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Monday, January 21, 2008

Meal Planning: Your Ticket to Freedom
By Linda Dessau


It's 5:30 p.m. and you're heading home after a long, full day. All of a sudden your mind turns to the daily question, "What's for dinner?"
Whether it's just you or whether you're preparing a meal for a whole gang, it's not an energizing prospect to imagine planning, shopping for or cooking a meal from scratch at the end of a long day.
That's probably why the fast food businesses are booming and why our health is suffering from the effects of these "easy" foods.
If you think meal planning is an unnecessary step, or that it would create a strict regimen that you'd be trapped by, read on about how meal planning can free you from worry and improve your health and well being.
REASONS FOR MEAL PLANNING
Less time and money spent at the grocery store
When you plan your meals out a week at a time, your trips to the grocery store become much more manageable. You know exactly what you'll need and you'll be less susceptible to "impulse" buying. Sometimes, when I'm feeling REALLY efficient, I even write my list in order of where I'll find it in the grocery store. Plus, buying the ingredients to cook a meal from scratch usually costs much less than the ready-made version.
Healthier meals = healthier you and your loved ones
When you're planning ahead, you'll have much more control over what you eat, and you can consciously choose to improve the health of your meals.
Better-timed meals
If you BEGIN planning and cooking dinner when you get home, it could be quite late before you're sitting down to eat it. The closer to bedtime it is when you finish dinner, the less likely you'll have time to properly digest and for your body to absorb what you've eaten. For breakfast and lunch, having the meals planned out can help remind you to STOP and EAT them.
Variety
When we choose our meals in the moment, based on what's fast, easy and enjoyable, we tend to stick to a few standby's and don't branch out very much. Nutritionally, this leaves us lacking. We also risk getting bored with our food and looking to fast food or unhealthier options for "excitement".
HOW TO PLAN YOUR MEALS FOR THE WEEK
1. Keep some spontaneity. You could just plan one part of the meal. For instance, if you know that you always have plenty of fresh of frozen vegetables that you can choose from, then simply plan "chicken, potatoes and vegetables". Then you can still have some spontaneity in your meal.
2. When you have time, make "frozen dinners". Make a double or triple recipe; package the leftovers in single (or family-size) servings and freeze.
3. Factor in schedule changes. Maybe the night after the big meeting or the night of the soccer tournament aren't the best nights to cook a meal from scratch. Plan a quick meal, take-out or your own "frozen dinner" for those nights.
4. Aim for balance. With the week spread out before you, look for balance between heavy and light meals, vegetarian and meat-based meals, and a variety of different-coloured fruits and vegetables.
5. Plan while you're in the kitchen. That way you can easily check for the ingredients of the dishes you're planning. If they're not there, add them to your grocery list immediately.
6. Keep an active grocery list through the week. That way, when staples run out you can add them to list.
7. Grow your recipe collection. Use the Internet, the cookbooks of your friends and family, magazines, etc. and find new things to try. One new recipe a week will keep things exciting!
8. Get some expert advice. Consult a trusted source such as Canada's Food Guide, or better still get individualized meal and nutrition suggestions from a registered dietician or a holistic nutritionist.
9. Make it a team effort. If you're feeding others as well as yourself, make the planning a team effort so that everyone gets some of their favourites through the week.
10. Always follow your plan, except when you don't. There are going to be things that come up, days that you just don't feel like eating what you've planned, or days when you've forgotten to do your nightly prep. Create a list of healthy stand-by's that you can throw together with the staples in your own kitchen. If you're on the go, be prepared by having a list of healthy choices at your favourite restaurants.
A meal plan is not a rigid "diet" or set of orders. The meal plan serves you, not the other way around.
Start now with tomorrow's meals. What can you defrost or partly prepare tonight to make tomorrow's meals easier and healthier?
(c) Copyright Linda Dessau, 2005.
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, is the author of "The Everyday Self-Care Workbook". For free resources, including your own Meal Planning Worksheet, visit
http://www.genuinecoaching.com/resources.html
Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Linda_Dessau

For more information on vegetarian meal planning, go to
http://canavacafe.com/mealplan.aspx

Vegetable Juice Fasting And Recipe Ideas
By Sandra Kim Leong

One of your options for a detox diet program is juice fasting. Other than fruits, you can also consider including vegetables in your juice fast. Contrary to what many think, there are various vegetable drink recipes that can also taste good. Vegetable juices are very beneficial in helping your body detoxify and cleanse toxic waste material. Vegetables also contain one of the most abundant sources of vitamins and minerals. If your daily diet lacks sufficient vegetables, then consuming vegetable drinks is another way of making sure that you do not forgo phytochemicals for nutrition.
Vegetable juice fasting allows your body to absorb what you consume quickly without activating your digestive system too much and thus improves your body's detoxification process. Taking vegetable drinks for a juice fast should not be an ongoing practice, but should only be practiced in a short period of time, say for about a week. Fasting on a vegetable juice diet would not be able to give you all the nutrients you need if you extend such a diet for more than it should.
If you need some ideas, here are some vegetable juice diet recipes that are easy to make:

1. You can mix carrots, kale and wheat grass. Carrots are wonderful sources of beta-carotene and vitamin C.

2. Another variety of the vegetable drink above is to add spinach instead of wheat grass. Spinach is very good for your juicing diet because it is rich in folate, iron and Vitamin B.

3. Blend tomato, celery, parsley, broccoli and cucumber. Be sure that you get only the freshest tomato that is ripe by the time they are picked from the plant. If they are taken at this state, they contain twice the amount of Vitamin C.

4. Season your carrot vegetable juice with some garlic, ginger and onion. This mix is something different for your taste buds but is still healthy and nutritious.

5. Add cucumber and celery in your carrot vegetable mix. Cucumber is another good source of Vitamin C that aids your body's detoxification process.

It is best to choose vegetables that are organic and free of pesticides. Before juicing, wash and rinse the vegetables in filtered water. You can also consider mixing vegetables and fruits together to make delicious juice combinations.
It is important that you drink your vegetable juices fresh at all times. You can juice just before consuming your drink. Alternatively, you can buy canning jars with perfect sealing lids for keeping in your refrigerator. Do not keep your juices beyond three days however. Also, always keep your lid jars tightly closed because air exposure can kill the beneficial enzymes in your vegetable drink.
Vegetables are very nutritious and you can take advantage of its health benefits when they are fresh and raw. Making vegetable drinks are the best way you can take them in their raw state. All you need to do is be a little creative in combining vegetables and how you can make them tasty and enticing.
Got constipation, bad breath and weight that you need to lose? Reap benefits from juice fasting by adopting a
detox diet. Get free here at http://www.detox-cleansing-diet.com/
Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sandra_Kim_Leong

For more information on recipe ideas, please go to
http://canavacafe.com/quickecookbook.aspx

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