If you’re like me, you want a healthy rotation of dinners that don’t get boring, don’t take a fortnight to prepare, are easy on the wallet and tempt the ole’ taste buds. For those of us without a personal chef and lacking culinary genius, the list below will help guide your grocery shopping on Sunday for a healthy weekly rotation. Select your sauce, your meats/proteins, your vegetables and your grain. Mix it up or use the meal plan I’ve provided below.
Shop at your local whole foods or health food store for great already made sauces or make your own! Keep these sauces in stock and swap out whatever veggies are in season at your local Farmers Market.
Lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper
Asian fusion (easy healthy recipe)
Pesto (easy healthy recipe)
Tomato sauce (easy healthy recipe)
Protein (you choose! meat, pork, chicken, or vegetarian options!)
Tempeh (dont be afraid to try this if you haven’t, pronounced “temp-hay”)
Whole Wheat Linguine
WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
MON: Lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper, Fish, Asparagus, Wild rice (could also put salsa atop fish)
TUE: Tomato sauce, chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, served atop spinach and/OR whole wheat linguine
WED: Curry, tempeh, onion, broccoli, peppers, quinoa
THUR: Pesto, chicken, asparagus, onion, linguine
FRI: Asian, Tofu, onion, peppers, edemame, mushrooms, Soba noodles
SAT: Salsa, Black Beans, Spinach, onion, chopped/shredded cabbage, quinoa or add cheese and serve over ~10 all-natural blue corn chips as nachos
SUN: Mix tomato sauce, beans, quinoa, onions and peppers with chili powder or cayenne pepper, garlic salt and pepper to make chili
Each of these should be served with a salad made from spinach and any/all of the veggies you have on hand.
I’m not here to take sides. If you love meat, you love meat. I get it. Sometimes the smell of a cheeseburger on a nearby grill, sends me floating cartoon-style on a levitating wave of vapor in the direction of said burger. But most of the time, I’m looking for other protein options. I used to think Beef, Chicken, and Pork were the only proteins around. I later learned dairy, fish and beans were also good sources. But I now know there are so many more tasty, lean, healthy protein options other than meat. So, let’s get to know a few, shall we?
Eggs: the other “other white meat” and don’t be afraid of the yolk; lotta good stuff for your body in there! Eat ’em scrambled, as an omelet, or hard-boiled—dealers choice! May wanna get ’em from the local farmers market and make sure they are free-range and aren’t from chickens that are cooped up and shot up! unless you’re into that sort of thing.
Beans: we’ve all heard “they’re good for your heart…”, but who knew they’re good for muscles and other stuff too! So many from which to choose: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, edamame (Favorite!), garbonzo beans (you know, chick peas, the stuff they use to make humus), cannelloni beans, soy beans, pinto beans, great northern beans (not so sure why they’re so great and what they are north of? but tasty nonetheless), lima beans (yuck), mung beans (???), fava beans (Silence of the Lambs), the list goes on….Lentils (YUM), peas and legumes (which I’m still learning about) are also included here…”The more you eat, the better you feel, so let’s eat beans for every meal!” [delish edamame recipe here] [black bean chili recipe here] (and bean salad recipes coming soon)
Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, this list goes on. These are listed in approximate order from “healthiest” to more calorie dense). A heaping hand full has about the same amount of protein as a chicken breast. Plus they, too, have lots of fiber which helps prevent colon cancer! (nobody wants to have to have a cancerous colon removed, just ask around) Add them to salads and yogurt to keep you fuller longer!
Dairy options: Greek yogurt (not the fake stuff) has about 20 grams of protein in one lil ole cup, throw some walnuts in there and you’ve met your daily protein quota! Cheese (yes please!) and milk. Nowadays, I’m liking almond milk better than cow milk. It doesn’t spoil as fast and you can store unopened cartons in the cabinets. Almond milk has less sugar and fewer calories and carbs, and is less expensive than milk if you get plain no vanilla—I like Almond Breeze.
Tempeh: “What the heck is tempeh?” you say. (pronounced “temp-hay”) Oh only just the most proteinaceous, yummy, nutty, soy protein compilation around. Don’t be afraid of the unfamiliar. Try it somewhere they know how to prepare it, on a salad or in chili or something first. Then make your own: drizzle something yummy on it and bake it (directions on package) or add it to soup, stew or chili; or to stir fry. It’s usually found at most grocery stores in the refrigerated vegetable/produce section. Temp-Heeyyy!
Tofu: not for everyone, sometimes can be a bit mushy; but if it’s done well, this is another Fantastically-loaded-with-protein-almost-no-fat-few calories option like tempeh. So learn to prepare it different ways: crumble it up and add it to things like marinara sauce, soups, stir-fry, etc. [good tofu recipe here]
So before we close, just a word on how much protein we need. It varies depending on your body habitus, your activity level, muscle mass, among other variables. But in general we don’t need as much as we think we do.
Ain’t nuthin this tasty and healthy on a chinese buffet! Try this deliciously easy dinner. Packed with protein and FLA-VA-FLAV-VA! Serve it with brown rice or as is….serve it hot and IF there are any left-overs, bring ’em with you to work/school or eat ’em for lunch the next day! I do hope you enjoy…
4 cups or 1 bag (~ 20 oz) raw string beans,
1 lb organic chicken (or 1 pack of tofu or tempeh),
4 heaping Tbsp all natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp oil (your choice, but I use sesame, peanut or canola)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup or 2 long squirts of honey
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tsp pepper (optional)
crushed red pepper (optional)
10 peanuts crushed (optional)
cut beans in to 2 inch pieces
slice chicken, tempeh or tofu in to long thin strips or cubes
saute beans and chicken in canola oil or peanut oil and garlic and soy sauce for 7-10 min (until thoroughly cooked, but not over cooked)
add peanut butter and honey and pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes
sprinkle a few crushed peanuts and/or crushed red pepper on top to garnish
*all of above measurements should be adjusted to your taste
**you can also grill or bake your chicken/tempeh or tofu ahead of time and add to sauté for 5 minutes to reheat
Some do. Others poo-poo.
If they only knew…how to…dress up tofu with this tasty brew… from MORI-NU:
6 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp honey
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Blend above ingredients together and pour 1/2 of mixture over diced tofu spread out on a baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes at 400º
Saute Green onions (1 bunch cut in to 1″ pieces) in canola oil x 1 minute
Add chopped vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, snow peas, onions, edamame, chopped cabbage, red peppers, etc) and remaining sauce.
YUM! But even if you don’t do tofu. This sauce is delicious on almost anything.
(sub chicken or steak or “little bits of panther”, your call)