Lifestyle: Getting Accustomed to Making Your Meals At Home

Eating a balanced diet doesn’t need to be labor-intensive. With planning and being efficient with shopping, you can save your mola and feel good. Here I am highlighting some how-tos on eating home-cooked meals, catered to those looking after blood sugar control, which in a way, relates to everyone. 

“If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Sketch out 7 days and plot 2-3 meals, based on real food, plus snacks (if needed). Intend to make surplus for the meals so you have leftovers. Looking at your calendar:

  • Do you have plans for meals out this week? Will you need to pack any meals for school/work/appointments? For the latter, can you make things or buy items that can easily be eaten as is, or cooked in the microwave?
  • How many people are you responsible for feeding? 
  • Do you have any long days or night errands to run? You will need something portable
  • Make a grocery list with meals in mind and use ingredients that can come from the freeezer or pantry, in the scenario your schedule changes. No one likes throwing money away. 

A French man once said he walked into a North American grocery store and couldn’t find any food.

What? Well, if you think about and roam the aisles and food labels enough, you will find that this certain man is onto something. A majority of our packaged food is not real food. Just this morning I rant to the grocery and reviewed a dozen products and set them right back down because of cheap, unhealthy ingredients listed on them such as GMO beets (sugar), canola oil (very inflammatory), food colorings, chemicals, HFCS, more sugar, MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA/BHT, nitrates, sulfates, the list goes on. Yet, my point is, know what is good for you and have an idea of where to get it.

Put together a grocery list before you head out. Ideally capture it on your phone. We often leave home without a list, but rarely forget our phone. Review your list before you go, and make sure the items you plan to buy, reflect the volume of foods you want on your plate. For example, if you intend to have half a plate of vegetables, make sure you buy enough vegetables. Same for protein, make sure your cart is about 25-30% of animal protein and 25-30% of fruit, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.

Additional ways to save and simplifiy:

  • Look at ads, use coupon apps available on smartphones
  • Buy ingredients, not products
  • By produce in season, when cheapest
  • Grow your own vegetables/herbs
  • Never overeat and see how the quality of food, not volume, makes you feel satisfied (intuitive eating)
  • Cook in bulk and freeze portions for leftovers
  • Buy in bulk, and choose ingredients that can used in multiple dishes
  • Buy whole, canned wild fish or frozen fish
  • Buy fruits and vegetables frozen (just as healthy, if not more healthy)
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat and slow-cook it to tenderize it.
  • Don’t major in minor things. Focus on buying real food and don’t stress if you can’t get organic or grass-fed
  • Avoid foods void in nutrition, which can simply just increase appetite. For example, gluten-containing grains, sugar, processed food, granola bars
  • Cut out the extras – bottled water, mints, etc
  • Keep food simple, yet, have variety so your palate doesn’t get bored.

Food prep can be therapeutic; especially when you look at it as a time to unwind and forget about stressors. We need to unplug, to recharge. Set aside time, one time a week, to prep meals so when you come rushing in the door, or out, you have something nutritious to quickly reheat or consume within a short window of time.

Meal Ideas:

  • Frittata – these are great, and can be made in advance, sliced and heated or chilled for a well-rounded breakfast or lunch. The ingredients do not need to be elaborate. Choose some produce, lean meat and spices. 
  • Slow-cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup
  • Salad with Tuna – as simple as it sounds. When I was on the road a lot with work, I would run to the grocery before Monday AM, pick up a bag of lettuce greens, canned tuna, eggs (then hard boil them) and some other type of produce, and throw it all together for 3 lunches or so a week. 
  • Lettuce Tacos – buy some lean meat, mix some spices and throw it over some vegetables or romaine leaves. Leftover meat is great with eggs too. 
  • Grilled Fish and Frozen Veg with spices – buy some frozen fish in bulk, pull out however many filets you need in the morning, thaw in the refrigerator, and cook in a skillet with some lemon, butter and pepper and pair with a vegetable. 
  • No-bread Sandwiches
  • Snack options, including portable food ideas
  • Scrambled Eggs and Ham – simple, cheap and satisfying. 
  • Banana Pancakes – take 2 eggs and one small banana, mash, and make 2 pancakes. 

Real change is not easy, but it is worth it.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kelly

Nutrient-Dense, High Protein Breakfast Options

We all know plain scrambled eggs can do the job, but they get old. Here are a few thought starters to changing things up with your morning routine:

Cupcakes

Starting with my personal favorite – protein cupcakes. And don’t let the wording confuse you. These cupcakes are not sweet, nor would you find them at a trendy bakery. These bad boys will keep you full till lunch and they are portable if you are short on time. Depending on your activity level have 2-3 Paleo Infused breakfast Muffins for breakfast and if you find you are still hungry pair them with some steamed vegetables or avocado. Check out the Paleo Infused Breakfast muffin recipe here. 

Pancakes

Super easy recipe, yet, I often find myself making these on the weekend. Details: 2 eggs, 1 small banana or 1/2 of a banana. Add spices if desired i.e. ginger, cinnamon. Mix ingredients thoroughly and cook 2 pancakes as normal.

Breakfast Tacos

Ground chorizo meat, fresh tomatoes and lettuce (butter lettuce) cups. if you want more specific here is another breakfast taco recipe.

Sweet Blueberry Sweet Potato

If you are an AM workout guru, some nice carbohydrates will help properly replenish your glycogen stores and help you feel good and recover for tomorrow’s sweat. This is an interesting breakfast idea, check out the recipe.

Fruit’n Eggs

Who says fruit only goes with parfaits or waffles? Not this girl. Throw some diced apple or sliced strawberries in your egg scramble. Perfect for times when you are craving something more sweet. If you really want to get creative, add some spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger, etc. Dried herb and spices are packed with antioxidants and nutrients, rounding our the meal with even more nutrition.

Breakfast Pizza

Keeping in theme of America’s favorite meal items, lets reform pizza to something that can fuel us properly and allow us to thrive. This is a great Meatza recipe.

Frittata

Frittatas are making a comeback and they are perfect for those who want to make something in advance and have an easy re-heatable meal for mornings. These recipes look scrumptious: Egg and Sausage Frittata, Southwestern FrittataBrussels Spouts and Spinach Frittata

Homemade Trail Mix

Trail mix can be the perfect solution for a nutrient-dense meal in the morning, especially if you don’t have a problem over-consuming nuts. Here are 2 lovely recipes that use healthy oils and heating techniques, retaining the nutrition we need for optimal health. Sweet and Salty Trail Mix and Paleo Trail Mix.

Smoothies

So many options here and I find clients like to have smoothies as a structured meal, helping them to stay on tract. While there is some debate for protein powders, if I were to put one forward, I like the fermented goat protein from Tropical Traditions. That said, you judge what is best for you, some people may not need the protein powder and instead just use hemp seeds for protein and fat.

Creamy Chocolate 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 2 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado

Cinnamon Banana Delight

  • 1 cup of coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of ice

Cocoa Coffee

  • 1 cup of coffee (cooled)
  • 1/2 small frozen banana
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk or almond milk
  • Ice (3 cubes)

Berry Protein Blend

  • 2 scoops of protein powder
  • 1/2 cup of berries (your choice)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 c of frozen or fresh spinach (alter serving size to less if frozen)
  • 3/4 cup of water

Sunday Sessions & Food Log

Sundays are so homey. Do you agree? It’s a day for personal time, preparation for the week and to reminisce on what took place in the last few days.

Most Sundays, especially when the weather agrees, I go on a run or walk or head to the gym, think of what’s on for the next 5 days and what meals I can prep and package away for easy lunch and dinner decisions.

If I do not have the ingredients I need on Sunday, I make a loop to the grocery, then the health shop and then the market. I love the market so much, even if I do not want to buy anything. It is such a positive happy place and the vendors really make an effort to get to know their customers. Just yesterday the Healthy Cafe owners came out into the market and gave us a hug to see how we were doing.

However, if I do not get lunches and dinner together on Sunday for the week, I tend to get takeaway during the week at work and for dinner, I usually sacrifice time that can spent outside walking or time at the gym in the evening making something from scratch and even worse, may skip the idea of making food altogether and eat out again.

Moral of the story is it is well worth it to plan ahead. This is what my daily food log looks like along with my plans for meals.

Breakfast: 10:30AM
Coconut pancakes with nutbutter – ingredients included free range eggs, coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla extract, salt coconut milk and coconut oil. Here is a recipe for almond meal pancakes, posted a few months back.
Water
Fish oil
Probiotics
Allergy meds
Iced coffee, no sweetener nor sugar

Lunch: 1:45PM

Homemade nori rolls with avocado and shrimp
Water 

Snack: 3PM
Corn chips (5 or so) with organic cheddar cheese
1/2 banana and nutbutter

Exercise: 3:30PM
Walk – 4.75 miles

Dinner: 6PM
Fish and Spanish chorizo tacos – fresh guacamole, diced tomatoes, sauteed onions and pepper and more.
Water

Meals for the week: I have to suggest this was not the best example of what I do on Sundays. Quite often I make massive meals including soups, chipotle style chicken and vegetables fajitas, grass fed burgers, frittatas, guacamole and more.

But on this Sunday, I bought fresh bell peppers and onions to assist with any meal of fish or meat.
Tonight’s dinner was purposefully made 3x larger- I plan on having the fish taco leftovers for lunch a few times this week.
I made hard boiled eggs for mornings on the go.
I usually make beef, lamb or kangaroo patties but will wait to buy some minced meat on a night we plan on grilling out.

Do you practice Sundays in a similar fashion? What meals to you usually make up?

Cheers to you and good health!

Awesome Summer Day – Food Diary

Today, the mercury as high, the sun was out and I felt alive and in the moment. Started the morning with brekkie and friends, treated us to a massage, parused the market, caught up with our favorite fruit and vegetable vendor, got in a quick lifting session and much more. How did your weekend treat you? Here’s a peak of what I ate today..

Breakfast: 9AM
Sat outside a local cafe sipping on green tea and water
2 poached eggs
Mushroom, though only had a few bites
Sausage, caper polents; maybe one bite. Did not love the flavors.

Exercise: Gym, lifting session

Treat: 1PM
Massage with the husband. And it was awesome. I never appreciated a massage, let alone really experienced a professional massage until I moved to Melbourne. There are massage boutiques all around our neighborhood and well worth the expense.

Lunch: 2PM
Tried a new place on Chapel Street in Prahran. It was called Three Monkeys and highly recommend. Such a cool vibe; vintage set-up but laid-back staff and fresh ingredients.
Salad with colorful tomatoes, chorizo, calamari and lemon vinaigrette.
Glass of champagne, brut

4PM – Coke Zero. I know, I know, not the best choice but so good on a summer day.

5PM – walked to miles or 3.3K to meet up with some friends at a pub.
Champagne

8PM – watched Terminator 3 (loved seeing clips of Chicago!!) and ordered in. I had a warm chicken salad, which had chicken, tomato, onion and chicken. I also had the toping of one of my husband’s slices of pizza. It was really nice, some sort of cured meat.

11PM – 1/2 banana and nutbutter (to help stabilize my blood sugar, having alcohol in my system)

Dear Food Diary – Day 2

Today, 18/11/11, I ate…

Breakfast: 7AM
Quite hungry this morning
Blood sugar = 83 mg/dl
3 egg version of Sweet and Savory Eggs
Water
Probiotics
Multivitamin
CoQ10
Allergy meds

11:25AM blazing hot (90 degrees F), walking home from my appointment for my jaw, craving (and not proud of it) a Diet Coke.

Noon: Not hungry yet
Blood glucose 134 mg/dl.
Dissolved some Glutamine in water; assists with healing (jaw)

Lunch: 1:45PM
Leftover steak, about 3 ounces
Leftover sauteed cabbage
Water

Exercise: 1.5 mile walk
Blood glucose 124 mg/dl

Snack: 5PM
Jello, fortified with Glutamine
10 fresh blueberries

Dinner: 7:30PM
3/4 glass of NZ Pinot Noir
Salmon
Salad with tomato, avocado and sweet potato
1 natural oyster
Water

Snack: 9:45PM
Blood glucose 116 mg/dl
Surprisingly not satisfied with dinner. Being spoiled with amazing food in Melbourne, I like to think I have mature taste-buds or you can just say, “I have acquired a bit of food snob in me.” Yet, the flavors in my meal just did not seem to work.
1/2 banana
1 mini square of 85% dark chocolate

Is Breakfast Getting Boring?

This is the beginning of a running list of paleo-like breakfasts. Also, please share anything that sparks your taste buds along sunrise every day.

Kelly’s Favorite Vegetable Juice:
2 carrots, large, organic
1 beet, purple, medium
1-2 pinches chia seeds
3 celery stalks, organic
Gingers, lots!!
1 lemon

Sweet & Savory Eggs:
2-3 eggs, free range, organic, scrambled
Cinnamon
Ginger
10-15 Raisins/Saltanas, organic
1/4 cup Coconut milk
Coconut oil, to cover a small skillet
Coconut flour, 1 spoonful
Sea salt, to taste

Heat a skillet. Add all of the ingredients and cook as if you were whipping up scrambled eggs.

Poached Eggs & Vegs:
2-3 eggs, poached
Vegetable of your choice. I often opt for whatever I have cut up in the frig and ready to go (carrots, celery, or cook some broccoli)

Poached Eggs & Meat:
Same as above but add some nice organic bacon or baked ham

 Pancakes:
1 cup almond meal
4 large eggs
1/8 tsp vanilla extract – suggest using pure vanilla bean extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Coconut oil or grass-fed butter
Optional: Doll-up of nut butter (almond butter) and fresh berries

Leftovers:
Paleo-like leftovers

Bfast on the Run:
2-3 hard boiled eggs
Ziploc bag of raw vegetables

Smoothie:
1 cup spinach
1 cup coconut milk
1 spoonful of coconut oil
1 cup of berries
5-6 large ice cubes
1 spoonful of almond butter
Optional: whey protein

Why That Big Meal You Just Ate Made You Hungry

Every few months, a new study purports to prove that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and that the only way to lose weight is to burn more than you take in.

But veteran dieters know something that some researchers apparently don’t: Certain foods seem to fuel the appetite like pouring gasoline on a fire. Some people find that once they start eating bread, cookies, chocolate, potato chips — or leftover Easter candy — they lose all sense of fullness and find it difficult to stop.

That’s the concept behind “The Skinny,” a new book by Louis J. Aronne, longtime director of the Comprehensive Weight Loss Program at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He makes the best case yet why what you eat and when you eat it can make a big difference in appetite, satiety and how much willpower it takes to cut down. “It’s true that a calorie is a calorie,” Dr. Aronne says. “But what that doesn’t take into account is how some calories affect what people eat later on.”

After 23 years of treating patients — some of it espousing liquid diets — Dr. Aronne has concluded that refined carbohydrates and foods with high sugar and fat content promote what he calls “fullness resistance.” They interfere with the complex hormonal messages the body usually sends to the brain to signal that it’s time to stop eating. People feel hungrier instead.

This happens in part because refined carbohydrates raise blood-sugar levels, setting up an insulin surge that drives blood sugar down again, causing rebound hunger. That insulin spike also interferes with leptin, the hormone secreted by fat cells that should tell the body to stop eating. Obese people have loads of leptin, but it either doesn’t get to the brain, or the brain becomes resistant to it. “This is not a failure of willpower, it’s a physical mechanism,” Dr. Aronne writes. The body also becomes resistant to insulin, setting the stage for diabetes.

Other researchers have described similar phenomena. An article in this month’s Medical Hypothesis argues that for some people, refined foods with high sugar and carbohydrate content can be just as addictive as tobacco and alcohol.

Eating foods high in protein, vegetables, fiber and water have the opposite effect, Dr. Aronne says. His plan recommends revising what you eat, one meal at a time, to restore your sense of fullness:

Breakfast: Loading up on lean protein — ideally from egg whites or a protein shake — in the morning reduces hunger all day long. Eating muffins, bread, sweetened cereal and juice does the opposite. A study of 30 overweight women at Saint Louis University School of Medicine found that those who ate eggs for breakfast consumed 140 fewer calories at lunch, and ate less for the next 36 hours, compared with women who ate bagels in the morning.

Some people argue that they aren’t hungry in the morning, but Dr. Aronne notes that ghrelin, the hormone that typically signals hunger, adjusts to habitual meal patterns. After a few days of eating breakfast, you should find that you are hungry in the morning, and are eating less the night before, he writes.

Lunch: Some dieters try to cut calories by skipping this meal. But going more than five hours without food causes hunger hormones to rise and fullness hormones to drop, and sends more of the calories consumed at dinner straight to fat cells. Dr. Aronne recommends starting lunch with a salad — at least two cups of lettuce — then more vegetables, and then lean protein. Skip the cheese, croutons, bacon and creamy dressings, he advises. Using vinegar alone will cut your appetite and slow the rise in blood sugar.

Dinner: The end of the day is fraught with temptation. Obese people consume significantly more calories at dinner than slimmer people. Here, too, load up first on salads, clear soups, or high-protein appetizers like shrimp cocktail, then have a lean protein main course. Unlike some other diet plans, Dr. Aronne’s program allows a half-cup of grains or a small dessert at the end of the meal, but only if you’re still hungry.

Eating bread before dinner makes people lose their sense of fullness and eat more, Dr. Aronne warns. Alcohol makes it worse by lowering your resistance and promoting fat storage.

Snacks: Like many other weight-loss experts, Dr. Aronne believes that midmorning and midafternoon snacks can act as mini appetite suppressants, preventing blood sugar from dropping too low. But the same principals apply: high-sugar, high-starch, high-fat snacks — including those little 100-calorie cookie packs — start a vicious cycle of more cravings, whereas fruit, nuts, vegetables and clear soups can halt them.

Beverages: It should go without saying that juice and sweet soda can add hundreds of extra calories a day. A few studies have shown that even artificially sweetened beverages can prompt people to crave real sweets during the day. Cut back on all sources of liquid calories, Dr. Aronne advises; stick with water.

To be sure, if you eat as Dr. Aronne suggests, you’ll consume fewer calories overall. The point is, eating protein early in the day may make it much easier to cut down. “It definitely does make a difference,” says Ned Sadaka, a New York investment manager who consulted Dr. Aronne to drop 30 pounds that had crept up on him in recent years. He’s lost 21 pounds and 5 inches off his waist since January.

Not everyone agrees that consuming more protein cuts appetite. Harvard School of Public Health’s Frank Sacks led a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine that compared 811 overweight adults on four diets with varying levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate. “We found absolutely no difference in their satiety and hunger levels,” Dr. Sacks says. All the groups lost similar amounts of weight.

Other weight-loss experts say that’s not surprising, since there were only modest differences in their fat, protein and carbohydrate intakes, and many participants didn’t stick to their plans.

Eric Westman, director of the Lifestyle Medical Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, who espouses the same kind of low-carb plan that Robert Atkins made famous, says in his experience, “There is almost complete appetite suppression when you eat protein.”

The debate will doubtless continue — weight loss is an extremely complex area, and not everyone’s metabolism is the same. Dr. Aronne suggests trying his plan yourself: “Have 200 calories of egg white omelet or protein shake for breakfast, and then another day have 200 calories of juice and look at your hunger, hour after hour.” Sometimes being a clinical trial of one is the best way to do your own research.

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