Family Snacks and Quick Holiday Meals
It seems like every year time goes by faster and faster. 2021 has been an amazing year, filled with incredible accomplishments, and it has literally flown by! As we wrap up the final quarter and rush to get everything done for the upcoming Christmas holiday, our time for preparing delicious, clean meals gets more and more limited. However, it’s during these busy and somewhat stressful moments that getting proper nourishment and taking care of our health is more important than ever. That is why we have some built in systems to ensure we are getting the nutrients we need to sustain us and keep our taste buds happy well into the new year.
If you have ever experimented with meal prepping, this will seem pretty similar, but don’t worry, we aren’t about to suggest spending an entire day shopping and cooking. Our clean eating for busy schedules is more about being prepared to eat well no matter what life throws our way.
Step #1 K.I.S.S. - Keep It Super Simple
When it comes to eating well, our focus stays on whole, natural foods that are as close to their original forms as possible. We then take these plant-based foods and consider our macronutrient needs: fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Protein is key to every meal because we know it will give us much needed satisfaction and longevity. Basically it burns slower in the body letting us stay fuller for longer, meaning no wasted time on extra hunger pains. We also like to get good doses of carbs when running around as they are the fuel we need to stay energized. However, we eat less of them if our day is filled with desk work because unused carbs being processed in the body can make us sleepy. Throw in some healthy fats for active brain function and added energy, and we are good to go!
Step #2 Break it Down
In the spirit of keeping it simple, we like to break down our needs. First - the times of day we eat, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Second - the types of foods we eat, veggies, whole grains, plant dairy, fruits, and beans.
Once we have our needs categorized, we make a plan for quick and easy meals that can be thrown together in a pinch or set up ahead of time. Start by choosing three to four easy to make dishes for each meal time.
Some of our personal favorites are avocado toast and a boiled egg, oatmeal with blueberries and almond butter, or a yogurt parfait with plant-based or organic Greek yogurt topped with our favorite granola, muesli, nuts, seeds, fruits and BAM! Each of these options can be made in under ten minutes and include the necessary macros to get us going for the day.
Lunch is our favorite meal and possibly the most important as it needs to get us through the rest of the day’s busy events. Any take on a Buddha bowl is always a tasty and fast choice. Pick a whole grain, a protein packed legume, add in some tofu, seitan, or plant based “meat,” then top it with all the veggies we love. Get a dose of good fats with fresh avocado, olive oil, or coconut oil and we’re good to go! Plant-based soups and stews are another good option as long as we know what ingredients were used or we make it ourselves. And for the truly rushed afternoon, a loaded protein smoothie with some much needed greens, our favorite plant-based protein powder or whole source, and some low sugar fruits. Smoothies are easy as long as we keep in mind our macronutrient balance. noops pudding also packs in 5g of plant based pudding so pairing noops with some fresh fruit and/or granola is a fast, easy way to fill your belly.
While in the US, we elevate dinner to the main meal of the day, it really should be the smaller meal that is designed to fuel us just a few more active hours before finally going to bed. In the evening, we always avoid heavy foods that can disrupt sleep and opt for low carb and no sugar foods. We just don’t need the added energy so close to our zzz’s. Our go to is a nice fresh salad. Restaurant salads are filled with hidden fats, sugars, preservatives, and artificial ingredients, primarily in the dressing. We like to make them ourselves and go heavy on the greens, light on the cruciferous and starchy veggies, and mix our own dressing. For added flavor, we mix in fresh herbs, green onions or chives, and add in some protein with nuts, seeds. Or, we even use a nut butter in our salad dressing mix. Other easy dinner options would be a wrap with beans and rice or a grilled veggie sandwich on whole grain bread. We even enjoy a good plate of roasted vegetables and quinoa! Throw a little warm cheese on top.
Step #3 Batch is the Catch
The real art to eating clean when on the go is having key elements of a meal already prepared. Batch cooking is ideal because you can then dress that main ingredient however you like when you want to eat. For example, we like to batch cook our grains as they take time. Get a couple of pots going and make up a big dish of whole grain wild rice, a pot of quinoa, and a pot of lentils. We don’t season them in advance. That way we can simply add in all the different spices, veggies, and proteins we want when it comes time to eat.
We are also big fans of pre-cut, mixed frozen vegetables. Did you know that frozen vegetables are often higher in nutrients than fresh! Unless you buy locally, from farmer’s markets, supermarket fruits and vegetables are often picked early and ripen in transport. They don’t reach their full potential for vitamins and minerals. However, frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the point of perfect ripeness and flash frozen to maintain their quality. They also make for quick additions to our pre-made grains. Stir-fries, curries, and balanced dinners are made in minutes!
Batch cooking root veggies like squash, beets, potatoes, and carrots also make great additions to a quick evening meal!
Step #4 Don’t Get Caught Hungry
The biggest danger to clean eating when pushing through busy times is getting caught hungry. This can drive us to make impulsive food choices that don’t do our bodies any favors. The answer is simple, pack a snack! A small container of nuts, seeds, granola, whole grain crisps with nut butter, pre-sliced fruits, washed and cut vegetables, or a dip like hummus all make good options, but of course you do need to prepare them ahead of time. Luckily, there are also choices that require nothing more than opening your fridge. Thank you noops! Get a good protein-packed pudding pick-me-up with a flavor that makes your toes curl in delight in a matter of seconds.For some truly delicious snacks you can have prepared, check out this season's best noops blends: Fruity Fall Cobbler and Caramel Apple Baked Oat Bars.
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