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Breakfast on the Go, (Almost) the Same as at Home

10 Mar

By now I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to cook and breakfast is no exception. I eat breakfast every single day. I don’t change it up all that much. I find something I like and stick to it for several months. Kind of like when I was eating breakfast burritos all the time. Lately the standard has been oatmeal and eggs.

Even when in a hurry I don’t skip breakfast nor do I grab anything processed. I am excited to share with you a way to have the same kind of breakfast you would have at home on the go: overnight oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. (I didn’t say it was going to be glamorous.)

It’s simple you prepare the whole thing the night before in less than 15 minutes and as long as you don’t forget your spoon you can eat it anywhere. I think I’m the last person on the planet to discover this breakfast delicacy. I first read about it on Carrots and Cake or Kath Eats,  I don’t remember which one. After a year of reading about these women preparing this culinary treasure, I decided to give it whirl. All you have to do is soak your oatmeal overnight in a liquid of preference. I’ve been using unsweetened almond milk topped with a sliced banana and walnuts. The oats soak up the liquid and are just as soft as when cooked. Now there are no excuses for not eating breakfast.

Anyone have a another tip for taking a home cooked breakfast on the go?

Random Report: Balls, Hancock and Lunch

3 Mar

Remember that bowling party I went to a couple of weeks ago? Remember how ballsy I was and asked to order off the menu? Well my request was granted and I ordered a grilled steak salad with extra arugula. They prepared it just how I like it, medium-rare and dressing on the side.

Steak Salad

Steak Salad

It’s a good thing I made the request because it was an after work party and I was very hungry by the time I arrived. The buffet food included pizzas and fried mac and cheese balls, which I would have resorted to eating. This way I got to stay on track with eating clean.

This past Sunday was my second Hustle Up the Hancock race. I participated last year and ran up 94 flights of stairs in 20:30. I had a goal of 18 minutes and I DID IT! My final time was 18:05.

Hustle with my trainer

Hustle with my trainer

This is all thanks to my trainer. He had me on a weight-lifting, stair-climbing regimen specific to meet my goal. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a fitness goal after training hard!

It’s been a busy week this week and I haven’t had much time to prepare meals and shop for groceries, luckily where I work (in the heart of Chicago) I have an abundance of  lunch spots to choose from. Yesterday I chose Freshii and ordered off their Freshii 15 menu. The Freshii 15 is a menu of low-cal, portion appropriate options created by Ashley Koff, RD. I like that they have this option, I think it helps if you aren’t confident with choosing healthy off a menu on your own. It does the work for you.

Freshii 15 menu

Freshii 15 menu

The thing that I really like about Freshii is that everything is customizable and they have almost endless combinations for creating soups, salads and wraps.

Freshii Boostii-q salad

Freshii Boostii-q salad

For lunch I chose the Boostii-q salad because it has all the ingredients I would use at home: greens, bbq chicken (skip the cheese), avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and a splash of Sriracha (which I have never put into a salad before but now is going to become a staple salad ingredient).

I can’t wait to recharge this weekend. I’ll be registering for races, planning meals, hitting the gym and creating some running plans for the spring and summer.

What have you been up to this week? How do you manage eating healthy during a busy week?

Working out and Feasting with Friends

23 Dec

I am a social being, I love being around people. This is a fairly new realization for me because most of my life I’ve spent thinking I was a loner. I have shy-ish tendencies. I wouldn’t consider myself shy by any means but I do get self-conscious at times. To understand why, we have to take a short trip to my past.

Our first stop is Kindergarten. When I was a little girl first starting school I didn’t speak English; Polish was my first language. I couldn’t actually talk to the kids so naturally I was a quiet kid. Although I’ve grown into a loud out-spoken adult, sometimes that child-like self-consciousness takes over.

Our next stop is my office, two years ago. After a series of reorganizations, moves and people leaving I was stuck in an office by myself. At first I thought it was the best thing that could possibly happen to me. After a few months, I couldn’t stand it when all I had to interact with was the computer screen. It became very clear to me that I thrive and am happiest when I am around people.

Let’s move along to the present, bringing our little trip to brief halt. This past weekend, I spent both Saturday and Sunday working out with people. On Saturday I went to the gym with my brother and his girlfriend and then they came over for dinner. I made this delicious meal.

Maple-glazed chicken, sauted kale & swiss chard with raisons and rosemary maple covered acorn squash

Maple-glazed chicken, sautéed kale & swiss chard with raisins and rosemary maple covered acorn squash

On Sunday I went to the gym with one of my best friends. Then after a stop at Whole Foods we made this delicious meal.

Clean montechristo sandwich and coconut carrot soup

Clean Montecristo sandwich and coconut carrot soup

When Monday rolled around I felt like I had been on vacation for a week.

As I drive along in life, I increasingly realize the importance for me to be around friends and family. Alone time is cool if I have to clean or read or study, but working out with a buddy is so much more fun and fulfilling.

What’s your workout style? Do you prefer to go alone or go with a workout buddy?

Eating Away from Home, Part 2

25 Nov Ceviche

This past weekend I went to San Francisco again. If you’re wondering what I’m doing there, I’m taking a course over five weekends. The class is about exploring what I want my contribution to be in the world. Every since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be known for changing the world somehow and that is what I’m up to when I travel to California. I’ll be going again three more times, so I will have a chance to perfect this system.

The majority of the time while in San Francisco I am going between the hotel room, the lobby and the conference room. It’s very similar to a work conference. I made some changes to what I did last time and overall we had a better experience, but the process could still use some improvements.

Prior to leaving on the trip my roommates and I took the following steps:
• Made sure that there would be a fridge in the hotel room before arrival
• Made a grocery store list
• Made a list of raw recipes that can easily be prepared in a hotel room
• Found a place to get raw milk
• Brought a cutting board from home

We ate breakfast at the hotel on Friday:

Oatmeal with bananas, raisons and peanut butter

Oatmeal with bananas, raisins and peanut butter

For lunch I returned to the bagel shop up the road for that same half bagel. You may be experiencing deja vu if you’ve read the other post, but I promise things will change as you read along.

Turkey, veggies and hummus on a bagel

Turkey, veggies and hummus on a bagel

Later in the evening on Friday we went to Whole Foods to pick up our food for the weekend. Some of the items we picked up:
• Fish (for ceviche)
• Kale
• Spinach
• Celery
• Tomatoes
• Avocados
• Snap peas
• Mushrooms
• Ginger
• Bananas
• Apples
• Dried cherries
• Bread
• Hummus
• Strawberries
• Blueberries
• Peanut Butter
• Jam

Here are some of the highlights of what we ate. One of us brought a hand-held blender and we were able to make smoothies in a pitcher.

Raw honey, raspberries and raw milk smoothie

Raw honey, raspberries and raw milk smoothie

We put so many vegetables and fruits in this ceviche I don’t think I could ever make it the same again. Some of what we put in here are red peppers, celery, raw dried cherries, mango, avocado, macadamia nuts and fish soaked in lemon juice over night.  It was delicious.

Ceviche

Ceviche

I also ate this roast beef sandwich.

Roast beef sandwich

Roast beef sandwich

I almost forgot about this kale salad with snap peas, tomatoes, avocado, lemon juice and Bariani olive oil (which is so amazing that I could dedicate a whole post to this olive oil).

Kale salad

Kale salad

On the last day as a treat I picked up this exquisite almond croissant, you can’t see it but there was almond paste practically oozing from the center.

Almond croissant

Almond croissant

I was able to eat as well as I do at home. It did require some extra effort and I’ll be honest sometimes I wanted to go downstairs to the hotel restaurant and order whatever, but sticking to the original plan had many rewards. I made excellent food choices every day while away from home, it was fun to prepare food in a small hotel room with friends (especially stuff that tastes good) and I had more energy than I’ve ever had while traveling.

There are a few things I could improve upon for next time:
• A more detailed grocery store list (we had too many left overs)
When at home I don’t usually write how much I need of something because I cook for two people and have recipes planned, here I need to be more specific or get a meal plan together.
• Getting in half a day early
• Asking a friend from San Fran to bring us a knife
• Having recipes ready to prepare on site
• Bring Tupperware

Overall this was a great adventure and I can’t wait until January to do it again. Hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving! I’ll be running a 10k Turkey Trot and then I have two Thanksgivings to attend in the afternoon.

Eating Away from Home

26 Oct

Do you remember when I took that trip to San Francisco last month? For that trip I had done some meal planning to make sure that I could eat well, on a budget and not get enticed by hotel junk food. If you recall, I did some research and found that there was a Whole Foods close to our hotel. I decided to buy groceries and store them in the hotel fridge for the weekend. All went well.

Friday Morning

Oats with fresh fruit and peanut butter

Oats with fresh fruit and peanut butter

We had not yet gone to Whole Foods, but oatmeal is a hotel breakfast I can always count on. I like to eat my oats with fruit and peanut butter. This hotel also had fresh squeezed OJ, it was perfect way to start the day.

Friday Afternoon

Turkey and veggies bagel

Bagel with turkey and veggies

The afternoon rolled around and we opted to wait until later to hit up WF, instead we ate lunch at a cute bagel shop. I ordered a sesame wheat bagel (hollowed out, I don’t like to get full on the bread I prefer to fill my sandwich with veggies) with turkey, cheese,  hummus, sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado. The sandwich was so filling that I ate half and saved the other half for later.

Finally that evening we made it to Whole Foods. I didn’t have a concrete list. I’ve done enough meal planning and grocery shopping that I was able to get just enough for the weekend. The only detail left to handle was that there was no fridge in our hotel room. If you’re ever in a situation where you want to have a fridge in your hotel room and don’t here’s what you do… call the front desk and ask for one. 🙂 It works.

The rest of the weekend we ate food from our stash and the only time I bought anything at the hotel was the occasional tea and this amazing fruit tart.

Fruit Tart

Fruit Tart

It was delicious.

Overall this system worked out very well. The thing I will do differently next time is have a grocery list prepared ahead of time so that we can get to the store and get our food quickly. There was a bit of unnecessary running around.

I’ll be flying back to San Fran at the end of next month and will be in the same type of situation, staying at the same hotel, taking the same weekend class, with the same friends so I’ll get to test out this system again. For those of you who are committed to eating well and can’t make it to the grocery store, Whole Foods has a shopping and delivery service.

For Those of you who Just Don’t Have the Time

24 Sep

My awesome best friend Katya, posed a question yesterday in response to last week’s Meal Planning post. She asks “…what do you say to people who claim they don’t have time to do all that? What did you have to give up to make time?”

That’s a really great question mostly because I am still learning the answer. I’m not one of those people who is naturally super organized and awesome at scheduling. In fact it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to make lists and use a calendar. In the past, my approach to scheduling was trying to memorize all of my appointments, parties, events, birthdays, plans, homework, projects, etc. As you can imagine, I was a nightmare to make plans with, I would arrive places 2-3 hours late, I would forget some major activity at least once a week and I was worried about missing appointments all the time (coincidentally, I was broke and unhealthy).

These days I have a full life and a full schedule, however there are certain activities and events that I have given up. I don’t miss them and I have criteria, it’s  purposeful. Obviously, I have a passionate commitment to my health and eating well. Given that commitment, it takes priority over everything. When an event comes up I think about whether it will fulfill on those priorities.

Happy hours, open-bar birthday parties, late nights at clubs are all events I no longer go to, unless it’s for very close friends or family. I don’t drink alcohol, so it’s really not fun for me and neither is waking up tired or talking to drunk people all night (remember I’m the only sober one, so it’s not fun for me).

Meal planning and commitment to health (or any commitment for that matter) is an evolutionary process. You start somewhere and then refine and tune as needed. What works one month may not work the next. I started out with just going to the grocery store and buying things that seemed healthy or my trainer told me were acceptable to eat. For a while all I ate was grilled chicken, potatoes and romaine lettuce salads with tomatoes and cucumbers. Then I got my first Clean Eating Magazine, starting making recipes from that. I then discovered other magazines, I started swapping recipes with coworkers, then started to make up my own, I started reading Healthy Living blogs and each day I learn something new. All of this did not happen over night, I did not wake up one day and plan my meals for the week and know how to do it. I posted about it last week, so that you the reader could take something away from what I have learned.

I have found that the more time I spend planning the less time I spend doing and worrying. If you don’t think you have time to meal plan, here are some of the benefits:
No more worries or thinking

You won’t spend any time thinking about what you will eat on any given day. Just check your list and prepare.
Quick and efficient trip to grocery store

Or you can give your list to someone else to do the shopping for you. I even categorize my list: carbs/grains, proteins/dairy, produce, cans, spices, misc. This saves time at the grocery store too.
Weekend meal prep
You can prep your meals over the weekend and have fresh meals up through the middle of the week if not longer.

Preparing does save time and mental energy. Also, for me, keeping my planning open, flexible and ever-evolving has me stick with it, and believe me I have been at a place where I hated my calendar and planner so much that I threw it away.

So thanks Katya for asking the question, I really enjoyed answering and I ask you (and all the readers) to take a moment and think about how you relate to planning. Is it something you have to do or do you take it on as an enjoyable ever-changing process? Meal planning is no different.

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