So…Dave went to the doctor and was told he needed to lose a little bit of weight:) He was sent home with some healthy menu plan tips and advice and will go back for a follow up visit in a few months. To show my support, it’s time to shake things up a bit. All of us, it seems, want to be a little bit healthier in some form or another. I know for me, I want to improve my health and stamina and would also like to shed some excess pounds.
On one of my morning runs, I told my running partner that if I could have a nutritionist/chef who planned everything and prepared it for me, I would have no problem eating it (within reason). Then I realized that I can at least be that for Dave. Lucky guy! The trouble with most meal planning is coming up with the healthy menu plan and then preparing it. Typically, a lot of chopping of fresh fruits and vegetables is involved. That said, making a meal plan doesn’t have to be difficult. I am hoping that I can do a lot of the prep work ahead of time. I may even try salad in a jar for some quick pre-made salads. Here is my healthy menu plan and the why behind it. I did my best to find a balance so that it was a plan we would enjoy as well as actually eat (kids included!!!). Cooking two separate meals is the pits, so this is a family-friendly menu plan.
To begin with, this is my journey (and Dave’s) to health, so it is a work in progress and I’m sure will be tweaked as I move forward. I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist. That said, I have learned a lot and am continuing to learn. Some of my healthy menu recipes come from two cookbooks that I own: Cooking With Trader Joe’s Vegetarian and The Pampered Chef: It’s good for you Cookbooks. The page numbers are listed in the healthy menu plan (with The Pampered Chef one being labeled as PC). The other meals are recipes that I have made up or are simple to follow. The chicken salad wraps are simply canned chicken (or pre-cooked chicken, diced) with a Greek Yogurt dip stirred in (instead of mayonnaise), a little celery salt, and lettuce/tomato on a whole wheat tortilla. I didn’t take a photograph of the Cilantro Cornbread Bean Bake, but it was made with pinto beans, plain Greek yogurt, salsa, and sauteed bell peppers and onions. I then whipped up a batch of whole wheat Cornbread and scooped it on top. I baked it for about 25 minutes at 350F.
A few clarifications on the menu plan: Whenever you see toast, pancakes, waffles, pasta, or bread, it is 100% whole wheat. The English Muffins are also whole wheat English Muffins or the wheat light ones. I am also trying the Double Protein Oat ones. The Greek Yogurt is Vanilla Greek Yogurt (I prefer the triple zero Oikos brand, but have tried others as well.) For the salads, I make my own vinaigrette or am using a Greek Yogurt-based Ranch or Cilantro Avocado dressing. The other recipes are my own and I will post them on Home Baked Joy as soon as I can. This healthy menu plan is aiming for a 1400-1600 calorie menu, though that entirely depends upon you and what brands you buy and what portions you eat.
Healthy Menu Plan advice from a nutritionist:
While I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, my sister paid hundreds of dollars to see a nutritionist, so much of this plan follows the advice she got there. Here are some of the gems that I learned from her.
- For 1400 calories a day, you should aim to eat 400 calories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have a 200 calorie snack. If you need 1600 calories, add an additional 200 calorie snack.
- To lose 1 lb. a week, you need to reduce your total caloric intake by 3,500 calories per week.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables are KEY to eating healthy. Try to include them at every meal. When you look at your plate, try to have 1/4 of it a healthy carb, 1/4 protein, and 1/2 vegetables, when possible. If you MUST have seconds, have seconds ONLY on vegetables (this will be the hardest one for me – I can have a roll, but only ONE.) If you tend to graze throughout the day, graze on vegetables.
- Make sure to have enough protein. Greek yogurt, string cheese, beans, eggs, and lean meats (especially chicken and fish) are all good sources of protein.
- You can have dessert if it is PLANNED – two per week. Only ONE serving each time. One cookie, one brownie, etc. No more. (That will be hard too.)
- To limit caloric intake, buy single serving packets of peanut butter, guacamole, and hummus if you need the extra help.
- Have Greek Yogurt (vanilla) on your cereal in place of milk (this will also be hard for me, but right now it’s like a yogurt parfait so it’s okay).
- Limit your carbs to 1/4 of your plate. So, 1/2 a sweet potato, 1 small red potato, or a fist full of starch (1 roll, 1 c pasta or brown rice, etc.) are ideas for what that would look like.
- Gluten is OKAY. At least, from what the nutritionist said, as long as you are not allergic, it’s okay to have gluten and whole grains as long as it is in moderation. She was a triathlon participant and super healthy, so it was nice seeing what she preached not only practiced, but successful.
- Yes, exercise IS important, but more on that later! (My personal goal for this year is to increase my running up to 20 miles/week. I’m currently at around 12-15 miles per week. I also want to include strength training and build up to being able to do one pull up. Eek!)
- Egg muffin pan crust-less quiche – bake 2 eggs in a greased muffin pan. Add veggies, ham, and/or onion and bake at 350 F until set.
- Egg, whole grain English Muffin (or 1 slice of wheat toast), Fruit (up to 400 calories)
- 1/2 c raw oats (cooked – 1 c cooked), 1/2 c Greek Yogurt, 1/4 c nuts, 1 c blueberries or fresh fruit topped with cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Wheat English Muffin OR Flat bread spread with peanut butter and apple and/or banana slices.
- 1/2 c Vanilla Greek Yogurt, healthy cold cereal (Special K, Wheaties, Cheerios, etc.), fresh fruit
For this breakfast, I cooked up 1 c of oatmeal, poured it on top 1 c of frozen blueberries (the hot oatmeal thaws them pretty quickly), and topped it with 1/2 c of Vanilla Greek Yogurt and 1/4 c of walnuts. I also threw in a tsp. of Chia Seeds for good measure:) I stirred it all together and it was super yummy!
- Flat bread or regular wheat bread (up to 150 calories) with real meat slices (cooked ahead of time – NOT cold cuts). Use hummus, cucumber yogurt dill dip, or guacamole to spread on the bread. Top with lettuce and tomato and have lots of fresh veggies on the side.
- Black bean burrito with salad or vegetable soup.
- Salad with beans, corn, tomatoes with Fruit and Greek Yogurt on the side. Greek Yogurt-based dressings are really good to use!
This is the Spinach Cherry Feta salad found in the Trader Joes Vegetarian Cookbook. It uses baby spinach, dried cherries (I used Bing instead of the tart ones), roasted pine nuts (I turned my oven to broil and roasted them for 1-2 minutes), Feta cheese, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I love the Kirkland balsamic vinegar! We had a slice of whole wheat toast with it. Dave LOVED it!
- Green spinach smoothie with Greek Yogurt and frozen fresh fruit.
- Light canned vegetable soup.
- Turkey sandwich on sandwich thins with veggies on the side.
- Individually prepackaged cheese with apple slices.
- Apple slices and peanut butter.
- 1/4 c hummus with wheat pita bread, veggies and hummus.
- Veggie straws with dip or real veggies.
This is a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup I made with Honey Wheat Rolls. We had it for dinner with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, however, you could also have a bowl of soup for a snack if you were hungry during the day. I also had canned vegetable soup one day for my snack. It was great!
Veggies and a healthy dip also make a great snack! (This was a creamy radish dip I made, but you could buy Greek Yogurt Dip, Guacamole, or Hummus to dip your veggies in as well.)
Greek Yogurt Spinach smoothies are also a great way to get your protein and vegetables in at snack time. The most recent one I made had a little water (maybe 3/4 c or so), two scoops of Greek Vanilla yogurt, two handfuls of spinach, an orange, a banana, a handful of frozen grapes, and some frozen Pomegranate seeds (YUM!). It was SO good!!! Yes, I shared it:) One slice of lime also adds a surprisingly refreshing flavor to your smoothies and pineapple adds a wonderful sweetness to them. Be creative!!!
The key to healthy dinners is PROPORTIONS!!! 1/4 of your plate can be grains or starchy veggies (like corn, peas, potatoes), about the size of a computer mouse. The next 1/4 of your plate should be protein, about the size of your palm. 1/2 of your plate should be non-starchy veggies (broccoli, salad greens, zucchini, squash, Brussels Sprouts, etc.). It’s okay to occasionally go out for a burger. Just get a Jr. Burger (ONE) and have a salad on the side.
This dinner was the Parmesan Crusted Chicken Tenders (my kids went CRAZY over this recipe – So tender!!! I’ll share it soon.) with roasted asparagus and sweet potato. You can see the proportions pretty good in this photo of what a normal dinner could look like. Want seconds? Have more veggies!!!
The roasted asparagus recipe also came from the Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook (though, as always, I take my own photos – want to use them? I sell many of them on Shutterstock!!!). This recipes uses asparagus, Olive oil, Campari tomatoes, a little salt, and Feta cheese. Just throw them in the oven and roast until tender. Super YUM!!!!
Well, that’s it! Those are the gems I gleaned from my sister’s visit with her nutritionist. Hope it helps and that you can enjoy this journey with me. Click here to download and print your own copy of the Healthy Menu Plan January 2017 Week 3!
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