Get Real!

Finding ways to enjoy the hell out of life, while on our journey towards a healthy, authentic and passion-filled life.


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Get Real about Meal Prepping (for a healthy lifestyle).

I love to cook, especially when I have plenty of extra time and energy. But, to be realistic, this is not much of the time. I really have to plan ahead to succeed in eating healthily, or it becomes too easy to grab something quick, ‘cheap’ and horrible for my digestion system. Especially when there are often goodies at my workplace, and when my boyfriend can eat a tub of sugar right in front of me each day and not gain a pound (not that he does this often!).

Many people seem to plan their meal prepping on one of their days off. But let’s get real, that’s what I want to do on one of my very few days off per week? No! So I do mine after work, usually on Monday or Tuesday.

Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like, planning ahead for the week (either very detailed with a menu for each day, or looser with a few options that you can choose from as you go), and pre-cooking or preparing as much of the food as possible. The items that you can pre-cook anyway.

Here is what a typical pre-meal prep grocery trip might look like (and this is for 2, as far as dinners are concerned anyway):

      • Whole Grain bread (ideally sprouted grain)
      • Whole grain tortillas (large and sliders)
      • Goat Cheese (easier on digestive system for most of us, and less fat/calories per ounce as well)
      • Organic Eggs
      • A few Avocados and tomatoes (especially heirloom, yum!)
      • Random Veggies: Generally Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic
      • Salsa Ingredients: Jalapeno, Onion, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Garlic (or buy freshly prepared salsa to save time and possibly money, remember no weird chemicals or salt/sugar should listed in ingredients!)
      • Jam Ingredients: Any type of fruit you would like and chia seeds as listed below, especially stone fruits and berries (or buy no sugar added jam, with as few ingredients listed as possible)
      • Random Fruits (for grab and go snacks): Bananas, Grapes, Berries, etc.
      • Meat (I am going meatless right now! But the boyfriend still ‘needs’ it): chicken, or ground turkey, etc.
      • (I, personally, also make sure to keep apples, lemons, ginger, cucumber and greens — spinach, kale or chard — on hand because I juice these every morning.)

The following I buy as needed (mostly from the bulk bin area), so a big bag will often last a month or more:

        • Natural Peanut Butter (almond, peanut or cashew, and the nut should be the only ingredient listed or possibly sea salt)
        • Dry Black Beans (can buy canned, but check ingredient list and it should only be black beans and sea salt)
        • Brown Rice (or wild rice or quinoa)
        • Chia Seeds
        • Nuts and Seeds (no added salts or sugars!)
        • Something else you will need: Tupperware or Glass containers of various sizes!

On meal prep day, I would do the following

        • The night before: Soak the black beans in a bowl of water (like 2 cups beans and 6 cups of water)
        • In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cups of brown rice and 5 cups of water to a boil (or check the cooking instructions for whatever type of rice you have gotten), cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • In a large pot, pour black beans, extra water, and spices (cumin, sea salt, chili powder) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low (uncovered) and simmer for a couple hours. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • Salsa: Chop up all ingredients, place into food processor, blend and store in a tupperware to go in the fridge.
        • Clean the food processor, and chop up the fruits (about 2 cups) for the jam, place into food processor, blend. Add 2 Tablespoons of chia seed and stir together very well. Pour mixture into a jar, and place in fridge (it will thicken up within a few hours).
        • Pan Fry Ground chicken/Turkey with spices and coconut oil, or boil 2-3 chicken breasts for 20 minutes. Take out the chicken and either shred with forks or in a ktichen-aid. Add spices as well and mix up again. Let cool, and store in tupperware in the fridge.
        • Pan Fry Veggies in coconut oil and spices (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.). Let cool and store in tupperware in the fridge.

When all is said and done you should have the following in your fridge/pantry:

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  •  Tortillas and Bread
        • Jam and Peanut Butter
        • Eggs
        • Whole Grain Rice and Black Beans
        • Salsa
        • Shredded Chicken (or Ground Turkey)
        • Cheese
        • Avocados and Tomatoes
        • Veggie Mix
        • Fruits/Nuts to grab for snacks throughout the day

 

 

Now, there are several options for what to actually ‘cook’ and most of the hard work/time has already been put in, here are some ideas:

        • Quesadilla w/goat cheese and veggies (can make a quick guacamole on the side by mashing half an avocado and a spoonful or two of salsa)
        • Peanut butter and jam sandwich
        • Slice of toast with jam
        • Rice bowl: rice, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
        • Egg bowl: scrambled eggs, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
        • Slice of toast with a slice of tomato and a fried egg, topped with avocado slices and a splash of salsa or hot sauce
        • Mini tacos (use the slider tortillas): black beans, goat cheese, salsa and some more of that quick guacamole (can add meat)
        • Slice of toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas
        • Sandwich with goat cheese, avocado and tomato

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. 


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Get Real (about cooking clean, simple meals!)

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.

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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!


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Healthy, Simple & Clean Meal Ideas

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Pictured above is one of my meals from last week… I had wanted to make some sort of mushroom chicken so I googled ‘healthy mushroom chicken recipe.’ I ended up choosing this one: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/pan-roasted-chicken-with-mushrooms-and-rosemary-recipe/index.html. I had planned to make a salad that night and it just happened that my boyfriend had brought home a pomegranate from work, (very lucky that he works at a fresh food market!) so I decided to use strawberries and pomegranate seeds on the salad. Then I put some of the pomegranate seeds, a few strawberries, an apple, and a tiny bit of fresh apple juice (with my juicer, again lucky to have) in my blender to make the dressing.

I usually don’t photograph my meals but I was kind of excited about how this one looks (and how it tasted too). I definitely am getting more creative, and it’s getting easier to come up with ideas, make things up on my own, etc. And the best part is the ingredients! No yucky added sugar or high fructose corn syrup or MSG, etc. None of that, just real food : ).

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Keeping it clean for two:

The last several weeks, I have been trying something new and I’m loving it so far. When the week is almost over I create a dinner menu for the following week and a grocery list. My boyfriend and I then buy everything we need for the whole week. It makes it easier for me to stick with my healthy dinners since they are all planned out already and since I have everything needed in the fridge. It’s also nice, financially, because we timed it out where we grocery shop for the week right after payday! Then, no last minute worries pop up of having no money for food. I start with a few nights of ideas using things I already have and go from there.

For example for this coming up week, here is my plan:

Sat: Breakfast for dinner (eggs, turkey bacon, hashbrowns, whole grain corn tortillas)

Sun: Mango Habanero Chicken/ Salad (going to google a recipe for the mango habanero marinade and salsa to go on top too)

Mon: Adult Grilled Cheese (whole wheat toast, avocado, tomato and cheese), homemade baked fries

Tue: Stuffed Bell Peppers (lean ground beef, tomatoes, onions, brown rice and cheese)

Wed: whole grain pancakes (with cinnamon) and turkey bacon

Thur: Spaghetti (whole grain noodles, lean ground beef)

Friday: Healthy-ish frozen dinner (I work late Friday nights so it’s a little break for me, this is usually like a pre made stir fry, etc… paying attention to the ingredients listed of course)

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Some tips that have worked for me (for health purposes and to save money :)…

I buy chicken in the larger packages (at least 5-6 + breasts), then I use medium size freezer ziplock bags to bag 2 breasts at a time to freeze (I do two because I have found that’s the perfect amount to feed two, for us anyway, but bag however many would feed the family or yourself). This way it’s easy to just defrost them as needed and not waste any.

I have been making all my own marinades for chicken (because unless you want to spend a generous amount on a healthy natural marinade, you end up with high fructose corn syrup, etc everytime) …. generally you want to have either a vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white or red vinegar, etc) or a citrus (orange, lemon, lime) which has the acid needed to break into the meats, and then you can add oils, spices, herbs, zest (grate a ginger, or any of the citrus fruits), soy sauce, etc. I will either come up with an idea (like mango habanero) and look on google or pinterest for ideas…. or just come up with my own combination. Take care as to the amount of time to marinade the type of meat you are working with, steak can be hours, chicken should be about one hour, and seafood about 30 minutes.

I try to avoid red meat for the most part. We eat it every couple of weeks (yes it is on our menu two nights this upcoming week!! But that is so we don’t waste any meat :). But chicken all the time can get boring. I spice it up with my own marinades (as I was saying above), and by changing up the cooking methods. One night I will cut it into chunks, another night I will leave it as whole breasts. I will pan fry it with olive oil, or bake it sitting in the marinade in a glass pyrex dish covered with aluminium foil (usually around 50 minutes at 350), or recently I have been trying a combination (using an oven safe pan) where I pan fry it for 5-10 minutes with olive oil and then throw herbs or slices of lemon, etc into the pan and bake it at 350 for 15-20 minutes afterwards.

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You might be wondering what I eat for breakfast and lunch, while it varies a bit, I generally stick with the same things all the time. Juice (with my $30 black and decker juicer), which is cucumber, strawberry, ginger and greens (either chard, spinach, kale, etc). Smoothies (generally banana, almond milk or greek yogurt and whatever else I have, peanut butter or pumpkin or other fruit). One egg and a slice of turkey bacon. A slice of toast with whole foods 100% peanut butter and slices of banana on top. Things like that.


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What is a typical nutritional plan for each day?

I want to type this out for anyone who wanders across it and for myself to have ‘on record.’ After research on nutrition (especially considering my transition to a Vegan diet), and considering that I would still like to lose more weight, my daily nutritional goals are as follows:

  • 4-8 bottles of water
  • a B-12 Vitamin supplement
  • 1 cup of Calcium and Vitamin D fortified Orange Juice
  • 2 other servings of Fruits
  • 5 servings of Veggies (3 of which are dark greens such as spinach/kale)
  • 4 servings of whole grains (whole wheat, not white refined grains)
  • 2 servings of protein (beans, soy, tofu)
  • 1 serving of nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)
  • 2 TBS of Flax seed (this is a new addition, I added it in slowly starting at 1/4 teaspoon and increasing daily)

Note: I do a kale/spinach/lemon/lime/green apple/cucumber/celery/flax seed juice each day to fill some of these requirements

I came to this daily food plan after lots of reading, web searching, and nutritional label peeking. It was empowering knowing what I needed in my diet and why. And figuring out the different ways to fit everything in. I don’t count calories, but I do keep things to single serving portions in order to moderate. I never feel deprived though, and I do not allow myself to get hungry. All meals (starting with breakfast and including snacks) are very important to avoid hunger. For me, hunger often leads to impulsive food choices, and larger portion sizes (as well as generally being a bit, or a lot I won’t lie, grumpy).

I suggest to anyone to check out their facts (as well as they say you must talk to a Doc) before changing diet habits. Check out my blog ‘Resources‘ for some of the websites and books that have helped me gather my information.