A few years ago when I first became interested in healthy eating, I stumbled across Michi’s Ladder. It looked neat so I printed it off for reference. Unfortunately, I lost the link where I found it, so I could only share paper copies. Tonight I found it again at Team BeachBody! It’s been updated with more foods since I originally printed it so it’s now even more helpful.
Michi’s Ladder isn’t a diet plan. Instead, it’s a 5 tiered ladder to show how healthy foods are. The first tier are the healthiest foods (mostly fruits, grains, and vegetables). There are a few meats like broiled fish on level 1 also. Level 5 has all the junk: fried foods, sweets, gravy, creamy dressing. Everything else falls somewhere in between.
You can use it to design healthier meals and snacks. Making substitutions of higher tiered foods in place of those lower down will make a healthier dish. The idea is to have as many of your foods up as high up as possible. Looking at Michi’s Ladder (instead of the traditional food pyramid) shows that it is possible to eat vegetarian and still not eat healthy, it just takes more effort. This is from using canned instead of fresh, frying or adding sauces.
Starting tonight, except for maybe Monday (my birthday), we are going to eat all vegetarian for at least the next week. My family is very supportive of this decision. Happily, most of the ingredients for the vegetarian meals I have in mind (except the quiche) are from tiers 1 or 2. The meals I planned for this week so far include a spinach pie with Feta cheese, spaghetti, lentil bake, vegetarian sloppy joes (uses lentils instead of meat), and broccoli quiche.
To partly make up for Monday’s planned splurge, tonight I made homemade Falafel with yogurt based dill cucumber sauce in whole wheat pitas. These garbanzo bean (aka chick pea) mush balls are traditionally fried, but I baked them after a quick spray with Pam so they would brown in the oven. They were a hit! Yummy and filling. I made the mush last night. I don’t have a real food processor, just a hand crank chopper so it took awhile. I made enough balls to freeze for a quick meal another night.
Breakfasts will be either toast and jam (both homemade) or oatmeal with fruit. Lunch probably pb&j. I need to stock up on fruits and snack veggies like baby carrots and celery. Some sunflower seeds and nuts would be good snacks too, especially for the kids who need more (good) fat and calories.
One great thing about higher tiered foods is they tend to be easier to clean up since they are low fat. I also found if I must fry, using olive oil instead of butter, canola or other vegetable oils will make clean up easier. I’m not sure why, just know it is. Plus, it’s on tier 2 whereas butter and canola oil are tier 3, and vegetable oil is way down on tier 5.
If you are interested in eating more healthy or even just curious how your favorite foods fit in, I urge you to check out Michi’s Ladder. I’ve seen a lot of food lists, and this one is the best and easiest to understand I’ve seen.