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The image below is a great visual guide to all the foods that can be an asset to your lifestyle and health. Use it for reference, pin it or just look it over to get an idea of what foods benefit you best! Additionally, consider local, farm-to-table resources when seeking out produce and meats to fill your lifestyle. Read on for a more in-depth look…
I came up with ASSET for several reasons.
- There are so many “diets” out there, and I despise that word. I want how I eat to just simply be my way of eating. Part of my lifestyle, if you will. That’s it–I’m not on a diet. I’m eating well, I’m using food as medicine and fuel, and I’m educating myself on what goes into my body, what it does for me, and why I should or shouldn’t consume it.
- The asset is my name backward–plain and simple. I know, I’m so cool. The asset is also defined as “a useful or valuable thing” with synonyms including words like “benefit,” “advantage,” “attraction” and “resource.” Those are all words I’d like to use to define my lifestyle, myself, and in turn, my eating habits.
- My mother was a health guru. She was a health consultant, masseuse, went to chiropractic college, and attended more health-related seminars than any person I know. She survived breast cancer when I was young and became obsessed with health, which also means she ingrained it in me.
- There’s so much knowledge I gained from her plus much of my own research and attending seminars. I’m by no means certified, but I am very confident in my knowledge and always looking to continue learning and sharing
Over the years, this has become a comprehensive, ideal ASSET to eating. Now, let’s get the yucky stuff out of the way. Here’s what you’ll want to cut…
No dairy. *EXCEPTION* Greek yogurt and real butter are often my exceptions. Especially when I come across locally-made resources for dairy. Real butter is important instead of the froofy stuff because real butter is a healthy fat (and I like to cook with it!). Props for using Kerrygold.
No added sugar. Anything with sugar added to it, don’t do it! Natural sugars are okay in moderation–fruits, honey, agave, etc. Added sugars are primarily hidden in packaged foods, so glance at the ingredient list. Hopefully, this is a given, but just in case, this also means no artificial sweeteners!
No grains and gluten. Yes, bread and pasta and flour are so good, but they really just aren’t good for you. They’re fillers, heavy carbs, and just turn into sugar in your body. Wheat and other grains are industrialized plants, which means our bodies aren’t necessarily made to process them on a regular basis.
Also a solid hypothesis for why such a large portion of people are being diagnosed with gluten intolerances, celiac, etc. Note: I do eat corn, especially sweet corn because it’s harvested before maturity and considered a vegetable instead of a grain.
No red meat. The hard truth is that red meat, especially in excess, isn’t all that great for you. Red meat is linked to cancer, compared to and put in the same health category as cigarettes, and also connected to cardiovascular and cholesterol issues. Stick with seafood, eggs, and occasionally chicken or other poultry. And if you just can’t get past the no-red-meat thing, it happens.
I get it. Check out the “Modifications” section below. And consider farm-to-table, as some of the best ways to utilize foods, in general, is through locally farmed and raised resources.
But I love milk and soda and coffee and pasta and bread, so I don’t think I can do this… The good news is there are glorious alternatives that won’t take you away from most of the things you love. More good news: you don’t have to live by this all the time. I still enjoy cheese from the Kansas City Shatto Milk Company or local farm-raised beef. Instead, this is more of a guide to thinking about how much you’re consuming certain foods and being conscious of what ways they’re helpful to you.
Sweeteners. Life is just sweeter with sugar. Unfortunately, so many people are used to eating such a large amount of added sugar that the foods we’re eating are sickeningly sweet, and we don’t notice. Instead of adding sugar, use honey, agave, stevia, or applesauce in place of sugar.
Sodas. If you’re absolutely jonesing for a soda, Izze is a healthier route. It’s made with fruit, carbonated, tastes like soda, and has no added sugar.
Coffee. Yes, we all love our mocha-choco bullshit, but a lot of coffees (I’m looking at you, Starbucks) have over 2-3x the amount of sugar a person should consume IN ONE DAY. There are super easy ways around this:
- Butter coffee
- Use honey and almond milk to take the place of sugars and creamers.
- Go black. It may take some time, but in my experience, it’s an acquired taste (like wine or beer).
Milk. Unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk are great alternatives. Add liquid stevia if you want a bit more sweetness.
Noodles. Soba noodles, zoodles (zucchini noodles), and spaghetti squash noodles. Soba noodles and zoodles actually taste better than noodles in my opinion. Also, soba noodles take no extra effort to make–actually they’re quicker. Make sure to get soba noodles made with 100% buckwheat (which is not actually a grain–crazy, right?).
Rice. Quinoa, every single time. It’s healthier, it’s protein, you cook it just like rice, and I personally like it better. Pro tip: cook quinoa in a broth for more flavor, and throw it in a frying pan at the end for a nice sear.
Bread/tortillas. If I really, really just want something bread-like for a sandwich, I go for this paleo naan recipe. Trade out flour tortillas for corn tortillas.
Flour. Reach for almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, and so many other options for baking! The great things about these flour options are they’re healthier for you and really don’t hinder taste a ton.
Sauces and spreads. Greek yogurt is a great substitute for mayo, ranch, sour cream, cream cheese, and dips or recipes that call for those ingredients. Make your own almond butter by throwing almonds in a food processor until they turn into butter. Easier, cheaper, healthier, and delicious. Google and Pinterest are lifesavers for no sugar added hacks for ketchup, mustard, etc. if you must have your sauces!
What about chocolate? The cocoa powder really isn’t bad for you, so if you want to add some chocolate flavor to something you’re making, go for it! 100% cacao dark chocolate is also okay occasionally–there’s no sugar or milk. Something like this is a great example of how to use it…
Can I at least have a damn drink after reading all of this? I would seriously recommend special or rare occasions only if your goal is to be healthy, but yes, you could. Several alcohols contain sugar or grains … and hangovers, but if you’re willing to reach for a dry, red wine like Italian pinot grigio or cabernet sauvignon, pour a glass! If you need something a bit stronger, shoot for corn vodka like Tito’s (no sugar, no gluten).
In general, just do a quick Google search. Plenty of brands exists with no gluten or added sugar. Again, keep in mind: save it for special occasions or really bad days because even having a couple of glasses a night or several a week can add on weight or drag you down in the long run.
Sometimes, there are just things you’re not willing or able to do. It’s okay. Some of these lifestyle changes are a big commitment. So if you want to start out with a slightly modified version or keep some of these items in your daily diet, these are great, healthy suggestions:
I don’t know if I want to give up red meat. Consider these modified suggestions.
- Just cut back on your red meat intake. This article provides a great chart (3rd down) to get a healthier amount in your lifestyle.
- Strongly consider at least cutting out pork. It is, hands down, the worst meat you can eat, especially in America with how it’s processed. There are a plethora of reasons I could go into, but this TIME article provides great insight as to why.
I just love cheese way too much. I get it. It’s good.
- Go for healthier versions of cheese if you must include cheese in your life–goat cheese, feta, ricotta, and provolone if you need a sandwich-type cheese.
- Grab the actual blocks of cheese instead of the packaged, pre-shredded stuff.
I don’t like the taste of 100% cacao dark chocolate but don’t want to give up chocolate altogether.
- Try carob chips instead, especially for baking. I actually like them better than milk chocolate. They do contain some nonfat milk powder but no sugar and no caffeine.
- Don’t knock black bean brownies until you’ve tried them. I’ve made them before, and they are deceivingly, surprisingly good. And yes, I think they taste similar to real chocolate brownies.
- Don’t forget: you can use cocoa powder when you’re baking, which is an actual chocolate flavor. So you still don’t have to miss out completely.
I really want some milk in my life.
- Go for goat’s milk if you must keep dairy-based milk in your life.
- If you must do cow’s milk, go for whole milk. Whole milk actually contains healthy fats and is better for you than the processed 1% and 2% alternatives.