Healthy Eating at Home

This post is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

One of the big benefits of living in a warm place like Arizona is that the weather is beautiful! Even though the temperatures are slowly dropping, our winter weather is lovely and allows us to spend most of the fall and winter outside, usually without a coat.

Eating Healthy at Home starts with great ingredients.

Another benefit of this glorious weather is the longer growing season. Local farmers and gardeners don’t follow the same planting season as other areas of the country. Here, many crops are still going strong.

On a recent visit to a local farmers market I got to see this first hand. If you are struggling to eat healthy, a farmers market is just the inspiration you need.

Uptown Farmers Market Phoenix AZ

Family Trip to the Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a great place to bring your family. I think kids will have a new appreciation for fresh produce when they see it at a farmers market. Some vendors even have fruit for sampling. Who can resist that? They can also answer your questions about how the food was grown and new ways to prepare it.

The Uptown Market in Phoenix is a family-friendly place with an abundance of fresh veggies and fruit. You could easily do your weekly meal planning based on local finds.

Farmers Market Veggies

I filled my bag with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, beans and much more. I bought the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had! If I had planned better, I would have brought a hand cart so I could buy more!

We had family visiting us from out of state and I wanted to show them how great healthy food could taste. They were impressed with the vivid colors and flavors!

Fresh Heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market

Eating at Home

Instead of eating out several nights a week, start a new tradition of fixing healthy meals together using fresh ingredients. If you have a local farmers market, make that part of the tradition too!

In most cases, food you make at home will be healthier than food you purchase at a restaurant. Spend a little time shopping for fresh ingredients that you will enjoy all week. My farmers market veggies seemed to last longer than veggies I buy at the store. I’m sure there was less transport and storage time.

Fresh veggies from the farmers market

Even though it seems easier to go out to eat some nights, I feel like it actually takes longer. Between driving to a restaurant, waiting for our dinner and then eating, I could have cooked a meal, enjoyed it and cleaned up in the same amount of time.

Cultivating a Love of Healthy Eating

On days I let my kids help; it does take longer to prepare dinner. I’m not really a patient mom when it comes to cooking with my kids, but I know it’s important. The time I spend teaching my kids to prep, cook and enjoy healthy foods is an investment in their future. Cultivating this love is easier to do when your kids are small.

My eight year old takes pride in helping make dinner. A couple of times a month we have a baked potato night. He will wash the potatoes and put them in our electric pressure cooker. He is so proud that he can cook dinner for the family.

Fresh veggies from the farmers market

The next time I visit a farmers market, I plan to give each of my kids their own bag and a few dollars to make their own purchases. Everything I bought was surprisingly affordable, sometimes much cheaper than my grocery store.

When kids have a say in what they buy, they will be more likely to actually eat it. Go ahead and encourage your kids to choose their favorite veggies, have them pick one more new thing to try. Maybe they’ll discover they love zucchini or heirloom tomatoes.

Learn to eat healthier my choosing fresh veggies.

Sugar Swap

Make sure to take in all the farmers market has to offer. The Uptown Market recently had a really fun event sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s Nourishing Arizona initiative. People could bring in candy (it was right after Halloween) or other sugary treats and exchange them for five Homegrown Healthy Bucks at a Sugar Swap! The candy wrappers were used to create art and the Homegrown Healthy Bucks could be used to purchase fresh produce.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona at the Uptown Market in Phoenix.

Does your family visit farmers markets? How do you encourage eating healthy at home?

The Best Plant-Based Diet Books

I get a lot of questions about switching to a plant-based diet. It’s understandable, for most of us, plant-based living is a completely foreign concept.

I do my best to help by answering emails and comments. Depending on the situation I’ll sometimes suggest a book. Blogs are a great place to look but you can get lost in the internet and spend hours reading.

This page contains affiliate links.

Best Plant-Based Diet Book [Read more…]

7 Reasons You Should Buy Local

If you are eating a plant-based diet you are probably eating a lot of plants. Sticking to seasonal produce from your grocery store or farmers market will be less expensive and healthier for you.

I’ll admit, depending on where you live, some places are easier than others to buy local seasonal produce. Right now is a great time to live in Arizona. Gardens are producing and local farmers have plenty to offer.

7 reasons you should buy local

You can find out what’s in season in your location using this handy tool: Sustainable Table Seasonal Food Guide.

If you need to be convinced that eating seasonally is better for you and for the environment check out these seven reasons you should buy local when possible. [Read more…]

Once a Week Cooking

Once a Week Cooking for vegan, plant-based, gluten-free foodies

Sometimes it’s nice to go a whole week without cooking. Sure, some people do that all the time, they just eat take out or fast food. I’m talking about a whole week eating homemade, plant-based food without having to cook it everyday. It’s possible if you do Once a Week Cooking.

I’ve shared this before, in fact it’s regularly one of my top pins.

Once a Week Cooking

If you want to try Once a Week Cooking I recommend that you plan meals that will reheat well, serve you for more than one meal and give yourself several hours to get the cooking done.

I’ve selected several recipes that meet this criteria, they are on this week’s meal plan.

You can adapt this to suit your time and dietary constraints.

What to Cook

Plan to start with the items that will take the longest too cook or that you need for other meals. If you are cooking beans you will probably want to start with those. If you are using canned or already have beans cooked you can move on. I already had beans and rice cooked when I started, we usually have beans and rice cooked at all times.

I also use multiple cooking options, for instance I cook beans in my Instant Pot, the casserole in my Crock Pot, most other things on my stove and the lasagna in my oven. The sweet potatoes can be made in the Instant Pot, Crock Pot or the oven.

Steps to Getting it All Done

1. Cook beans and rice. Either ahead or start here.

2. Get the Crock Pot going with the casserole.

3. Start cooking the lentils, quinoa and Mexican Rice on the stove.

4. Start preparing ingredients for the Lasagna. (The lasagna takes a long time so you can save time by eliminating this).

5. Wash and bake sweet potatoes.

6. Chop veggies and make the soup. (Beans and rice must be cooked in order to make the soup.)

7. Prepare additional veggies for salad.

Overwhelmed?

You can simplify this with a few modifications. This was more than enough food for us this week.

1. Cook fewer foods.

Instead cooking black beans and lentils just cook one and use it in place of both. Instead of cooking plain brown rice, Mexican Rice and quinoa choose one, but make sure you cook enough for all of your meals.

2. Have Foods Prepped.

You may be wondering, isn’t’ the purpose of once a week cooking to only cook once? Yes, however some foods like beans and grains take a while to cook. If you do this ahead of time you can knock an hour or more off of your cooking time.

3. Skip Difficult Recipes.

The lasagna recipe I made isn’t really difficult but it is a multi-step recipe that takes a lot of time. Replace it with a pasta dish instead and you’ll save a lot of time.

Do you batch cook or do once a week cooking? I’m considering creating a short batch cooking eCourse if there is enough interest.

Substituting Applesauce

Need to substitute applesauce? This EASY applesauce is quick and simple!

In the first two years of this blog I would occasionally answer reader questions here for all to see. I got away from that but I’m going to bring it back. Between comments, emails, the eCourse and social media I get a lot of questions.

Question: What can I use as a substitute for applesauce?

First a little background. I don’t normally like to buy a lot of processed products but I like to use applesauce instead of oil and sometimes in place of eggs in baking. A reader recently wanted to make The World’s Best Banana Bread but she was out of applesauce and needed a substitute.

The quickest and easiest substitute is an apple. I know, simple huh?

Just put a cored apple in a food processor or high-powered blender like a Blendtec and process it. You don’t even have to peel it. The result is 100% apple, no fillers, no additives. This pureed apple will work just like applesauce in recipes. Your kids will probably like it too! You can even add cinnamon if you are feeling crazy.

If you don’t have apples or have an allergy there are a few other options.

Pureed pears, peaches and other fruit will work but may leave a slightly stronger taste. Mashed bananas or mashed (cooked) sweet potatoes could work as well. You may want to add slightly less banana or sweet potato and add a little more water so the consistency will be similar to applesauce.

For more recipes that use applesauce (instead of oil) check out my Bread and Muffin Recipe Page! If you are still using oil in your baking try applesauce in its place.

Have you tried pureeing apples to use in place of applesauce?

This page contains affiliate links.

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