nutrition, Recipes

Welcome Fall! It’s time to eat seasonally.

It seems like the summer has flown by, and now it’s fall. When I think of fall, I think of dressing layers, tall boots, and all things pumpkin spice.  Even though it’s projected to be in the 90s here in Northern California for the next few weeks, my farm box has started that transition to fall. Winter squashes and apples are becoming the stars of my food prep side dishes.

Last week I prepped this amazing stuffed acorn squash recipe, packed with protein and in-season apples, mushrooms, onion and sage. I even tried chickpea panko for texture and to keep the carbs a little lower. Pinterest win!

This week, I will be searching for something awesome to go with spaghetti squash.

Winter squash is great nutritionally as it’s full of fiber and slow-digesting, keeping you full longer.

So why eat seasonally? And locally!

Selecting fresh fruits and vegetables that are harvested locally means they are picked at the height of their readiness, meaning more flavor and more nutrients. And local foods don’t have to travel as far, which is good for both the local economy and the environment. When you buy locally directly from the producer, you can learn more about how the food was grown, where it comes from, and who grew it. Eating in season means that there’s also more of an abundance of foods in the market, keeping the prices low.  We’ve been visiting a local farm stand lately and are getting the most delicious fruits and vegetables, both summer and fall since our seasons really blend together here in California, and the price really just can’t be beat.  We also have a lot of organic options locally as well. When you buy organic, you definitely know what you’re getting.

Plan around what’s available

Each week, I come up with a game plan for my meals. I start with planning my proteins, as that’s the most important part of my diet, post-bariatric surgery. Pinterest has led me to some awesome recipes. I get a farm box from Farm Fresh to You full of local, seasonal food. I can pick what goes in my box, so I will search for recipes that go with whatever is in season. This has forced me to get creative – but it’s also forced me to do more home cooking. Cooking from scratch with whole food ingredients is the best way to know what’s in your food. This is important for folks with food sensitivities, but it’s also a way to avoid pesticides and chemical ingredients.  I prefer my food from the earth, not from a lab.

Choose organic when you can

Organic is always better when it’s available, but it’s not a must. Your goal for nutrition is to go for the most nutrient dense selections without any additives.  Follow the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen List to read more about when to choose organic.

Use the change in seasons as an opportunity to branch out and try new things. Look for root vegetables, winter squashes, new apple varieties, and some greens and slice, dice, and roast your way to better health.

 

 

 

Food Prep, Recipes

Massaged Kale Salad

Massaged Kale Salad

For Christmas eve, we were asked to come up with some kind of a vegetable side dish to go with dinner, and since I had all the ingredients on hand for this super easy and healthy salad, I proposed this.

My husband isn’t exactly a kale guy, but he knew that there was plenty of other food for him to eat if he didn’t want the salad.

This salad is simple to make and can be done without a whole lot of concentration, and everyone can joke about how you are giving the kale a good massage.

The verdict: thumbs up from everyone. In fact I even got a thumbs up the next day because apparently it made great leftovers too.

That’s my favorite thing about kale. Aside from being nutrient dense and just plain good for you, it’s also pretty hearty in terms of consistence and holds up well when prepped in advance. This is actually a good one to make for meal prep as you can enjoy it for a few days.

The rest of the story: my sister-in-law has what I would consider a dream kitchen. Modern, open, lots of surface space. Multiple people can be making different things without getting in the way of each other. The only think I really needed the stove for was the quick toasting of the almonds. The joy of a gas cooktop is something I can’t describe (since our kitchen is the original harvest gold electric cooktop and is now on it’s last burner). We have been on the hunt for a gas cooktop that would fit in the same space as our current electric one — it’s an odd size.  So — we’ll planning a big kitchen remodel! Stay tuned for more as plans take shape.

With all the food prep I’ve been doing, I’ve really started to enjoy spending time in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to inviting clients in for some experimentation with healthy recipes in the new year! Goodbye harvest gold!

[mpprecipe-recipe:1]

Food Prep, nutrition

Winding down 2017 — as a prepper!

Chopping Vegetables with caption: Meal Prep Mania

It’s not what you think. I am not preparing for the end of the world by stocking up my underground bunker in the middle of nowhere. I find myself at the end of the new year venturing into new territory!

For the last two weeks, I have been testing out a service: meal prep. I’m not just creating Pinterest boards full of bento box perfection (although I did create a Food Prep board). I’ve started preparing meals for a client at her insistence.This wasn’t what I had in mind when I started on this health coaching track, but hey — if I can help someone take control of their health and well-being, why not! She wants to eat healthy, but doesn’t want to take the time to do all of the prep.

I get it.  There’s sometimes when it’s easy to grab some pre-boiled eggs and some string cheese and call it a day. But to really eat healthy, to get in your greens and fiber, and all the goodness of whole food nutrition, it takes work and planning.

And meal prep for someone else keeps me on track too. I’m definitely getting more efficient the more I do this.

I thought I would share a few tips for you to try if you’re embarking on a food prep adventure in the new year.

  1. Planning starts with the menu. Pick a few recipes that you plan to make and that you can make in bulk.  I usually will make a few different entrees, a few vegetable side dishes, and sometimes a grain. Then I find a few breakfast recipes like steel cut oats, protein muffins, egg fritatta muffins, and green smoothies. Once I have the menu down, I make a grocery list. Many times I already have a lot of staples at home, but I’ll just need a few extra thing.  I also plan things like extra greens for smoothies and salads, fruit and veggies for snacks, and some basic protein options like eggs, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt that can be used at any time for a snack or meal.
  2. Shopping – I try to do all my shopping at one place, and since I know the layout of our local store well, I try to put my lists in the order that food is laid out at the store.  Believe it or not this saves time. For produce, I tend to buy organic, or at least follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen guidelines. I also go with frozen organic fruit for smoothies.  I consume such a small amount of food, it usually goes bad before I can eat it unless it’s frozen.
  3. Unpack and prep. Once home, I put away anything I’m not going to immediately use, but I will wash and chop all the veggies needed for recipes so they are good to go.
  4. Plan your order. If you are roasting vegetables, I try to get those washed, chopped, and prepped to throw in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, and I can switch out sheet pans as I go. I try to find all recipes that cook at roughly the same temperature to save some time too.
  5. Clean as you go. I am one of those people who tends to use every bowl, pot and pan in the house when I do food prep.  I like to clean up between each recipe to keep things organized and to save some time at the end when the last thing in the world I want to do is wash another dish.
  6. Package for mix and match. As I prep my food, I portion everything out for my portion sizes that are roughly the same caloric value or macro nutrients. That way, I can just grab a few things to mix and match during the day that can also be interchangeably breakfast or lunch or dinner. I tend to make “buddha bowl” type things where I can add  various proteins to greens, grains, roasted vegetables, and maybe add an interesting dressing or sauce, or just top with hummus or some other pureed bean recipe. I like to make it an adventure.
  7. Save what works! When you find a recipe that’s easy and tasty, make sure you pin it to a Pinterest board or add it to your folder of favorite recipes.  You’ll want to add that to the rotation.
  8. Have fun! Put on some good tunes and your Fitbit and dance around the kitchen.  Time on your feet is time you aren’t on the couch, and cooking really can be a lot of fun.

Now that I have a few weeks under my belt of actually doing this for someone else, I can see some benefits for myself. I’m challenging myself to try some new things — like baking.  It was never really my thing, but now I have made a number of different sugar free and low sugar treats, and really awesome protein muffins made from black beans!

Whether your goals for 2018 are to eat healthier or move more, there’s a way to build some simple steps into your life to get you on that track. I’d love to discuss your goals and intentions for the year. Are you ready for the big things ahead?  I know I sure am! Contact me for a free consultation if your are interested in learning more about health coaching and about how you can incorporate more home cooking into your diet and lifestyle.