My typical day:
Breakfast: 5 egg whites, oatmeal (no sugar, just cinnamon)
Meal 2: 4-5 oz. chicken, 1/2 cup of brown rice, quinoa, or faro, and 1-2 cups of veggies, 1/4 cup of fruit
Meal 3: 4-5 oz. chicken, 1/2 cup of jasmine rice, 1-2 cups of veggies
Meal 4: 4-5 oz. turkey, 1/2 cup sweet potatoes (no sugar), 1-2 cups of veggies
Meal 5: 4-5 oz. chicken or fish, 1/2 cup sweet potatoes (no sugar), 1-2 cups of veggies
Meal 6: (Normally, this is my post workout meal) 4 oz. fish and veggies or a protein shake if I have to
When it comes to veggies, salads can do the trick and are very easy. Just remember what you're putting on those salads though. Toppings such as croutons, craisins/rains, fatty creamy dressings, and cheese can make a salad's nutrient quality diminish. So that's my typical meal plan. I make my meals on Sundays and pack them away...all except the fish. That is a nightly thing because fish doesn't keep as long as chicken. I'm trying to build muscle and cut the fat, so this works for me for now. Here is a sample meal plan for the average person.
Breakfast: 2-3 eggs, oatmeal or whole grain cereal with milk and a piece of fruit
Meal 2: Greek yogurt with fruit or cottage cheese with tomatoes
Meal 3: Turkey sandwich (hold the mayo and cheese) and salad or soup (watch the sodium) and salad
Meal 4: Hummus and peppers or carrots
Meal 5: Chicken breast with sweet potatoes or brown rice and veggies
Meal 6: (If needed) Green tea and almond butter (2 tbsp) - not mixed together.
Notice that these "meals" are really just snacks; however, your body needs fuel throughout the day, so having these meals keeps your metabolism revving. You are avoiding "starvation mode" by keeping your body busy digesting the food that you are eating. Here is where the paradox of you need to eat more to lose more comes into play. Many people think that they have to starve themselves. What that does is teach the body that it doesn't know when the next meal is coming, so it must store whatever is consumed as fat in the body. By constantly providing nutritious food, you are telling your body that it is ok to let go of that stored fat and to digest everything that is coming in. Therefore, eating more to lose more makes perfect sense.
Now, the only eat I consume is poultry and seafood. For many reasons, I choose not to eat pork or red meat, and I feel just fine without them. No, I don't feel deprived at all, and yes, I can be around it without temptation or feelings of disgust. I just choose not to eat them. That being said, I have suggestions on how to prepare chicken in many ways. I will share some of my favorite below.
Pantry staples: These items remain in my refrigerator and my pantry.
Onions, green peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, quinoa, brown rice, oats, faro, vegetable stock/broth, olive oil cooking spray, olive oil, seasonings (curry, turmeric, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, cinnamon, nutmeg, celery salt), egg whites, sweet potatoes, green beans.
*For the broccoli and green beans, I have started buying the type that you can steam right in the bag in the microwave for convenience.
Meat selections: I buy these items regularly.
Chicken breasts (don't buy the thin-sliced ones because they are more expensive. Slice them yourself for a cheaper price), chicken thighs, turkey cutlets, turkey tenderloins, ground chicken/turkey (whichever one is cheaper), tilapia, salmon.
*I like my seafood fresh, so I get those the day of, usually.
- Option 1: Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan (depending on the amount of chicken you're cooking). Add in sliced onions and mushrooms. Season with celery salt (not too much) and let cook until the onions become tender. Without moving the onions or mushrooms aside, add chicken breast (most are big, so cutting them in half would be wise), letting it 2-3 minutes on that side. Add celery salt and pepper. After cooking on that side, flip them over. They should have some of the mushrooms and onions stuck to them. That's good! Season this side with celery salt and pepper and oregano. Let cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, making sure that each side gets proper browning. Add vegetable stock, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, then cover the pan. If the pan is large, using aluminum foil works as well. The chicken, mushrooms, and onions should all still be in the pan. Cook for another 7-10 minutes until the chicken is done. Most of the time, a liquid reduction occurs, leaving a "sauce." This recipe works great with chicken thighs as well.
- Option 2: Marinate the chicken in balsamic vinegar with any of the herbs listed and a little salt. Marinate for at least a couple of hours to get a good flavor. Grill the chicken or cook it stove top. Works with any type of marinade.
- Option 3: Oven roasting can be really good but can dry out chicken if you're not careful. Whenever you make oven roasted chicken, it's best to marinate for the time stated above, but when you put the chicken in the pan to roast, make sure that you add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan as well because the original liquid will cook quickly and can lead to burned chicken. Also, be sure to cover the pan with foil or a tight-fitting lid. If you do this, you can also roast a whole chicken or chicken breast...see option 4.
- Option 4: Whole chicken or chicken breasts (bone in or boneless). In a large pan or baking dish, place the chicken. Season with any of the seasonings above and a bit of salt and pepper. Add chopped celery, onions, red potatoes, and carrots (baby carrots are fine). Mix together small can of cream of mushroom soup (low/reduced fat if possible) and 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock together. Pour this mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cook on 400 until done (approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour). This can be served over rice if you choose, but remember that you already have potatoes in there.
- Option 5: Crock pot! The same recipe above would work in the crock pot, only you don't need the vegetable stock. You can pour the cream of mushroom soup right on top. If cooking on low, 8-10 hours (high 4-5 hours). This is perfect for starting something in the morning and having dinner ready when you walk through the door. Another crock pot recipe follows.
- Option 6: Crock pot...2! Place a package of chicken thighs in the crock pot. Season with season salt and garlic salt (not too much, though). Cook on high (4-5 hours) or low (8-10 hours). Once done, drain some of the liquid, and using a fork or two forks, pull the chicken apart. Add barbecue sauce, and voila, Pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches. I have also used Newman's Own Sesame Ginger Dressing in place of the barbecue sauce, and it is amazing.
When preparing fish, I take as simple an approach as possible. I add a tad bit of salt and pepper to season it. I cook it in olive oil, and add fresh or dried herbs. Squeezing fresh lemon juice over the top has been good. I might also add red pepper flakes from time to time. My latest find for a good tasting white fish has been swai. It has a buttery quality to it, making it really good. Adding different sauces to fish can liven it up, but just watch the sodium content. I love adding soy sauce to salmon, but I make sure to get the low sodium option.
There are many advantages to making soups, especially when it's cold outside. Nothing is as warming as a great soup, but there are some things to keep in mind when eating soups. I would list all of them here, but I've already done that on another blog entry (http://healthylivinghappy.blogspot.com/2013/01/soups-on.html). Give it a read, and you'll also find the recipes below on that page. But these are my go-to's when it comes to soup.
Taco Soup is always a hit with my family...
- Cans of the following beans - kidney, black, pinto, garbanzo, (or any beans you want - 5-6 cans total).
- 1 can summer crisp corn (or 1 cup of frozen corn)
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes with chillies
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 packet of taco seasoning
- (optional) 1lb ground turkey (or any lean ground meat)
- (optional) 1 packet of ranch dressing seasoning (I usually leave out the ranch packet because it's hard to find all natural packets without having to drive all the way to Whole Foods.)
- Open all cans (and corn if not in a can) and place them in a large saucepan. DO NOT DRAIN. Begin cooking on medium heat.
- While they are heating up, brown the ground meat if using meat.
- Combine cooked meat with the beans.
- Stir in the seasoning packet(s).
- Add approximately 2-3 cups of water.
- Heat for at least 30 minutes, making sure to stir throughout.
Black Bean Soup is always a winner as well...
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 an onion, diced small
- 16 oz can of chicken broth or vegetable broth (low sodium if possible)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (I prefer spicy red or fire-roasted)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- (optional) smoked sausage, cut into small pieces
- In a deep pot (can be the one you plan to make the soup), place the first four ingredients and heat on medium high heat. Cook until onions are tender and almost translucent.
- While the onion mixture is cooking, combine two cans of black beans with the broth in a food processor, blending until smooth.
- (Optional Step) If planning to use the sausage, add to the pot with the onions, garlic, and jalapeño and cook all the way through.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until they are heated through.
- Once the mixture in the pot is hot, add the pureed black beans, stirring well.
- Add the ground cumin.
- Last, add the other two cans of black beans.
- Heat all the way through, approximately 20 minutes, making sure to stir constantly so that the soup will not stick to the bottom of the pan.
**There are many ways to serve this soup (with crackers, bread, rice) and many additions that you can make (corn, zucchini, etc.). Play with it to come up with the style you like best.
Overall, eating healthy is a lifestyle and one must make a conscious decision to eat often and eat the right foods. Having options is always a great thing, and the more options you have the better you will be able to keep your eating experiences fresh and exciting. If anyone has questions, please feel free to ask. Comments are welcome as well.