As I started reforming my eating habits, I knew I had to find better ways to work in more veggies. Most of my meal plans included plant-based foods only as a side dish. This results in less than two servings a day because I don’t always include a side dish at lunch. Depending on which source you read, the average adult should get at lest two cups of vegetables per day. I undoubtedly get less than that. So, the first challenge I faced was working in at least one more serving. Breakfast was the obvious choice. My normal breakfast might be oatmeal with fruit, an egg sandwich, biscuits, muffins, or egg and toast. These are all pretty carb heavy. Carbs are fine for someone who has a high activity level. While I don’t lounge around on the couch, I do not fall into the category of high activity, either. I don’t bike to work. I don’t rock climb on the weekends. I don’t train for a marathon. I don’t take aerobics classes. Therefore, it stands to reason that I should reduce my carb intake to match my busy, but not carb-burning, lifestyle.
Meal replacement shakes are a great way to include veggies and fruit. You can add three or four cups of greens to a shake without affecting the taste. Robyn at Green Smoothie Girl has a great book with dozens of recipes for smoothies chock full of veggies.
The second way I add veggies at breakfast is to make an omelette. Well, my omelettes generally tend to be more of a scramble, but you get the general idea. I grab several vegetables and add them to a skillet with a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil and cook them until they are soft. Then, I add a scrambled egg to the mix. I try to fold it like a good omelette, but like I said it tends to end up just scrambled together. My favorite veggies to use are jalapeno, purple onion, cherry tomatoes, spinach, cilantro, and mushrooms. Really, just about anything will do. It’s also yummy to add pico de gallo or salsa to the top.
The third way that I cook veggies at breakfast is in a frittata. I usually do one of these on the weekend, and most of my children like it, too. My egg-hating child only eats the potatoes. I brown some hashbrowns in a cast iron skillet. I stir fry some veggies in a separate skillet (using the same type of veggies I use for my omelette) and then spread over the top of the hashbrowns. Then, I scramble five or six eggs with cheese and pour over the top. Stick it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, and you have an easy and healthy breakfast for the whole family.
I love bread, but I have cut my bread consumption by about half. I mentioned that it seems to be the main culprit in my body aches and joint stiffness. When I don’t eat bread or other gluten foods, I feel much better overall. So, I’ve dropped toast from my breakfast most mornings. On the weekends, when we can all eat breakfast together, I usually cook fancier meals, such as baked french toast, or pancakes, or sausage rolls, or the frittata I mentioned. During the week, my husband takes his breakfast with him (because he leaves at 5:30 a.m.), and the children usually do muffins, toast, or yogurt. They wander through the kitchen at different times, so it’s mostly a grab-fest. I make sure everyone eats something, but it’s not a heavily mandated meal during the week.
I have to tell you that I am so grateful that I am beginning to feel better. I have only had to take ibuprofin once in the last two months, when I used to take it three to four times per week for severe body aches. I don’t get up from a chair and limp across the room because my knees and hips are stiff from sitting for more than five minutes. I went to a cousin’s baseball game and was able to stand for almost an hour without looking for a seat. Previously, I could not stand for more than ten minutes without the muscles in my back burning and aching.
I want to fix the source of my health problems, not manage the symptoms with pain killers and medications. That’s what a real diet is about. Eating healthy might not fix every disease, but it goes a long way to supporting the body’s immune system and natural response to health problems.