keep extras in the freezer to ensure that there are always wholesome snacks and quick meals at the ready!
Butternut Squash Soup with Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
6 cups peeled and chopped Butternut squash
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons miso
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Fresh herbs, for garnish
- Add quinoa and broth to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- To a large stockpot add squash and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking water, and set aside.
- Add squash, miso, and almond milk to food processor and blend until completely smooth, adding reserved cooking water as needed to make a thin, creamy soup. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
- Divide soup into 4 serving bowls. Add ½ cup quinoa and garnish with fresh herbs or greens (beet greens are in the photo). Enjoy!
Yield: 6-8 Servings