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5 easy food prep ideas

What are your challenges to preparing nutritious food for you or your family? I often hear that vegetables are too time-consuming to prepare, or you need a few simple food prep ideas for the week. You don't have to be a gourmet cook to prepare a home-cooked meal that hits most of the nutrition points a body needs.

Here are 5 basic food prep ideas to prepare foods that protect you from cancer and other chronic diseases. First, think uncomplicated foods. There is plenty of time to get the nutrients you need, and it’s nearly impossible to have optimal nutrition at all times. If Thursday nights are stressful for food prep, make it a stress free evening with uncomplicated foods and a little food prep. You'd be surprised what makes a meal that meets nutritional needs.

We don't need to eat perfectly to be free of disease. Many of my post-cancer clients are concerned with eating perfectly, so the cancer doesn't return. But fear-based eating raises the cortisol hormone in the body, which, in fact, reduces the nutritional benefit of a meal.

Nut butter on a crisp apple

Even 2 ingredients can give you energy and get you through the day. Peanut butter and a crisp apple (or any nut butter), nourishes the body with protein, carbs, and fat, similar to any well-rounded meal. This 2-ingredient meal even has the added benefit of fiber from the apple, a missing element from many American plates. Fiber is associated with a reduction in colorectal cancer risk.

Reduce the fear factor in food, and eat what you enjoy, without wondering whether it's a perfect meal. The following are five easy food preparation ideas to get nutrients and bring back the joy in food.

An updated cereal bowl

  1. Two or three ingredients can make a meal. Nut butter and fruit is a satisfying combination. Or mix ready-made salsa and a can of your favorite refried or baked beans. You'll have a satisfying combination of carbs, protein, and fiber. Other ideas are savory rice cakes, such as (nondairy, if you prefer) cream cheese and cucumbers. Make an "adult" peanut and butter jelly sandwich with plain yogurt, nut butter, and an exotic flavored jam like fig or blueberry. Grill avocado halves with a bit of olive oil and spread on toast.

  2. Pick one day you a week and devote time for food prep: For fresh produce, wash, cut, and bag vegetables to serve raw, such as cucumbers, peppers, or soybeans. They will last most of the week, and you can throw them into salads, prepare quick lunches, or put together a snack. (Don't prepare fruits ahead of time, they won't last.) Roast several potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, or fruit, and cover well. Add them to prepared dishes, to make them more filling and nutritious. Use canned beans to add fiber to dishes. Blanch any other vegetables for ease of prep during the week. These include green beans, fresh corn, or zucchini.

  3. Use a crock pot for vegetarian chili. Set up the ingredients the night before right in the crock pot dish and refrigerate, then plug it in the morning, and a hot dinner will be waiting for you when you return home.

  4. Cold cereal is a fine meal once in a while, but up the nutrients by filling most of the bowl with fruit, nuts, and seeds like flaxseed or hemp. Then use high-fiber cereal as the crunchy topping.

  5. Finally, try a new recipe when you have the time. Preparing a new recipe helps develop cooking skills, and gives you the confidence to open your palate to even more new foods. Confidence and cooking skills eventually cuts food prep time. And eating a variety of food types guarantees you'll get more nutrients, promotes more joy in eating, and gives a sense of accomplishment to the week. We tend to make the same five or six recipes every month, and life can get dreary eating the same foods over and over.

Roasted vegetables.

Cancer treatments all have one side effect in common: fatigue. Whether it's the treatments, medications, surgery, stress, body image, or time consumed by doctor's appointments, fatigue takes center stage. Food preparation may be daunting during this time and even after.

At the same time, many people are concerned they are not getting the nourishment they need during this challenging time. Be assured, your primary concern at this time is getting enough calories you need to undergo treatments. When you are past the exhausting struggles of medical treatments, you can start preparing more nutritious foods and using your newfound cooking skills and food prep ideas.

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