Category Archives: Recipes

Your Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Healthy Meal Planning

 

Photo credit: Farmview Market

Photo credit: Farmview Market

“Could you just give me a meal plan?”

I can’t. Don’t hate me just yet! Because I can give you something even better. I think of it as a cheat sheet. So that you can make it easier to plan your meals and get on with your life. If you’re just here for the meals, scroll down to grab the PDF. But you’ll miss by big, juicy tips if you do that. Hang with me for a minute here. 

First, as I described in the article “Just tell me what to eat,” I’m not a big fan of meal plans. But I really do empathize with people who want one. Read that for a primer on the building blocks of healthy meals. 

It would take me all day to write a customized plan for each of my online nutrition clients. That’s because you are a unicorn. 

photo credit: teepublic

photo credit: teepublic

  • You have unique calorie requirements. 
  • You like certain flavors but not others.
  • You may love to cook, or you may hate it. Or just not have time to do it.
  • You may live alone or you may have to feed a huge family. 
  • Maybe you don’t even eat breakfast. That’s cool too. 

That all impacts the kinds of meals you’ll make at your house. 

While my former article lays out what a healthy meal looks like, I’d like to give you a little more of a head start for planning. Because when you’ve had a long week and are trying to change something big, nobody wants to spend three hours figuring out what they’re going to eat for the next week. 

It’s still worth planning out, don’t get me wrong. As I have talked about many times, making a menu, prepping some grab-and-go foods, and avoiding constant trips to the store saves you time, money, and ultimately calories. 

inabutter

Instead of a plan, I’m going to share the go to meals that my clients and I often use on a regular basis.

I won’t assume you’re Ina Garten here. Most of my ideas can be made in 20 minutes or less – many of them in less time than that. I’ll also link up the cheat sheet at the end of this to a PDF that you can keep on hand. 

photo credit: Precision Nutrition

photo credit: Precision Nutrition

Precision Nutrition does a good job of visually explaining what most of your plates will look like. Mine don’t always fit this perfectly, but I try to make them come close. Once in awhile, mama just needs a donut. 

But in general, you’ll want plenty of nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, around 20-40 grams of lean protein per meal, and smaller amounts of healthy fats and starchy carbs.

Most of the time, 3 meals and 1-2 snacks that fit those guidelines should keep your belly satisfied and reduce your overall hunger if you’re trying to lose fat. 

How to use the cheat sheet.
If you want to get going without counting calories, cook each meal and let hunger be your guide. You may need a bigger portion or feel full before you ever finish your meal. That’s fine. Slow down when you eat. Stop eating when you’re not quite full. You likely got just enough. 

You may be someone who likes to snack – or never snacks. There isn’t one correct way to eat. But my online coaching clients often report that when they eat larger meals they are satisfied longer, often able to skip snacks, and think about food less often during the day. So play around there. 

Counting calories?
That’s fine too. You’ll adjust your portions to fit your own needs. I am sharing ideas that have recipes that tell you calories per serving size or are otherwise easily trackable. 

Badass Breakfasts
Eggs on everything.

Egg + egg whites plus greens tucked inside.

Egg + egg whites + greens tucked inside.

Scrambled, fried in nonstick spray, or poached. I eat eggs in some form nearly every day. I often put a runny egg on salad greens, sprinkle on some cherry tomatoes, and drizzle sherry vinegar over the top.  But some days it’s a mix of scrambled eggs, egg whites, and a piece of fruit. That’s not even a recipe. But it’s fast and filling. 

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash with Eggs

photo credit: clean eating

Get the recipe from Clean Eating

Make it faster: use veggies that you cut on the weekend and pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage or even a little bacon to boost flavor. 

High Protein Cinnabon Oatmeal

Get the recipe here.

Get the recipe here.

Blueberry nectarine overnight oats. 

Get the recipe here.

Get the recipe here.

Overnight oats are the ultimate custom breakfast. Just tinker with the base recipe and you’ll have insta-breakfast. 

Banana Blueberry Protein Pancakes 

Get my recipe here.

Get my recipe here.

Protein pancakes are so easy to play with. I usually advise people to use sugar free syrup to shave down overall calories unless it’s a special occasion. In that case, hit up a little maple syrup. 

A high protein green smoothie.

Get the recipe from The Brewer and the Baker.

Get the recipe from The Brewer and the Baker.

Yogurt Parfait
berry parfait
No recipe needed: just plain Greek yogurt -I like 2% because it’s more satisfying. Add your favorite fruit and a sprinkle of healthy fat like chia seeds or a small portion of nuts. My kids like cereal or oats sprinkled on theirs. 

Lunches to Love

Also one of our favorite dinners.

Also one of our favorite dinners.

90% of my lunches are leftovers. I usually repurpose meat from dinner and toss it into a a big salad. “Chipotle bowls” are another way I squeeze in extra greens, along with a small serving of beans, meat, salsa, and avocado.

Just dumping a jar of salsa and chicken breasts into your slow cooker or an oven will yield meat that’s fairly flavor neutral, which makes it perfect for repurposing during the week. 

Not a meat lover? Try doing the same thing with pots of chickpeas or lentils. And keep tempeh and tofu on hand for your protein source. They’ll both keep for some time in the fridge. 

Here are a few more simple solutions if your leftovers left the building. 

Mediterranean Chicken Skewers from Costco
costcochickenskewer
They’re precooked. Heat them up if you like. Put them into a lower-carb wrap (I like Flatout) with veggies and some guacamole or another small serving of dressing. Or create an easy salad with greens and whatever other toppings you like. I like to add a bit of feta and sunflower seeds to mine. 

Morningstar Chipotle Black Bean Burger

photo credit: Iowa Girl Eats

photo credit: Iowa Girl Eats

Try using these on a salad some time too. They work well. I like to saute them in a pan but you can microwave them too. 

Baked sweet potato +. 

Get the recipe for a vegetarian loaded sweet potato from SkinnyTaste.

Get the recipe for a vegetarian loaded sweet potato from Skinnytaste.

Nuke a sweet potato. Or a regular potato (they’re good for you too). Top with reheated pre-cooked meat or other lean protein that you like, along with salsa, black beans, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. 

Lower-Fat Tuna Salad. 

Get a recipe from organize yourself skinny.

Get a recipe from Organize Yourself Skinny. 

Make a bigger batch of this ahead of time for a few extra meals. I mix tuna with only a bit of mayo or avocado for flavor and then round it out with Greek yogurt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and add celery and onion for crunch. Wrap it up with salad greens and a low-carb tortilla. Throw in a piece of fruit and you’re lunch is done. 

Winner Winner, All the Dinners
I use websites like Cooking Light and SkinnyTaste for inspiration on the daily. But here are a few super easy staples that my kids barely complain about. 

Chicken sausages and fire roasted peppers. 

Get the details from @green_kale on Instagram

Get the details from @green_kale on Instagram

Two ingredients. That’s it. The peppers work well for easy breakfast veggies too. 

Slow Cooker Mu Shu Chicken Wraps

Get the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

Get the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

Save time by slow cooking your chicken with bottled stir fry sauce. Just save a bit for the end, stir in broccoli slaw, and fold it into a lower calorie tortilla. 

P.F. Chang style lettuce and chicken wraps. 

Get the recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.

Get the recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.

I use ground turkey or ground chicken for these. They take very little time to prepare – make extra meat mix to stick in your freezer. 

Weight Watchers Taco Soup

Get the recipe from Kitchme.

Get the recipe from Kitchme.

I make double batches to freeze. I choose lower-sodium canned goods, because there’s quite a bit of them in here. But it’s lightning fast, low calorie, and my family loves it. I often add zucchini or chopped bell peppers to this soup too. The serving size is 1 cup. Try it with lean ground beef or turkey. 

Mango Peanut Tempeh Tacos

Get the recipe from Love and Lemons.

Get the recipe from Love and Lemons.

If you’re craving a plant-based meal, you’ve got to try the mango peanut tempeh tacos. I pick up tempeh at the grocery store and keep it in the fridge. If I’m out of meat or just so over eating other protein sources, I like to mix it up by going meatless for a meal. These tacos are fairly fast to throw together and are completely delicious. 

Curried Tuna Burgers

tunaburge

Get the recipe here.

I call my version cakes, because I’m fancy and serve them on greens. But use a sandwich thin if you’ve got a craving for a burger. These come together really fast and the protein to calorie ratio is good. 

Chicken Zucchini Noodle Caprese

chickenzoodle

Get the recipe from Skinnytaste.

Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” make a good stand-in for pasta and increase your veggie intake. No, they don’t taste like pasta. I’d never sell you that lie. But they’re tasty. You can now buy them pre-packaged at the supermarket if you don’t own your own spiralizer. Or just chop some zucchini and ditch the zoodles. Warning: if you buy one, you may become obsessed with creating spiral veggies of all sorts. This can lead to excessive Instagram photography. #instayum. 

Snack Attacks

snack
Still hungry? I always keep a few healthy go-to snacks in my fridge or pantry. Check out these ideas. 

  • Plain Greek yogurt + half a banana or half cup berries. 
  • String cheese + apple
  • Turkey jerky + clementine. 
  • Boomchickapop lightly sweet popcorn (for crunchy needs). 
  • Roasted veggies with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and sea salt. 
  • Apple slices + a serving of cheddar cheese. 
  • A smaller protein shake.
  • Hardboiled egg + bell pepper strips. 
  • Lean turkey or ham with dijon mustard wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves. 
  • Greek yogurt cream cheese and deli ham wrapped around a dill pickle. (Midwest sushi, am I right?) 
  • Cottage cheese + fruit.
  • “Proyo” – plain Greek yogurt, 1 TBSP of PB2, 1 teaspoon of chocolate chips or low sugar jam. Freeze for 15 minutes. 
  • Halo Top ice cream. 
  • Egg white crepe – egg whites whisked with stevia, a splash of vanilla and cinnamon. Cooked in a pan. Top with berries. 
  • Guacamole + salsa + celery or mini peppers to dip. 

Take it with you. 
Here’s a nifty pdf version to keep on hand for reference. Remember, there’s no one right way to do your meals. But I hope my ideas help you get started.  

Want more inspiration? Join my free newsletter and get in on workouts, healthy eating tips, and everything else you need to be fit and fine. Just fill out the form below and you’ll be an even cooler kid. 

 

Hip healthy eats: what’s trending in 2017.

fancy jerkyIs kale finally over? Do we still need to put an egg on it? If you’re wondering what new foods you should pile on your plate this year to fuel your bod and your taste buds, read on. 

Of course you can eat well with the basics. Fill your plate with broccoli and chicken every day and live your life. But I need a lot of variety in my diet and screw around with new recipes. Thankfully, I can just scroll through my social media feeds to find plenty of inspiration (aka food porn, am I right?)

If you’re doing that too, you’ve likely already noticed certain foods popping up over and over. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

In the interest of research and a hungry belly, I test drove a whole bunch for you. Maybe there will be some fresh ideas. In any case, find out what’s healthy and what’s just hype with the new cool kids in your grocery store.

Before I dig into my list, remember this: all foods can be part of a healthy diet. The idea of superfoods is way overblown, as I recently discussed. But still, some foods make it easier to stay nourished and well than others.

Now that I’ve covered my butt in that disclaimer, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

Haha what?

Haha what?

I didn’t sample “functional food”, like supplements you add to smoothies like spirulina, which is apparently ridiculously good for you. I also left out things that while inexplicably popular, are expensive and sound hella stupid. I’m looking at you moon dust and sex dust. Yeah, sex dust is real. I don’t know what else to say about that.

I’m also leaving out recipes for cleanses and detox drinks. Because you don’t need any of that. Your liver does that job. Plus we all know that concoctions of lemon juice, maple syrup and God knows what else is going to taste like donkey. We good? Let’s do this.  

golden milk
My turmeric latte.

Turmeric – the golden child?

It seems that turmeric everything popped out of nowhere. It’s what gives curry powder its vibrant yellow hue. And it happens to contain a compound called curcumin, which provides anti-inflammatory effects to the body.

If its popularity on Pinterest is any indication, it would seem that turmeric has the ability to help fight off disease, help your brain, and maybe fight off ninjas. But you need to keep a few key things in mind:

In order to benefit from curcumin, you need to consume black pepper with it. It contains piperine, which allows you to absorb it way more effectively.

Most importantly, most of the research that finds turmeric to be beneficial uses turmeric extract. The foods and drinks you’re seeing all over the Internet don’t likely contain enough curcumin to improve your health.

Still, I had to try. I decided to go hardcore and use the fresh root instead of the powder form.

First I tried the much pinned “golden milk” or “turmeric latte”.

The verdict:
golden milk is terrible. Medicinal. I took one sip and poured the rest down the drain. The thing is, I’m not sure it was the turmeric that tasted so bad: the drink is usually mixed with quite a bit of fresh ginger and a bit of black pepper, along with coconut or almond milk, because everyone drinking golden milk appears to dislike dairy. Turmeric root itself smells fresh. I liked that.

I gave our relationship one more chance by grating some into my morning egg, cheese, and veggie scramble. On the plus side, it made my eggs prettier. And my eggs tasted great. Except I couldn’t detect any discernable turmeric taste. 

Try if: you want to add a little spice or color to your life. Be prepared for yellow fingers and countertops if you use the fresh root.

buckwheatbowl

Buckwheat porridge.

Quinoa, why you so basic?

Ahh, quinoa, the “ancient grain” that’s still plenty popular. It’s gluten free, though it’s not the protein powerhouse that everyone swoons over.

The term ‘ancient grains’ makes all the health food aficionados wet their pants. Just because something has been around awhile doesn’t automatically make it superior. But why not branch out? There’s a world of whole grains out there that have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to both power you up and satisfy your need for a little starchy goodness.

I’ve been digging other grains like Chinese forbidden rice, which is slightly chewy and has a gorgeous deep purple hue that you can Instagram to display your fanciness.

Nutty farro and freekeh are worth tasting too. Sprouted grains will likely get more attention this year as well. The process can increase many key nutrients within grains. Some people may tolerate them better too if they have sensitivities to grain.

I tried buckwheat this week. It has a neutral flavor and texture similar to steel cut oats. Though the name might sound like it contains wheat, it’s actually a gluten-free seed, often called a “groat”. It’s filled with plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and amino acids.

Most importantly, it makes a bomb porridge for breakfast. Start with this recipe to get going. 

Try if: you want new textures and flavors in your whole grains.

Old trends. New trends. Coming together, on my plate.

Old trends. New trends. Coming together, on my plate.

Kale is dead. Long live other green stuff.
Okay, kale isn’t dead. I don’t even hate kale. But I predict people will branch out to discover some other good green stuff. I cooked up mustard greens, which have a peppery bite but taste less bitter than kale.

I used this quick recipe for wilted greens and onions from Martha Stewart, who probably has an entire garden of mustard greens at the ready. Of course she does. They paired perfectly with my avocado toast and poached eggs – two 2016 trends that don’t show much sign of slowing down. #avotoast #putaneggonit.

Try if: you want to feel more excited about leaves.

 

Bowl of power. Or something.

Bowl of power. Or something.

Buddha/Power Bowls
Yeah, yeah, these were a 2016 thing. But plenty of people are just coming to the power bowl party. The basic idea is just to mix plenty of veggies, a protein, and healthy fats – nuts, seeds, avocado, you name it. I threw together zucchini and carrot noodles, cabbage, cucumbers, chicken, and peanut sauce. It made a perfect light dinner that doesn’t require a recipe.

Try if: you like to throw together leftovers from your fridge.

Veggie burgers that taste like burgers.

Veggie “meats” that taste like the real deal.

Eat some peas: pea protein.
Protein is my wing mate. It helps me build and keep muscle, stay lean, and feel full. Protein is also becoming perhaps too much of a grocery shelf darling these days, as you’ll see it jammed into everything from water to cereal.

At the same time, more people are looking for plant-based alternatives to meat as their protein source. Pea protein is gaining popularity as an alternative to animal sources like meat, dairy, and egg. And it’s helping producers create veggie burgers that are more juicy and meaty than ever. I don’t know what kind of witchcraft this is, but I’d wager that the vegans are excited. 

I tried the new Beyond Meat beast burger to give these a test drive. Unlike most veggie burgers, this one packs a walloping 20 grams of protein into it. It’s also 290 calories, which isn’t anything spectacular for a protein to calorie ratio.

But if you’re eating only plant based protein, it weighs in pretty well. Pea protein is also good stuff because it has a good amino acid profile, is unlikely to cause allergic reactions, and lets vegetarians back off from eating a metric ton of soy products. I also plan to try the “chicken” fajita strips. I have high hopes.

Try if: you’re a vegetarian who secretly longs for a juicy hunk o meat. Or gainz.

I didn't spiffy up my "toast" very well here.

I didn’t spiffy up my “toast” very well here.

Sweet potato toast is now a thing.
Sweet potato toast is not toast. I don’t care what you put on it. Toast is bread. This is a thin slice of roasted sweet potato that happens to be a good delivery vehicle for #thingsontoast.

Some people have roasted them in a toaster. This sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. I didn’t want to burn down my kitchen. Well sometimes I want to burn down the kitchen, but only because I want a new kitchen. But I digress.

I read up on this not-toast. Roasting at 450F was apparently the way to go. You can always reheat them in the toaster briefly. I managed to burn most of my slices because I was looking at Instagram at pictures of sweet potato toast. Oh, sweet irony.

But I won’t lie, having a thin slice of sweet potato smeared with peanut butter and apple was delightful. I’ve never been so mobile with my root vegetables. Sure, I might lose a few fingers trying to slice a sweet potato into uniformly thin pieces. But it makes a mighty fine pre-workout snack to take out the door.

Try if: you love sweet potato, are terrified of actual toast, and also have a mandoline to make these less tricky.

I eat this straight out of the jar because I'm weird like that.

I eat this straight out of the jar because I’m weird like that.

Fermented foods – sour, funky goodness for your gut.
Gut health is continuing to gain more attention. Fermented foods contain probiotics that make your gut function well and help your digestion as well as improve other aspects of your health. Research into gut health is still emerging, but it holds quite a bit of promise for helping us function better.

I’ve been eating many of these for a while. Not because I’m trying to be healthy A.F. But mostly because plenty of them are packed with flavor. Think kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, yogurt, and kefir.

Wall-O-Kombucha

Wall-O-Kombucha

Kombucha gets a lot of love too. Whole Foods has an entire wall. That’s impressive. For some reason I can’t get excited about kombucha. It’s just too sour and has a weird, slippery feel. Some varieties contain quite a bit of sugar, unlike most fermented foods that I eat, which are very low in calories. However, the bottles I picked up at the market were very low in sugar. So knock yourselves out if kombucha is your thing,

Try if: you love flavor-packed foods that help you poop like a rock star.

Another power bowl with maple tahini sauce and that sexy forbidden rice.

Another power bowl with maple tahini sauce and that sexy forbidden rice.

Middle eastern cuisine.
Middle eastern food isn’t necessarily synonymous with healthy food – except much of it is. Vegetables and lean meats are star players in this cuisine, which makes wise use of spices to create layers of flavor. They also love tahini, which is high in calories but can be used in small amounts to perk up just about everything.

Watch for more recipes and restaurants featuring vibrantly spiced dishes like Za’atar chicken, dukkah dusted lentils, beans, tahini sauces, labneh, and the holy grail of egg-based breakfasts, shakshouka.

Try a middle-eastern vibe in your next power bowl, like this recipe for roasted sweet potato, beet, and forbidden rice with maple tahini sauce. The sauce was incredible. I added chicken for more brotein.

Pounding some seaweed.

Pounding some seaweed.

Under the seaweed.
Ever have a nori wrapper holding your sushi together? That’s seaweed. More and more seaweed products are available now in American grocery stores than ever before.

Try furikake, a Japanese seasoning, adds a dimension of flavor to veggies, meat, and fish. It’s made from chopped seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar, and MSG. Other seaweed based condiments are also popular in Asian cooking.

Seaweed is low in calories and  is super dense nutritionally. It’s high in fiber and vitamins and minerals,, including iodine, which regulates your thyroid; and vitamin B12, which is usually lacking in vegetarian diets.

I don’t mind nori wrappers when I’m eating sushi. But I took it a little too far. I grabbed these seaweed snacks. I wish I’d grabbed the furikake instead, it holds more promise. These snacks, imported from Korea, just tasted like seaweed. Crazy, right? I guess I’m not a fan.

Try if: you either get down to chow on seaweed or use this as a component in other foods to temper the taste of the ocean in your mouth.

Balls.

Balls.

More and more protein-focused treats.
From 2016-2017, the energy bar aisle exploded. Now there are vegan bars, raw bars, paleo bars, protein bars, energy bars, tree hugging bars, savory bars… you see where I’m going. It’s overwhelming.

And if you read blogs or social media, you may see just as many recipes for homemade versions, especially balls. Energy balls. Protein balls. Power balls. Hey, that’s a lottery game isn’t it?

Everyone loves balls.

While I’d rather eat a bigger snack that I don’t wolf down in under a minute, bars have the potential to be more nutritious than a candy bar. I think this is a key reason why people love energy bars. Because they want to eat candy and feel like they’re doing something better for their bodies with these.

It’s cool to eat some candy. It’s cool to put more nutritious food in there too.

Bars are “meh” on the scale of awesomeness, both with taste and nutrition. Many are little more than candy bars. The homemade versions contain fewer fillers, preservatives, and had the potential to taste good too.

What I mostly found were recipes containing a lot of nut butter, dried fruit, and honey. This might be perfect for powering up an endurance workout. But those foods don’t provide a meaningful source of protein yet also pack a ton of calories, which you might not want to spend on something so small.

I found a recipe that used protein powder, PB2 instead of calorie dense peanut butter, crunchy puffed rice and oats, plus just a small amount of honey and chocolate.

They tasted fantastic. And only 85 calories each. Except I ate three, because I was hungry and they were in front of me.

Try if: you want a portable treat that’s slightly virtuous. Just remember that even healthy treats contain calories. Damnit.

Other Trends to Track
I didn’t have time to eat all of the things. Just most of them. I think in 2017, you’ll see even more of these:

Foods prepared with bone broth. Bone broth is low calorie, nutrient dense, and flavorful. The jury seems divided on its worth so far.

-Poke bowls showing up everywhere. Poke has been popular in Hawaii for awhile. It’s a loose term for a bowl of fresh fish, plenty of veggies, seasonings, and sometimes rice. Healthy. Yummy. And eating poke on my bucket list for 2017.

-All the jerky. More fancy brands of dried meat – but also dried meat alternatives and fish jerky too. Remember the wall of kombucha? The wall of jerky is real too. I love it for a portable snack, so rock on with this.

-More matcha. The concentrated green tea powder is popular already, but with our national obsession over antioxidants, I expect to see some matcha Cheerios anytime now.

We like to over do a good thing, don’t we?

After a week of binge cooking and tasting, I’m ready to kick back with an untrendy but deeply satisfying plate of scrambled eggs and toast with no toppings. How about you? What food trends excite you, and which ones need to die? Leave a comment and share!

Meal Planning Monday 1.22.2017 – the Pantry Challenge

meal-plan-monday

Hey hey, it’s almost Monday. International meal prep day if you’re a bro. Mine is on Sunday, so here we go. 

I just rhymed the hell out of that. Anyway, my freezer and pantry are overflowing with stuff that I completely believed that I needed when I bought them. But now things are cluttered. Ever do that? Since I’m not stocking up for the apocalypse, I need to use some things up. 

Ever hear of a pantry challenge? Spend less money, use what you already have, and get creative in the kitchen. It not only saves money, you’ll make fewer trips to the supermarket. 

My one caveat is that I’ll allow myself to grab fresh produce when needed, as some things just don’t keep well. My boys drink quite a lot of milk too. But I’m using what I have hanging out for my main meals. Lunches are almost always leftovers. My breakfasts are pretty boring too: eggs and veggies, protein pancakes, or overnight oats will be going on. 

Here are my dinners. You up for a challenge? See what you can make with what you’ve already got. 

Monday: Leftover pork souvlaki with tzatziki – I’ve got leftover pork, a cucumber, onions, and yogurt. I’m in business. On the side, instead of pita, I’ll use whole grain sandwich thins or pile it all on a plate of greens. 

Tuesday: Simple roast chicken. Yes, an entire bird is living in my freezer. I’ll clear out space by roasting it up along with extra carrots, onions, and potatoes. 

Wednesday: chicken chorizo is real, folks. My market sells this stuff and it’s amazingly good – yet lean. I’ll make a hash out of this by adding kale, chunks of potato, and an egg on top. Here’s a recipe that follows this idea. 

Thursday: Leftover chicken works well in soup. I’ll be making my avgolemono soup for a winter meal that uses very few ingredients. 

Friday: I bought chicken burgers from Costco months ago. They’re in the deep freezer and they need to go in our bellies. I’ll serve them on sandwich thins with steamed cauliflower and broccoli on the side. 

Saturday: We have so many bags of mystery soup in the freezer. Pro tip: label your bags. You won’t actually remember what you put inside. So yeah, mystery soup Saturday. 

Sunday: I dream a dream. Of making my own sausage. And I happen to have ground chicken breast in my house. So these spicy mango chicken breakfast sausages will become our brinner, along with bell peppers, potatoes, and eggs. 

Challenge accepted? Leave a comment and tell me what you drum up from your own pantry and freezer. Have a great week! 

 

Meal Planning Monday: 1.16.2017

meal-plan-monday-1

I always write these on Sunday, but Monday sounds so much catchier. Anyway, if you’re actually reading this on Sunday, high fives to you for being a go getter. 

It doesn’t even matter when you meal prep: just get it done when it works for you. 

Here’s what I’m cooking and eating up this week for dinner. I also have some badass breakfasts to share. Lunches for me are usually leftovers. I live a glamorous life, I know. 

Sunday (today): Slow cooker cider pork roast with apple thyme gravy. Serving with mashed cauliflower. This recipe is cooking right now. It smells great and was stupid easy to throw together. I skipped the apple brandy and picked up a mini bottle of apple whiskey. Boozy dinner ftw. You can freeze extra meat to use in other things if you won’t be using it up for leftover lunches and dinners this week. 

Monday: Upside down BBQ chicken bowls. The bonus of this is that you can put a huge batch of chicken breasts in your slow cooker with a little BBQ sauce. Cook that 4-6 hours and shred with a bit more sauce. You now have meat for more bowls during the week, or just freeze the cooked meat in individual portions for another day. I like that this recipe uses lots of broccoli slaw. Eat that up, it will fill your belly. 

Tuesday: Slow cooker posole(pork and hominy stew). I’m going to riff off of this Skinnytaste recipe, using the leftover pork from Sunday, though her instructions help you use fresh pork too. I don’t own a pressure cooker (wah!) so I’ll use the slow cooker instead. I’ll serve this with a fresh salad of citrus, avocado, and greens. 

Still have soup leftover? This will freeze just fine to live another day. 

Wednesday: Winter citrus butter salmon. Serving with a wild rice blend and steamer bag broccoli. This recipe sounds incredibly good. I’ll likely go light on the butter and need to sub regular oranges for the blood oranges unless they appear in the market soon. 

Thursday: Leftovers if we’ve got them: or soup from the freezer. 

Friday: Taco Friday is not #tacotuesday. But if I make a giant batch of seasoned taco meat, I can eat a taco on Tuesday and feel cool. Freeze some extra meat for tacos any time. I have tons of ground turkey in my freezer, so I’ll use that plus some low sodium taco seasoning. Or make your own. I usually opt for small corn tortillas – they’re low in calories. Lower carb tortillas work well too. And I’m perfectly happy to make a taco salad out of taco meat, tons of veggies, and a little guacamole. 

Saturday: Beef bourgignon (stew with red wine). A lazy kind of winter day meal to fill your kitchen with good smells. If you make a big batch, this freezes really well too. I’ll serve it with just a little crusty bread along with the veggies in the stew. 

Have a recipe that rocks your world? Leave a comment and tell me all about it. Have a great week! 

Citrus soy cod en papillote (that’s fancy talk for fish packets, yo).

soy-and-citrus-cod-with-zucchini

Fish en papillote just means “in paper.” Or in foil. You’re going to make a packet. You’re going to use some fish. And you’re going to have a low calorie, high protein meal that tastes like you can’t believe you’ve been missing out on these. 

I set out to create a low calorie meal that I could use on days when I want a big meal, a dessert, or maybe a bourbon or two. 

The best part of this is that the cod is incredibly tender and flavorful – not fishy at all. And cooking fish in packets leaves you with almost no cleanup to do after you eat. Hooray! 

I used individually wrapped cod portions from Costco. My recipe is for just one portion, but go ahead and double, triple, or quadruple it if you family likes fish. Mine are still unbelievers, but they’ll come around eventually. 

Nutrition:
134 calories|1g fat|3g carb|24g protein|1g fiber

Citrus soy cod packets
Serves 1
A low calorie, high protein, tasty way to enjoy cod.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 sheet parchment paper or foil
  2. 4.5 ounce piece of cod (size doesn't matter all that much for cooking time. I used thawed frozen cod from Costco.)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  4. 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 1/4 large zucchini, cut into thin slices
  7. 1 slice of raw onion, cut into smaller pieces
  8. 1 wedge of lemon
  9. Nonstick cooking spray -preferably olive oil spray
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425F.
  2. Lay out the parchment or foil onto a baking sheet. Spray the parchment with a bit of spray for just a wee bit of extra flavor and fat.
  3. Lay your zucchini pieces and onion onto the paper, and place the cod on top of that.
  4. Sprinkle on the garlic and ginger. Drizzle with soy sauce and squeeze the lemon wedge on top of that. You can also cut the wedge into small pieces and place into the packet.
  5. Season with a little salt. Now roll up your packet so that there's a bit of room in there but it won't come open.
  6. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork when you open your packet. Serve.
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

High protein, low calorie frittata with poblano and turkey bacon

egg-white-frittata-with-zucchini-onion-and-turkey-bacon

I think I shall call this a “brotatta”. Because the bros and lady bros will love this for a high protein meal or snack that is remarkably low in calories. But it’s not low in flavor. 

I don’t mind using whole eggs with egg whites in my fritattas and omelets. The nutrition from the yolk is good and you don’t need to worry about the cholesterol. Yet if you want to shave off a few calories and leave room for extra bacon, that’s cool too. 

I experimented with an ingredient I love to diss: turkey bacon. I’m an Iowan, and we love good, porky bacon. But my challenge was to create a leaner, meaner frittata without skimping on flavor. And honestly, tossed in the frittata, I still got that smoky bacon flavor for only 35 calories in 2 slices of the turkey “bacon”. I used Wellshire uncured turkey bacon. It’s low in sugar and calories. But I’ve heard Oscar Mayer makes a tasty turkey bacon too. Use whatever you like for your meat if you decide you’d like your frittata to have some. 

This recipe serves one hungry lady. I attempted to cook this on the stovetop instead of finishing in the oven as I usually do. It worked fine, except flipping the thing was a challenge. It doesn’t matter – just cook it until the egg whites are set. 

If you want a heartier meal, add some whole grains or fruit on the side. For breakfast or brinner – it’s tasty fuel for your day. 

Nutrition:
207 kcal|8g fat|4g carb|27g protein|1g fiber

Egg white frittata with poblano pepper and turkey bacon
Serves 1
A high protein, low carb and low calorie frittata for breakfast or brinner.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 Tbsp liquid egg whites (that's about 3 egg whites)
  2. 2 Tbsp 2% milk
  3. 2 slices fully cooked turkey bacon (I used Wellshire uncured pre-cooked bacon)
  4. 1/4 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese
  5. 1 green onion - white parts separated from the green.
  6. 3/4 poblano pepper (I ate the rest while cooking. Use the whole pepper if you like.)
  7. Seasonings: a bit of salt and pepper in the eggs. Optional smoked paprika is excellent too.
Instructions
  1. Chop your veggies so they're ready to go. Chop the bacon into small pieces too.
  2. Measure your egg whites into a cup and add the milk. Whisk to combine.
  3. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium heat. Saute the pepper and white parts of the green onion.
  4. Add the bacon to the veggies plus any additional spices/seasonings and stir to combine.
  5. Add the egg whites/milk mixture and sprinkle on your cheese. Cover the pan and cook 4-5 minutes until the frittata is lightly brown on the bottom.
  6. If you're skilled, flip it in the pan to brown the other side. Otherwise just keep the pan covered and cook another 3-4 minutes or until the egg whites are fully set.
  7. Flip the frittata from the pan onto a plate. Sprinkle on the green onions. Serve.
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Curried high protein tuna cakes with lemon sauce

tuna-cakes

Tuna and chicken are classic bro foods if you’re a lifter who needs to pack in a bunch of protein into the day. But it doesn’t need to be boring. 

I tinkered with tuna cakes and came up with a recipe that I’d eat even if I weren’t trying to build some serious muscle. High protein meals are important for fat loss too: they help you retain precious muscle and stay full. 

I designed this recipe to be very light on calories, making it perfect for a small lunch or snack on days when you want to spend your calories on a bigger meal or uh, maybe a few beers later on. 

One note: don’t use liquid egg white for these. It makes them way too goopy. Crack an egg and save the yolk for something else. 

Eat them on their own or pair with a salad for a bigger meal. Either way, I think you’ll love them as much as I do. 

Here’s the video. The full, printable recipe and nutrition info follows. Enjoy!

Nutrition for one serving: mine made 3 cakes:

138 calories|1g fat|6g carb|27g protein|2g fiber

High protein curried tuna cakes with lemony sauce
Serves 1
A high protein, low calorie way to lunch.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pouch of light tuna packed in water (or a can), drained
  2. .75 oz baby spinach, finely chopped (1 handful)
  3. 1/2 cup raw zucchini, grated and drained/squeezed
  4. 2 large egg whites
  5. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  7. 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  9. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  10. salt and pepper to taste, optional sprinkle of cayenne
Sauce for topping
  1. 1-2 Tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  2. 1 big squeeze of lemon juice
  3. Optional: a small amount of chopped cilantro or parsley to sprinkle on top.
Instructions
  1. Mix your sauce first and set aside. It's just the yogurt and lemon juice.
  2. Grate the zucchini and squeeze it well. Place into a bowl with the remaining ingredients and combine. Form into 3-4 patties.
  3. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and gently transfer the patties to the pan. They'll be slightly loose, but that's okay. They'll firm up.
  4. Cook 2-3 minutes per side and remove from heat.
  5. Top with lemon sauce and eat!
Notes
  1. These can be made ahead and reheated. Recipe is for 1 serving, but could easily be multiplied.
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Spicy gochujang turkey burgers with kimchi

spicy-turkey-burgerI love good turkey burgers. I hate dry, tasteless turkey burgers. 

I love high protein meals. I hate ones that are boring. 

I love low calorie meals that actually taste amazing. I hate the ones that disappoint me. 

I have needs, okay? I’ll bet you do too. I had a package of crazy lean ground turkey -97%. That means it is high in protein, low in calories per ounce, but prone to being pretty damn tasteless and dry. 

I decided I needed a turkey burger in my life, and drew upon another low calorie incredient to make them moist. Moist is a really gross word. But it’s appropriate here. Sorry. Anyway, as it turns out, if you shred zucchini and put it in your meats, they won’t dry out. But you also won’t taste the veggies. 

Turkey burgers also need some amped up flavor. So I added Korean gochujang paste for a little heat and depth: it’s the new Sriracha, for you hipster foodies out there. Grab it at the Asian store, or just swap in sriracha. 

I also wanted to include a little Worchestershire sauce for more umami. I think umami means “funky goodness”. Or that hard to describe “meaty” taste that turkey burgers often lack. Some people use anchovy paste or even Marmite, but this is what I had lying around. 

Going with my Asian theme, I included soy sauce, garlic, and some onion in my burger mix. I could have added some sesame oil, but I was attempting to create a truly lean burger. I bound it all together with an egg white instead. Yeah, I’m a fun hater. If you want to increase the calories a bit, definitely sprinkle in a bit of sesame oil because you’ll love life more. 

Top these off with a little kimchi or gild the lily with whatever you like. These are spicy, meaty, high in protein and low in calories. Serve on a bed of greens or on a half bun for a light lunch or dinner. 

Nutrition:
162 calories|4g fat|3g carb|28g protein|1g fiber

Spicy gochujang turkey burgers with kimchi
Serves 5
A high protein, low calorie turkey burger that actually isn't dry and tasteless, thanks to a few key ingredients.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 20 ounces of 97% lean ground turkey
  2. 1 Tbsp gochujang paste
  3. 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  4. 90 grams grated zucchini (roughly half a zucchini)
  5. 80 grams raw onion (roughly half an onion), diced
  6. 1 egg white or 3-4 Tbsp liquid egg whites
  7. Optional: kimchi to top the burger after it cooks. Bun and/or greens for serving.
Instructions
  1. Grate and dice your veggies. Put into a bowl with everything else except toppers. Smoosh it up. Form into 5 patties.
  2. Heat a nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and cook 5-6 minutes per side in a covered pan.
  3. Remove from heat. Top with kimchi. Serve.
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Lightened up Greek Avgolemono Chicken Soup

Photo credit: chlotsrun.com

Photo credit: chlotsrun.com

If you haven’t had Avgolemono yet, it’s now time. Because it’s a bright, citrusy Greek classic and because this version is easy, low in calories, and still a perfect comfort food for all year round. 

The classic version incorporates lemons of course, along with chicken stock thickened with eggs and orzo. I made just a few small swaps: most notably, using cauliflower rice instead of orzo. 

avgolemono-soup

Someday I’ll be able to photograph food better. It was evening and this doesn’t look nearly as yummy as it is!

There’s nothing wrong with a little pasta in your soup. But on days when I want to eat a lighter meal, using low carb veggies like cauliflower or zucchini noodles helps me shave off significant calories. And the results still taste amazing. 

Also note that this version has a big chicken to “everything else” kind of ratio. That makes it incredibly high in protein for the amount of calories it contains. And perfect for staying full (with room left for dessert later). 

I used egg white in this recipe just to see if I’d miss the yolk. Egg yolks contain plenty of nutrients and I’d recommend including it if you’d like. I, however, wanted to see if I could create a very lean recipe that would leave one with plenty of room left in their day for a bigger meal.

I also wanted more of a thick stew – so I used not so much stock. If you like your soup, well, soupier, add another cup.

As it turns out, with all my tweaks, this soup is still packed with flavor. Give it a try. 

I’ve included the recipe for just one serving: gather your leftover chicken and get cooking. Nutrition information follows. 

Lightened Up Avgolemono Chicken Soup
Serves 1
A high protein, low calorie soup that's tastes just as bright and flavorful as the original.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 5.5 ounces of cooked chicken
  2. 1/2 stalk celery
  3. 1 slice of onion, diced
  4. 1 cup low-sodium light chicken stock (I used Aldi's Fit and Active. Use whatever you like.)
  5. 1 egg white
  6. Zest of 1 small lemon
  7. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  8. 1 teaspoon of dried herbs - oregano is perfect, but thyme or basil would work well too
  9. salt and pepper to taste
Prep
  1. Chop your leftover chicken into small pieces if needed and set aside. Chop your veggies, zest the lemon, and then set the lemon aside for now. Put the egg white in a small bowl and have it ready to go.
  2. In a small pot sprayed with nonstick cooking spray over medium heat, soften up the onion and celery for 4-5 minutes. Add the herb and cook for another minute or so.
  3. Add chicken stock and allow to come to a simmer. Take a ladle and remove a small amount of the stock. Whisk that slowly into the egg white. This "tempers" the egg white so that it doesn't scramble.
  4. Now add the zest and squeeze the half lemon into the egg white mixture, and return that all to the main pot. Whisk vigorously to incorporate, then add the chicken.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. Then enjoy!
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/
 Nutrition:
263 calories|6g fat|5g carbs|44g protein|2g fiber

Meal Planning Monday – January 8, 2017

meal-plan-monday-1

It’s a new year, and a new you? Nah. Same old me and you. Except with fewer holiday treats most likely. But it feels good to get back to meals that nourish me. Yet still taste great. Here’s my winter menu for a week of healthy but delicious dinners.

Monday: Leftover lean ground beef and mushroom sloppy joes from our freezer. I still use this old school recipe that my mother cooked. Except I stretch the beef by doubling the other ingredients and adding plenty of mushrooms.  I further lighten it up by using 88% lean ground beef and light buns. Serve this with a salad. 

Tuesday: Turkey Meatball Soup with Spinach and Farro holds promise of being fantastic. And I happen to have a shortcut: pre-cooked turkey meatballs. I’ll sprinkle a bit of parmesan from the recipe onto the soup before serving instead of working it into the meatballs. Extra salad for a side sounds good too. 

Wednesday: Maybe I still have an urge to eat Thanksgiving turkey. So I’ll roast a lean turkey breast along with honey roasted squash with cranberries and feta.

Thursday: Surely we’ll have leftover turkey breast. This autumn turkey and apple salad sounds dope. And fast. 
Friday:  Friday is usually the day when I don’t really feel like cooking. At all. The week is over, and I want something easy to make. Ordering pizza is an option, but so are Protein Up Flatbread pizzas. I have some turkey pepperoni, shredded mozzarella cheese, and pizza sauce waiting to go.

Of course, you can get a lot more creative with your pizza. Arugula, fig, and prosciutto is fancypants. Pineapple and canadian bacon is one of my favorites, and even BBQ chicken. Pizza your face off. 
Saturday: I’ve had a craving for Indian food lately that’s been driving me to distraction. If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll make the labor intensive yet incredible Biriyani recipe from Food52.

If I am lacking motivation for that, the Slow Cooker Butter Chickpeas and Tofu from the blog Delish Knowledge should do the job too – with much less effort. I like to pair spicy Indian food with cool cucumber salads or a traditional raita

Sunday: Have you heard of celeriac? It’s a root veggie with a bright flavor that I love to mix in with mashed potatoes to make them taste amazing. I’m going to use some to make this wintery celeriac and apple soup to pair with a lean pork tenderloin. I’ll keep the pork prep simple, just roasting it with some herbs, salt, and pepper in the oven.  Sundays are my days to kick back with more cooking and food prep. 

Have a recipe you can’t wait to try or that is one of your beloveds? Your bae? C’mon now, share that in a comment below.