A common complaint in American society today is that there just isn’t enough time to eat well. While I understand that it can be difficult to shift your habits and that everyone has different circumstances to work around, I want to encourage you to make your health a priority. One of the best ways to make sure you stay on track and eat well is to be prepared and have a plan. But let’s be honest. Sometimes we forget to plan. Sometimes the plan doesn’t work out. Sometimes…life just happens. Just so you know, NO ONE always has it all together. I have yet to meet a perfect person. So today I thought I’d share a couple of quick, convenient ideas to have around as a backup plan for the busy mom/executive/student that suddenly finds themselves without time to prepare anything.
The easiest and healthiest option when you’re in a hurry is to choose fresh/raw fruits and vegetables. The important thing when eating raw foods is to be sure that you consume a large enough amount to fulfill your caloric needs. A giant rainbow salad consisting of an entire head of romaine lettuce, 2 medium tomatoes, 2 carrots, 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, and a 1/2 cup of red cabbage is just over 200 calories. Add some fruit like a mango, 1/2 cup of blueberries, and 1/2 of an avocado and you’ve got a decent sized meal that will sustain you at around 600 calories.
Have enough time to make a smoothie? Try this one. Keep plenty of peeled, ripe bananas on hand in the freezer (or pineapple if you’re not a fan of bananas). Blend up 2 frozen bananas, 2 fresh fruits of your choice (1 mango + 1 orange is a favorite in my house), 1 cup of coconut water (or more to desired consistency), and a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon for a delicious, satisfying, energy-packed breakfast that fills a 1 quart jar (about 500 calories). Go one step further by adding more fruit and freezing the extra smoothie in popsicle molds for a quick, easy snack another day.
The best vegan meal-replacement shake I have found is Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake (I like the chocolate flavored variety). When mixed with a non-dairy milk or coconut water and paired with some fresh fruit or veggies, it makes a perfect quick breakfast or lunch option. Just so you don’t get the wrong impression, I want to be sure to point out that fresh whole foods are always the best option, but if you must eat something quick and it’s between a Vega One shake or a drive-thru, go with the shake every time. Vega One offers quick nutrition that is whole-food, plant-based, low-glycemic, without sugar or artificial sweeteners added, and non-GMO. Each serving has “20 grams of premium plant-based protein, 6 servings of greens, and 50% daily value of food-based vitamins and minerals made from fruits and vegetables, plus fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants and probiotics.” At the time this was written, a 30.9 oz. tub of Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake could be purchased on Amazon for $54.99, which works out to just under $3 per serving. The price doesn’t qualify it for the value menu at McDonald’s, but it’s cheaper than most take-out meals and your body will thank you a million times over. The flavor of the chocolate shake is fabulous (I haven’t tried any others). Fair warning: the texture is a bit gritty going down. Word to the wise: don’t mix the powder with your chosen liquid until you are ready to drink it as some of the ingredients in the powder are very fibrous and gelatinous (i.e., it gets slimy and gloppy if you allow it to sit for a while). Full disclosure: I have not been paid in any way to promote this product, it is simply something I have tried and liked well enough to recommend to you. If you choose to click on the links provided and make a purchase, I will make a small commission from Amazon.
For on-the-go snacks, keep it simple with fruit that travels well like an apple, an orange, or a banana. Larabars and Vega Snack Bars are decent options, with a wide variety of tasty flavor options. The ingredients are simple, clean, healthy foods, but be sure not to reach for them every day as they are proportionately high in fat calories. Olives & lightly salted popcorn also make great take-along snacks.
The bottom line is that eating well is a choice. It isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t really have to be that complicated. If you need a little help getting started with a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle, my e-book and 6-week challenge contains a wide variety of recipes and preparation techniques as well as weekly meal plans, grocery lists, and prep-ahead schedules. It’s a crash course in whole-food, plant-based meal prep that will help you find your groove in the kitchen as you experiment with different techniques and experience different foods. What are your favorite vegan convenience foods? Please comment below!