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January’s 12 Tiny Change: Do It Yourself

by Elise Museles

blog-images-mason-jar If you’re just joining us, this post is part of the year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month we’re implementing one super small, super doable change—over a year it really adds up! You can read about it here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges. (Did I mention that there are lots of theme-related GIVEAWAYS each month?! Read on!)

Welcome to 2016! I hope you all enjoyed the winter holidays, and that you’re as excited as I am to dig into a fresh new year full of exciting possibilities and fun new challenges.

Most people think of January 1st as The One and Only Day to turn over a new leaf, but if you’ve been participating in the #12tinychanges challenge, you’ve been building beneficial new habits since September. The small, easy baby-steps that you’re taking are slowly adding up to a happier, healthier, more engaged you. Thanks for showing up, and kudos for your dedication! And if you’re new to the challenge, welcome to the simplest, least painful habit-shifting program you’ll ever tackle.

After the holidays–when so many of us fall off of our routines–we may be tempted to kick off the new year with some BIG “get healthy” promises to ourselves. More exercise! Fewer refined carbs! Less TV! No sugar! And while any effort to help yourself feel better is a step in the right direction, it can be counterproductive to make high-reaching, optimistic-but-unreasonable resolutions. When you can’t quite keep your ambitious New Year’s promises, you may end up with feelings of guilt or failure. And nobody needs those! Luckily #12tinychanges is all about setting manageable mini-goals, ones that won’t lead to disappointment, frustration, or consoling ourselves with a pint of cookie dough ice cream.

So instead of massive, complex health goals, let’s get back to basics this month and bite off exactly as much as we can chew. Let’s spend a little time in the kitchen in DIY mode having a blast making tasty items we might ordinarily buy.

Are you already shaking your head? Asking why on earth you’d complicate your life by hand-making purchasable foods?

I’m pretty confident that most of us are not creating our pantry staples from scratch. On the surface, it probably seems more convenient to just grab things off the grocery store shelf and plunk down some cash. But stay with me for a minute: Once you try making some of these everyday items on your own, you’ll be amazed by how easy it can be! Why waste precious time and energy running to the store for almond milk when you can soak your nuts while you are sleeping, and then make your own tastier version in five minutes right in your own kitchen?

You might think it will be boring, time-consuming, or expensive to DIY. I promise you, it’s not! It’s actually fun and significantly cheaper than buying everything pre-made.

Why should you try DIY-ing something you’d normally buy?

* It’s incredibly satisfying + fulfilling
Few of us have ever made our own bread, nut butters or jams . (Hello, awesome homemade PB & J!) Even contemplating the processes of making these items can feel intimidating. Until I started creating my own staples, there were so many recipes I avoided because I feared their complexity. Even though I’d successfully passed the bar exam, raised two boys, and run the Boston marathon, I found homemade cashew milk pretty daunting! Plus, why should I spend time learning how to DIY something when I could just toss it into my cart and buy it?

Simmering your own veggie stock might not sound particularly life-altering, but making your own staples can actually have a ripple effect through your whole life. Confidence and capability in one area often trickle over into other areas of your life, in the kitchen and beyond. Once you’ve mastered whipping up your own salad dressing and then putting together your own mason jar salads, there’s no telling what you’ll attempt! If you think something is out of your reach or beyond your skill set, it’s extremely satisfying to finally try it, figure it out…and then work it seamlessly into your weekly routine.

* When you make it yourself, you can customize it

Have you ever bought an energy bar and thought, “Hmm, I wish this was a tad less sweet…and tasted less like a big bunch of chemicals?” When you make your own Apricot Vanilla Cashew Bars, you can customize them to taste exactly the way you like!

Create your own granola so it’s sweeter or saltier. Swap out the nuts for seeds in bliss balls if you’re allergic. Add more of the things you love (extra goji berries in trail mix, I’m looking at you). Skip the controversial fillers or stabilizers found in the packaged versions. (Think carrageenan in nut milk.) When you DIY, you know exactly what’s going in…and you control exactly which not-so-healthy ingredients get left out!

blog-images-chocolate-bark

* You can view DIY-ing through the lens of curiosity + experimentation
This tiny change is just that—tiny. You don’t have to replace every single store-bought condiment or staple in your house. You don’t have to make everything you eat from scratch. You don’t have to whip up award-winning sauces or picture perfect superfood chocolate bark the first time you try.

Be curious about what your first baked root veggie chips and batch of hummus will taste like. Or how your coconut yogurt will add creaminess (and beneficial bacteria) to your morning parfaits. Consider how making from scratch improves the quality of the food you eat, and how much you’ll learn about sourcing ingredients. Notice how much you appreciate your meals when they include your DIY-ed staples. Think about these new recipes as kitchen experimentation; this can feel novel and exciting!

If you’re really interested in kicking up the DIY challenge a notch or two, check out my book, Whole Food Energy. It’s packed with 200 easy-to-make recipes designed specifically for busy, active people who want to stock their kitchens & pantries with healthy homemade snacks and light bites to eat on the go. It’s pretty much a DIY goldmine!

Say it with me again: You don’t have to replace everything all at once. Go slowly and pick a recipe or two a week. Once you experience a smoothie made with homemade nut milk and topped with a handful of freshly baked granola, you’ll wonder what took you so long to DIY! 

And because I’m a big believer in the ripple effect of DIY, I want to give you the tools to get going. To help kick off this tiny change, I’m giving away amazing prizes each week throughout January on Instagram. Think: signed copies of my book, superfoods from Windy City Organics to enhance all your creations, an awesome nut milk kit including raw organic almonds + beautiful glass jars from Pamela Salzman, a heart bowl from Breakfast Criminals to enjoy all this food with LOVE…and more!

So start gathering your ingredients and get ready to dig in. I’ll be sharing my creations all month and can’t wait to see yours. Happy DIY-ing!

P.S. I’ve made a little cheat sheet so that you can follow along easily. Simply download the 12 Tiny Changes at a Glance for an easy reminder of how we’re going make this year amazing.

One Response to January’s 12 Tiny Change: Do It Yourself

  1. louise April 23, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

    was buying expensive vegan bars got one of your books for mothers day now making lots of my own so much cheaper and able to make a good weekly selection which keeps me going longer so I can do school runs, work, look after three kids go running and still have energy

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