Interested in eating more whole foods but don’t know where to start? This post is chock full of ideas for incorporating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and other powerful and nourishing foods into your diet in beautifully simple ways. The best part? When you focus on adding delicious and nutritious foods to more meals and snacks, you naturally start to eat less of the processed gunk over time. Now THAT is what I call a realistic, sustainable approach to healthy eating! 


If you've missed parts 1-5 of my Fundamentals of Healthy Eating series, check out previous posts here, or review this summary before jumping in below:

  1. Part 1 encourages you to identify a health-focused motivation for mixing up your eating habits, to have patience and compassion for yourself, and to let this be a slow evolution towards a sustainable way of eating. 
  2. Part 2 is all about increasing awareness around what, why, when and how you're eating and the impact of your choices on your overall wellbeing. This awareness is a SUPER important foundation for lasting change. 
  3. In part 3 you pick up that fork and dig into some dietary changes by filling your plate and your belly with more vegetables throughout the day. 
  4. Part 4 is where things get a little interesting. I challenge you to examine and reduce the amount of added sugar you're eating daily. Womp. 
  5. Part 5 sets you up for this next phase by explaining the importance of whole, real foods in your diet. 

  1. WORK TOWARDS 4-9 CUPS/DAY of VEGGIES: You're probably thinking I'm INSANE right now but consider this: vegetables (especially the green ones) have the widest variety of health benefits with the biggest potential for positively impacting our health. I could write a whole post on the benefits of broccoli alone. Eating more veggies is also the ONLY thing nutritionists, dietitians, doctors, health gurus and scientists agree on. So, if you do one thing off this list, eat more veggies! A serving of veggies ranges from 1/2 Cup (of the starchier ones like sweet potato) to 2 cups (of leafy greens) and you want to get a BARE minimum of 4 cups per day to start seeing benefits in everything from skin to digestion to weight management and cravings. Some ideas for getting in your daily dose:
    • Enjoy raw or warmed romaine, mixed greens, arugula, spinach or micro-greens in a nice big salad. You can easily get 4 cups down the hatch in one sitting!
    • Add extra greens to your wrap or sandwich - you can knock out 1-2 cups this way.
    • Slice up raw radishes, snap peas, carrots, celery, cucumber, jicama, cherry tomatoes for snacking and dipping in guacamole, hummus or nut butter. Boom. Another cup down.
    • Steam, braise or sauté leafy greens like kale, collards, chard, mustard or beet greens and toss them into omelettes, soups, buddha bowls, breakfast skillets, stews or serve as a side dish.
    • Slice then bake sweet potatoes or butternut squash rounds and use them in place of buns for burgers or sandwiches (turkey + sweet potato is especially yummy). A small roasted sweet potato topped with coconut yogurt and nut butter is an incredible breakfast too!
    • Roasted root veggies like parsnips, beets and carrots make delicious wedges or fries to accompany any burger or sandwich.
    • Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are my favorite cooked veggies to keep around for snacking.
    • Frozen peas, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini or squashes blend really well into smoothies. This works great with picky kids (and husbands)!
  2. HAVE FUN WITH EATING THE RAINBOW to get the highest volume and widest variety of benefits from whole foods. Not only do different colors equal different nutrients, you're much more likely to enjoy (and actually crave) whole food centric meals if they're colorful and easy on the eyes! A few ways you can get more color on that plate:
    • Have 1/2 Cup of mixed berries (fresh or frozen) or fresh kiwi as dessert or to use either brighten up a salad.
    • Chop then sprinkle fresh herbs like parsley, dill or chives on pretty much anything to add a pop of bright green.
    • Alternate between yams, and purple sweet potatoes and try different shapes, colors and textures of squashes like kabocha, delicata, butternut or acorn.
    • Swap out standard orange carrots for heirloom rainbow carrots (the purple and yellow ones are my absolute favorite!).
    • Try adding watermelon radishes or red radishes to your salad or veggie platter.
    • Roast up some purple or orange cauliflower instead of plain old white.
    • Grab a bunch of rainbow swiss chard or red kale the next time you're picking up some greens.
    • Experiment with red and yellow lentils or split peas in place of the more common legumes like black beans. 
    • Try black (forbidden) rice instead of brown the next time you make a stir fry. It has the most wonderful color and it's beyond delicious when cooked with coconut milk!
    • Try romanesco in place of your usual broccoli or cauliflower.
    • Throw some pitaya or acai in your smoothie (usually found in the freezer section near the berries). The colors are incredibly rich and beautiful and acai in particular is chock full of antioxidants!
    • Peruse the farmer's market or produce section for anything that catches your eye!
  3. INCORPORATE HEALTHY FATS & DITCH THE SKETCHY ONES: Americans are getting far too much dietary fat from pro-inflammatory sources like highly processed oils used to fry, thicken, moisten or increase the palatability of processed food. When ditching processed foods and focusing on whole foods, you get to incorporate beautiful, rich tasting healthy fats that taste SO MUCH better and actually offer health benefits instead of health risks. A few things to try to harness the brain boosting, energy increasing, inflammation decreasing powers of healthy fats: 
    • Snack on a small handful of raw or dry-roasted nuts or olives when that mid-afternoon slump hits.
    • Add avocado to your sandwich or use it as a creamy base for pestos and spreads
    • Toss a small handful of raw or dry-toasted seeds onto your salad, buddha bowl or soup to add texture and yummy depth of flavor.
    • Blend some coconut meat, chia seeds or flax seeds into your smoothies for a fool proof way to make them thick and creamy.
    • Have fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, mackerel, anchovies or sardines a few times a week.
    • Swap out grain-based breakfasts for a simple veggie scramble with pasture-raised eggs which are excellent brain food!
    • Swap out conventional bottled salad dressing for ones made with avocado or olive oil OR make your own (here's my favorite recipe). 
  4. RETHINK ANIMAL PROTEIN: Opt for wild caught/sustainably farmed fish, organic pasture raised poultry/eggs and organic grass fed meats when budget and accessibility allow. I know it's far more expensive and sounds difficult to maintain, but we don't need more than a few ounces of animal protein at a time, and we don't need it at every single meal seven days a week to reap the benefits . If you do choose to eat animal protein, consider spending more on the good stuff to avoid things like antibiotics, hormones, pro-inflammatory omega ratios, pesticides and GMO's in non-organic feed and all the health risks associated with factory farmed and/or processed alternatives. Chances are, the investment at the grocery store today will result in lower healthcare costs down the road. Some cost-effective ways to get in high-quality animal protein:
    • Swap out processed frozen chicken nuggets or tenders for chicken thighs and legs (much cheaper than breast).
    • Ask your butcher what's on special and/or get creative using cheaper cuts of meat so you can spring for the good (organic, grass fed) stuff. Slow cookers work wonders on any tougher cut!
    • Use plant-based egg substitutes like chia or flax "eggs" in baking and save the costly (but worth it) pasture-raised organic eggs for breakfasts or snacking on hard-boiled eggs.
    • Buy wild-caught fish frozen at places like Trader Joe's. 
    • Look for great deals on wild-caught fish and organic meats at bulk warehouses like Costco. 
    • Consider a meatless Monday each week to reduce costs/consumption down. Lentils or chickpeas in a salad, soup or curry are delicious and easy!
    • Eat a wider variety of meats, fish, poultry and don't be afraid to explore things like lamb, bison, elk, venison and other wild game.
    • Don't be afraid of canned! Just aim for wild-caught and sustainably sourced if possible.