Week 6 Meal Plan

Surprise! There’s actually no “real” meal plan per say  here. You know the drill, you know the deal. I want you to create your own! Sit down with a pen/paper or your computer and come up with your own meal plan for the week (or for next week).

Here are some things to keep in mind:

BREAKFAST:

  • Are you in a hurry or can you take your time?
    • In a hurry:
      • Grab and go things like string cheese and whole grains crackers, apple and string cheese, Kind bar, nuts and dried fruit
    • Take your time:
      • Breakfasts that take more time and can be enjoyed at a slower pace like oatmeal with nuts/fruit, eggs and whole grain toast
  • You always want these to be included:
    • Protein: cheese, peanut butter, nuts, cottage cheese, eggs, hard boiled eggs
    • Carbohydrate with fiber: fruit, whole grain bread, oatmeal, whole grain crackers

LUNCH:

  • Are you in a hurry or can you take your time?
    • In a hurry:
      • Pack a lunch that you can eat in your car, in a meeting, or eat without having to heat up: sandwich, salad, tuna salad/crackers/veggies
    • Take your time:
      • If you have more time to spare think of leftovers or soup
  • You always want these to be included in a balanced lunch:
    • Protein: chicken, fish, turkey, peanut butter, beans, cheese, eggs
    • Carbohydrate with fiber: whole grain bread, brown rice, corn, peas, beans, whole grain crackers, fruit
    • Non-starchy vegetable: lettuce, carrot sticks, celery, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower

DINNER:

  • Are you in a hurry or can you take your time?
    • In a hurry: there’s no shame in eating a sandwich or something quick for dinner!
    • Take your time: if you have more time to make a meal and sit down to eat it that is perfect!
  • You always want these to be included in your dinner:
    • Protein: chicken, fish, turkey, pork chop/loin, lean beef, beans, tofu, eggs
    • Carbohydrate with fiber: quinoa, brown rice, potato, sweet potato, corn, beans, peas
    • Non-starchy vegetable: salad, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower

SNACKS:

  • Should give your body nourishment, not just “fill you up”
  • Think whole foods instead of highly processed foods
  • Think lunch box instead of vending machine
  • Nuts, fruit, veggies, hummus, yogurt, cottage cheese

You CAN do this. You CAN and you WILL and you are ABLE.

Week 4 Tips: Getting in more plants

25 ways to get more plants in your diet

  1. Fruit in oatmeal
  2. Fruit on top of whole grain cereal
  3. Fruit as a side for any breakfast
  4. Nuts or nut butters on fruit
  5. Nut butter on whole grain bread
  6. Veggies for breakfast: like in an omelet
  7. Fruit for snacks
  8. Veggies for snacks
  9. Nuts for snacks
  10. Salad for lunch
  11. Beans in a salad
  12. Fruit in a salad
  13. Fruit as a side at lunch
  14. Nuts in a salad
  15. Fruit in yogurt
  16. Fruit dipped in yogurt
  17. Veggies dipped in plain yogurt (Greek yogurt ranch dip)
  18. Raisins, nuts, and dry whole grain cereal trail mix
  19. Steamed veggies with dinner
  20. Fresh veggies with dinner
  21. Grilled fruit
  22. Whole grains with dinner
  23. Popcorn for a snack
  24. Tofu instead of meat for dinner
  25. Salsa and whole grain tortilla chips for a snack

What are some ways you eat plants every day?

Season of Thankfulness: Snacking

Snacking throughout the day can be one of the most important things you do for your health. If you are trying to lose weight or have diabetes, snacking can help you control your appetite and your blood sugars.

Finding the right snacks; however, can be a challenge. If a vending machine is close by, you know that perhaps snacking isn’t your best move of day. Packing or having nutrient rich snacks on hand is going to be the secret to snack-cess (yep, see what I just did there?).

Eating every 3-4 hours is quite important. Your body actually expects you fuel it because your stomach empties every 2 hours (give or take) so by the time 3-4 hours rolls around your body is looking for more fuel. This doesn’t mean you have to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! Unless you do then by all means, proceed! It does mean keeping small snacks (about 100-200 calories) with you so that when your next meal rolls around you are not ravenous and making poor food choices.

“Good” snacks:

  • Give your body something it needs (not something it wants)
  • Give your body something it is missing (not something it is craving)
  • Give your body fulfillment (not an empty feeling in a few minutes)
  • Give your body energy (not a sugar/caffeine high)

What falls into those categories? Here’s a list of 25 awesome snacks (not just boring ones) for you to “chew on”:

  1. Fresh fruits. They’re already packed and ready to go! (apples, bananas, oranges, clementines, peaches, pears)
  2. Dried fruits. 100 calorie packs of raisins, cranberries, prunes, or other dried (not fried) fruits are great pick me ups!
  3. Fresh veggies. This requires more planning ahead but carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, etc are wonderful crunchy additions to your day.
  4. Steamed veggies. Sounds weird but they make single serving steamed veggies that, if you have a microwave and enjoy the cooked veggie variety, can be a great mid-afternoon nosh!
  5. String cheese. Let’s face it, 90% of the population loves cheese (I totally made that up). String cheese is super lean and provides your body protein and calcium!
  6. Other portion controlled cheeses. Besides the string variety, many companies are making 90 calorie packs of your favorite variety of cheese. Again providing your body protein and calcium.
  7. Nuts. These nutrient rich poppable palate pleasers come in a variety of types and even some awesome flavors. The 100 calorie packs make them portion controlled and easy to carry around.
  8. Yogurt. Preferably Greek yogurt because it will give your body more protein. Other yogurts are good too because of the live bacteria that will help your gut. Remember that yogurt naturally has sugar so don’t be alarmed when you see the amount of sugar on the food label. In a typical 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt you are looking at around 6 grams of natural sugar in the product. If it has real fruit, there’s more natural sugar.
  9. Cottage cheese. Packed with protein and calcium this wonderful little snack pairs really well with fruit. Watch the sodium content though! If you are salt sensitive try to choose a brand that has less salt added. Go for 2% cottage cheese instead of full fat or fat free.
  10. Hard boiled eggs. These egg-tastic snacks are full of protein, vitamin D, lutein, and zeaxanthin (antioxidants found in the yolk). The whites are 100% protein but do miss out on some of those key vitamins and antioxidants found in the yolk.
  11. Deviled eggs. They are for more than just summer picnics! This spices up the hard boiled egg. Try mixing the yolk with 1/2 the amount of mayonnaise and use plain Greek yogurt or a mashed avocado for added volume. Dijon mustard instead of yellow mustard adds a kick and instead of plain paprika to make it pretty try adding smoked paprika.
  12. Hummus and veggies. If you haven’t tried hummus yet, go for it! If you don’t like regular hummus try a flavored one. My favorite is roasted red pepper. Hummus is pureed chickpeas so it is loaded with protein, fiber, and other nutrients.
  13. String cheese and pickles. One of my favorites! This is not for the salt sensitive person. Mix that with a little dijon mustard and you’ve got yourself one gourmet snack!
  14. Cheese and apples or pears. Delicious! This salty and sweet snack hits just about every taste bud. Keep the cheese to around 1 oz portion (size of string cheese or 4 dice put together)
  15. Peanut butter (or other nut butters) and apples. This all time favorite can be taken one step further by melting the peanut butter ever so slightly and sprinkling in a little cinnamon in it…then dip the apple. Get a napkin, you’re drooling.
  16. Peanut butter and bananas. Sure this Elvis favorite is a classic but let’s take this one a step further too. Instead of ants on a log with celery, peanut butter, and raisins, lets do ants on a log with a banana cut in half long ways peanut butter on the flat part and raisins.
  17. Celery and peanut butter. Kids and adults both rave over this one! You can even try celery with plain Greek yogurt (mix in a little dry ranch dressing mix to the yogurt and BAM one amazing snack).
  18. Rolled up turkey lunch meat. I like this one because it’s easy, packed with protein, and I like to “dip”. Dip this in yellow mustard, dijon mustard, or grain mustard and it becomes fancier than you’d think.
  19.  Popcorn. They make 100 calorie bags which are great to control portions. Plain air popped popcorn is 3 cups for 1 serving. If you like a little flavor to your popcorn think about adding Old Bay, parmesan cheese, or if you are a fancy foodie – dehydrated vinegar.
  20. Granola bars. But not just any old granola bars. Look for ones with at least 3 grams of fiber for about 100 calories, lowest amount of sugar, and whole food ingredients. My favorite are Kind and Kashi. Remember this is a snack, not a meal replacement. I’m not a big fan of meal replacement bars (100-200 calories).
  21. Trail mix. Make your own! Think energy, protein, and fun. Energy can come from dried whole grain cereal, dried fruit, popcorn, or a mix of all 3. Protein can come from nuts or seeds. Fun comes in all shapes and sizes but personally I prefer dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate mini-chips. My favorite trail mix recipe is: Cheerios (1 cup), dried cranberries (1/2 cup), walnuts pieces (1/4 cup), and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (1/8 cup). Makes about 2-4 servings (2 servings 200 calories each or 4 servings 100 calories each).
  22. Veggies and Greek yogurt dip. Grab a 5.3 oz plain Greek yogurt container and add your favorite dried ranch dressing or dip mix (you can make your own too). Add enough dip mix to get flavor into that yogurt and go to town on your favorite dip-able veggies! Broaden your horizons and try jicama (hee-kama), kohlrabi, parsnips, and turnips in your dip! They are crunchy, delicious, and have more nutrients than potato chips.
  23. Oatmeal. I know it sounds weird but this breakfast favorite can be a great, warm, soothing snack on a cold day. Watch the sugar on some of the packaged ones. Make your own by adding some walnuts, cranberries, and cinnamon with a splash of honey!
  24. Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower). These gems are easy to make at home or on the shelves year round to buy. Great for munching or pairing with raisins like a trail mix.
  25. Frozen yogurt. Not like you’re thinking. Take your favorite Greek yogurt, throw it in the freezer and in a few hours you’ve got an incredible, creamy, flavorful frozen treat!

Let us know, what are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

Simply Salad Dressings

Salads…mmm. I love salads. They definitely falls into my favorite foods category. I enjoy any kind of salad too – lettuce, vegetable, pasta, potato, fruit, bean…really, any! I think it’s the flavor combinations that I like. There’s nothing more delicious than a good salad dressing that brings out the best tasting salads. Not just any salad dressing but a good homemade

Sure, I have some store bought salad dressings in my refrigerator for parties and a good ranch dressing is a staple in my refrigerator to mix with buffalo sauce! My every day salad dressings are homemade. I like them better than any store brand plus it’s simple whole ingredients. Similarly to my mother, I don’t really have a salad dressing recipe but I’ll let you in on the delicious secret: as long as you have the basics, you can make a delicious homemade dressing yourself.

Here’s what you need:

  • Acid:
    • Vinegar – balsamic, red wine, white wine, even a simple apple cider vinegar works well!
    • Lemon/lime – fruitier salads pare well with lemons and limes.
  • Oil:
    • Canola: tons of omega-3 fatty acids
    • Olive: great source of mono-unsaturated heart-healthy fats
    • Other oils: grape seed, avocado, nut oils (walnut, almond)
  • Herbs:
    • My favorites: chives, parsley, basil
    • Others to try: cilantro, thyme, sage, rosemary, mint
  • Spices:
    • My favorites: turmeric, black pepper, paprika, celery seed, garlic
    • Others to try: coriander, cayenne pepper, chili powder, oregano, poppy seed
  • Salt:
    • Types: kosher, iodized, sea salt, pink hymalain
    • Salt substitutes: check with your doctor first but these go well in salad dressings
  • Sweet:
    • My favorites: honey and sugar
    • Other alternatives: agave, stevia, maple syrup
  • Others:
    • Dijon mustard makes an appearance in 90% of my homemade salad dressings
    • Mayonnaise is a great emulsifier and is a source of healthy fats
    • Spice/seasoning mixes: Mrs. Dash, Italian dressing seasonings, McCormick’s Salad Supreme. I may use any number of these depending on the salad and my taste mood at the time.
    • Fruit. You can make a great strawberry, pomegranate, blueberry, peach, or plum vinaigrette dressing just by simmering the vinegar with the fruits to get out the flavor.

Mix any of the above combinations based on your flavor profile.

Here is one of my favorite vinaigrette to make.

Amanda’s Herbed Vinaigrette

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 + cup canola oil (I pour in a little over 1/3 cup and you could also use olive oil)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/8 cup fresh chives
2 teaspoons honey (more if you want to balance out the acidity…I like mine more acidic)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced onion (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon oregano (I use dried)
1 teaspoons minced garlic (shortcut)
1/2 teaspoon salt (less if you have high blood pressure, CHF, or are sensitive to salt)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon turmeric

Pour vinegar and oil into a salad dressing carafe (a mason jar with a lid would work). Place all herbs and spices in jar and shake. Let set for at least 1 hour to allow the herbs and spices to marry into the vinegar and oil.

Notes: you can also use white balsamic, white wine, or champagne vinegar for this recipe.

Pour over your favorite vegetable salad and enjoy!

IMG_8475

OTHER IDEAS:

  • Feta vinaigrette: red wine vinegar, olive oil, feta cheese, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper – goes great with a Greek quinoa salad or your favorite Greek tossed salad
  • Strawberry poppy seed vinaigrette: diced strawberries, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, poppy seed, honey, salt, and pepper – pairs well with a strawberry spinach salad

Final thoughts: It is important to have fat in your diet. If you are choosing store bought dressing (which is totally fine I have an array in my frig) make sure you select ones that do have fat. Fat free salad dressings tend to have a lot of sugar and other additives. Purchase regular salad dressings and just eat less!

Challenge: have fun with dressings! Make those fruits and veggies pop with excitement and flavor!