Tag Archives: #wholegrains

What to Do When You Fail at Meal Prep

Confession: My idea of meal prep is making a double batch of chili. I know that I should prepare more food on Saturdays and Sundays for the week ahead, but I can’t get myself to devote the time to that task, however worthy.  I am good at stocking my kitchen with nutritious foods and making healthy meals and snacks, so I figure I’m doing something right. Still, getting advice from a meal-prep pro couldn’t hurt.

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Searching for Inspiration

In my quest to improve my meal prep skills, I headed for Toby Amidor’s latest creation, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Not only does this registered dietitian and working single mother of three prepare delicious and nutritious food ahead of time, she found the energy to write about so that we can, too.

According to Toby, you (and I) should invest in meal prep because it saves time and money; it’s easier to control portions, which helps promote weight control; and you’ll avoid take-out food and processed products to get a meal on the table fast.

If you’ve never prepped meals before or want to be better at it, you can’t go wrong with The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook.  There are more than 100 recipes to choose from, designed with simple-to-find ingredients, including Apple Walnut Loaf, Slow-Cooker Three Bean Chili, Arugula Salad with Salmon, and Mason Jar Key Lime Parfaits.

Have I mentioned the two-week meal plans for those interested in Clean Eating, Weight Loss, and Muscle Building? You’ll have no excuse not to shop for nutritious foods when you see Toby’s detailed ingredient lists to make following these plans a breeze.

Check out Toby Amidor’s blog! 

Now, that’s some kind of meal prep! Doesn’t this look delicious? Photo courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz

Don’t let these meal prep myths hold you back from trying! 

Better, Not Perfect

Even if don’t completely embrace meal prep, nobody’s stopping you from enjoying Toby’s delicious recipes. That’s what I do! I’ve read The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, nodding my head in agreement at what Toby recommends, but the fact remains that while I like the idea of having meals ready to eat at a moment’s notice, I prefer more flexibility at meal time. (Read: I am in no way as organized as Toby.)

I have been feeding a family of five for years, so I do have some kitchen skills, which I allude to at the beginning of this post. I mostly know what I’m making during the week, and I shop regularly for food so I always have nutritious ingredients on hand.

17 Meals in Under 15 Minutes

Here are some of my favorite “fast food” ideas.

Breakfast/Snack

• Top a 2-ounce whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter. Serve with 8 ounces 1% low-fat milk or fortified soy milk, and fruit.

• Spread 2 slices whole grain bread with 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, and top with 1 small banana, sliced, or 2 tablespoons raisins.

• Scramble 2 eggs and divide equally between a small whole-wheat pita pocket that’s been cut in half. Add salsa, a handful of spinach, and 1⁄4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese, if desired. Pair with 8 ounces milk or fortified soy milk.

• Scramble 2 eggs with 1⁄4 cup diced mushrooms, and 1⁄4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve with 2 slices whole-wheat toast, and fruit.

• Pair 1 hard-cooked egg with 8 ounces low-fat yogurt, 1 slice whole-grain toast, and fruit.

• Halve a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, remove the seeds, and fill with 1 cup cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt. Serve with a whole wheat roll.

Lunch/Dinner

• Microwave a medium white potato. Scoop out the insides and mix with 1 cup cottage cheese. Return the filling to the potato skins and warm in the microwave. Add a green salad.

• Top 1 whole-wheat pita round covered with tomato sauce with sliced part-skim mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese melts. Serve with 8 ounces 100% orange juice.

• Make a quick quesadilla using two whole-wheat 7-inch sandwich wraps, 2 ounces chopped leftover chicken, and 1 ounce Monterey Jack cheese. Grill in a skillet. Enjoy with fruit.

• In a bowl, layer 1 cup cooked whole-grain couscous, 1 cup cooked vegetables, and 4 ounces cooked leftover salmon, or canned or pouched salmon.

• Arrange 4 ounces canned or pouched, drained tuna, 10 whole-grain crackers, and sliced red bell pepper, and enjoy.

My go-to fish meal: breaded haddock topped with a can of undrained chopped tomatoes and dried parsley with vegetables and whole grain bread. That’s dinner!

• Mix 1 cup canned reduced-sodium lentil soup and 1 cup cooked pasta or other leftover cooked grain such as farro, brown rice, freekeh, or quinoa. Serve with 8 ounces milk or fortified soy milk and fruit.

• Combine 1 cup canned white beans, drained, with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 4 ounces peeled and raw shrimp in a skillet. Cook until shrimp are pink. Serve with fruit or vegetables.

• Saute 1⁄2 pound 100% ground skinless turkey breast meat or 95% lean ground beef with chopped onions and 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin. Spoon cooked meat equally onto 2 whole-wheat tortillas along with chopped tomato, lettuce, and plain yogurt. (This dish serves two.) Serve with fruit or vegetables.

• Coat 4 ounces thinly sliced chicken breasts or tenders with flour. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken for about two minutes on each side. Place chicken on a whole-wheat sandwich bun and garnish with tomato and lettuce, and avocado, if desired. Serve with 8 ounces milk and a piece of fruit.

• Quick fried rice: Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a medium skillet. Add 1 cup cold cooked white or brown rice, 1⁄4 cup chopped onion, 1⁄4 cup cooked peas or diced carrots or both, and 2 beaten eggs. Toss the entire mixture until the egg is cooked. Season with a dash of low-sodium soy sauce. Serve with fresh fruit.

• Place 4 ounces cooked shrimp, canned or pouch tuna, cooked or pouch salmon, cottage cheese, or tofu, on top of 2 cups chopped leafy greens and 1⁄2 cup grape tomatoes. Top with a mixture of 2 teaspoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with  whole-grain bread or roll.

5 Stress-Free Family Meals

How to Shop for Must-Have Kitchen Staples 

Whether or not you plan your meals out to the last green bean, it’s a good idea to have nutritious foods on hand to rustle up healthy meals and snacks in minutes. Here’s a list that you can tailor to your needs.

A few must-have items from my refrigerator.

 

Refrigerator/Freezer Items

• Eggs

• Plain yogurt, Greek or regular

• Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

• Grated hard cheese, such as cheddar and Monterey Jack

• 95% lean ground beef

• Ground 100% turkey breast meat

• Low-fat cottage cheese

• Milk

• Tofu

 

Frozen staples I keep on hand.

How to take steps to get better at meal planning

• Frozen fish fillets, frozen shrimp

• Frozen plain fruit and fruit canned in its own juice

• Frozen plain vegetables and no-salt added canned vegetables

Recipe: Tuna Burgers with Smashed Avocado and Tomato are ready in 20 minutes!

Pantry Items

• Canned or pouched tuna or salmon

• Canned diced tomatoes

• Canned pineapple

• Canned beans, such as garbanzo, black beans, and cannelloni

• Whole grain cereal, bread (such as pita and Naan), and grains, such as pasta, quinoa, and freekeh

• Pasta (marinara) sauce and pizza sauce

• Peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cashews

• Dried fruit, such as California raisins

• Peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter

Recipe: It takes just 5 minutes to make No-Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

I couldn’t get by without foods from cans, jars, and pouches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts

I love coffee-shop donuts as much as the next guy, and maybe more. I don’t eat them often because while they taste good going down, donuts usually bother my stomach afterwards. When I crave a hunk of sugary fried dough, I turn to my baked Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts instead because they offer way more – and far less – than typical coffee shop choices.

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Maple walnut pumpkin muffins are better for you

Donuts, including all the variations on pumpkin and maple offered at supermarkets, convenience stores, and coffee shops supply little in the way of nutrition. Most store-bought donuts are fried, which jacks up the calorie and fat content.

Here’s how a maple walnut pumpkin donut stacks up to a glazed pumpkin donut from a national coffee shop chain. My better for you version has:

• 212 calories vs. 360 calories

• 1/3 the total fat, and only 1 gram saturated fat (vs. 10 grams of saturated fat found in the coffee shop donut)

• 3 times the dietary fiber, thanks to whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree

• 64% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, primarily from pumpkin. The commercial donut has just 2% of the DV for vitamin A, which tells me there is very little pumpkin puree in the recipe.

• Nearly 900 milligrams of potassium, about 20% of the DV, again, mostly from the pumpkin.

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts

These mouth-watering baked maple walnut pumpkin donuts are easy to make, delicious, and nutritious! 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthydonuts, maplewalnut, pumpkindonuts
Servings: 12
Calories: 212kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat two standard donut pans with cooking spray.
    In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
    In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, and add the pumpkin, 1/2 cup maple syrup, vanilla, yogurt, and oil. Mix until well combined.
    Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Don’t overmix.
    Spoon the batter into the donut pans, filling to about 1/4″ shy of the rim, and making sure the center post is clear.
    Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool, in the pan, for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove donuts from pan.
    To make glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and the milk and stir until smooth. Frost each donut and top with chopped walnuts.
    Per donut: 212 calories; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 36 milligrams cholesterol; 220 milligrams sodium; 35 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 5 grams protein

Notes

Note: For less added sugar, omit the glaze, and add the walnuts to the batter. If desired, coat warm donuts in maple sugar or a sugar-cinnamon mixture.

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Want more pumpkin? Try Pumpkin Spice Smoothie, and Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour.

No-Diet Tips for Weight Loss

Just thinking about what to eat to lose weight can be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to try so hard!  These three delicious no-diet tips for weight loss will put you on track for easier weight control, and you won’t feel deprived.

Peanut butter smoothie bowl topped with fresh raspberries, bananas, and chopped peanuts.

Peanut Butter, Raspberry, and Oats Smoothie Bowl from Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.

Eat breakfast

Breakfast is an opportunity to include the nutrients you need. The energy it provides helps to jump-start the body and brain after sleep.

I talk here about how studies suggest that eating the morning meal does not guarantee better weight control, and it may seem like I am contradicting myself by suggesting breakfast. However, the research about breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive.

You may skip breakfast because you’re not hungry in the morning. Maybe you’re not hungry in the morning because you ate too much before going to bed. Eating more regularly throughout the day, starting in the morning, may prevent overeating at night and may decrease your calorie intake overall.

Many people don’t like traditional “breakfast” foods. Not a problem. Any food eaten in the morning counts as breakfast.  Your A.M. meal just needs to be balanced and nutritious and include enough protein, found in foods such as dairy, eggs, and beans.

You don’t have to eat breakfast all at once. It’s OK to divide up the morning into two smaller meals.

Switch to whole grains

I  wrote about a study that showed swapping whole grains for the refined kind burns calories and boosts metabolism.  What a gift! You eat delicious whole grains, and you burn calories!

This No-Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Quick Bread is packed with whole grains and nuts. Get the recipe here.

It’s easier than you think to include more whole grains in your eating plan.

For example, instead of white bread, have whole grain. Enjoy oatmeal for breakfast in place of a highly refined cereal. Experiment with whole grains such as freekeh or farro. Munch on popcorn instead of chips.

Include nuts for better health

Studies show that nuts often have fewer calories than what’s on the Nutrient Facts label.  That’s good reason to include them as snacks, and in other ways.

Research has found that whole roasted almonds have 25% fewer calories than what is listed on food labels; walnuts supply 21% fewer calories; and pistachios also contain fewer calories than what the label says.  It stands to reason the same goes for peanuts, too.

Skip the chips, cookies, and candy. Reach for delicious and nutritious nuts!

One ounce of nuts is an excellent substitution for the same amount of snack chips, pretzels, or crackers.

In addition to having fewer calories, nuts provide protein, heart-healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.  Phytonutrients are powerful plant compounds that protect your cells.

Include nuts in salads, homemade trail mix, and in smoothies.

Bottom line: No-diet loss tips for weight loss

Simple changes can help you to lose weight and keep it off.  Making a few small tweaks to your eating plan promotes eating satisfaction. In addition, including more healthy food choices in your diet provides you with the nutrients you need to support health.

Whole Grains Burn Calories, Boost Metabolism

Looking for an easier way to weight control? Whole grains could be a game changer, according to findings from a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Simply swapping refined grains (white bread, white rice, and pretzels, etc.) for 100% whole grains encourages the body to absorb fewer calories, and boosts metabolism. Jackpot!

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More Whole Grains: A Step in the Right Direction

Here’s what’s so exciting about this study.

The group of men and women in the study who replaced refined grains with whole grains took up fewer calories from the food they ate, and burned more calories when at rest – no extra exercise required.  Those losses amounted to about 100 calories a day compared to the group who ate refined grains.

A consistent intake of whole grains could help head off unhealthy weight gain that tends to occur with age.  While weight control isn’t a precise science, swapping 100% whole grains for the refined kind could add up to a “savings” of 36,500 calories a year, or the equivalent of about 10 pounds – as long as you don’t increase calorie intake or decrease physical activity.  Balanced diets rich in whole grains help reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, too, which is nothing to sneeze at!

How to Get More Whole Grains 

Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice, contain the entire grain kernel. Whole grains are naturally high fiber, phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds) and other nutrients.

Experts suggest making half of the grains you eat whole grains, for a minimum of three servings of whole grains daily. A portion is 1-ounce slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked grain, or about 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal.

OK, so you’re not totally on board with whole grains, but it may be easier, and more delicious, than you think to get the whole grains you need.  Here’s how to work more whole grains into your eating plan:

• Have oatmeal (I make oats with milk to include dairy) or a whole grain ready-to-eat cereal such as plain Cheerios or the store brand equivalent with milk and fruit for breakfast, or as a snack.

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• Add 1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal to your favorite fruit smoothie recipe.

• Substitute 3/4 cup 100% whole wheat flour for all-purpose white flour in recipes for pancakes, muffins, and quick breads.

• Swap white bread for 100% whole grain bread.  Make sure you see the words whole wheat, oatmeal, or whole oats as one of the first terms in the ingredient list.

• Experiment with whole grains such as farro, freekeh, quinoa, millet, teff, and whole grain barley as side dishes.  Make extra whole grains and add to soups, stews, casseroles, and salads.

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• Switch to whole grain cornmeal when making muffins, cornbread, and polenta.

• Make your own trail mix using 1/2 cup whole grain cereal, dried fruit, and nuts.

• Enjoy whole grain crackers instead of highly refined white versions, and whole wheat English muffins instead of a plain bagel.

• Munch on popcorn instead of pretzels or snack chips.  Popcorn is a whole grain!

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• On pizza night, opt for prepared whole wheat crust or whole wheat pizza dough.

• For a sweet treat with a serving of whole grain in every portion, try these no-bake peanut butter cereal bars.

 

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