With the current pandemic, many of us are experiencing a lack of motivation to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Certified nutritional therapist, private chef, and food blogger, Jazz Leaf, has some tips on how to stay healthy during this time. We asked Jazz to share a bit about her life and how she is staying positive at such an uncertain time. During the stay-at-home order, Jazz has spent lots of time on self-improvement, maintaining a positive mindset, and sticking to a daily routine to continue to pursue her goals. Read on to learn more about Jazz and what has worked for her during this pandemic.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
My name is Jazz Leaf. I am a first-generation Persian-American girl originally from Southern California. I worked for corporate America as a technical project manager for about five years before changing careers to the health and wellness industry. I now live part-time between Indianapolis, IN, during the basketball season, and St. Pete Beach, FL, during the off-season. For the last three years, I have been working as a personal chef for a few of the Indiana Pacers, teaching cooking classes around the Indianapolis community, teaching spinning, and creating healthy recipe content full time!
How are you staying healthy during this pandemic?
My number one priority during this pandemic has been keeping a positive mindset, and my morning routine has been the most significant part of that. Every morning I go for a walk while listening to a podcast. Next, I do some deep stretching for about 30 minutes, which is something I never made time for before the pandemic. Finally, I conclude my morning routine with a 15-minute meditation and gratitude journal exercise. For this, I use a meditation app and write down 20 things I am grateful for in that moment. Spending my morning on these few simple activities has truly helped me to stay grounded during this time of uncertainty.
What cooking and shopping tips would you give people during this time?
I cook for a living, so it is my job to make sure that there is food on the table for every meal. Something that has been working for me is meal planning! Every Sunday, I go through everything in my fridge, pantry, and freezer. Based on what I have, I come up with recipe ideas for the week. To keep meals fun and exciting, I often design each meal with a theme in mind. Breakfast might be American-style with eggs and bacon; lunch may be Mediterranean with chicken skewers, hummus, rice, and a cucumber tomato salad, and for dinner, I’ll make a Mexican burrito bowl. After I have come up with which meals to make, I then formulate a list of ingredients I’m missing to pull the dishes together. I take this list with me to the grocery store or place an order online. From here, I add each meal I plan to make to my electronic calendar.
Every Monday morning, I know what I am cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entire week. The recipes don’t have to be complicated, but having a theme for each meal keeps things interesting. Meal planning helps to relieve the everyday stress of not knowing what to make.
How do you manage your time during the stay at home order?
On Sunday nights, I sit down at my laptop and type out my goals/to-dos for the week. The first few hours of every morning I spend on personal growth — I walk, stretch, meditate, and journal. Then I begin my work, cooking breakfast for the guys from the Pacers team. From there, I take a shower, get ready for the day, and start working on my blog, writing recipes, testing recipes, or filming YouTube videos. Next, I cook lunch for my clients, and then I’m back to creating content. I finish up my workday by cooking dinner, and after 6 PM, I put my laptop and phone away. I then focus on spending quality time outside or chatting with my family. Putting away my electronics each evening helps me to disconnect from the online world and be present.
What are the go-to staples that you always have in the kitchen?
For breakfast, I always keep around frozen fruit, chia seeds, flaxseeds, oatmeal, and plant-based milk. To make a creamy smoothie, I’ll blend chia seeds, spinach, frozen fruit, and plant-based milk. I also like to heat flaxseeds and oatmeal to make porridge, or I’ll make a chia pudding with chia seeds and plant-based milk.
My favorite snacks include all sorts of raw nuts: Brazil nuts, macadamia, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.
For lunches and dinners, I always keep pasta, quinoa, fresh or frozen veggies, and beans on hand. I love creating healthy buddha bowls with roasted vegetables, quinoa, brown rice, roasted chickpeas, and a dip like avocado or hummus! To keep my nightly dinners interesting, I’ll make homemade salad dressings to create a different flavor for each bowl.
Can’t forget about dessert! Lately, I have been making large batches of sugar-free, homemade desserts. I might make sweet potato brownies, salted banana chocolate chip cookies, or donuts (all of the recipes are on my Instagram page, @recipes4health)!
What are you hoping to gain during this time?
Stillness and education. I have thoroughly enjoyed the slightly slower pace of life. I don’t feel bad for taking 10 minutes a couple of times a day to focus on myself and being present. Without my phone, I’ll spend some time breathing and listening to the sounds of the birds. In terms of education, I have recently started taking an online course through Yale called The Science of Well-Being. This course has taught me a variety of tips for becoming a happier person. I enjoy spending time on self-improvement and love that this course has helped me learn more about ways to better myself and improve my overall well-being.
If you’re interested in healthy eating for yourself and your family but aren’t very comfortable with cooking or don’t know where to start, I highly suggest you check out my eCookbook. For just $12, you receive 35 recipes (10 breakfast, 10 lunch/dinner, 10 desserts, and 5 snacks). Each recipe requires no more than 10 ingredients and take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. The e-cookbook also comes with a single shopping list with everything you need to make all 35 recipes. Purchase the e-cookbook, grab your shopping list, head to the grocery store (or place an online order), and you’re all set! You now have everything you need to cook all 35 recipes over the next few weeks. Buy here!
Also, don’t forget to check out my social media channels below on daily recipe inspiration! I can’t wait to connect with you!
Youtube: Jazz’s Recipes4health