My Favorite Breakfast: Egg Muffins

For those mornings I don’t have a lot of time (which is most lately), I premake these egg muffins. They are super easy to make and you can add whatever ingredients you prefer.

For these, I beat two eggs and pour them individually into a muffin tin that I prepared with some cooking spray. I do this for portion control but if it’s easier, you can just beat 12 eggs in a large bowl and pour into a six-muffin tin. I also added chopped tomatoes, chopped veggie sausage, chopped spinach and a pinch of shredded cheese into each.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees F. I test mine with a toothpick to make sure they are cooked firmly. Let them cool and then refrigerate. While I reheat mine in the microwave before eating, my husband often grabs them right out of the fridge.

I promise one of these days I will do another non-breakfast recipe!

My Favorite: Breakfast

Here’s another routine breakfast for me…

My omelet is two pasture raised eggs, one vegetarian sausage and a pinch of cheddar cheese. I bought this egg cooker from Amazon, which is amazing. While my omelet is cooking, I steam my zucchini and season with salt and pepper. For my carb, today I ate half of a Killer Davie’s Bloomin’ Berry bagel but I also add sprouted wheat bread or a veggie muffin. Depending on how hungry I am, I may add some grapes or berries as well. I often eat those right after my workout so they are sort of a pre-breakfast and then eat this breakfast 30 minutes after that.

I’m actually surprised at how much I am enjoying zucchini for breakfast. I used to add steamed spinach but never loved that as part of my breakfast. If I am ever not very hungry, I may add spinach or broccoli to the omelet to get those macros in!

Meal Delivery Companies and Meal Kits

I recently started a new job and am remembering how to juggle everything again. One thing that has helped me through is meal kits. There are so many now days to choose from, how do you decide?

There are a bunch of meal services out there. We previously used Hello Fresh, which definitely made life easier, but eventually stopped after we started gaining weight because of the high caloric and carb content of the meals. This was several years ago and I know that Hello Fresh has added lower calorie meals to their menu since then. Another downside is many of the recipes took multiple pots and pans to complete so the cleanup took as long as the cooking! A good thing is that you could choose which meals you wanted each week and pause the service if you were traveling or didn’t need it. There are many services like this, many which offer vegetarian and other specialized types of meals.

There are also meal kits where the food is completely cooked. We used FitLife foods until my Husband grew tired of microwaving dinner every night. They had a wide variety of foods (and three different sizes) but it was still something you had to heat up. FitLife also offers free diet and health coaching, which was a nice added plus. One I have wanted to try is Trifecta, which makes meal plans with carefully balanced macronutrients and is used by many athletes. These precooked meals are still much better than something from the frozen foods section.

Even the grocery stores have gotten into the game during the pandemic. This week we purchased three meals kits from Fresh Market: Chicken Marsala, Szechuan Shrimp and Thai Coconut Chicken. All three were very flavorful, took 15-20 minutes to prepare, only needed one pan and had a good balance of protein, veggies and carbs although I did add more broccoli to the mix each night. The X factor with these recipes are the sauces, which don’t have a measurable macronutrient, carb or calorie count to them. I didn’t worry about it too much since it’s a small amount.

Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies

Many of these plans offer free delivery as well as discounts for your first order. There are so many others out there that I didn’t mention, so let me know if there’s a meal delivery company or meal kit that you loved (or hated!) Hopefully, you can save some time in your meal prep without blowing your nutrition plan!

Why Do Carbs Get Such A Bad Rap?

Carbs are almost a dirty word in todays society. There are just about as many no or low carb diets as there are carbs themselves! Whether you did Atkins or South Beach decades ago or you are keto now, some people swear by the no-carb life.

I was watching the Netflix show Down to Earth with Zac Efron. While they were eating pasta in Italy, Zac mentioned that when he was filing the movie Baywatch, he didn’t eat any carbs. The carb-filled diet of the centenarians in the town they were visiting was the opposite of what any trainer had told him. His diet made a lot of news at the time but he also said it made him crazy and even depressed. I know competitors in fitness competitions carb cycle in the weeks before to enhance their physique. I have never thought of a no or low carb diet to be sustainable long-term.

Zac during Baywatch (L) and Zac during Down to Earth (R)

The problem with cutting out all carbs is that some carbs are good for you. Following a balanced macronutrient diet, like I do, carbs can account for 50% of your diet! (I am usually between 40-50% each day). Carbs provide you with glucose for fuel and fiber for digestion. They also help to keep you full and satisfied so you aren’t tempted to over-eat on unhealthy foods.

We also try and watch carbs in our house because we have two people with Type 1 Diabetes, which is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is needed to break down glucose into fuel. Type 1 Diabetes has no known cause or cure. Although people with Type 1 Diabetes can eat whatever they want, they must inject insulin to “cover” the amount of carbs they eat or drink.

How do you choose which carbs to eat? In our house, we know that most cereals or refined/processed carbs are going to spike blood sugar levels. Same with fruit juices or sugary sodas. I look at these types of carbs as empty calories. I prefer whole grain bread to white bread. There are low-carb or vegetable pastas, even cauliflower rice (although we eat plenty of brown rice).

Some people avoid fruits because they contained carbs. I avoid fruit juice because it only has the carbs but the fiber has been stripped away. We eat a lot of berries, apples and pineapple. Also good are melons and oranges.

In reality, there are many ways to reduce bad carbs still eating the foods you love. Using some of the carb substitutes mentioned above is one way. If you season your cauliflower rice correctly, you can make it tasty, I promise! I have a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta, although there are plenty of options at the grocery store. Even a burger or sandwich can be lower carb by removing the top bun or piece of bread or putting it over a salad. I promise you, as I write earlier, a taco over a salad is still delicious!

For those of you using the Ultimate Portion Fix container list, I usually have whole grain toast as one of my containers. Other popular carbs are sweet potato, black or kidney beans, lentils, brown or wild rice and quinoa. Of course, when you have a glass of wine or beer, that counts as a yellow container, so plan accordingly!

Also, check out this article from the My Fitness Pal blog about the top myths about carbs.

Don’t forget to check out some of my recipes that are filled with good carbs, including cheesecake! Keep checking back for more delicious recipes and let me know if there’s a particular food you would like to see a healthy carb version of!

Recipe: Pineapple Chicken Skewers

A great summer grilling recipe that comes in just over 200 calories per serving and has tons of flavor!

Cut 1lb of raw chicken breast into 1 inch pieces. Put it in a reusable bag or container with 1/4 reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 2 tsp. of grated fresh ginger and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I don’t always have ginger on hand so it’s not essential to the recipe. I also usually end up making more than 1 pound of chicken, which is completely fine. Just adjust the amount of sauces (i.e.) 2 pounds of chicken should have 1/2 cup soy sauce and 4 tsp. of sesame oil. Don’t forget to cut a few more vegetables as well.

Cut up 1-2 bell peppers and 1/2 a red onion into kabob size pieces. Take those pieces, your chicken and a can of pineapple chunks and alternate them on to a bamboo skewer until there are two of each of the ingredients on each skewer. (I actually fit three of each ingredient but when you are factoring portion size, calculate 2 skewers with 2 ingredients each for the portion size.) Throw those on the grill and you are good to go.

Each serving is 214 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 carbs and 26 grams of protein. For Ultimate Portion Fix, the container counts are 1/2 green, 1/2 purple, 1 red and 1/2 spoon. You can add some brown rice for 1 yellow if desired.

Happy Grilling!

My Favorite: Breakfast

One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast is also one of the easiest! If you want to be fancy, you can call it a yogurt parfait but basically it’s yogurt, granola and fruit.

Loved the mixed berries this week

I usually use Siggi’s Mixed Berry Yogurt, Kind granola and whatever berries I buy. The only thing missing is some veggies but I usually make it up by adding spinach to my smoothie later.

What is your favorite breakfast?

Recipe – Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

This was a fun and easy recipe that really hit it out of the park! The whole family loved them.

SERVES: 24 (1 ball each) Prep Time: 20 min.

1 cup all-natural smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3⁄4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
Hot water
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, 62% cocoa or higher, chopped
2 tsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil, unrefined

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine peanut butter, cornstarch, coconut flour, and maple syrup in a medium bowl; blend well with a spatula until mixture forms a uniform dough.
  3. Using clean hands, shape dough into twenty-four 1-inch balls; place a toothpick in the center of each ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. Fill small saucepan with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Place a heat-proof mixing bowl over saucepan. Add chocolate and oil. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just melted. Make sure water does not splash into the bowl.
  6. Remove balls from refrigerator. Hold a ball by the toothpick and dip into chocolate, swirling to completely coat. Return to baking sheet. Repeat with each ball. (For any uncoated areas, coat carefully with a spoon dipped into chocolate.)
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until chocolate has hardened.

Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

TIPS:
• You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Place morsels and oil in microwave-safe container. Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds or until just melted. Do not overcook.
• To prevent the balls from sticking to your hands when you roll them, lightly coat your hands with nonstick cooking spray.

NUTRITIONALINFORMATION(perserving):Calories:134 TotalFat:9g SaturatedFat:4g Cholesterol:0mg Sodium:57mg Carbohydrates:12g Fiber:2g Sugars:8g Protein:4g

Containers: 1 yellow and 1 spoon per serving

I did not chop the chocolate chips, just melted them by stirring frequently over heat. I also recommend a little more than 20 minutes to harden the peanut butter as the toothpicks weren’t in there solid enough to swirl in the chocolate without the help of a spatula. I would also recommend taking the toothpicks out after the chocolate is on and before you put them back in the fridge.

Happy snacking!

Meal Planning – Vacation Style

On Sundays (and sometimes Mondays), I meal plan for the week. This week, my husband and I are on vacation so I will be planning on lunches for him as well but I plan on incorporating leftovers and treats. Stay tuned for some new recipes I’m trying out, including peanut butter cups!

I know a lot of people are intimidated by meal planning but I promise, you don’t need to be. You already do a little bit of meal planning when you buy your groceries, whether or not you mapped it out in advance. It only takes a few minutes to plan out the week. You can get started by planning out the first few days and then expanding to the week from there. You don’t have to cook it all at once and I often switch things around during the week if we have a lot of leftovers or feel like getting takeout one night.

I start my meal plan by writing down different ideas I have for things I want to cook that week. Then, I fit them into a day that makes sense at the time. I also know which meals will give us a lot of leftovers and will skip a night of cooking. I also cook things that work for everyone’s tastes at that time. So where I may eat something over a salad, my Husband may eat that same thing with a wrap or bun.

Since this is a vacation week, I want to make sure we’ve got plenty of food for lunches and snack as well. Since I have extra time because of vacation, I’m going to be cooking every night and saving the leftovers for lunches. It’s also my Husband’s birthday on Friday so we are planning a fantastic night of takeout along with cake and celebration!

Of course, this vacation week is different than years past since we will be at home all week. Normally this week of the summer is spent at the beach but I still meal plan when we are away. We know when we are going to splurge at the breakfast buffet, when we are going to eat away from the hotel (and where) and when we are going to grab a quick something from the beach cafe. Traveling to somewhere you haven’t been before can be a little trickier but you can always have a flexible plan and check out the menu before you dine.

Happy meal planning and have an awesome week!

Eating Out and Not Going All Out!

Eating out (or in the pandemic, ordering in) is always a treat. You don’t have to cook and you can pick something you can’t cook! How can you accomplish this while still eating healthy? If you’ve ever been to some place like the Cheesecake Factory with it’s over-sized portions, you know sometimes it’s hard not to over-eat. Plus, you’ve got sides and bread and sauces and desserts, oh my!

Now overindulging everyone once and a while never killed anyone’s overall nutrition, even if it might have given you a stomach ache. A lot of people probably eat out most weekdays for lunch and you don’t see people measuring out portions at a restaurant. I know I used to take clients out for lunch or drinks multiple times a week. So how do I choose what to eat?

First, if I know where I am going to eat, I always check out the menu in advance. Most restaurants will also have their nutritional information online as well. You would be surprised how many times you will look and the salad is NOT the best option. If you look at the menu beforehand, you can meal plan while eating out! I also ask for dressing and sauces to be on the side and I usually ask for them to go easy on the cheese!

Another trick is to order a side salad, with dressing on the side, to eat prior to your entree coming out. I love Seasons 52 because you can get a delicious salad with a smaller flatbread as a “pick-two” type of meal, you are eating veggies along with the indulgent pick. I also skip soda or tea and just stick with water, normally with a lime.

Many restaurants also have lighter menu options, even the Cheesecake Factory! You can also substitute out some items that are processed or high in calories for other, healthier options. Our favorite burger place has turkey or vegetarian option that you can put over a salad. You can substitute a lettuce wrap for a bun or if you can’t live without a bun, take off the top and eat the bottom only.

I’ve even been known to order from the kids menu, which isn’t always easy to do when you eat in but getting takeout (or ordering room service) makes it easy. The portions are much smaller and manageable and most times mirror something on the main menu. They are also much less expensive, especially from room service!

A great example is our Friday night taco order. While my husband ordered 3 tacos just as the described, I ordered mine on a salad. The shells alone are over 300 calories and almost 60 carbs! Did I miss the shells? Absolutely not. I did take off a little of the cheese because there was A LOT of cheese but it was amazingly delicious and I was nicely full, not overstuffed.

What are some of your tricks when you eat out?