This week I thought I'd share with you some of my easy peasy 'go to' foods & recipes (my own as I can't/won't share the published ones), plus a couple of hints on keeping it easy. When I started out I felt like I was either shopping or cooking ALL the time. Now that I've got it sorted, I'm actually spending a lot less time in the kitchen. Yay to that!
When I first started this programme, everything seemed quite daunting; what sort of foods to eat & when to eat them, what I could/should have vs couldn't/shouldn't etc and most of all, how on earth was I going to get 6 meals in a day. Preparing so many was going to be a mammoth task itself, let alone eating them! Well, I'm pleased to say that I seem to have got it pretty much down. I'm sure there's room for improvement/fine tweaking, but on the whole it's really not that bad at all. In fact, it's really very good. None of this is rocket science. Just simple back to basics (how my Nan used to cook) kind of food.
Everything here is for standard non-exercise days. When I exercise I simply add high energy carbs (in the form of grains/pasta/rice/potatoes/bananas/dates) to the relevant meals. Otherwise my diet is high in protein and plants (veggies & fruits which are the low energy carbs). Meals are consumed approximately every 3-hours throughout the day. Six meals are the required minimum, more is encouraged (!). There is some allowance for 'cheat meals' too.
All meals also need a serve of omega-3 so add a sprinkle of flax seed or a fish oil tablet on the side.
Eggs in some form - scrambled or omelettes are best as I'd use one whole egg to 3 or 4 egg whites. Throw in a couple of generous handfuls of ready chopped veggies and breakfast is ready in a few minutes.
Scrambled Tofu - I'm not a huge tofu fan, but this serves a great purpose when I run out of eggs or can't be bothered to separate. Cook like scrambled eggs with added veggies. I usually add some soy sauce and/or sweet chilli sauce for flavour.
I've put these in the same category as lunch is now usually the previous night's leftover's. I've got into a habit of preparing enough food for about 6-8 serves and this gives enough portions for various meals at a later stage.
Chicken/Beef/Pork - diced or minced, cooked with desired flavours/herbs/spices and yes, you guessed it - throw in those veggies! Portion into containers and serve. Mince is great as this can be easily turned into a chilli con carne, bolognaise or even mini muffins for snacks etc.
Slow-cooker - I am in love with my slow cooker. Simply take any large joint of meat, add some herbs/spices for flavour and the work is done for me whilst I am well, working! By the time I get home, I have a house smelling delicious and meat tender as can be. Add this to my choice of veggies and voila!
A big slow-cooker fave in our family is bbq pork. I make up about a cup of bbq glaze (see recipe) rub it all over a pork shoulder and cook for 6-8 hours. by the time it's ready to eat it it's just like pulled pork and totally delicious with a fresh coleslaw salad.
So, this gives me 3 of my meals per day. The others could be any of the above, there are no rules. I just find that with life on-the-go I need other solutions that create more of an quick fix or grab & go snack type meal. Here are some of my favourites:
Egg-Muffins (see recipe)
Meat Muffins (finely process 500gr raw mince with about 4 cups of veggies, add herbs/ spices, combine with one whole egg and oven bake for about 12-14mins in muffin pans. Makes about 12).
Canned Tuna/Salmon/Herrings with veggies (I'm happy to eat most chopped veggies raw but you could pre-cook the veggies if you wanted)
Cottage Cheese - flavoured as you like (red onion, paprika, green onions, pineapple, sweet chilli sauce etc etc) with carrot/celery/cucumber/zucchini sticks
(Protein) Smoothies - Remember Glenda? - Well 'she' is an absolute god-send in our house and gets used to create 2-4 smoothies a day now. Usually one for mid-morning and often again for mid-afternoon. Two of my favourite and commonly used combinations are listed below.
1 cup bbq sauce
2 green onions chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic chopped/crushed
salt & pepper
Egg Muffins (I was given this recipe by a friend, I simply adapt it to whatever I have in the fridge for the fillings) It's more of a 'chuck in whatever you've got' than a recipe. Yummy warm but I usually eat these cold.
For 12 muffins:
Combine 2 whole eggs + 10-12 egg whites
Add about 5 handfuls of any mixed chopped veggies.
Add salt, pepper, paprika (and any other herbs/spices to your liking), and about a tablespoon of flax seeds.
Mix together well and divide into muffin pans.
Sprinkle with a little mozzarella cheese.
Cook on about 140-160 for 10-12 mins.
They will rise when warm but flatten once you take them out of the oven.
Tips: - The silicone muffin pans do not need any oil at all as they just 'pop out'. I found that they stick to even my non-stick pans, even with a bit of spray oil. If the veggies are finely chopped in a blender/mixer they cook more evenly, but it also works with randomly chopped pieces too. - purple cabbage is good just don't be put off by the 'mouldy' colour this gives to the muffins, as the colour leeches out!
Veggies I commonly use: capsicum, kale/spinach, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, a little onion (red or white is good as not so strong), cauliflower (if finely chopped/grated), leeks.
Other good combos/ingredients: - jarred & drained sundried tomatoes/capsicums with feta or soft ricotta cheese I guess you could also add ham, tuna, salmon etc. I've not tried them so feel free to do so and let me know how it tastes.
Green - Kale, celery, kiwi, pear all finely chopped in Glenda (you really need a very powerful blender otherwise the kale remains very fibrous and unpleasant). Sometimes I'll throw in a small handful of almonds at this stage as well.
Add in protein of choice (natural unflavoured protein powder or egg whites are my favourites) and top with liquid. I particularly like coconut water in this. Blend (Glend?!!) until smooth. Today I also added a few prunes to the mix which made it a bit sweeter.
Choc Berry/Mango - Blueberries and/or mango, almond milk, protein of choice (I often use chocolate protein powder in this one, yoghurt (natural, mango flavoured or even cacao natural). Sooooooo delicious.
So there you have it. Six serves of all this. Every day!
To make things quick & easy I now buy frozen blueberries & mango pieces in large bags (much more economical) and egg whites by the carton (I hate separating eggs and never really know what to do with the left-over yolks.) And, the biggest time saver of all - when I buy my veggies, once or twice a week, I immediately chop, dice or grate them and put them into containers or bags in the fridge. I make up containers of mixed veggies that I can use in any of the above combinations plus I keep some separate that I know I'd like to eat/use on their own (broccoli, carrots) sometimes. This way they are to hand whenever I need them.