Monday, May 22, 2017

Meal Planning & Menus

Do you eat breakfast or grab something from a fast food place?
Snacks? Do you get something from the vending machine or nosh on donuts or whatever is laying around the office?
What about lunch? Do you pack and bring a healthy lunch or go out and find something quick?
What's for dinner? Do you tend to go to the grocery store several times a week or do you plan meals that you have time to cook and eat with your family?

First, breakfast. It's so important to get a good, healthy start to the day! When you skip or grab a sweet coffee drink and pastry you are setting yourself up to start the day on the wrong nutritional footing. Your body will crave more sugar and junk food within hours. Get some protein and veggies (I love eggs and greens or a smoothie).

Snacks can help you get through until your next meal. Make your snack count! Veggies and hummus or artichoke dip, a small handful of raw nuts, and/or a piece of fruit.

Lunch. Eat a satisfying lunch with quality lean protein and lots of veggies. Salads or soups (not cream/milk based) are a perfect way to fill up and power your through the afternoon without feeling too full and making you sleepy.  Take time to eat your food without distraction. Get away from your desk, phone, TV, computer, etc. and enjoy your lunch in a comfortable setting indoors or outdoors at a picnic table or park bench.

Dinner. Days are busy, especially when working full time and getting kids to and from their activities. Dinner is an important time to eat together, talk about the day, and fuel your body before bedtime. No food should be consumed 2-3 hours before bedtime as it impacts digestion and sleep. If you feel like you need something, have a cup of herbal tea (with a teaspoon of honey once if desired - just don't get in the habit of having it all the time). Most of my dinners can be made quickly without a lot of fuss. Mussels are a family favorite!

Meal Planning
Taking the time to meal plan (I usually do my planning, shopping, and prepping on Sunday's or Monday's - my day off from work) will help you save time and money (it's amazing how much money you save by not eating out regularly). I do one big grocery shopping each week and then tend to go for a quick trip later in the week to pick up more fresh veggies. I tend to prep most veggies Sunday evening - wash, cut, and place in a container so they are ready to go for salads or to steam/cook for dinner. If you really need to save time, you can purchase precut and prewashed veggies (although they are more expensive and I dislike the plastic waste). I also try to cook extra at dinner, usually protein (such as chicken or beef), to have for lunch the next day.

Meal planning, shopping and prepping is something I add to my calendar each week. My teenage daughter usually helps out (so she has a say in what she'd like for dinners and in her lunches each week).

Below is a sample 5 day meal plan of what my typical week looks like in late spring/summer as the weather gets warmer. I tend to follow recommendations from Dr. Mark Hyman and Functional Medicine and stay away from wheat and breads, dairy, and sugar but have them occasionally. In the winter months I do not have many smoothies (too cold) and salads and instead eat more soups and cooked foods.The amounts listedbelow are suited to my activity level, age, and weight. I'm a female, 5'5", 125 pounds, almost 50 years old and I get daily exercise (at least 30 minutes and up to an hour of a mix of cardio and weight training type activities). My husband will have more protein, carbs (such as quinoa, rice, beans), and veggies than I do.

Breakfast (6:30am/7am):
Snack/Lunch 1 (10/10:30am)
Lunch/Lunch 2 (1:00pm)
Snack (4:00pm)
Dinner (6/6:30pm)
Smoothie: 1 scoop whey & 2 T hemp powder* (about 18-20g protein), 1 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, 1 T ground flax, water to desired consistency.
1 soft boiled egg
Salad: about 2 cups chopped romaine and about 1 cup mixed veggies (celery, red bell pepper, radishes), roast beef (3/4 cup), 1-2 T dressing (EVOO & vinegar, garlic, parsley)
1 cup carrots and celery with ¼ cup hummus.
1 cup Crock Pot Enchilada Bake** (see recipe) with ¼ of an avocado, cilantro. 1 cup steamed broccoli.
2 eggs fried in 1 tsp ghee, 1 cup wilted baby greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc), a sprinkle of garlic granules & salt and a spoonful of salsa.
Smoothie (similar to day 1 breakfast but with a handful of spinach added)
Leftovers from dinner: 1 cup enchilada bake w/ ¼ of an avocado, cilantro, 1 cup steamed broccoli sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

6 oz Baked salmon w/ 1T pesto, 1 cup sautéed fiddle head ferns (EVOO, garlic, salt)
2 eggs fried in 1 tsp ghee, 1 cup wilted baby greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc), a sprinkle of garlic granules & salt and a spoonful of salsa.
Smoothie: Whey & hemp powders (18-20g protein), 1 cup frozen blueberries (1P), 1 T flax, water.
Lettuce Wraps: 1 cup sliced roast beef, sliced bell pepper, shredded carrot, ¼ avocado sliced. Place in lettuce leaves & wrap up.
12 raw almonds, 1 square dark (72%) chocolate.
Grilled chicken thigh, 1 cup steamed snap peas, ½ cup sweet potato.
2-3 turkey sausage breakfast links (about ¾ cup if sliced up), 1 cup cooked/sautéed baby mixed greens, 1 spoonful salsa, ¼ avocado.
Smoothie: Vegan protein powder (18-20g protein), 1 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, 1 T flax, water.
Salad: about 2 cups chopped romaine and about 1 cup mixed veggies (snap peas, celery, red bell pepper, radishes), chicken thigh meat (3/4 cup), 1-2 T dressing (EVOO & vinegar, garlic, parsley)

Baked haddock (6 oz, 1 tsp ghee, salt, pepper, garlic granules), 10 spears roasted asparagus (1 tsp EVOO, garlic), ½ cup steamed brown rice. Everything sprinkled with a little nutritional yeast.
Smoothie: 1 scoop whey & 2 T hemp powder (about 18-20g protein), 1 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, 1 T ground flax, water to desired consistency.
12 raw almonds
Fish tacos: 6 oz baked haddock (leftover from dinner) in 2 small corn tortillas w/ chopped lettuce, cilantro, salsa, avocado)
About 1 cup sliced veggies – carrots, bell pepper, celery, broccoli.
6 oz. steak w/ sautéed mushrooms & onions, crispy roasted kale, 1 glass red wine.

 *Protein Powders - I currently use these (and doing some research on collagen/beef based powders - will let you know what I find out and try in a later post):

**Enchilada Bake (a favorite in our family) - recipe here

Questions? Comments? Post them below.

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like personal help with meal planning, grocery shopping lists, and recipes to meet your needs and/or the needs of your family. Please note: I am not a nurse, doctor, or dietician. I've taken various courses in health and nutrition and it is a passion of mine. You should always consult with a doctor if you have unique nutritional needs. If your doctor has prescribed a particular diet for you, I can help you meal plan to those specifics and will work with you to stay on track and help with an exercise plan that suits your needs.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spiced Sweet Potato Quick Bread

I've been working my way through various recipes in Dr. Mark Hyman's books. This one is from The Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook on p. 251. I can't post the entire recipe due to copyright law, but wanted to include some comments about the recipe. The recipe can be found on his blog here.

I love to cook, but not bake. So, if I want a treat it has to be something I can make easily and quickly that has little to no sugar (and preferably uses fruit, coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup instead of granular sugar), doesn't contain wheat (gluten free is our preference), and of course, tastes great. Typically I make a quick banana bread. Today I decided to try the sweet potato bread - no added sugar, just sweet potatoes, coconut flour, spices, eggs, almond butter, and butter.

The nice thing about quick breads is that you don't have to be too exact with amounts. I used about 3 cups mashed sweet potato (2 large). I didn't have ground mace but added a little nutmeg and allspice along with the cinnamon. I also didn't have almond extract so used vanilla instead. One other note: I only used about 2 tsp of coconut oil to oil the pan (not 2 T it called for) and it slipped out of the pan just fine.

Here is the mixture going together:

The batter is quite thick:

The finished bread. Mine took about 65 minutes to cook (instead of the 50-60 minutes specified in the recipe).

It smelled so good we couldn't wait for it to entirely cool to try it. So good! My husband devoured 2 slices and my daughter and I shared a slice spread with ghee.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Artichoke Dip

My family (husband, Rob and daughter, Taylor) and I decided to do Dr. Mark Hyman's 10 Day Detox in December, 2016. I had just finished up a course of antibiotics for Lyme disease and we all wanted to eliminate sugar for awhile. Taylor was hoping it'd help clear up her acne. Rob and I aren't big consumers of sugar; but, our teenager is. We challenged her to go the 10 full days without any sugar and increase her veggie intake. She did quite well; only cheating a couple times while at school. She reported feeling less bloated, her skin became clearer, and she slept better.

Since then we've been mostly following his Eat Fat, Get Thin plan. I prefer to eat meats and veggies anyway so cutting out and minimizing carbs such as flours, rice, pasta, etc. hasn't been too difficult. Taylor gets more rice pasta, brown rice, and seeded crackers than Rob and I; she is a busy, growing teenager after all.

We need and like to eat every few hours.  It's important to have a variety of healthy snack foods available. There are always cut up fresh veggies in my fridge and usually some type of dip available.

Dr. Hyman's Artichoke Dip with Crudites on p.96 of his book is one of our favorites - delicious and a great snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Even Taylor loves this dip!

I've modified his recipe slightly. This is the version I made today:

1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 cup avocado oil mayonnaise (or homemade; see p.265 in the book)
1/2-1 cup packed organic baby spinach leaves
2 T nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 smoked cayenne 

Place artichokes and spinach in a food processor. Pulse a few times to roughly chop.
Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until desired consistency. 

Serve with a variety of veggies. Today I had organic red bell peppers, organic celery, and organic purple carrots.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Enchiladas in the Slow Cooker

I think Autumn is my favorite season. By now I've had enough of cold salads and raw veggies. The fall is the time for healthy, warming, comfort foods to prepare the body for the winter cold ahead. I love slow cooker cooking!

This recipe tastes like enchiladas without all the fuss. Farro is used in place of corn tortillas to give it a nutty flavor. Farro, an ancient grain from the Fertile Crescent, holds up really well in the crock pot and is far more nutritious than corn. There are various types of Farro and it can be found in bulk (or bagged) at most Cooperative grocery stores, Whole Foods, and locally here in the Berkshires at Guido's and Berkshire Cooperative Market.

This recipe is adapted slightly from the Beachbody recipe blog.

Serves: 10, about 1 cup each


  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and deveined, finely chopped (optional or to taste)
  • 2 lbs. raw organic ground chicken breast or turkey or extra lean ground beef/bison
  • 1 cup dry farro, rinsed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained (or 1 1/2 cups drained home cooked beans)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 (15-oz.) can diced fire roasted tomatoes (or diced tomatoes), no or low salt
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 (10-oz.) can red enchilada sauce*
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle (optional, to taste)
  • Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
  • 3 medium green onions, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • diced avocado (optional)

 *I like Frontera enchilada sauce (locally at Guido's Market) and use 12 oz (2 pouches needed) and heat up the extra for adding at the end of cooking if a little dry or for adding to my bowl at that table.


  1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
  3. Add garlic and jalapenos; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until jalapenos are soft.
  4. Add meat; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. Place meat mixture, farro, beans, corn, tomatoes, water, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, and coriander in a 4-quart slow cooker; mix well and cover. Cook on high for 3 hours, or until liquid has been absorbed, and farro is tender. Add more liquid (sauce or water) as needed.
  6. Remove lid and stir mixture. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 
  7. Top with green onions, cilantro, and/or avocado and serve.