Scrolling through my own Instagram page I noticed the large trend in many of my meals being what I fondly call a BAS. Aka a big ass salad. They are a staple in my diet & one of my daily DEAL breakers I have written about previously. They are an easy way to get in a big dose of veggies (yay micronutrients!), have a lot of volume (which is needed for someone who enjoy a larger quantity of food to feel satisfied) & make me take the time to sloowwww down for lunch. BUT I will admit that I don't always have time mid-day to spend 30 minutes chopping, sautéing, mixing or whatever appears to be needed for a satisfying salad. SO I wanted to share a few of my quick cheats to having everything needed ready & waiting for assembling so you too can enjoy a daily BAS.CHEAT #1: Protein - Save Small Dinner Extras OR Prep a Little MoreWe often cook a meal & just have a little bit of extra meat leftover. For example when my husband grills a few chicken breast, I often eat 1/2 or 2/3 of a piece because the serving was quite large for me. I save that extra bit, throw it in tupperware & toss is on a salad for lunch. When I am thinking a little more ahead I simple toss on an extra chicken breast or two & use it throughout the week.This is an example (nope not glamour shot of how I eat but real) of how this weeks salad toppers are looking:Sunday Dinner: We cooked grassfed burgers & I saved an extra to be used as a lettuce wrap this week.Monday Dinner: We grilled a flank steak that was around 1lb. We each had our share that night & there was a nice serving leftover which will be delicious for lunch on Wednesday. Heck I will probably just recreate the salad we ate that evening, as it turned out awesome!Monday Meal Prep: We did a little bit of meal prep on Monday, as it was a holiday weekend. Chicken was on sale so we cooked the 3 pack for him to use for 2 lunches plus enough left for me to use for 2 as well. Easy peasy!Forgot to cook? No problem. These are a few additional no cook protein options for salads that we keep on hand. Canned tuna, salmon, hard boiled eggs or quality deli meat can be easy options as well. Note: Beans such as black, chickpeas, lentils & so on are really more of a carbohydrate source. However if I am only have a small portion of meat leftover I enjoy adding some extra eggs, cheese & even beans to supplement the source of protein. Plus a little variety never hurts!CHEAT #2: Buy a Variety of Package Greens OR Pre-Wash Ahead:I love the idea of buying a beautiful head of lettuce from the farmer's market to use for my salad bases during the week. But I'll be 100% honest, I can be LAZY & hate washing greens. If I wash them too far in advance, they go bad quickly. If I wait until I am ready to eat, I get busy or don't feel like taking the time to clean. Therefore I go grab another food that is more convenient. So instead I bite the bullet, pay a little more & eat the pre-washed organic greens. I enjoy a variety to mix & match so it makes each meal a little different. Super simple but quite effective. CHEAT #3: Easy Flavorful ToppingsThere are days I have plenty of time to chop veggies to eat raw or cooked in my salads. On a Tuesday at 1pm with 30 minutes to eat, that's not going to happen. Therefore I stash a variety of easy salad toppings that add different textures, flavors & nutrients for a well balanced salad I actually WANT to eat.I do work to add as many VEGGIES first, then a small amount of fruit (with preference of fresh over dried). My next toppings include a satiating mix of healthy fats:I am MINDFUL of the portions used when I toss in a mix of nuts, seeds, cheeses, olives & avocado but I always include a serving of dietary fat in my meal. Why? These add much needed nutrients for brain function, skin health & tons of other key functions in our bodies. Not to mention they create a sense of satiety to keep you fuller, longer between meals.CHEAT #4: Easy Salad Dressings Made Ahead of TimeI won't pretend to not have a bottle or two of pre-made salad dressing in my fridge. I am careful to check the ingredients to include the shortest list possible with no gross corn syrups or added sugars/sweeteners. All common in many "light" dressing many deem as healthier options. However I prefer to either make 1 salad dressing on a Sunday to store in the fridge or simple toss a little vinegar, oil, salt & pepper on top & call it a day. A few of my favorite clean go to's include:Nothing fancy here & all are easy pantry staples to match a variety of salads. My favorite dressing is a mix of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, dijon, olive oil, salt & pepper. Sorry I totally don't measure but don't be scared to mix, taste & balance to your palate preference. However no guilt if you must use a pre-made dressing. Just take the time to read your ingredients & make a more educated choice for your goals.Takeaways:Don't overcomplicate the meal by thinking you have to create a new gourmet salad every day of the week. Follow this simple formula, pick a "theme" for the week & start with making the goal of included 2-3 BAS this week:
- BASE OF GREENS: PRE-PACKAGED READY TO GO
- PRE-COOKED PROTEIN: LEFTOVERS ARE GREAT, COOK ONCE & EAT ALL WEEK
- CHOOSE YOUR TOPPINGS: MIX OF ALL THE VEGGIES YOU LIFE + A FEW SPECIAL INGREDIENTS (INCLUDING HEALTHY FATS, FRUIT & EVEN CARBS LIKE QUINOA OR SWEET POTATOES)
- DRESSINGS: MAKE 1 HOMEMADE OPTIONS FOR THE WEEK OR KEEP A CLEAN OPTION ON HAND
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
Most people I know (myself included) have goals regarding weight, health or the physique we see staring back at us in the mirror. While I absolutely preach building goals around longterm health, strength, nutrient quality, feeling good or performance, I have NO problem with wanting to lose a little (or lot) of fat for physique purposes. Aesthetic goals are fine to have, no judgement! However my issue with this is understanding that in order to SEE changes, you have to MAKE changes....---------------------------Weekly conversation with clients:Client: I really want to lose these love handles, I'll do ANYTHING you say. Just tell me what will work?ME: Looking at your food journal you are eating out a lot throughout the week, eating a low protein diet & a high quantity of processed carbs. IF your goal is to see body composition changes, these are the areas we need to work on.Client: Great, so tell me exactly what to do & I'll do it.ME: Ok let's start with one change first & build on it. How about you we up the protein in your breakfast? Could we start adding in eggs or greek yogurt?Client: I don't like breakfast & don't want to get up earlier to put together anything.ME: Ok, maybe we start somewhere else first. How about instead of eating out 4x during the week, we aim for only 2x this week?Client: I don't like to cook.ME: Ok let's look at the choices you are making out to eat. Can we focus on increasing the protein & vegetables while decreasing the carbohydrates, added fats such as cheese & creamy sauces?Client: I don't like to eat much protein & enjoy my ranch dressing.--------------------Ok you get the idea. I SO commonly am asked for help to SEE the changes clients want in their bodies. Yet I am immediately given every reason why they aren't willing to make the changes needed to get the results desired. Looking for that magic pill? Yea let me know when you find it. 5 Common Changes You WON'T make that are limiting your results:
- Cooking at Home: I get it, we all live busy lives, work long hours & pass a million restaurants we can eat at on the way home to our own kitchens. Frankly many people I know (myself included in the past) lack confidence to get in the kitchen because we didn't learn basic skills. Yet we also can google anything. So sorry that answer doesn't fly.
- Reality: restaurants add more fat & additional calories to make us say YUM & to get us coming back for more. Not to mention how big the portions are. I'm not saying you can never dine out BUT the majority of your meals should be made in the kitchen. Yes that means not every dinner will be gourmet style. BUT if you want to lose fat, you can't eat out all day every day.
- I Don't Have Time: Another common barrier I hear is "I didn't have time to eating breakfast or lunch, then I ate EVERYTHING when I get home". I totally understand we all work busy jobs & are often on the go. Work places don't make it easy to take a leisurely lunch break or rushing kids out the door doesn't make breakfast enjoyable. BUT if this is your goal, make more effort.
- Reality: Find foods that fit into your timeline available to get in some sustenance. Yes this may mean making a smoothie before bed & having it in the fridge ready to go in the morning. OR telling your boss I need 5 dang minutes to eat my salad in the fridge. We prioritize ours kids eating breakfast yes? Heck you feed the dog too I would guess. Yet we fall to the wayside but wonder why we can't see changes. You have to prioritize you!
- I'm Not Hungry: This somewhat falls into the same category as not making time to eat but i'll post it separately. I have this conversation with clients every single day. What did you eat today? "I had a yogurt for breakfast, a pack of crackers for lunch & some fruit with crackers & cheese for dinner. I'm just not hungry". Yes you can totally train your body to eat less food & ignore hunger signals after many years. Yet you are working out several days a week, eating 800 calories a day & not seeing any fat loss. Weird!
- Reality: you must make changes to see changes. Your body has reached a point it is barely getting enough fuel to function off of. So no, you aren't going to lose that excess weight while your body is in a starvation state. Like I discussed in a previous blog post here, you are causing major hormonal disregulation & your body is responding accordingly. I know you say "i'm just not hungry". Well eat more anyway. I find with these clients after an initial challenge period, suddenly they start feeling more energy, hunger signals pick back up & they start seeing changes.
- I Don't Like Protein: This may be a surprise to newer readers BUT I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years. I became a vegetarian somewhat out of teenage rebellion but also a few food poisoning instances paired with being mentally grossed out by meat. So vegetarian I went. I did it poorly & became a carb-etarian for many years. I mean pizza & french fries are meat free?? I also gained 25lbs during this time period & lost any muscle mass on my body. Then I became educated on the important of protein & began tracking it to make sure I was getting an adequate amount at each meal. Suddenly I lost fat, gained muscle, blood markers improved & I could eat more because my metabolism sped up due to said lean muscle mass.
- Reality: I understand not everyone wants to eat a hunk of meat 3x a day. However research has shown over & over that a moderate to high protein diet is ideal for body composition changes. You want that "toned" look? Eat protein. That can be meat, fish, eggs or even supplementing with powders. But you can't ride the carbs & fats train only while expecting to see impactful body changes. Educate yourself on WHAT an adequate amount of protein is based on your age, weight & activity level. Then work to implement that. PS 1 egg is not enough protein per meal.
- BUT I Can't Say No To..: You eat lunch with co-workers, get invited to happy hours, it was Betty's birthday at work, they brought in donuts for the lunch meeting, Friday night is date night & Sunday dinner is with the family. All of which you have to eat whatever other people are pushing on you. Because saying no is rude or makes you stand out.
- Reality: It is YOUR body & YOUR health that YOU are responsible for & have to live with. Tired of feeling unhappy in your skin? Well I will always say first let's work on mindset. BUT stop letting others control your health & happiness. Yes it may mean having to stand your ground, say no occasionally & even explain to people WHY you are doing something different. This isn't easy I know! However the more you do it, the easier it gets. Because guess what? Most people are more self consumed with what they are doing then what you are doing. Plus what food you put in your body doesn't impact them a bit. Explain to grandma in all seriousness that you are concerned about your health & that is why you brought salad with salmon instead of lasagna with breadsticks. You don't have to make others feel guilty or get on a high horse. However if they can't respect that then maybe you need to work on who you surround yourself with or frankly develop thicker skin. Harsh I know, but you have to live in this body for life, not them. Be confident in your beliefs & know it's not your job to change others opinions.
by Emma Hammond 0 comments
The weekday breakfast is what starts our busy day off on the right, or often totally wrong foot. Most people are rushing out the door & lucky to give their bodies any fuel to power through their mornings. The standard diet is a high carb, high sugar option such as cereal, bagels, pastries & granola. I totally understand the lack of wanting to dedicate much time to dirtying up extra pans. Our brains are on so many to do's that building the perfectly balanced breakfast isn't always feasible. While I do suggest some awesome make ahead meals such as a healthy frittata, sometimes you just have to grab what's on hand & go!My husband is absolutely one of those people & for years grabbed his individual flavored yogurt, topped it with some pre-packaged granola & quickly consumed on the way out the door. Insert Emma...*evil laugh*...Overtime I started to offer him a few simple swaps to upgrade the nutrition he was getting. I knew he would not be on board with adding any more difficulty to his morning routine so instead of aiming for perfection, we aimed for homemade higher quality.Old Breakfast:
- 1/2c Cherry Vanilla Granola (Back to Nature):
- 1/2c Homemade Granola (recipe below)
Classic Homemade Granola:
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats (we use gluten free)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4c honey or maple syrup (I use 2tbsp honey + 2tbsp maple)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanila
1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees & line baking sheet w/ foil.
2. Whisk together coconut oil, honey, salt & vanilla in a bowl.
3. Add oats & stir to coat throughly.
4. Add granola to baking sheet & cook for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once midway through.
5. Let cool & store in airtight container.
* I have reduced both the oil & honey for a less sweetened version which turned out great. I usually add chopped almonds to this basic mix for extra crunch!
You may not be completey ready to do a full pantry clean, ditch every food habit you're attached to or strive to be the next healthy iron chef. BUT that doesn't mean that the small upgrades over time won't add up! Change your mindset to view it as what nutrition can you ADD to your meals, instead of what has to be taken away!
Small changes over time creates consistency. Consistency trumps perfection every time!
What's one staple in your diet you KNOW is not ideal but need help to upgrade? Let me know so we can troubleshoot it together! Leave me a comment or email me at: email@example.com
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