We live in a go-go-go world and it can be tough to not fall into the fast food grab and go life. But sometimes that’s all we have time for. So, we are arming you with tips to make educated decisions when you’re traveling and on the go.
At Allegro, we focus on the 80/20 rule. That means 80 percent of your nutrition should be clean, wholesome and natural foods; whole grains, protein, vegetables and fruits. While 20 percent is what we call life. The 20 percent is a birthday party, an unplanned night out, going out for pizza with friends, etc.
Below are great tips for eating at a restaurant, fast food chain and tips on prepping for on the go days and trips.
Here are some great tips to consider BEFORE heading out.
- Do your research ahead of time
- Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need to eat it
- Start with something healthy
- Order first so you don’t get swayed by what others are ordering
- Be specific. You are the customer!
- Balance your plate – if you’re going to have a cheeseburger then opt for side salad instead of fries
- Split your meal with someone or ask for a to-go box when the meal comes out
- Slow down and watch portions
Fast Food Chains
Here are some great options at many common fast food chains. When reviewing choices, the parameters we set included the following: 500 calories or less, around 10 grams of protein, lower sodium, low sugar and no trans-fat.
- 6 in. turkey loaded up with veggies no mayo, whole wheat bread – 390 calories
- Burrito bowl with steak, black beans, fajita veggies, salsa and lettuce – 460 calories
- Salad w/romaine lettuce, brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies and salsa – 430 calories
- Panera Bread – most of salads great choices but dressings can add more sodium/sugar (ask for dressings on the side or do half of it.
- Roasted turkey and avocado BLT sandwich, whole sandwich – 510 calories
- Power Kale Cesar with chicken, half dressing – 340 calories
- Jimmy Johns – best options if you customize your orders
- Big John: roast beef, no mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado spread – 380 calories
- Veggie sub on French bread: sub mayo for avocado spread – 500 calories
- Unwich – sub mayo for avocado
- Small chili – 300 calories
- Add on baked potato – 170 calories (no butter!)
- Grilled chicken cool wrap – 340 calories
- Grilled chicken sandwich – 320 calories
- Taco Bell
- Shredded chicken burrito – 400 calories
- Cantina power burrito (veggie) – 430 calories
Here are some great on the go options for busy days or when you’re traveling. We also included a few fun ways to get your daily nutrients and water in!
- Pre packaged fruits, vegetables and salads to go
- Grab and go foods
- Lara bar, kind bar, 100-calorie packs of walnuts or almonds, dried apple slices, a healthy trail mix or make your own (dark chocolate chips, almonds, dried cranberries)
- Carry a water bottle. Make it fun and fresh! Throw some cucumber, mint, lime or raspberries
- We need four to five servings of vegetables a day. Here are some great, easy to pack vegetables: cherry tomatoes, pepper strips, cucumber, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower
- Spice it up:
- Greek yogurt with balsamic vinegar
- Hummus (individual packets too)
- Low fat ranch dressing
- Laughing cow cheese
- Spice it up:
Eating healthy on the go CAN fit into a healthy lifestyle if you plan ahead for it as best you can; arming yourself for success. For more great tips on nutrition, fitness and more check out our podcast channel – Health and Wellness with Allegro Coaching!
Deserts, drinks and food, OH MY! Holidays are great, spending time with those we love and celebrating all we have in our lives; however food and drinks always seem to be the focus of every party. It becomes difficult to stay on track and we lose sight of all the hard work we have already put in. We want you to reach your goals and not be set-back over the holiday season, so we have come up with eight simple tips to help you stay on track! Don’t forget to continue to carve out time for yourself to get your workouts in, at Allegro or on your own!
Tip #1 – Never show up to a party super hungry.
Eat something light before you head to the party.
Tip#2 – Drink 1 to 2 glasses of water right before you arrive at the party.
This will help you feel fuller and curb cravings.
Tip#3 – Don’t eat anything at the party for the first 20-30 minutes.
Socialize and have a good time, and avoid standing right next to the buffet table.
Tip#4 – Don’t deprive yourself.
It’s okay to enjoy a treat every now and then, just do so in moderation.
Tip#5 – Choose simple foods packed with protein and fiber.
That way you will be less likely to overeat. Shrimp cocktail, raw veggies, grilled chicken and beef skewers are great party staples to stick with.
Tip#6 – Assorted chilled seafood is a great option.
Shrimp, crab meat, mussels and scallops are all super low in calories and fat.
Tip#7 – An easy way to monitor your portion sizes is to put your foods on a small plate or even a napkin.
You can’t fit as much on a napkin, so you won’t eat as much!
Tip#8 – Once you have had your fill of food at the party, have a piece of gum or mint.
You won’t be as tempted to go back for seconds.
Follow these simple tips and visit us at the studio to stay on track this holiday season!
Written by Ryan Pender: B.S., M.S., NSCA-CPT, CSCS
If you are reading this blog you must fall into one of these three groups; you are fit, you are trying (or in the process of) getting fit, or you’ve thought about getting fit. No matter which demographic you fall into, I’m glad that you’re reading this because it means you have some bit of curiosity about personal training on your mind. At the very least, you want to find out how it is beneficial and why not only you but everybody should participate in some degree of personal training. I’ll address the three aforementioned groups, hopefully making that spark in your mind ignite a fire under your butt to get started and see that personal training is an incredibly wise investment in your health.
So you’re ready to get your fitness journey started, or at least want to find out how someone can help you? Note the word I used: journey. This means that your path will not be a start-and-stop trip which has a destination. Instead, it will be an ever-changing adventure with new turns, bumps, hills and challenges along the way. If you try to go on this big journey without knowing what to do or why to do it, you will unfortunately meet some failures and disappointments. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you wouldn’t start that journey if you knew you’d fail, would you? I didn’t think so. By meeting with a personal trainer, you are not only meeting with somebody that knows all (and I mean ALL) about what is needed for your journey, but they are on a journey themselves. Fitness, nutrition and wellness is what we live and breathe for. We know when we started our journeys, we have done what works, what doesn’t and we have educated ourselves about all of this so you don’t have to. You’re going on a journey and we are well along the same path with the experience and treachery of our own. We’ve made a road map of what works, let us share that with you to ensure you have the greatest physical and mental success you’ve ever had in your life.
That group is done, now onto you guys and gals who are either on the way to or are already in shape and fit. You go to classes, you may train in a small group, and you may even practice great nutrition to some extent. Now let’s put you into a scenario or two some of you may have been in or will be in at some point in time. Scenario one: you have a really busy schedule (with work, kids, etc.) and you miss classes this week. One week turns into two. Now you’re off the bandwagon altogether. Scenario two: you’re working you butt off doing 2 to 3 classes per day. You’re not really getting the results you (whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, etc.) want and you get frustrated.
So here we go fit people, no matter who you are, we all need accountability from one or more people. For you individuals in the first scenario, your personal trainer will make sure you stay on track and you catch yourself when you trip and stumble from life’s twists and turns. Time with your trainer will almost be like a break from your crazy and stressful schedule. Fitness works so much better when you don’t get off track, so why not make sure you have a professional to hold you accountable and keep you motivated?
Scenario number two, you fit people who are (supposedly) doing everything right. You’ll hear me say a couple things that will be hard to accept, but are true nonetheless. There’s nothing wrong with you and chances are you’re not a genetic anomaly which prevents you from losing weight or building muscle. This may be hard to hear especially if you’ve been working out for a long time, but you might be doing something wrong. Without getting into specifics, if you’ve been working out for a LONG time and you haven’t hit the goals you set out a LONG time ago, you NEED to change something. That something will not be found in a class or small group format. You need specific work with someone who knows your body better than you do. Personal trainers know how to get your body to move the way it’s supposed to, build muscle the way it’s supposed to, and have you feed it the foods you’re supposed to feed yourself to help everything we just mentioned. Not only that, but they will challenge you at everything you need to get better, stronger and pain free so your classes and small group sessions become that much more fun and enjoyable.
There you have it, folks. In a nutshell, your personal trainer is the person and professional who helps you along your long journey, but is also your accountability and expert partner. We are all educated adults (or on our way to becoming such), so we understand the importance of learning, growing and needing people for all of those steps to occur. Your personal trainer can and will be the person you need to improve your physical and mental well-being. Don’t just think of it as a monetary investment, but a personal investment in yourself. Now do yourself a favor…get off your butt and set up an appointment with your trainer!
Don’t have a trainer? Don’t worry! We have many trainers available and can help match you with the right person, if you don’t know who to go with. Call 616.451.9000 for more information or click here to see pricing.
There never is a dull moment, especially when you are a parent. No matter the stage of your children, you are constantly preparing dinners, doing laundry, taxiing them from one event to the next, helping with homework and the list goes on. To fit exercise in on TOP of all this can feel a bit daunting. For most parents, we don’t have the extra time to get to the gym. Instead of making it be an excuse, consider doing your exercise program WITH your kids. Yes, I said it and will say it again…..workout with your kids! No matter the age of your children, the most valuable gift you can give them is the gift of time. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be planned out, just get outside and start moving!
Every summer we run a FREE Family Bootcamp at Wilcox Park in Eastown. All you have to do is sign up on Mindbody. The kids range anywhere from 5 – 12 years old it is always a blast! It’s been scorching hot out but that hasn’t stopped us from having fun! I wanted to share five of my favorite workout games so you too can get your kids outdoors and enjoy these last few weeks of summer.
*Extreme Duck-Duck Goose: Yes, extreme means more movement, so here’s how it works! Everyone stands in a large circle, facing outside. The person who is “it” goes around the circle and taps everyone’s head, saying “DUCK”. When you get tagged, you can make that person do 5 squats (or 5 push-ups). When they choose the “GOOSE”, the person who is tagged will run in the opposite direction as the person who tagged them, rushing to see who can get to the open spot faster. To make it even more extreme, have everyone hold a plank position until they get tagged!
*Hungry Hungry Hippos: Who doesn’t love this loud and obnoxious game? Best if run in a large open space/backyard and you just need 5 small buckets and 20-40 small balls. Set the bucket with all the balls in the center of the field and divide the family into 4 equal teams. (If you have a smaller family, just do 2-3 teams). Make sure the distance between the teams and the center bucket is equal. When the game starts, the first person on each team sprints to the bucket, takes out 1 ball, and brings it back to their home base (bucket). The game keeps playing until all the balls are gone; the team with the most balls wins! Talk about some cardio competition!
*Blob Tag: By far, the most popular game requested by kids this summer! This is a great game to do at the park, at the beach or in your backyard! (But you definitely want to invite the neighbor kids over!) Groups of two link arms to become “one” unit. The team that is “IT” tries to tag all the other groups. When a group gets tagged, they must link arms with the “IT” and continues to grow into a “blob”. This is a fun game to teach teamwork and communication!
*Animal Pentathlon: This game can be played indoors or outside, you just need to be creative!
Choose 4-5 animal moves and create a relay-race style event, where each kid must complete all 5 moves and run back to the starting line first. Depending on the age of your children, you can have them do a smaller number of reps or added rounds to complete. For example, older kids could do this 3-4 rounds through, from start to finish. Here are five animal moves you can use at home: bear crawl, crabwalk, donkey kicks, gorilla walks and penguin waddles are just a few ideas to try!
*Summer Olympics: This is a great game to play year round, indoors or outdoors! Plus, if your kids are competitive, this is a great way to rally up the energy. Come up with 4-5 stations…long jump, hurdles, sprints, dribbling, shooting/passing, anything works! Have each child choose a country to represent and then have them go through each station at least once to practice. For the next round, kids are competing to see who is the fastest or who can get the most reps in over a period of time. Feel free to add basic movements in, such as push-ups, crunches on the stability ball or bicep curls. At the end, have a final awards ceremony for the team that earns GOLD!
As parents, one of the most critical roles is to instill healthy habits with our children. This means anything from serving vegetables at every meal (the colored kind), rewarding behavior with non-food options, setting healthy technology boundaries or getting our kids to exercise. Plus, it’s a way for YOU to be healthy and lead by example….the best form of learning there is!
Try out these workouts soon and let us know how they went!
Before I opened the studio, I actually had a go at teaching pre and post natal fitness in the Grand Rapids community. I soon realized that screaming babies in strollers was not my thing, but I did learn a few things about patience, which every parent is rudely awakened to, AND to be patient with my own body post-baby. For most moms, we spend nine months accumulating new weight, for a good reason, so we can’t expect it to shed in just 21 days, right?
With any weight loss program, it requires a certain amount of patience, especially if you are going to do it the correct way. Now that Jackson is almost 11 months old, I am FINALLY back to my pre-pregnancy weight and can share some of my top tips for you, in losing that last few (stubborn) pounds! Especially when you get down to the last 5, 10, or 15 pounds you want to lose, the scale may suddenly refuse to budge. You might be tempted to drastically reduce calories or increase the amount of time you spend working out. Don’t do it. Instead, here are some simple tricks to consider…
1) Pump Iron. If you are not already doing it, make the focus of your workout strength training. There is a huge misperception that you need to do lots of cardio to burn calories. Sure, when you do cardio, you burn calories during the activity, but with strength training, you burn calories both during and afterwards for up to 48 hours! This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or the more well-know “afterburn”. Resistance training also boosts your metabolism, improves insulin resistance and shuts down the fat-storing enzymes in your body. Just remember that cardio is another form of movement, but you need variety to see results. No one will look his or her best without resistance training, a cornerstone of my training programs. I strength train at least 4 hours a week, including Body Pump, RIPPED, TRX, Pilates and Bootcamp.
2) Bump up the intensity of your workouts. No matter what workout program you’re doing, you will lose weight faster if you kick up the intensity. Jump higher, squat lower, and increase the weight you’re lifting to burn more calories, rev your metabolism, and stoke the fat-burning fire. Don’t just go through the motions; attack your workouts and push harder.
3) Change your exercise routine. If you’ve already increased the intensity of your workout program and still find that your weight loss has slowed, it might be time to try something different. When you perform the same exercises over and over, your body becomes more efficient at them. As a result, you use less energy and burn fewer calories. By starting a new fitness routine, you’ll shock your muscles, reignite your metabolism, and get the scale moving again. Think about which classes you have not tried or what you can do outside of Allegro to compliment your fitness even more!
4) Stand up. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that lean people spend 2 more hours per day on their feet than overweight people. Participants in the study who stood, paced, and fidgeted burned as many as 350 extra calories a day and were much leaner than those who didn’t move as much. Get up from your desk at work, talk on the phone while standing, and stay on your feet in waiting rooms—the simplest effort will yield an extra calorie burn that may help you shed those remaining pounds. As a busy mom, I don’t even know what the concept of sitting is, besides passing out every night when I hit the bed!
5) Drink more water. You may not realize how important water is for weight loss- it’s not just a tool to help you eat less. Being properly hydrated will balance your energy levels, which allows you to exercise with intensity. (Have you ever been so thirsty during a workout that you couldn’t perform as well as usual?) Drinking enough water may also increase your metabolism and promote muscle building—a well-hydrated body can more efficiently repair and build muscles. On the other hand, being dehydrated encourages muscle breakdown. So drink up, especially since you are exercising regularly.
6) Shakeology. It’s not just a fluffy shake or supplement. This stuff is the most nutrient dense meal you will find, ever. Stay fuller longer, reduce your sweet cravings and maximize your workouts. This meal contains your daily dose of pre and probiotics, all your super foods, minerals, vitamins and more. Think of it like 10 fitness classes in ONE workout!
7) Relax. Believe it or not, you may be trying too hard to lose weight. If your workouts are very intense and your diet is too strict, you could overtrain and burn out. Your mind and body will just not respond in the same way when they’re tired. Muscles need rest to repair and grow, and sometimes your brain needs a break from constant calorie counting and worrying about the last few pounds. Instead of becoming frustrated and diving into a box of cookies, try to relax and reduce the intensity for a little while. You may be surprised to find the scale moving again when you give your mind and body a rest.
– Coach Kendra
Dealing with a picky eater can be at the top of the list for most frustrating fights as a parent. As someone who has made health and wellness their life, this was a challenge I did not see coming. Convincing a grown adult that junk food is bad for them is tough, but trying to get my kids to eat well can be even more of a challenge. Having a 4 and 2 year old has opened my eyes to a whole new world of food challenges. Here are some important lessons I’ve learned, which should help you guide your kids to eat better.
Make a schedule. Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child’s diet will be much more balanced. In turn, they will be less cranky because they won’t be famished. Always have snacks with you! I keep a cooler in the car when we are out and keep things like carrots, yogurt and water so we don’t have to rely on fast food.
Plan dinners. If thinking about a weekly menu is too daunting, start with two or three days at a time. A good dinner doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be balanced.
Don’t become a short order cook. This is the one thing I took a stand on before I had kids because I saw how exhausting it was on other parents. I prepare one meal for everybody. Children often mimic their parents’ behavior, so one of these days, they’ll eat most of the food I serve them. Remember, most picky eaters are made, not born.
Bite your tongue. As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Be as neutral as possible. Remember, you’ve done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals; your kids are responsible for eating them. If you play food enforcer- saying things like “Eat your vegetables or you can’t leave the table” – your child will only resist.
Introduce new foods slowly. Children are new-food phobic by nature. I tell my kids that their taste buds sometimes have to get used to a flavor before they’ll like the taste. A little hero worship can work wonders too. My son refused to eat broccoli until I told him that hockey players always eat their broccoli because it helps them skate faster…he certainly eats his broccoli now!
Dip it. If your kids won’t eat vegetables, experiment with dips. My kids love hummus, salsa and yogurt-based dressings.
Make mornings count. This is where that meal planning comes in handy. Mornings can be crazy. If you prepare a big batch of breakfast burritos on the weekend and freeze them, you have breakfast for the whole week. It’s delicious, nutritious and easy.
Get kids cooking. If your children become involved in choosing or preparing meals, they’ll be more interested in eating what they’ve created. Take them to the store and let them choose produce for you. If they’re old enough, allow them to help cut up vegetables and fruit.
Cut back on junk. Remember, you, not your kids, are in charge of the foods that enter the house. By having fewer junk foods around, you’ll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Allow treats. Having less healthy foods occasionally keeps them from becoming forbidden-and thus more appealing. We call candy, juice, and cookies “sometimes” foods. I generally don’t buy cereal, but I let my kids have it when we visit family and they know it’s a treat.
Have fun. The more creative the meal is, the greater the variety of foods my kids eat. We make smiley face pancakes and give foods silly names. Anything mini is always a hit too.
Be a role model. If you’re constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is normal. Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you’re sending. Trust your body to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full and your kids will learn to do the same.
Adjust your attitude. Realize that what your kids eat over time is what matters. Having popcorn at the movies or eating an ice cream sundae are some of life’s real pleasures. As long as you balance these times with smart food choices and physical activity, your children will be fine.
Best of luck,
Coach Amanda O.
Almost everyone when they hear the phrase “bad diet” imagines super sized McDonalds meals, greasy fried foods, and potato chips. The part we tend to over look is how much VOLUME of food we eat. Everyone knows that the health of our country is headed in a negative direction. Don’t be confused- I don’t mean to say that our inches or pounds are decreasing; rather our energy levels, physical activity, and overall quality of life are diminishing every single day. Many wonder why and think it’s because of the sedentary nature of our society today. Absolutely- this is a major contributor. On the other hand, there is the issue of diet. Diet is more than just WHAT we eat, it is HOW MUCH we eat. You can’t out train a bad diet and a bad diet can be eating non-nutritious food as well as too many “healthy” foods. A calorie is still a calorie and consuming more than you expend will result in wait gain.
As time goes by, we as the consumer have been confronted with a multitude of new portion sizes, as producers want us to have “options.” This did not happen over night, but has gradually phased in under our radar and we have gone for the bait hook, line, and sinker.
You don’t have to be a fitness guru to see that the country’s waistline has dramatically been increasing, and especially in the last decade. How interesting it is that portion sizes have ballooned up as well. For just ten cents more, I could get double the amount of pop? Heck yeah! Every day we are bombarded with choices of how much we would like to consume. Research shows that when confronted with larger food option most people cave and get them. It is easy to make mistakes on serving sizes when eating out and nutrition facts are not easy to get a hold of at most places. A couple decades ago there was no such thing as Venti, super size, or Big Gulp. Coffee came in a standard 8 oz cup, popcorn was served in a standard size bag, and bottle beverages we served in 12 oz cans. These sizes have been majorly distorted today. Restaurants offer increased sizes on everything, but most entrées have large enough portions for two people. I mean, who truly needs a whole pound of hamburger?
Not only is there portion distortion outside of the home, but inside as well. Food products are being cleverly advertised/marketed today and it is easy to have to wool pulled over your eyes. The majority of snacks and easy to make meals appear to be a certain amount of servings and calories per serving, but nothing should be assumed. One granola bar company for has healthy snack granola bars for on the go and only 100 calories per serving, but they were packaged with 2 servings (2 bars). This is deceiving and often we don’t look because it appears they are one serving and just eat them both. Things that we think are one serving and eat in one setting are often not. How often do you buy a Gatorade or other bottled beverage and not drink the whole thing in one setting? Those bottles, you would assume, are one serving, but actually contain 2.5 or even more. Snacks say low fat based on the serving, but one serving is a very small amount and be honest we all munch a little too much.
Over eating is a habit that is so easy to fall into these days. I see this being a major sink whole deterring many of us from achieving our goals and I just want to warn you to be diligent, figure our your portion sizes and use them. Stick to your game plan if you have one and lets not get caught in the trap.
Looking for more help or accountability? Our nutrition programs may be just what you need. Click here to learn more about these programs or contact email@example.com.
Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Even after getting a good night’s sleep? You are not alone. I went through this cycle for the last six months. Each day I would eat pretty decent meals, workout and do all the things I tell my clients to do. But I felt like I was always dragging with my energy and could not accomplish the things I wanted to get done. Even worse, I started to rely heavily on coffee in the mornings and sugar at night, when in reality, my body was completely exhausted.
Many experts agree that our current fatigue epidemic may have a surprising cause….toxins.
They are all around us. In the air we breath. Absorbed into the foods we eat. Our bodies are working hard to eliminate them, but it’s an uphill battle. And the more we struggle, the more tired we become.
So, I started to look at some options to cleanse my body form all these harmful toxins. And I did not come up empty handed. There are hundreds of different cleanses and detox programs on the market. The traditional ones are little or no food. Just enough calories to keep your body functioning. Topped off with a foul-tasting brew designed to purge your system and send you sprinting to the toilet! But the problem with all these liquid diets or no-food detox programs is that it can purge away the very nutrients your body needs to lose weight safely- and keep it off!
Last year, Beachbody came out with the new 21-Day Reset Challenge. Every single program they unveil delivers tried and true results and I knew this was something to look into. In just three weeks, the program gets rid of toxins you’ve been taking in for years as you replace processed food…with healthy food. There are 3 sensible meals a day that are wholesome and pretty easy to cook. Pair that with (6) supplements to help aid with the digestion and absorption of the food and that’s it. Reset. Renewed. Restored.
So, here I am on Day 13. Never would I have thought that I could kick caffeine to the curb or be full after a big meal of vegetables. Here I am waking up naturally when my body is ready and having energy that stays constant throughout the day. And I’ve lost 4.5 lbs already so I’ll take that too!
Whether you want a jump start to lose weight this summer or sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, a detox is a good thing to consider. Just like you get by with light housework during the year at home, we still need a deep spring cleaning each year to really get things back on track and at optimal health! For more information on the 21-Day Reset Challenge and to hear my final results, email Kendra@allegrocoaching.com.
By Coach Kendra
I’ve always had a hearty appetite, being the youngest of 3 and always active growing up. When I sit down to eat, I want a big plate of food that takes some time to get through, not a tiny portion that’s gulped down in a bite or two. Unfortunately, big appetites can lead to big thighs. Rather than restrict myself to a life of deprivation, I learned how to eat a lot and still lose weight.
Here are a few simple recipes that I make often to indulge my inner glutton without adding heft to my hips. They’re tasty, filling, and very versatile.
Build a better salad
Sure, salads are the best way to fill up on fewer calories. The key is to make them hearty, and not so low in calories that you’re starving an hour later.
- Fill a large bowl with the greens of your choice. I prefer a combination, like romaine, spinach, and finely chopped kale. The romaine gives a satisfying crunch, while the spinach and kale are excellent sources of nutrition.
- Look in your refrigerator and grab all the vegetables you can reach. If you think you don’t like raw vegetables, chop them very finely or even grate them on a cheese grater (this works well for things like broccoli, zucchini, and cauliflower). Once the veggies are small enough, you won’t taste them. Throw them into your bowl.
- Add protein, such as 5 ounces of grilled chicken or 1 cup of canned beans that you’ve rinsed and drained. My favorite beans are red kidney, black beans, and garbanzo (chickpeas).
- Toss in a handful (or about 1/4 cup) of nuts or seeds. I like to roast shelled, raw pumpkin seeds in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they’re browned but not burned. Nuts and seeds are good sources of fat and protein, and a little goes a long way.
- Make a quick dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or red-wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour half over your salad, toss, and see if that’s enough dressing. If not, add the rest.
Chomp on a yummy quinoa salad
Never tried quinoa? It’s a rich source of protein that’s delicious in salads like this.
- Prepare 1/4 cup of quinoa according to package directions. (This is about 1 cup of cooked quinoa).
- Roast whatever vegetables you have on hand. Typical choices are broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, onions, carrots, and asparagus. Just chop into similar-size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Chop a handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/4 cup).
- Make a dressing. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Mix all ingredients together, and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend. Add more lemon juice if desired for a brighter flavor.
Warm up with “everything but the kitchen sink” soup
Brothy soups take a long time to eat, are perfect when you’re craving something warm, and are low in calories when you make them yourself. On weekends, I take whatever vegetables are left in my fridge from the previous week and turn them into a soup that feeds me for days. There’s no real recipe here, but this is how it usually goes:
- Chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic, and dice a couple of carrots and celery stalks. (It’s ok if you don’t have all these things, it just helps to make a nice soup base.)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables soften and the onions become translucent.
- Pour in 4 cups of broth (any kind) and any dried herbs or seasonings you have in your pantry. I like Italian seasoning, or a combination of chile powder, cayenne, and cumin for a Latin-inspired flavor, enough to equal about a tablespoon total. If you’re feeling fancy, toss in a bay leaf (optional). Bring to a simmer.
- While the broth is simmering, chop any vegetables you have left in your refrigerator and add them to the pot. Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are a texture you like. I like mine to have a little crunch.
- For protein, add some cooked chicken or a can of beans to the pot.
- Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning by adding more herbs or some salt. A squirt of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can brighten and intensify the flavor of your soup, too.
Want a thicker soup? Puree it in batches in a blender until it’s smooth. Then add your protein or beans. You can divide this into individual servings (my batches usually yield 4–5 portions) and refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to eat.