I’ve recently started a new diet (which you’ve seen some pictures of if you follow me on Instagram). I am doing a cleanse of sorts with it, and I will eventually be taking some supplements, but the point is really about developing a better relationship with food.
That is what the eating mindfully challenge from Rally, our wellness tool, is really all about. It asks you to stop and think before you eat that morning donut from the break room.
So, the rules of what I’m doing food-wise are pretty simple. I’m eating breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and I can have another evening snack if I need it. (As a person who was eating maybe two meals a day and can’t really have dessert, I pretty much never need it.)
Within those meals, I’m trying to get a protein, a fruit or veggie, and a complex carb (whole wheat pastas and breads, potatoes, beans, etc.) in with each meal. For snacks, I’m usually mixing a fruit or veggie with some protein.
Besides that, I’m just avoiding processed foods as much as possible. Nothing with added sugar or salt, no soda, no coffee, no alcohol, and the big sacrifice, no candy! (Although, I may still be sneaking the occasional square of dark chocolate…)
(I should also add that I’m not getting rid of salt altogether. A sprinkle of salt on meat before you cook it or on fresh corn can make all the difference, but I’m going really light on this. And the good news is, I’ve always preferred pepper, so I’m just adding LOTS of that!)
What That Actually Looks Like
So, a rundown of today to give you a better idea:
For breakfast, I had a smoothie made with frozen berries and banana, oats, and pineapple coconut water. And I ate a scrambled egg for protein.
For my morning snack, I had a kiwi, blueberries, and strawberries. (Because I worked from home this morning, my snack and breakfast were closer together than normal, so I wasn’t very hungry and skipped the protein.)
For lunch, I had a half turkey sandwich on whole grain bread and a half spinach salad with lots of veggies.
For my second snack, I had homemade cinnamon apple chips (Cooking Light has some good recipes for this), and turkey lunch meat with a few red pepper strips.
For dinner, I will be using some herb pork tenderloin I made earlier in the week with some whole wheat pasta, roasted tomatoes and zucchini, and half an avocado (before it goes bad).
How I Actually Do It
And this is very much how I cook. I rarely use recipes, and I tend to throw in whatever is ripest in my kitchen. I also cook for one a lot, so I know I’m not going to want to eat the same things 8 days in a row. So I will do one thing that I can use many ways.
This week, I cut apart a pork tenderloin into 6 pieces, and I made them 3 different ways. The first way was what I’m using tonight. For that herb version, I just coated the pork in olive oil and then sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Then I made a pineapple version. I just mixed about a teaspoon of soy sauce, about a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of fresh pineapple juice, then I coated the meat in it. I topped each piece with a fresh pineapple ring before going into the oven.
And last, I made a quick peach reduction version. For that one, I put about a half cup of frozen peaches (fresh would be even better!) into a small saucepan and thawed them on the stove. Then I added 1-2 tablespoons of honey and brought the whole thing to a nice boil. Then I turned it down and let it simmer for at least 5 minutes to thicken. Then I just poured it over my meat.
Then I popped all of those (sectioned off with foil between the different flavors) straight into the oven. It baked at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. (Again, I don’t usually use a timer, I just check on things. So always make sure to cut your meat to see if it’s cooked through when following my slapped-together recipes!)
I served the Pineapple Pork Loin with a roasted sweet potato (which was just a sweet potato cut up, tossed in a little olive oil and seasoning, and popped in the oven at the same time as the pork) and fresh green beans. I also made a quick fresh salsa with another slice of fresh pineapple cut up and some red bell pepper that I served on top of the pork. This was delicious and the pineapple and honey got all sticky and crunchy on the outside.
I had the Peach Reduction Pork the next day, and I served it with more green beans and a Corn, Avocado, and Tomato salad, which is a super quick and tasty side. I used frozen corn which I steamed in the microwave, and then mixed it with half an avocado and a few sliced cherry tomatoes.
I’ve also done the math on those recipes for calorie tracking in my fitness binder, and the entire Pineapple Pork Loin meal was just 354 calories, and the entire Peach Pork meal was just 458 calories (based on a 4 oz. portions of pork).
So, How Can You Eat Mindfully?
Start with fruit and veggies! Skip the garlic bread side and have a salad.
Eat proper portions, because you can’t actually eat an entire bag of Cheetos and get away with it everyday once you lose the metabolism of a teenager.
Just eating better snacks can make a huge difference. Skip the donut and try one of these:
Loving my food pics on Instagram? Comment on them there when you want to see the recipes here on the blog!
Illinois has a Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program that gives you a free booklet of checks that you can use at local markets. Check it out on the Illinois Department on Aging’s site for details and participating counties and markets .
Many vendors only take cash (and some take SNAP and WIC benefits). Some booths only take small bills, 20s and smaller.
Many vendors don’t offer bags, so it’s a good idea to bring a few cloth ones you can use.
Most markets don’t allow dogs, so leave them at home.
Have an idea of what is in stock at that time of year, so you know what to expect. Use this map to find out what’s in season where you live.
2. Check the info booth first. If your market has an info booth, check there before you start shopping. The people working can let you know if there are any special things going on that day, like cooking demos.
Certain markets, like the new Champaign Farmers’ Market downtown, have special deals for SNAP users, so it’s always good to check with the info booth. At their market, they will double up to $20 of benefits per person while funds last when you bring your Link card to the market booth!
3. Go early or go late. If you go early, you will have first pick of the freshest and largest selection. If you go late, some farmers will offer discounts to clear out their stock before heading home.
4. Take a lap. Unless you know your market really well, don’t just buy the first things you see. By walking a lap through the market first, you can get the lay of the land, compare prices and selection, and taste samples.
5. Talk to the farmers. The farmers can answer questions about how the food was grown and harvested, talk about why their produce is or is not organic, offer recipes, give info about something you’ve never tasted, or recommend their favorites.
6. Be mindful. It’s considered rude to squeeze stone fruits, like peaches, plums, or tomatoes, because it can bruise them. And it’s considered rude to open husks of corn before buying them, which can actually make them less sweet. Also, look for whole produce, meaning veggies like carrots and beets with their green tops still whole. These will stay fresh longer, and you can make things like pesto sauces with the greens.
7. Take a risk. Sometimes you find things that are new, different, or even strange at the farmer’s market. This is the perfect opportunity to try something new because the farmers can usually give you advice on how best to use it.
8. Bring a friend or the family. Grocery shopping, unlike the farmers market, can feel like a chore. Take people with you to talk and walk with outside, and the farmer’s market instantly becomes a more fun activity. And you can always save money and split certain produce.
9. Keep it simple. When you’re cooking your food at home, go for simple recipes. Because you bought such fresh produce, you should let it shine. Put fresh wild strawberries over a salad or in a breakfast parfait instead of baking them into a cake. If you’re worried you won’t be able to use all of something you bought you can always freeze it and use the rest later. Use this guide from the FDA to make sure you’re storing and washing produce correctly.
10. Find the right market. Many areas have more than one farmers market within driving distance. If you can, test them all. Large farmer’s markets have a lot of energy, selection, and sometimes even dining options, but smaller markets often have good deals. Find the one that works best for you.