Summer is near its end (boo!). So is the time for social occasions and indulgent eating. Many of us have less of a routine in the summer and are more apt to graze on fresh seasonal fruit alongside barbecue, picnic and party foods.
September is a great time to get re-focused on wholesome eating, whether we have kids returning to school or not. Having a more routine way of eating is important for keeping our blood sugar balanced, hormones steady and nutrient intake sufficient to help us perform well physically and mentally.
Here are top tips to get you started on the right foot this fall:
1. Start your day with veggies! To meet the 7 or 8 servings you need each day, it’s imperative to tick some off your list at breakfast. In North America and Europe, we tend to have a sweeter breakfast, but elsewhere in the world, savoury, vegetable-based breakfasts are very common. Here are some easy solutions:
• Avocado toast—get a dose of heart healthy fibre and fat that will keep you full all morning.
• Green smoothie—blend up 1 cup of leafy greens like chard, spinach, kale or beet greens alongside fibre-rich fruit and protein from plain yogurt, kefir and/or hemp hearts.
• Eggs with roasted or sautéed veggies—serve skin-on nugget potatoes, onions, carrots and sweet potatoes with a scramble; use fantastic fillers like mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes in omelets.
• Crudités—serve some cucumber slices with breakfast (adults may think it’s strange, but kids don’t have the same rules we do so they think it’s great!).
2. Pack that lunch! Eating out for breakfast and lunch adds up in cost and calories. Bring food from home like a salad in a jar: layer dressing, whole grains and legumes, a mix of raw and lightly cooked veggies, perhaps some fruit, cheese, nuts or seeds. Simply shake before eating. For kids, use the same foods but pack it separately in a bento-style container.
3. Stock your pantry! Have the basics on hand to make a wholesome meal come together quickly:
• Dried beans, peas and lentils—these are the best protein source on the planet. Try them in the slow cooker all day for an easy dinner.
• Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, barley, cornmeal, oats, wheat berries, buckwheat groats—it’s easy to cook one or two types on the weekend and mix and match as a side to your meals or toppings for salads all week.
• Healthy oils and condiments like extra virgin olive oil, sesame and coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic and wine vinegar, low sodium tamari, grainy mustard, miso paste and tahini—you can make so many different sauces with these, keeping your taste buds tantalized.
4. Find fermented foods! Get digestion back on track with healthy bacteria from fermented foods: plain yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and more. Try making unpasteurized sauerkraut and pickles at home with the fall harvest of cabbage, carrots, beans and beets. Include a serving every day.
Nicole is the campus dietitian at the University of British Columbia where she engages with students and staff to enhance their nutrition knowledge and connection to their food.