How I Meal Plan

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Today I’m sharing some simple tips on how to incorporate meal planning into your routine. I think meal planning is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, and it can be really quick and easy!

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How to Stay Healthy in the Service Industry

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In this week’s video I’m talking about how to stay healthy in the Service Industry. I know working crazy hours and being around food all of the time can make it tough to keep your diet on track, but these tips can help!

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5 Easy Lunches Using Shredded Chicken

Recipes

Its hard figuring out what you’re going to have for lunch every day, especially when you have to pack your lunch. I’ve found that planning in advance is the best way for me to guarantee I’ll have something tasty and healthy for lunch each day. It also keeps me from spending a bunch of money on eating out.

Now I tried meal prep and it wasn’t bad, it was just super time consuming and expensive. So I have another solution. I’ve been making this Crock Pot Shredded Chicken for probably about 4 years now, and it couldn’t possibly be any easier.

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken
2 chicken breast
2 cups chicken stock
Any desired spices

Combine all of the ingredients in your Crock Pot and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8 hours). Once the chicken is done cooking, just use two forks to shred it apart, and you’ll easily have enough chicken to last you the week. This shredded chicken is so versatile that I’ve come up with five different ways to use it throughout the week to give you healthy and delicious meals every day.

  1. On a salad
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    Throwing some shredded chicken on your favorite salad is the perfect way to spice it up and add some protein as well. I tend to just throw together everything I have in the fridge into one big salad and top it with oil and balsamic vinegar. This is really easy to take with you to work as well.
  2. Tacos/Quesadilla
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    Making tacos or quesadillas with your shredded chicken is another way to make it a little more exciting. I just threw enough chicken for 2 tacos into a heated frying pan, add 1/4 cup of water and a bunch of spices. I used chili powder, cumin, paprika, and seasoned salt. Mix everything so the spices are spread evenly throughout the chicken and cook until everything is heated through and the water is absorbed. You could easily eat them plain, but I like to top mine with salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and a little bit of cheese.
  3. Chicken Salad Lettuce Wrap, Flatbread, or Sandwich
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    Option number three is another super easy way to spice up your shredded chicken that you can throw together in the morning before leaving for work. Throw a handful of chicken in a bowl with some mayo, chopped celery, and whatever else you’d like. I like adding grapes or carrots to mine, as well as salt and pepper. This easy chicken salad can be made into lettuce wraps, put on top of an open-faced flat bread, made into a sandwich, or even just eaten on its own.
  4. On Pasta
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    Although not the healthiest option, pasta is probably the easiest, and a little pasta every once in a while isn’t going to kill you. If I’m packing my lunch, I’ll make my pasta the night before and just toss it with olive oil and spices. I like to use the basics; basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and sometimes maybe some red pepper to add a little spice. Top this off with some shredded chicken and you’ve got yourself a delicious and filling lunch.
  5. In a wrap
    Finally, making a wrap is an easy, healthy, and very portable lunch idea. Grab your favorite wrap and stuff it with cheese, veggies, maybe some hummus, and some shredded chicken and you’ve got a flavor packed and nutritious lunch.

And now you’ve come to the end of the week and you barely had to think about packing lunches all week! This shredded chicken is definitely a time (and money) saver for anyone who doesn’t know what to pack for lunch during the week. You only have to cook one thing and you can make it into so many different and exciting meals.

What’s your favorite thing to pack for lunch?

Melissa Tries: Meal Prep

Recipes

I know I’m a nutrition student and I’m supposed to be all organized and into meal prep but in reality I’m just not. My normal schedule usually allows for me to just make lunch during the day or grab lunch from the restaurant I work at. Now that I’ve started my 16 week clinical rotation I’ve had to really crack down on this whole being organized thing, especially with my meals. Because of this, I decided to try full on meal prep for the first time. I cooked all of the ingredients on a Monday evening and then put the meals together using those ingredients each night for lunch the next morning. So I thought I would share my experience and opinion on if meal prep is the way to go.

For my meals I started with this Buzzfeed post. I thought these all looked pretty good but there was a few ingredients I didn’t really like so I switched it up a little bit.

What I Prepared:
– Quinoa
-Chicken breast
– Garlicky Kale
– White Bean Salad
– Hard Boiled Eggs
– Tahini Dressing

IMG_0339(Ignore the yogurt and oats in this photo, I’ll be making an on-the-go breakfast post soon!)

Quinoa
1 cup dry, rinsed quinoa
2 cups water or chicken broth

Add quinoa and water or broth in a bowl and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Tip: I’ve found that using chicken broth instead of water makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of the quinoa. Yeah it adds a little extra sodium but its still super healthy.

Chicken Breast
2 large chicken breast
2 cups chicken stock

You can make chicken breast however you want, but my preferred method is in a Crock Pot. I just throw 2 chicken breast in (they can even be frozen) with 2 cups of chicken stock and any seasoning you want. Put it on high for 4 hours and then use 2 forks to shred it. It basically falls apart. This chicken can be used for just about anything.

Garlicky Kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
5 cups kale with thick stem removed, sliced into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, minced

Heat a large skillet with oil over medium high heat and sauté garlic. Once the garlic has browned, add the kale and mix to coat with oil and garlic. Sauté until the kale is dark green and soft.

White Bean Salad
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small bulb of fennel, chopped into small pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp parsley stems
1 15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

Heat a large skillet with oil over medium heat and sauté fennel until it is soft and translucent (about 4 minutes). Add garlic and parsley stems. Cook until the garlic starts to brown. Add the white beans and sauté until the beans start to break down slightly (about 2 minutes). After the beans have cooled, add your chopped red pepper to the salad. The original recipe uses roasted red peppers but I’m not really a fan so I just chose to add plain bell pepper to mine at the end.

Tahini Dressing
2 Tbsp Tahini
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together tahini, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly add olive oil while whisking. Stir in the garlic and set aside. This dressing is used on a couple different days.

Hard Boiled Eggs
4 large eggs

Fill a medium sized pot with enough water that the eggs are cover by at least 1″ of water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is at a full boil, remove the pot from heat and cover. Let the eggs sit in this water for about 12 minutes. Remove eggs from hot water and add them to a bowl of cold water to let them cool.

Prep Your Lunches

Lunch 1: Kale Salad
2 cups raw kale
2 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup quinoa
2 Tbsp feta cheese
2 Tbsp chopped almonds
Dressing: 1/3 of the tahini dressing mixed with 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

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Lunch 2: Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
1/4 chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded chicken
2 Tbsp chopped almonds
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Dressing: 1/3 recipe of tahini dressing mixed with 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp chopped parsleyIMG_0353

Lunch 3: White Bean Salad with Garlicky Kale
2/3 recipe sautéed white beans
1/2 recipe sautéed kale
1 hard boiled egg
1/2 cup shredded chicken
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Lunch 4: Everything you have left salad
Remainder of kale, white beans, chicken, hard boiled egg, and quinoa
Dressing: remainder of tahini dressing mixed with 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp chopped parsley

And there you have it! Meals for the whole week. I did do this prep on a Monday so I only needed 4 lunches, but you could easily save a little kale and chicken and make one more hard boiled egg to make a fifth lunch. Overall I found meal prep very helpful. It was a little more money than I’m used to spending on lunches, but that could also be because I had to buy things like tahini and apple cider vinegar. All of my meals turned out really well and I was so much less stressed packing lunch throughout the week.

I’ve started meal prepping but on a bit of a smaller scale during the weeks after this. I still make chicken and quinoa almost every week and kind of go from there based on what else I have in the fridge.

Do you meal prep? What kinds of things do you pack for lunch during the week? Stay tuned for a post coming soon about some of the favorite on-the-go breakfasts that I’ve been eating constantly since starting my clinical rotation.