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Go Further With Food with Meal Planning!

March 11, 2018
Cooking is fun! Eating is enjoyable! Meal planning is hard! I, a registered dietitian nutritionist, have struggled with meal planning. I would get this great meal idea in my head, buy the ingredients, and then change my mind or forget what it was I was going to cook. However, after years of trial and error, dedication, and practice, I'm now starting to get the hang of it. Below are some tips I want you to know regarding meal planning that will help make the whole process a little bit easier.

1. There isn’t a perfect meal planning system. I know this may shock you, but it’s true. There are so many different ways to plan meals and no one way is superior over the other. It comes down to practice, patience, and personal preference. My advice:
• Whether it be digital, a home delivery service, or old-fashioned paper and pen, pick one system and try it out for at least a month before quitting.
• Proper meal planning takes time. It’s about developing new habits that will last
• Give the system time to work; you can always tweak it later.


2. It’s not just about what you want to eat, it’s about what ingredients you have available. Food is expensive and I don’t want to see anyone waste it. Meal planning is about making use of what food you already have at your disposal and not always relying on recipes that require you to buy more food. It’s about knowing what to do with the leftover chicken from last night’s dinner. Remembering that you have frozen broccoli and asparagus in the freezer. Thawing a package of ground beef so you are prepared to cook a meal in the coming days. The great challenge of meal planning comes from being able to utilize your resources.

3. Meal preparation doesn’t have to start at night. Nights are busy. There is homework to get done, school events and basketball games to attend, and TV shows to watch. You don’t have time to wait until the last minute to start meal prep. Think about what you can accomplish on weekends or in the morning to reduce the time spent preparing meals. Maybe it’s grilling some chicken breast for lunches during the week, washing a head of lettuce for salads, or setting out all the spices and herbs you need to make that new recipe. Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish during 5-10 minutes of meal prep. Your goal should be whenever you start making dinner, you’re already halfway done.

4. Mondays are for easy meals. If you’re like me, then you hate Mondays. On Mondays stick to basic meals you’ve made a million times. If you dare try a new recipe on Monday make sure it has 5 or less simple ingredients. This is not the time to try that new multi-step, multi-ingredient recipe. Give yourself every chance to succeed and this means taking it easy at the beginning of the week.

5. Establish meal themes/templates. When following a theme or meal template most of the work is done for you. Assign a food theme to each/or few days of the week to help narrow down ideas. Common themes used are taco night, pizza night, rice night, Asian night, egg night, etc. You can also get more creative by doing crockpot night, soup night, meatless night, etc. There are so many themes/templates to choose from that you shouldn’t be bored with your meals.
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Vegan Vegetable Soup

January 6, 2018
This delicious vegan vegetable soup is a excellent way to add volume and bulk to meals, without consuming a bunch of extra calories. Plus…it’s versatile and highly nutritious. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 32oz. carton of vegetable broth. Buy an extra carton of broth in case you need extra.
• 1/2 of a red onion, diced
• 3 celery stalks, diced
• 3 medium carrots, diced
• 1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
• 1 cup chopped tomatoes
• 2 cups spinach, de-stemmed and torn in pieces
• 6 stalks of asparagus
• 1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
• a handful of pea pods, any type, halved if large
• several mushrooms, sliced
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
• fine-grain sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat olive oil in pan. Gently sauté the shallot and garlic for a few minutes until softened.
2. Add the broth to the pan, along with the onion, celery, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and asparagus. Sauté for several minutes until vegetables are soft. Add the pea pods, purple cabbage, and mushrooms. Sauté a few minutes longer.
3. Add turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
4. Add any extra water or broth if too much evaporates.
5. Pour into bowls and serve.

Recipe produces 6-8 servings



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Are You A Mindful Eater?

June 24, 2017
When you first taste food, do you try and give it your full attention? Do you think about all the nourishment and joy food provides your body than simply eating because you’re hungry? Is food an emotional crutch, or the substance you need to live a happy, healthy, and productive life?

To me, eating mindfully is directing my attention to the aroma, flavor, and enjoyment I get from food while slowing down and savoring every bite, and stopping when I feel full and satisfied. Mindful eating can be an effective weight loss tool when followed consistently. Sometimes mindful eating can be described as intuitive eating where an individual follows their body’s natural hunger signals instead of tracking calories and macronutrients for weight loss. Below are some helpful ways for you to follow mindful eating in your life:

1). Slow down your eating pace. Allow your body and your brain to connect. When you eat fast, your brain isn’t able to catch up and recognize that your body’s is full and doesn’t need more food. Some studies have cited that it can take up to 20 minutes to establish a brain-body connection while eating.

2). Know the difference between hunger and emotional eating. Do you eat because your bored, tired, stressed, happy, etc.? Or do you eat because your stomach growls, you have a headache, your experiencing low blood sugar, or because your unable to focus, etc.? It’s important that you know your body signals so you can avoid consuming excess calories that negatively impact health.

3). Develop healthy eating environments. Avoid eating alone if possible. Many studies have cited that eating with others promotes a positive and healthy eating environment where people often consume less calories than eating alone.

4) Choose food for health, not emotion. Choose foods that boost your health, not cater to your emotions. Emotional eating is a powerful force that often causes people to choose unhealthy high fat, high sugar foods that promote weight gain, which further exacerbates negative emotions. Find other activities to soothe your emotions such as reading, taking a walk, meditation, calling a friend etc. Food is not the answer to emotional health!

For more tips and information on mindful eating, you can access the Center for Mindful Eating website at www.thecenterformindfuleating.org. Feel free to reach out to me at stephanie@speakingofnutrition.com for any additional information or to schedule an individual appointment.

“A healthy lifestyle takes confidence, knowledge, and persistence to achieve, but never disappoints when it finally arrives”.
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