Diets: Part III
I’m flattered at how many of you have found inspiration in my dieting success, and I’m even more flattered that the information I’m able to share with you is helping in your own weight loss goals. I will continue to share information as it comes to mind, but if you have questions please do let me know, as that is what will help me put together even more detailed information for all of you.
I was preparing a post about preparing meals and, as luck would have it, my wonderful friend Rebecca asked about meal ideas for lunch & dinner! Perfect timing I suppose. The information here is not set in stone by any means, but will hopefully help you to start making your weekly meal plans in a diet-friendly manner. I’ve heard from so many of my friends how difficult it is to have a family AND diet – you can give your family “diet food”… but I beg to differ. While there have certainly been many nights where Zach & I prepare our separate meals, for the most part we are able to overlap the larger pieces of a meal in order to simplify the entire process. The information below is presented in two parts – your meal and your family’s meal. However, the information below is also under the assumption that
1) Your mornings are busy like mine (you work full time, go to school in the mornings, etc.)
2) Dinner is usually your only “combined family meal” during the week days
3) Lunch is anything you can successfully reheat in a microwave (or not heat up at all)
There are many studies that show the benefits of eating breakfast, and if you are a morning eater by all means feel free to eat a diet-friendly breakfast to start your day off right. However, I personally tend to skip breakfast and start my day off with delicious coffee.
A word to the wise: creamer has a ton of calories, as do many sweeteners. I can’t even describe the joy I get from a hot vanilla latte from Starbucks (320 calories, btw), even the 15g of protein in that venti deliciousness can’t justify the caloric intake. I have switched entirely to Truvia – its an all natural, zero calorie sweetener. That is now all I put in my coffee & now lets me enjoy my favorite beverage at a cost of less than 50 calories daily.
I have intentionally skipped lunch here, and I will tell you why – dinner leftovers are the easiest way to stay on track and avoid the lengthy food prep time in the morning (more time to spend actually doing your hair or seeing your family for more than 5 minutes). Some quick ideas for lunch:
- Make 2 dinners for yourself, saving one for thenext day
- Use part of dinner to prepare your lunch in advance (for example, if you grill chicken for dinner, grill some extra to cut up and put on your salad)
- Mix it up – maybe choose to have raw tomatoes at lunch with some left over meat so you don’t get burned out on the same foods.
Today I have brought left over (lean) grilled steak and cut up some fresh tomatoes with fresh basil for lunch. The steak was from dinner & the tomatoes I cut up quickly this morning. Delicious!
- Lettuce is your friend… how much easier does it get to throw together a fast salad? Use oil-free dressings to save on calories as well (only 2Tbsp of Olive Oil contains about 250 calories!!).
- PROTEIN IS A MUST – if you have questions please refer to “Diets Part I” for reference – every single meal should include a lean protein. Just so you know, a can of white albacore tuna, packed in water (NOT OIL) is a great source of protein, tastes great on a salad, and requires ZERO preparation.
- Utilize the grill in your back yard – there is no food on this planet that doesn’t taste amazing grilled, and your entire meal can be prepared on the grill.
As I mentioned above, here are some meal ideas for you and your family:
- For you: Grilled chicken & steamed asparagusWhen you steam veggies, typically you’d pull them out & dress with olive oil, however, if you pull them out of the water and immediately season (I really like simple garlic salt or Mrs Dash) you don’t need to have any oil
since the veggies are still moist & will allow the seasoning to stick.
Try marinating your meats ahead of time so they can soak up some flavor. Don’t use premade marinades since they are packed full of sodium & artificiality – make your own, if you need something liquidy to bring it all together, try Tamari sauce (in small quantities) or vegetable/chicken stock.
For your family: you can grill ANYTHING super easily, you’re already throwing the chicken on the grill so why not toss in some potato packets for the family? (slice the potatoes into “disks”, season & put inside foil packets. They don’t take long to grill at all).
- For you AND the family: make a roast! Pork roasts are the most delicious thing, and are so easy to make. I have an amazing recipe too – just email me!
- For you: Steak & roasted veggies – make sure you cut all of the fat off of the steak before you grill it – you don’t need those extra calories.Roasting veggies without using oil is challenging, but I’ve come up with a solution recently that seems to work quite well. It’s a little time consuming, but if you roast enough for multiple meals its well worth the time spent. First, steam the veggies for a couple of minutes (for Brussels sprouts I do 5min) and then immediately take them out of the water and into your seasoning/marinade (again, the water will make it stick, you don’t need oil). I always use a splash of vegetable stock so keep everything moist since there is no oil used. Roast on 400 degrees until done (time depends on what time of veggie).
For the family: since you’re already using the oven, try making some sweet potato fries, a baked potato or even roasting some extra vegetables?
- For you and the family: Fajitas!! That’s right, I said fajitas. Skip the “add-on’s” for you though (guac is delicious, I know, but avocados have a ton of calories & fat) – no cheese or anything. Pico type salsas are fine. Wrap up in boston head lettuce rather than tortillas to save on the calories & fat. You don’t have to skimp for your family though – make a fajita bar so they can make their own fajitas. Again, use stock instead of oil when making the meat (your family won’t notice the difference).
In conclusion, dieting doesn’t have to be a monotonous nightmare – you can simplify the food prep for you and your family and make lunches a breeze. I have a lot more ideas too, things I do in our house on a regular basis, I’ll post recipes as I come up with new things (especially now that I’m starting to transition into a more lenient diet, but still healthy!), but for the sake of trying to keep this post as short as possible (lol) I’ll end here.
I’m always happy to answer questions though – please post a comment so everyone can benefit!