At first, I wasn't sure whether I needed to invest time and energy in Jonathan's research and findings. I've done lots of my own research and have always come back to this very simple approach to healthy living: Eat real food that is close to the earth. Stay away from prepared and processed foods. Get some exercise every day. Drink pretty much only water. I've always understood that vegetables are really really important for our bodies and that protein was important. I've also known for years that all calories and fat are not created equal and that counting calories and reducing fat across the board are not smart practices. So what else did I need to know?
But April was so excited about what Jonathan had taught her that I decided to explore the free materials available at Jonathan's website (sanesolution.com - you can click "join" in the upper right corner if you want the free stuff I got - a great video, an eBook, etc.). And you know what? His stuff really made sense.
To write his book, Jonathan went through TONS of the latest research from reliable sources like the National Instutite of Health and Harvard Medical School and wrote it up in a user-friendly way in his book. Then he went on to start programs that help people really apply what's in the book and introduce a new approach to eating called SANE (you focus on foods that pack the biggest punch when it comes to Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition and Efficiency).
As I learned about the SANE approach, I realized I'd been missing some key parts to the puzzle when it comes to helping our bodies to operate at peak level. Our bodies need MORE vegetables than the 5-a-day that has been suggested (and mostly ignored) for the last few years. TEN or more servings of vegetables a day is what is best for us. And we need a lot more protein than I'd realized (in the form of lean meats, nuts and seeds plus some legumes). Plus we need quite a lot less grains than I'd assumed. I'd been thinking that as long as it was whole grain and wasn't part of processed foods, it was a good thing. But now I've learned that when we more frequently trade grains for vegetables and protein, our metabolism can function better, we can fill up on meaningful food, we can get our hormones in balance, and we can feel and look better.
So I decided to try applying some of the basic principles of SANE eating to my diet and our family's diet. And it's made a really great difference for us!
Following are photos of the simple and tasty meals we've been enjoying (and the more we eat vegetables, the more we crave them!). Most of these meals involve very simple, easy-to-find ingredients and took 10-20 minutes to make. Some involve slightly-more-expensive packages of salad or stir-fry ingredients and frozen chicken from Costco (still way cheaper than eating frozen prepared foods).
Maybe some of these meals don't look like something you or your family would love - but you never know until you try. I've learned to really really like some things I'd never really thought about much before (spinach and kale is SO good when prepared well! And it's so yummy to put just about anything on a bed of chopped romaine). And I've been pleasantly surprised to see how happily my kids have been eating all the extra veggies (helps that we've talked about how our bodies really need the good fuel of vegetables and protein and that they've helped pick out and prepare meals). And I have to say that by eating lots more veggies and less grains and sugar (other than some serious sugar around Halloween which is now out of our systems), we're all feeling better. There's less bickering. There's less sickness. What we put in our bodies really does affect us in so many ways.
Tilapia with squash and salad (Just cooked frozen fish in a pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon - easy. There's some great lean protein and 4 servings of veggies on this plate - tomatoes, romaine lettuce, enough butternut squash for two servings)
Sauteed spinach with egg whites, avacado and tomatoes (tons of tasty, filling and easy protein and veggies)
Chicken salad (easy, made from canned chicken with a little mayo, some rice vinegar and mustard) on a bed of baby spinach with garden tomatoes
Caprese salad: Romaine topped with lots of tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, and basalmic glaze (love Trader Joe's basalmic glaze)
Stir fry - so easy - Costco sells this bag full of all the veggies, ready to go and it includes sauce. I just sauteed the full bag with some eggs and tofu (which my kids actually thought was chicken and I didn't bother correcting them). I made some rice to go with this but found that the kids were fine eating this without just a tiny bit of rice (rice is just non-nutritious starch - but they like it and we're not trying to cut out all starches and grains, just focus on the healthiest stuff first and foremost!)
Here's Silas enjoying another great Costco find - they have this 7-super-foods bagged salad with kale and brussel sprouts and other great veggies plus pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. My kids LOVE this salad (with just 1/2 the dressing that comes in the package - comes with way more than you need to make it tasty) topped with super-easy and fast chicken strips (I get the costco pack of frozen chicken tenders and you can cook them in like 15 minutes w/o even thawing first - just throw in a pan with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and a spray of olive oil as well as a little basalmic vinegar and cook on medium-high until done)
Here's my favorite breakfast lately (I crave this all the time and have it pretty much every day). It's sauteed kale with egg whites, tomatoes and a little sprinkle of cheese.
Here's a breakfast the kids have been having a lot lately (they're not as in love with the kale/tomato eggs I love but they do like them!). Why haven't we always been eating veggies on the side with our eggs in the morning? And with the addition of healthy veggies and fruit, there's no need for lots of starches/grains in the form of toast. The kids still like to see a little bread on their plate with their eggs. But just a little quarter of a pita toasted seems to be just fine once they've got other things on their plate as well.
Now that April and I have seen how effective and relatively easy more SANE eating can be, we are working closely with Jonathan Bailor to develop materials to help moms and families understand and embrace better nutrition. We've seen what a big difference it has made in our own lives and in our family members when we feed everyone in a more SANE way. And we want to share that. It's scary to see the statistics on diabetes and heart disease. It's sad to see so many children becoming overweight at earlier ages as their little bodies can't handle the diet that our culture has somehow embraced as normal for kids (mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, crackers and chips, very few veggies, very little plain water to drink, very little lean protein, etc - people just assume that's sort of the "natural" way to feed kids when it's actually the opposite!).
We're working on a Power of Moms "kit" full of grocery shopping lists, menus, recipes, and pictures as well as talking points for helping kids understand more about healthy nutrition to help moms more fully embrace vegetables in their family life. Everyone - doctors, nutritionists, etc. - has agreed pretty much forever that we should all be eating more vegetables. But very few people really embrace a sizeable amount of vegetables in their diets. People have in their minds that it's expensive and hard to feed our families lots of vegetables. So we want to help debunk that myth through simple tried-and-true ideas and methods for feeding our families lots of healthy vegetables. We'd love to present a whole new approach to nutrition for families that doesn't talk about what is "good" and what is "bad," but rather what is "excellent" and should be added to our diets, even if we still want to enjoy treats and not-so-excellent foods.
Plus we're working on materials to help moms really "go SANE" and find more health and energy than they've felt in years by really embracing the SANE approach to eating.
What do you think? Would you be excited about these programs for families and for moms? Do you want to feed your family and yourself more vegetables? Is nutrition something you think about a lot, a little, or a medium amount? Your feedback in the comments will really help as we move forward with these new programs!
Here's a new podcast I just did with April offering lots more ideas and thoughts that extent on what's in this post: VEGGIES MADE SIMPLE
Here are a couple old posts with some helpful info that goes with this post:
Is it really so hard to feed our kids healthy foods?
Favorite Snacks (kid-approved healthy snacks)