Food to keep you fit, lean, healthy and on track.

Weekly Nutrition: Plan Ahead for Better Weight Management Results

We all have busy lives. All of us. So part of being successful at losing weight, changing your body and staying healthy requires a bit of a juggling act to stay on track.  Making time to plan out a successful week is key for us. Even as you reach your goals, staying there is going to be a lifestyle change for life.  One of the best changes you can make a habit is menu planning. I know, I know. That sounds like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be.  A hour or two of prepping and planning can mean the difference between a week where you struggle, and a week where you succeed.

As a mother of two active boys, I am rarely home long enough to even sit down to eat, so if I don’t have healthy food available that is easy to make, I make less healthy choices and end up eating the wrong things out of desperation or lack of time.  Planning is essential to maintaining my weight.  Here are some of my Sunday Prep secrets that keep me on track.  Not all of you will love everything I eat but adapt the rules to food you like and you’ll be on your way to a better planned week:

1. Wash, Slice and Dice: Wash produce and do preparatory slicing and dicing early in the week.  This allows me to throw together snacks and salads in record time. The weeks I don’t do this I am less likely to eat those types of foods.  I wash and slice up all three colors of peppers, broccoli, carrots, rinse grape tomatoes and anything else in season that I can easily toss on a baking sheet for roasting. This saves me loads of time and I have found that I’ll eat out of a bag of red peppers rather than a salty snack due to the convenience.  Convenience is Key!

2. Boil and Bake: Once a week I hard boil eggs, bake protein and have easy proteins like canned tuna and frozen fish handy.  One of my favorite things to do is bake chicken on Sunday and use it all week on top of salad or along side roasted veggies.  Here’s a simple way to make “ready to go” chicken that is great for any dish or salad:

Ready Ahead Lemon Chicken

 

Sunday Prep Tactics and Pre-baked Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Cleaned and trimmed large chicken breasts
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Season chicken on both sides with a bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. In a glass baking dish place chicken side by side, drizzling olive oil over top of chicken.  Cut lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice over chicken breasts. Slice the rest of the lemon in rounds and lay on top.  Place uncovered in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of your chicken.  You don’t want to over cook, remove once chicken is starting to turn brown.  I like to just cook enough to be safe so that when I re-heat it later on and it’s not dry.

Store in an air tight container un-sliced and use as needed during the week.

Quick Lunch Recipe: Tuna Boats

tuna boatsI get tired of the the same old thing on occasion and instead of becoming frustrated with your food choices, you have to get creative. For those of you who love tuna (a great source of protein, omega-3, niacin and vitamin B12) and can adopt it into your weekly menu, here’s an easy way to keep it interesting without too much work.  The nice part about this method is you can get creative with it.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Tuna packed in water
  • 2 Tbsp Light Mayo
  • 1/4 Cup Diced Onion (any variety)
  • 1/2 cleaned out orange (yellow or red) Bell Pepper cut into 3’s
  • Black Pepper to taste

Directions

Drain tuna and mash with fork, combining mayo, onions, mix well.   Spoon tuna mixture into your pepper “boats”.  That’s it.  I top mine with fresh tomato and black pepper.  I have been known to add curry, diced veggies, walnuts and halved grapes into my tuna mixture as well – change it up and keep your tastebuds interested!  You can do this with chicken too. Easy, right? Who says eating healthier has to be hard?!

Fool Proof Perfect Fish

Fool Proof Fish

Fool Proof Fish

Adding fish to your diet on a regular basis seems to be an area of struggle for some.  Whether it be trying to get your family to accept it at the dinner table, or simply because many of us just don’t know the best way to cook it. There are a zillion ways to steam, grill and saute fish dishes.  But like most of us, weekdays are hectic and busy and you don’t want to or can’t spend a load of time prepping and chopping.  This method of cooking fish can be used with any variety you like.  The only adjustments might be cooking time depending on the size of the piece of fish. Here is Kathy’s Fool Proof Perfect Fish cooking method:  In my example here I used salmon because it’s my favorite – loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy protein to support muscle and brain power.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4oz piece of fish (I like to ask for center cut, scaled pieces at the market)
  • 1-2 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 Slices of lemon
  • Your taste bud preferred creativity

Tools:

  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum Foil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rip of a section of aluminum foil large enough to wrap your fish like a gift.  Place your salmon (or whatever fish you prefer) in the center.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle on olive oil and lay your slices of lemon on top of the fish.  If you have herbs or spices you enjoy, you can add those too – I have been known to toss in sage leaves, rosemary or red pepper flakes to change the flavor of the meal.  You can get creative here which is what makes this method a great base to work from.  Fold the long edges of the foil together (like you’re making a tent over the fish) and pinch the ends together to keep it all in there.  When you’re done you should have a tidy little package with some air space above the fish to allow heat/steam in there. Like so:

Pinch above center of fish, like making a tent.

Pinch above center of fish, like making a tent.

Place fish package on a baking sheet (along side any others you might be cooking) and slip into the oven for about 18 minutes.  The time it takes to cook through will vary depending on the thickness of your fish and the density so start with 15 minutes and put back in for longer if it needs more time.  Just open the end and peek in to see where you’re at in the cooking process.  Once your fish is cooked through you can remove from the foil packet and on to a warmed place with your veggies.

This is a time tested method and with some practice and creativity you can really use this to create a variety of meals.  Enjoy!

Pesto Chicken & Tomato Kebabs

Pesto Chicken & Tomato Kebabs

Pesto Chicken & Tomato Kebabs

This is a great recipe to combine with a healthy side dish (quinoa dish or grilled veggies) for a complete meal, but this also works great for when entertaining guests, or if you need to bring a dish to a party and want to make sure there’s something healthy to pick from.  The goal is to make eating healthy manageable and fun – no boring flavorless food for us! This dish came out delicious, flavorful and was really satisfying.  With 18g of protein per kebab you are really getting the benefits of a high protein meal to keep you full. I love the versatility of this recipe (you can change the veggies, or even the protein if you wanted.  Most importantly, it was pretty quick and easy to make.  Enjoy and eat healthy!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/4 lbs skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 24 cherry tomatoes (I used red and yellow to make it pretty)
  • 16 wooden or stainless steel skewers (if you use wood you’ll want to soak them in water first)

Directions:

In a food processor (I used my smoothie blender on a Sauce setting) pulse basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil.  You can play with the ratios here by adding more basil as needed.

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes (or as best you can). Combine the raw chicken with pesto you just made and coat all the chicken in a bowl.  Beginning and ending with chicken, thread chicken and tomatoes onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total. Using two skewers helps keep things in place.

Original recipe calls for using an outdoor or indoor grill which might be easiest in warmer weather. I put these on a foil covered roasting pan and baked at 400 until chicken was cooked through.  Only took about 5 minutes – just keep an eye on it. Turn once half way through cooking to keep it even.

Recipe tested and adapted from SkinnyTaste.com

Nutritional Information: Serving Size: 1 kebab  Calories: 147, Fat: 7.5 g, Carb: 3 g, Protein: 18 g • Sugar: 0 g, Sodium: 104 mg (without salt)

Ricotta & Spinach Frittata Recipe

Ricotta & Spinach FrittataHere’s a great anytime recipe that’s low in calories, but rich in protein, healthy ingredients and a vitamin boost from spinach as well as a great source of calcium.  Also only takes about 15 minutes to make!

INGREDIENTS:
7 egg whites (about 1 cup)
1 large egg
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 medium white onion, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach (or kale)
1/4 tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
2/3 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
Red pepper flakes (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, egg and skim milk until frothy; set aside. Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan on medium. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add spinach to pan, in batches if necessary, and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour egg mixture into pan and drop ricotta by the tablespoon over top. Cook for 3 minutes, until eggs begin to set on the bottom. Sprinkle in red pepper flakes if you likes things spicy (or leave it out it’s great both ways) Transfer pan to oven and bake for 8 minutes or until eggs are firm. Cut into 4, serve immediately – but I tried this reheated and its’s just as good. Enjoy and eat healthy! (recipe tested and adapted from Clean Eating magazine)

Nutrients per serving (1 5-inch wedge): Calories: 152, Total Fat: 7 g, Carbs: 10 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 15 g, Sodium: 400 mg, Cholesterol: 67 mg