food

6 Strategies for Healthy, Quick, & Convenient Dinners

The biggest obstacle I hear from the people I coach is that they “just don’t have time.”  People are SO busy today with work, families, managing a house, and the million other things that come up.

So it’s too often that they find themselves grabbing food for convenience – food that not only doesn’t serve their bodies but that also ends up negatively impacting the family and their waistlines.  This leads to further guilt and a vicious cycle begins.

It breaks my heart to see these smart, hard-working, and deserving people go down the rabbit hole of convenience because they just don’t know another way.  So, I’m here to help! 🙂

Check out my strategies for healthy, fast, and convenient dinners (or whichever meal you choose!):

You make it:

1. Pre-cook proteins, pre-wash and chop veggies.  You can do this 1-2 times a week depending on time.  I’m a fan of the Sunday Ritual, where you prep and portion for the entire week.  How to do this:  Simply grill or bake enough protein to sustain dinner each week.  You can prep the veggies to be prepared on the spot in the evening before dinner or in advance like the protein.  Heck, throw it all on the grill!

2. Purchase pre-chopped veggies.  If to the first point you were thinking…”Yeah, but the part I HATE is washing and chopping!”  Pretty much every grocery store sells vegetables that are ready to throw in a pan, in the oven, or on a grill.  It’ll typically cost you a little bit more, but it’s worth it if this is what it takes to make the right choice.

3. The 10 minute, minimal effort meal.  This is one of my favorite strategies!  It’s as simple as this:  Rotisserie chicken, steam in a bag veggies, and wrapped microwavable sweet potato.  Serve the chicken, grab 1-2 cups of veggies for your plate out of the bag (season if you like), and eat half the potato with a pat of grassfed butter.  And you’ve got leftovers!

4. Crock Pot meals.  It doesn’t get much easier than throwing a bunch of ingredients in a crock pot in the morning then coming home to a fully prepared meal (and a house that smells awesome).  Also requires minimal clean up!  This is definitely easy to make in large portions, so you’ve got leftovers!

Still not quite going to work?  Here are my GRAB AND GO strategies!

5.  Hit the hot bar.  Have a grocery store like Whole Foods nearby?  Chances are they have an awesome hot bar!  

6.  Healthy take-out.  This is easier to find than you think. With delivery apps like UberEats & GrubHub you can literally get your favorite restaurant foods delivered right to your door. I would recommend ordering extra so you can get a few servings out of it too, then you’ve got lunch for the next day!

Believe me, I am all about convenience when it comes to food, so I always suggest making more than you need so you’ve got left overs!

And when, I cook, I keep it SUPER SIMPLE!  Check out one of my go-to’s with this Beef Stir Fry:

1lb ground beef
1 medium onion
1 large bell pepper (any color)
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt & pepper to taste

Heat a sauté pan to medium high.  Add coconut oil and let it melt.  Add the onion and let it start to turn translucent.  Add the bell peppers.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add ground beef and cook to desired temperature.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I usually throw this in a bowl and eat it as is.  This makes about 3-4 servings for me. You can also serve this with about a half cup of quinoa!  How is easy is that!? Under 15 minutes!

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Sugar: A Loving Tribute

It’s no secret that sugar is bad for us. It feeds disease, impacts your brain, messes with your energy, and makes people fat. It rots your teeth and can affect your skin.

 

Aside from the short bursts of energy it gives and the way it sets off the pleasure sensors in your brain, there are really no good things about consuming sugar.

 

But I’m not here to tell you to stop eating it.

 

Because seriously… you’re not going to and neither am I.

 

Not only is sugar added to far more foods than you even realize, but it’s also delicious.

 

And if you know me at all, you know I’m about making fitness and health as easy as possible.

 

If I tell you to stop having sugar, it’s all you’re going to think about (like any other food you’ve ever tried to eliminate from your diet).

 

Is it possible to give it up and go sugar-free? For the small few, sure. But for most, it’s just not realistic in the world we live in today.

 

And since we know it’s really not great for us, and I’m assuming you’d prefer to avoid cancer, diabetes, etc. at all costs, I want to help you set some parameters for yourself today that will enable you to continue enjoying sugar with balance.

 

Here are my top tips for maintaining a loving relationship with sugar in the healthiest way possible:

 

1.     Drink only sugar-free beverages

2.     Avoid artificial sweeteners – you should do this for a variety of reasons. The one I’m addressing here is the fact that artificial sweeteners actually increase sugar cravings, making it harder to maintain moderation.

3.     Avoid UNNECESSARY sugars – if you think salad dressings and tomato sauces, for example, require sugar to taste good, you’re so wrong! Look for or create sugar-free options where it’s obviously unneeded.

4.     Try fruit before dessert. I’m not going to lie to you and say fruit is the same as dessert, because I know there’s a big difference between a strawberry and a slice of chocolate cake. But see if you can use fruit to kill your dessert cravings before you dive into indulgence.

5.     Clean up your environment. It’s common for many homes and offices to have bowls of single pieces of candy lying around or a cabinet stocked with “treats for the kids.” We mindlessly reach for them multiple times per day…and you know how fast that adds up! So, get rid of ‘em!

6.     Plan for massive sugar indulgences. Maybe your mom is making your favorite pie, or it’s your birthday, or a special trip/holiday are coming up. Those are the times to go all in and overdo it. Not a random Saturday on a whim.

How to Control Your Carbs

What’s the Big Deal about Carbs?
 
Starchy carbs get so much attention when it comes to nutrition conversations because they are the biggest double-edged sword our bodies have to deal with. On one hand, all of our energy in the body comes from glucose molecules (carbs in their basic sugar form) but on the other, our bodies weren’t designed to be surrounded by so many readily available carbs.
 
So when our body does get an onslaught of starchy carbs (usually from refined sugars in all of our indulgence foods or simple carbs found in anything baked with flour), it handles them by releasing insulin. Insulin is responsible for a lot of important functions in the body, but by design, it is a storage hormone. So instead of signaling our body to burn fat, our bodies actually get the signal to store fat whenever we eat a lot of starchy carbs.
 
This is why you can expect to make the biggest dent in your weight loss if you begin to control starchy carbs with every meal.
 
Where are Carbs Found?
 
Carbs are found in a lot of different foods but in general you can view them in this distinction:
 
FIBROUS VS. STARCHY
 
Fibrous Carb Rich Foods that Help with Fat Loss:

  • Raw or lightly cooked vegetables

  • Beans and legumes

  • Some fruits (mostly berries)

 
Starchy Carbs that Work Against Fat Loss:

  • All candies, jelly and jams

  • Sodas, fruit juices, fruit drinks

  • Pudding, custards and other sweets

  • Processed refined grains like flour or white rice

  • Bread and pasta made with any refined flour

  • Cakes, cookies and other sweet bakery products

 
What Do We Mean by “Controlling” Starchy Carbs?
 
First, notice that the emphasis is not on eliminating carbs but rather on controlling them. Our brains tend to be resistant to restriction, so we want to add the right foods to crowd out the foods that aren’t serving our interests.
 
In addition, “controlling” carbs also acknowledges that it’s not realistic to avoid all of the foods in the “Against Fat Loss” carb lists. We all like to indulge, so it’s important to learn how to enjoy those foods without affecting your waist line.
 
In this context you, can think of carb control as substitutional. The goal is to substitute as many of the “against fat loss” carbs with “help with fat loss” carbs.
 
So in order to achieve the above, you will be required to practice one (or both) of these strategies throughout your day to control carbs:

  1. Substitute the carbs not working for you with more quality carbs

 

  • Fill more of your plate with protein or crowd it out with more veggies (as they are technically a carb as well)

  • Shift from more processed foods to less processed foods

  • Shift from breads and white rice to Ezekiel bread and brown rice

  • Swap pastas for quinoa

  • Potatoes to sweet potatoes (or any root vegetable)

 
2. Eat your “Against Fat Loss” carbs after a workout
 
The intense workouts I design are designed to drain your muscles of as much sugar as possible. Thus, right after a workout, your body is keener on storing any incoming sugars (i.e. carbs) into your muscles instead of into fat. Thus, if you still wish to indulge in pastas, pizzas, breads, sweets etc. feel free to do so ONLY after your workouts. You can even think of it as a way of “earning your indulgence carbs.” This should not be done daily, however. But a few times per week is ok. :)
 
And don't forget your portions! But we can talk about that in our next blog.
 
 I hope this gives you a better understanding of what carbs truly are and how they work in the body!