We drink coffee to pick us up, sugar to keep us up and alcohol to bring us down.
With social isolation and time of certainty, you have certainly succumbed to these pick-me-ups and calm me down foods. But sugar, alcohol, caffeine, as well as snacking and processed food put a toll on your sleep, mood, hunger, and energy, as it affects your hormonal balance.
If you are looking for a way to balance your hormones and get your energy back, wholefood is the answer. Wholefoods are foods closest to their natural state. They provide all the nutrients your body needs for hormonal balance and healthy longevity. However, most whole foods require some preparation.
Are you scared that cooking whole foods is time-consuming?
You are right. It takes a little more time than takeaways and eating up pre-packaged food. But the benefits are so worth it! You don’t need to spend that much time in the kitchen (I certainly don’t and don’t want).
So it’s time to demystify food preparation with a few simple whole food prep’ tips:
1- Double the recipe
Wintertime is the perfect opportunity to make large batches of soups, stews and casseroles and freeze in individual portions, so your future lunchboxes are sorted. Yes, the freezing process will alter some of the nutrients but it’s still largely healthier than processed and takeaway food.
With frozen portion ready, you are less tempted to go to convenient, sugary, fatty foods on-the-go. Pack your freezer with additional berries, vegetables, fish fillets and home-made tomato sauce that will reduce your cooking time.
TIP: Freeze your home-made meal directly in a container that fits in your lunchbox and let it slowly thaw from the night before.
2- Use canned food as a backup
Keep canned food for last-minute meals. If canned food is not the best nutrient-rich food, they are still really convenient to build healthy meals quickly.
Legumes are my favourite as they take time to cook from dry beans (and I minimize my cooking time). Think canned chickpeas, black beans, butter beans, or lentils for a healthy salad or a good addition to your casseroles and dips. Canned fish in Springwater such as herrings, sardines, anchovies are a really good source of missing omega-3. A last-minute meal of canned sardines with beetroot and additional green works perfectly from time to time.
TIP: A good habit is to rinse thoroughly the can content under running water, as it often contains some BPA and too much salt (check for brands that are BPA free and read the labels carefully).
3- Think beyond grains
Brown rice is not the way to go if you are time-poor. Quinoa is faster. Or simply make cauliflower rice in 10 minutes. Check the recipe here. This is a perfect example of an immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, tasty and quick dish beyond grains. Adding a load of green vegetables in your curries and stir fry doesn’t require much time either.
Don’t forget grain-like seeds such as buckwheat or amaranth. Added to a soup or stew they provide a lot of nutrients without any additional time.
TIP: Soak your brown rice, and other whole grains overnight in water and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and rinse before cooking. It will reduce its cooking time and get rid of some phytic acid, naturally present in grains.
4- Fast cooking method
Cooking is not all about the ingredients, it’s also about the method and tools.
Steaming is a great way to get quick and healthy meals. It minimises the loss of vitamins and brings the flavours up. My preferred 15-minute meal is made of steamed salmon steak with broccoli: a boost in omega-3 and folate for a good mood!
Stir fry is another way to go and a great way to load the pan with a large variety of green vegetables. It’s also a good opportunity to add some anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric or ginger and the therapeutic effects of fresh herbs at the end of cooking.
TIP: If you don’t know where to start or are not familiar with quick and easy cooking from scratch, the Real Food Resolution has been created with your busy life in mind. Based on whole foods, it’s an all-done-for-you program that teaches you healthy rapid cooking. A great way to balance your hormones back!