10 Tips to Clean Up Your Diet
Some people think healthy eating can be expensive, complicated and take a lot of effort. Here are some easy ways to incorporate better options into your diet.
1. Use this trick to store fresh herbs.
Fresh herbs like basil, mint, oregano and sage flavor your food without any harmful additives. Sometimes you might get a huge bunch of basil or mint, use only a few sprigs, and the rest goes bad before you know it. To keep them fresh for longer, simply remove the leaves from the stems and place them into an air-tight glass jar, and store in the fridge. Just make sure that the herbs are completely dry. Using this technique, mint and sage will last up to two weeks. Basil, oregano and cilantro will last from seven to 10 days.
2. Freeze ripe bananas to make smoothies and ice-creams.
When you freeze bananas, they change their taste, and when you blend them – they give any smoothie a creamy texture. Just peel some very ripe bananas, put them into a zip-lock bag or a container, and freeze at least overnight. Then add to your smoothies instead of regular bananas.
If you blend frozen bananas with a high speed blender or a food processor, it makes an "ice cream". You might need to add some water to facilitate blending. You can add raw cacao, some berries (frozen or fresh) or peanut butter.
3. Make your own dressings and dips, and store them in a glass jar
Store-bought dressings contain plenty of preservatives, chemicals and bad fats. The best thing is to make your own dressing. There are plenty of recipes for healthy salad dressing available. Just make a big batch and store in a glass jar or a bottle for up to a week.
You can also place your dressing ingredients (e.g. freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, fresh herbs, some salt and pepper) in a glass jar, put the lid on and shake well until the ingredients have combined. That's an easy way to make your own dressing. For some of the recipes, though, you might need a blender.
4. Always have healthy food on site.
You'll eat what's available. If you have healthy snacks handy, you'll eat them when you're hungry, and there's less chance that you will eat something unhealthy.
5. Make a healthy breakfast the night before.
Mornings can often be hectic and busy so prepare your breakfast the night before to save time. A great way to do it is to make chia pudding or soaked oats in a glass jar. You can even layer it, e.g. soaked oats in almond milk, then a layer of blended fruit, etc. It takes about five minutes to assemble, place in the fridge and you'll have a healthy breakfast the next day!
Also, you can prepare pre-packaged smoothie bags. Add berries, spinach, protein powder, and other non-liquid fixings to a Ziploc so when you're ready, all you have to do is dump the ingredients in the blender. If you're making smoothies all week, keep bags of pre-sliced frozen produce in the freezer.
6. Thicken soups or sauces with cauliflower.
Creamy, thick soups, smooth sauces and mashed potatoes all taste good, but often contain enormous amounts of fat, usually the unhealthy kinds.
Cauliflower is low in fat, low in calories, and high in fiber and nutrients. Add the steamed or lightly boiled cauliflower to your soup or a sauce, and blend it. You'll be pleasantly surprised by its thick and creamy texture. If you like to make mashed potatoes, use cauliflower instead of potatoes. It tastes very similar, and is lower in calories and easier to digest.
7. Use oats instead of flour.
White flour is highly processed, devoid of nutrients and contains gluten, which can irritate the gut or cause sensitivity in many people. For a healthier option, replace white flour with oats. Simply process dry oat flakes in a blender or food processor.
If you're sensitive to gluten, make sure to get gluten-free certified oats. Oats naturally do not contain gluten, but are often cross-contaminated with tiny bits of wheat, rye or barley.
8. Replace wheat pasta with veggie “noodles."
Wheat pasta is very processed and also contains gluten. Replace your pasta with veggie “noodles" made of zucchini, carrot or cucumber. You will either need a vegetable spiralizer, or a simple peeler. If you use a peeler, just cut the vegetables into a flat noodle shape. Vegetable noodles, mixed with a sauce, become soft and their texture resembles real pasta.
9. Make your own flavored water.
Soda and processed drinks have been linked to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. If you're craving something refreshing, you can make healthy flavored water.
Add some fresh herbs, like basil or mint; some citrus juice, like lemon or orange; or fruit and vegetable slices, like sliced strawberries, cucumbers, orange, ginger, etc. My favorite combo is lemon, fresh ginger and mint. It's best to make it before going to bed and let it infuse overnight.
10. Ditch milk for a home-made almond or other nut milk, and replace butter with avocado.
Dairy products can contain many antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. Many people are lactose-intolerant even without knowing it. Almond or other nut milk is so easy to make, and you can make a bigger batch and keep it in the fridge.
If you're looking to dairy as a source of calcium, look elsewhere because the ratio of calcium to magnesium in dairy is 8:1 while the ideal ratio for bioavailability is 2:1.
Butter is full of saturated fat, which clogs your arteries and can lead to heart disease. Instead, replace your butter with a heart-healthy avocado.