Thursday, March 29, 2018

Healthy No Waste Meals Days 5 and 6

Healthy No Waste Meal Plans
Day 5 and Day 6

BLUF:  Buy 7 ingredients plus a few kitchen staples and get 3 healthy meals.

Lessons Learned:  Choose to buy pre-made pasta sauce and tomato soup or make your own.  The choice is yours!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Eat All of Your Broccoli

Eat All of Your Broccoli
BLUF:  You can consume every part of broccoli so no wasting allowed!

I am not a huge broccoli fan but I get it often in my Bountiful Basket.  There is no way I am going to waste this healthy stuff so I have found ways to incorporate it into my cooking and I don't even have to taste it very often.  Win/win for me! 



It is a great source of so many nutrients including massive amounts of vitamin K and C and is easy to "hide" in dishes.  Who doesn't want that?!?

Lessons Learned:  This is generally an easy vegetable to prepare.  It doesn't take much work to harvest the florets and stems for your meals but the stalk takes a little more work if you want to do more than just boil it down for broth.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Using All of Your Pineapple


Using All of Your Pineapple

BLUF:  There are many ways you can use your pineapple.  Don't let it intimidate you!

Fresh whole pineapples can be scary, but the benefits are worth learning how to use all of this amazing fruit.


Selecting and cutting up this large fruit is an easily learned skill.  Do a quick YouTube search and you will find a vast amount of videos on various ways to get to the yummy goodness inside.  Or just cut off the outer skin until you get past all of the "eyes" and then slice out the core.  Yeah, it is that easy!
  
Lessons Learned:  A whole pineapple has 721% of your daily dose of Vitamin C, but don't eat the whole thing at once as it is highly acidic and will burn your mouth!

How do you use your pineapple???

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Making the Change to Healthier Eating

Making the Change to Healthier Eating
Choosing to Change Your Diet

BLUF:  You are ultimately in control of what you put into your body.  It is your decision on what you want that to be.

When we think about changing our eating habits it can be overwhelming.  A recent trip to the grocery store sent me into a panic attack while looking at the labels.  Preservatives are everywhere and in almost every product you buy at the store.  Read more about preservatives here.



How are you ever supposed to change your diet when there are hidden ingredients everywhere?

The answer…one step at a time.

Change…people have a natural fear of this process.  SocialWorkTech.com created a fantastic diagram of how the Cycle of Change works and I use this to teach classes on addiction.  Yes, the way we eat is a form of addiction. 

Most people go through life in the PRE-CONTEMPLATION phase.  They don’t think there is anything wrong with their diet and are perfectly happy.

  
If you are reading this post, then luckily you are in the CONTEMPLATION phase.  Ask yourself these key questions before committing to making a change to healthier eating.

Why do you want to change your eating habits?  Maybe you want to live longer with fewer disease risks or just want to know what you are putting into your body.

How is this new way going to benefit you?  Maybe you want to lose weight or control a chronic illness. 

What will it take to go from your current diet to something new?  Get everyone on board and give yourself time to adjust to this idea. 

If you can answer these questions and still want to move towards eliminating those unhealthy foods, then you must move into PREPARATION.  You need to plan, in advance, so that the change is smoother for your lifestyle.

How die hard do you want to be?  Are you okay with a few unknowns about your food or will you only eat food that you have prepared?

How will you handle roadblocks?  Not everyone will understand your change and may give you grief over it or even try to trick you into eating something you don’t really want.

How much time do you have to meal prep?  Not being prepared during those busy work weeks is the leading cause of slipping back into old habits because grabbing a fast food meal is easier than cooking at home.  Read moreabout meal prepping here.


Now you must take ACTION. 

Take your plan and run with it.  Do your research on your ingredients, find recipes that you will enjoy and match your culinary abilities.  Keep your meals simple until you get the hang of this new way of eating. 

Give yourself time to adjust and keep reminding yourself why you are making this change. 



Once you have reached MAINTENANCE then pat yourself on the back!  

This is when you have changed your way of thinking about your food and meal planning has become a way of life for you. 

The thought of eating Chinese takeout turns your stomach and that deep-dish pizza from down the street is no longer appealing because you know you can make your own much healthier.

But hey…life happens and sometimes you might RELAPSE.  Your boss orders in lunch for everyone or your parents insist you go to dinner for their anniversary…these things can be derailers. 

You don’t want to be rude and miss out on the social stuff but are torn because you don’t exactly know what is in that food.

It is going to be okay!  I promise.  Just remember that you still have control over your food and you can easily hop back on your healthier meal wagon even after a small relapse. 

Lessons Learned:  You are ultimately in control of what you put into your body.  It is your decision on what you want that to be.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Healthy No Waste Meal Plans Days 3 and 4

Healthy No Waste Meal Plans
Day 3 and Day 4

BLUF:  Buy 7 ingredients plus a few kitchen staples and get 3 healthy meals.


Lessons Learned:  Many of your ingredients can be used across several days.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Healthy No Waste Meal Plan Sample Day 1 and 2

Healthy No Waste Meal Plans
Day 1 and Day 2

BLUF:  Buy 7 ingredients plus a few kitchen staples and get 3 healthy meals.

Lessons Learned:  You will need to buy enough of each ingredient to feed everyone at your table.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Easy Meal Planning


Meal Planning Made Easy

Save time and money while reducing calories



BLUF:  Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated and will save you money, calories, and time.

As I have mentioned in my blog, PLAN to Not Waste Food, the most important way to help eliminate food waste is to create a weekly meal plan.  This can sound overwhelming to many people but let me show you an easy approach to this by breaking it down by meals.

First…breakfast! 

This is usually an easy meal to plan since most of us are eating on the run or at our desks. 

How much morning prep time do you want?  If the answer is zero, then you need to prep your daily breakfasts on Sunday. 

We are usually okay with eating the same thing every day for our morning meal.  This could be oatmeal, yogurt, an apple, or a McMuffin.  Please don’t eat the McMuffin.  Instead make your own breakfast sandwiches that you can heat up each morning. 

Know your food people!

Second…dinner aka supper! 

This is where the fun is! 

Select the recipes you want to make for the week.  The key is that you want to use the same ingredients for multiple meals.  

For instance, let’s say you want to make burritos on Monday.  Then on Thursday, you can plan to make quesadillas using all the same ingredients. 

Or maybe you are going to make a pot roast on Sunday with veggies.  Well on Wednesday you can have roast beef sandwiches with a salad. 

You are limiting the number of ingredients purchased with this technique…saving you money and decision making time on what to cook.

I recommend focusing on a combination of meat or legumes, fruit, veggies and grains.  Leave the extra calories of breads and pastas out if possible.  

You will need to buy enough to feed you and your company for all of the meals plus enough to have lunch the next day.  This may sound like a lot but it really isn’t. 

This is a good time to evaluate how much you are actually eating! 

You will need to find recipes that you would like to make and oh yeah…don’t forget to check what you have on hand before hitting the store.  You may need other ingredients to cook up the recipes of your choice.

Third…lunch! 

When I talk about meal planning for your daily lunch, I am not talking about going to lunch with your coworkers every day.  Nope…that is not good for your budget nor your waistline. 


Lunch is often easier to plan because leftovers from the night before are a great choice.  You simply box up a portion as you clean up after dinner.  Just don’t forget to grab it in the morning. 

Make a wrap out of that roast beef and have a side of fresh fruit or make a taco bowl that layers all those Mexican ingredients into one giant dish.  Do you see what I am doing here??? 

Lunch can be as easy as you want to make it.

Fourth…snacks! 

Yes, I do include snacks in my meal planning.  I am a snacker by nature and if I don’t have something healthy laying around then I am going to eat junk. 

Of course, fruit and veggies are always the best choices but that is just not for everyone.  Keep it simple like…
  • 5 Minute Popcorn
  • Scoop of peanut butter
  • Kombucha drink
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bar

Decide what you want as your daily snacks and add that to your meal plan.

Finally…dessert! 

Okay so I love my evening sweets. I try to keep it at baked apples, a banana, or something else healthy but every once in awhile I want chocolate! 

You need to plan for your cravings in advance.  Figure out what you want when that sweet tooth starts screaming at you and have it on hand.


Just remember that this is a starting point.  You cannot get into a good meal planning routine if you don’t at least start!

That’s it!  This is really all there is to meal planning.  I create my list on Saturday mornings, hit the grocery store, and then meal prep on Sundays. 

Do I always stick to my meal plan?  Um no!  But I do try. 

Life happens and some days just don’t go as planned.  That is okay though.  Push that meal out a day and next time you only need to plan for six days instead of seven.

Lessons Learned:  Adjust your meal plan to your dietary restrictions, financial budget and health goals just by tweaking the ingredients you choose to use.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Can't Pronounce It?

Can't Pronounce It?  Then Look It Up!

Know Your Food Preservatives
BLUF:  If you cannot pronounce an ingredient on a label, then look it up to determine if you want to put it in your body.

I really like to know what I am putting into my body if at all possible especially those weird sounding preservatives you find in your canned beans, jars of peanut butter, and your carton of orange juice.  RT.com published an article claiming that “80 percent of US packaged foods may contain dangerous chemicals”.  After just a little bit of research, I believe this to be true. 


Think about it…when you are following a recipe to cook your dinner, how often do you see maltodextrin or yellow no. 5 as an ingredient?  Um you don’t!  Then why would you want to eat foods that have this added?  Um you don’t!


Preservatives are in just about everything you buy at the store, but why?  First of all, I am an advocate of eating whole foods.  Why not just eat an apple instead of store-bought apple sauce?  We are a society of convenience and often that little tub of applesauce is a person’s only source of fruit for the day, but at least know what is in it! 

According to FoodAdditives.com, there are three different types of food additives: natural, chemical, and artificial and they are added to most foods to not only make the food last longer on the shelf but to make it look better and even enhance the flavor.  These added preservatives eliminate the growth of bacteria and mold along with trying to ensure the food doesn’t lose all of its nutritional value. 

Natural Preservatives

So let’s start with natural preservatives.  There are times when you might see an ingredient that you cannot pronounce but it is perfectly natural.  Keep in mind that natural food preserving has been around since almost the beginning of time (or something close to that). 

Salt was the most common back in the day along with sugar, vinegar, alcohol, and lemon or lime juice.  How many times have you squeezed a lime onto an avocado to keep it from turning brown?  That is a form of natural preservation.  It doesn’t make the avocado less healthy, but instead it preserves the color and also adds a little vitamin C while you are at it.  Whether you are pickling, smoking, canning or salting to preserve a food, you don’t have to worry as much since these are natural and you are in control of the process.

Chemical/Artificial Preservatives

Now on to chemical and artificial preservatives.  This is where it gets tricky.  They are not all bad for you, but you do need to know which ones are.  For instance, wine has sulfur dioxide (sulfites) added to protect against spoilage.  According to OrganicWine.com, sulfur dioxide is naturally occurring in the fermentation process, but distillers often add in additional sulfur dioxide to ensure a reliable final product.  This is a good example of chemical preservative use for some people, but not everyone.  People often get headaches or stomach aches after drinking wine.  This is usually due to the added sulfites. 

I group artificial preservatives in the chemical category.  Both can be extremely unhealthy for our bodies.  There are too many to start naming so I highly encourage you to do a search on anything you are unsure of on that ingredient list. 

Lessons Learned 

There is nothing wrong with standing in the grocery store with a box of noodle mix in your hand while looking up the ingredients on your phone!  Search it before you purchase!

Once again, I highly recommend eating whole foods and steering clear of those foods that processed as they will have some nasty preservatives added.  The health risks vary from person to person and ingredient to ingredient.  FoodMatters.com provides a primer on some of the biggies to avoid. And remember to always read your labels, do your research and come to your own conclusions as to what you are willing to accept into your body. 



References:

There are many, many, many sites out there to educate you on preservatives.  Please read them with caution.  If you come across something that doesn’t feel right then verify it on another site.  I actually came across a site that claims preservatives are good for you!  Yeah, I didn’t include them here.






Saturday, March 10, 2018

Plan to Not Waste Food

PLAN to Not Waste Food

BLUF:  It takes time to plan, prep, and take action on a good meal plan but eliminating waste in your life will bring more value to your budget, your health, and your time.

I hate to waste food.  Seriously, I feel like it actually hurts when I have to toss something that I paid money for but never got around to using.  It can happen even when a good plan is in place, but we have to at least try.  Here are some tips on how to start to rethink how you grocery shop and meal plan.

PLAN!!!!  This is the most important step.  You must plan before you go to the store.  And by plan, I mean decide what you want to eat each day in advance, preferably create a plan for the entire week.  Yes, you will be kinda sorta committing to cooking and eating all seven days, but it won’t hurt, I promise.  Be sure to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course snacks and desserts.  Planning will do several things for you including minimize your food waste.

Plan to Not Waste Your FoodIt will help you create a great shopping list.  
You will be able to see everything you need and can then determine if maybe you need to revise your meal plan to use some ingredients in more than one dish.  You can have a great variety in your meals while using the same ingredients each day.


It will help you to maintain your diet.  
If you are trying to lose weight then there is no bigger derailer than when you get hungry and there is nothing handy to eat.  You know that you will end up at some fast food joint eating questionable hamburgers and fries.

It will also help ensure you stick to your budget.  
This can be a tricky one especially once you get to the store and see all of those enticing cookies and cakes.  Having a good plan and shopping list when you attack the grocery store will help ensure you only buy what you need.

Your plan should include meals that will use up some of the ingredients you already have on hand.  Cook recipes that use the spices in your spice rack, create marinades with your existing condiments, bake breads that require the flour you have on hand, and so on.

You should also learn how to use every part of the foods you buy.  Let’s say you buy a large bag of apples. 
  • Peel and core them to make apple cider vinegar.
  • Take the apple flesh and cook it down to make apple juice. 
  • Strain out the juice and mash the remaining pulp for apple sauce. 

Look at all you can get out of one ingredient and look how little you wasted!

It takes time to plan, prep, and take action on a good meal plan but eliminating waste in your life will bring more value to your budget, your health, and your time.  You have to start somewhere so why not start with the food you eat?

Lesson Learned:  Creating the plan is easy but sticking to it can prove difficult.  Try writing your daily menu and tape it to the refrigerator or cabinet.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Why is that in your fridge?

Why Is That In Your Fridge?

BLUF:  The USDA estimates that between 30-40% of our food in the US is wasted.  Don’t be in this statistic!

A little over a year ago I was introduced to Minimalism.  This crazy awesome concept defined me perfectly.  After moving around my entire life, I never kept much "stuff" around and thought it was weird how people had so much crap buried deep in basements, packed full on bookshelves, and crammed into closets.  I went on a mission to clean out everything…including all those keepsake momentos from my kids that have been stored in the basement for 20 years!

Well, almost everything!  My kitchen is my sanctuary.  It is, by far, my favorite
space anywhere and I couldn't imagine getting rid of any of my gadgets.  This is what I love about Minimalism.  You get to choose what to keep and what to purge.  It is all about what brings value to your life.

During my journey through Minimalism, I noticed my fridge was packed full of condiments, sauces, plastic containers of who-knows-what, beverages, those little sauce packets, and so much more.  When looking inside I had a sense of happiness for having a full refrigerator.  It was like everything would be okay as long as I had food in there.  Weird…I know.

Then one day my refrigerator crapped out on me and I was forced to remove everything so it could be repaired.  Staring at that empty fridge brought a different kind of happiness for me.  It was more of a calming.  I felt there was nothing that could go to waste and that thought took a lot of stress off of me.  That was the day I realized that I needed to be more intentional about what I kept on hand.

Since making this change I no longer throw away a trashcan full each week and I don’t spend way too much at the grocery store.  I do love to cook but usually I am cooking for one or two which can lead to a lot of food waste if I’m not careful.  Future posts will help guide you through the journey of being more intentional with your food.  Let the fun begin!


Lesson Learned:  Food doesn’t provide your happiness, the situations and people do.


Read more about Minimalism at https://www.theminimalists.com/

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sample Meal Plan

Sample Meal Plan

BLUF:  Another week and another great basket from Bountiful Baskets.  






Here is my meal plan for this week.  Since I am gluten free I will be sure to avoid all those breads.  I am also on a weight loss mission this week since I seemed to have stalled last week.  These recipes are lower in calories than usual for me.

My picture is missing the bananas and brussel sprouts but that's okay.  Here is what I got in this week's basket:

Veggies
Fruit
1 head cabbage
1 pound of strawberries
3 onions
4 oranges
1 bag of brussel sprouts
4 apples
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 container of blackberries
1 spaghetti squash
4 bananas
2 bags of carrots
1 pineapple



My plan this week uses almost everything that I received in my basket plus a couple of things I had leftover from previous weeks.  These were either frozen or just kept longer in the fridge (potatoes).  There is quite a bit of food prep for this week and I highly recommend picking a day to do it all.  This will keep you from having waste at the end of the week.

Remember that there are only 2 of us eating all these meals so you will need to adjust for larger families.  Also, remember that I am not a food blogger!  I will not be writing about each recipe but have provided links in the table below.


Meals
No Waste Notes
Saturday


Brunch
Breakfast scramble
Kombucha
Add in whatever veggies like broccoli, celery, onion that you have leftover from last week or in the freezer.
Dinner
Salad with steak
Use the romaine, carrots, and onion along with the leftover steak.
Snack

Sunday


Brunch
Eggs, sausage and fruit
Kombucha
Add some diced veggies (fresh or frozen) into your scrambled eggs.

Serve with fruit of choice.
Dinner
Roast with potatoes and carrots
Use one bag of carrots, 5 potatoes, onion, and celery for cooking.
Snack

Monday


Breakfast
Fruit smoothie
Boiled egg
Throw whatever you are in the mood for into your blender/Ninja such as strawberries, blackberries, leftover broccoli, celery, and pineapple but make sure to add a banana for the sweetness and creaminess.
Lunch
Leftover roast with potatoes and carrots
Apple
Place the meat and veggies into a bowl the night before for a quick grab the next morning.
Dinner
Spaghetti squash with meat sauce
Salad
Heat the pre-cooked squash and top with meat and sauce for a quick meal.
Snack

Tuesday


Breakfast
Fruit smoothie
Boiled egg
Blend in whatever you are in the mood for such as strawberries, blackberries, leftover broccoli, celery, and pineapple but make sure to add a banana for the sweet and creaminess.
Lunch
Leftover spaghetti squash with meat sauce
Salad
Orange

Dinner
Beef tacos with Easy Sweet and Spicy Mexican Cole Slaw and caramelized onions
Instead of using preparing cole slaw mix, use your shredded cabbage, carrots and onion. 

Top tortillas with leftover roast, slaw mix and caramelized onions. 
Snack
Baked Apple Wedges

Wednesday


Breakfast
Fruit smoothie
Boiled egg
Blend in whatever you are in the mood for such as strawberries, blackberries, leftover broccoli, celery, and pineapple but make sure to add a banana for the sweet and creaminess.
Lunch
Taco salad
Layer lettuce, slaw, meat, onions, cheese, and salsa
Dinner
Salad
Apple
Feel free to throw in anything you have leftover that you want to use.  These are very versatile!
Snack
Caramelized Brown Sugar Cinnamon Grilled Pineapple

Thursday


Breakfast
Fruit smoothie
Boiled egg
Blend in whatever you are in the mood for such as strawberries, blackberries, leftover broccoli, celery, and pineapple but make sure to add a banana for the sweet and creaminess.
Lunch
Leftover Day
Orange
Time to clean out the fridge.  Take whatever meal you have leftover and are in the mood for.
Dinner
Quesadilla
Great for using up anything you have left.  Top a tortilla with cheese, veggies, and meat and heat it in a skillet.  Easy stuff!  Make two so you can have one for lunch tomorrow.
Snack
Pan Fried Cinnamon Bananas

Friday


Breakfast
Fruit smoothie
Boiled egg
Blend in whatever you are in the mood for such as strawberries, blackberries, leftover broccoli, celery, and pineapple but make sure to add a banana for the sweet and creaminess.
Lunch
Quesadilla
Orange

Dinner
Grilled chicken
Use up the rest of those brussel sprouts.
Snack
Dessert of choice
What fruit do you have left?  Pick that one and use one of the previous recipes.


Meal Prep Day

Cut up carrots and potatoes into chunks.
Used for Sunday dinner.
Slice raw sausage into slices and cook.
Used for Sunday brunch and Monday dinner.
Seal blackberries in a baggie and freeze.
Used in daily smoothies.
Cut up pineapple into wedges.
Used for snacks.
Top all strawberries and freeze.
Used in daily smoothies.
Cut up romaine and any remaining lettuce.  Seal in a baggie and be sure to remove air. 
This is your salad base.
Slice one onion into rings.
Used for caramelized onions.
Dice one onion and seal in a jar.
Used to throw into several meals.
Seal brussel sprouts in a baggie and remove air as much air as possible.

Cook spaghetti squash and then scrape out the strands.
Here is a good tutorial on how to do this. 
Shred cabbage and carrots to make the slaw mix.
Used for Tuesday dinner.
Shred remaining cabbage and seal in a bag.
Used for Wednesday dinner.
Shred remaining bag of carrots.
Used for Wednesday dinner.
Boil eggs.
Enough for one each day.
Add all veggie scraps to your freezer bag for future veggie broth.


End of the Week Leftover Day
At the end of the week you may find that you didn't use everything.  Be sure to freeze any leftover fruits and veggies in separate baggies.  Don't forget your compost pile.  You can throw any fruit or veggie that you just don't want to eat onto that glorious heap.

Lessons Learned:  I sometimes change my mind throughout the week and end up making something not on my meal plan.  That is perfectly okay as long as you take care of the leftover stuff at the end of the week as mentioned previously.