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Conscious Living: You Are What You Eat

orangesAs pet parents, we take the time and attention needed to be sure we’re feeding our animals right. We learn how to read our pets’ reactions to food—adding more of what works and eliminating what doesn’t.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t take our own eating habits quite as seriously. Of course it’s much easier to control and monitor our pets’ diets, but taking some time to think about the food we eat, and where it comes from, is just as important. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be all or nothing—even small changes can make a huge difference.

Jill Barron, head chef at Wicker Park’s vegetarian hot spot MANA Food Bar, knows a thing or two about the wholesome and delicious benefits of a meat-free diet. At home though, she’s not a full-time vegetarian, choosing instead to cut back by eating meatless at least 4 days a week. She offered these tips for other meat lovers who want to incorporate more veggies into their diet:

Try ethnic foods. There are so many cultures where meat is a luxury and vegetarian food is a way of life. Experiment in the kitchen with dishes like curries, pastas, and quesadillas, which can easily be made meat-free.

Make one day a week meatless. Even devoting just one day a week to eating meat-free can bring significant health benefits, and can have a very positive impact on animals.

Don’t bother with meat replacements. They’ll never be as good as the real thing. Stick to natural foods for protein—like tofu, lentils, and beans.

Chicago-based health coach Caroleen Wheeland (visit her website at EtreNutra.com) has a strong living foods background and extensive knowledge in holistic nutrition, health coaching, and preventive health. She shared with us these additional tips for adding a healthy spring to your step:

Go for greens! Greens such as kale, chard, and spinach pack a huge punch of protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Add them to smoothies, wraps, and casseroles for a yummy kick.

Fabulous fats. Supplement a healthy diet with healthy fats from plant-based sources. Coconut oil is great for cooking and for your skin, avocados add body to your meals, and nuts bring great texture and flavor to a snack or meal.

It’s all about the BAQ. Buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa. These delicious grains are gluten-free, and filled with protein and fiber (perfect for keeping sugary cravings at bay!). Use them as replacements for rice or pasta.

Hydrate. Take your body weight and divide it by two—this is how many ounces of water you should be drinking a day.

There’s no magical way of eating that works for everyone, so choose what makes the most sense for your goals and lifestyle. Implement just a few of these changes and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier life!

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