Salad vs. Veggie Sticks

We eat pretty healthy in my house. 80% of my personal diet is plant-based and my kids understand the importance of a healthy diet and appreciate how they feel when they eat well. But, kids will be kids and they fight me on the veggie front a lot. Shocking, I know. They love fruit so getting enough of that is not a problem but those leafy greens and other colorful veggies are a problem.

Up until about 6 months ago, I made salads often to go with our dinner. What’s better than raw, whole foods, right? Especially in the summer. My husband doesn’t like tomatoes, onions or peppers so that limited what I could put in the salad and I had to get creative. Sometimes, I made one big salad in a bowl and sometimes I made a salad bar so hubby and kids could make their own. Everyone would eat it but I usually had to remind them and there was always leftovers.

I figure I spent a good 20 minutes prepping a salad three or four nights a week and for what? So I could grumbling at the dinner table when I reminded them to fill their bowls? Why was I fighting this? I hated that getting a good dose of vegetables was drudgery for them. It shouldn’t be this hard and unpleasant.

Then I had a vegetable epiphany…

It was more like a “duh” moment actually.

Everyone in my house loves raw carrot sticks and hummus. We have it as a snack often. The kids even take it in their lunches. They like a few other veggies like broccoli, cherry tomatoes and cucumber but carrots seem to be the gold standard for raw vegetable snacks. So one day for dinner I put out a bowl of fresh raw carrot sticks and hummus instead of a salad.

I thought my family would think I was being lazy but they loved it! It was so much easier on me and it was completely gone before dinner was over. This has now become my new norm. I switch it up sometimes with different veggies and dips and sometimes apple slices. And while this isn’t at EVERY meal, it has made everything so much more pleasant.

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Carrots and hummus

The lesson here… Don’t fight it based on an idea of what you think a meal should be or needs to be. It just makes being healthy miserable. Rethink your meal plans, get creative and make it easy on yourself.

Happy eating!

My Must-Have Home Exercise Equipment

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Since I work out at home the majority of my workouts involve no equipment at all. I make a point of creating workout plans that require very little or no equipment so that anybody can do them anywhere. However, even I have some favorite pieces of equipment for my home gym.

Here are my 4 must-haves…

  1. Yoga mat – my workout room is carpeted but I like to use my yoga mat for stretching, ab work and other floor exercises. There’s nothing worse then laying on carpet when you’re all sweaty. I also use my yoga mat if I exercise outside. It’s easy to clean, just wipe it off with a damp cloth. Ironically, I don’t really do yoga but the mat sure comes in handy!
  2. Foam roller – there are many sizes and variations of foam rollers and I have a pretty simple one but I love it. I have chronically tight hamstrings combined with a mild low back injury and my foam roller keeps me functional and mobile. I use it before and after cardio workouts and anytime I just feel tight. I roll my calves, hamstrings and glutes almost daily.

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    My simple but effective foam roller

  3. Exercise ball– this is such an inexpensive and versatile piece of equipment that I think everybody should have one. I use it for ab exercises, low back exercises and in place of a bench for things like chest presses or shoulder presses. I also use it to stretch out my back. It’s another piece of equipment I can take outside too. These balls come in different sizes so just make sure you know what you’re buying when you shop.
  4. Treadmill – OK, I know this is actually a big, expensive piece of equipment and not an option for a lot of people but I am fortunate to have space and recently took advantage of a good sale so I have a nice treadmill. I love to run outside but, for various reasons, that isn’t always an option. Check out this post about why I love my treadmill. Since I run regularly and do a number of races every year, I consider my treadmill an indispensable piece of home exercise equipment.
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My indispensable treadmill

Just to be clear, these four items are not the only pieces of home exercise equipment I have. I have a room full of equipment. Some of it gets used ALL the time and some of it, not so much. But, if I had to pick, these four pieces would be the ones I’d want to keep.

Let me know in the comments what items you love or can’t live without in your own home fitness routine.

Happy exercising!