Healthy Eating Tips by Mary from Mary Makes Dinner

^Left picture courtesy of Brooklyn Food Experiment. All other pictures in this post courtesy of Mary Helen Leonard.^

You may remember a few weeks ago that I was kindly interviewed on Mary's blog, Mary Makes Dinner. Mary runs a lovely and delicious food blog from Austin, Texas (but I have learned she travels quite a bit!) featuring comfort food, healthy cooking, and ethnic cuisines.

Mary is a cook, writer, and culinary instructor with a rich background in food and adventure. Many worlds seem to collide in her kitchen, and her recipes seem to be inspired by such. Mary also teaches people how to make soap, scrubs, and natural skin care goodies, which you can see more of on The Natural Beauty Workshop. She is also an excellent photographer and I love glimpsing little pieces of her everyday life, in addition to recipes, over on her blog.

Isn't she just swell? I've asked Mary to share with us today some of her healthy eating tips. These tips are designed to make healthy eating a little more effortless. See the tips she's created just for us below:

Five Tips for Healthy Eating:

1. Submit to your cravings. One thing that makes eating healthy particularly challenging is mastering your desires. It's natural for your body and mind to crave. Rather than denying these instincts, try to find a healthy way to indulge them. If you can't get potato chips out of your head, go for something crunchy and salty, like roasted kale and sea salt. If it's fat you crave, treat yourself to a fresh avocado. A sweet tooth can be satisfied with fresh fruit or sweet root vegetables, like yams or beets. They key is to focus on satisfying a craving for a particular flavor or texture instead of a specific kind of food.

2. Keep things simple. While it's wonderful to dish up a really challenging dish every now and then, keeping your everyday meals easy and un-fussy will help keep you on track. I live off of rice bowls, burritos, sandwiches, and salads. Experiment with different seasoning techniques to mix things up. A few combinations I really love are: soy sauce, garlic, and ginger | chili pepper and lime juice | thyme, sage, and lemon.

3. Plan ahead. Make things easy for yourself by prepping veggies, grains, and proteins ahead of time. Chop veggies, rinse beans, marinate tofu, and cook rice or quinoa when you have some downtime. Then, when meal time comes, you can quickly satisfy your hunger with a simple, hearty meal by assembling the healthy components in your fridge.

4. Embrace routine. Breakfast and lunch are great opportunities for repetition. When you find something that you love, stick to it. Morning rituals, like sprouted raisin bread, organic yogurt, or green juice can help establish a healthy rhythm for your body. Lunch foods can be made in a large batch and eaten all week. (Think soups, chili, and salads.) Having your lunch ready to go makes it easier to avoid the lunchtime takeout trap.

5. Don't over-think it. We can sometimes feel pressured to keep up with the latest trends and fads. It's important to remember that there is no perfect diet. What works wonders for another person might just not work for you, and that's OK. If you don't like a certain veggie, don't force it. Instead, spend your energy finding healthy things that you actually like. Once you find it, eat it. It's as simple as that.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for simple, everyday eating:

1. Marinated Tofu
2. Chipotle Sweet Potato and Spinach Tacos
3. Black Bean Soup
4. Yaki Onigiri
5. Red Curry Sweet Potato Soup
6. Bell Pepper Quinoa Salad

Thank you for stopping by today, Mary. I love your tips; they are ones I am trying to instill daily in my kitchen. Be sure to check out Mary's favorite simple recipes (those tasty pictures up above I am drooling over) and the rest of her site too. Those incredible recipes have no end.