Posts tagged ‘meal planning’

September 16, 2013

What’s on the Menu?

lets eatHi, Friends! It’s Brooke, here. Are you ever tired of coming up with new meal options that are clean, quick, and budget friendly? Welcome to my life!! I love finding new clean recipes, but I can’t blow my grocery budget buying lots of new ingredients for just one dish. So, what’s a girl to do? When I find a few dishes I like, I tend to stick with them and play around with various ingredients, salads, snacks, etc. Here’s an example of a stress-free day of tasty meals and snacks that build on similar ingredients.


Filling Oatmeal with Strawberry Goodness

Filling Oatmeal with Strawberry Goodness

Tip for a simpler life: I save any leftovers from breakfast or lunch for afternoon/pre-workout snack.

  • Scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs, ½ c. egg whites)
  • ¾ c. oatmeal with coconut oil, sliced strawberries, walnuts, and Truvia
  • ½ banana
  • Multivitamin
  • Water

Alternative Breakfast (Super delicious and easy to wrap up and take with you if your morning is busy.)

  • 1 English Muffin, halved and toasted (Food For Life® Flourless 7 Sprouted Grains)
  • 1 poached egg
  • 1 veggie sausage (Morningstar® rocks!)
  • Mustard
  • Few sprinkles of Tabasco sauce
  • Water

Morning Snack

  • Protein shake (whey blend and almond milk)
  • Trail mix of dried fruit and nuts
  • Water


Brown Rice Bowl--yum!

Brown Rice Bowl–yum!

  • 1 c. brown rice, cooked
  • 1 Spicy Black Bean Burger, roughly crumbled (Morningstar)
  • 1 c. broccoli
  • ¼-½ avocado, roughly chopped
  • Lemon juice, sea salt, Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
  • Water

Mix all together in a bowl and season as desired. Yum!

Afternoon/Pre-Workout Snack

  • Scrambled eggs left over from breakfast along with salsa, wrapped in a tortilla
  • Oatmeal left over from breakfast OR toasted English muffin topped with almond butter, bananas, blueberries, flaxseed, and honey
  • BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids)

Post-Workout Snack

  • BCAAs with glutamine
  • Protein shake (whey protein with almond milk)
  • Other ½ of the banana


Fresh Chick'n Salad with Summertime Peaches

Fresh Chick’n Salad with Summertime Peaches

  • 1-2 c. mixed spinach and herb salad, topped with mushrooms, carrots, grape tomatoes, green onions, slivered almonds, and drizzled with light dressing
  • 1 veggie chick’n cutlet, sliced (my fav is Quorn®)
  • ½ peach, sliced, topped with fresh raspberries (add 1 sheet of cinnamon graham cracker if you like)
  • Water

Now, that’s a healthy meal plan anyone can stick to. Have fun finding your kitchen staples, and make friends with your glassware/Tupperware—they will save your behind when you are on the go. Have a spectacular week!



August 29, 2013

Meal Planning 101

Meal Planning 101

With school back in swing and me working full time, meal planning is the only way to provide a healthy home cooked meal for my daughter and dad, plus save time and money.  I try to plan and to cook 3 or 4 meals at home and grocery shop just once a week.


1. Grocery List/Meal Plan.

  • Look at your calendar for the upcoming week.  Note how many dinners you will need to make, and anything else you need to shop for (breakfast, school lunches, snacks, get togethers, etc.)
  • Decided what (2 or 3) proteins you want to use and plan your meals accordingly.
  • Pick proteins that can be cooked once and used twice, for example lettuce wrapped tacos and squash spaghetti – use the same protein source.
  • Check your refrigerator, pantry and freezer and note what needs to be used.
  • Review your grocery store sale ad in advance. Can be a good savings especially at Whole Foods.
  • Keep your menus simple during the week.
  • Use a form grocery list already completed with your kitchen staples.
  • Add items as soon as you run out.

2. Shop Smartly.

  • Don’t forget your grocery list and coupons.
  • Shop on a day that works best for your schedule. Weekdays at 5 are usually not it!
  • Review the sale ad in advance.  Again.
  • Don’t overdo the fresh produce and end up throwing valuable money and fruits and veggies out.   Always keep your freezer stocked with frozen organic vegetables for quick side dishes or ad-ins.

3. Eat healthy!

  • Plan meals and snacks using healthy basics.
  • Limit processed or prepared foods.
  • Serve at least one serving of vegetables and/or fruit with each meal.
  • Always keep your kitchen well-stocked with organic and healthy basics.
  • Limit use of microwave – most items can be warmed just as quickly on the stove (enamel cast iron pot) or (cooking sheet) in oven.

4. Save time.

  • Use leftovers for lunches or as part of another meal.
  • Pre-wash your fruits and veggies, store in bowls in fridge (rather than drawers) for quick healthy snacks.
  • Use time-saving appliances: slow cooker, rice cooker, toaster oven.
  • Rotisserie chickens are great too and can be used a multitude of ways.
  • Salad bars can be a big time saver for chopped fresh produce.
  • Grocery delivery.

Other Resources:

Here are a couple of websites that will do the meal planning for your for a monthly or yearly fee which is really not bad.

The Nourished Kitchen

The focus here is on whole, unrefined foods prepared according to traditional methods that optimize nutrient density.  Cherish your body, nourish your kitchen.


Emeals can be customized for Paleo, vegetarian and organic and then further planned by your grocery store.

May 20, 2013

Vegetarian Meal Planning: Compassion and Convenience

hugged veggie

Hello, and Happy Monday! It’s Brooke here. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time now (more than 15 years), and I love that there’s a way I can still be healthy while respecting the creatures in our world. Now, I am certainly not an expert by any means, and when it comes to balancing my life with proper (sufficient) nutrition in a timely manner, I am NOT always successful. But every day I try to make my fuel a priority, and some days are better than others. But I keep aspiring to live up to my best intentions, in and out of the kitchen.

I came to this lifestyle in a meandering fashion. For years, I was the “picky” eater in the house. You may be familiar with the line from A Christmas Story, “Every family has a kid who won’t eat.” I was that kid! My sister and I had to eat three bites of everything on our plate before we could be excused from dinner. Many meals ended with my family bustling around the kitchen, putting their dishes away while I sat by myself at the table, looking at my half-finished plate, usually with meat or a few veggies remaining forlornly around the edges. Now, I didn’t single out meat purposely back then, but I just wasn’t its biggest fan. I managed to stay plenty nourished, however, and made my way to college. About this time, I started learning about the vegetarian life and what it felt like to make decisions that went against my social conditioning and what I’d always taken for granted. I grew up in Texas, after all—barbeque was always the first thing that was catered in for any kind of occasion. Definitely a challenge!

why love one

I love animals desperately, as you probably know by now. Also, one of the strongest drivers of human behavior is to live in a way that is consistent with what you believe. This is why what you tell yourself is so freakin’ important! You become what you believe or say you will be. So, your self-talk better be purposeful, supportive, and meaningful if you want that kind of life. Well, my turning point came when I realized that how I felt about animals didn’t square with my eating them. Here was another significant moment measured by a quotation, this time from Chrissie Hynde: “Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends.” This changed my whole life!

cow hug

I was a freshman and living in a dorm with no kitchen when I declared to my family I would no longer eat meat, much to my mother’s consternation. This time was a blur, but I do remember eating a lot of pasta and pizza and waffles (!)—no coincidence that I put on some weight. I called my extra layer my winter padding, like a seal has—what was I thinking? The ways you justify things to yourself! Well, I managed to screw up my digestive system in the process—I felt bloated and yucky constantly, lost my appetite, was malnourished, and didn’t even realize it. So, I went back to how I ate the last time I felt good, in high school in the cafeteria—a meat, two vegetables, a roll, a small dessert, and a carton of milk. I began feeling better, all while learning more about how to eat more healthfully. Eventually, I incorporated more grains and vegetables and got rid of the meat again. I wish I could say it was all pretty, but I was a college student on a budget, and there were a LOT of peanut butter and honey sandwiches involved. One particular shining moment was the day I fixed couscous from a box with canned carrots and canned green beans. Happiness!!

As time has passed, I’ve gained a few more kitchen skills, I’ve learned a lot more about nutrition, and although I have spent years pulling out recipes and squirreling them away to use someday, my vision of kitchen nirvana involving both the immaculate white kitchen and the va-va-voom of Giada De Laurentiis have not materialized. But I do have a basic plan that I follow that gives me a little bit of structure as I navigate my day.


lean protein, complex carb, simple carb, healthy fat

First: multivitamin + calcium/magnesium/zinc supplement + vegetarian omega-3s THEN breakfast

(Examples: protein breakfast smoothie [banana, strawberries, whey protein, almond milk, olive oil or flaxseeds, and nuts] OR scrambled eggs/egg whites and oatmeal with coconut oil, berries, walnuts, cinnamon, and Truvia)

Morning Snack

lean protein, complex or simple carbs

(Example: protein shake with a banana or ½ cup berries OR a green smoothie with power greens blend [arugula, chard, or kale], spinach, water, celery, pear, apple, and a banana)


lean protein, complex carbs, simple carb , healthy fat

(Example: spicy black bean patty, couscous or rice, ½ avocado with lemon juice and sea salt AND a big, dark-green salad full of veggies, a bit of fruit and light shredded cheese [maybe], and nuts)

Pre-Workout Snack

lean protein, complex carbs, simple carb , healthy fat

(Example: leftover or extra scrambled eggs and oatmeal from the morning OR whole wheat English muffin, almond butter, ½ banana, few blueberries, flaxseeds, and drizzle of honey) + BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids)

Post-Workout Snack

lean protein, simple carb

BCAAs + glutamine + creatine (optional) THEN whey protein with almond milk and 1 cup grape juice or fruit


lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fat (sometimes)

(Example: beans or bean or lentil soup, couscous or rice, green vegetables or large salad, ½ avocado with lemon juice and sea salt)

Bedtime Snack (if needed, usually yes!)

lean protein, healthy fat

(Example: protein shake (casein and whey) with almond milk OR Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, berries, and nuts)

Now, you’ll notice that I try to eat a good amount of complex, starchy carbs. Currently, my training goals include adding curves and weight by building lean muscle and lifting heavy, and I need fuel (probably still more than I’m getting) to do this. But if you’re trying to tighten up, you can dial back on the complex carbs and a little of the healthy fats at lunch and later in the day. This is just a plan that works for me. Vegetarian options abound these days, and I’ll share some more recipes as I find time to try them. Wish me luck! I can’t wait to hear about what works for you. So, let me know if you have some great ideas for strong, sexy, cruelty-free curves—I’m always listening.

Have a super week!


compassion is the new sexy