Over the past few years I’ve completely shifted my eating habits from soda, candy, and junk food to (mostly) veggie-based, nutrient-rich meals. Keep reading to learn how I developed these new habits, and get some of my favorite recipes for healthy weeknight dinners!
Healthy eating gets a bad rap. I think it’s because we grew up thinking that vegetables were the enemy, something forced upon us by our parents. An obligation. Something to run away from at all costs. Steve recently asked me as we were choosing kids’ meals for our wedding, “Why is kids’ food always so unhealthy?” and I just shrugged and replied, “Because that’s all kids will eat.”
But I think we need to flip that script. And I think we’re making great progress – I love how creative we’re getting these days with incorporating vegetables into our diets. It’s no longer just about peas and carrots sitting as a sad side dish, something to be slogged through before we can eat dessert. Kids need to grow up not believing that vegetables are the enemy. But as I mentioned in my post about sugar addiction, our culture constantly tells us that healthy food is gross and sugary processed foods are what we desire most, both as kids and as adults.
But the truth is…our bodies are actually giving us lots of signals that we need to eat more greens and eat less sugar. It’s just up to us whether to listen to them or not. And when you make eating healthy a routine part of life, your body will actually crave healthy food. So crazy, right?! I never believed anyone who ordered salad or vegetable dishes voluntarily over a burger and fries, but now I understand. Because now, that’s what my body desires most. It’s not something I’m forcing upon myself – it’s something my body wants, and I listen.
Shifting my mindset
So, how did I get there? I first had to change my mindset around healthy food and unlearn a lot of the stuff we’ve been taught all our lives, like the fact that salads can be delicious, not sad and boring and only for those on diets. I had to learn that eating healthy wasn’t a chore or a fad, but would actually help me have more energy and fewer health issues. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome about 7 years ago, which basically meant I was having terrible stomachaches (which I’ve lived with all my life) and the doctors had no idea why.
I always had an inkling that it was because of my diet, but for the longest time I was unwilling to change anything. Finally it got so bad that my stomachaches would at times leave me unable to go to work, unable to move at all, and I knew I had to make a change. So I eliminated dairy from my diet and I have had 95% fewer stomachaches. Since cutting out sugar and switching to whole grains, I have had 95% less headaches and feel more energized so I’m drinking less coffee. And I’ve learned to love vegetables and cook them in creative ways because I feel so. much. better when I eat them!
Get creative in the kitchen
Quickly I realized that if I was going to cut out dairy and reduce carbs and sugar, I was going to need to get way more creative in the kitchen. Eating chicken breasts with veggies on the side was only going to cut it for so long before it got boring. And unfortunately, I get bored with food really easily. I’m not someone who can meal prep and eat the same thing five days in a row. I wish I was, but I’m not, so knowing that about myself, I set out to discover some new ways to make healthy foods that wouldn’t be boring.
Below are some of my favorite ways (along with my favorite healthy recipes) that feature a creative use of vegetables as the main ingredient. Not all recipes are dairy-free or low-carb, but you can always omit whichever ingredients you’d like if you’re on a specific diet like keto or Whole 30.
- Skillet Taco Cauliflower Rice
- Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Bites
- Bulgogi Chicken Bowls with Coconut Cauliflower Rice
Chicken + Veggies
- Honey Mustard Salad with Chicken
- Honey Lemon Chicken and Broccoli Bowls
- Balsamic Chicken Breasts and Veggies
These are some of my favorite easy go-to recipes for weeknights, and they’re all healthy, too! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be a chore. For me, it’s fun finding new ways to incorporate vegetables and healthy foods into my diet. I love how much better I feel and how delicious these recipes taste. Hopefully you’ll find a few you love, too!