Staying Healthy Here and NOW

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When faced with adversity, like we are globally today, it’s easy to get caught up in our thoughts and let our minds take over. There is a lot we cannot control right now, which can result in much anxiety and panic. There’s also a lot we can do to help ourselves feel healthier and to slow our mental roller coaster.

Practicing being present as much as possible can help reduce anxiety and ground us in the here and now. For most of us, this exact moment, right now, is ok. If we live moment by moment, we will reduce our suffering.

Cooking is an excellent way to practice our focus on the present. With so many senses involved, it can be exactly what many people need to feel connected to the earth. Touching, smelling and tasting wholesome food, can be calming, and for some even feel therapeutic. Cooking does not need to be elaborate.

In times of stress, taking care of our health needs to be a priority. It’s easy to let it slip. Many of us are suddenly a lot busier with double the responsibilities and unexpected stresses. I fully understand that cooking doesn’t feel like a priority. I myself pretty much stepped away from the kitchen last week and found myself eating cereal, eggs and toast often. Everything had become very exhausting. I reminded myself, eventually, that I had to try to make time to focus on cooking wholesome meals to freeze for the betterment of my own, and my family’s health.

If you make even one home cooked meal a week right now, it can help you feel grounded and even create a sense of “home,” when it’s most needed. Although I was sure I had the time to cook and then share this, after I did, I thanked myself.

I hope I can nudge you to cook this week. I plan on sharing some simple, yet wholesome recipes and sports nutrition education to help move you through these challenging times, healthier and with more energy. You are worth it.

The first recipe I’m sharing is this Lemon Lentil and Vegetable Soup that my sister first made for me when I was visiting last. I loved it as I love everything with lemon.

Dried beans are very economical and make a great base that’s high in fiber and nutrients. This recipe freezes well, so it’s a keeper in that sense as well. When you’re ultra exhausted, you can thaw a few portions and forgo cooking for a night (or two!). You may want to throw some quinoa or rice in the rice cooker too, which is also very low maintenance when time is tight.

You can serve this with one of many sides including; brown rice or quinoa, whole wheat or sourdough bread, any lean protein and greens. I’d recommend some additional protein on the side to get your meal intake to at least 20-25g.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups onion, chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped (optional, tastes great with our without)
  • 8 large celery sticks, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 medium potatoes, small cubes
  • 9 cups vegetable broth (bouillon cubes work here too)
  • 2 cups of dry red lentils
  • 5 large hand fulls of spinach (use what you have on hand and if you don’t have any the recipe is still great).
  • 4 Bay leaves (remove before blending)
  • Juice of one fresh lemon

Chop the carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and zucchini, put in a pot with the olive oil on medium, add a 3-4 dashes of salt and dash of pepper, simmer for 15 minutes. Check if the potatoes are soft (yes you get a small snack here!). If they are soft, add in the dry red lentils. Stir regularly over 5 minutes as they may start to stick to the bottom of the pot so watch for that.

Next, add the 9 cups of vegetable stock (you can use bullion cubes or pre-made stock). Bring down to a simmer and leave for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the juice of a large lemon. If you don’t have a fresh lemon, start with 1/4 cup of lemon juice, then test it to see if you want a more “lemony” taste. Personally I love lemon so I’d go with a 1/2 cup if you’re using 100% lemon juice from a jar. You can omit the lemon altogether if you wish too but I think it’s what makes the recipe so amazing.

Last, toss in 5 handfuls of any fresh greens, I use spinach. Although a lot of kids may dislike “green things,” I have to say my daughter Maple is three and a half, and this is one of her favorite soups, greens and all.

Remove the bay leaves:

BLEND IT and serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan or sliced avocado if you have any. (If you don’t have a blender you can eat it as a chunky soup as well).

One thing I know for sure is that our health is the most important thing right now, both physically and mentally. If we can try hard to take care of ourselves, we will also have more energy to then take care of others.

Smell the air. Feel the water on your hands. Smell the aroma of food in the air. Listen to your breath. Feel your heart beat. See the smile or tear of a loved one. All we have is NOW. This is it.

I hope this recipe can bring a little bit of joy to your moments.

NUTRITION: (Entire recipe – divide into the number of portions you make for nutrition per serving).

  • Calories: 2955
  • Carbohydrates: 430g
  • Protein: 119g (leucine 8.5g)
  • Fat: 93g (saturated fat 13.8g)
  • Fiber: 75g
  • Calcium: 785mg
  • Iron: 45mg

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Anne Guzman

Sport scientist, sports nutritionist, writer, former pro cyclist, life long learner. “See it, feel it and step into it. You're never ready, you just start."
Running, Cycling, Triathlon, Track Cycling, Wrestling
Hamilton, ON

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