dietitian

3 Reasons to Start Meal Prepping & Root Vegetable and Bean Soup by Toby Amidor

Between clients and workshops, I've been talking about meal prep a lot lately. It seems to be on everyone's mind, and for good reason. Having a well stocked pantry and homemade meals ready to grab and go helps make it easy to eat healthy throughout your week. But you may be wondering, should I really be doing this, is it really worth it? 

Meal prep looks different to everyone. Some like to set aside a few hours each sunday to prep meals for the week. I prefer to prep things here and there, often while I'm doing something else, to save time on my weekends. So while my sheet pan dinner cooks, I'll prep a soup in the crockpot or roasted veggies or a salad to eat throughout the week. I may make some egg muffins if I have the oven on anyways, prep some overnight oats, or slice peppers and cucumbers for snacks throughout the week. Meal prep takes me no more than an hour each week, and I'm still stocked and prepped for a healthy week ahead. Find out how we can work together to make this your reality too. 

Whatever meal prep looks like for you, it definitely has it's benefits.

See my Top 3 Reasons to Start Meal Prepping below:


1. Eat Healthier & Feel Better

My number one reason to meal prep is to EAT HEALTHIER. Keeping healthy ingredients on hand makes it so much easier to make healthy choices. And by having the ingredients actually prepared makes it that much easier to choose them.

My meal prep routine includes something as simple as keeping my go-to snacks on hand. Right now I'm loving siggi's plain yogurt (or whatever plain Greek yogurt is on sale), hummus and sliced bell peppers and cucumbers, and peanut butter or nut butter packets with apples or nectarines. I know by keeping healthy meals and snacks on hand that are prepped and ready to go, I'm far more likely to make a healthy choice when I get hungry. I'm also less likely to order takeout for dinner when I have ingredients prepped and ready to throw together a healthy dinner in minutes.

 

2. Save Money & Prevent Waste

When we go to the store without a plan, it's easy to buy everything that looks good or is on sale. But by planning ahead for the week and going shopping with a plan, it's easier to leave with just the items you need. Having just a few meals and snacks in mind can help prevent you from going overboard and spending too much. Meal prep will also save you money by encouraging you to eat out less. When you have prepped and planned meals at home you won't be tempted to stop on your way home or need to grab a muffin with your morning coffee because you have better-for-you, homemade meals ready to go.

 

3. Save Time

Yesterday I took 15 minutes to made a crockpot soup and I'll probably get at least 3 meals out of it this week. I took another 15 minutes to cook up some extra veggies and a big salad with my dinner last night to use in other meals this week. By using my time wisely, batch cooking, and figuring out my favorite, easy, go-to meals, it saves me an hour of cooking each night. So even on the nights I don't feel like cooking, it's easy to eat something healthy.


Copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Pre, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017. Photo courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz

Copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Pre, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017. Photo courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz

Over the summer, my colleague, Toby Amidor, released the best meal prep cookbook! The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook is the perfect tool to help you try new recipes, get organized with meal prepping, and keep your food safe all week long (Toby is a food safety pro!).

The book includes 6 different weekly meal plans, including Clean Eating, Weight Loss, and Muscle Building meal plans (2 weeks each). Each meal plan has recipes, a grocery list, and a plan of action for your meal prep day. Each recipe includes tips for storing to keep your prepared meals safe to eat all week long. 

I'd highly recommend this book for anyone getting started with meal prep or healthy eating. Get your copy here and be sure to try her Root Vegetable and Bean Soup recipe below - it's perfect for this time of year!

Copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Pre, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017. Photo courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz

Copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Pre, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017. Photo courtesy of Nat & Cody Gantz


What meal prep questions do you have? Ask me here!

Be sure to download my Meal Prep Made Easy Workbook - for my best meal prep tips and tricks, freezer meals, make ahead meals, shopping lists, worksheets, and more.


Toby's Recipe RootVegetableBeanSoup.jpg

21 Ways to Get in More Protein with Breakfast

 
21 Ways to Get in More Protein at Breakfast.png
 

Personally, I always try to include a source of protein at breakfast. I know when I start my day with cereal or zucchini bread I'm usually hungry pretty soon after or find myself snacking throughout the day. Besides building muscle, our bodies need protein for about a trillion other daily functions and processes. But did you know that starting your day with a good source of protein may even help you reach your weight loss goals?

More are more studies are coming out showing the benefits of starting your day with some protein. Having a protein rich meal for breakfast can help to keep you full longer, prevent snacking later in the day, and may even aid in weight loss and help to decrease fat mass. Protein is more satisfying and filling than a meal that is heavy in refined carbs because it takes longer to digest and helps control our blood sugars. Studies have shown, that those who start with protein at breakfast are less hungry and snack less throughout the day.

Our bodies can only digest up to about 30 grams of protein at a time, so anything over that is not necessary (check your protein shakes). To find out your daily protein needs you can use the following equation:

(weight in lbs / 2.2 = weight in kg)

weight in kg x 0.8

This equation gives you your minimum daily protein requirements. For those who are more active, are over 65, or are sick or injured I would multiply by 1.0 to 1.2.

One of the best things about being a dietitian is the dietitian community. It's seriously the best. Everyone is so supportive and wants to see each other succeed. I reached out to our wonderful community to compile the following list of healthy, higher in protein, breakfast recipes. Below are 21 healthy recipes to bulk up the protein in your morning meals to help you stay full longer, feel more satisfied, prevent snacking later in the day, and possibly help shed a few pounds. Let me know which ones you try!


Smoothies

Banana Dates & Tahini Smoothie

Dixya Bhattarai, RD

Banana Pear Shamrock Smoothie

Samara Abbott, RD

Shamrock Smoothie: 18 grams of protein

Kid-Approved Tropical Green Smoothie

Sarah Remmer, RD

Cherry Amaranth Almond Smoothie

Judy Barbe, RD


Grains

Power Pancakes

Ingrid Anderson, RD

Power Pancakes: 18 grams of protein (15-20 with Greek yogurt)

Flourless Chocolate Lentil Protein Muffins

Sarah Renner, RD

Banana Nut Eggy Oats

Kelsey Lorencz, RD

Sorghum Berry Breakfast Bowl

Sharon Palmer, RD

Breakfast Bowl: 11 grams of protein

Berry Cardamom Baked Oatmeal

Judy Barbe, RD

Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes

Brittany Poulson, RD

PB Pancakes: 13 grams of protein


Eggs

5 Minute Egg Bake

Josten Fish, RD

Healthy Egg Muffins

Jenna Gorham, RD

Veggie Quiche Patties

Liz Weiss, RD

Veggie Quiche: 16 grams of protein (in 3 patties)

Mini Spinach & Sweet Potato Frittata

Jodi Danen, RD

Basic Vegetable Frittata Muffins

Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan

Frittata Muffins: 11 grams of protein (in 2 muffins)

Low Carb Egg Cups

Lara Clevenger, RD


Other

Chocolate Peanut Butter High Protein Breakfast Sundae

E.a. Stewart, RD

2 Ingredient Egg White Pancake

Kelli Shallal, RD

2 Ingredient Pancakes: 21 grams of protein

8 High Protein Breakfasts

Jill Castle, RD

Black Forest Chia Pudding

Julie Harrington, RD

Greek Yogurt Parfait with Cereal and Pan-Roasted Grapes

Amy Gorin, RD

Parfait: 17 grams of protein

Should you Be Drinking Coconut Water?

The one stop shop for clear skin, improved mood, weight loss, hydration, better blood pressure . . . ? Why not?


Food fads come and go but coconut water seems to stick around. With health claims like, ‘get delicate, baby soft skin,’ or ‘lose those extra pounds and look fabulous,’ how can it not?

Let’s dig a little deeper to find out the truth about this coconut water cure-all.


Clear Skin

Unfortunately, there is no direct connection between coconut water and skin health. However, hydration is very important for our skin. Coconut water is also a decent source of vitamin C (9% daily value in 1 cup) which is important in collagen synthesis and can prevent our skin from sun damage. So, while coconut water alone may not prevent our skin from aging, it does have properties that can benefit our skin.

Weight Loss

I’ve seen coconut water hyped as the key to weight loss. This seems to be a little misleading. Unfortunately, there is no one food or drink that will magically make you shed weight or cure all of life's problems (sorry!). Yes, coconut water is a healthier alternative to soda. So, if you are drinking excessive amounts of soda- coconut water, regular water, seltzer, or kombucha would all save you calories and sugar and may contribute to weight loss.

I've also seen claims that the fiber in coconut water helps to fill you up and aid in weight loss. While yes, fiber does help to fill you up, coconut water does not actually contain fiber.

Lower Blood Pressure, Prevent Heart Disease

Coconut water is high in potassium, with anywhere between 400 and 700mg per bottle. Potassium is an electrolyte and is important for muscle function (including the heart) and water balance. Studies have linked diets high in sodium (processed foods) and low in potassium (fruits and vegetables) to increased blood pressure. While we do know there is a connection between diet, sodium, potassium and heart health - it may be stretching the truth to say drinking coconut water will lower your blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Many Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables and if coconut water is something you enjoy it is a great way to increase the potassium in your diet.

 

Mood Booster

Magnesium plays a large role in maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Coconut water does contain a decent source of magnesium and magnesium deficiency has been linked with depression (here).

 

Hydrates Better Than Water

There is no research supporting this claim. If you are dehydrated you would need to drink a significant amount of coconut water (or regular water) to rehydrate- if you can tolerate large quantities, have at it.

 

Post-Workout Recovery

Coconut water is marketed as the perfect post-workout recovery drink. This is because it contains electrolytes and is especially high in potassium. This is great, except when we sweat we are mostly losing sodium, not so much potassium. After a workout, our bodies need water, carbohydrates, protein, and some sodium (especially after a good sweat).

 

 

Bottom Line:

Coconut water is a great alternative to soda and other sweetened beverages or even fruit juice. It contains no added sugars and is low in calories and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Some of the claims we hear tend to stretch the truth, so while there are some health benefits it’s misleading to think that coconut water is your key to weight loss, heart health, and clear skin. If you like the taste of coconut water, enjoy, but a glass of water and a banana provide similar benefits (for a fraction of the cost).