The Art of Eating Well

Eating well is hard. Diet is personal.

The Art of Eating Well

Eating well is hard. I generally recommend eating simple, whole foods for cancer survivors on or completed with treatment. This represents a move from processed, industrial foods to real foods that will eventually rot. Diet is also personal—eat what you like. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t eat the dang kale. Have another leafy green instead. The single most important thing we can do to be healthier is cook. Cooking is an abstract art, not realist. There are no rules so cook and have fun. My tips for the subtle art of eating well are below.

  • Buy in bulk— This brings price down but keep storage and portion control in mind. Bulk section favorites include grains like quinoa or wheat berries; lentils, beans; nuts, seeds; dried fruit, etc.
  • Build a pantry— Things like olive oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, spices, vinegar, olives, coconut milk, miso paste, mustard, dried mushrooms, real maple syrup, etc. may be pricey at first, but they go a long way and a tasty meal is always possible.
  • Think seasonally—Take advantage of farmers’ markets and seasonal produce because fruits and vegetables are generally cheaper and tastier. Or try local community supported agriculture (CSA) share.
  • Buy eggs—With eggs you’re only minutes away from a satisfying meal. Scrambled with leftovers or a fried egg over a salad or stir-fried vegetables. Buy the expensive pastured kind. They make a big difference in flavor and nutrition quality. Even at $5 a dozen, you’re still only paying 42 cents an egg!
  • Respect the freezer—It’s simple economics! Big batch cooking is cheaper and more efficient than making lots of small dishes. Cooking dried beans takes time so make a lot and freeze the rest. Whenever you take the effort and time to cook, make double portions and freeze the rest.
  • Leftovers— Leftovers can seem unappealing, limp and cold after sitting in the fridge. Reinvent them as a sandwich, wrap, taco, omelet or Korean bibimbap. Give them a second life!
  • Be social—We get it, cooking and eating healthy is hard, takes planning and can be a chore. Help each other out! Consider cooking lunches for each other to divvy up the work.

Healthy homemade snacks are best to help reduce our reliance on processed foods that are generally loaded with junk we don't need and stripped of the nutrition value that we do. I realize this isn't always possible for a myriad of reasons. But just one more homemade snack or meal a day is a good thing that we should be proud of and our bodies will thank us for. Many of the following ideas can be made in advance and stored. These are some of my personal favorites.

Healthy Savory Snacks

  • Homemade savory popcorn! Try flavors like scallion and cilantro; turmeric + coriander; spicy oil; parmesan + black pepper; chili + lime; ‘cheesy’ nutritional yeast; seaweed furikake
  • Savory crunchy chickpeas or edamame. Better than chips! Roast a can of chickpeas or leftover edamame with herbs + spices. Try salty rosemary; garlic powder; curry; garam masala, thyme, etc
  • Avocado cracker with red pepper flakes or truffle salt
  • Homemade sweet potato skins. Season and bake until crispy
  • Puree leftover beans with a hit of lemon or lime to make a dip to eat with leftover veggies
  • Baked zucchini chips w smoked paprika and sea salt. Oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes
  • Avocado cracker with red pepper flakes or truffle salt

Healthy Sweet Snacks

  • Homemade sweet popcorn. Try flavors like honey and orange zest or salty maple
  • Homemade trail mix or granola. I like to add dried blueberries or dark chocolate chips
  • Wasa cracker topped with ricotta and sliced fruit or honey.
  • Peanut, almond or cashew butter mixed with a teaspoon of maple syrup with fruit or a cracker
  • Fruit sweetened Greek yogurt or Siggis yogurt, which is also delicious as a healthy frozen treat
  • Ezekiel cinnamon raisin toast topped with ricotta and sliced figs
  • Raw banana “ice cream.” I like to blend with a little maple syrup and lavender
  • Fro-yo bites. In cupcake papers, combine leftover granola and plain Greek yogurt. Freeze, enjoy

Amanda Bontempo, MS RD CSO CDN

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