101 Changes: Change 20 – Healthy Eating Made Easy

If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days. I am writing a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out previous 101 Changes Article: 101 Changes: 101 Changes: Change 19- Do More With Beauty Products



Image source Happy Heart and Mind  Cooking at home

One thing I have learned as I am getting older is to take care of my health properly. As a mom of 2 kids, I want to make sure I am healthy enough to keep up with their energy when doing homework with them or taking them to music and sports classes, playing with them.

I am vegetarian so I eat mostly plant and grain based diet but I sure have my moments when I am not eating healthier. Being vegetarian one would think it is healthy, not so. As I have said before, one can be vegetarian eating pizza, potato chips and drink coke or sugar laden drinks; it is vegetarian but it is NOT healthy for sure.

As I am getting older (past 20s and in late 30’s) I am learning how to take care of my health by eating more plant based food and cooking at home. Since I love cooking, it comes easier but there are days, when I simply fall off the health band wagon but I am getting better by buying right groceries and snacks to keep myself motivated to eat healthier.

Here are my top choices for healthy eating:

Green Vegetables: I buy green bell peppers, Kale, Baby spinach, Collard greens, mustard green, Green beans, Thai/Indian long beans, Green squash (Asian groceries store), Dark leafy Salad greens, Broccoli, and use Green herbs such as cilantro for flavors.

Rainbow Veggies: Other than green vegetables, I am focusing on rainbow colors veggies such as carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, Tomatoes, Purple red cabbage, eggplants, radishes (red and large white from Asian store), cauliflower, red onions, sweet potatoes, Olives and so on.

Whole Grains: Being an Indian, I use lot of rice and wheat based grain and flour for cooking. I try to use whole grain as much as possible. Living close to whole foods and trader Joe’s, I have found many new grains (whole, split and flour) such as amarnth, kamut, millet, farro, barley, quinoa and spelt. One can make salad, bread, naan or rotis, savory biscuits from grain or flour. If you can not eat gluten, there are still other choices to eat healthier and still be gluten free.

Eat Fresh Fruits: Eating fresh and in-season fruits is best. In California, there are many farmer’s market that sells fresh fruits from local farmers that are organic. Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pears, watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Peaches, Apricots make great snacks for kids and adults. I sometimes make dessert, cookies or bread with fresh fruits by looking at online recipes blogs.

Avoid fat free and sugar free: Earlier when I was younger, I thought sugar free and fat free is good and I ate that way. Now, I know better and try to eat good fat, real sugar in moderation. Regular coke always taste better compared to sugar free cola and we know why. Do not be afraid of fat, sugar but eat those food in small quantity, is that simple.

Drink Water: It is okay if you like Wine, juice, Smoothies, shakes or beer. Drinking in moderation is always best practice for any diet. However, drink more water whenever possible as nothing quenches thirst more then cold, fresh water.

Vegetarian Protein: As a vegetarian, I often gets asked about protein in my diet, there is plenty of choices for vegetarian to get required daily protein intake. One of the best vegetarian source for protein is lentils, dried nuts, beans and tofu. There are many soups, stir fries can be made with lentils and tofu. Many think tofu is bland but if you marinate it and cook it right it will be tasty for kids as well.

Take Vitamins: It is always best to take nutrients from fresh and cooked food but sometimes when it is not possible taking daily vitamins may help. Vitamin B12 is hard to find in many vegetables so I try to take vitamins with B12, iron and folic acid to make sure my body’s optimum health.

What To avoid or eat less of:

As I said above, being healthy is not difficult but requires little discipline and planning. Eating or avoiding a few things may improve our health and energy.

  • Avoid meat products, this is more true even if you are meat lover, if you reduce or give up meat products for health or ethical reasons, it may help with your health.
  • Avoid cheesy, fatty food at home or when eating out
  • Avoid fried food such as french fries, dumplings or eat in moderation
  • Avoid or reduce eating refined flour
  • Artificial flavoring, diet food staple from grocery store.
  • Do not eat old food sitting in fridge for more than a few days
  • Do not use plastic to heat up food, use glass container instead
  • Avoid trans fats
  • Do not deprive yourself of any food, just eat less of instead
  • avoid or reduce sugary drinks or alcohols
  • Reduce eating out or take outs
  • Do not read or watch Television when eating, this is one of my worst habit that I am working on fixing it

If you want more plant base food diet, check out these following books;

Product Details

 Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

This is one of the best book with over 300 healthy plant based recipes. The secret is out: If you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and prevent (or even reverse!) chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the right food is your best medicine. Thousands of people have cut out meat, dairy, and oils and seen amazing results. If you’re among them—or you’d like to be—you need this cookbook.

Product Details

 The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

If you are vegetarian, vegan or thinking about eating more plant based diet but wondered what about nutrition?, Where to get nutrients that others get from meat and dairy?, How to spot hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods?, Howto avoid the vegan pitfall of overfed but undernourished?, How to order at restaurants? if you asked these questions, this is right book for you. I have it and I still refer to it when I am in doubt.

101 Changes: Change 13- Reduce Eating At Fast Food Places

I am writing a series of 101 small changes that we can make to make the quality of our life better and build and lead a more happier life that is in tune with our heart and mind. These are small changes that I have made and am working on right now, so I know they are possible for anyone to do.

If you have not read previous posts, check out a few posts on the changes from the past:

101 changes: Change 12- How To Find Your Personal Values

101 changes series:

Eating well For Healthy Mind and Healthy Heart:

I have written before benefit of going vegetarian and importance of healthy eating as we are what we eat and what we think.  However, in life many of us busy, stressed and tend to eat “not so” healthy food and junk food. I am prime example for it, as I have strong liking to potato chips, I like specially Tim’s crunchy chips a lot. I am working on reducing that habit myself.

Zenguy and I are vegetarians but we used to eat out fast food places, specially when we were traveling or needed quick bite to eat at tiring weeknight meals. Now, it has been over 6 years that we have not eaten at most traditional fast food such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and to some extent Subways, Wendy’s too. What made us change our behavior?

As regular readers may know, I am a book worm and I love reading all types of books, including non fiction. Some 6 years ago, I first read a book called Fast Food Nation and it influenced me very much, even though I was already a vegetarian. It was interesting facts on animals being used for meat and fast food teenage workers plight made me want help with my small changes. As I was talking to another mommy friend, she told me she does not eat at fast food anymore. I was shocked, how can one do that as eating fast food was not only convenient, quick, cheap alternative to eat when one was traveling or was too tired too cook. It was specially hard for me as fast food places were everywhere  to avoid it. Or so, I thought.

I never felt to eat meat, even when it was in menu, so why it bothered me to avoid fast food place when I saw one. With strong desire to overcome my issue, I came and told Zenguy no more fast food for us when I came home from my friend’s place, and he had to be helpful by not eating in front of me, until I gained confident enough to avoid it myself. Zenguy was not only supportive in front of me, but he too soon decided that he will no longer eat at fast food himself. Since then we have been 90% fast food free, as we occasionally eat at Quiznos, In and Out and other small mom and pops places. We mostly eat simple home cooked meals daily and leave eating out a few times only.

Biggest Fast Food Chain: McDonald’s

A few years prior  to making this decision Zenguy and I both were addicted to McDonald’s thin french fries, as no one made it crunchy like them. Of course, we has stopped eating there as news about McDonald’s adding beef to their french fries, after reassuring (lying) to public that their fries was cooked in 100% vegetable oil. angering many Indians Hindus all over the world. (As Hindus do not eat Beef). After much outcry, McDonald’s decided to use 100% vegetable oil for “real” to win over the lost customers. Alas, it was too late for many people, who became weary to trust them again.

McDonald’s since then tried to make themselves as healthier alternative for moms and kids by offering salads and fruits. However, being the fast food giant, they are surely has many concerns and issues from many health watch groups.

Here is an image of McDonald’s food label, which clearly says chemical known to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm is present in food, why would any clear thinking person would eat that food is beyond me.

Image source: Food Label

Of course, we all do what works for us at the time. Many of us are at our weakest point to healthy when we are famished, some other people may have little choice what they choose to eat. I personally think, one does not to stop eating at fast food place, but many of us can reduce it a fewer times in a month. Your health and body will thank you for it.

Need more proof; see below video on what in your fast food;

Here is a short video that shows that 4 year old burger looking as young as day one and 2 year old french fries looking good and not decomposing like normal, natural food will should. I am not sure, but many people would prefer them selves to look young and fresh and not their food after 4 years, what do you say?

McDonalad’s 4 years Burger

Many vegetarians and vegan will not eat this food anyways, but if you are meat eater this is must read for you. In addition, Jamie Oliver “Food Revolution” shows kids (see video here) what Chicken Nuggets are made of. This is food that is mechanical textured and processed to look like meat.McNuggets are really processed crap made to look like food. It’s all marketed for you to think your eating real chicken, but your not!  Recently, McDonald’s Reps have said they no longer use pink slush to make Chicken Nugget, what is included was not mentioned as far as that news report I read.


McDonald’s is not the only fast food chain that with health issues, but being fast food giant they seemed to be most watched by many critic and rightly so. There are many other fast food chain and gourmet restaurant that may serve unhealthy, deep fried food. The point is that we choose to put healthier stuff inside our body so we can be healthier. There will be always simple and quick cooked meal at home will be always more healthier and inexpensive.  We have only one body this life, so let’s treat it right and eat well and there are many ways to say health is true wealth. If you must eat at fast food, pick healthiest choice available there and start carrying snack packs from Trader Joe when you need quick snack fill up. There are many quick ways to make quick gourmet meal at home in 30 minutes or less as well (before your Pizza order will come).  Remember on January 1st, you may have made being healthy goal, do not forget it now, eat healthy, lose weight and save money at the same time. Sounds like win-win for me.