In a world of infinite food choices, it can be an overwhelming experience just to step out your front door and come up with a proper course of action for the day. Pack on about a million restaurants and trillions of calories at our fingertips, and it's sometimes easy to forget how to eat well. I think we try and complicate things a bit too much by narrowing down our choices and satisfying our sweet/salty/savory cravings. We always look to a cupcake or a soft pretzel, instead of simply trying a piece of fruit or a spoonful of natural peanut butter.
Some people hate "healthy" food, but do you think you popped out of the womb liking chips and coke? These are learned behaviors - reaching for something in a bag or a can - and they aren't doing you any favors. The fact that shows like The Biggest Loser have become so popular should be an indication that we are doing something wrong. The fact that these contestants are working out 8 hours every single day, reducing their caloric intake to a dangerous 1100 or 1200 and losing 100-200 pounds in 3 months isn't "simple." It's torturous and it's not sustainable.
What you put in your mouth is one of the only things you can control on a daily basis, and if you decide that simple, whole foods will be the staples of your diet, then you can work your way around the rest. Here are our top 10 favorite foods to eat every single day.
1. Oatmeal: Not just for breakfast, you can sprinkle some in protein shakes, coat your proteins with it for a "crispy" texture, add it into batters for pancakes or cookies, or simply grind it to make oat flour and substitute in almost any recipe that calls for flour. Old-fashioned or steel cut are best.
2. Eggs: Eggs are a super food. Opt for omega-3 infused eggs if you eat the yolks, or stick to egg whites if you are searching for 6 grams of protein with no fat and carbs. Eat omelets at night, or stirfry with quinoa, brown rice or veggies for a great dinner. Use just the whites instead of the yolks in a recipe that calls for whole eggs if you are trying to cut back on saturated fat.
3. Whey protein powder: Look for whey protein powders that don't have artificial sweeteners. Add a small scoop to oatmeal in the mornings, use it in smoothies, on its own, mixed with water, or bake with it for an extra dose of protein and a jump start for muscle recovery.
4. Unsalted nuts: Almonds and walnuts top the list for a good dose of healthy fats which will help keep you full. Sprinkle on breakfast, pop into smoothies, salads, or eat with a piece of fruit for a healthy afternoon snack.
5. Apples: Apples are a great dose of vitamin A, and the satisfying crunch can keep your mouth occupied. Smear with natural peanut butter or eat with nuts for a perfect snack.
6. Salmon: Full of essential fatty acids, this fish gives a good dose of healthy fats and proteins without breaking the calorie bank. Drizzle with olive oil and spices and bake or saute for a great dinner. Serve with veggies and quinoa. Though you won't eat salmon every day, opt for lean, organic meats or higher protein vegetarian options, like chickpeas or black beans.
7. Quinoa: Full of fiber and protein, this super grain can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even shaped into protein bars or cookies. It can be cooked in about 15 or 20 minutes, and one bag should last the entire week.
8. Greek yogurt: Full of probiotics, low in sugar and additives, and high in protein, plain greek yogurt is a great way to get a dose of calcium and protein all in one. Add a dollop on oatmeal, mix in a shake or use as a substitute for sour cream.
9. Romaine: Though every vegetable tops our list, romaine is versatile and can be packed with other veggies for healthy salads. Top with peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, chickpeas (rinsed), avocado, sliced apples, walnuts and cranberries for a great salad. You can use romaine instead of tortillas if you are having some sort of "wrap," and rinse a giant batch so you can have a salad on hand at any time.
10. Blueberries: This antioxidant powerhouse can be eaten on oatmeal, thrown into smoothies or desserts or tossed with other fruits and nuts for a healthy snack.
Search for those "staple" foods that you love. Aim for healthy, whole foods that you can use as the foundation and then add on the extras. The more produce, healthy grains and proteins you get, the healthier you will be. Make up your own list and then start coming up with creative ways to get more vegetables and fruit each and every day.