Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taco Bell Inspired Tips

I have started taking cues from restaurant prep lines - if I am REALLY being honest, my inspiration actually comes from past recollections (WAY past, btw) of how Taco Bell does their food-prep (at least how they used to do it ... it's been many years since I was inside one, but I am assuming this is still how it's done): there are bins of less than ten ingredients, yet these ingredients are combined and crafted in different ways that make TONS of different items. Some of these items are cold, some are heated, some are wrapped and some are layered. As the item is assembled, it moves down the line, getting various ingredients added to it while others are omitted, and voila - the "thing" is created.

This concept has come to mind as I am ever-mindful of the need to simplify my life while maintaining my health. Eating healthy food is one of the most important tools in my arsenal for staying healthy (and sane) while juggling
my roles that include being a full-time college student, business owner, wife, mother, grandmother, etc.

A few weeks ago I ended up with some leftover smoothie ingredients after doing a lunchtime wellness workshop. I had prepared the ingredients and packaged them in single-batch servings so that the prep would be "mindless" - just open the baggies and dump into the blender - during my presentation. These leftovers became my smoothies for several days following my workshop, and it occurred to me that I should be doing this for myself on a regular basis. While it DOES take some time to wash, peel and chop fruit and vegetables - and then clean everything up - for smoothies every day, it doesn't take THAT much longer to do several batches of smoothies' worth of prep at once. Having everything ready in the refrigerator makes it really difficult to come up with an excuse for not tossing some of them into the blender in various combinations, and then adding some frozen fruit, ice and water.

Some great items to incorporate into your smoothie prep "bar" include: pre washed spinach & kale, apples (I wash, core and cut them into quarters, then cut in half for easy use in the blender), carrots (peeled and chopped), raw beets (peeled and chunked), lemons & limes (cut off peel, halved), grapes & berries (washed and dried before storing), and fresh ginger (peeled and cut into thick 'coins'). These can be stored for several days to a week, depending on how juicy they are (the juicier stuff tends to spoil sooner). Softer, more delicate foods like bananas and clementines can be easily added with minimal prep when you make your smoothie. I also like to add a spoonful of nut butter, some fax seeds, raw nuts or seeds, wheatgrass powder, and whey-based protein powder, depending on what I'm in the mood for.

A lot of these ingredients can also be layered on top of a salad, rolled into a wrap or simmered into a soup.

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