September is Better Breakfast Month which I think is great! This is a month of transition for lots of us (end of summer, back to school, all that jazz) and is a perfect time to be more mindful and purposeful with what we are eating.
Every morning is a clean slate for a new day and since breakfast is Meal #1 of the day for most of us, this subject speaks to me!
What Do I Mean When I Call Breakfast "Meal #1"?
Whether you have time to sit down to breakfast in the morning, you grab-and-go or wait until lunch time to have Meal #1, here are some nutrient-dense ideas for all seasons and reasons. Some of these recipes require a little bit of time to prep up front and some don’t. Just FYI :)
Let's get going!
Fiber Bowl: Seasonal Roasted Veggies With Your Choice of Eggs
Greek Yogurt With Fruit
My Take-Everywhere Breakfast: Kashi Go Lean With a Banana
NOTE: I am typically vehemently against cereal but have introduced it into my life this year for time-restraint reasons. Traveling for conferences and meetings over the years has taught me that I prefer eating breakfast in my room while I get ready AND it saves me a bunch of money!
These breakfast options are obviously the tippy tip of the iceberg but they're my go-to favorites. I hope you enjoy them!
Do you have a favorite healthy recipe for Meal #1? Share in the comments below!
I love cooking but, like most of you, I also feel crunched for time. I joined the Instant Pot bandwagon at the end of last year and let me tell you: It's the best appliance I've bought and the one I use the most thanks to it's magical time-saving abilities.
Since I've played around with it for a while, I thought I'd share one of my favorite lunches to pack for the week: Salsa Chicken (which I got from NomNom Paleo) with Sweet Potatoes and Cabbage Slaw! Keep in mind that you can absolutely still make this if you don't have an Instant Pot :)
Ready? Let's make it!
INGREDIENTS (makes lunch for 1 for 5 days):
5 small sweet potatoes (I LOVE the bagged sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's because they're so tiny)
1 cup water
1-2 lbs chicken breast, depending on how many oz you want (aim for 3-5oz)
Salt and any other seasoning you'd like to use, to taste
1 jar of your favorite salsa
1 bag already-made chopped cabbage slaw to save time
Avocado if desired
For the Sweet Potatoes:
- Pour 1 cup of water into your Instant Pot
- Place a steamer into the Pot
- Place your small sweet potatoes in the steamer
- Close the lid and make sure the vent is closed
- Press the Pressure Cook button and set the time to 4 minutes (or up to 10 if you like your sweet potatoes really soft)
- When the 4 minutes are up, let the Instant Pot release the pressure naturally (this can take 10 minutes or so)
- Open the lid and carefully place the cooked sweet potatoes into a bowl and let cool; once cool, you can take the skin off (it should easily slide off the potatoes)
- IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INSTANT POT, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place sweet potatoes on the sheet (you can poke the potatoes with a fork to make a few holes, too). Cover the sweet potatoes with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes.
For the Salsa Chicken:
- Season both sides of your chicken breasts with salt and whatever seasoning if you'd like (I love the Spice House's Chipotle Chili Powder)
- Place the chicken in the Instant Pot
- Pour your jar of salsa on top of the chicken
- Close the lid, making sure the vent is closed, press the Pressure Cook button, setting the timer for 7 minutes
- As soon as the timer goes off, open up the vent for a quick release
- Open the lid and place the chicken in a separate bowl so it can cool and not dry out
- Once cool, shred the chicken (either with two forks or with clean hands)
- IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INSTANT POT: You can still make this in a slow cooker by following all of the same steps and then either cooking on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours
TO PUT IT TOGETHER:
- Line up all of your Salsa Chicken fixings in a line along with your lunch containers (I love these)
- I started by putting in the sweet potatoes, and then the cabbage slaw...
- I then topped the slaw with the Salsa Chicken
- Chopped some cilantro on top
- I'll dice 1/4 of an avocado into my container daily so it doesn't get all brown and icky during the week...
And voilà! A yummy, well-balanced meal that should carry you through your day without a mid-afternoon slump that didn't take all day to make!
I think tacos are awesome. Nutrition coaching rockstar Josh Hillis even let me write all about my love of tacos for meal planning here. And while Winnie the Pooh may be eating all sorts of the wrong tacos, I personally think they can be a brilliant way to set yourself up for a tasty and healthy weight loss/weight management plan.
The Taco Breakdown: What gives tacos the healthy meal potential
1. Pick a lean protein (shrimp, tilapia, ground turkey, even tofu!)
2. Pick your protein seasoning (like spice blends you can find at Penzey's, sauces you fan find at the grocery store by the one and only Rick Bayless, or make your own! Regardless of what you choose, it's the seasoning that turns the boring into the exciting).
3. Pick the veggies that will compliment your taco (pico de gallo/salsa, diced avocado, jicama or cabbage slaw, sliced or diced peppers... there are lots of options!)
4. Choose a small amount of a complex carb (like beans)
5. Choose your taco's container: Typically a corn or flour tortilla but you can also do a lettuce cup (which I'm seeing more and more out in restaurants!). OR you can get even more veggies into your meal and make your taco a SALAD! Which is what I'm showing off today.
(The cool thing about the Taco Breakdown is that, even if you don't like Mexican food, you can use these exact same steps to create a great plate of any cuisine you like!)
I've been playing around with different taco bowls that don't need to be reheated that I can take to TruFit with me for lunch. I finally found one that fits a few criteria that I need if I'm going to eat in a public place (like my Evanston gym!):
1. Easy to eat/isnt' messy
2. Isn't stinky
3. Is really easy to make ahead
4. Is really easy to put together
HERE IS THE MEGA YUMMY OUTCOME!:
And here's how to make this specific taco salad for the week!
1 tsp coconut oil or light tasting olive oil
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1.5 lbs ground turkey (figure about 3-5oz protein per meal, depending on how active you are; can be a mix of dark and light meat, your choice. I'm eating this fabulous taco salad M-F this week to make life easier)
1 packet of Frontera Chicken Taco Seasoning Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 heads of Romain lettuce, washed and chopped
1/4 cup pinto or black beans (or, if you were like me this week, refried beans)
A few Tbsp of salsa
1-2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1/8-1/4 of an avocado
= Heat your oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
= Once hot, add your chopped onions. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
= Turn heat up to high and add the turkey and brown, breaking the ground turkey into small pieces.
= Add in the seasoning sauce and cook on medium heat until the turkey is cooked through.
= Let it cool.
= Place a good 1-2 handfuls of Romain in a large Tupperware container.
= Top it with your portion of protein.
= Garnish with your beans, salsa, Greek yogurt and avocado.
= Keep the salad fresh by either placing it in the fridge or in a handy-dandy lunch bag cooler.
Now, if you're going to do this every day and want the salad to stay fresh, here's what I would do:
= Separate the protein into individual containers like these. Then, when you place the lettuce into your salad container you can just plop the protein on top.
= Place the washed and chopped lettuce in a Ziplock bag with 1-2 paper towels to absorb the moisture (keep some air in the bag when you close it)
= Keep the condiments separate in the fridge and scoop in whenever you assemble.
= You can either put your lunch together the night before or morning of.
And then all you have to do is thoroughly enjoy this salad, like I have every day this week! BON APPETIT! (Have a question/comment/idea? Leave it in the comments section!)
Last week I posted recipes for Chilled Carrot Soup Shooters and Roasted Cauliflower Hummus (yum!). This week, I'm bringing you another kind of hummus AND something to satisfy your party guests' sweet teeth without slapping them in the face with a sugar bomb.
Now, I personally never read the whole story behind other bloggers' recipes. I just scroll straight down to the recipes SO: I'm just going to get down to business !!
Let's make some food!
Makes about 4 cups
4 medium beets (the reason I'm not telling you how many pounds here is because sometimes when you buy beets, the greens are heavier than the beets themselves)
3 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 roasted garlic cloves (since I'd already roasted one head of garlic for the cauliflower hummus, I used cloves from that head instead of raw; read about how to roast garlic here)
1 tbsp cumin
Zest from 2 lemons
Good pinch of kosher salt
NOTE: This recipe is adapted from one I found at SimplyRecipes.com; I thought the original was a little too runny so I added tahini. I also found that it tasted better 24 hours after making it so don't be afraid to make ahead!
Green Smoothie Dessert Shooter
Makes about 6 cups (so, about 16 3-oz shot pours)
3 big handfuls of baby spinach
4 sprigs of cilantro
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 of an avocado
2 cups of whatever kind of milk you want (I prefer cashew or flax seed milk)
Some kind of berry for garnish
My good friend and health industry colleague Dr. Meggie Smith of Chiropractic First in Evanston invited me to join her during the Downtown Evanston Wine Walk last week to do "something fun" in her office since she was one of the wine walk stops. I racked my brain, trying to figure out what to do and then I figured, Hey! Why don't I provide the food?
I assumed other stops might serve cheese, charcuterie or chocolate to go with their wine so I thought, "Why not serve some more non-traditional, veggie-centric appetizers?" It's so easy to fill a table of apps with the things I listed above (I do when I have people over, cheese is awesome!) but sometimes veggies get left out or treated like second-rate citizens of Appetizerlandia.
Thanks to everyone who asked for the recipes, I am posting two here! (Two more will come next week!) Enjoy!
CHILLED CARROT SOUP SHOOTER
Serves: Many, many, people if you serve this in small cups as a 3oz "shot" of soup (perfect if you're not doing a sit-down app course). You can freeze this soup if you have too much (or cut the quantities in half). NOTE: I got this recipe from Gourmande in the Kitchen. I've made it many times with slightly different variations but the below is the best combo in my humble opinion.
2 tbsp unfiltered coconut oil
4 spring onions, white and light green parts, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger (more if you LOVE ginger)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 lbs carrots, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh grated turmeric root
Enough water to just cover the ingredients in the pot (about 6-8 cups)
Cilantro to garnish
The most awesome thing about this soup is that it's amazing as a warm soup in the fall/winter and as a chilled soup in the summer! Don't be afraid to make "too much". It will be eaten :)
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER HUMMUS
Makes: About 4 cups
1 head cauliflower
1 head of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil to coat cauliflower for roasting, 2 tbsp for hummus-making
1/2 tsp coconut oil to roast garlic
1/3 cup tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
(So moist I had to use that word!)
My love for slow-roasting salmon runs deep. But sometimes I don't have 30-60 minutes to let it baste in its own juices. I'm guessing you don't always either! So here's a way I learned to make it that takes literally 10 minutes max.
Makes 2 servings:
Obviously the more you cook the fish the more well-done it will be. The times I mentioned are for a medium cook temp which is how I prefer it. The white albumin that seeps out of salmon shouldn't form this way.
Feel free to chop up some herbs to top the fish, give it a splash of lemon, serve it with capers on the side. Add some veggies to your plate and you're good to go!
I love bok choy. LOVE IT. And lucky for me I've been finding the most beautiful bok choy at Whole Foods recently. Since it's so easy to make, I've been loading up. So if you find yourself starting at these beautiful supergreens on your next trip to the store, grab them! Because now you have a recipe:
Prep Time: 5-10 min
Cook Time: 10 min
6 baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise and cleaned thoroughly
1/2 Tbsp cooking oil (I prefer coconut oil for this)
1 clove or garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 cup organic chicken or veggie broth (if you don't want to open a box of broth, you can use one of those individual packets of concentrated broth like this and add some water; it's a little processed but it can work)
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut aminos and sriracha (optional)
I promise I am not vilifying carbs or gluten or pasta. But lately I've been watching how many starchy carbs I eat because of my current fitness goals and I'm deciding to eat foods like pasta and breads sparingly. So while I'm craving a comforting pasta dish for dinner tonight since it's cold outside, I decided it would be wiser for me to make the alternative: Zucchini noodles!
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've been witness to my love affair with zucchini noodles (and if you're an Evanston personal training client, you even got your own spiralizer for the holidays!).
Why do I love them so much? Let me count the ways:
So how do you make these noodles? you ask. This way:
AND THAT IS IT! Just add whatever you'd like on the side (or on top!). And you've got your serving of veggies for your meal!
So, go ahead and make some noodles and let me know what you paired them with in the comments (and share your pics on Facebook)!
Let's face it: We live in a culture of "I'm too busy". Too busy to cook, to clean, to exercise, to have fun. I'm just going to tackle the "too busy to cook" part today by sharing a CrockPot recipe that I have fallen in love with. It tastes amazing and only took me 10 MINUTES TO PREPARE!!! This is altered from Good Housekeeping. Here's what you need:
1 onion, sliced.
3 peppers (the choice of color is yours), sliced
1/2 cup picked jalapeños (or more or less depending on your taste)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 lbs flank steak (grass fed if you can find it; otherwise make sure it's as lean as possible)
1 14-oz can whole tomatoes, roughly cut up
Load up and mix the onion, peppers, jalapeños, jalapeño, bay leaf, spices and salt. Then, add the beef. Finally, add the tomatoes on top. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours. When it's done, take the beef out to shred with forks. Get rid of the bay leaf. Skim off any excess fat from the pepper mix. And then... EAT! Serves 4-6. Serve with sautéed spinach and a black beans (if they're your thing).
I found myself with 4 small zucchini in the fridge and zero idea what to do with them. Though I normally meal plan BEFORE going to the store, I must have gotten these because they looked good. I do that sometimes: Get pretty produce with grandiose ideas of producing a Top Chef-worthy dish for dinner and then realizing that the hour and a half break to get stuff done won't be enough time. (Who's with me?)
So I decide do stop thinking so hard about it and VOILA! I made this really yummy, fresh and quick side dish in 30 minutes TOTAL.
Check it out:
4 small zucchini
1/8-1/4 cup grated Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil optional (though I'd suggest finishing off the dish with it rather than heating up the oil)
Turn the oven to 350. Using a mandolin or knife (carefully...), thinly slice the zucchini. Grease a baking dish and layer the thin slices on top of each other. Salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle on the cheese and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. That's it!
Enjoy! And if you make this, post in on my Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter or wherever you'd like and use the hashtag #IzzyFitFood!
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