Need Some Meal Time Inspiration? #JERF

Eating whole real food is one thing to accomplish, but a second important element is keeping meals versatile and appetizing. If we eat the same things repetitively, not only do we put ourselves at risk for nutrient gaps, but our palates get bored and we become more impulsive with frankenfoods due to boredom. I’ve posted a few articles on lunch ideas (click here and here) but I have included some more quick solution below.

  • Shrimp cocktail w/ a salad using a good dressing and adding in avocado.
  • Taco salad – I typically always make my tacos with grass-fed beef and follow my own spice recipe (it’s clean, no fillers, so why not?)
  • Chipotle bowl – but w/ cauli rice, no beans.
  • Stir-fry – using either beef, chicken or shrimp. All yummy and easy to make a large portion, allowing to carry over for another meal for the week.
  • Burgers – yum, we had these last night. If you have the ability buy the grass-fed ground beef and make your own 4-6 ounce patties. I did this last night and just added in some cayenne, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. We ate them in romaine lettuce leaves and I paired the meal with some green beans cooked in a little bit of bacon, s/p. fresh garlic and onion and some organic raisins. I made a double bath of patties and had leftovers for lunch.
  • Grab-n-go lunch dejour – I am road tripping tomorrow and I have packed a green apple, 2 applegate grass-fed organic hot-dogs, hard boiled egg and carrots.
  • Smoothie – my go-to when ingredients are low and a grocery run is needed.

Mealtime can get complicated or stressful, especially if you are trying to please family members while trying to make something healthy. Overall, keep it simple and Just Eat Real Food! #JERF

5 Ways to Build a Better Salad

Salads can get boring and if we do not rotate our ingredients, we can ambush the success of enjoying such healthy nutrients. If you are guilty, like me, I used to buy the exact same ingredients, week after week. Not only did this put me at risk for nutritional gaps, but my taste-buds got bored with the same flavors, textures and color. Overall, a good salad should include protein, fat and some carbohydrate and a minimum of 4-5 ingredients. Here are 5 ways to build a better salad.

Shrimp Salad

  • 5 large shrimp, or 3/4 cup of shrimp (cooked then chilled), I prefer using my grill pan and cooking the shrimp with some spice and lemon juice
  • Cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, green onion
  • Seasonings/dressing: combine cilantro, lime juice and olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with a bed of organic greens.

Tuna Caper Salad

  • 6 ounce can of all white tuna in water or pure olive oil (I will admit it’s hard to find tuna in 100% olive oil; read labels and stay away from fillers like soy)
  • Chopped celery and diced tomato
  • Seasonings/dressing: 1 tablespoon of capers (undrained), chopped parsley  dijon mustard, salt and pepper with a bed of organic greens.

Asian Salad

  • 4 ounce chicken breasts, skin on, organic, free-range
  • 1 cups Chinese cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • minced scallion
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBS toasted sesame seeds
  • Seasoning/dressing: 1/2 TBS extra olive oil, 1/2 TBS tamari sauce, 1/8 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 TBS honey, pinch red pepper flakes

Snag and Kraut Salad

  • 1-2 cooked sausages (as I learned in Australia “snags” is jargon for sausages). Make sure to read the ingredient list on sausage and only buy ones that don’t have chemical nor high fructose corn syrup. I personally love snags sourced from the farmer’s market, US Wellness Meats or when in a pinch Trader Joe’s has a clean Chicken Italian Sausage. Lastly, if you are in the Chicago area, I have recently discovered an awesome butcher in Lincoln Park, Gepperth’s Meat Market on Halstead St. 
  • Chopped romaine lettuce, organic
  • 1-2 chopped carrot
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 2-3 TBS of fresh sauerkraut (the Green City Market has the best, or make your own)
  • Dressings/seasonings: I either use some mustard or use a little salsa to add some texture/liquid to my salad. The sauerkraut and sausage provide a lot of flavor without a dressing too.  

Homemade Chipotle

  • Slow roast 1-2 pounds of pork tenderloin, overnight with onions and spices (I like chili spices with my pork)
  • Fresh organic salad greens
  • Avocado, 1 small
  • Dressings/seasonings: salsa verde and freshly squeezed lime

Overall don’t limit yourself to ingredients traditionally in a salad. Throw anything in there – and it doesn’t have to be only vegetables. I love using fresh berries or diced apple in my salads. If I don’t have anything raw on hand, I will also put in some dried fruit. Load on herbs too. Such beautiful flavor adding a nice punch of antioxidants.

Cheers to you and good health,


USDA Taking a Stand on the Kiddo’s Lu

With the dominant health status of our country, let alone children, the USDA, for the first time in more than a decade, applies new rules for the federal school lunch program. Such guidelines include:

  • calorie and sodium limits
  • schools must offer dark green, orange or red vegetables and legumes at least once a week
  • students are required to select at least one vegetable or fruit per meal
  • Flavored milk must be nonfat
  • there’s a ban on artificial trans fats.

I believe the intentions are good here, and this was a nice win for Michelle Obama with  her advocacy to stop childhood obesity, but I have a hard time agreeing with all of the rules. One main thing that is troublesome is the lunch time for kids. Recalling back to my youth, some people had their lunch period as early as 10:45am where others longed for some food up to 1:15pm (starting class before 8am). How is a calorie restriction going to help when students are famished by the time they get to the lunch table?

Furthermore, when the food options are right, it is hard to overeat. And by “right” I do not mean corn is a vegetable as categorized by the USDA. Most corn in the US is genetically modified (73%) and can be destructive to our GI tract let alone our immune system. Like most things, there is room for constructive feedback, and again while the intentions are right, the lunch offerings just needs more whole, natural food without processing and cooking in seed oils, including canola oil.

Gosh, I am now wondering why I decided to write about this – I might get in trouble for what I want to say about milk and the grain recommendations…

Overall, the obesity concerns are taking notice and actions are being taken to help reduce the epidemic. Beyond the lunch room we all can make better choices for our health, our family’s health and our environment.  Buy locally, growing your own things, even if it is just herbs, will help lower the carbon footprint.

When we are fueled the right way, with the right foods, we are our best person. Good on the USDA putting in the effort and hopefully soon enough the will put forth some rules that are as simple as one of Michael Pollan’s best quotes, “Eat food, most vegetables, not too much.”

What are your thoughts on this new view from the lunch queue?