Hey, Fam, welcome back!
It’s Tuesday so it’s time for another post. However, this one is a little different. I won’t be bringing you a recipe tonight. I’ll simply be sharing a few things that make meal prepping a little easier for me and some things that help me stick to my diet – when I need a little extra help.
Before we start, I want to let you know that I do have my own Instagram account where you can see more recipes, tips, videos, and all around insight into my life, diet, etc! The account is @paleoish_provisions. Hopefully as time passes you will see a lot more collaboration between the SOL FIT Project and Paleoish Provisions.
To start this conversation off, we will talk about the tools in my kitchen that are a staple for meal prepping.
First and foremost, a crock pot. Some people call them slow-cookers, but I call them wonderful! I bring out my crock pot once a week. It’s how I prep the bulk of my protein for the week, chicken. I call it GoTo Protein. It’s easy, convenient, and allows me easy access to a bulk of protein when I need it. At any given time during the week I have access to 4-7 lbs of chicken. I cook it on low for 6 – 7 hours. I season it simply and use in a mass of recipes or as a snack, when I need it.
Next item, an immersion blender. You have heard me mention this before. It can be a stick blender or a wand blender. It’s a nifty tool my mother introduced me to at a young age. I thought it was pointless…until now.
For me, it serves primarily two main functions: making dressings, and quickly mashing potatoes.
~Homemade dressing are a fantastic way to bring healthy fat and delicious flavor to your meals. Many people cannot eat a salad without dressing, and when trying to eat healthier will fall into market store branded ‘low fat’ dressings or other store bought products. I could write a whole blog on dressings. That will be a conversation for another time. ~
I like the immersion blender for mashing potatoes because I can leave the skin on a sweet potato, throw in some ghee, and blend it all up together into a smooth, creamy mashed potato. No fuss, no mess!
I also use a regular blender, and a bullet blender to make smoothies or juices, when I need a fast digesting source of nutrients and calories. It also helps to have good knives, abundant measuring utensils, good baking dishes, and A LOT OF TUPPERWARE!
PROTEIN! A staple in a healthy diet. I always have proteins available whether frozen or ready to cook. Protein I like to buy in bulk so that it is always there when I need it. This means keeping chicken breast and thighs frozen to thaw whenever I’m ready to cook. Ground turkey is great to have on hand for burgers and taco nights. Keep a couple pounds frozen and thaw as needed. It is easier to meal prep when you have protein ready. In case you are ever in a crunch at least you have an arsenal of protein at your disposal. Eggs are another great, easy source of protein to keep around. Whether you eat the whole egg or just the white, they are quick and nutritious.
For example, today I meal prepped my crockpot chicken so I have protein ready for consumption all week. I also needed something to eat for lunch, and post-workout today while my chicken was still cooking. So I pulled out of the freezer a 1LB filet of salmon. I seasoned it, let it thaw, then cooked it. I was fed for today and have leftovers for tomorrow. Meal prep too easy!
VEGETABLES! I always keep frozen broccoli in the freezer, It is quick, easy, nutritious and I never have an excuse for not eating a vegetable with my meals. Keep fresh, in season produce on hand as it goes on sale. As long as you can use it in a timely manner you won’t waste your resources. I tend to buy fresh vegetables as I need them. However, at any given time during the week you will find sweet potatoes in a cabinet ready to go.
*Fresh or frozen vegetables. Both are delicious and nutritious. I like both. Frozen for the convenience – when in a time crunch. Fresh when I want to prepare a hearty delicious vegetable side with my meal.
SNACKS! I actually don’t keep snacks in the house. I try not to, at least. Some people really like including snacking in their diet/ meal prep. If I kept snacks in the house they would consist of the following:
- Nuts – great source of protein and great source of healthy fat
- Raw, steamed, or dry roasted almonds. Try and stick with minimal seasonings like salt and avoid added oils.
- Raw, steamed, or dry roasted macadamias. Again, no oils and minimal seasoning.
- Vegetables – anything fresh and easy to grab/ package on-the-go
- carrot sticks
- cherry/grape tomatoes
- Fruits – Fruit can contain a lot of sugar. Although a natural source, be mindful of consumption.
- berries- raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
- bananas – great source of potassium and a carbs for fueling the body when working out
- Single Serve, 100 calorie guacamole packs- Wholly guacamole brand is my favorite. Few ingredients, already proportioned out, and ready to grab for a nice snack and a good serving of fat to keep you full and fueled.
- Snack Bars – Not a staple in my diet but good if you need something more calorie dense or if you won’t have access to whole foods. Although processed, I like three brands for their simple ingredients: EPIC Bars, Larabars, and RX Bars. All linked here. We could spend a whole blog talking about snack and meal bars.
Next, are some GoTo spices, herbs, and other ways to season your food without wasting calories, or adding unhealthy ingredients to your diet.
I feel that a lot of people are turned off to a healthy diet because of lack of flavor. Maybe you have the misconception that healthy means bland, or you have had bad experiences with healthy food not tasting great. All this is false! There are SO MANY ways to add flavor to food without sacrificing nutrition.
- Seasoning and Spices
- House Seasoning
- course ground black pepper, kosher or sea salt, garlic powder (salt free)
- I like this as a base seasoning for meats, one pan dishes, vegetables, etc.
- I only use a little, as to monitor my salt intake – some don’t have to worry about that
- The base of a great dish is a well seasoned dish and house seasoning is a great place to start.
- In order to make House Seasoning you need three basic spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder – I always have these in the house
- Cumin – I add to a lot of my meats for extra flavor. Ground turkey when I make burgers, beef if I make “tacos”, chicken when I want to change things up.
- Onion powder (salt free) – Great for seasoning any meat. I add it to chicken when I do a dry rub and to ground meats if I choose not to add fresh, chopped onion.
- Paprika – Really great for boosting flavor. It provides a nice rich, spicy, smoky profile to food. It is a staple in my dry rubs. It only take a little bit. Its perfect to take food from bland to BAM!
- Chili powder – Chili powder is a great spice for another smokey kick. It pairs well with Paprika and the afore mentioned spices. Again, a little goes a long way.
- Cinnamon – Add flavor to your sweet potato, coffee, fresh juices and smoothies.
- Cayenne pepper – Great for proteins and vegetables that you want to have a nice kick. I even add it into my green juices.
- Red pepper flakes – I add this to my meats, eggs, and roasted vegetables.
- Herbs – fresh or dried
- basil – chicken, vegetables, and frittatas
- parsley – meat, vegetables and scrambled eggs
- dill – seafood and eggs
- rosemary – protein and white starchy potatoes
- cilantro – meats, fresh salads, guacamole
- House Seasoning
Let’s talk condiments…….
I am a huge advocate for homemade dressings and sauces. I think you should use them sparingly, but if you can make them clean and you need them for added flavor go for it! I make simple, vinaigrettes from scratch every so often. They are a delicious, fresh way to add flavor to a salad, a meat, or a vegetable. Light olive oil, a vinegar of choice, fresh lemon juice, and some herbs/seasoning. Simple and so much healthier and tastier than the dressings you find on the shelf of a super market. If you have caught my other blog posts you will know I am a huge fan of the Whole Sister’s Dump Ranch and the Whole Mayo. I do not make them often, but I do keep all the necessary ingredients on hand in case I want to add a little something extra to my meals. These are two great alternative recipes for two of America’s classic condiments.
Speaking of classic condiments; you will ALWAYS find mustard in my refrigerator. I prefer dijon, spicy brown, and stone ground! I add it to almost anything, seriously. I just ate a bowl of chicken with spicy brown mustard on top for dinner! I do have rules when buying mustard though.
- NO SUGAR, which is super easy to find
- NO WINE, a little more difficult but they do make dijon mustard without white wine
- NO WEIRD INGREDIENTS, WHAT-SO-EVER, the mustard I am using now is Food Lion brand spicy brown mustard. Its ingredients include: vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, turmeric. THATS IT!
Lastly, you will always find hot sauce in my cupboard. Hot sauce is another great way to add flavor to food without adding anything that will negatively impact you. Hot sauce follows the same standards as mustard! My preferred sauces are Frank’s, Valentina, (DISCLAIMER: This does contain a preservative but I can deal with that), and Tabasco Original Red. I love the Chipotle Tabasco and I will enjoy it every now and then but it does contain added sugar.
Well, Fam, there you have it! A simple guide to what helps me make meal prep a little easier. Even when I don’t fully meal prep, having these ingredients and tools around the kitchen will still ease the process. I encourage you to give it a try, and if you have any meal prep GoTos please feel free to share!
Thanks for stopping in! Catch you next week!