From making resolutions to lifestyle choices, balanced, fresh, and healthy recipes are key to maintaining those commitments. While it is time to remove negative connotations from the way of thinking about food, diversity and trade-offs can help make smart choices.
Recently, Erin Clarke of Well Plated by Erin teamed up with Freschetta to provide a guide on how to appreciate a balanced lifestyle. It’s not about cutting out a favorite food or specific recipes. Instead, the record becomes full of compromises that keep the balance right.
While Clarke doesn’t necessarily say a whole cake is a smart choice for dinner, the labels, approaches, and even goals need to be within reach. Even if changes are to be accepted, these changes must be realistic.
Can balanced, fresh, and healthy recipes really be what people want?
Recently FoodSided spoke to Erin Clarke from Well Plated by Erin about her collaboration with Freschetta. As can be seen from their responses, Clarke has a realistic approach to eating and drinking. In a way, these ideas are as achievable as enjoying the Freschetta pizza and salad for dinner.
FoodSided: Often times people radically change their eating style at the start of the new year. Do you think a more balanced approach to eating offers an achievable change?
Clarke: Absolutely! I think if we go all or nothing or consider certain foods to be “taboo” or “bad”, we prepare for failure. Eating healthy shouldn’t be a short-term goal or a box that we check off at the beginning of the year. A happy, healthy relationship with food is based on long-term habits and everyday choices. When we take a more balanced approach, it makes healthy eating both sustainable and enjoyable. We can also enjoy our favorite dishes!
FoodSided: What simple changes can families make to bring some “better for you” choices to their healthy eating styles?
Clarke: Keep in your back pocket some healthy side dishes that you know your family will like and that you can prepare in advance. Fried vegetables are one of my favorites because you can chop everything up in advance (often days early) and then quickly put them in the oven while you prepare the rest of the dinner. Fill half of your plate with veggies and the other half with a quick and easy main course that you know your family will love, like frozen pizza. Also, pay attention to your options. There are many options in the freezer these days. So choose the option that is better for you if you can. A good example is the gluten-free Freschetta pizza, which uses 100% real cheese and the crust is preservative-free. Plus, it tastes great! It’s a win-win situation.
FoodSided: Sometimes people have joined the idea that certain foods are “off the table” because they are “guilty”. Is this way of thinking right now?
Clarke: While there is certainly some of that lingering food mentality, I think we as a culture are finally moving away from what is really encouraging. Equating foods with moral status gives them too much power and makes us feel bad trying to enjoy them. The old phrase “everything in measure” really contains wisdom – in addition to the meaning of “moderation”, we can also feel good when we accept “all”.
FoodSided: Some families find it difficult to get everyone to agree on one meal for dinner. What simple ideas can make everyone happy?
Clarke: Pizza is always a win at home! A fun idea is to start with a healthier option (like Freschetta Gluten Free Four Cheese Pizza) and then allow family members to add their toppings of their choice.
FoodSided: There used to be an idea of semi-homemade meals (some pre-made foods were added to make a new recipe). Do you think this concept can help families prepare balanced meals?
Clarke: Absolutely! Anytime you can remove even one cooking barrier, it is a win. For example, I rarely make pasta sauce from scratch, but I’ll treat a store-bought sauce with vegetables and a simple protein like chicken or shrimp, and then serve it over whole wheat pasta. It’s a breeze, healthy, and doesn’t feel “pre-made” at all. Make sure to check your labels on the pre-made items you buy to make sure you are choosing good options. One ingredient that I try to avoid is added sugar.
FoodSided: If you could recommend a handful of foods that families should eat more often, which ones would it be?
Clarke: Hugging vegetables is a challenge for many families, but having an adequate serving of vegetables with dinner is very important. If your family is hesitant, I recommend trying new cooking methods. Instead of steaming or boiling your vegetables, try a pinch of parmesan cheese to keep the peace. You can also add sautéed vegetables to frozen pizza. Sautéed spinach, for example, is so mild that you can hardly taste it! If your family is very skeptical about vegetarianism, serve a family-approved main course with a fruit salad instead.
With these fresh, healthy recipes and ideas, this solution easily becomes a lifestyle. Perhaps it is time to skip the term resolution and just accept these small changes.
What advice do you have for someone looking to make some changes in their lifestyle? Are small changes easier than big changes?