balance, breakfast, brunch, dinner, easy, health, quick, recipe, tips

How to Meal Prep Like a Boss

Summer has finally arrived in Seattle, which means we are busier than ever, and staying on track and eating healthy can be difficult. I get it – you’ve got parks to visits, kayaks to float in and microbrews to drink in the sun. That’s where a little planning and prepping one day a week can make a big difference in your life. If you are busy, want to lose weight, eat healthier or just like to get all your cooking done at once, this is the way to go.

It can seem daunting at first to plan that far ahead (I know it was for me) but hopefully these tips will help make it easier and get you going towards successful meal prepping.

Start Simple
This isn’t really the time to start eating crazy foods you aren’t used to, at least for the first few weeks. Think about putting together foods you already like and know how to prepare, this will save you time to begin with.

Master Breakfast
If you already eat oatmeal, try doing overnight oats. I love oats because they are high in fiber, and can be super nutritious for a filling and healthy breakfast. If you’re more of an egg person, you can prep the veggies for a scramble or omelette ahead of time and throw them in the pan in the morning with some already beaten eggs and whip up a breakfast in just a few minutes. Better yet, bake egg muffins all at once and have breakfast all week.

Shop Smart
Don’t head to the store without a plan, you run the risk of roaming the aisles and buying foods that don’t really go together. Plan out what you’re going to have for the week and make a list to take to the store, you’ll save time, money and sanity.

Be Snack Savvy
Pre-packaged minimally processed bars like Kind and RX make great snacks that take absolutely no work. If you’re looking for more whole food options, buying things in bulk like string cheese and hard boiling a bunch of eggs ahead of time are great to grab on the go.

Get Freezin’
Making large batches of food ahead of time and freezing them is a great way to save time. You can throw tomorrow’s dinner in the fridge to thaw before you head to work and come home to a dinner that will require a few minutes in the microwave. Or, if you’re into smoothies, try making homemade smoothie kits of frozen fruit and veggies and then after a workout or whenever, throw it in a blender with your milk or water of choice and you’re good to go.

Choose Grains Wisely
Pick grains you can use for multiple meals and cook a big batch on Sunday. Quinoa is great for breakfast in place of oatmeal, or you can throw it into salads for extra protein, or serve your fish or chicken for dinner on top of it.

Spread Your Food Out
On a sheet pan that is. Roasting veggies and protein in big batches in the oven is a super easy way to prepare a lot of food at once. You can throw these in salads, or use them for low maintenance dinner ideas.

Slow It Down
If you have a slow cooker- bust that thing out! You can make all sorts of food in your slow cooker, and it doesn’t just have to be soup. You can make quiches, oatmeal bakes, lasagna, enchiladas, roasts, the sky’s the limit. Set it to go before you leave work, come home to a delicious meal you can reheat all week.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and prep yourself for a week of healthy eating and spend less time in the kitchen. If you are looking for or in the need of some awesome meal prep ideas then make sure to check out my pinterest board.

balance, breakfast, easy, fitness, health, quick, recipe, running, snacks

Hidden Veggies

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Smooth Moves

Got someone who just doesn’t get enough veggies? Or just want to add more veggies to your diet without effort or even really tasting them? I’ve got the perfect solution for you- smoothies!

Smoothies are my favorite go-to for a quick breakfast or after a workout when I don’t have time to throw something else together. When putting together a smoothie, it’s important to consider all of the elements that make up a balanced meal, including healthy fat, protein and fiber. Without all of these, you are at risk of spiking your blood sugar quickly which can sabotage weight loss and cause you to be hungry again soon and reach for something else.

The rules I like to follow when I make a smoothie are a 1:2 ratio of fruit and veggies, for every fruit serving, I include 2 servings of vegetables, and include fat and protein.

Pick 1 fruit, 2 vegetables, 1 liquid, 1 fat, 1 protein, 2-3 ice cubes = your complete smoothie.

Here are some of my favorites :

Fruit :

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or mixed berries
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 packaged unsweetened acai puree

Veggies :

  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1-2 beets
  • 1/4-1/2 sweet potato

Liquid :

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk or regular milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut water
  • 1 cup cold water

Fat :

  • 1-2 tbsp nut butter
  • 1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw nuts
  • 1/4 avocado

Protein

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop plant based protein powder
  • 3 tbsp powdered peanut butter

 

Be mindful of portion sizes and remember, if weight loss is your goal or even maintenance, a smoothie is a great option, but not in addition to all of your regular foods, otherwise you’ll have a caloric excess. If you are trying to gain weight, increase protein and fat content and consume in addition to your regular diet.

Happy blending, you’re only limited by your creativity, I promise you won’t even know the veggies are in there and can get 1/2 of your servings of both fruit and veggies in one smoothie!

Let me know what you’ve tried!

 

balance, brunch, easy, gluten free, quick, recipe, snacks, vegan, vegetarian

Tropical Oat Bars

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Sometimes, you want to eat seasonally, like enjoying ice cream in the summer to beat the heat, or cozy up with a hot bowl of soup in the winter to warm up. And sometimes, it just gets so damn cold that you decide to protest the weather and fantasize about a dreamy tropical getaway and have to make some snacks that help you do just that.

I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but I almost always go refined sugar free in January as a body refresh and reset. I do pretty well at resisting the baked goods during the holidays but even I occasionally find myself indulging in more than my fair share of homemade cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie and holiday cookies. I am a firm believer in enjoying your food always and embracing the treats of the season are a part of enjoying time with family and remembering traditions. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a break from it all come January.

Going refined sugar free works really well for me, I work well with boundaries and telling myself that I am not having something is often easier than I will eat less of something.

I love snacking on whole foods when I’m running between school, work or just heading to a workout, but many bars you find in stores are loaded with extra sugar or just weird ingredients. That, and I can make my own bars in about 15 minutes for a lot less.

Here are some tropical banana, oat, toasted coconut and almond bars that are naturally sweetened, full of healthy fat and fiber to help get you through these long, dark winter days. You could always add some dried pineapple or mango for an extra tropical feel, just make sure your dried fruit doesn’t have any added sugar.


 

Tropical Oat Bars

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Total Time : 15 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 cups oats (I used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free)

1 cup roasted and unsalted almonds

1/2 pepitas

1 cup banana chips

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions :

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil, maple syrup and honey over heat on low until simmering.
  • Spread oats and coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes (watch to make sure they don’t burn)
  • When oats and coconut flakes are done, mix in a  bowl with almonds, pepitas and banana chips and cover with oil and syrup mixture.

 

 

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  • Mix to combine and pour into 9X9 baking pan.
  • Place in refrigerator until solid, slice and enjoy. Store in refrigerator.

 

 

recipe, snacks

Powerhouse Protein Bars

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I’m not really a fan of super processed foods. A couple years back my friend and I decided to learn how to better make pie and we decided to dedicate a year to pie making, one a month.  It was super fun to get together each month and try new things and obviously eating pie together wasn’t so bad either.

After that we started making all sorts of stuff from scratch and working on perfecting our skills at making everything from cheese to lip balm. What I realized is that just about everything out there from body scrubs to protein bars can really be made from scratch. Sure, some are more intimidating than others and take more time, but really, there are very few things you can’t handle yourself. And the best part-you get to control what goes into it and make it exactly what you want, what’s better than that?

Since I don’t eat meat, and do a lot of running I have to find new ways to get enough protein to keep my muscles happy. The other night while puttering around in the kitchen, I started pulling out things I thought would work together and these protein bars were born. For a first iteration I have to say I’m really happy with them and hope you will be too. These bars are rich and chocolaty with no refined sugar, they give you energy and keep you full. What you get are gluten free vegan bars with a great mix of healthy fat, omegas, antioxidants and balanced protein, all with no crazy weird ingredients! Yay!

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Dame’s Powerhouse Protein Bars

Total Time : 15 minutes | Servings : 12 bars

Ingredients :

1 cup dry quinoa

1 cup oats

1/2 cup chia seeds

2 tablespoons flax meal

1 cup peanut butter (can also use almond)

1/4 cup dark cocoa powder

1/4 cup rice protein (can omit)

4 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons honey (optional)

Instructions :

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread rinsed and dried quinoa and oats on baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes to toast grains.

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2. When grains come out of oven, in a saucepan over medium low heat combine peanut butter, cocoa powder, protein powder, coconut oil and honey if you use it.

3. Pour dry oats and quinoa in bowl and add chia seeds and flax meal. When liquid mixture is combined pour on top of dry ingredients and combine.

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4. Pour mixture into a lined 8X8 pan and put into fridge to firm up. I have to admit I was tasting these before they were done 🙂

5. After about 30 minutes remove from fridge and slice into bars.

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Give these a try, they are fantastic and super easy to pull together.  I kept these in the fridge but they are great to grab in the morning and take to work or keep in your gym bag to refuel after a hard run with.

Enjoy!

recipe

Gluten Free Brownies

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I’m a big fan of the lazy Sunday, though these days my lazy Sundays have taken on a new look the older I get. Often filled with cleaning and trips to the grocery store, they have become more of a prep for the week. Today mine started with a chilly 6.5 mile run through Discovery Park with a great friend, taking in the spectacular view and catching up with good news and nourishing my soul with exercise. After a quick shower and breakfast of, you guessed it, oatmeal, I decided my four legged friend could use some exercise too and drug him to Greenlake for a 3 mile walk. What did all of that earn me? I settled on brownies, and not just any brownies, but rich, chocolaty gluten free brownies.

Recently, my handsome man friend decided to venture into new gluten free territories and doing my best to be supportive (and since I do 99% of the cooking anyway 😉 I decided to go right along with him. It’s been a fun and new challenge moving away from old standbys of a lazy pasta dinner here or weekend pancakes there but more than worth it. It’s pushed me past my comfort zone and forced me to learn new things about baking and cooking that I didn’t know and am forever grateful to have explored. Often gluten free things can be even richer and denser without the flour to fluff things up and I for one, especially when it comes to brownies, like it dense.

While we’re currently past the gluten free period of our lives together (for now anyway) and while man friend is not actively avoiding gluten, I still try to limit its presence in our kitchen as we both tend to feel better without large amounts of it.  I’ve made a fair amount of gluten free cakes but wanted to see if I could get that to translate into a brownie, and I gotta say, not disappointed with the result. Try these out when you have an extra half hour or so and you’ll have something to enjoy on your lazy Sunday, whatever that entails.

Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time : 25 minutes | Serves : well… that all depends…

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 oat flour (you can make this yourself by just grinding oats in the blender)

4 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

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1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8X8 square pan with parchment paper and spray with non stick spray.

2. Melt the coconut oil and 1 cup of the chocolate chips, you can do this on the stove top or in the microwave. If you go the microwave route just make sure you do it in about 30 second intervals and stir in between.

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3. In the meantime, beat the eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer on low, you don’t want them to get frothy, just combined. When chocolate has melted, and cooled, add slowly to eggs and combine. You’ll want to do this slowly so the chocolate doesn’t cook the eggs.

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4. Once egg mixture and chocolate are combined, add cocoa powder, oat flour, salt and vanilla.

5. Pour mixture into prepared pan, top with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Bake for 25 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool before cutting, if you can wait that long 🙂

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*These could probably be done with almond flour or another gluten free flour but I personally like oats (duh) and oat flour is so easy to make and much cheaper than other specialty gluten free flours.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!