Eating Healthy Does Take Work (and Here’s Why That’s Okay)

Yes, eating healthy does take some work, but that's not a bad thing and the rewards are huge. Don't set yourself up for failure by not admitting to the fact that it will take *some* time to prepare healthy foods. But be encouraged, there is a lot you can do to cut down the time in the kitchen.

Work. That word has bad connotations for many of us. Work is perhaps what takes you away more than you’d like from your family. Perhaps it is what tires you out. Or takes you away from the pursuits that give you the most joy.

So when we are told that eating healthy takes “work” it leaves a bad taste in our mouth. But I would like to propose two things to you today. One, work is not a negative thing. And secondly, the faster we acknowledge that eating healthy does require activity (or work) and planning, the more successful we will be in actually fulfilling our healthy eating goals.

(For email subscribers, check out my Cheat Sheet to a Healthy Diet in Ten Easy Steps – It’s my gift to my email subscribers right now! It shows that it doesn’t have to be complicated or hard to make some great changes in your kitchen. Yes, it takes work, but in the very best sense!).

Why we consider working a bad thing

What are some of the reasons we consider “work” to be such a bad thing? One of the reasons I believe we view work so negatively is because we associate work with unfulfilling jobs and exhausting hours. We associate it with making money, not accomplishing goals. And we live such busy lives, anything that requires extra activity is met with groans.

But work doesn’t have to be those things. A simple definition of work can be “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.” Work can mean reading a book to your child, taking a walk, journaling, playing music, gardening, and chopping vegetables. All of these activities take physical or mental effort, but that doesn’t mean they are negative activities. In fact, I don’t know of anything worthwhile in life that doesn’t require some activity behind it. Even the act of meditation takes mental effort.

Work is not the problem. But our attitudes towards work can be.

I think the biggest hang up a lot of us have towards eating healthy is that we want to create new habits without effort or exertion. We fool ourselves into thinking that healthy eating should be effortless, or at least very easy, and so we set ourselves up for failure.

But the fact is, it takes effort, some planning, and commitment. We now have many fairly effortless ways to feed ourselves available in the stores, the fast food line, and the restaurants surrounding us, and they have taught us that food can be easily attained without much effort.

Perhaps we have started to feel that this effortless way of feeding ourselves should be our right. Whereas in the past the work of feeding our families and ourselves was a simple fact of life, now we have to choose between pre-packaged foods and cooking from scratch. And if you’ve never had to learn the art of cooking, it can seem a daunting amount of work to learn.

If that’s you, here is some encouragement for you.

Reframe the word work in relationship to food

The job of feeding yourself (and your family) healthy food will be a much happier event if you can reframe the word work. If you go into the kitchen resenting the work it takes to feed yourself, it’s going to be an unhappy relationship. There are a lot of things that I can feel resentful towards in the kitchen if I’m not careful.

For example, I do enjoy cooking, but I dislike doing the dishes. However, if I can turn my mind towards the benefits of doing the dishes and how doing them helps me accomplish my wider goals of nourishing my family and myself, I can embrace the work happily. Yes, I wouldn’t put doing certain chores on the top ten list of things I enjoy. However, you know what I do enjoy? Feeding my family food that helps them thrive and have good energy. Food that brings them pleasure. Seeing the wider goals and benefits can make even my least favorite chores more positive.

Know that while it can be simple, it does take some time and effort

However, that said, I do want to clarify that there are a lot of ways you can eat simply to cut down on the workload. There have been times when I have tried to keep too many things spinning in the kitchen at the same time, and I have spent too much time in the kitchen.

Working smarter, faster, and cooking more simple food has gone a long way in cutting down the time I spent in the kitchen. Recipes we love but take more time aren’t made on as regular of a basis. Recipes that make good leftovers are made in larger batches. You can spend a huge amount of time in the kitchen if you’d like too. But few of us have the luxury of spending half the day in the kitchen (though I suspect half of us mothers feel that we do regardless of our cooking methods). The point is this: It does take work and activity and planning. But you can also streamline the process, learn to cook faster, and cook smarter for less time spent working in the kitchen.

The more you practice the faster you can become and the more effortless it will seem

This leads me to another important point. Like anything else, the more you practice, the faster and more effective you can become in the kitchen. One of the trends I see in the cooking world is to view cooking as a kind of luxurious weekend activity; an activity to use to relax, like your yoga class. I truthfully think that we should not view all of our cooking that way because, once again, it sets ourselves up for failure in eating healthy on a consistent basis. Instead, we should view it as “activity done in order to achieve a purpose or a goal”.

Like all skills, it does take time and effort to become better at it, and there is a learning curve. But we should focus on the purpose and goal, and that should include becoming skilled and wise enough in the kitchen to make the most of our time there. Our goal in the kitchen is not to once in a while spend the weekend creating gourmet spreads of food, and then eating food on the fly the rest of the week. Our goal is to consistently eat well. And for that to happen, being able to use effectively what time you have in the kitchen is crucial. Practice makes perfect here.

Acknowledging and accepting that there will be a time commitment, a learning curve to the cooking process, and that cooking healthy does require some work will go a long way in helping you succeed long term in eating well.

I’ve accepted the fact that eating well takes effort and time on my part, and I’m fine with that. In all other areas of my life if I am going to achieve my goals and hopes, I also expect to use effort and time to achieve them.

And so far? I’ve discovered that the effort and time have been worth it.

Easy Crock-pot Chicken Teriyaki (For Delicious Rice Bowls!)

Crock-pot Chicken Teriyaki Blowls- The Nourishing Gourmet

By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer

Chicken is gently flavored with an easy and simple homemade teriyaki sauce and then cooked in a crock-pot. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables and you have a lovely meal for a busy night!

In our busy lives, it is very tempting to get food out or settle for processed foods to save on time. Those may be fine for the occasional treat, but our bodies need nourishing foods on a regular basis to thrive. Few things weaken the body more than poor food choices. But I understand those busy days where it’s hard to get food on the table. Believe me, I’ve had many of those days myself.

I want to share with you the two appliances that have been instrumental in getting nourishing food on the table in the busy seasons of life. My crock-pot (affiliate links, Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker is a great brand to use) and rice cooker (I love my Vitaclay Rice Cooker) are two of my best friends. Okay, maybe not my friends, but as far as appliances go they are right up there with my Blendtec and grain mill! Crock-pots and rice cookers allow you to prepare nourishing meals that you can fix and forget. Many of these appliances are now programmable to keep food hot for up to 12 hours after the food has finished cooking.

The options are endless when you are cooking in a crock-pot, but this teriyaki recipe is one of my favorites. Teriyaki is bursting with flavor with the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Kimi shared a tip for the easiest marinade ever, soy sauce (or tamari) and unrefined sugar of choice (such as coconut sugar). It can’t get any easier than that, right? For this dish, I followed that basic idea and added a bit of ginger since I love the pop of flavor it adds. If you don’t feel like adding ginger, it is totally optional.

Have you ever gotten teriyaki rice bowls? I remember loving them in high school, and they were so tasty! I haven’t had one in years but decided that is was time to have one again in the convenience of my home. My trusty crock-pot and rice cooker made this a very easy meal to throw together with almost no work. I chose to steam some broccoli for about 10 minutes to go with my rice bowl but you could use any vegetable you have one hand.

Here are a few more teriyaki dishes:

Crock-pot Teriyaki Bowls
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 2 pounds chicken breast or thighs
  • ¾ cup soy sauce or tamari (use tamari for gluten free option)
  • ⅓ cup sucanat or coconut sugar (palm sugar)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Mix the soy sauce or tamari, sugar of choice, water and grated ginger in a cup or small bowl.
  2. Place the chicken in a crock-pot. Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken.
  3. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
  4. Slice the chicken once it is done cooking.
  5. Serve with white rice and steamed broccoli.
  6. If desired garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!



Homemade and Healthy Christmas Gift Ideas (Fun & Unique!)

Beautiful, fun, and unique homemade gifts (made with all natural ingredients!)

Our tree is up, our decorations are out, and the Christmas music is on! As a family, we look forward all year to Christmas for so many reasons. It’s a time of celebration for us, a time of thanksgiving for our blessings, and a time of giving.

And speaking of giving, I love making and giving away beautiful homemade gifts. But there is a wide variance of worth of homemade gifts. My criteria for homemade gifts:

  • Something the recipient would like
  • Something that isn’t completely contrary to my lifestyle decisions (that is, I’d feel sheepish giving away GMO-laden cheap candy after blogging about the evils of them)
  • And something that is tasty, useful, or adds value to the recipients life.

What homemade gifts fit the criteria depends entirely on who I am giving gifts to, but here are some delicious and useful ideas that meet this criterion for many! And look for even more upcoming ideas soon! (You can sign up for my RSS fed to make sure you don’t miss any).

All of these bundles of ideas can also be separated out into individual gifts as well. For example, a popular singular gift that we’ve given as a hostess gift is a jar of Candied Citrus Peel (they are really quite incredible!). Choose to give away just one jar of something or a basket brimming with treats! Both have been popular in my experience.

I’ve also included items that you can add to the basket that are store-bought, and, because we don’t always have time for homemade everything ,“cheater” options of organic/healthy store-bought options. I’ve included affiliate links below, when applicable. Thanks for supporting this blog! 

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix, Marshmallows and More

Fun Homemade and healthy hot cocoa gift ideas
Homemade hot cocoa mix is a yummy and useable gift that is popular to give and receive, but most recipes use a lot of ingredients that are unfortunate. Plus, I try to use Fair Trade Chocolate because of the problems in the chocolate industry (including unfair wages, child labor, and even slavery). To make it extra special, give along with homemade marshmallows!

Hot Cocoa Basket Ideas

Add Ons:

Cheater Options:

Christmas Candy Plate (made with unrefined sweeteners and natural ingredients!)

Homemade candy perfect for gift giving! These are all made with all natural ingredients too.  I have had so much fun making candies using natural, unrefined ingredients and giving them to family and friends. There are so many beautiful candies you can make. Pick one, or pick 6!

 Recipes for DIY Healthier Candies:

To Give in:

Homemade Ice Cream Gift Basket

Give a fun gift of homemade ice cream toppings such as bittersweet chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, and candied nuts!

I know it’s winter, but who doesn’t like ice cream year round? It’s one of my most favorite treats, and I am certainly not alone in that. What about giving a basket full of scrumptious ice cream toppings? You can even include cartons of homemade ice cream (or organic store-bought) for a beautiful gift.

Topping Recipes:

Ice cream recipes:

Add Ons:

Cheater Options:

For the Kids: Playdough Gift Set

How to make homemade glitter playdough

My girls love homemade playdough! To make it especially winter appropriate, try out the glitter dough, keep it “white” or un-dyed, and then add silver glitter! So pretty. Above left, you see our “Elsa” inspired playdough from the movie Frozen (White, with light blue glitter). It is especially fun to make a couple different color combinations. If you do want to dye it, check out the suggestions in the below links for natural dye options.


Add Ons:

Spa Night or Beauty Basket

Vanilla lavender sugar scrub for soft skin!

Beauty products are popular to give as gifts. They are easy to make, easy to use, and smell wonderful too. I don’t have a lot of recipes on this site (yet) for beauty products, but one great resource for homemade beauty products using superior ingredients is Mommypotomus’s book: DIY Organic Beauty Recipes eBook


  • I am pretty much in love with this Vanilla Lavender Scrub. It makes your skin smooth, soft, and smells great too.

Add Ons:

You can give it along with the other items listed on the spa night post – Epsom salts, beeswax candles, lavender essential oil, and honey for a face mask.

Tea Lovers Gift Basket

DIY Beautiful tea blends to give as gifts!

I love tea, so I have given tea gifts a lot. One year I made up a bunch of chai concentrate steeping bags and gave them away with directions for use to a wide variety of my friends and acquaintances. So fun! But you can also give a basket with several different delicious options. Below are some beautiful, DIY tea blends that are super fast and easy to put together. If you have a local store that carries herbs and spices in bulk, this is a cinch to make. (Mountain Rose Herbs also carries all of these ingredients).

Recipes for DIY Tea Blends:

To give in:

Add ons:

Cheater Options:

Those are some of my ideas! I’d love to hear yours! 

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

This sandwich is a perfect way to use up your Thanksgiving day leftovers. The sweet flavor of French toast and cranberry sauce is coupled with savory melted cheese and leftover turkey slices. You can easily make this dairy free by omitting the cheese, and switching out the milk for coconut milk, and butter for coconut oil. It will still be a savory sweet treat for the days after your holiday feast!

I think that’s one of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving…experimenting with the leftovers. There is so much you can do with leftover turkey meat! This is especially important for those of us on tight budgets, working hard to feed our families the most nourishing food possible. Nothing goes to waste in our home, and that includes every last piece of our Thanksgiving meal.

Any bread will work for this sandwich, and if you’re on a gluten free diet, you can easily adapt this with your favorite gluten free bread. I chose to use a slow rising sourdough bread as I love the flavor, and the health benefits from the reduction of phytates. It’s more digestible than other breads, and a very nourishing option for this recipe. Kimi has written a great post about the benefits of sourdough bread vs. yeasted bread.

What makes this sandwich so delicious are all the ingredients coming together in one bite. I find that pressing the sandwich in the pan helps make that possible. If you use cheese, this makes it even easier as it works as the “glue” to hold everything together. I don’t have a panini weight, but adapted my own unique way to press sandwiches in my cast iron skillet. Enter, the “tea pot press” below! Fill a kettle up a little less than half way, place a piece of parchment paper between it and the sandwich, and you’ll have a nicely pressed sandwich every time. Yum!

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)

This sandwich can easily be adapted for what you have on hand after your Thanksgiving festivities. Be creative and make it work for you and your own personal diet. Enjoy!

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers)
Serves: 4 sandwiches
Cranberry sauce, turkey, and nourishing sourdough bread all come together for a delicious post-Thanksgiving meal.
  • 8 Slices of sourdough bread
  • ½ Cup cranberry sauce (divided 1 tablespoon per slice of bread)
  • 8 oz of leftover turkey
  • 4 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup milk (use coconut milk for dairy-free)
  • Butter, or coconut oil, for the pan
  • Slices of cheddar or brie cheese
  1. Lay out your bread slices and spread about a tablespoon of cranberry sauce on each slice.
  2. Assemble your sandwiches with leftover turkey, and any cheese you desire. Cheddar or brie are wonderful choices.
  3. In a container wide enough to fit your sandwich, use a fork to scramble the eggs and milk together. One at a time place the entire sandwich in the egg and milk mixture for a few seconds allowing it to soak up the contents a bit. Flip the entire sandwich and allow the other piece of bread to soak.
  4. Immediately place it in a hot skillet with butter. Flip when one side is golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. I find that it helps to weigh the sandwich down with a panini press, a brick wrapped in parchment paper, or a teapot half filled with water ;)