This is a guest post by Brooke Benlifer, RD.
Her 10th and final installment of her “Back To Goodness” series for 2015.
What else can I say except that it’s been an absolute pleasure being a part of Brooke’s Back To Goodness journey this year.
The value she has brought to this community has been awesome and I am super grateful.
Here she is one more time to close out 2015.
Take it away Brooke!
As 2015 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on what it means to live a full life.
For me, it’s about quality.
Quality time with family and close friends.
Quality food (for enjoyment and health).
Time to just be (such as 5 minutes to just relax).
Here’s a look back at this past month.
Here are my top 3 super simple go-to meals.
(Spoiler alert: Lettuce wraps play a starring role)
Savory Egg Salad Wraps
5 hard boiled eggs
1 Tbsp oil (I use Viva Labs MCT oil) (substitute coconut or a flavored olive oil)
Lettuce leaves (for wrapping the egg salad)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the eggs finely and toss with salt, pepper and 1 Tbsp oil
Spoon the egg salad into the lettuce leaves and wrap up like a burrito
Creamy Crunchy Tuna Salad Wraps
One 6oz can tuna
1 Tbsp avocado oil based mayo (I use Primal Kitchen)
¼-1/3 cup nuts or seeds (macadamia/almonds/walnuts/pecans/pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds)
Lettuce leaves (for wrapping the tuna salad)
Mix together the tuna, mayo and nuts/seeds
Spoon the tuna salad into the lettuce leaves and wrap up like a burrito.
(Note: Add raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or chopped dates for a delicious pop of sweetness)
Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Veggies
All natural rotisserie chicken (pre-cooked)
Lettuce leaves (for wrapping chicken pieces)
Vegetable of choice (baby squash, zucchini, Brussels Sprouts and root vegetables work well)
1 Tbsp coconut butter*
Saute the vegetables in the oil.
Wrap the chicken in lettuce leaves (I think chicken tastes better with the skin) and enjoy with the side of sautéed vegetables.
(Coconut butter is completely different than coconut oil and tastes amazing (my personal opinion!). It’s as rich as almond butter but with a creamy, coconut taste!)
Food & Wellness Favorites
Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying this month that I think are worth mentioning.
Oofos flip flops
I first tried these on at a local running shoe store the day I was picking up my race packet for an upcoming event.
These shoes literally called out to my tired feet and I have been wearing them ever since. If you’re flat footed like I am, I highly recommend you check these out.
They make walking on hard wood floors or concrete a non-issue. Oofos for the win!
This yummy peanut powder contains only a few ingredients and is a delicious addition to yogurt, smoothies, wrap sandwiches and even salads.
(Quick Tip: add extra water to create a peanut dressing)
This company makes a line of high protein products (think pancake mix, bread and peanut butter spreads).
While I am not a fan of processed foods, their white chocolate peanut spread has no hydrogenated oils, unlike many leading peanut butter brands.
These green drinks get a seal of approval for opting to include way more vegetables than fruits in the drinks, which is a huge nutritional bonus.
In other words, many “green” drinks are really just apple juice with a bit of vegetable juice mixed in so that the company can call it a “green drink”.
Viva Labs MCT oil
I have personally used this oil in both coffee (bulletproof coffee) and in my egg salad breakfast wraps. Personally, I like it best mixed with food.
It is flavorless but adds a good dose of healthy fat and energy.
MCT [medium chain triglyceride] oil is utilized quickly by the body for energy, unlike longer chain fatty acids.
I love healthy fats and have gotten so used to including fat into my meals that I prefer that taste over plain vegetables or chicken, or a salad with fat free dressing (yuck!).
True Organic Juice
I first discovered these at a race where they were being sampled and I have been very impressed with just how many fruits and vegetables are packed into each bottle.
The flavor combinations are unique and can really help round out a nutritionally deficient diet if a person is unikely to eat fruits and vegetables.
Some people are much more compliant with drinking their fruits and veggies.
Budget Friendly Grocery List
One of the biggest nutrition misconceptions is that good food costs a fortune.
I am here to set the record straight.
Good food can cost a fortune, but it doesn’t have to.
If your food budget is limited, here are a few ways to get a lot of delicious, nutritious bang for your buck.
In season fruits (shopping “in season” saves you money)
Frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
Whole wheat Pasta
DAIRY/CALCIUM RICH FOODS
Yogurt (large containers vs. individual)
Rotisserie chicken (or frozen whole chickens)
Larger bottles of olive and coconut oil
Stick to REAL foods (the fewer ingredients, the better) and choose larger containers vs. individually sized, as long as the larger container will not be wasted, in which case, it is not a savings.
Also, opt for food that you cook/prepare yourself, vs. pre-cooked or pre-prepped items.
In other words, dry pasta in the package is less expensive (per serving) than a pasta salad at the deli counter. Similarly, a bag of unpeeled carrots is less expensive than a bag of baby, peeled carrots.
Girls on the Run
This Sunday I am racing in the Girls on the Run 5K.
The race is technically non-competitive, although most everyone will be competing against themselves for their personal best (my kind of competition!).
It’s wonderful to be a part of an event that promotes children to be active and enjoy training with a purpose.
I enjoy structure in my meals (routine that is).
Once I find staples that keep me energized, healthy, and happy, I could eat the same things day in and day out forever, or at least for a long period of time.
I find it incredibly helpful to follow a basic meal plan. Here’s the current one that fits me best:
Breakfast at 9am
Lunch at 12pm
Snack at 3pm
Dinner at 6pm
This works for me for several reasons:
1) I am often able to be home at these times, or at least to bring a meal/snack with me if I am going to be out.
2) Keeps my blood sugar stable by eating every 3 hours.
3) Allows me to eat the same meals every day (switching out the various nuts/seeds and vegetables) so that I am guaranteed to be getting all the nutrition I need while eating foods I love and enjoy.
Right now, these include: eggs, chicken, fish, nuts/seeds, lots of healthy fats.
4) Allows me to focus my energy on other things instead of what meal to make or what to buy at the grocery store.
5) Gives me energy to get in a quick work out early in the morning and have consistent energy throughout the day.
Now Is The Time to Get Healthy
As 2015 comes to a close, I encourage you to make today the day you commit to being healthy and getting “Back To Goodness“.
You deserve to feel great and to be your best self.
Whether you have a fitness goal you have wanted to achieve or a nutritional vice that is making you feel less than good (diet soda habit you want to kick, late night snacking, etc)… Go For It!
Wishing you a wonderful end of the year and holiday season and looking forward to sharing 2016 with you!
Brooke Joanna Benlifer, RD is a Cornell University graduate and Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and twins.
“My passion is preventative health through optimal nutrition. I want to lead people toward healthier, more fulfilling lives.”
To connect with Brooke, please leave a comment below.
Featured Image Credit: Metro Family Magazine