Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Pantry Edition

We all know the rut you can get into in the winter: not exercising and eating too much junk has you feeling sluggish, but you're too cold and lazy to change it up. Once the weather warms up, feeling gross and staying inside all day is no longer fun- with so much you can do outdoors again, it's time to break the cycle and start fresh. Getting back into a routine can be tough, though, especially when we feel like we don't have time to make healthy meals. Here's a few staple items that you can combine to make delicious, healthy meals with very little time (and on a budget).

1. Frozen brown rice
Either buy it pre-made and frozen or make a big batch yourself and divide it up into containers. Combine with whatever veggies you have in the fridge and an egg and you've got a well-rounded meal. If you want to get a little fancier, you can serve it with kimchi, vegetables, a lean meat and egg for a lightened-up bibimbap, or mix in some rice vinegar and turn it into sushi.

2. Pre-sliced raw veggies
Vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots,  and broccoli all have awesome health benefits and are delicious raw. Serve with hummus, tzatziki or tahini if you like dressing, or just top with a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. These are an easy snack to take on the go but are also great for munching. Boredom eaters, this one's for you- a great, light alternative for other mindless snacking choices.

3. Zucchini
One of the great things about zucchini is that it's really versatile- you can roast it or sauté it and toss it into any dish, or you can get creative with the spiralizer and serve it as a more nutrient-dense pasta alternative (with fewer calories). Top with some roasted baby tomatoes and garlic for a light pasta dish or with marinara and turkey meatballs for a more traditional feel.

4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are basically the king of the powerhouse foods- they're cheap, they're yummy, they're good for you and you can microwave them in about 5-10 minutes.

5. Eggs
Eggs are generally a household staple and are another remarkably versatile food. Use them as a binding ingredient to whip up some quick lentil burgers, hard boil them and chop them up into a salad, fry one in a little olive oil and add it to your sandwich, whisk a bunch into a little frittata, bake them in a shakshuka- the possibilities are endless.

6. Canned beans
While it's better to cook your own beans, canned beans still have lots of health benefits while being very convenient. Try to buy organic and be sure to rinse and drain them before use, but these can be tossed into nearly any dish for some extra protein or can take the stage with recipes like these black bean and brown rice cakes.

7. Snacks for when the mood strikes
At the end of the day, you have to realize that you're not always going to want to eat a bowl of kale for dinner and call it a day. Keeping some healthier snacking alternatives is a great way to keep the cravings at bay without completely getting off track. I love eating 1/2 of a Lenny and Larry's Cookie, which is non-GMO and vegan while packing 16 grams of protein. Other options? Lentil chips, Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, or homemade treats like our healthy cookie dough truffles or some black bean brownies.

Enjoy!
xoxo,
Yasi "I've got vegetables literally falling out of my mini-fridge"