Guest Post: Getting Back To Goodness With Walking, Budget Friendly Health Foods, And A Cooking Challenge Too!

This guest post is by Brooke Benlifer.

For those of you who don’t know Brooke, She’s our resident Dietitian here at The Wellness Bucket.

Here’s the fifth installment of her 2016 Back To Goodness Series.

One of the best ways to take care of ourselves and get back to goodness is by cooking for ourselves.

Brooke shows us how, what, and why.


So awesome to have you here with us Brooke…

Thanks Mike!

As summer approaches, I notice that many people get on a hyper-focused quest to get “beach ready”.

While I am all for helping my clients look and feel their personal best, I believe their are healthier, more effective ways to reach a state of optimal wellness.

Instead of neglecting ourselves for 6 to 9 months of the year with less than stellar choices and lack of self-care, I suggest we take positive steps every day so that feeling good becomes our natural state.

Let’s start by first feeling good on the inside because when we do, I assure you that feeling good on the outside by treating ourselves well will be quick to follow.


Take Care Of Yourself By Cooking At Home

IMG_7115While eating out and trying new restaurants is fun and a great way to socialize, it also takes us away from the source of our food and selecting raw fruits, vegetables, beans, meats, grains and transforming them into our very own creative meals.

Potlucks and inviting friends and family over to “break bread” is a fantastic way to provide delicious and healthy food.


It also creates a sense of community.

Something that’s often lacking in today’s world, where many are feeling increasingly lonely and disconnected, despite having hundreds of friends on social media.


Eliminating Snacking

I mentioned a couple of months ago about embarking on a 100 day “gong” to eliminate snacking and focus instead on 2-3 square meals per day.

My many years as a grazer had me thinking that eliminating snacks would be near impossible.

To my surprise, however, I found that, I was perfectly fine not snacking between meals, and when I did get hungry, I knew that my next meal was not far away and would be substantial and satisfying.

I found myself sitting down for meals in a more leisurely manner…. as leisurely as possible that is while simultaneously feeding toddlers. 🙂

I noticed that cooking warm meals was a really nice way to ensure that I was taking care of myself, despite my busy days.

It didn’t take much extra time, and because I was not preparing snacks in addition, it probably saved me time.

All this is to say that things we think are going to be hard and difficult to do usually end up being much easier than we thought once we get past the initial discomfort that comes with starting a new habit.

Will I go back to snacking once this 100 day gong is over? Possibly.

I’ll evaluate how I feel and go from there.

But for now, the three squares is suiting me nicely, and I love having time to relax with my kiddos and husband as we sit down together for these larger feasts.


Fun Meal Additions



I’ve been adding this oil to eggs and salads as a fat source that is quickly utilized by the body for energy.

I’m currently using an MCT oil that is sourced from palm oil and plan to use a coconut sourced MCT oil my next time around.


Slow Cooker

I may be late to the game on this one but I finally bought a slow cooker… and it’s AWESOME!

I was completely intimidated by the thought of throwing an entire chicken in there and just letting it cook overnight.

Visions of salmonella were running wild in my head, especially with two toddlers.

Needless to say I sanitized the heck out of my kitchen.

Nevertheless, the chickens (I did this twice) came out perfect.

I even made a couple batches of bone broth.

Speaking of bone broth… did you know bone broth is considered a superfood?

It’s full of collagen, protein, healthy fats, minerals, and it’s DE-licious too!

It actually gelatinizes when left to cool in the refrigerator. You can either eat it cold or heat it up if you don’t like the gelatinous aspect of bone broth.


Eating Healthy On A Budget

IMG_7116I’ve talked before about how healthy eating does not have to break the bank.

It’s possible to keep our basic, everyday healthy foods budget friendly.

Here’s some examples of foods you can buy that are healthy and won’t break the bank…

Frozen vegetables, tuna, nut butter/nuts, almond milk, cheese, seasonal fruits and vegetables, potatoes, rice, onions, bananas, beans, and more.

Round out your groceries with a few “specialty” items each month.

For example, I do 90% of my grocery shopping at Costco, but for items that are not sold there, I go online or to another store to purchase these items.


This month, my specialty items included the following…

1) Tahini (sesame seed butter)

2) Lucero balsamic vinegars

3) coconut flakes

4) nutritional yeast

5) a wide variety of potatoes and Kabocha squash

6) fish sauce

7) coconut aminos (an alternative to soy sauce)

8) my favorite curry spice mix from a spice shop.

While these are “treats”, they allow me to create a variety of healthy meals that my family and I enjoy.

Health is wealth and taking care of ourselves with nourishing meals actually becomes a cost savings in the long run.



IMG_7118Exercise this month consisted of 3 mile early morning walks through my neighborhood and weight training while my kiddos exercised with me.

They love imitating squats and doing their own version of push-ups, as well as jumping on the yoga mat and lifting dumbbells.

It’s awesome!

I also took them on walks in the stroller, giving them lots of time to get out and play in the dirt and run around.

I love listening aloud to podcasts while on walks and apparently, my kids do too.

(Note From Mike: I hear the More With Mike Podcast is a good one to listen to while walking) 🙂

They request, “podcast on!” before most of our stroller adventures these days.

We had multiple visitors staying with us for close to two weeks, which was wonderful.

I kept up with my walking and strength training routine, which I know is important for my well-being.

I also think it is important to be a good example for my kids and to build in movement every day.


Mixing It Up

I’m super excited to be starting a streaming/downloadable series of workouts through Booya Fitness beginning tomorrow.

I’ve been craving more structure in my workouts so I’m looking forward to challenging myself in this fun new way.

I choose to be the best I can be, both as an individual and in my fitness abilities.

We have no idea just how much we are capable of until we allow ourselves to be challenged and grow.

I will for sure keep you posted on my Booya workouts next month!


Back to Goodness Challenge

I have a Back To Goodness challenge for you this month.

Here it is…

Cook or prepare at least one meal yourself each day.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to choose the meal that you have the most time to prepare, and just start with cooking or preparing that same meal every day.

For example, if you have an extra 10 minutes in the morning, start by creating your own breakfast bowl, green smoothie, loaded oatmeal, egg scramble, breakfast tortilla, pancakes, whatever it may be.

Get creative, have fun and congratulate yourself for making time to get Back to Goodness.

Tag me on Instagram @brookejoanna too!

I’d love to see what kinds of meals you’re cooking up.


BrookeBenlifer1Brooke 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.



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