Heyyyyyyyy how are you?! Thank you for being here!

So you might remember the main point of my last blog was: eat food that nourishes your body. Or basically, eat food. Which basically means sticking with foods that have vitamins and minerals. Why? Because they are needed to keep your body’s systems running. And they help to prevent disease and like, um…deadness. “Ok great! So I need to eat nourishing food. HOW exactly do I do that?”

Prepare your own food!

Cook. Make your own cereal, your own snack bars. Your own drinks. Then you TRULY know what you’re eating/drinking! Do you ever look at the ingredients on the back of a box and have trouble pronouncing them? Do you ever wonder where marshmallows come from If you don’t know what it is, don’t put it in your mouth. You wouldn’t put weird stuff in your nose or ears, would you? Treat your mouth with the same respect! Seems like a pretty sane rule, right? Just make it yourself. You’ll know whether or not your meal has added sugar. You’ll know how much salt was included. (If you saw the amount of sugar that was poured into soda before it was dissolved, you might be less likely to drink it. Blegh.) And if you’re not into cooking, no worries! Just think of it as assembling. Need a snack? You can chop a red pepper and dip it into store-bought organic hummus. No cooking necessary! But whoaaaaa this snack is soooooo much more nutritious than eating some crackers or pretzels.

“But Julie, cooking is tough. I’m BUSY!” Oh man, I get it! Between work, band, school, wine, nutrition clients, social life, writing this blog, and listing reasons for why I’m so busy, I’m maxed out! But here’s the trick: one step at a time. For now, just change one thing. Change something that you eat often. It won’t be too scary cuz it’s just one change! Then when you’re ready for another, go for it. In 6 months, think of all the cool new tricks you’ll have up your sleeve!

Your food is only as healthy as its ingredients.

If the ingredients are not nutritious, then the food is not nutritious. Let’s say you and I each make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I use stale white bread, reduced-fat Jiff, and Smuckers strawberry jelly. You use whole-grain bread from the local bakery, fresh almond butter that was made right there at Whole Foods, and some homemade jelly from my Aunt Kathy. Who made the more delicious sandwich? And who made a more nutritious sandwich? I think my Aunt Kathy put more love and care into that jelly than Smuckers did. I’m gonna go with her on this one.

So. How do I know if the ingredients are healthy?

Check the ingredients on the back of the package. Do they sound familiar? Do they sound like real foods? Here are some examples:

-brown rice: Totally ok! It’s a whole grain, which provides essential nutrients

-caramel color: Huh? Doesn’t sound like a food.

-tetrasodium pyrophosphate: Say what?

-soy protein concentrate: Hmmm.

-ammonium chloride: Is that a food or some kind of disinfectant? Not sure. Try Googling it!

-reconstituted vegetable juice blend: Hmmm. What does reconstituted mean? What does juice blend mean? I could guess but I’m just not sure. Maybe I’ll just eat some veggies instead, and drink some water.

-mustard seed: I know this one! I’ve seen this in the spice section, right? I’m ok with this!

-horseradish: I know this one too! Totally sounds like a food!

-flavorings: They really do list this as an ingredient on a can of ravioli. What does this even mean?! Flavored with stardust? Unicorns? Oregano? If it’s oregano, just tell me oregano. If they’re not telling me exactly what flavorings, it could be a bad sign.

In Summary

To summarize, just know what’s in your food. A meal is the sum of a few different foods. And a food is the sum of its ingredients (sorry, I’m a math geek!). Start with your ingredients, or building blocks. Put together healthy, recognizable building blocks to make healthy food! And don’t worry; cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Really! Trust me! I started out not knowing how to do anything. I mean nothing! The first meal I ever cooked for Jaime was beef stew in a plastic bag. It was…not good. But I challenged myself and tried a new thing every now and then, and now I almost know what I’m doing! It’s pretty fun.

Cook with a friend! Cook with your partner. Involve your kids. Make it fun! A family event. You don’t have to think of cooking as work. Think of it as creating. Everyone loves their own art. Let people create their own art and they’ll be excited about it. Make a video and host your own family cooking show! Have fun with it.

Ready for one healthy food idea? I’d love for you to check out this recipe. Why? Cuz it’s simple, yummy, versatile, cheap, and quick. And! You can eat these as a snack, breakfast, lunch, or dessert. They’re perfect if you’re running around all day. Let me know what you think!

Wanna get some free healthy dessert recipes? Click HERE.