Those who know me have come to learn that I have found a passion in healthy cooking, understanding ingredients, and making smart eating choices (almost all the time anyway). The question I feel that I get asked the most is about simple meal ideas. The real secret is that living this way needs to be formed as a habit, a way of life, a matter of fact. And you just need to start. Start somewhere!
If I were to take a look back at the meals I was making every night when I first started with healthier eating/cooking, I would think that the portions were way too large, some of the ingredients were full of added sugars, salts and other chemicals, etc. And right now, if I ate that way, I would GAIN weight. However, at the time I was making huge improvements and was losing lots of weight! As I learned more, I adjusted my eating habits more. And as I lost more, and my stomach could get fuller on less, I was able to eat less. It all happens in time. We don’t (generally speaking) go from a fast food or junk food diet to a completely clean one overnight. Well, wait, we do when we are on a ‘diet.’ But who the heck wants to be on one of those!!??
All that said, at this point I eat small simple meals Monday-Friday nights, and splurge a bit on the weekends. Here is my #1 tip for beginning to make healthy eating a habit. As well as what I am making for dinner these days!
My tip? Plan Ahead! Though I go in phases where I am planning out my meals for the week, or where I am not. It makes it a whole lot easier when I do. Financially and time-wise (less trips to the grocery store, planning meals using ingredients more than once that week, etc) it makes sense. It also gives me an opportunity to look forward to my meals, knowing what I have planned (and therefore less likely to deter from that on a whim). It also makes it less stressful at the end of the day to just stick with the plan, instead of spending time mulling over what to eat.
2-3 times per week, I make a ‘mexican’ egg bowl:
2-3 scrambled eggs, 2 slices turkey or regular bacon, a couple tablespoons of black beans, a couple tablespoons of salsa, and about half of an avocado. Takes me 10-15 minutes to make. Buy a can of black beans, rinse them, drain them and store them in a Tupperware or glass container in your fridge and one can will last a couple weeks this way!
1-2 times per week, I make a ‘taco’ salad:
2-3 large handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 chicken breast (boil for 10-15 minutes until no pink in the center, and then shred and season it with any type of chili powder), 2 tablespoons black beans, about half of an avocado and 2-3 tablespoons salsa instead of dressing.
about 2 times per week, I make some variation of chicken (or fish) and veggies:
With the chicken, I usually cut it into bite size pieces and pan-grill it (season it on both sides with sea salt/pepper, etc.), using just enough olive or coconut oil to keep things cooking (instead of burning). Or I will slice up a link of chicken sausage (like Adells) and saute right with the veggies. For fish, I use salmon or cod (well seasoned) and pan fry for just a few minutes on each side. Some common veggie sides that I will use are:
- Bell Peppers and Onions (sauteed along with the chicken)
- Mushrooms and Asparagus (trim asparagus and chop mushrooms in half, then in a large bowl mix with a couple garlic cloves minced finely, some rosemary minced, and some olive oil, and mix it all together very well… spread it all out on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes or bake at your ovens highest temp 450-500 for around that time)
- Roasted Red Potatoes, Carrots and Garlic (Chop the potatoes and carrots into bite size pieces and boil for 10 minutes, drain and throw into a large mixing bowl with whole cloves of garlic, add sea salt/pepper and olive oil and mix all of it together well, pour all of it into a glass baking dish lined with aluminum foil — a large enough piece of foil to be able to wrap it all up like it was in a pouch, bake at 350 for 40 minutes or so)
- Salsa! Just saute the chicken pieces in salsa. Any type of salsa! Tomatillo, Tomato/Garlic, Peach/Tomato, any kind you can think of.
- Kale (chopped into small pieces, making sure that the stem is not included as it is too tough and uncomfortable to bite down on, mixed in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt/pepper, minced garlic cloves, and minced rosemary leaves.. saute on the stove for just a few minutes)
- Spicy Green Beans (trim green beans and boil for up to 5 minutes, mix with a little olive oil, and some crushed red pepper flakes, saute about 10 minutes)
Remember, we all have different constraints! Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that you will continue to grow!