Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Nutrition 101

As of this morning, I have a lost 83 lbs. (+/- 80 lbs.) and everyone who knows or ever met me in real life asks me how I did it.  The truth is simple.  I follow flexible dieting, tracking calories and macronutrients and I exercise.  This post gives you an inside look at what I eat and several recipes to try.

In July, I posted, "Foods to Try," where I wrote about several foods that have made it to my grocery list.  I added some recipes and some healthy tips.

In "Wonder Woman," I give a basic explanation of flexible dieting and macros.

I have two other posts about nutrition:
Protein and "A Calorie is Not a Calorie"

Here I am going to share with you what I eat in a typical week...

Meal Prep

I am MOST successful when I plan my meals.  (I don't do anything like what I've heard of the 21 Day Fix.)  At night, I plan my meals for the next day.  I do actually prepare my breakfast, snacks and lunch.  In the morning, I put it in my lunchbox and off to work I go.  I try to take something out of the freezer in the morning so dinner is easy when I get home.  If I'm really motivated, I'll make dinner the night before or in the morning.

Here's an idea of what I eat from day to day...
Breakfast:  Protein smoothie.  a.m. snack:  Chobani yogurt and flaxseed.  Lunch:  Salad with grilled chicken and feta cheese, with an apple and Ken's Light Balsamic.  p.m. snack:  Protein bar.

Next day:  Breakfast:  3 egg frittata.  a.m. snack:  yogurt and flaxseed.  Lunch:  Pretty much the same thing, except I added cottage cheese to increase my protein.  p.m. snack:  almonds.

Day three:  Breakfast:  Protein shake.  a.m. snack:  yogurt with flaxseed.  Lunch:  turkey sandwich on gluten free bread with an apple and cottage cheese.  p.m. snack:  almonds.

So, you get the idea for breakfast, lunch and snacks...  

Sometimes I mix things up.

You can always add variety with your protein:
4 1/2 oz. shrimp has 27 grams of protein!!!
Watermelon!!!!!  Yummy!
Salad dressing here:  1 tbsp. light Catalina with 2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

Here's my mini-version of taco salad.
Ground turkey, seasoned with taco seasoning.
Shredded Mexican cheese instead of feta.
I really was craving avocado when I ate this, so the next day I threw in 1/2 an avocado and a serving of Tostitos Scoops.
Salad dressing here:  1 tbsp. light Catalina, 1 tbsp. light Italian, 1 tbsp. Taco Sauce.  (I use 1/2 that mixture)


I am not crazy about making dinner.  I don't like to put in a lot of work for one meal.  I will try a few different things and mix it up here and there.  I took the above photos for my Wonder Women Fitness for Life group on Facebook...it feels kind of weird taking pictures of my meals.  I have pictures here, where available.


I will buy a 10 lb. bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut them into meal size portions (5 -6 oz.), marinade them in Italian dressing for a couple hours and cook them all at once.  When they cool off, I wrap them up and freeze them individually.  It's a major hassle the first time you do it, but it lasts for a long time!  You can eat the chicken breasts for lunch or dinner.  For lunch, I have the chicken with a salad.  I will defrost them for dinner and serve with steam fresh vegetables and a sweet potato.
No sweet potato, just veggies and a garden fresh tomato, sliced into wedges.

I also am in love with split chicken breasts that are still on the bone.  They are so amazingly moist!

Method One:
I will cook the chicken right on the grill and load it up with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.  I remove the skin and cut the chicken off the bone.  It tastes entirely different from the marinaded chicken!  Sometimes I will microwave the chicken breasts for a little bit so they don't take as long to cook on the grill.
I could eat this every single night for dinner!!!!  Add either a salad or steamed vegetables and BAM!
(Remove skin and take chicken off the bone.)

Method Two:
I put the chicken breasts into the oven and pour prepared salsa over them and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until they are done.  I serve over brown rice.  (I remove the skin after baking and the chicken from the bone.)  I pour a little of the salsa sauce over the chicken and rice.  You have to add some fat grams to your macros for this because the chicken skins cook off fat into the sauce.

Method Three:
This is an extremely fattening way of eating the chicken breasts and I have only made it this way twice since I started trying to lose weight.  I will bake the chicken breasts, remove from the bone and skin.  Then I make my own Alfredo sauce (the fattening part) and serve with pasta and steamed broccoli.  It's impossible to track macros with this because I don't have a recipe for the sauce.  I make it with chicken broth, sour cream, butter, parmesan cheese and gorgonzola cheese.  I'm sure I could figure out what the macros are and it would be mostly fat, which really isn't that bad for you (although we are talking dairy fat, which is different).  I could look for healthier ways to prepare this.  If I do, I'll post the recipe and results here.

Ground Turkey

I'm sorry, but I don't think turkey is the most amazing substitute for ground beef.  I try, but I really don't feel it most days.  There are a few things I can substitute turkey for the beef.

-Turkey (or Ground Chicken) Burgers 
I posted the recipe for the chicken burgers on Foods to Try.  They taste nothing like a hamburger, but they aren't really meant to sub for a juicy hamburger.  They are amazing, though!  Especially with lettuce and tomato.

-Turkey Chili
1 medium onion, diced  
1 medium red pepper, diced (optional)
1 lb. ground turkey, browned with the onion (and pepper)
1 can crushed tomatoes 
2 cans diced tomatoes (I buy the zesty ones with jalapenos or chiles)
1 can of fat free, low sodium chicken broth
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed well
Assorted chili seasonings to taste.  I use chili powder, garlic and onion powders, crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, and ground cumin.  I throw in some salt and ground black pepper to taste.  You can cheat and buy the chili seasonings pre-packaged, but they are super high in sodium.

Directions:  Dice the onion (and pepper).  Brown the turkey with the onion (and pepper).  Drain and rinse in a collander once fully browned.  Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasonings.  Cook on medium heat until flavors fully blend.  Typically I will brown the meat and throw the rest into a crock pot to cook on low heat for the day.  The chili tastes better when the seasonings have time to blend well.

-Turkey Shepherd's Pie
This makes three servings for me and will last me three meals.  My family will NOT eat this, so make them regular shepherd's pie with ground beef, corn and white mashed potatoes.

1 lbs. ground turkey, browned
1 lbs. baby carrots, steamed and cut into small pieces
1 large sweet potato, cooked

Put the turkey in the bottom of a bread loaf pan.  I put a dash of salt and pepper on top of the meat. Put the sliced carrots on top.  Remove the cooked sweet potato from the skin and mash it up.  (Sometimes I will use a tiny bit of 1% milk, but usually the sweet potatoes are so soft that they don't need the milk.)  Place the mashed sweet potato on top of the carrots.

I will make this in advance and put it in the fridge.  The next day, I bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, sometimes less.

-Unstuffed Cabbage
I cook this a little longer until the cabbage wilts more.  It's really delicious!
1 onion, diced
1 lb. ground turkey (or ground chicken), browned with onion
1 29 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 head cabbage, cut into 1" pieces
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Combine ground meat and onions in a deep skillet.  Cook over medium heat until browned.  Add cabbage to meat mixture; cover and cook over medium heat until cabbage wilts, about 5 - 8 minute, stirring occasionally.  Add in tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and salt & pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil; then reduce heat and cover.  Cook at least 10 minute.  Serve with brown rice.

-Marinara Sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 lbs. ground turkey, browned with the onion
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes (no chiles for marinara sauce)
sometimes I throw in 1 tbsp. olive oil to blend the sauce a little nicer
Basil, oregano, parsley and garlic powder to taste

Throw all this together in a pan and simmer until the flavors fully cook.  Serve over pasta or squash.  I will eat spaghetti squash sometimes or I'll steam zucchini and summer squash and serve it over that.  To add more protein, I'll add a chicken sausage.

-Butternut Squash Soup
I went to Panera this weekend and had their Autumn Squash Soup.  It was so amazing.  Oh, my goodness!!!  I can't even begin to tell you!  When I came home, I decided I HAD to make some.
So I did!
This is 1 1/2 cups, which was too much for me. 
I input the ingredients into MyFitness Pal, which gave me this nutritional information.

• 4 cup , Butternut Squash, Steamed and Mashed  (this is pretty much what one good sized squash yields)
• 1 med. apple, raw, cored and without skin
• 2 tbsp, Coconut Oil
• 1 can, chicken broth, fat free, low sodium
• 3 stalk, Celery Stalk
• 1 Medium Onion
• nutmeg (to taste)
• Cinnamon (to taste)
• Salt (to taste), a couple dashes

I HATE to cut and peel butternut squash, so I cut it in half, put it upside down in an 9 x 13 glass pan, put 1/2" water in the bottom of the pan and roast it until it is soft. I add the apple about 1/2 way through the cooking so it softens up.

Finely chop the onion and celery and saute in the coconut oil until translucent or soft.

After the squash is cooked, spoon it out of the skin. Place it with the apple, onions and celery mixture into a blender. Blend until pureed. Place this mixture into a pot with the chicken broth. Add salt, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. I just sprinkled a couple of dashes. It was amazing.

This made three 1 1/2 cup servings. I couldn't eat an entire 1 1/2 cups, so I ate 3/4 cup, reducing the calories and macros in half.

There's other foods, too...

Salmon with 1/2 sweet potato and steamed green beans

On Thursdays when I have class, I will get a sub or a rice bowl from the student dining room.  On Fridays, sometimes we have pizza - and I get whatever the family wants.

And I'm not always this good!  

The thing about flexible dieting is that you can eat pretty much whatever you want, as long as you fit it into your calories and macros.  When training for the Ride to Remember, I ate a LOT of carbs!!! 
This was a CARB loading day right before my 100 mile bike ride.

Sometimes for breakfast, I will have a couple fried eggs with Kashi wafflles and a little syrup.  (Not sugar free syrup.)  I fry the eggs with cooking spray, so there's no extra fat.

I made zucchini bread this summer and tried to make it healthy. But with all the sugar, umm, yea, not so healthy.  But it sure did taste good!  Problem?  I can't eat just one slice.

This is what I had a bridal shower recently.  I can't tell you how long I was craving that Belgian waffle with strawberries and whip cream.  To die for!

Sometimes I just need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Fro-Yo!!!  I am a sucker for ice cream.  This was amazing!

Flexible dieting encourages you to learn how to eat.  The key is to track what you eat - EVERYTHING!  It has really helped me to see the nutritional values of the foods I eat, how one slice of bread affects my carb count for the day...and if I'm having taco salad - what a difference 1/2 oz. of shredded cheddar makes instead of 1 oz.  Tonight for dessert I had Bryer's vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup.  Why?  I was low on calories for the day and I had plenty of carbs left over.  After trying every diet, flexible dieting has been the smartest choice for me.

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Questions for you:  Answer in the comment section below.
What nutritional plan do you follow?  How does that work for you? 
Have you tried any great new healthy recipes lately?