Sometimes I like to keep my meals quick and simple. I like to rotate my vegetarian protein every few days so I typically do a few tofu meals, followed by a few quinoa or bean-based meals and then a few egg meals. Sometimes I will add cottage cheese to my salads or sometimes I will add vegetarian crumbles/meat to my stir-fry dishes. However, I never feel deprived, hungry or full when filling up my plate with delicious and wholesome foods with little to no ingredients. However, if I am feeling the need for a crunch, I like to top my salads w/ some type of cracker or chip. In my eyes there are no bad foods so long as you prioritize a plant-based diet. I think it is important that we all recognize that it is ok to have "food weakness's" and that we all have at least 1 trigger food. For me it is cereal so I don't buy cereals that I would have a tendency to indulge in. For Karel, it is ice cream....well, anything sweet (although I am not quite sure where it goes when he eats sugary treats??).
It is important that we recognize these trigger foods and allow ourselves to be "OK" with eating them. Nothing is going to happen to you if you eat an occasional bowl of cereal at 10pm at night or if you once in a while eat chips with your sandwich at lunch. However, by creating a habit of eating cereal at 10pm every night or justifying your meal or snack indulges by your exercise routine or emotions/stress levels, it is likely that you are going to see this habit as a bad thing...likely causing you to feel guilty when you try to let the habit become an occasional indulgence. This will likely be a hard cycle to break but overtime, increasing your intake of wholesome foods and finding a way to incorporate your favorite foods into your diet (on occasion) or in a meal is an excellent start. If you are struggling to change dietary habits, try finding a replacement rather than just eliminating your favorite foods. If you are a lover of cereal, start choosing a plain "cheerios" or a puff cereal. You know the cereal is there if you crave it but it is likely that you won't overindulge when eating out of boredom. If you love chips, try choosing a baked chip or whole wheat cracker. And when trying to incorporate your favorites into a meal..think about balance. Have a bowl of fruit with cereal on top. Have a big salad w/ a side of pizza. Have a veggie stir fry with a protein choice and a few chips/crackers on the side. Have a bowl of veggies and tofu topped with pasta.
Remember - we aim for progress, not perfection.
Although sweet potatoes are super heart-healthy and a perfect way to end the day after a tough morning workout, there are plenty of ways to indulge in your meal without feeling guilty about what you are eating.
The other day I was stumped what to make for dinner so Karel suggested that I make a sweet potato. As you all know, me and Outback Sweet Potatoes are a perfect pair on the day before a race. Every time I eat a sweet potato I just feel good inside. It is comfort to me on the day before a race and it is comfort to me without a race.
Nutrition facts for a sweet potato:
weet Potato Nutrition Facts
(for one medium size sweet potato)
Fat 0.39 g
Protein 2.15 g
Net Carbs 31.56 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g (about as much in a bowl of oatmeal!)
Calcium 28.6 mg
Sodium 16.9 mg
Potassium 265.2 mg
Folate 18.2 mcg
Vitamin C 29.51 mg (almost 1/3 the recommended amount)
Vitamin A 26081.9 IU (around 2x the recommended amount)
Source: US Department of Agriculture
There are so many ways to sweeten up a wholesome sweet potato. If you want a little butter and cinnamon, go ahead and enjoy it! In the scheme of things, a tbsp of butter, on top of a super-food like a sweet potato, is certainly nothing to worry about. I would rather you choose butter over spray butter and enjoy every bite of it!
More so-dress up your sweet potato! How about nuts, granola, raisins, cinnamon and/or yogurt?
Wanna make tofu a little more appetizing? After you cook the tofu in olive oil and add optional paprika (for browning) crumble a little feta cheese in the tofu after you finished cooking. It tastes just like pasta noodles!