Balanced, fresh and healthy recipes help to turn any resolution into a lifestyle

Freschetta & Well Plated by Erin, photo provided by Freschetta
Freschetta & Well Plated by Erin, photo provided by Freschetta /

From resolutions to lifestyle choices, balanced fresh healthy recipes are key to keeping those commitments moving forward. While it is time to remove negative connotations from the food mindset, variety and compromise can help to ensure smart choices.

Recently, Erin Clarke of Well Plated by Erin teamed with Freschetta to offer some guidance on appreciating a balanced lifestyle. It isn’t about cutting out a favorite food or certain recipes. Instead, the plate becomes full of compromises that keep the scales level.

While Clarke isn’t necessarily saying that an entire cake is a smart dinner choice, the labels, approaches and even goals need to be within reach. Even though change should be embraced, those changes need to be realistic.

Can balanced, fresh healthy recipes really be what people want?

Recently, FoodSided spoke with Erin Clarke of Well Plated by Erin about her collaboration with Freschetta. As seen with her responses, Clarke has a realistic approach to food and eating. In some ways, these ideas are as attainable as enjoying that Freschetta pizza and salad for dinner.

FoodSided: Often at the start of the new year, people make radical changes to their eating lifestyle. Do you think that a more balanced approach to eating offers a more attainable change?

Clarke: Absolutely! I think when we go all or nothing or deem certain foods “off limits” or “bad,” we set ourselves up for failure. Enjoying a healthy diet shouldn’t be a short-term goal or a box we check off only at the beginning of the year. A happy, healthy relationship with food is based on long-term habits and everyday choices. When we take a more balanced approach, it makes healthy eating both sustainable AND enjoyable. Plus, we can enjoy our favorite foods in the process!

FoodSided: What simple changes can families make to bring some “better for you” choices into their healthy eating lifestyle?

Clarke: Keep a few healthy side dishes in your back pocket that you know your family enjoys and that you can prep in advance. Roasted vegetables are one of my favorites, because you can chop everything ahead of time (often days early), and then quickly pop them into the oven while you prepare the rest of dinner. Try filling half of your plate with vegetables, and then the other half with a fast and easy main you know your family loves, like frozen pizza. Furthermore, pay attention to your options. Nowadays, the freezer aisle is full of many choices, so pick the better-for-you-option when you can. A great example is Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza, which uses 100% real cheese and the crust is preservative free. Plus, it tastes great! It’s a win-win.

FoodSided: Sometimes people have subscribed to the notion that certain foods are “off the table” because they are “guilty.” Is that method of thinking now passe?

Clarke: While there is certainly some of that lingering diet mentality, I think as a culture we are finally starting to move away from it, which is really encouraging. Equating foods to a moral status gives them too much power and sets us up to feel badly about ourselves when we try to enjoy them. There truly is wisdom in the old phrase “everything in moderation” – in addition to the importance of “moderation,” we can also feel good embracing the “everything.”

FoodSided: Some families find it difficult to get everyone to agree on one food for dinner, what are some simple, easy ideas that can make everyone happy?

Clarke: Pizza is always a win in our home! One fun idea is to start with a more wholesome option (like Freschetta Gluten Free Four Cheese Pizza) and then allow family members to add their toppings of choice.

FoodSided: There was once a notion of semi-homemade meals (adding to some pre-made foods to create a new recipe), do you think that that concept can help families create balanced meals?

Clarke: Certainly! Anytime you can remove even one barrier to cooking, it is a win. For example, I rarely make pasta sauce from scratch, but I will doctor up a store-bought sauce with veggies and a simple protein, like chicken or shrimp, then serve it over whole wheat noodles. It’s a snap to make, wholesome, and doesn’t feel at all “pre-made.” Be sure to check your labels of the pre-made items you do buy to be sure you are choosing good options. One ingredient I try to avoid is added sugars.

FoodSided: If you could recommend a handful of foods that families should eat more frequently, what would they be?

Clarke: Embracing vegetables is a challenge for many families,but getting an adequate serving of vegetables at dinner time is so important. If your family is hesitant, I recommend trying new preparation methods. Instead of steaming or boiling your veggies, try them roasted with a sprinkle of Parmesan to keep the peace. You also can add sauteed veggies to frozen pizza. Sauteed spinach, for example, is so mild you can hardly taste it! If your family is very veggie-skeptical, try serving a family-approved main with a fruit salad instead.

light. Related Story. Healthy eating and comfort foods can be the perfect recipe pair

With these fresh healthy recipes and ideas, that resolution easily becomes a lifestyle. Maybe it is time to skip the term resolution and just embrace those small changes.

What advice do you have for someone who is looking to adopt some food changes to their lifestyle? Are small changes easier than sweeping ones?