In this weekly series, “Meal Prep Friday,” I want to show you how do-able it is to eat healthfully throughout the week with wholesome meals if you put a little effort into planning and prepping in advance. I will share with you my weekly “game plan,” my purchases at the store, and any helpful tricks and tips I’ve learned along the way. Let’s get cookin’!
March is National Nutrition Month (although every month should celebrate nutrition, in my opinion) and the theme for this year, as developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle." It was developed to encourage everyone to discover and STICK to an eating and physical activity plan that promotes overall health, healthy weight maintenance, and reduction of risk of chronic diseases.
As a fervent believer in taking baby steps towards health, I'm especially enamored with the word "bite." Adopting a healthy lifestyle is NOT a cookie cutter process. Rather, it's a journey, in which one must discover for himself/herself, the road to optimal well-being that is not only sustainable but also enjoyable! How could you not be happy when you are taking the time to cherish you!
Perhaps you can spend some time today thinking about what baby steps you can take towards health. It can be as small as walking your dog in the mornings, drinking more water, eating a hearty breakfast, decluttering, or whatever YOU think you can do. Think bites (tiny steps)!
It shouldn't have to be a lonely journey, however. Grab your friend, a family member, co-worker, neighbor, and be supporters and cheerleaders for one another. Perhaps you may decide you need a more professional help, in which case you may consider seeking the help of Registered Dietitians (click here to read about what we, the RDs can do for you), certified fitness trainers, etc.
For me, I took that "bite into a healthy lifestyle" when I started meal planning/prepping almost 2 years ago. It totally changed the way I eat and nourish my body throughout the week, and that's why I decided to start this series, "Meal Prep Friday." I hope it will inspire you as well.
My fuel for the week from Trader Joe's: Total cost - $47.86
Here's the rundown of what I do every week:
I like to wash and chop all of my veggies all at the same time. What you see above is my typical setup. I chop the veggies I'm going to roast first and, while they are baking in the oven, I prepare the rest - some go into the mason jar, some into the individual containers, some into my mouth...
For this week, I decided to make a crunchy slaw using the Cruciferous Crunch salad mix from Trader Joe's (I highly recommend!). I threw in some shredded carrots and zucchini into the mix, as well as some almonds for staying power, and tossed it with a light Asian sesame dressing. Seriously you guys, this recipe is going to be treasured for life! I finally found a way to get the Hungryman to eat his cruciferous vegetables (LOVE saying that word..Kkkru-ci-fe-rouss..I say it just like that). It's a miracle, I tell ya! Wheee so excited ;).
Cruciferous Salad with Asian Sesame Dressing
Makes 4 mason jar salads
1 Bag of Cruciferous Crunch mix (from Trader Joe's) or approximately 4 cups of crunchy vegetable mix of choice
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup sliced zucchini
¼ cup almonds
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
Place the salad mix in a large bowl and add the olive oil and salt. Massage the mixture with your hands to tenderize, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, zucchini, and almonds. Add the prepared dressing to the salad and toss so the dressing gets evenly coated.
Add to the mason jar. Add whole grains of choice - I used barley.
The morning of: add protein of choice - tofu, chicken, steak, etc.
Carrots: I roasted half and the rest I shredded (using my favorite mandolin) to add to my various no-recipe "nourish bowl" concoctions. All these years, I've been throwing in various prepped ingredients to make a satisfying bowl of goodness (not much thought involved, really. Dump and mix). And it turns out there's actually a name for them. Nourish Bowls..I like the sound of that, and so that's what I'm going to call them from now on. Join the movement! 😉
Sweet potatoes: I tossed them with coconut oil and cinnamon and roasted (with the skin on) at 400F for about 25-30 minutes.
Red bell peppers, Persian cucumbers, zucchini: I simply sliced them to enjoy as a snack with hummus or to be added to various nourish bowls.
Chickpeas: This was my last container of frozen chickpeas. Note to self: time to make another batch this weekend. They are perfect for snacking and, once again, makes a great addition to Mason jar salads, nourish bowls, etc.
Barley: My grain of choice for the week. I try to switch it up every week. If you find yourself eating quinoa or oats all the time, check out my fellow dietitian, Brittany's rundown of 10 ancient grains you should be eating.
Turkey Meatloaf: I threw in some red bell peppers, red onion, and zucchini to make it a bit more moist since I used 99% fat-free ground turkey. We enjoyed it with some vegetables, made it into sandwiches, and added them to the mason jar salads or nourish bowls.
My weekly meals:
Mason jar salad at work - added canned salmon the morning of
Turkey meatloaf with sliced cucumbers, roasted carrots, and a slice of toast
I don't even know what to call this...my no-recipe nourish bowl - with all the prepped ingredients, this bowl came together in under 5 minutes. I added hummus and avocado for some healthy fat and creaminess.
Vegan Korean Nourish Bowl with Barley - this is a twist on the traditional Korean dish - bibimbap. With the prepped vegetables, this dish came together in Yup, you guessed it! Under 5 minutes! On another day, I enjoyed this with a fried egg. (Click here for the recipe)
Whew. And that's a wrap! Hope you have a blessed weekend, and whatever you do, I highly encourage you to take a "bite into a healthy lifestyle!" It's never too late and the time is now ;). Perhaps you can start by prepping some of your produce like I did here? wink wink.
What bite to a healthier you have you taken or want to take this year?