Foods I Want to Include in my Diet in 2012

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because they seem to have a lifespan of approximately 31 days, if not shorter.  But this list below are things that I’d like to permanently incorporate into my diet, and I’m going to use the start of this year as motivation to find creative ways to use them.

  1. Chia seeds – yes, these are the same seeds that I spread across my turtle Chia Pet my BFF gave to me in elementary school.  Chia seeds are the highest plant based source of Omega 3s.  They are also high in dietary fiber and protein.  One benefit to chia seeds over flax seeds is that you don’t need to grind them – flax seeds are difficult for the body to digest, so they are best used ground.  I’ve added chia seeds into my granola recipe and have some great Lemon-Chia Seed muffins baking in the oven right now.
  2. Turmeric – you would think that being of Indian descent, that turmeric would be a part of my daily diet – think again. Turmeric has great anti-inflammatory benefits, is a natural pain killer and a great liver detoxifier.  Turmeric has also been found to be a great herb to assist in balancing hormones. I’ve seen folks buy turmeric in pill or tea form, but if I don’t manage to include turmeric in at least one of my meals during the day, I opt to mix 1/2 tsp in a bit of warm water, and drink that instead. You could probably opt for a much tastier alternative by trying out this Golden Milk recipe.
  3. Coconut Oil – even though this oil is extremely high in saturated fat, its structure does not raise cholesterol in the same manner other saturated fats may.  Coconut oil stimulates metabolism and improves thyroid function – both of these have shown to be an aid in reducing body fat. There is still a lot of research to be done on this fat, but in an almost vegan diet, I feel that it is essential to find quality fats to include in my every day meals.
  4. Dandelion – bitter greens are generally great liver detoxifiers.  Our liver has a pretty big job to do with regards to keeping our hormones balanced and in check.  I try to drink a dandelion tea at least three times per week – my favourite brand is Chartreuse Organic Dandelion Detox Tea.  I’ve also used dandelion greens in some salads and stir-frys, and also manage to get some dandelion into my diet from my favourite coffee substitute, Dandy Blend.
  5. Dried Legumes – I used to always have a supply of canned legumes in my pantry, but after I use up everything that is in my pantry now, I will make the switch to dried legumes only.  The recent research on BPA in the lining of canned items has had me wanting to make a change.  The change should really be quite simple – it is just a matter of being more organized in planning my evening meals so I remember to soak the legumes the night before (an important step to reduce the phytic acid in the beans – phytic acid reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients). I came across this article that describes how to freeze your own cooked beans – I’m not sure I’m organized enough to do this, but it is a great tip if you’re short on time.
  6. Nuts and Seeds – I have started packing a small pill box full of almonds to eat every afternoon at work (I choose not to keep a large jar of almonds at my desk in fear of finishing them all in one sitting).  I also include pepitas and almonds in my weekly batch of granola.  I love the taste of walnuts in my veggie burgers, and will try to incorporate that more often.  I think that between walnuts, almonds, pepitas, flax seed and chia seeds, I’ll have enough variety in my diet.
  7. Protein Shakes – I sometimes tend to get a bit sloppy about watching my protein intake, especially when I start working out.  I’ve decided to have a protein shake at least 4 to 5 times per week to make sure I’m covered.  My favourite vegan protein shake is the Nikken Kenzen Body Balance Meal Replacement, but it is quite pricey (but in my opinion, the only pea protein I can actually drink without gagging).  I’m also a fan of Tera’s Whey organic fair-trade protein powder, and they now offer a Goat’s Whey protein as well, which I’m planning on trying.

I’d love to hear from you on what changes you’re trying to make to your diet this year.  May 2012 be a year of health and happiness for you!

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