With less structure, more going out to eat and travel, and sometimes, more alcohol, navigating eating on the weekends can be a challenge. It’s not unusual to get trapped in a cycle of eating “perfectly” during the week, then binging on the weekend. Learn 9 tips for how to stop binging on the weekend in this post.Read More
A big part of Intuitive Eating is learning to make decisions about what to eat based on what sounds and feels good in the moment. It may seem like intuitive eating and meal planning conflict, but I actually think they go hand in hand. When meal planning is done in a way that allows for flexibility and takes pleasure into consideration, meal planning can be a powerful ally in making peace with food. Learn how to meal plan for intuitive eating!Read More
Lately, I've been doing a lot less cooking and a lot more throwing together of random edible ingredients. Hey, at the end of the day, food is food! If you've got a busy week coming up, check out this post for ideas for quick and easy meal inspiration, so you can keep yourself fed and fueled. Everything takes less than 20 minutes hands on time, is balanced, and most of all, tasty!Read More
Not sure how to plan a filling meal? Don't forget the three musketeers - fat, protein and carbohydrate! These three macronutrients play different roles in the body, signaling different parts of fullness. So if you're missing one, you could end up overly hungry, and ravenously overeating before your next meal or snack.Read More
Do you despise meal planning but want to be able to prepare easy, nutritious meals! Dietitian Anne Mauney from fANNEtastic Food is here to teach meal planning for people who hate to meal plan!
Hey guys! Excited to have my dear friend dietitian Anne pop in today and talk about one of the topics I get a lot of questions about. As you know, I love to meal plan. To me, it's fun to plop down on the couch with a cookbook, pen and paper each Sunday morning and delve in! But, I know there's a ton of you out there who don't share in my enthusiasm for it (probably the majority!) and that's okay!
Anne is in the same boat as you. She loathes meal planning, yet is able to create fuss-free, nutritious and actually REALLY tasty meals! Learn a few of her secrets and favorite quick non-recipes.
So, here’s the thing – I’m a dietitian, but I hate meal planning. Ironic, right? The last thing I want to do is spend my precious weekends chopping a million vegetables or cooking up 10 different recipes for the week ahead. I know this works for some people, and we do share some basic meal prep tips in our program – but you can still eat healthy without spending hours in the kitchen. Here are some of my best tips.
1) Start with what you already know.
Are there meals that you make all the time, like pasta, pizza, eggs, etc.? There’s no need to totally reinvent the wheel – but think about what you could add to those meals to make them more satisfying and balanced. For example, if you love pasta, try replacing half the pasta with veggies (zucchini, peppers, peas, spinach, and kale are great in pasta – and you can use frozen rather than fresh veggies), and making sure you have a protein present. No time (or desire) to cook meat? White beans go really well with pasta and add a solid vegetarian protein source – keep a can in your pantry!
Love pizza? Again, add some veggies, either on top of the pizza or in the form of a side salad. Having eggs? You guessed it – add some veggies! Peppers, onions, and spinach are great in veggie scrambles, and you can grab a piece of fruit or toast to get some carbs in, too. Don’t forget the avocado!
2) Pick one new meal to try each week – not 7.
I think one of the big mistakes people make when they are just starting to eat healthier or to plan out their meals is trying to do too much at once. It’s probably not realistic to cook 7 new meals per week, and that’s okay! Instead, try picking one new recipe to try each week – preferably something that makes a fair amount of leftovers. I recommend my Mexican Lasagna, Shrimp Cucumber Feta Orzo Salad, Tart Cherry, Kale, and Feta Stuffed Chicken, or Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Enchiladas. :)
3) Perfect the art of the grain salad.
One of my favorite fast and easy meal ideas is to layer greens, a grain (time saving tip: used 90 second brown rice), canned beans, veggies, healthy fat (like avocado or oil), and a dressing. Voila – dinner (or lunch)!
Here are some favorite combinations!
Base of microwave steamed spinach or fresh greens
½ cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
½ cup black beans
Chopped peppers and tomato
Half an avocado
2 Tbsp. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup salsa, any kind
Quinoa Chickpea Salad
Base of fresh greens
½ cup cooked quinoa (or brown rice, or other whole grain)
½ cup chickpeas
Chopped veggies – peppers, carrots, cucumber, etc.
¼ an avocado
1 Tbsp. feta cheese
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinaigrette
4) Create a list of go-to fast and easy staples that use mostly pantry or freezer items.
My husband and I have a few go-to meals that I always keep the ingredients on hand for just in case. Here are some of our faves:
Two fried eggs over wilted spinach (put a huge handful of baby spinach on a plate, pop in the microwave for 1 minute on high) with toast or a microwaved sweet potato. Plus avocado if you have it!
Put raw chicken breasts into a pan, pour a can of diced tomatoes over them, toss in a handful of baby spinach and some canned (drained) artichoke hearts (optional). Put a lid on it and cook on medium high until chicken is cooked through, or about 15 minutes. Serve over whole wheat pasta or with brown rice/another grain or on its own.
Put raw chicken breasts into a pan, pour in a jar of salsa and a can of black beans (drained/rinsed), plus any veggies you like - peppers, baby spinach, kale, etc. Put a lid on, cook until chicken is done. Serve over brown rice or on its own!
Mix a can/packet of chunk light tuna (packed in water) with guacamole or hummus; eat with crackers and have a salad on the side.
Don’t forget about stir fry – such an easy, delicious meal. Keep frozen meat (like grass fed beef strips, or chicken) or tofu on hand as your protein, and throw in any frozen veggies or fresh you like! Serve atop a whole grain.
What are your best tips for creating healthy meals without spending hours prepping or planning?
Fried black rice with bok choy is a quick, easy and nutritious meal, packed with whole grains and seasonal vegetables.
Last year, I wrote this article for Pure Barre's blog, outlining my strategy for weekend meal prep. You can read it yourself, but here's my basic gameplan:
- Cut and roast veggies
- Cook a big batch of grains and/or beans
- Make a soup, stew, chili, or some other batch meal I can reheat on the days I don't feel like cooking
- Prepare a grab and go breakfast
- Portion out grab and go snacks
I aim to do at least three of these things each Sunday. It doesn't always happen, but even if I cross just one item off the list, it makes a huge difference in simplifying and streamlining my week. Ever since I got an electric pressure cooker last year, which cooks grains in 15 minutes and beans in 30, there's no excuse not to whip up a batch to last all week.
You'll find a million things to do with a big batch of cooked whole grains. Pour in almond milk, honey and fresh fruit for breakfast. Whip up a grain bowl with leftovers and random bits hanging around the fridge. Toss in olive oil and fresh herbs for a simple side dish. But who am I kidding? 99.9% of the time I make fried rice.
I have endless love for fried rice. From the authentic versions at my favorite restaurants to the uber-greasy Panda Express at the mall version, I love it all!
It couldn't be easier to make homemade fried rice. I rarely follow a recipe, but for the sake of sharing, I wrote down this one today. Basically I saute onion, garlic a seasonal vegetable in oil, usually olive or sesame, add cold cooked brown rice or some other whole grain, then scramble in an egg. It's as easy as that! Just be sure to use cold rice, otherwise it will get mushy.
For this recipe, I used black rice, also called forbidden rice. It's black when raw, and a dark purple-ish color when cooked. It's hue comes from anthocyanins, the same type of antioxidant that gives blueberries, blackberries and other purple fruits & veg their color. Anthocyanins have been shown to protect against diabetes, cancer and heart disease. And actually, black rice has almost as much anthocyanin as blueberries and blackberries! You can purchase it online or at most health food stores and well stocked grocery stores, where it's often sold in bulk.
Fried Black Rice with Bok Choy
- 1 cup black rice, cooked then cooled
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil plus 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb bok choy, chopped
- Chili flakes (not sure how much because this happened)
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup peanuts, toasted
- Heat oil in a large sided skillet on medium high heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic and saute 5 minutes until translucent. Add bok choy and chili flakes, saute until stems are tender and leaves are wilted. Stir in rice, let sit for a minute to crisp, then toss. Repeat until rice is slightly crispy, about 10 minutes total.
- Add scallions and soy sauce and toss to combine. Remove rice to a serving bowl.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add sesame oil to the empty skillet. Pour in beaten egg. Scramble egg by pushing in sides towards the center until cooked through, then break apart with a spatula. Stir eggs into the rice. Serve garnished with peanuts.