How To Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet, Even When Time Challenged

How To Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet, Even When Time Challenged.

I have a lot to say on this subject, but, I think that putting it all in one post is too much. So, I am going to post a series on this topic.

The new year has started and many people use this time of year to motivate themselves to recommit to living a more healthy lifestyle. As a nurse, my patients often ask me about how to eat right, or accommodate their health concerns. In particular, since I work in geriatrics, diabetic and cardiac wellness are important. I also used to work with people who were HIV Positive, which was a whole other set of food concerns. Then, there is my own personal life. So, I have lots of experience with planning and accommodating special diets and special needs.


Food is like breathing. We need to eat, just like we need to breathe.


Breathe — you are alive


But, something as deceptively simple as breathing and eating is fraught with multiple layers of meaning.

Eating and breathing are what I call a pivot point of transformation. We eat food, which then becomes transformed into energy, which can be used by our bodies to nourish and sustain our life. A similar process also occurs when we breathe in oxygen. Both processes, breathing and eating are deceptively mundane. Upon examination, they are truly miraculous!

So, while identifying so many complexities, I thought I would take a few moments to discuss how to eat a healthy balanced diet, even when time challenged.

My basic rules are that I try to have something cooked and available in all major food groups at any given time. More specifically, I try to have rice, pasta, vegetables, a bean dish, and a chicken or fish prepared throughout the week.

To do this, I use my rice cooker, pressure cooker and crockpot on a regular basis. I use my microwave to cook vegetables as well. I always try to have frozen food, in particular vegetables, as a backup in a pinch.

I tend to do the bulk of my cooking for week preparing for our Sabbath. I am fortunate that my family does not demand fresh food every night. We eat leftovers from Shabbat if I am lucky, until Tuesday. After that, I fill in as needed.

We are not a one size fits all household. Therefore, I do not serve a single menu for our meals. As everyone has their own unique needs, I find it easier to just mix and match.

In addition to accommodating everyone’s individual preferences, we try to follow the principles of the Mediterranean Diet. This means that we try to eat whole grains, and plant-based foods (beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables) and limit animal protein and fat.

My husband eats red meat no more than once a week.  One meal a day consists of either fish, eggs or chicken. Another meal a day is completely vegan or plant based. I try not to cook with added fat and rely on spices to flavor food. I personally am allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs, so naturally, I do not eat them at all. Following this basic guide, it becomes possible to eat fast, healthy, easy and all natural food.

Below are some of the links that I accumulated on this topic. Feel free to explore any of them for more detailed explanations and information.


Click to access dash_brief.pdf

Click to access dashdiet.pdf

Click to access DASHDIET.pdf




Our Chanukah Miracle and How To Make Oatmeal

Our Chanukah Miracle And How To Make Oatmeal 

During the week of Chanukah, we had our own personal miracle story.

Our morning routine is that I get Yaffa dressed, make her breakfast and lunch and give her her medicine, etc. before going to work. Then, before Raizel goes to school, she puts Yaffa on the bus.

Last week, Yaffa needed oral surgery to remove 4 baby teeth which were impacted and preventing her adult teeth from growing in.

On the day of the surgery, I called the bus company and told them not to pick Yaffa up. However, the bus came anyway. 

Yaffa, who knows how to follow a routine better than anyone, put herself on the bus. 

Thank God, Raizel saw what happened and pulled Yaffa off the bus and brought her back into the house! 

Incredibly, all of this transpired without my husband even being aware of it. Not only that, but, Raizel was still able to get to her bus stop on time and make it to school. 

Raizel really saved the day! 

Miracles are what happen in our ordinary lives when we are willing to see how extraordinary the mundane really is.

After having her teeth pulled Yaffa was in so much pain that she was unable to chew and went back to eating only very soft and pureed foods.

As I have shared, Yaffa used to be on a feeding tube. The road to teaching her how to eat food by mouth and to bite, chew and swallow food has been a long and tortuous journey. 

Every food milestone that might be taken for granted with other children, was only attained after great effort — baby step by baby step. Given her history, we are very regimented in forcing Yaffa to eat foods that require chewing.

So, for a week now, Yaffa has not eaten her usual breakfast of prune juice, a banana and cereal with milk. For the first few days she would only eat apple sauce and oatmeal. She has now gone back to eating a banana. Getting her to eat dried cereal with milk again appears to be a bit of a challenge.

So, in light of our current situation, I thought I would take a moment to write about how to make oatmeal.

How To Make Oatmeal 

Believe it or not, there is an art to making the perfect bowl of oatmeal, and everyone has their preferences.

One way is to boil the water first, and then add the oatmeal, using a 2:1 ratio of water to oatmeal. Simmer over a low or medium-low heat until desired thickness. When the oats are added after the water boils, the oatmeal has a thicker texture.

The other way is to boil the oatmeal together with the water and then simmer it over a low or medium-low heat until desired thickness. This way the oatmeal is more creamy and smooth.

So, when the oats are added to the water determines the consistency of the oatmeal. The longer the oatmeal cooks, the thicker and softer it is. Naturally, each person in our house has their preferences.

Growing up, we would sometimes cook the oatmeal with milk or water and serve it with butter and brown sugar.

Now we cook it in water, and serve it with a splash of milk and maple syrup.

Sometimes, we add a pinch of salt. Cinnamon gives a touch of natural sweetness too.

Other ways of serving oatmeal include adding dried fruit, fresh fruit, sunflower seeds, nuts, or any combination of the above. My particular favorite is adding frozen cranberries and nuts.

There are also various types of oatmeal: instant, rolled and steel cut.

Interestingly, the rolled oatmeal in Canada is thicker and has more texture than the rolled oats available in the US. When we go back to Canada, we always like to stock up. 

Steel-cut oats have the most distinctive and almost nutty taste compared to other types of oatmeal. Unfortunately, they also take the longest to cook. 

When Yaffa was in the early stages of being weaned off of the feeding tube, we tried using instant oatmeal, without much success. When we were at that stage, I would make the oatmeal and then puree it with an immersion blender to make it extra smooth, which worked better.

Oatmeal can be made on top of the stove, in a crockpot, overnight in the fridge inside a jar, in the microwave and even eaten raw, with yogurt. We tend to make it on top of the stove, or in the microwave.

I also make “oatmeal rolls” and bake the oatmeal in a muffin pan.

Oatmeal “rolls”


cinnamon and salt

water to cover


Spray oil muffin pan. Add oatmeal, salt and cinnamon into each muffin cups. Pour water to top and let sit until water is absorbed.  This can also be done the night before, covered and refrigerated.

Bake at 350-375 degree oven until done.

These travel well, and can be frozen and defrosted as needed.

Here are pictures of our recent oatmeal adventures:

Stirring it in a pot on top of the stove:

The final product, with rice milk:

Here is oatmeal that I microwaved:

Here is an oatmeal roll:


Baked oatmeal can also be flat like a pancake, but I find that it falls apart too easily.

The humble oatmeal can be dressed up or dressed down in so many ways.