We've been talking for a while now about how to live healthier. Obviously I've played around with vegan/vegetarian/flexitarian tendencies for a while, but I've really been wondering what we as a couple can do to improve our health, increase our energy, and combat the stress that seems to be ever-increasing in our lives. So for the month of March we're going to try to eat cleaner, better meals, incorporating waaaaay more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits while decreasing the amount of processed food we consume.
|Mmmm...fresh tomato soup w/ spaghetti squash|
I've come up with four main reasons for this month of better eating:
1. Health. Neither John nor I have been feeling 100% lately. We're mentally exhausted and physically drained most of the time, and I know that eating veggies and fruits can really help combat fatigue and illness. For example, I personally feel much better in the afternoons if I eat a healthy lunch like brown rice w/ veggies and a salad (like today) as compared to days when I only have time for a microwaveable entree and apple. If I can make healthier meals for us, why spend money on convenience foods that aren't nutritious or filling? Oh, and by the way, we're also going to steer clear of foods with gluten this month. Ya know, just to make this extra fun ;)
2. Budget. By removing processed foods from our diet and eating more vegetables, grains, and fruits, we can drastically reduce our food budget. The most expensive things we tend to buy include meat (we'll still eat some, but not a lot), packaged snacks and soups, and breads (pitas, whole grain breads, etc). By comparison, vegetables really don't cost much at all: a package of carrots is around 82 cents, and squash (winter and summer) comes in under $1 a pound right now. Sweet potatoes are cheap and incredibly nutritious, as are seasonal fruits like oranges, bananas, and apples. Throw in some brown rice (under $1 a bag) and some beans (super cheap when you buy them dried), and you're set for the week. Now, I know it will take a lot longer to prepare these meals, but I've already been working up a pretty effective method of cooking in large batches and separating the leftovers into individual containers for lunches. For example, on Monday I made a huge batch of brown rice and Asian-style vegetables, and it ended up being lunch for John at least two other days this week. It was pretty cool.
3. Lahash. We recently heard about this organization called Lahash, who has organized something called "Rice & Beans Month" (you can check it out here). The premise is to invite as many people as possible to eat simple meals of rice and beans throughout the month of March. Then, donate the money you save to the Lahash organization so that they can buy rice and beans for children and families in East Africa. This seems like the perfect chance to try this, since rice and beans are inexpensive and gluten-free! Woo-hoo! Plus I love the idea that small changes like this can mean food for a family in East Africa!!!
4. Faith. Now, it may seem weird to add faith into this post (however, I did manage to discuss faith and Crock-Pots in my last post), but it's something I think actually fits quite well into our goals this month. We're called to treat our bodies as temples: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). I feel like I honor God more when I'm eating nourishing foods that provide energy and sustenance than when I'm inhaling McDonald's cheeseburgers or a bag of potato chips. I also feel like it's showing good stewardship of what God has given me, taking care of the body He's provided me in such a way that I am physically and mentally able to serve others more genuinely. So this month of clean eating will hopefully provide an opportunity for me to gain physical and spiritual strength.
The guidelines are simple: we'll eat meals based around rice and beans any night we're home (typically 3-4 nights a week). I'll try to make enough for those meals that they transfer over into lunches for us. On nights when we aren't home, either for community group or other events that provide food, we'll choose healthy, gluten-free options. If we eat out, we'll do the same.
I'll be posting every Thursday of this month to let you know how things are going. Right now, I have plans to make spend the afternoon prepping some lunches of brown rice w/ zucchini, shredded carrots, kale, chunks of sweet potatoes, and black beans. Yum! I'll also be meal planning for next week, so if you have any tips, advice, prayers, or recipes, PLEASE share them with me!